Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant is more than your average pair of merino long underwear. With an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio coupled with top-quality breathability, these bottoms will carry you comfortably through the coldest months of winter. These bottoms are plush without being too heavy, and offer a cushy, relaxed fit that can easily be worn through a whole day of skiing, to bed, and then back onto the hill the next day.
Not quite the heaviest bottom in our review, but not very far from the warmest, the Rock'N'Wool offers a cozy layer that can be rocked in a variety of cold temperatures. From that first chill of autumn to some downright cold nights camping in the alpine, we were impressed by how comfortably warm these bottoms kept us. Especially considering their fabric weight — 185 g/m² is nowhere near the thickest merino fabric in this review — these bottoms perform well above their weight class. Not saying that weight is everything, but there is often a pretty steep correlation between the two, particularly when comparing 100% merino wool layers side-by-side.
The plush, 100% merino knit of the Rock'N'Wool provides a nice amount of loft — we never felt either too cold or too overheated in these bottoms, regardless of how hard we were huffing and puffing. The slightly relaxed fit offers an airy feel in particular areas where heat tends to pool. When combined with the natural thermoregulatory qualities of wool, we were consistently comfortable in these bottoms, no matter the environment or activity.
Just a little too warm and a little too baggy to pull double duty as go-to running leggings, the Rock'N'Wool still performed with near top-notch breathability. Of course, we still took them out on many trail runs throughout the testing period — while these bottoms would start to get a little hot as our heart began to pump, they proved themselves capable of impressive thermoregulation. The slight relax-fit allowed for a nice amount of airflow, and rather than heat pooling in particular zones of constriction, any excess heat was dispersed and dumped.
These bottoms would certainly prove themselves very useful on those bone-chilling, mid-winter ski tours when you need your base layer to stay dry more than you need it to dump heat. The full-merino construction of the Rock'N'Wool bottoms without a doubt provides for a moisture-wicking capability that only all-natural fibers can offer. While this results in superior sweat management, these bottoms were a bit soggy after some intense workouts.
Comfort and Fit
100% merino wool is the reigning champion of next-to-skin comfort, and these bottoms are certainly no exception. Our tell-tale sign of a super comfortable base layer is that even after a long day of sweating into them, you still don't want to take them off when you get home. The 185 Rock'N'Wool bottoms hit that mark — just as cozy layered under a pair of climbing pants as they were sipping coffee on the couch.
These bottoms are neither too loose — so that you can't layer over them with a casual pair of jeans — nor too tight so that you don't feel cozy just lounging around the house. They hit that Goldilocks zone of fit just right. The athletic cut hugs your calves and thighs, but a comfortably-relaxed fit through the knees allows for optimal stretch and mobility. Unlike other bottoms in this review, these ones have a minimal seam pattern. Even without articulated stitching, they achieve one of the most natural forms and fit.
One exception is that these are one of two pairs of long underwear in this review that don't have a functional fly. Something to note, however, is that both these pairs scored highest in terms of overall fit — coincidence? The 185 Rock'N'Wool is topped off by a super soft, super-wide waistband that confidently holds everything in place, even at our most mobile. Whether backpacking or skiing, these are guaranteed to offer a functional fit that you will likely not want to take off at the end of the day.
For the ski and snowboard crowd, Ortovox offers this same pair of bottoms in a Short Pant, an option that keeps your long underwear from bunching at the top of your boot. We greatly appreciate this offer, and only opted for the full-length version for consistency in side-by-side testing.
These bottoms break the mold when it comes to that old generalization that merino wool is more fragile than synthetic fibers. While it is true that a polyester base layer tops the charts in our review as most durable, thanks to a brushed face fabric, just behind that are two merino options, including the 185 Rock'N'Wool. The merino knit of this bottom, in particular, held its athletic form longer than other all-natural competitors — and even when it did get stretched out, a quick wash and line-dry brought them right back to life.
Reinforced with a full array of flatlock seams — including a thoughtful touch that places the waistband fully on the outside of the pant to eliminate a common area of skin irritation — these bottoms showed very little wear over the course of our testing, despite the fact that we found ourselves coming back to wear them more often than not. Similarly deliberate in terms of durable design, the hem of the cuff is moved up a few inches from the bottom of the leg, which should help maintain the integrity of these seams over years of pulling them on and off.
This is not always the case, but to get the top-performing quality of the 185 Rock'N'Wool bottoms, you are going to have to pay top-dollar. The most expensive in our review — even the most expensive 100% merino layer — it may be difficult to justify the price of this layer. But considering that with proper care, this layer could be a workhorse in cold weather for years to come, this versatile, durable, all-natural base layer is an investment that is well worth the price.
A prize-winning contender in every category, the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant edged out the competition to earn our Editors' Choice Award. These are a hard-working pair of long underwear that will efficiently keep you both warm and dry through the coldest winter months. Not to mention their incredible fit and stereotype-breaking durability, we can hardly imagine a situation when we wouldn't want to wear these super cozy bottoms.
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