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Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant Review

Undeniably comfortable, warm, and breathable, this rough-and-tumble pair of 100% merino long underwear has it all
Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant
Photo: Ortovox
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $110 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Soft next-to-skin, super warm for its weight, durable and all-natural
Cons:  A touch heavy for fabric weight, slow to dry after washing
Manufacturer:   Ortovox
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Warmth - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Warm, dry, breathable, durable, and super soft — the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant rose through the ranks to earn our preference overall. For their weight, this pair of all-natural long underwear provides a level of warmth only topped by significantly heavier options. The 100% merino wool is ultra-soft when worn next-to-skin, and offers superior moisture wicking capability during those hard climbs. Throw in durability uncommon to full-merino builds, and you have a base layer that can stand up to the harshest winter adventures — and stay so comfortable that you won't want to take them off when you get back home.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $110 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Soft next-to-skin, super warm for its weight, durable and all-naturalBreathable, highly efficient wicking, comfortable merino/recycled polyester blend, impressively durableA nice balance of warmth and breathability, super cozy, nicely articulated designUnbeatable price, breathable, quick drying, functionalAffordable, lightweight, warm for weight
Cons A touch heavy for fabric weight, slow to dry after washingNot designed for mid-winter warmth, relatively heavy for fabric weight, thin waist bandExpensive, stretches out in between washes, slow to dry when saturatedShort cut legs, average comfort and warmthInstant fabric tear, baggy fit, sticky exterior gridded fleece
Bottom Line Undeniably comfortable, warm, and breathable, this rough-and-tumble pair of 100% merino long underwear has it allA versatile, lightweight merino-recycled polyester blend that offers superb breathability and wicking, making these a near ideal high performance bottom for any fast-paced adventureDesigned to keep you warm in the coldest conditions, this is a versatile pair of merino wool bottomsSlender and breathable, these are everything we expect out of a lightweight pair of long underwearA warmer lightweight option that has a lot of potential to improve upon design
Rating Categories Ortovox 185 Rock'N'... Outdoor Research Al... SmartWool Merino 25... REI Co-op Lightweig... Carhartt Base Force...
Warmth (30%)
8.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Breathability (30%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort And Fit (30%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Ortovox 185 Rock'N'... Outdoor Research Al... SmartWool Merino 25... REI Co-op Lightweig... Carhartt Base Force...
Material 100% Merino wool 47% Merino wool / 47% Recycled polyester / 6% Spandex 100% Merino wool 92% Polyester / 8% Spandex 100% Raised Mini-Grid Polyester
Fabric Weight 185 g/m² 150 g/m² 250 g/m² N/A N/A
Weight (size M) 6.4 oz 6.8 oz 8.3 oz 5.46 oz 5.2 oz
Insulation Weight Midweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight
3/4 Boot-Cut Available? Yes No Yes No No
Fly? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dryer safe? No No No Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


Designed with the high performance required for the pursuit of the...
Designed with the high performance required for the pursuit of the high peaks, the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool bottoms are the perfect companion for mid-winter adventures, keeping you warm, dry, and cozy no matter how long your days are!
Photo: Aaron Rice

Warmth


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.

The name says it all, these bottoms rock! An 100% merino...
The name says it all, these bottoms rock! An 100% merino construction provides the level of warmth, whether you're hanging on the couch or pushing peaks.
Photo: Jill Rice

Breathability


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.

Although these bottoms work best for midwinter activities, for those...
Although these bottoms work best for midwinter activities, for those wet and chilly fall hikes they do pair perfectly well with an outerlayer shell pant, keeping you dry and comfortable regardless of the weather.
Photo: Jill Rice

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.

Fit of the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant: a slim cut throughout...
Fit of the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Pant: a slim cut throughout, well-designed seam placement and fabric stretch allow for flexibility despite a lack of articulation. Our tester is 5'10", 160lbs wearing a size Medium.
Photo: Jill Rice

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.

Although we tested the full-length version, Ortovox does offer these...
Although we tested the full-length version, Ortovox does offer these bottoms in a 3/4-length boot cut, which are better designed for those who plan to wear these exclusively with ski or snowboard boots.
Photo: Jill Rice

3/4-Length Available


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.

Durability


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.

By placing the flatlock seams slightly higher up on the ankle...
By placing the flatlock seams slightly higher up on the ankle, rather than around the cuff, puts the seam out of harm's way from rubbing to a pulp in your boot.
Photo: Aaron Rice

Value


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 quick-dry by the fireside, and these bottoms are good-to-go the...
A quick-dry by the fireside, and these bottoms are good-to-go the next day! Thanks to the natural antimicrobial qualities of merino wool, we will regularly wear the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool kit for many days between washings. Less-than-regular machine washings will also help improve the lifetime of this long underwear.
Photo: Jill Rice

Conclusion


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.

Aaron Rice

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