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Ortovox Rock'N'Wool Pant Review

Undeniably comfortable, warm, and breathable, this pair of long underwear has it all…even knee-pads.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $110 List | $110.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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 19, 2019
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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 Rock'N'Wool Pant rose through the ranks to earn our Editors' Choice Award. 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.


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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-naturalUltra-lightweight, fast wicking and quick drying, breathabilityExtremely warm, super cozy, terrific temp regulation, breathableWarm, super comfy, durable, great fit, versatile, don’t stretch out100% recycled polyester, light fabric weight, impressive loft and warmth
Cons A touch heavy for fabric weight, slow to dry after washingThin material is not warm, articulated seams could create constrictionsStretches out between washing/drying cycles, saggy crotch, slow to dry, expensivePricey, below-average breathabilityQuestionable durability, saggy bottom
Bottom Line Undeniably comfortable, warm, and breathable, this pair of long underwear has it all…even knee-pads.The future of fast-and-light long underwear.An extremely warm and breathable pair of bottoms built to keep you warm in the coldest conditions but versatile enough to carry into seasons outside of winter.An outstanding synthetic bottom that offers great warmth, extreme comfort, a stellar fit, and durability to last; built for cold conditions, these cozy bottoms are perfect for everything from winter trail running to cold resort skiing.Warmer than most, lighter than the rest, this pair of long underwear re-defines what is possible from a synthetic base layer.
Rating Categories Ortovox Rock'N'Wool Pant Enigma Bottoms SmartWool Merino 250 Bottoms Arc'teryx Rho LT Bottoms Capilene Midweight Bottoms
Warmth (30%)
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6
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9
10
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7
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7
Breathability (30%)
10
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7
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9
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6
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5
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8
Comfort And Fit (30%)
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7
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9
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7
Durability (10%)
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Specs Ortovox... Enigma Bottoms SmartWool Merino... Arc'teryx Rho LT... Capilene Midweight...
Material 100% Merino wool driRelease (88% recycled polyester, 12% wool) 100% Merino wool Torrent (84% polyester, 16% elastane) 100% Recycled polyester with HeiQ Fresh
Fabric Weight 185 g/m² 155 g/m² 250 g/m² 175 g/m² 147 g/m²
Weight (size M) 6.58 oz 4.97 oz 7.55 oz (size S) 5.57 oz (size S) 5.88 oz
Insulation Weight Midweight / Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight / Lightweight
3/4 Boot-Cut Available? Yes No Yes No No
Fly? No Yes Yes No Yes
Dryer safe? No No Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

As a new-comer to this review, the Rock'N'Wool Pant is more than your average pair of long underwear, earning our Editors' Choice Award. With outstanding warmth-to-weight coupled with top-quality breathability — thanks to a 100% Merino wool knit — 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.

A little too much of a midweight long underwear to double as running leggings, these are best suited to those cold-weather activities that demand a dry, comfortable fit that lasts all day. The knee pads are a nice addition and are symbolic of the impressive durability of these bottoms despite their all-natural build. In our overly aggressive abrasion test, the Rock'N'Wool pants showed hardly any sign of wear, and certainly not any tears. Simple design, thoughtful articulation, and an overall great fit seal the deal for this pair of award-winning long underwear.

Performance Comparison


Behold  the new top-dog for 100% Merino base layer bottoms!
Behold, the new top-dog for 100% Merino base layer bottoms!

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.

Just as warm  but nearly not as thick as our socks on a chilly morning waking up in the alpine.
Just as warm, but nearly not as thick as our socks on a chilly morning waking up in the alpine.

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.

Totally rockin'-- the 100% Merino construction of these bottoms provides comfort on the couch  and performance on the mountain.
Totally rockin'-- the 100% Merino construction of these bottoms provides comfort on the couch, and performance on the mountain.

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 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.

Breathable enough for when we really got working  these bottoms are better suited for mildly-aerobic activities -- like backpacking -- when the temperatures are still hovering above freezing.
Breathable enough for when we really got working, these bottoms are better suited for mildly-aerobic activities -- like backpacking -- when the temperatures are still hovering above freezing.

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 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 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 bottoms: slim cut through the calves and thighs  with a slightly more relaxed fit around the knees. Well-designed seams without articulation provide comfort in the seat. Our tester is 5'10"  160lbs wearing a size Medium.
Fit of the Ortovox bottoms: slim cut through the calves and thighs, with a slightly more relaxed fit around the knees. Well-designed seams without articulation provide comfort in the seat. Our tester is 5'10", 160lbs wearing a size Medium.

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 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.

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 Rock'N'Wool. Even more impressive with regard to this particular pair of long underwear is that the other durable, all-natural option is made of 25% more fabric. What we're getting at is that the Rock'N'Wool, considering the weight and fabric construction, is a base layer that lives up to its name — with rockin' durability.


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.

Thoughtful placement of seams slightly higher up on the cuff than traditional stitching helps keep them out of harm's way.
Thoughtful placement of seams slightly higher up on the cuff than traditional stitching helps keep them out of harm's way.

The Merino knit 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. Only to further support our notes from the field, our lab abrasion test produced little more than a few fluffs of wool from the face fabric. While we couldn't quite tell if the knee pads added to the durability of the pant, they add another layer of fabric to an area that often takes a beating — and sure are an obvious indication that these base layers are bomber.

Extra reinforcements at the knees  a high-wear area for some base layer users  might extend the life of the Ortovox bottoms.
Extra reinforcements at the knees, a high-wear area for some base layer users, might extend the life of the Ortovox bottoms.

Value


This is not always the case, but to get the top-performing quality of the Rock'N'Wool bottoms, you are going to have to pay top-dollar. The most expensive — even the most expensive 100% merino layer — in our review, it is 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 worth the price.

We couldn't agree with the sheep more...
We couldn't agree with the sheep more...

Conclusion


A prize-winning contender in every category, the Ortovox 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