Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Mega stretchy fabric, best breathability in the review, built in belt is the bomb
Cons: Not quite as abrasion resistant as other models, so-so weather-resistance
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is easily one of our favorite pieces of rain gear we have ever worn. They are constructed with a super stretchy waterproof fabric that allows for restriction-free movement - as much you could hope for in a rain pant. The Stretch Ozonic is so stretchy that most people think they are a softshell rather than a waterproof rain pant. Stretchy fabric aside, the Stretch Ozonic is lighter and more breathable than average and sports most of the high-end features that hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers look for - all while coming in at a below average weight.
The Stretch Ozonic pants have many advantages; in both our real-world use and in our side-by-side hose and shower tests, they offered decent weather resistant protection, scoring a 7 out of 10, slightly above average.
These pants use Mountain Hardwear's proprietary Dry.Q Active 2.5-layer fabric. While we list Dry.Q as an exclusive fabric as only Mountain Hardwear offers it, the material is a technology produced by General Electric, who also manufactures eVent.
These pants feature small storm flaps and watertight zippers; while less substantial looking than most of the other models, our real world and hose tests revealed that the Ozonic Stretch lets very little water in. While these pants performed well, we didn't find them to be quite as storm-proof as other pants in a similar price range, such as the Marmot Minimalist Pants which features Gore-Tex. The Ozonic Stretch were comparable to the Marmot Precip Full-Zip and the Outdoor Research Helium.
Comfort and Mobility
This contender is comfy! As the name implies, the fabric is extremely stretchy, more so than any other rain pant we have ever worn. The Stretch Ozonic is comparable, regarding stretchiness, to a lightweight softshell. As you might imagine, the best four-way stretch rain pant we've ever put on offered unequaled mobility and sported the best overall range of motion of any pant we've ever tested (or ever seen).
The REI Talusphere Full Zip pant also features a stretchy material which offered excellent comfort and mobility. After practicing extensive yoga poses, pushing the maximum ranges of both pants, we felt the Stretch Ozonic narrowly edged the REI Talusphere out regarding mobility. The Stretch Ozonic are on an entirely different level due to offering movement that is not restricted. If you're out and about on an adventure that requires a fair amount of mobility, these pants are tough to beat.
These pants also featured other small nods to comfort like the built-in flat webbing waist belt, which did an excellent job of keeping these pants from falling down. They also sported a micro-fleece lining on the inside of the belt which feels exceptionally nice against your skin, especially when you're gone on a long adventure. Both features were rarely seen in other contenders.
Breathability & Ventilation
These pants featured the best breathability of any competitor in our review, topping even the Marmot Minimalist Pant, which both feature Gore-Tex with PacLite technology, and taking home a perfect 10 out of 10. The Dry.Q fabric is air permeable; unlike Gore-Tex, it doesn't require the wearer to build up heat in order for the process of moving moisture from the inside to the outside to begin.Ventilation
These pants feature full-length side zippers. In light storms or after the rain stops, they offer great ventilation options. Ventilation capabilities are excellent, though not quite as crucial as breathability; if it's rainy or wet outside while traveling on a slightly overgrown trail, leaving your pants even slightly unzipped is going to result in a wet body.
Our testing team loved the integrated waist belt! It kept the pants snug around our waist and resulted in being one of our favorite features out of any contender tested. While the Stretch Ozonic fit snugly around boots, a handful of folks didn't particularly like that the pocket that was in the middle of the front thigh; after extended real-world use, we determined that as long as the item wasn't too heavy (which is true for most shell pant pockets), the pocket provided convenience and was easy to access.
The Stretch Ozonic is one of the most compressible models in our review. In fact, it was the only pant that packed down smaller than the micro Outdoor Research Helium Pant, taking up just over half the volume of this pant. The Stretch Ozonic packed down smaller than the Marmot Minimalist Pant and was far more compact than most of the other pants in our review. It was roughly half the volume of the REI Talusphere Full Zip.
The Stretch Ozonic Pants are nearly the lightest rain pant in our review and are certainly the lightest to feature a full-length zipper, weighing in at 10 ounces on our OutdoorGearLab scale. The only contender that was lighter was the 6.5 ounce Outdoor Research Helium Pant; however, unlike the Helium, the Stretch Ozonics feature full-length side zippers. While close in rankings, the Stretch Ozonic remains a few ounces lighter than our other award winners and the Marmot Minimalist Pants (11 ounces). We found it particularly amazing that when compared to the similarly designed REI Talusphere Full Zip (19.5 oz), the Stretch Ozonic is nearly half the weight.
We used our testing pair over nearly a dozen days, which has resulted in a positive outcome, as we did not tear any holes in them despite rugged use. We do believe that this model is not as abrasion resistant as others like the REI Talusphere Full Zip, or the Marmot Minimalist, though it's important to note that these pants are lighter and feature full-length zippers.
Ease of Use
The full-length side zippers made pulling these pants on over any boot, snowshoe, or crampon a breeze. However, our testers found the Velcro flaps at the top of these zippers weren't the most secure and came undone unexpectedly more frequently than other contenders; this performance was comparable to that of the Marmot PreCip pant. We liked that the Ozonic's flaps were smaller and less bulky than most, which resulted in a higher level of comfort when using a backpack's hip belt. Overall, while marginally less secure than the REI Talusphere Full Zip, the Stretch Ozonic's Velcro flaps were more comfortable than the Talusphere or the PreCip Pant.
The Stretch Ozonic rain pants are a very versatile contender that can pull some double duty for most rainy day outdoor activities. Due to their low weight, excellent freedom of movement, easy on/off design, and smaller than average packability, these pants are great for backpacking, hiking, at home mountaineering, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Their cuff isn't incredibly wide and won't fit over very many ski or snowboarding boots, making it a poor choice for these activities. The cuffs are big enough to fit over super warm mountaineering boots.
All things considered, at $150, these pants are a solid value. They are less than the Outdoor Research Foray Pant ($175) or $15 less than the more durable but less featured Marmot Minimalist. If you like these pants but aren't ready to shell out $150, we would recommend the stretchy REI Talusphere Full Zip which costs$109 (the downside is they are heavier and bulkier).
This is a rad rain pant. While the Outdoor Research Foray just barely edged out the Stretch Ozonic in our scoring, we do think that its MEGA stretchy fabric is a cool enough difference that for some folks could be more worthwhile. While it only offered average storm worthiness and did wet out faster than other models, the Stretch Ozonic remains the most breathable pant in our review.
— Ian Nicholson