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REI Talusphere Full Zip Review

A super versatile, durable, and storm-worthy pant at a great price; the downsides being it's not as compressible or light weight as other models in the fleet
rei talusphere full zip rain pants review
REI Talusphere Full Zip
Credit: REI
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Price:  $109 List
Pros:  Super stretchy fabric allows for fantastic freedom of movement, mobility, features, good value, durable
Cons:  Heavy, boot cinches are so-so, velcro waist flaps
Manufacturer:   REI
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 16, 2017
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  • Water Resistance - 25% 8.0
  • Comfort and Mobility - 18% 10.0
  • Breathability & Venting - 18% 9.0
  • Features - 5% 9.0
  • Packed Size - 12% 6.0
  • Weight - 17% 4.0
  • Durability - 5% 8.0

Our Verdict

The REI Talusphere Full Zip is a fully featured rain pant that is constructed of stretchy PU fabric, which allowed for some of the best mobility out of all contenders. The Talusphere performed well above average in two of the most important attributes of a rain pant - storm worthiness and breathability. The only downsides of the Talusphere are its weight; it's by far the heaviest model in our review and has a larger than average packed volume.

As of 2020, REI no longer makes the Talusphere Full Zip pant.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Talusphere Full Zip is a solid contender. While it didn't receive an award, it remains a worthy consideration for any backpacker or hiker. The Talusphere is packed full of usable features like full-length side-zips, and offers above average breathability, is quite storm-worthy, and is constructed with a stretchy fabric that helps with mobility and increases the overall comfort of this pant. If this pant offers solid across-the-board performance, why didn't it win an award? Its 19.5 ounces is noticeably heavier than all the other models in our review, being nearly twice as heavy as over half the models in the review. It was also less compressible than average among models in our review, something that's important to many of our testers because we feel most backcountry enthusiasts end up carrying their pants most of the time. But if you feel you're likely to end up being forced to wear your rain pants a lot then this is certainly a model to consider.

Performance Comparison

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere is a storm worthy pant loaded with features. it...
The Talusphere is a storm worthy pant loaded with features. It features a solid design and stretchy fabric that allowed for some of the most unrestricted movement among any rain pants we tested. The only thing that kept this pant from scoring higher was the fact that it was 25% heavier than most of the other pants we tested (it was also less compressible).
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Weather Resistance

The Talusphere uses REI's proprietary 2.5-layer REI Elements waterproof-breathable laminate to ensure weather resistance. In our real-world testing and side-by-side garden hose and shower tests, this competitor performed above average for its overall storm worthiness and ability to keep the user dry. Via our testing, we determined that the Talusphere fared marginally better than its stretchy and slightly more expensive counterpart, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic. Overall, the Talusphere wasn't quite as weather resistant as the Marmot Minimalist Pant.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere offers decent storm worthiness and a long-lasting dwr.
The Talusphere offers decent storm worthiness and a long-lasting DWR.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Comfort and Mobility

Along with the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pant, the Talusphere is constructed using an extremely stretchy fabric, which provided above average freedom of movement, along with excellent mobility, earning a perfect 10 out of 10. When we pushed the stretchy fabrics to the max by crawling over and under downed trees and practicing yoga, we found the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic offered a marginally better range of motion when compared to the Talusphere.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the stretchy fabric featured on the talusphere gave these pants...
The stretchy fabric featured on the Talusphere gave these pants nearly the best mobility and freedom of movement among any pant in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Breathability & Ventilation

The Talusphere was above average in breathability, earning a near perfect 9 out of 10, putting it in the top tier of performers. It was almost comparable in breathability to the Marmot Minimalist Pant and outperformed all other pants in our fleet except for the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic. The Talusphere features two full-length side zippers that allow the user to ventilate from the top or bottom via a Velcro flap; this helps secure the waist area when the upper portion of the side zipper is open. While we thought this technique functioned well in light rainstorms, or after it has stopped raining (where we might not have removed them yet), side zippers are not ideal in heavy rainstorms. Simply put, using side zippers to ventilate in moderate or heavy rainstorms can allow for water to run down the inside of your pants - straight into your boots; trust us, we tried.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere's full-length side zippers make donning them over any...
The Talusphere's full-length side zippers make donning them over any footwear (or skis, crampons, snowshoes, etc) easy and allow the user to ventilate as much as they want - so long as it's not raining.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The one caveat of the Talusphere's Velcro tabs, located near the waist of the pant, is that they don't stay closed and tended to pinch our hips under a heavily laden pack's waist belt - slightly more than other models on the market. In the end, we loved how easy and quick the full-length side zippers facilitated putting on and removing the pants; however, we had to practice caution with some packs where the waist belt would sit in relation to a hip belt.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere features an extremely stretchy fabric, which made...
The Talusphere features an extremely stretchy fabric, which made these pants among the most comfortable in the review. For better or worse, they do offer a slightly baggier than average fit.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


While the Talusphere's basic waistband design offered decent security, it wasn't quite as effective, nor as secure, as the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic's built-in webbing waist belt. We preferred the security of the Velcro flaps over the Stretch Ozonic's but found the Ozonic's flaps were lower profile, which made them more comfortable and less prone to pinch our hips (when wearing a pack).

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere pants - all cinched up.
The Talusphere pants - all cinched up.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Packed Size

In addition to weight, packed volume is where the Talusphere fell short when compared to the competition. This contender was 25% heavier than most models and was only slightly less compressible than most of the options we tested. In fact, it offered a comparable packed volume to The North Face Venture Pant and was only a little larger than the Marmot PreCip Full-Zip pant, scoring a 6 out of 10. If packed size is an important aspect, consider the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic or Outdoor Research Helium, which scored a 9 and 10 out of 10, respectively.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the talusphere pant is slightly looser than average, though they do...
The Talusphere pant is slightly looser than average, though they do offer an elastic shock cord cinch. The cinch helps keep the cuff snug against our leg. This feature certainly helped, but could see some improvements.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


The Talusphere performed poorly in the weight metric, earning a 4 out of 10. When weighed on our scale, they topped out at 19.5 ounces; this competitor is about a half pound heavier than most of the pants in our fleet and five ounces heavier than the next closest model. The Talusphere is heavy due to being a fully featured pant, which does offer a number of benefits due to the additional features. While there are heavier pants out there, we'd hardly consider the Talusphere to be lightweight.


This contender is made with 50D Polyester external fabric which is among the thickest of shell fabrics used in pants we tested. The polyester used in the Talusphere is more abrasion resistant than nylon. Overall, the Talusphere proved itself to be among the most durable in our review; they were certainly tougher than the closest stretchy competition, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic (though it's important to note that the Stretch Ozonic is half the weight).

Ease of Use

The full-length side zips allow this pant to completely zip in half, a feature that makes donning them (with any boots, snowshoes, or even skis) a breeze. The Talusphere is looser fitting than most of the pants we tested. REI added a drawcord around the ankle of the pant to help keep the excess material in check and prevent it from being floppy. Our testing team found that the drawcord functioned well, determining that it was an improvement over having nothing at all. Unfortunately, even when the cinch was fully engaged, the wide lower portion of the pant still felt a little loose around our ankles, especially when wearing lower volume footwear, like trail running shoes. This equated to having to work harder and ensure that we didn't step on the bottom cuffs of our pants.

rei talusphere full zip rain pants review - the low profile velcro flaps felt better under a heavily laden...
The low profile Velcro flaps felt better under a heavily laden pack's waist belt when compared to other models. However, it was more prone to coming undone and less secure than other options.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The teeth featured on the side zippers are larger than average and were easier to zip closed than most options; they also got hung up less frequently. Overall, we also think that these larger gauge zippers are less prone to getting hung up on other fabrics and more durable in the long run.

Best Applications

The Talusphere is easily one of the more versatile pants found in our review. A great choice for backpacking and hiking, as well as at home snowshoeing or mountaineering. Our testers agreed that they're more than durable enough for downhill or backcountry skiing and snowboarding and the pant cuffs are wide enough to fit over most ski/alpine touring boots.


These pants are a fantastic value. They use high-quality fabrics and generally have better features than similarly priced pants. They were a strong contender for our Best Buy Award, though ultimately, the Marmot PreCip Pant were $10 cheaper, and were lighter, and more compressible. It's worth noting that the Talusphere pants are more durable and storm resistant and the fabric allows for better freedom of movement.


The REI Talusphere pants are sweet, super versatile pants that come at an excellent price. Their stretchy fabric is both durable and offers some of the best freedom of movement of all rain pants we tested. They are both durable and very storm worthy. Their only downside, which kept them from being an award winner, was that they were among the heaviest and least compressible pants found in our review. For a piece of gear that most folks carry in their backpack 90+ percent of the time, it was enough of a difference that it prevented them from winning an award. However, they remain an exceptionally functional pant for a wide range of outdoor activities.

Other Versions

We tested the 32" inseam length but these pants are also available in a shorter 30" inseam that is identical to this model reviewed here.

Ian Nicholson
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