Arc'teryx Palisade Pant - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort and Mobility
The first time our lead tester pulled these on, she marched them to the top of an ancient volcanic cone on a 70-degree day in the heart of humid Appalachia. The trail was unmarked and well camouflaged by briars. She was shocked at how well the fabric shrugged them off, protecting her skin and our investment.
A generously gusseted crotch and articulated knees gave her plenty of room to take lots of big ole' high steps too. These pants move well enough for yoga, though the zippers and belt keep us from using them on the mat too often. The cut worked well for our size-small test team as well. Though the belt looks like it would make the waist less comfortable when sitting or bending over, we hardly notice it after we pull these pants on.
The integrated belt helps keep the pants snug if your weight fluctuates on a longer hiking or backpacking trip. But when we had smaller testers try these pants, and they had to snug the waist down significantly, too much fabric bunched in the front. You may need to be more careful with your size selection as a result.
Venting and Breathability
That inaugural hike we mentioned is straight down and then back up, in both directions. The temps were high for spring, the sun bright, and the humidity humming. The Palisade pant didn't seem to trap a hint of sweat, keeping us reasonably cool while shaded and protected from meanspirited brambles. We found these pants to breath well on all subsequent outings, like heading, but were most impressed with the first.
You can also roll the light, laminated (which means there is no stitching circling them) hems up quite high thanks to the thin stretchy fabric and roomy cut. This helps air circulation to cool you off quickly. And the hand pockets are mesh, which cuts down on bulk and keeps them from holding onto water.
Arc'teryx doesn't mention a durable water repellent finish on these pants, nor does it claim a sun-protective UPF rating. In our shower and splash tests, water just soaked right in. These aren't pants you want to wear on a cold and rainy day unless you have a waterproof layer. And you have no way of knowing how much of the sun's rays they're blocking, though they cut down on surface sunburns.
They do a good job of cutting the wind, though we wouldn't go so far as to call them windproof. The fabric's structure also holds it away from your legs, slowing down the transfer of cold air from the outside in. We prefer these pants for hot to crisp weather on dry days.
The most prominent feature of these hiking pants is their integrated belt. Most serious hiking pants have some way to tighten their waistline since it's common for pants to stretch out over the course of a long or multi-day adventure. Many people lose weight on longer backpacking trips as well.
This is one of the sleeker solutions we've tested. The wrap-around single belt "loop" keeps it hidden everywhere except right above the fly, and the laydown slip closure keeps the profile low. It does its job less intrusively than most, and we always appreciate a fleece-lined waistband on pants we want to put a backpack waist strap around.
The pocket placement is equally thoughtful. Arc'teryx skips the back pockets with the Palisades, a frequently unused pocket among our lady hiking friends and community. They opt instead to keep everything up front where you can reach it with a pack in place. We never love zippers on our hand pockets, but the teeth are small enough that they aren't a deterrent.
All of the pockets will easily secure a smartphone, though we prefer placing bulkier items in the thigh pockets. They hide away a tuck of folded fabric, allowing them to expand a bit to hold larger items like gloves or a hat without straining the seams against your thigh. There are even drain holes in the corner in case you spill something inside.
The Palisade pants aren't the most stylish at first glance. They offer such a flattering fit though, that we feel pretty well-dressed in them. The lack of rear pockets do make them look pretty technical, and they can scream I'm outdoorsy a little more than we'd like in social settings. Still, in a casual office environment, we'd show up in these if we had to.
They do work for a range of outdoor activities though, particularly high abrasion activities like climbing or bushwacking. The stiffer fabric keeps light brushes with thorns from snagging your skin and they showed no wear and tear when we drug them across granite or fought through thorns during testing. The breathability, belt, and pocket placement make them a nice option for backpacking trips too.
Like most Arc'teryx gear, the Palisade pants are as expensive as they are thoughtfully designed. To rationalize paying this much for hiking pants, we want to want to wear them often, and they'd better stand up to the high-use and abuse. Do they make the cut? We think so. They work well for hiking in the comfortable conditions most people enjoy, moderate to hot temps on dry days. We wouldn't mind them in a warm rain either.
Arc'teryx doesn't make any eco-friendly or labor ethics claims in relation to the Palisade pants themselves, which are made in China. They do, however, explain their commitments to work towards low-carbon solutions, make long-lasting gear, support fair trade, and improve working conditions in their supply and manufacturing chain.
We like the fit and feel of these sturdy and stretchy pants, making them an easy favorite to pull on for long days in the field. Functional pockets and protective fabric sealed the deal, keeping our map (or phone/map app) close at hand and our legs safe from stray thorns.
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