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Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pant - Women's Review

Technical yet comfortable and affordable, we recommend these pants for backcountry use with occasional resort days in between
Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pant - Women's
Photo: Black Diamond Equipment
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $349 List | $328.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, flexible fabric, affordable, lots of features
Cons:  Not completely weatherproof, gets dirty easily
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 10, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 10
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Warmth - 15% 4
  • Features - 10% 9
  • Style - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The women's Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pants are an uninsulated, flexible, and mostly weatherproof technical ski pant. They are a great option for women seeking a mid-budget backcountry pant that performs well in many kinds of conditions. While it has limited color options and the pockets were not water-tight during testing, they come with features a backcountry skier wants, such as a beacon-specific pocket with a clip, large unlined vents, and a removable, low profile belt. Its 4-way stretch fabric means that movements are not inhibited while skinning uphill or carving turns down, achieving exceptional mobility. Overall, they are a great technical outer layer for a backcountry skier on a budget looking for an affordable, comfortable function. They also function well inbounds.

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Pros Comfortable, flexible fabric, affordable, lots of featuresSpacious pockets, color and size options, weatherproof, versatility, ventilation, built to lastComfortable, high-performing, pocket space, 'core' lookBackcountry specific features, comfort and stretch, pocket spaceComfortable, warm, RECCO
Cons Not completely weatherproof, gets dirty easilyPriceNarrow upper thigh, cuff guardPrice, boxy fit, not for resort daysNot great for backcountry use, waterproofing
Bottom Line Comfortable and lightweight, these are your backcountry friendA reliable and comfortable pant that is ready for anythingReady for anything, these bibs combine form and functionAn ideal bib for backcountry enthusiasts, fully loaded with featuresIf you want a basic insulated pant to keep you warm and comfortable at the resort, this pair is for you
Rating Categories Black Diamond Recon Stretch... Sentinel AR Pants Flylow Foxy Bib Hemispheres Bib Insulated Snowbelle Pants
Weather Resistance (25%)
8
9
8
9
6
Fit And Comfort (25%)
10
8
8
8
9
Ventilation (15%)
6
8
9
8
6
Warmth (15%)
4
6
5
5
9
Features (10%)
9
8
9
9
7
Style (10%)
6
7
8
6
8
Specs Black Diamond... Sentinel AR Pants Flylow Foxy Bib Hemispheres Bib Insulated...
Measured weight (lbs) 1.5 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.4 lbs 1.3 lbs 1.4 lbs
Waterproofing 3-layer BD.dry 3-layer Gore-Tex 3-layer Intuitive stretch stormshell 3-layer Gore-Tex C-Knit 2-layer H2No Performance Standard
Vents External thigh Outer thigh Inner and outer thigh Outer thigh Inner thigh
Insulation/Lining None Brushed liner None None 100% polyester taffeta
Main fabric 84% Nylon / 16% Elastane, 4-way stretch 70D nylon 3L Stretch Stormshell Intuitive 70D nylon 75D 100% polyester
Waistline construction Button and zip fly with removable belt Button & zip fly w/ integrated belt Bib Bib Button & zip fly
Pockets 2 zippered thigh 2 zippered thigh 2 mid thigh, 2 chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered kangaroo, 1 thigh 2 zippered hand

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Making unrestricted turns thanks to the 4-way stretch provided by...
Making unrestricted turns thanks to the 4-way stretch provided by Recon Stretch shell pants.
Photo: Reed Goodhue

Weather Resistance


The fabric specs for this pant are impressive, and in our tests and on-snow experiences, they kept our testers completely dry. Instead of opting for a stiff nylon shell of many shell pants, Black Diamond utilizes a flexible, 3-layer fabric that doesn't lose waterproofing or durability despite being stretchy. It is a little heavier than nylon shells, but we were happy with the trade-off. The seams are fully taped, and the zippers are waterproof. Instead of a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, Black Diamond constructed these pants with their proprietary BD.dry membrane, which likely helps to keep the cost of these pants down. Our testers love the innovation in the fabric of this pant, combining flexibility with strong wind and water protection.


Similar to other pants tested in this category, the Recon Stretch Pants were put through the thorough "shower test," in which testers wore them in the shower for three minutes to assess their waterproofing functionality in a human-made downpour. After examining seams, pockets, and inner-dryness, testers remained dry but found one minor issue.

The pants kept our legs dry throughout the shower test, though there...
The pants kept our legs dry throughout the shower test, though there were issues with one pocket.
Photo: Sarah Sherman

During the shower test, the Recon Stretch Pants kept testers' legs dry, and they successfully beaded water from the fabric without getting heavy from absorption. However, it was discovered that the pocket designed to hold a beacon does not zip fully closed, allowing some water to get inside the pocket. This design is likely intended so you can use your beacon, tethered to the clip inside the pocket, out of your pocket without leaving a gaping opening at the mouth of the pocket. Considering this pocket was created to hold a valuable electronic device, we would prefer a watertight pocket. Unless you spend a long time in very wet weather, though, we don't expect this to be an issue on backcountry ski tours and resort skiing. Despite some water getting into the pocket in our rather extreme shower test, the water didn't move from inside the pocket to our legs.

The beacon pocket does not fully zip shut, which allowed water to...
The beacon pocket does not fully zip shut, which allowed water to enter during the shower test.
Photo: Sarah Sherman

Fit and Comfort


The Recon Stretch Pants' four-way stretch shell fabric is a big reason we recommend these pants. Our testers found this fabric and relaxed fit to provide both a stretchy and comfortable feel that allowed for optimal mobility on the mountain. From crouching down to evaluate snow pits in the backcountry to getting tricky at the resort, this pair provides some of the greatest range of motion of any ski pant we have tested. Say goodbye to stiff, uninsulated shells.


Our testers found these pants to be true to size, fitting well in the waist and a little baggier in the legs, achieving the "relaxed" fit. The removable, low-profile belt is discrete but effective at fine-tuning the fit around the waist. Articulation in the pants' knees and seat, plus a gusseted crotch section, adds to the mobility. The ideal ski pant is one that you can forget is there, and the Recon Stretch Pants achieves that through its stretch and adjustability.

Our testers enjoyed the relaxed fit the pants provide, fitting...
Our testers enjoyed the relaxed fit the pants provide, fitting snuggly at the waist but baggier around the thighs and knees.
Photo: Sarah Sherman

Ventilation


Counter to warmth, ventilation is another key component of a pair of backcountry ski pants. Vents allow for better temperature regulation when you work up a sweat touring uphill. These pants feature two vents, one on each leg, that allow for adequate temperature regulation, although there is room for improvement.


The vents are located on the outside of the thighs, which is better for promoting airflow than those placed on the inside of the thigh. They also lack a mesh lining, which is ideal for maximum ventilation. However, the vents themselves are not very long, and on an especially warm, early-season day, we wished for a little more airflow found on models with more extensive leg vents. This is our biggest complaint with this pair of pants, and it's only because we can imagine ventilation being a little bit better. We think ventilation is sufficient in the Stretch Recon for most pursuits, though.

One of the two outer thigh vents, open to promote airflow and shed...
One of the two outer thigh vents, open to promote airflow and shed heat.
Photo: Reed Goodhue

Warmth


If you are on the hunt for a backcountry ski pant, it is likely that you are looking for a pair that is an uninsulated shell that isn't very warm. It is for that purpose that the Recon Stretch Pants were designed, acting as a 3-layer shell that is intended to be worn with layers on cold days. Because of this, they scored low on the warmth metric—which can be a positive for those looking to set the skin track or simply prefer to use base layers for insulation on ski days. The relaxed fit of these pants lends them to layering underneath without restricting movement.


The inside of the pants, showing the shell material (no insulation)...
The inside of the pants, showing the shell material (no insulation) and seam-taping.
Photo: Sarah Sherman

Features


Our testers appreciate that the Recon Stretch Pants comes fully loaded with features designed to enhance the backcountry skiing experience without forgetting about resort skiers. Like most ski pants, these include a scuff guard on the instep and an internal snow gaiter. The gaiter has a vertical hook and loop closure that increases accessibility to boot buckles and power straps without lifting the gaiter above the boots. There are also zippers alongside the bottom of the legs for easy access to one's boots. We appreciate Black Diamond's efforts to increase the user-friendliness of the interface between the pants and ski boots, and anyone who likes to make adjustments throughout the day will, too.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The Recon Stretch Pants also come with a removable, built-in belt that allows for a customizable fit and a beacon-specific pocket with an internal clip that our ski touring testers like. They also come with RECCO technology that, while not meant to be used as a standalone snow safety measure, can assist in rescue endeavors at resorts. Overall, our testers found these pants to be fully-loaded with features that are actually useful and appreciated.

Style


The Recon Stretch Pants come in only a few color options, and the design doesn't take any stylistic chances. There isn't much to report here. Backcountry enthusiasts, though, might appreciate this streamlined look with fewer pockets to fuss about. Throughout testing, it was noted that the pants became scuffed and dirty easily. For those who prefer a sleek, non-flashy look, the Recon's minimalist design may be appealing.


Rocking the black option of these pants, which also come in a light...
Rocking the black option of these pants, which also come in a light grey.
Photo: Reed Goodhue

Value


Compared to other products on the market, the Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pants are nicely priced for technical function. They performed well during our on-mountain testing and kept us comfortable throughout the process. Technical pants usually cost much more than this pair.

Scoping lines and enjoying the relaxed fit of the pants.
Scoping lines and enjoying the relaxed fit of the pants.
Photo: Reed Goodhue

Conclusion


The women's Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pants are a great option for most backcountry skiers who also enjoy skiing in-bounds. Coming in at a price that doesn't break the bank, the Recon Stretch Pants provide comfort and functionality in most conditions. These pants have most features desired in a pair of technical pants, fully-loaded with a beacon-specific pocket, a removable, built-in belt, RECCO technology, and scuff guards and gaiters.

Sarah Sherman