REI Co-op First Chair GTX Bib Snow Pants - Women's Review
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|Pros||Weather resistant Gore-Tex, great value, very comfortable||Roomy pockets, great weather resistance, comfortable, good value||Very warm, good ventilation, affordable price||Affordable, warm, stylish||Price, warmth|
|Cons||Pockets could be more functional, some elements of construction are not very weather resistant||Zipper construction, limited style and color options||Limited style and color options, few extra features||Limited use, hard to size right||No vents, limited features|
|Bottom Line||This well-priced bib is an excellent value for a pant with Gore-Tex construction||A comfortable, protective, high-performing shell pant at a surprisingly reasonable price point||Simple yet functional, this bib is an affordable option for those looking for a basic design with solid performance||A warm, stylish, and functional pant that comes at a great price||This is a basic pant that is a solid option for a first timer who isn't sure if they want to invest in the sport|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op First Cha...||Outdoor Research Sk...||REI Co-op Powderbou...||The North Face Free...||Columbia Bugaboo Om...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op First Cha...||Outdoor Research Sk...||REI Co-op Powderbou...||The North Face Free...||Columbia Bugaboo Om...|
|Measured Weight||1.7 lbs||1.3 lbs||1.7 lbs||1.6 lbs||1.4 lbs|
|Waterproofing||2-layer Gore-Tex||3-layer AscentShell||2-layer Peak||2-layer DryVent||Omni-Tech|
|Vents||Thigh||Outer thigh||Inner thigh, outer thigh||Inner thigh||None|
|Insulation/Lining||Recycled polyester||None||40g polyester||60g Heatseeker Eco, 90% recycled polyester||60g Microtemp XF II polyester|
|Main fabric||100% polyester||88% nylon, 12% spandex||Nylon||160D nylon||100% nylon twill|
|Waistline construction||Bib||Button and zip fly||Bib||Button and zip fly||Button & zip fly|
|Pockets||1 zippered chest, 2 zippered thigh||2 zippered hand, 2 zippered thigh||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest||2 zippered hand, 1 velcro cargo||2 zippered hand|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This well-priced bib is an excellent choice for those who want the superior protection of Gore-Tex without breaking the bank. The REI Co-op First Chair GTX Bib impressed us with its supremely comfy bib design and surprising weather resistance for the price.
The Gore-Tex membrane in this pant suggested that it would perform well in the field and our controlled tests. It did not disappoint; even when the face fabric absorbed water, the membrane kept us warm and dry.
While this premium waterproof/breathable membrane performed as expected, we found some weak points in the construction of the pant itself. The Gore-Tex material prevented total wet-through, but when the DWR finish began to wear down, the face material absorbed water in higher-pressure situations like sitting on a long, stormy chairlift ride. We also found that the non-water-resistant zippers were susceptible to permeation when snow crept in under the fabric guarding these zippers.
We appreciate how the mid-rise bib of these pants could lock out cold and weather on really deep days. This added level of protection helped us greatly if we took a big tumble in deep pow. We also found the cuffs grippy and their water-resistant polyester fabric effective at keeping snow from finding its way into the pant.
Fit and Comfort
The First Chair is a very comfortable bib. Initially, putting on this bib could be a little restrictive. We quickly learned that the soft knit lining and the mechanical stretch of the exterior fabric allowed great ease of movement. The articulated knees certainly amplified this mobility.
We especially like the knit panel in the mid-back of these bibs, which prevented them from compressing our stomachs when bending down to pick something up or buckle boots. This mesh panel also helped to increase mobility when touring or hiking uphill. These bibs are also adjustable, and we found the suspender element to help them fit a wider range of torso lengths and sizes.
This bib has our favorite type of leg ventilation: open outer thigh vents. When things got a little hot, these vents quickly allowed ample airflow to begin circulating the legs and behind the bib element. These vents double as a drop-tail adjustment, so they are higher on the leg than in some other pants. We did not find that this affected their performance.
A slight drawback in the ventilation of this pant is in the fabric's breathability. While the Gore-Tex should provide good breathability, the recycled polyester lining of the pant seems to infringe on this. We found it tended to cling to moisture and heat when the exertion levels went up. This could be helped with the thigh vents, but not completely remedied.
As a shell-style pant, the REI First Chair Bib did not exactly excel in the warmth category. This isn't surprising, yet the soft, knit liner in the upper half of the pants and the higher rise of the pants add a little extra warmth compared to single-layer construction shells.
The shell construction allows you to control your insulation, which we love. This is important because it can also help you from overheating, and we all know how quickly dried sweat can make you feel cold and clammy on a long chairlift ride.
These bibs have quite a few features, including their suspender element and drop-tail (essential for easy and quick bathroom breaks). They have three pockets, high-functioning thigh vents, scuff guards, and well-designed elastic cuffs with a breathable mesh attachment point. We like the articulated pockets, which feature an extra fold of fabric. This holds the pocket close to the body when not in use but allows ample room for everything from snacks, to sunscreen to beers.
Unfortunately, we found it hard to find a good use for the hook and loop closure drop pocket on the thigh. The lack of a zipper on this pocket made it dubious to use for anything we were worried about losing or getting wet. Luckily, the smaller zip pocket on the bib served as a great, safe place for more valuable items.
We were impressed with the style of these pants. We love the subtle shifts in the color scheme throughout the pant: slightly brighter buttons and zippers and slightly darker scuff guards contrast nicely with the body of the pant. The more muted tones land this firmly in the category of subtle colors, but it is well done. We wish there were more options in the color department to give more versatility here.
The cut of these pants also leaves a little extra room in the legs for layering, which gives these pants a relaxed look. That looseness is balanced with a trim, stretchy low back and waist, a very flattering touch. The combination of these two gives this functional pant a modern, freeride look.
Should You Buy the REI First Chair GTX Bib?
With versatility and a great value, it's hard to beat the First Chair GTX Bib. This is an excellent option if you don't want to break the bank but want a bib that will still perform in adverse weather conditions.
What Other Women's Ski Pants Should You Consider?
If you want the top-of-the-line performance of Gore-Tex and can afford to splurge on top-of-the-line construction, consider the award-winning Arc'teryx Sentinel Pant. If a removable bib is also appealing, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants - Women's are also very impressive pants.
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