Updated Freedom Insulated
The pant we initially tested was the Freedom LRBC, which stands for "low rise boot cut". The North Face isn't offering this cut any longer, and now only offers the standard fit Freedom Insulated pant. As far as we can tell, only the fit has changed slightly, and no technical features have changed. Fabrics, insulation, pockets, etc all seem to be identical between the two styles. See the Freedom Insulated on the left, followed by the Freedom LRBC Insulated we initially tested on the right.
Though we expect the pants to perform similarly, we haven't tested them yet, so the following text refers to the LRBC model.
The easy fit of the LRBC
Comfort & Fit
The fit of The North Face LRBC isn't the most forgiving. While the LR stands for "low rise", we found the waist to be plenty high enough to keep most snow out and still be very comfortable around our midsections. The LR hits somewhere between mom jeans and teenage jeans. It doesn't offer a high back, most ski pants do, and deep powder will still find its way down the pants when you take a tumble.
The BC stands for "boot-cut," but flared would be a better description. The LRBC has the largest opening of any pants we tested, which makes it fit over any boot well, but makes a loud style statement at the same time. Multiple reviewers found the sizing to run large; however, if you size too far down, you won't be able to fit any underlayers, decreasing the warmth. The pant has a tighter waist with baggy knees, creating a relaxed look. It would be best to size appropriately and utilize the velcro waist pulls to snug down the fit.
DryVent 2-layer construction promises to keep every snowflake out, along with fully taped seams. However, all insulated pants can keep you too warm, and if you sweat on the inside, you will be damper and colder in the long run. This pant performed well and kept us dry during our short time with it, however over time the water-resistant coating around the thighs and bum will break down and require re-coating to keep the pants at their best.
The LRBC is made with The North Face's Heatseeker insulation. Our testers agreed that this was one of the warmest of the test bunch. Along with a warm underlayer, you will stay warm from winter's first to last chair wearing the LRBC. When spring hits with warmer weather, simply ditch your underlayer, and you will have a perfect amount of insulation for the spring nip. On truly warm ski days, you can still vent the inner thighs to allow a breeze in. While testing the LRBC in the backcountry, we found the pant too warm for uphill travel, although the thigh vents helped some. However, the pant is very comfortable and just the right temperature for downhill skiing.
Using the inner thigh vent on the Freedom LRBC while skiing backcountry powder.
As mentioned in the features section, The North Face LRBC
has adequately sized inner thigh vents. They do come with a zipper pull tab that's easily pulled with gloves on. The positioning of the vents is high enough to allow some air flow in our warmer areas but not so high that the zippers rub against each other. This competitor also boasts stretch vent gaiters, which is a section of mesh at the top of the inner gaiter. We did not find this to be very useful or even noticeable in assisting with ventilation.
The stretch vent system on the inner gaiter, which we didn't notice helping much.
The features of The North Face LRBC are what takes this pant from resort to backcountry so effortlessly. The waist closes with not only two snaps, but also a velcro tab. Two mesh-lined inner thigh vents keep you cooler when you decide to earn your turns. When you are ready to head downhill, simply zip them up to keep snow and wind out.
The inner thigh vents are adequate in size, but we'd prefer larger ones. The pant also features a thigh pocket with a velcro closure. While the pocket is the right size and in the right place, the fact that it doesn't have a secure closure decreases its function. The pocket would be good for snacks, sunscreen or chapstick, but not a valuable electronic item. The zipped front hand pockets are fleece-lined. However, we found the position to be unusable as the pocket falls right in the hip crease.
One outer thigh pocket and the inner thigh vent system.
The LRBC is a relaxed fit, flared leg staple for blending in on the slopes. It will be at home in the warming hut, the park rail, and the narrow off-piste chute providing enough room to do all three. If you like a baggier fit and flared leg in your everyday jeans, you will love this contender.
Powder turns in the LRBC
The North Face LRBC is a versatile, functional, and stylish pair of ski pants that will shine in the resort with occasional forays into backcountry or side country runs. It will do well in the cold with an additional underlayer, as well as spring skiing without any underlayers. This pant would be best utilized on groomed runs without deep powder, as the low rise waist won't protect your back from a powder hose.
Taking the LRBC out for a walk.
The insulated LRBC is perfectly priced at $160, giving you insulation, resort style, and reasonable function for a very approachable price. While 3-layer fabrics, this 2-layer fabric makes for a much more affordable pant.
A combination of warmth, ventilation, and the side pocket make this a great pair of pants for resort skiing with brief forays into side country. It makes a bold style statement with its flared leg opening. You will appreciate this pant's warmth, price, and style for one or two seasons.