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Arc'teryx Sabre AR Pant Review

These pants are the best of the best, at a price
Arc'teryx Sabre AR Pant
Photo: Arc'teryx
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $549 List | $549.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Immaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy lining
Cons:  Expensive, light on features
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 10, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 20% 7
  • Warmth - 10% 4
  • Features - 10% 4
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Sabre AR is our overall Editors' Choice, retaining its title. These pants fit perfectly on a variety of body types, are comfortable to wear, and provide immaculate weather protection. Plus, they're stylish. While a bit short on features and warmth, these are not necessarily detractions in our minds, because they allow custom layering underneath and lightweight, sleek performance. Our main issue is the price. These pants are quite expensive, and you can find other pants that almost match the performance of the Sabre AR at a lower price. Still, frequent users will appreciate the refinement of these pants.

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Pros Immaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy liningGood weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilationFashionable, carefully tailored, excellent weather protectionComprehensive protection, many pockets, ski bum styling, excellent leg ventilationWarm, comfy, weather resistant
Cons Expensive, light on featuresShell pants provide little warmth, short on features, muted styleMesh-backed vents, doesn’t have all the bells and whistlesStiff fabric, suspender buckles are uncomfortable, heavySmall vents, snug fit, racer style
Bottom Line Excellent ski pants in every regard, and you'll pay for itNot the most stylish bibs, but they are very comfortable and keep weather outGreat ski pants for a variety of applications and a wide range of skiers and ridersRugged, weather-ready hightop pants that shout “I love skiing, and I do it a lot"If warmth is a primary concern, check out these ski pants
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Sabre AR Pant Outdoor Research Carbide Bib Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants FlyLow Gear Baker Bib Spyder Dare GTX
Weather Resistance (25%)
9
8
9
9
8
Fit And Comfort (25%)
8
8
7
4
6
Ventilation (20%)
7
8
5
8
5
Warmth (10%)
4
4
6
4
10
Features (10%)
4
6
6
9
7
Style (10%)
9
6
8
7
6
Specs Arc'teryx Sabre AR... Outdoor Research... Patagonia Powder... FlyLow Gear Baker... Spyder Dare GTX
Main fabric N80p-X Gore-Tex with Cordura Nylon 3L cuff fabric 100% nylon 40D 4.6-oz 150-denier 100% recycled polyester 2L 100% polyester Polyester plain weave 2L
Insulation Laminated fleecy lining None Hanging mesh lining None 40 g Primaloft Silver Eco synthetic
Waterproofing N80p-X Gore-Tex (3-layer) Pertex Shield 3L Gore-Tex w/ DWR finish (2-layer) OmniBloq DWR Gore-Tex laminate and PFCecFree DWR (2-layer)
Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?) Snaps. Built-in elastic belt Bibs Snap/zipper fly with adjustable tabs Bibs Snap/zipper fly with internal adjustment and removable suspenders
Weight (in pounds) 1.32 lbs 1.64 lbs 1.67 lbs 1.78 lbs 1.79 lbs
Weight (in grams) 599 g 744 g 756 g 807 g 812 g
# of Pockets 3 3 4 5 5
Vents? Exterior thigh zips, no mesh Exterior thigh Exterior thigh zips, with mesh Inner and outer thigh zips, no mesh Inner thigh zips, with mesh
Ski-specific features Key/pass clip inside pocket, touring cuff, scuff guards Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, attach to matching jacket's powder cuff Bibs, attach to matching jacket's powder skirt Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, cuff zipper
Recco? Yes No Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

These pants excel where ski pants should. They offer best-in-class weather protection, top-notch comfort, and style, and ventilate well. Overall, this combination was enough to earn our Editors' Choice Award. There are warmer pants out there, and pants with more features, but this is easily the most versatile and well-constructed pant in our review.

Performance Comparison


The Sabre AR pants during testing in the Wyoming backcountry.
The Sabre AR pants during testing in the Wyoming backcountry.
Photo: tom causley

Weather Resistance


We can always count on Arc'teryx products for weather protection. Their roots in coastal British Columbia ensure that their clothing is built to withstand heavy snow, driving rain, and gale-force winds. Their construction is excellent, to boot. These pants are built with Gore-Tex in the shell for best-in-class weather resistance. All seams are sealed, and the zippers are all waterproof.


The sleek design of these pants means that there are no extra flaps of fabric that can catch snow or wind. These pants shed all precipitation easily. Powder cuffs prevent snow from entering the legs of the pants, and the Sabre AR powder cuffs also feature two slits for the power strap to be fastened over the powder cuff. This provides extra weather prevention, and also allows easy transitions for backcountry skiing. The thick shell fabric easily protects against the wind. Our testers never felt the breeze through the shell.

The Sabre AR pants easily fended off snow and precipitation during...
The Sabre AR pants easily fended off snow and precipitation during our test.
Photo: Tom Causley

Fit and Comfort


We have come to expect excellent tailoring from Arc'teryx, and the Sabre AR upholds this reputation. These pants fit like a glove. They are perfectly cut through the hips and legs, and allow a full range of motion, without feeling too tight or too baggy. These pants fit very well and are true to size.


They are also comfortable to wear. We did not find any places where the cut inhibits motion. The interior of the shell fabric has a fleece-brushed liner, which prevents the fabric from feeling plasticky, as other 3-layer pants often do. In a testament to their comfort, we found the burly and resort-specific Sabre to be also excellent for backcountry touring.

The Sabre AR has a great fit, not too baggy, but enough room to move...
The Sabre AR has a great fit, not too baggy, but enough room to move around.
Photo: sam willits

Ventilation


Ventilation in the Sabre AR is provided by long external leg vents. These vents don't have mesh backing, which is great for maximizing airflow. The Gore-Tex fabric is also relatively breathable, but the brushed fleece lining will trap some heat and make the pants feel hotter.


The only way Arc'teryx could improve the ventilation in these pants would be to add vents in the inner legs as well. Other pants in our review feature vents on both the inside and outside of the legs for cross-ventilation. Still, the Sabre AR pants ventilate as well as you would likely ever need. We took these pants into the backcountry, where the vents provided excellent airflow for hot uphill travel.

Long, exterior side vents without mesh allow great ventilation.
Long, exterior side vents without mesh allow great ventilation.

Warmth


These pants don't provide much in the way of warmth or insulation. We don't mind this, as we prefer shell pants that allow us to layer underneath as necessary. Other pants in the review are warmer, with synthetic insulation or hanging liners made of fleece or mesh.


Our lower bodies aren't as sensitive to cold as our upper bodies, and as such, most skiers will prefer a shell-only pant for their lower legs. These pants are shells, but they also feature a brushed fleece lining, which provides a minimal amount of insulation power as warm air will be caught between the fleece fibers. This is just enough warmth for us to enjoy. On the coldest days of winter, layer properly, and these pants will keep you warm.

The thin, brushed fleece liner of the Sabre AR's shell fabric adds a...
The thin, brushed fleece liner of the Sabre AR's shell fabric adds a small amount of insulating power, as well as great next-to-skin feel.
Photo: sam willits

Features


The Sabre AR is decidedly light on features. These pants offer two zippered leg pockets, each located on the thigh. One pocket has a loop for attaching car keys, and the other has a mesh slot for a cell phone. For what it's worth, we put our cell phone in the mesh pocket, and it died quickly in the cold. Other than that, these pants are bare-bones. Other pants have more features, and thus rank higher in this category, but we weigh features less than any other metric.


When it comes to features, as long as the pants have a couple of pockets and elastic powder cuffs, we don't miss the bells and whistles that other pants might have. Chances are, your ski jacket will have all of the pockets you need. By omitting more pockets, Arc'teryx is able to give these pants a killer style, sleek cut, and keep the weight down.

A closer look at the thigh pockets and waterproof zippers.
A closer look at the thigh pockets and waterproof zippers.
Photo: sam willits

Style


The Sabre AR pants have a neutral, yet refined, style. They are cut just on the snug side of average, which looks great and fits the style trends of modern ski clothing. The pants are not baggy, but open up enough to fit easily over ski boots. The zippers are clean and discreet. We wish other pants would take style cues from these pants. We think these are the best looking ski pants on the market.


We like the look of these pants. Most of the color options are muted, but they also come in pink if you're trying to stick out. These pants don't have any fabric flaps hanging off the sides, compared to other pants that have cargo pockets, velcro flaps, or zipper storm flaps. This gives them a sleek, uniform, and clean look that we adore. These pants won't necessarily stick out in a crowd, but they will garner double-takes for their refined look.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


These pants are not cheap. For the high performance and durability that Arc'teryx guarantees, the cost is worth it for the most hardcore and serious skiers. Many other pants on the market almost match the performance of the Sabre AR and cost less. But for those who want the best of the best, these pants are worth it. They will provide excellent performance for a very long time.

The Sabre AR pants will keep you dry and looking good for years.
The Sabre AR pants will keep you dry and looking good for years.
Photo: tom causley

Conclusion


With great weather protection, durability, and style, the Sabre AR pants are our Editors' Choice. These pants are the total package, combining Gore-Tex fabric with impeccable design to produce one of the most weather resistant pants on the market. With a refined fit, excellent comfort, and fashionable style, these pants will make you look and feel good while you're skiing. If you need pants with tremendous warmth for below-zero conditions, or pants with pockets galore, look elsewhere. But overall, these pants are the best money can buy.

Lead editor Jeff Dobronyi ripping some pow turns on a cold day in...
Lead editor Jeff Dobronyi ripping some pow turns on a cold day in the Primo Puff on top and Sabre AR pants on bottom.

Jeff Dobronyi