Arc'teryx makes carefully tailored outdoor and mountain clothing. Their Sabre Pants are an immaculately constructed example of high-end ski wear.
You can't see them in there, but the Arc'teryx Sabre does all it needs to do to keep out precip of all kinds.
Fit and Comfort
Interestingly, the Sabre pants were not the most comfortable in our test. In other categories of clothing, OutdoorGearLab testers find that Arc'teryx clothing fits universally very well. For a couple of reasons, the Sabre feels slightly confining and stiff. First of all, the fabric is stiff and thick, as the monolithic laminated fabric makes for a less comfortable garment in this case. These little "complaints" are barely a concern when put up against all the admirable attributes.
The Sabre's are more comfortable than the Columbia Bugaboo II Pants, the Norrona Lofoten Pants, and the FlyLow Gear Baker Bibs. The most comfortable pants in our test are the Mammut Bormio, with fuzzy fabric inside and out. The Bormio, however, is a specialty piece with insulation. When looking at shell-only pants, we find that those with a separate hanging liner like the Patagonia Powder Bowl and Patagonia SnowShot Pants, as well as The North Face Freedom Pants are more comfortable overall.
The shell fabric of the Sabre Pants is as good as they come. Gore-Tex material protects extraordinary well while still offering considerable breathability. All of the zippers are effectively sealed, which effectively keeps out the wind, water, and snow. In an earlier version of the Sabre, we complained about the internal cuff gaiter. The simple elastic cuff was a little loose over boots. This allowed for wind and snow to blow up and into the pants. We found this to be a noticeable problem on very windy days on our stormy home mountain in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Over the course of a long day of storm skiing, testers' calves and socks would get wet, snowy, and cold.
However, testament to Arc'teryx's product development commitment, the latest version of the Sabre is vastly improved in this regard. The internal cuff gaiter is far more snug, in a good way. In their current form, only the Norrona Lofoten Pants zipped to a matching jacket and the full bib construction of the FlyLow Baker exceed the weather protection of the Sabre. Any of the pants using proprietary shell fabrics, like The North Face Freedom Pants and the Patagonia SnowShot just don't have same confidence inspiring feel of the Gore-Tex pants.
We feel this is a function not of the waterproofness, but of the breathability. Less breathable pants collect condensation inside the shell fabric in wet conditions. This makes them feel wetter during wetter weather. It isn't outside moisture getting in, but it feels like that. Regardless of the source of discomfort, Gore Tex garments are more comfortable in rugged weather. Arc'teryx products use Gore fabrics exclusively.
The clean lines and tailored fit of the Sabre suit users of all shapes and objectives.
The single-layer, laminated construction of the Sabre makes it one of the least insulating pieces in our test. Only the Flylow Baker Bib and Norrona Lofoten Gore Tex Pro offers similar design. As compared to these other two, however, the lightly brushed inner layer is ever so slightly warmer than they are. These pants require insulating underneath for added warmth. This is not a problem, as most skiers will do exactly that, perhaps even adjusting layers of underwear for different conditions and temperatures.
The Columbia Bugaboo II Pants are much warmer, while we granted a Top Pick award to the moderately insulated Spyder Dare. For cold skiers in cold climates, the Spyder Dare is a better choice than the uninsulated Sabre.
With just a single layer of fabric, and long vent zippers, the Sabre Pants vent well enough. On a long backcountry ski tour on a relatively warm day, our lead tester maintained a comfortable temperature. The close competitor Norrona Lofoten Pants vent better and are equipped with longer zippers. The Mammut Bormio vents seem to suck air in a little better, while the Flylow Gear Baker Bibs have twice as many vent zippers as the Sabre.
Overall, however, the venting of the Sabre is satisfactory. Our one wish is that the vents are turned more forward facing, like on the Mammut Bormio; forward facing vents on a forward sliding skier bring in more cooling air than the aft-mounted zips of the Sabre.
The long, non-mesh backed vents of the Sabre are effective at letting the heat out. Their rearward positioning isn't as effective at some at funneling in the cooler air.
The cut of the Sabre is updated for modern tastes. Ski pant fashion used to be baggier, and is slimming down. Arc Teryx has adapted the Sabre to follow trends. Thankfully, narrower fitting pants are more functional.
Arc'teryx nails the style category. They don't make the most "steezy" clothing, but they deliver a solid and clean look. These award winning pants are no exception. The cut is just the right amount of baggy and the color selection is spot on. No pants in our test are a svelte as the Sabre, but the Spyder Dare accomplishes a comparable level of sophistication.
The Norrona Lofoten Pants are also a worthy stylistic comparison, as both of these companies are aiming for a no-holds-barred product that performs as well as it looks. In comparing the Lofoten and Sabre, we prefer the cleaner lines of the Sabre.
The Arc'teryx Sabre is suited to all around ski life. Whether a cold day in the backcountry, or a hot day on the resort, or anything in between, the Sabre will serve you well.
This award winner offers a great feature set. The pockets are well-placed and useful and the Recco receiver is appreciated. We do wish that Arc'teryx had a system that joined pants and jackets together, and we would appreciate another pocket or two for organization on long ski resort days. The Spyder Dare has a similar amount of features, but checks different boxes. The Spyder Dare doesn't have Recco, but it does have two more pockets than the Sabre and attaches to a matching jacket. Both the Dare and Sabre have more features than the Columbia Bugaboo II and than the Patagonia SnowShot.
These are great all-around pants. You can get away with no long underwear on a hot spring day or hunker down with extra insulation underneath in burly conditions. For all-around ski resort use, for hundreds of days a year for years on end, these award winners will do you well.
These are the most expensive pants in our test. However, they will last for years to come, and the look and fit appeal to many skiers. The weather protection and quality materials justify the cost, and the classy appearance seals the deal.
Like all their clothing, the Arc'teryx Sabre pants are well-made and well thought-out.
The Sabre pants are beefy and confidence inspiring in foul weather and fair. Shown here, a previous color scheme in an earlier test. Between tests, Arc Teryx addressed all of our concerns. As a result the Sabre comes out on top now.