Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II Review
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Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II
|Price||$123.72 at Backcountry|
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|$164.48 at Backcountry|
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|$149.95 at Evo|
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|$92.92 at Backcountry|
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$149.00 at REI
|Pros||Stretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathable||Great performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathable||Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation, inexpensive||Great value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibes||Affordable, warm, comfortable|
|Cons||Not waterproof, thin material, climbing style||Lacks good style and warmth, average comfort||Not warm, short on features, muted style||Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent design||Light on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style|
|Bottom Line||Durable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin track||An affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and features||These are great bibs that keep the weather out and fit well, at an affordable price||A good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pants||An affordable and warm pair of ski pants with a bland style|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Tr...||Outdoor Research Sk...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Free...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Tr...||Outdoor Research Sk...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Free...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Main fabric||87% nylon, 13% spandex||88% Nylon, 12% Spandex||100% nylon 40D||100% Nylon||Nylon|
|Insulation||None||None||None||60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled)||Recycled polyester|
|Waterproofing||Pertex Shield+ (partial)||AscentShell||Pertex Shield 3L||DryVent (2-layer)||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate|
|Waistline construction||Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops||Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops||Bibs||Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops||Button zip fly with hook/loop adjustment|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.69 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.64 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.64 lbs|
|Weight (in grams)||767 g||599 g||744 g||599 g||744 g|
|# of Pockets||4||4||3||3||3|
|Vents||Exterior thigh zips, with mesh||Inner thigh zips||Exterior thigh||Inner thigh zips, with mesh||Interior thigh zips|
|Ski-specific features||beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper||Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip||Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, elastic waist|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trailbreaker II is a niche product for backcountry skiing, an activity that requires different attributes in outerwear. As such, these pants don't perform well in a few of our performance metrics, like warmth and style. However, as a backcountry ski pant, they perform well in everything they are supposed to.
Backcountry pants sometimes sacrifice weather resistance for breathability. The Trailbreaker II pants feature softshell fabrics that don't provide bomber waterproof performance, but rather protect against drier snow and a little bit of liquid water. To add weather resistance, OR added waterproof panels on front of the lower legs. The fabric feels protective and does a great job of repelling dry snow on all but the deepest days.
If you are a daily resort skier, these pants probably won't provide enough protection for you. We'd recommend almost any other pant in the review that has a waterproof shell. Chairlift rides will expose the thighs to any snow falling from the sky, which will melt from body heat and soak through the pant leg.
Fit and Comfort
The OR Trailbreaker II is a well-fitting and comfortable pant. Compared to most ski resort pants, these are much more comfortable. They are light, soft, flexible, and stretchy. The fit is slim, but not tight. We like the way they fit and stretch with our acrobatic movements. The waist comes equipped with velcro straps to help customize the fit, and the pockets are placed so that they'll be comfortable, even when full.
The softshell fabric used in the OR Trailbreaker II is very breathable. Furthermore, the waterproof panels are located away from areas that generate a lot of heat, which is a good thing for breathability. Compared to hardshell pants, these are much more breathable. Compared to other softshell pants, the material is on the thicker side, which is good for durability. We think the Trailbreaker II strikes a good balance between breathability and weather resistance.
Ventilation is further enhanced by two long outer leg vents that open without mesh backing, almost from the knee to the waist. There are zipper tabs on either end, which allows you to ventilate the top half of your leg without getting any snow into the bottom half when you are moving your poles forward on the ski track.
The OR Trailbreaker is pretty much perfect for touring in most mid-winter conditions, providing just the right amount of warmth for aerobic activity. Technically speaking, these pants have no insulation. The only thing between you and the environment is a thin piece of stretchy fabric. As such, these pants cannot compare to the warmth of more downhill-oriented competitors for resort riding. For warm spring tours, they might be a little warm still.
The Trailbreaker pants have four pockets, all of them zippered. There are two hip pockets, one of which contains a plastic clip that secures your avalanche transceiver. Two more pockets are located on the rear of each thigh. We liked this placement because storing things along the front of the thigh can be uncomfortable when skinning uphill. All of the pockets are big enough to be useful. These pants feature elastic powder cuffs that open wide enough to fit over boot buckles in uphill mode. Another feature we like is the slots in the powder cuff for a power strap. This allows easy transitions between uphill and downhill mode, without having to pull up the powder cuff to adjust the power strap.
Compared to most pants we have looked at, the Trailbreaker II pants are decidedly snug. Ski resort pants have been moving towards a neutral style, not too tight, not too baggy, with a single color design and zippers that blend in with the fabric. These are more reminiscent of alpine climbing pants and have a technical look to them. You'll stick out at the ski area, but in the backcountry, you'll fit right in and look sharp.
The OR Trailbreaker pants are less expensive than most resort-specific pants, but won't keep you as warm or well-protected. For dedicated backcountry skiers looking for a pair of pants for most days of the winter, these are a great value. We have worn past versions of this product for years, and they hold up for a long time.
These pants lack the warmth and weather resistance needed for stormy inbounds skiing, but their comfort, flexibility, durability, and features make them very useful for human-powered endeavors. And, they are less expensive than other softshell ski pants that perform only slightly better.
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