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Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II Review

Durable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin track
Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II
Credit: Backcountry
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Price:  $225 List | $168.71 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathable
Cons:  Not waterproof, thin material, climbing style
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 15
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 3.0
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Ventilation - 20% 10.0
  • Warmth - 10% 3.0
  • Features - 10% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II is a breathable, comfortable, and heavily-featured ski pant at a reasonable price. These are specifically made for human-powered skiing, with large vents and a breathable shell material that will keep you cool on the uptrack. Softshell pants are inherently less waterproof than hardshells, but these do the trick if the snow isn't too deep. The pockets and features are well-conceived, and the pants are so comfortable that you'll think you are in pajamas. These pants weigh about the same as other softshell pants in the market. If you are looking for a good pair of softshell ski pants at an affordable price, these are the best option.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $168.71 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$140 List
$139.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Stretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathableGreat performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathableGood weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation, inexpensiveGreat value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibesAffordable, warm, comfortable
Cons Not waterproof, thin material, climbing styleLacks good style and warmth, average comfortNot warm, short on features, muted styleLimited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent designLight on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style
Bottom Line Durable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin trackAn affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and featuresThese are great bibs that keep the weather out and fit well, at an affordable priceA good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pantsAn 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%)
3.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Fit and Comfort (25%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Ventilation (20%)
10.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Warmth (10%)
3.0
4.0
4.0
9.0
8.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Style (10%)
4.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
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 (elastic? snaps?) 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
Recco? No No No No No

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.

Performance Comparison


Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - the trailbreaker ii pants hard at work on the skin track.
The Trailbreaker II pants hard at work on the skin track.
Credit: sam willits

Weather Resistance


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - large panels of waterproof fabric (seen here in gray) keep the legs...
Large panels of waterproof fabric (seen here in gray) keep the legs dry.
Credit: sam willits

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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - a slim fit and stretchy softshell fabric make acrobatic movements a...
A slim fit and stretchy softshell fabric make acrobatic movements a breeze in the OR Trailbreaker II.
Credit: Sam Willits

Ventilation


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - long side vents without mesh provide great ventilation.
Long side vents without mesh provide great ventilation.
Credit: sam willits

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.

Warmth


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - the fit of the or trailbreaker ii allows room for layering underneath.
The fit of the OR Trailbreaker II allows room for layering underneath.
Credit: sam willits

Features


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - the right hip pocket of the or trailbreaker ii also holds a clip for...
The right hip pocket of the OR Trailbreaker II also holds a clip for an avalanche transceiver.
Credit: Sam Willits

Style


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - we don't particularly like the snug cut and two-tone color panels...
We don't particularly like the snug cut and two-tone color panels, but you be the judge.
Credit: sam willits

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II ski pants - gearing up for a backcountry ski tour on teton pass in the or...
Gearing up for a backcountry ski tour on Teton Pass in the OR Trailbreaker II.
Credit: sam willits

Jeff Dobronyi
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