The Cloud Ridge is the Swiss Army knife of pants. For our testing, we went backcountry skiing, resort snowboarding, bike commuting, hiking, and boating. It excelled at all these activities. The main advantage is its lightweight simplicity: its hard to find a lighter pant that is weatherproof and vents well. Most ski pants in our tests weight 22-34 ounces. The Cloud Ridge weighed in at 10.6 ounces! Those weight savings comes at the expense of some features. There are no pockets, belt loops, powder cuff or insulation. But if you want to travel fast and light, and generally save money, this pant may become your new favorite.
Patagonia Cloud Ridge Pants Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, great vent and zip options, can be used to ski, hike, bike, boat and more
Cons: No pockets, no insulation or liner, no reinforced points around the ankles
Our Analysis and Test Results
Fit and Comfort
The fit is basic: nothing special here. The combo of slightly articulated knees and lightweight material makes them very unobtrusive when skinning uphill or walking up a boot packed trail. If you're someone who thinks sky pants are just too heavy and pocket-laden, you will love the featherweight feel of these pants. While these are not lined, they still feel relatively comfortable against the skin. In colder weather, we wear long underwear or a thin pant like the Prana Brion. But in warmer weather, it's comfortable to not wear a layer under these pants. That is the beauty of simple design like this: it's straightforward to layer up or down depending on the conditions. Also, with no pockets, there is no extra material in that crucial upper thigh zone to offer resistance when taking a step.
The 3 layer DWR-coated construction offers plenty of weather resistance. We stayed dry in rain and sloppy slush conditions. The one feature these lack is a cuff at the bottom of the leg. We never had snow work its way under this cuff, but we could see it happening on particularly deep powder days. Also, there is no reinforced fabric on the inside of the boot. If you click your boots together on those uphill skin climbs, you will wear through these fast.
These look like basic rain pants with a subtly articulated knee. We got them a little on the big size so they will easily fit over layers and have a more classic "baggy ski" look. But for optimum backcountry travel speed, we would get them a little smaller. Nobody will confuse you for being a stylish skier. That said, the pants don't look that bad. They are just basic.
These are meant to be layered. They are not warm on their own as there is no insulation or lining. We gave them a relatively low warmth score for this reason.
These pants offer great ventilation. The zipper starts at the hip and goes all the way down to the ankle. This vent is on the outside and does expose the layer of clothing underneath (or your bare skin). That is one advantage that inside zips with mesh have. However, we find the external zips like this do a better job of circulating air and cooling you off. Because these unzip all the way to the bottom, they are easy to get on and off even if wearing shoes. This is a great feature when hiking or bike commuting.
The only feature these pants have is being super light, simple, and compressing into a tiny stuff sack. There are zero pockets or extra reinforced points. No belt loops.
— Chris McNamara