REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Pant Review
Cons: Light on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Pant
$97.29 at REI
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|Pros||Affordable, warm, comfortable||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||Stretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathable|
|Cons||Light on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style||Lacks good style and warmth, average comfort||Not warm, short on features, muted style||Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent design||Not waterproof, thin material, climbing style|
|Bottom Line||An affordable and warm pair of ski pants with a bland style||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||Durable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin track|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Powderbou...||Outdoor Research Sk...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Free...||Outdoor Research Tr...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Powderbou...||Outdoor Research Sk...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Free...||Outdoor Research Tr...|
|Main fabric||Nylon||88% Nylon, 12% Spandex||100% nylon 40D||100% Nylon||87% nylon, 13% spandex|
|Insulation||Recycled polyester||None||None||60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled)||None|
|Waterproofing||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate||AscentShell||Pertex Shield 3L||DryVent (2-layer)||Pertex Shield+ (partial)|
|Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?)||Button zip fly with hook/loop adjustment||Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops||Bibs||Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops||Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.64 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.64 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.69 lbs|
|Weight (in grams)||744 g||599 g||744 g||599 g||767 g|
|# of Pockets||3||4||3||3||4|
|Vents?||Interior thigh zips||Inner thigh zips||Exterior thigh||Inner thigh zips, with mesh||Exterior thigh zips, with mesh|
|Ski-specific features||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, elastic waist||Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip||Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs||beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Powderbound Insulated are an across-the-board average pair of ski pants. It doesn't excel anywhere, although they are relatively warm.
These pants use a proprietary waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the elements out. In our shower test, water never made it inside the pants, but the DWR finish wore off relatively quickly when we rubbed the fabric. We didn't encounter any wet, rainy days during our testing period on the slopes, but we expect the exterior fabric of these pants to wet out during a long day in wet snow or rain. Furthermore, the zippers aren't waterproof, and when we tried to get water through the zippers and into the pockets during the shower test, it wasn't that hard to saturate the zippers and feel moisture in the pockets. Despite this somewhat unrealistic scenario, other pants have more weather resistance and fully waterproof zippers and seams. Still, the Powderbound works well enough for most days in the snow.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the Powderbound is decidedly casual and loose, rather than form-fitting and snug. In most instances, this wasn't a problem, though some testers wished that the pants had a slightly more articulated and contoured fit and less baggy material. That said, the loose fit is nowhere near uncomfortably baggy. It gives the user plenty of flexibility without getting in the way. The interior nylon material is soft against the skin or base layer, and the waistband features a soft fleecy material. Overall, these pants aren't anything special, and we didn't notice them too much throughout the day, which is a good thing.
The REI Powderbound has two inner thigh vents, without mesh, that allow for ventilation and airflow. These vents are longer than other interior thigh vents that we've seen, but they don't come close to matching the ventilation that long, exterior thigh vents provide. These pants are warm, and on hot days and during aerobic ski runs, they can feel stuffy. The vents helped with airflow but didn't enable sufficient ventilation during high-output activity. The waterproof membrane is supposedly breathable, but with so much insulation between our legs and the membrane, we couldn't tell, and ventilation is best achieved by leaving the vent zippers wide open.
If there is one area where the Powderbound excels, it is in the warmth metric. REI packs these pants with synthetic insulation, and the product is a very warm pair that will keep you warm on all but the coldest days of the winter without a lower-body base layer. When the temperatures dip into the single digits Fahrenheit, a base layer paired with these pants will keep you warm. Our testers don't all like insulated pants, but they all agreed that these pants were nice to have on the coldest days at the ski resort.
The Powderbound is a bit light on features but still has everything you need for a good day on the hill. It features two hand pockets and one leg pocket, all with vertical zippers. The leg pocket is right above the knee on the right side and is in a slightly awkward location. The legs have internal elastic boot cuffs that keep snow out of the boots. The waist has both belt loops and adjustable velcro straps to fine-tune the waist fit. We especially appreciate the scuff guards on the inside of each leg opening, which protects the most vulnerable area of the pant from premature wear and tear.
The Powderbound has a bland and neutral style that borders on baggy and loose. The straight cut is the most prominent feature of the style, and there is plenty of extra material in the knees and calves. In our opinion, the most stylish ski pants are moving towards a more articulated and contoured fit, with bent knees and slightly loose but not baggy fits. These pants feel more baggy and straight cut, and generally less refined, than more stylish snow pants, in our opinion.
The REI Powderbound comes at a very affordable price, making it an appealing product. It accomplishes all that a pair of ski pants has to for the majority of users, but for anyone who skis more than a handful of days a year, we believe other products on the market perform better for just a slightly higher price.
There are certainly better ski pants on the market, but considering the price, these pants provide good performance. They excel in the warmth metric but don't protect from the weather very well or provide as many features as other similarly-priced options. If you are looking for the most budget-friendly option for most average days on the hill and don't mind the performance sacrifices, this is a good pair of pants.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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