For a good number of years my lower half had been clad in Montane’s ubiquitous Terra trousers when out on the hill. They’re tough, light, reinforced in the right areas and allow for a good degree of movement. The fit’s OK too, mostly (some pairs fit better than others, despite being the same stated size). I saw no real reason to investigate an alternative…
Then about a year ago, a day shopping in Ambleside, an idle few minutes waiting for Mrs. C. to try something on in the Rohan shop, a helpful sale’s assistant and a special offer saw me prancing around the shop in a pair of Stretch Bags, Rohan’s update to their classic Bags walking trousers. My new favourite trousers and I have been fairly inseparable ever since.
Soft, strong and stretchy
Stretch Bags are, as the name suggests, made of a stretchy fabric. This allows for a high degree of unrestricted movement and makes them superbly comfortable to wear. Being available in a good combination of waist sizes and leg lengths also means it’s easy to get a good (I’d even go so far as to say flattering) fit. The fabric – a light softshell style material, is fairly wind resistant, wicks well and dries quickly. It’s tough too, so when you factor in the reinforced seat and knee panels, Stretch Bags are an ideal prospect for taking scrambling: I’ve dragged mine up slimy gullies in the Lake District, scraped them across rocky ridges in Snowdonia and covered them in the finest Shropshire mud and they still look as good as new.
The wearer of a pair of Stretch Bags will be well catered for in the pocket department, with no less than six to choose from. There are two large zipped pockets both front and rear and an additional pair of open ‘hand warmer’ pockets over the front zipped pair. These latter pockets have a slight bellows design to allow them to expand (secured by a press stud). The available expansion is fairly small, so I’m not convinced of the merits of this feature. An accessory D-ring is provided from which to hang, er, accessories. To be fair, I do use the D-ring to attach my compass, via a retractable ‘ski pass’ lanyard. The compass sits in a hand warmer pocket and is therefore easily accessible and unlikely to get lost – important when you’re trying to convince people you know what you are doing.
One thing not provided on the Stretch Bags is any form of warm weather venting feature (such as thigh zips à la Terra). As someone who runs quite hot, this was initially a concern. I then promptly forgot that this was a concern and went wandering over some 2000m+ Balkans peaks, in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees C. I’m pleased to report that the lack of venting was not an issue and I managed to stay comfortable, without overheating. Oddly enough, I also stayed comfortable during a recent cold-snap in Snowdonia, in zub-zero temperatures with -13 degrees windchill. I must surmise that either the fabric works really well at temperature regulation, is magic or there’s something wrong with me.
Things aren’t all rosy
There’s really not much to criticise about the Stretch Bags. In fact I love ’em so much I recently bought a second pair. A minor problem that has afflicted both pairs is that a short section (less than 1cm) of stitching has come undone along the base of the rear pocket seam. One of the times I heard it go with a pop, during a particularly high knee raise/step up. Obviously the thread is not as stretchy as the fabric! A minor niggle and easily repaired. I blame the yoga.
However, my biggest grumble with the Stretch Bags is the lack of snazzy colours – the current range is best described as ‘conservative’. As ditchwater. Hope has been restored somewhat with the imminent release of a pair in the rather fetching ‘nautical blue’ but howsabout some radiant reds and groovy greens please Rohan?
Other than that? Can’t fault em. I’ve found my ideal hill walking trousers!
More details on the Rohan site