Winter Trousers – what system do you go for?

My musings about gear turn to trousers and especially trousers for the winter. There are a few different fabrics and trouser “systems” that are available with winter in mind. In the past I have been content to either use simple trousers such as Craghoppers with a waterproof outer overtrouser or a pile and pertex approach such as Rab VRs. Unfortunately my Rab VR trousers are looking a bit battered and I have not liked wearing Craghoppers for sometime (too thin and not warm enough for the winter even with overtrousers). My third alternative is Ron Hill tracksters with overtrousers when required. All 3 arent perfect and have pros and cons. Other systems out there are the Paramo approach (moisture management) and bib trousers usually of water resistant material with a thermal backing.

I am tempted to get another pair of Rab VR trousers as they are comfy and warm even when wet. In fact they are almost too warm even in the depths of winter. The other downside is that they are overlong, Rab insisting on having 33inch inside leg for all waist sizes! The toggle on the hems are annoying and the material isnt over tough so not the ideal for crampon wearing. I have looked at the VR guides pants and these seem beefed up versions of the standard VR so although will be tougher might be even (over) warmer.

I have looked at bib trousers or salopettes as well recently and although can be expensive there are a few pairs out there for around the £100 mark including a couple of offerings from Keela. The benefit of these trousers is they also add insulation to the torso meaning that any increase in weight is balanced by wearing less top layers potentially. I just am not sure if they would be too warm but if they worked then the weather protection they offer in combination with a hardshell are obvious. Buffalo also do salopettes but having got one of their smocks I know how uber warm they are!

I have tried lots of trouser manufacturers but struggle to get correct leg length and feel. Many top manufacturers insist on non flat-locked inner seams that rub and grate on my skin (especially in the crotch area). Coupled with the need to carry overtrousers I am shying away from this approach. I also looked at Paramo but the fit and feel were terrible for me.

So for me its looking like either a trouser with a winter lining like the VR or VR guide pant OR a bib-trouser. The fleece lining can be a hinderance when its not very cold (ie overheating) BUT it provides a soft surface against the skin and so for me reduces chaffing and rubbing. On balance this advantage outweighs the negative especially if I can find a trouser with venting zips.

So the search and musings continue but wondered what other people wear and feel works for them in winter…?

And please remember I have little legs! 🙂



About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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14 Responses to Winter Trousers – what system do you go for?

  1. Martin Rye says:

    Haglofs Rugged Mountain Pant and long Johns on a very cold day. They have venting zips.

  2. Bob andrews says:

    I’m with you on short legs! Those trousers with zips at the ankle and such like are a no go. I tend to walk warm and find cheap Aldi/Lidl trousers fine, sometimes with a thin pair of overtrousers does the trick. This worked fine last Feb on a week in Black Mountains, mainly in snow conditions. I agree that Buffalo salopettes would be too warm. I have used them when open boating and fine then as one is static and if wet soon warm up.

    The cost of some of those techie trousers seems way too excessive.;

    • backpackbrewer says:

      couldnt agree more on the cost Bob. I have been using Craghoppers and Ron Hills for years 😀 The Rab VRs are 6 years old and looking like it!

      I might try “under-armour” underwear to stop the chaffing and I have experimented with Ron Hills and Craghoppers over the top but when it rains they get wet and cold

  3. BG! says:

    I’m a short-legged fan of Decathlon’s Quechua Bionnassay trews… plenty of features for under 40 quid. Proof them with TXDirect and they’re fine for playing in the snow. On milder days I wear them next to the skin bit in harsh conditions they go well over Aldi merino leggings. The latest versions of these trews have a darker colour and are a tad shorter in the leg.
    More at and

    • backpackbrewer says:

      thanks for the links and the thoughts about your trouser experiences 🙂

      I will have a closer look. For 40quid they look a real deal

  4. david keltie says:

    Montane do trousers in a short leg – check out eg their alpine terras. I bought a pair of Mammut base jump pants in a sale this summer. Material seems just right for winter walking but obviously I’ve not tried them in anger yet….

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi David, thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I have tried every Montane pair of trousers under the sun and I just cannot get on with their material or their cut. Its too scratchy and uncomfortable for me alas as I know a lot of people rave about them.
      I’ll check out the Mammut trousers as I like their kit generally

  5. Tim says:

    I recently bought a pair of craghoppers steall waterproof trousers. Previously found them too warm (I am one of lifes sweat monsters) but a weekend hill walking recently proved them to be really good in terms of waterproofness and warmin cold conditions.The mediums are fine for me and I usually wear 28-29″ inside leg

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Craghoppers are good especially for the money. I think my shape has changed or I am getting fussy. They arent as comfy as I would like but then I have been wearing Ron Hills for most of the past few years! 🙂

  6. Eddie says:

    Winter trousers depend on what you do and where you do it.
    You have already said that Rab VR’s do the job very well, perhaps even too warm in the depths of winter. So you don’t need anything warmer than them, do you?
    Do what I did and take your Rab VR’s to a clothing alterations shop and ten quid later, the length will be perfect. The cost might be higher down south.
    When it is too warm for the VR’s, get your Ron Hills on.
    So you have a solution that you know works for you. No point in asking others what they use, as they are different and probably use them in situations that are different from yours.
    You don’t like the Paramo option, so you are stuck to the above plus O/T’s, which might weigh 200-300gm. So what?
    Unless you want to spend money on trying new gear! But why change from something that you know works for you?

    • backpackbrewer says:

      thanks Eddie,

      actually makes sense! I might get the VR’s mended and shortened. You are probably right although I still want to try a few new options too

  7. Ian Barton says:

    I like my Rab VR. I have the opposite problem to you – I have long legs and often find it difficult to get things to fit me. In proper Scottish Winter conditions I use Buffalo salopettes, but they are too hot for general use. I also have a pair of Mammut Base Jumps, which I got in a sale. I like these a lot, but they have a couple of disadvantages. They are eye wateringly expensive unless you get them in a sale. They also tend to have long legs. However, they seem to be available in a huge range of leg length combinations, so maybe you could find a pair to fit you. V12 in Llanberis are the main distributor and seem to stock most sizes.

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