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REI Mistral Soft Shell Hiking Pants

REI Mistral Pants
REI Mistral Pants

It’s autumn in New England and day time temperatures are finally dropping down into the mid-40’s F, which I consider ideal hiking and backpacking weather. With the change of seasons, comes a change of hiking pants, and I’ve retired (i.e. destroyed) this year’s pair of Railrider Eco-mesh hiking pants and started wearing a pair of warmer soft shell REI Mistral pants. These will be my main hiking pants through the rest of fall, winter, and into early spring next year.

The Mistral pants are a great value, priced at $89/pair. Someone told me that REI tried to discontinue them but had to bring them back due to popular demand.

I wear them with a pair of 9″ Under Armour HeatGear Boxerjocks to control thigh chafing when it’s warm out, but switch over to 9″ Under Armour Compression Shorts when it gets a little bit colder and the lower part of my legs from the knee down are covered with heavy Crocodile Gaiters. When it’s really cold and I’m at higher altitude, I wear the Mistral Pants over a pair of Patagonia Capilene 1 long underwear which keep me dry and warm. The Mistral Pants are also fairly windproof (REI says up to 23 mph) which lets me leave a hard shell at home on most winter hikes or snowshoe outings.

The Mistrals are made out of medium weight nylon with a good dose of spandex, making them quite breathable and good for winter scrambling and climbing. They have a lot of panels that are cut and sewn to offer greater freedom of movement, including a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. The fact is that the fabric they are made with has a lot of similarities to Schoeller soft shells, but without the premium price.

REI Mistral Pants - Boot Zips

The Mistrals also come with fairly large boot zips, a pair of zippered front pockets and zippered back pockets (actually my pair doesn’t have zippers). The waist band is lined for greater comfort but a belt is not included. Total weight of the pants with a 32″ inseam is 17.9 oz.

I like these pants and look forward to another season with them in the mountains.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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  1. I read the two customer reviews on the REI website and they were quite critical of the workmanship of the 'new' pants. It will be interesting to hear how they hold up for you.

    At 6'4" I am always interested in knowing sizes that are available. It is difficult to find outdoor gear in tall sizes. Am I correct in understanding these pants only come with 32 or 34" inseams? Too bad.

  2. I generally ignore customer reviews on REI – they're all over the place.

    So far these pants have been holding up fine for me, and I'm not the gentle type. They only come in 30 and 32 inch inseams, as far as I remember, but maybe that will expand as REI shifts it's stock for winter.

  3. I had some last year but they were lighter and made of Schoeller Dynamic. I believe the pricing was around the same. I wonder why they changed them.

  4. I am always in the market for decent outdoor troos. Not sure if I can get these direct from a retailer in the UK but will have a look. Unfortunately I suffer from a 34inch waist and 29inch inside leg problem ie short and stout! So far may favourite winter troos have been the RAB VRs and summer troos the Craghopper Kiwi's

  5. Chris – it was probably a manufacturer pricing thing. One thing that I like about the current fabric in the Mistrals is that it has a higher spandex level than Schoeller Dynamic. I think the Mistrals are 9% and Dynamic at 4-5% Read that somewhere – can't remember the source.

  6. So will these Mistral pants be replacing your Monthbell Thermawrap pants for this winter?

  7. No, they go under the thermawraps which mostly only get used in camp when I'm outside melting snow. I generate an awful lot of heat when I'm moving, so the overall shift is to less heat retention while maintaining good wind resistance.

    Last year my layers looked like this: capaliene 1 or under armour compression shorts, MH conduit side zip rain shell, crocodile gaiters and the thermawraps. I found the hard shell to be overkill as a layer even with the side zips, noisy, and easily shredded by crampons. I'm more comfortable now with the mistrals which has a narrower shin/calf and are a less efficient vapor barrier.

    Does that all make sense?

  8. Does anyone have a pair of last year's model in a 34" waist that they'd like to sell?

  9. How tough are REI Mistral pants? I wore them on Avalanche Gulch on Shasta a couple of summers ago and they easily stood up to glissading from just below Red Banks almost all the way down to Horse Camp. My seat was quite cold but the material is barely worn. These are incredibly tough, highly breathable and comfortable pants. One of REI’s best products besides the flash 18 pack. I would have worn my shell pants over them, but they are EPIC and very lightweight, so light I wouldn’t trust them to glissade in.

    • First off – I love them. They’re often the only pair of pants I wear for winter hiking and if I need more warmth I layer over them with a hard shell. While they are water resistant, they do get wet so I won’t glissade in them and prefer to put a hard shell over first (Marmot Precip pant)

      I also agree that these are one of the best products that REI makes. The schoeller stretch fabric is really great.

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