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.
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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