Mountain Equipment Ibex Softshell Pants Review

Mountain Equipment Ibex Softshell Pants Review

Mountain Equipment’s Ibex Softshell Mountain Pant is a highly breathable technical softshell pant designed for winter hiking and mountaineering. The women’s model of the same pant is called the Chamois Pant. They’re made with a double-woven softshell fabric that breathes well and has a good deal of built-in stretch. The fit is not too roomy and not too snug, with enough room to wear them over long underwear on cold days. Feature-wise, they have five zippered pockets, a buried belt, a lined waistline, a zipper with two sliders (which is pretty unusual), a gusseted crotch and articulated knees, and ankle zips with an internal gusset panel to accommodate large boot sizes.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Men’s (Women’s model is named the Chamois Pant)
  • Fabric: 92% Polyamide, 8% Elastane (Double-weave softshell)
  • Size Reviewed: 38″ Waist / 31″ Inseam
  • Pockets: 5
  • Leg Style: Straight
  • Weight : 450g / 15.9oz

Softshell pants are optimal for winter use because they vent perspiration very well, they’re more wind-proof than regular hiking pants, and they are usually coated with a durable water repellent that keeps them dry in snow and light rain. The Mountain Equipment Ibex Pant is made with a double-weave softshell fabric that has a soft hand and a lot of built-in stretch. Warmth-wise, they’re fine down to about 10-20 degrees F when worn by themselves for high exertion activities, but colder than that you’ll probably want to layer them over long underwear or to add a hardshell pant over them for more warmth. They’re also a good pant for non-winter conditions, like spring and autumn, when you need something a little warmer for cold or damp up into the high 40’sF.

The Ibex Softshell Pants have four zippered front pockets and one in the rear
The Ibex Softshell Pants have four zippered front pockets and one in the rear.

The waist has what I call a buried belt, which is covered by a fabric tunnel all around except above the fly and below the small of the back. This makes the waist much more comfortable under a backpack hip belt since the pack isn’t constantly pushing your pants done. The inside of the waist is fleece-lined for comfort and the belt is removable if you want to replace it. You might well consider this because the plastic belt buckle does slip a little.

The pants have five zippered and mesh-lined pockets positioned for climbing harness compatibility. There are two hip pockets and two thigh pockets perfectly sized to hold a smartphone and accessible by lefties or righties. The thigh pockets can also be used as vents because the zippers are positioned vertically alongside the leg seam and not horizontally – but this also means you need to be careful not to let items fall out because they’re not held in place by gravity. Finally, there’s also a zippered rear pocket on the right, which is often left off technical pants.

The Fly has two zipper sliders for greater ease of access when wearing a climbing harness.
The Fly has two zipper sliders for greater ease of access when wearing a climbing harness.

The pants are gusseted and the knees are articulated to provide freedom of movement. The zipper is noticeably “high” and “short” so it doesn’t interfere with a climbing harness. The front of the waist closes with two snaps and the zipper has two sliders, one that opens the zipper from the bottom and one from the top, which is kind of unusual. They’re that way on mountaineering pants to provide easier “access” for peeing when wearing a climbing harness. They also improve durability and longevity of use: when one breaks the other can be used without having to visit a tailor for a repair.

The Ibex pants also have ankle zips with an internal gusset panel to accommodate larger-sized mountaineering or ski boot. When zippered closed the legs taper nicely so you can see your feet, crampons, or snowshoes easily, a must-have for winter hiking.

There’s an internal gusset at the bottom of the legs that can accomodate larger diameter boots
There’s an internal gusset at the bottom of the legs that can accommodate larger diameter boots

Fit

There are multiple waist sizes and three leg lengths available in both the men’s and women’s styles. For men, waist sizes range from 28″-40″ with inseam lengths of 29″, 31″, and 33″. For women, the pants are curvier than the men’s, with a variety of waist and hip sizes.

More Recommended Softshell Winter Hiking Pants

Make / ModelMen's ModelWomen's ModelFit
REI Activator 3.0 Softshell PantsMensWomensStandard
KUHL Klash PantsMensWomensRelaxed
Marmot Scree Softshell PantsMensWomensRelaxed
Arc'teryx Gamma AR PantsMensWomensStandard
Outdoor Research Cirque II PantsMensWomensRoomy
Black Diamond Alpine Softshell PantsMensWomensSlim
Patagonia Simul Alpine PantsMensWomensSlim
Norrona Falketind Flex1 Softshell PantsMensWomensStandard
Mammut Courmayeur SO PantMensWomensSlim
Mountain Equipment Ibex/Chamois PantsMensWomensRelaxed

Recommendation

Mountain Equipment’s Ibex Softshell Mountain Pant is a mid-weight softshell pant that vents perspiration well during high output activities like winter hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing. It is moderately windproof with an excellent degree of built-in stretch and comes with an external DWR coating for water repellency.  The fit is roomy enough to layer over long underwear on really cold days without feeling constrained. The zippered pockets are low-profile and well-positioned. The pants have a buried belt that makes them easy to use with a backpack hip belt and close with two snaps at the waist, while the ankles have internal gusset panels to accommodate larger boots. These are great pants at a fairly reasonable price. They’re also available for men and women.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!

7 comments

  1. I enjoy reading your articles.
    My physical condition is not safe any more for the outdoors. Thanks for posting.

  2. I am a new owner of my first pair of REI Activator pants, which are great so far. I hear the DWR touted as a feature for both the Activator and these pants above. Doesn’t the DWR wear off in a matter of hours like it does on jackets? Maybe even in less time since pants are subject to more abrasion? Or is there something about the softshell fabric that holds onto the DWR for longer?

    • That’s a good question. I have Activators that are many years old and that I have probably washed a 100 times or more that still shed snow and prevent “wet-butt.” I don’t understand it myself. Perhaps the open weave of the softshell fabric absorbs more of the DWR. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about proactively reapplying it just to make sure.

  3. I have the previous Activators V2 , I think they are called. Arevthese worth upgrading too? I always have issues with hiking pants sliding down waist or being pushed down, are these new ones more secure? Any other brands with waistlines less prone to slippage?

    Thanks

    • You just have to make the Activators a lot tighter (mine don’t slip).
      As I mention in the review, the belt on these slips. Although you could replace it, as I suggest.
      These are about the same warmth level as the Activators, but the fit/cut is much better.
      Perhaps you should look into suspender-ready pants.

      • Maybe that is worth looking into. Sounds like the waist is less of an issue on the previous Activators, as far as fit, I don’t mine them so something to consider. Thanks Philip…

    • Get some suspenders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Clicky