Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: Propper - Adventure Tech, Level V APCU softshell pants

I took the family up to the snow recently (yes, it DOES snow here in Australia, just not very much, or in very many places) and I got to try out a few pieces of kit that I have been waiting for an opportunity to pull out in public.

My last trip to the snow, some three years ago was a very unfortunate event; sleet and hail fairly ruined out outing, and I had passed on most of my snow gear to the others in my party, and as a result ended up cold, wet and miserable. Not to mention a touch hypothermic. Having lived in the snow several times (Denver, USA / Surrey, UK / Calgary, Canada) I was kicking myself for my lapse of judgement, but as I say, the others in my party were ok, and looked after me.

However, THIS time, there would be no repeats! I payed attention to my ever growing collection, and selected not only a range of layers, but also spares, in the event that I needed them. 

The key piece that I tried out, however, were my new pants from Propper. I picked these up from an eBay sale, and as it turns out they appear to be a discontinued range from Propper. However, the Propper Adventure Tech, Level V APCU softshell pants were a welcome addition to my wardrobe, and certainly proved their worth on my trip to Mount Baw Baw for the weekend

I wore a Tough Mudder/ Under Armor shirt and my Platatac Half-zip fleece top  on top, with my HeadSox on my noggin.

I have very long legs, which usually means that I go for a size larger waist to ensure the right length, for pants which don't have a W/L sizing, but in this case that played in my advantage, as I chose to wear these as over-pants, over the top of a base layer of my Platatac sniper pants fleece layer in the first instance, with my Urban Dax as a mid layer, in the event of unpleasant weather.

I found that the mid layer was unnecessary for the beautiful crisp and dry conditions we faced on the mountain, so I felt I could really throw myself about in the snow. 


The material of the pants is a very light, 4-way stretch fabric which is extremely comfortable, both on the skin, but also from a breathability and wicking perspective. This is due in no small part to the Schoeller Nanosphere Treatment that Propper applied to the fabric. This treatment apparently mimics the natural self-cleaning effect of some plants whose leaves always remain clean, because particles cannot adhere to the finely structured surface, and is easily washed off when rinsed, without allowing water to penetrate. It combines with the weave of the fabric to offer a high level of protection from wind, rain as well. It certainly shed snow and slush well, as well as the mustard and BBQ sauce I exposed it to at the chalet. It also seems to resist washing out, so should retain its abilities when I do need to give them a wash.

Also, they were in Multicam! I haven't had many opportunities to wear Multicam. I tend not to wear camouflage "for fashion", (although I got a MC Tactical Kilt from 5.11 .... review to follow! ) so having an outdoorsy activity to test it out in was great too.

The pants have a wide padded waistband, as well as pretty standard belt loops. I actually felt that the softness and lightness of the fabric would have warranted thicker belt loops, just to make them a bit more substantial. but really, I didn't have any problems with them.

The main front pockets were almost horizontally cut into the front of the pants. This was an unusual feature, and it did mean that when using these pockets, I needed to dive my hand straight down in front of me, but certainly did ensure that my pocket goodies remained safely stowed.
 
The pockets are lined with mesh, rather than the same material as the rest of the pants, or some other full-weave liner, which was an interesting addition, but certainly didn't hinder me in any way. The overlap between the front and back lips of the pocket were constructed such that they overlapped nicely, and I didn't experience any wind-bite or water logging as a result of the pocket placement.

The just-above-the-knee cargo pockets were small for this kind of pant, but certainly functional. (they fail the "will it take my iPad test", but I certainly didn't want to be lugging that through the snow), but they were billowed at the back, for extra capacity, and the left set included a zippered side pocket as well. 
 

Whilst tromping about in these on the mountain, I found that I could easily stow my phone in its SLXtreme case as well as my Contour cam, in ITS waterproof case, as well as two to three sets of gloves and or mittens, without a spill or lost technology all day. I did find that the knee-pads I wore sat very close to the cargo pockets, and this impinged on their ability to be filled fully. This was a little annoying, but the knee-pads were -very- large.

The cargo pocket have hook-and-loops closures, and the top of the lid-flap had an opening for pen, light or knife clips, or could also trail a cable.



One thing that I found with these pants is that they stopped the wind dead. Whether I was standing on the top of a ridge, or zipping down a slope on a toboggan with the little ones, they simply cut the wind right out. They did so without the "zitch-zitch-zitch" that Gore-tex "hard-shell" pants might. 
 

This leads me to post this little guide to assist anyone else who occasionally gets mystified by ll the "hard-shell/soft-shell" jargon ... 

I've tried to find an explanation or scale to describe the "Level V" portion of the Propper scale (which goes to at least VII) but this might go some way to describe what different levels and ratings of waterproofedness and breathability mean.

One thing I found interesting about these pants are that not only do they totally lack any pockets at the back, but are also fitted with a wide elastic section, the full width of the waistband, for the entirety of the back of the pants.This meant that they did sit fairly snugly, even with the "slightly too large" size I got, and stayed snug when i was crouched, squatting on a toboggan, or kneeling to pick up and carry my small people. 

I really liked wearing these pants. I stayed snug, warm and dry. I tromped through snow and slush, picked up squealing kicking offspring and sat them on my legs , sat in the snow, built snow-dinosaurs and generally had a good time, all without a single sad, soggy moment.

It's a real shame these are no longer being made, but can still be picked up by searching for Propper Adventure Tech, Level V with the product code F7220, online. Good luck, stay warm and dry!

1 comment:

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