Rab Stretch Neo Pants

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Manufacturer Description

The Stretch Neo Pant is a fully waterproof and highly breathable over trouser.

The Stretch Neo Pant makes a perfect partner with the Stretch Neo jacket and provides complete wet weather protection.

The Stretch Neo Pant boasts 3/4 length side zips to make getting them on and off very easy, 2 zip pockets with water- resistant zips, belt loops and brace attachment points and reinforced crampon patches. All these features hint at the Stretch Neo’s favorite environment – out on the Mountain!

No matter what the weather. Whether facing an Alpine North Face, skinning up backcountry slopes or crossing the Cairngorm Plateau in February (Brrrrrrrrrrr!) The Stretch Neo Pants should be part of your armory for maximum comfort and protection.

Features

  • YKK Aquaguard ¾ side zips, internal storm flap
  • Additional zip heads allow venting
  • YKK Aquaguard zip fly
  • Snap closure at waistband with hook and eye
  • Tricot lined waistband
  • Belt loops
  • Brace attachment points
  • 2 YKK Aquaguard handwarmer pockets
  • Knee articulation
  • Hem drawcord
  • Reinforced kick patches
  • Reflective trim
  • Regular Fit
  • Tested size medium
    • Weight – 432 g (15.2 oz)
    • Inseam – 79.8 cm (31.4 in)
    • Width at Knee – 25.2 cm (9.9 in)
    • Width at Cuff – 23.0 cm (9.1 in)
  • Retail – $325

YMMV Review

Rab was started back in 1981 in Sheffield, England. The founder was Rab Carrington who relied on his extensive experience gained on bold, lightweight first ascents to design and manufacture down clothing and sleeping bags. This is also where Rab got its name as you can see. Rab continues to make gear for the most extreme conditions in the world, and over time have grown their range to nearly fully outfit someone for an adventure.

At the OR Show last year I stopped by the Rab booth to see what they had going on and was particularly intrigued by their use of the new Polartec NeoShell in the Stretch Neo Jacket and Pants. Fortunately, Rab was also interesting in knowing my opinion, so they supplied me with a jacket and pants to test.

Pants & Jacket from the Front - Click to See Larger
Pants & Jacket from the Front – Click to See Larger

Testing

The Stretch Neo Pant is an alpine shell pant, and thus I tested it that way. I used it ski touring, sc skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain climbing. I was able to test the pants in some ugly conditions. Temperatures ranged from 15 to 60 degrees with times of rain, snow, and sun. Sometimes, I had all at once. I tested the Stretch Neo Pants almost exclusively with the Stretch Neo Jacket.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★★☆

Construction (35%) ★★★★☆

Features (20%) ★★★½☆

Sustainability (10%) ★★★☆☆

Weight (15%) ★★★☆☆

Just like the jacket I reviewed before this, the Stretch Neo Pants are made with Polartec’s new NeoShell Waterproof Breathable fabric. In the last two years, many manufacturers have come out with new fabrics to compete with Gore-Tex. NeoShell is a hydrophobic, microporous, polyurethane membrane with a tightly controlled range of pore sizes. This membrane has been sandwiched between a face fabric and backer fabric to create what seems like one fabric that makes up the pants. How this is different than other waterproof breathables is in this membrane. Many others have to go through a process where the water vapor has to change states several times to pass through the fabric, this greatly reduces the rate at which it breathes, and that is why these jackets and pants get damp or wet underneath. The Rab Stretch Neo is able to actually breathe. It is actually not 100% windproof but rather is 99.9%. This small percentage gives the fabric and active air exchange and while not being noticeable to the wearer it will greatly improve the breathability. So you say there must be a catch and there is, kind of. The waterproof rating on the fabric is 10,000 mm, which is below the high numbers other fabrics often spout off. However, a rating of 3,000 mm is all that is needed to qualify as waterproof so unless you plan on standing in front of a fire hose from a point-blank range you will not have any waterproofing issues. If you would like to know more about NeoShell and other waterproof breathable fabrics, take a look at the knowledge base article.

Waterproof-Breathable-banne

Another nice aspect of the NeoShell fabric that is used is the stretch that it has. This stretch helps the pants accommodate a full range of motion while still maintaining all its weather-resistant properties. The pants have been treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coating to help water bead up and roll off the fabric. The pants have been designed with mountain use in mind. The knees have been articulated to encourage a natural and athletic fit without unnecessary fabric getting in the way. There are ¾ length side zippers to make it easier to get them on and off, even with boots on. These zippers also allow you to vent if needed. There are two zippered handwarmer pockets and crampon patches at the ankles to add durability and longevity. At the waist, there is a tricot lined waistband and elastic back section to give a comfortable and slightly adjustable fit.

Jacket & Pants from the Back - Click to See Larger
Jacket & Pants from the Back – Click to See Larger

The Rab Stretch Neo Pants are made for hiking, climbing, and skiing but that does not mean you cannot use it for whatever you need them for. At 17 ounces, they are not considered ultra-lightweight, but I would not call them heavy either. They are very similar to other pants for this purpose. There are a couple of little extras that show the attention to detail that Rab puts in. The pants use YKK Aquaguard zippers on both the sides and pockets. Even the zip fly is this same type of zipper. These are not 100% percent waterproof, but they are about as close as you can get. Behind the side zips there are storm flaps to help just in case. At the waist, they have put in suspender attachment points and belt loops in case you need them. The pants also have reflective trim just in case you need to be seen in low light.

One thing I always like to talk about is the sustainability of an item and any corporate initiatives the manufacturer may be employing in order to be better stewards of our planet. The Stretch Neo Pants I cannot say is very sustainable from a material’s perspective. I was not able to find and data on the actual materials being sustainable. I can say, however, that Rab does a good job as a company regulating their environmental impact and sustainability issues. Rab realizes it is a process and is working toward continued growth. They try to be aware during their design processes and take a similar approach that I have seen from some others in that they try to make a product that will last a long time and need to be replaced less often if ever. It is good to see that they are aware and actively trying to make a difference in regard to their footprint. More information on this can be found at their website.

Bungee Waist - Click to See Larger
Bungee Waist – Click to See Larger

Fit ★★★½☆

Adjustability (15%) ★★★★☆

Comfort (25%) ★★★☆☆

Ease of Movement (20%) ★★★☆☆

Inseam Length (25%) ★★★½☆

Leg Sizing (15%) ★★★½☆

While I may be between sizes when it comes to jackets and tops it has been pretty easy to for pants. I have a 32-inch waist and 32-inch inseam so a standard medium is almost always perfect. That is the case again with the Stretch Neo Pants. The waist on the pants has a bungee back so it stretches to the appropriate size. This easily fit my waist and held the pants up well enough that I did not need to wear a belt. There are loops if one is needed. I also liked the tricot on the inside of the waist band. Tricot is essentially a thin micro fleece and makes it very comfortable. The inseam length was also right on. If there is one thing that I really cannot stand it is short pants. The Stretch Neo felt plenty long and even when bending my leg, they still stayed down.

Interesting Latch - Click to See Larger
Interesting Latch – Click to See Larger

The legs are also sized very well. They did not feel too big or too small. I could easily layer underneath if needed or wear them on their own without them feeling too big. One thing that is great about the NeoShell fabric is the stretch. This makes the pants more flexible, so they move well with you. There is an occasion where the pants did feel a little awkward when walking. Sometimes I noticed it and other times I did not. I am not sure what was going on here, but it is worth mentioning. The fabric on the inside was plenty comfortable whether I had another layer underneath or not. The storm flap helps put some fabric between your leg and the zipper which is nice.

Performance ★★★★☆

Breathability (20%) ★★★★½

Durability (20%) ★★★½☆

Packability (10%) ★★½☆☆

Pockets (10%) ★★★☆☆

Water Resistance (20%) ★★★★½

Wind Resistance (20%) ★★★★½

Just like in the jacket I really like having all the breathability in the fabric. Couple that with the extra venting you can do by using the side vents, and then you cannot go wrong with these pants. I really did not need to use the zippers to vent unless I was really working hard up an extended hill. The pants still breathed really well. When just hiking I was able to regulate my temperature without fussing with the zippers. This was good as the weather was not very nice out so I would have gotten soaked through the open vents. This being said I also found the pants to be plenty waterproof. On one particular hike, it was raining hard with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour, and I stayed drive even though I was out in it for several hours. When skiing and snowshoeing I also had no issues, not that cold snow is ever really much of a concern. It is good to note that with the wind blowing up to 60 mph I could not feel any wind getting through the pants. They may not be 100% windproof, but they are close enough that I could not tell the difference.

YKK Aquaguard Pants  - Click to See Larger
YKK Aquaguard Pants – Click to See Larger

When paired with the Stretch Neo Jacket I liked having the handwarmer pockets on the pants. The jacket does not have these, so I found I used the ones on the pants more often. I would much rather have them on my jacket if push came to shove. The other thing that is really nice to have is the ¾ zips on the sides. I have had full-length zip pants before and while that may be a little easier to get on and off, the zippers can be uncomfortable on the waistband. The ¾ length is a great compromise that allows you most of the convenience and all the comfort of a normal pant. Getting the pats on and off with boots on is not the easiest thing but is possible if you need to.

Up to this point the pants have been able to stand up to all that I have put them through. I must admit that it has not been a lot. You really need some epic trips to really test the durability, and unfortunately, I do have a day job. Rubbing up against rocks and hitting the occasional branch while skiing has not been enough to show on the pants, they seem very solid to me. As with all waterproof pants, they sometimes might be considered a luxury item depending on the trip you are on. I would consider these to be an average weight and packability when it comes to it competitors. With waterproof pants, you will find that you do not use them too often but when you do you will really appreciate them.

Scuff Guard Ankle - Click to See Larger
Scuff Guard Ankle – Click to See Larger

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall, these are a solid pair of mountain pants. They did not wow me as much as the jacket did but were still a good option. The NeoShell fabric breathes very well and the 3/4 zipper allows extra venting which I like. Not only have the pants been breathable, but they have been most importantly waterproof. The use of the Aquaguard zippers is also a nice touch. I one day that if the pants were going to leak it would have been that day, and I had no issues. My only issue with the pants is they occasionally feel a little awkward when I walk. I am not sure exactly why, but they seem to pull in weird spots. Like I said it is not all the time, generally when I just put them on. The Rab Stretch Neo Pants retail for $325 and pair really well with the Stretch Neo Jacket. For active mountain use, these will breathe very well. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Good breathability
  • Waterproof
  • 3/4 length side zipper
  • All zippers are YKK Aquaguard
  • Stretch back helps fit

Cons

  • Felt awkward from time to time
  • Waist closure took a bit to get used to

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Adventures

At Todd Lake - Click to See Larger
At Todd Lake – Click to See Larger

Backcountry

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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