Sometimes you need something a little bit more rugged for those long backcountry explorations. The Traverse soft-shell pants from L.L.Bean is designed to be that something. Aimed at high mountain pursuits where wind, snow, and extreme sun are an issue, these pants can handle it all.
About the pants
The Traverse are full featured pants, with a plethora of features. They’re built from a rugged Cordura around the heel and ankle of the boots to resist abrasion, with a soft-body consisting of a stretchy polyester and soft lining.
The pants include built-in gaiters around the boot, to block out snow and drafts, and plenty of vents to keep you from overheating. There are vents inside the zippered hand pockets, running down the thigh, and you can also unzip the ankles for a little bit of extra airflow and easy boot accommodation.
There is also an included belt, with a simple pull adjustment and clip for easy in and out.
The pants come in 5 sizes, (Small through XX Large), and retail for $125.
What I liked
Overall, the pants are quite comfortable. The stretchy material is non-restricting when stepping high over rocks and trees. The hip is wide enough, without being baggy, and they fit true to the size chart on Bean’s site. The soft lining feels great against the skin, or against an underlying base layer.
The ventilation is fantastic. You can vent nearly waist to ankle with these pants, which is great for when you’re really trudging up a hill, working up a sweat. Once you cool down you can zip back up trapping preciously warm air molecules inside.
The built-in gaiters also seal in some air, fitting closely around your boot while also preventing the pants from slipping under your heel. They do a great job of keeping out breezes, splashes, or snow.
The materials do a great job of blocking wind and light precipitation or puddles, but still breathe well enough that you’re not going to build up moisture from sweat. They’re cool enough for mild weather, but warm enough for most winter conditions. Paired with a thin wool base layer, I was comfortable into the teens while wearing these pants under fairly windy conditions.
They look great, resist staining, and wash well.
What I didn’t like
The thigh zippers are a bit stiff, often giving the sensation that I’ve left something in a cargo pocket that doesn’t exists. While I quickly adjusted to the sensation, a softer zipper would have been welcome.
The pants come in general sizes, but there is no exclusive option to select for the length of your pants. If they’re a bit long for your waist size, you’ll just have to deal with it. Thankfully the gaiters keep them out from under my heals, at 5′ 8″ wearing the medium size.
The solid build quality makes for a heavier pair of pants.
They’re very wide at the ankle. This is to accommodate a wide array of boots, such as ski boots and serious trekking boots, but may be a bit excessive for light hiker boots and shoes.
The Traverse Soft-Shell Pants from L.L. Bean are a great example of a full featured, weather ready pant. They’re incredibly well ventilated, providing for a wide array of usable conditions, while still providing solid protection from the elements. Comfortable, durable materials round off the exceptionally well-balanced package. Aside from the limited sizing, and stiff zippers, the Traverse Pants are a solid performer that delivers.
Thanks to the manufacturer for providing this product. For full disclosure, see our about me page.