Insulated trousers

PHD created a bit of a buzz a while ago with their Minimus Down Trousers. Although attracted to the idea, I’ve held off buying a pair. At 230g, they are very light and no doubt very warm. While they add some flexibility in a sleep system, giving the option of taking a lighter sleeping bag (in my case a Western Mountaineering HighLite), they can’t really be used on the trail.

There are alternatives. One is the Integral Designs PLQ Insulated Pants. Using Primaloft has the advantage of being less vulnerable to damp, so they could be worn as trousers in cold conditions or under overtrousers. Another advantage is that Primaloft would give more insulation underneath your legs compared with down. They weigh a bit more than the Minimus trousers at 340g.

However, I already have alternatives in my gear cupboard. I have a pair of Lowe Alpine Powerstretch fleece trousers (230g), which are quite warm. They would resist compression even better than Primaloft and are quite good under windtrousers or overtrousers. If I used a pair of Montane Featherlight Pants to make them windproof and strictly comparable, it would add an extra 114g, for a total of 344g, not very different to the PLQs.

Another combination possibility is a pair of Lowe Alpine Dryflo Light Tights (130g) combined with a pair of Ortovox Merino 3/4 leggings (124g) which I bought for skiing. The total weight would be 244g plus 114g for the Featherlights, making 358g; not much different to the PLQs or the Powerstretch combo. The advantage of combining the Dryflos and the Ortovox is flexibility. I think I might give this combo a try in the Spring using my HighLite bag to see whether it works. If I use my Minimus Jacket (which I would take anyway) I would have not only quite a light sleeping system, but also a warm clothing system for camp as well as something warmer for my legs on the trail.


11 thoughts on “Insulated trousers”

  1. Another option for you to consider, Robin – Mountain Hardwear Compressor Pants. I have some of the originals with Thermic Micro fill (the latest incarnation uses Primaloft) and they’ve been excellent for active stuff as well as for extra insulation while sedentary in sub-zero conditions. They’re heavier than the PHD and ID offerings but the knees and back-end are built to withstand more rigorous activity. See

  2. Interesting – I’ve never looked at insulating trousers. Ever.

    My Paramo Cascadas have done me fine when out and and about. But for that bit extra warmth at camp – you got me thinking now.

    Thanks for the post

  3. The Minimus trousers are £140 so a lot of money for a bit of clothing that probably won’t get a huge amount of use. I’ve gone for the powerstretch tights combined with hot socks option…

  4. I looked at the Minimus trousers when they came out but I thought I would end up getting them soiled in some way with the consequent normal difficulties you encounter trying to wash down products. I therefore have just stuck with cheapo longjohns.

    I use a large Rab Generator vest over the top of my medium Minimus jacket when it gets cold. Within my sleeping bag, I then use the vest as a duvet over my legs and the jacket over my torso and the detachable hood to keep my head warmer. When down booties are added I always seem to have been warm so far.

    On a non related matter, I know you are interested in mods and I thought I would mention a stove mod that I have just done. I have nibbled a notch out of the bottom opening on my Evernew DX stand so that I can combine it with my Trangia remote canister gas burner for winter. Not the lightest at 170g for burner with ali plate removed and 52g for DX stand. But it still retains all the other multifuel adaptability of the DX stand (e.g. I can take a couple of esbit tablets in case my stove ever refuses to work, etc.)

    Obviously you still need to add a decent ali windshield customised for your pots (I use a Traildesigns 8″ model cut down with some ideas borrowed from the Caldera cone and jointed wth paperclips; after cutting down it is about 40 grammes).

    As regards efficiency, I have tested it alongside the Trangia windshield. I was boiling 600ml water with that in about 3 mins and it takes about 4 mins with the DX stand. So, not the most efficient but I think it is pretty windproof so real life useage should be pretty decent.

    Prior to this mod with the DX stand I already owned, I was considering getting a Clikstand T2-G and windshield. The Clikstand is quite expensive and I was also concerned about how windproof the Clikstand is in actual useage as the limited reviews I found were not conclusive. I wasn wondering if any of your readers have Clikstand experience in the wind. Is it as good as a Trangia or nowhere near?

    Cheers Mike

  5. i use silk longjohns which are super light and so far never needed anything warmer.though never get out in the winter up north or to mountains always down in lightweight south:]

  6. Same as I periodically rave about my old ME ultrafleece jacket I also still use the trousers in the same material. Really good for winter given it is so wind resistant. Lots of fleece pants are comfy but like you say they really need a windproof over them or the cold breeze cuts right through.

  7. low tech and cheap option that I am currently using

    Ron Hill (close fitting) tracksters with Craghopper Kiwi (non winter) troos over the top. Very warm, very comfy and can be mixed and matched depending on the conditions. Not sure what the combined weight it (obviously will be more than the options above) but total cost less than £50 and added flexibility

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