Monday, 15 April 2013

Gear Update: Craghoppers Ridge II Waterproof Trousers

Another item of clothing I hope can be consigned to the wardrobe for a few months now that spring is approaching are my trusty Craghoppers Ridge II Waterproof Trousers. In the original review (September 2011) I scored them at 24/30:

But what is the verdict after almost 18 months of use?

Well, still pretty good, as it happens.

As far as the colder half of the year goes, these are now my “go to” trousers for walking – whether rain is forecast, or not. The beauty is they are waterproof trousers that can be worn all day (as opposed to waterproof overtrousers and the inherent fiddle of having to take them on and off). They are not too hot for the moderately warm days of autumn and spring, and can be teamed with thermal leggings in real cold conditions (as during our winter trip to Mayrhofen in early 2012).

Also they have proved reliably waterproof in some quite nasty weather, are pretty comfortable and are as tough as old boots – and all for £50. In fact the only downside as I see it is that they rustle slightly in use. And (on a personal note) the sizing is such that I fall smack in between two sizes, with medium being a fraction too small and large a fraction too big.

To be honest, though, I had been waiting for a product like this for years, so it was likely I’d be happy with them – at least compared to what I’d used before.

Unfortunately, Craghoppers discontinued the style almost as soon as I had bought them, which was slightly disappointing. In retrospect, though, it was unsurprising: a new generation of softshell fabrics was arriving on the scene, offering waterproof performance and higher breathability with stretch comfort in one – and no rustle! The latest version of the waterproof trouser is the Steall (for Men) and the Aira (for Women), both rather different garments from what I can see and, with the fleece lining, possibly better suited to quite cold conditions by all accounts:

Overall, I’m very happy with the Ridge II trousers, and will no doubt use them extensively in the future. But it has to be said that technology has overtaken them, with new materials that can offer a greater package of benefits. However, the principle of proper trousers that are waterproof is a great step forward, and, in the less clement half of the year, I would be loath to go back to old-fashioned overtrousers.

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