Where do you stand on closer-cut legwear in the outdoors? Women have always been well served in that regard, and so too runners of any gender, but when it comes to walking and climbing men haven't typically had as many leg-hugging options. Recently there seems to have been a bit of a trend for men's trousers with a more fitted cut. Having started out several decades ago in Ron Hills, and at risk of going full circle and becoming a middle aged man in lycra, I'm all for it. Who needs excess fabric flapping in the wind, hiding the view of your feet when climbing, or snagging a crampon point? Closer-cut trousers are just so practical. Designed for all-round mountain use, from backpacking and hill walking through to mountaineering and climbing, Montane's new Dynamic 'pants' are a great example.
There are three models - the very lightweight Dynamic Nano, the marginally less-light Dynamic Lite and the much thicker Dynamic XT Thermal Mountain Pants. As the winter-worthy pair, them's the ones I've been looking at here. The verdict? While they're not quite jeggings for men, they score really well on my personal fashion-meets-function index. Warm legs pretty much guaranteed.
Warm, durable and stretchy fabric
Neat and close-cut in the leg
Good for climbers as well as walkers
Sizing is a bit iffy - try before you buy
Seasonally limited - too warm outside of winter
At 530g for a pair of size 32, the Dynamic XT come out perhaps more midweight than heavyweight, but don't let that mislead you - they're thick, durable and well-made. You save a bit by simply having less fabric, so what's left arguably goes further in terms of warmth for your weight. To make just one comparison, I reviewed Jottnar's Valen 4S Trousers last year, and while the two have a similar remit and an almost identical weight, the Dynamic XT are substantially warmer. They may actually be the warmest softshell trousers I've currently got.
There is no women's equivalent. Though listed as slim fitting, they will probably only meet this definition if you make allowances for some odd sizing. I started out in Large with a nominal 34" waist, my standard size; but while they're reasonably streamlined in the leg - I do have chunky pins - it all goes wrong for me from the baggy crotch upwards, and the waist balloons like a 36. Downsizing to Medium with a nominal 32" waist could almost be a bespoke fit on me. Form-fitting without being leggings-tight, they allow room to wear a baselayer underneath, but still feel close on bare legs.
The one exception is the waist, which I still find a bit less fitted than the rest. I need to use a belt to avoid the hillwalking equivalent of builder's bum. You get loads of webbing belt loops, which is great, plus places to clip braces. Around the waist it all fits neatly under a harness too.
I've not actually been a 32 since the turn of the Millennium, so it's a case of the numbers on the trousers being dodgy, not me miraculously slimming. I suspect Small may fit like a standard Medium, and since there's no XS, thinner folk may be out of luck. You can imagine how spacious XXL may be.
Get the sizing right and tailoring in the leg is nice and 'athletic', with none of my dreaded excess flappy fabric. There's an articulated knee to aid high stepping, and a neatly tapered ankle that gives you a clear view of your feet and little to snag. To fit over bulky winter footwear - and that goes for mountain boots as well as ski boots - Montane have added a generous zipped gusset.
I like the tailoring, and am equally keen on the material it's cut from. A blend of Nylon and Elastane, this thick Cordura has a tough outer face that seems to take plenty of abuse, with a good degree of wind resistance and a DWR to shrug off snow and light rain. Its inside face is a lovely fleecy brushed backer, which feels soft and really warm. On snowy winter hills you'll generally want to back up your softshell trousers with thermal leggings. On sub-zero days I've been doing that with the Dynamic XT too, but since they're so warm this is necessary less of the time, while I haven't always felt the need for additional overtrousers when it's cold and windy. In winter the snugness is great, but I can't imagine wanting to wear these in spring or summer, so compared to thinner softshell legwear they are quite limited in terms of seasonality.
To protect against a wayward crampon you get durable kick patches, an essential addition to winter mountain legwear - and they're not as rigid and in-the-way as you'll find on some trousers. On top of all that the fabric has loads of stretch, so you can throw your legs around unhindered.
While the product description is more walking and mountaineering than straight-up climbing, the combination of fitted cut and chunky, warm and stretchy fabric is a bit of a winner for winter climbers as much as anyone. I've worn them on a few ropes-out days so far, and since they work well under a harness - and layer neatly beneath shell legs - I'll certainly use them for winter climbing more in future.
Pockets and other features
In case all that snugness gets a bit much on the uphills, big zipped leg vents allow you to dump heat fast; their double zippers are a good idea for harness use. Extra ventilation comes via the mesh lining of the zipped hand pockets, while a single thigh pocket gives you a third place to put things. A phone will fit in here, though I think it's a slightly strange place to carry anything.
What else? A soft brushed waist band; and a fly with a single zipper plus both a button and a popper. These trousers don't go mad on features, and that suits their slimmed-down feel.
Value for money?
While £140 seems borderline-costly for a pair of softshell trousers, you could certainly spend a lot more elsewhere with no better result. You're getting quite a lot of trouser for your money here, and for something this warm and robust I'd consider it cash well spent.
Ethics and environment
Like most decent brands these days, Montane are making efforts towards being more sustainable and operating in a more responsible way. They are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, make stuff to last (these trousers being a case in point I suspect), and offer a repair service.