A few weeks ago, I was asked by Go Outdoors if I’d like to review some waterproof trousers. I was told I could choose the ones I wanted from their range on the Interweb and the ones I selected were the Paramo Cascada Waterproof Trousers. I get to keep the trousers after the review, as you would probably expect, but I promised them an honest review and not just a “fluff story” for the pants in question.
I’m a huge fan of Paramo – I have two jackets already. I use a Velez Adventure Lightweight Smock in the summer months and an Alta II Jacket in the winter. So the possibility of adding a pair of warm winter trousers was very appealing.
On my Coast to Coast crossing this summer, I started using waterproof overtrousers in a completely new way for me – I would wear them over no trousers – so just underwear and then the overtrousers. I found this to be a very comfortable way of wearing them and as the ones I use (Rab Bergen eVent) have a full length zip down both legs it was easy to vent them on warmer days and easy to zip them up and stay dry when it rained. For days when there was any chance of rain, these became my default choice of legwear. They are however, not going to work that well in the winter – when you would need to wear something beneath them to stay warm. I’ve never particularly liked wearing them over trousers – so for a while I’ve been considering a pair of waterproof trousers. The email from GO was well timed then.
That was back in early September – when we were all expecting a continuation of the damp summer we’ve had – but Sod’s law kicked in of course and between the day the pants arrived and this last weekend, I’ve had no cause to wear them at all! A series of fluke weekend without any rain and an incredibly warm October left me wondering if I’d ever get to wear them.
I took them out for a short dog walk, just to make sure they fit okay and weren’t going to cause me problems, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I actually wore them in anger. I walked from Patterdale up to Place Fell and then across to Angletarn Pikes, accompanying a Paul who was completing his Wainwrights. We agreed that it was some of the worst weather we’d experienced for a couple of years – a combination of ridiculous winds and heavy rain made a great test for the pants and a challenging day on the fells.
The Cascada pants are going to serve a dual purpose, that much was clear from the outset – these are not just waterproof pants, they are also warm winter pants. The Analogy waterproofing system provides three layers of material and this proves to be wonderfully warm, as well as extremely efficient in waterproofing.
As we all found out on the fells on Saturday – nothing is waterproof – nothing at all. You can spend as much money as you like on Gore Tex, eVent, Analogy, it doesn’t matter – after a while the water is going to get through. But for me, Paramo has the most efficient system going – it keeps me drier than anything else I’ve tried over the past few years and I’ll keep coming back to it.
The pants are lovely and soft against the skin – no weird-feeling coated layer that becomes uncomfortable very quickly – they feel like silk pyjamas – which leads to one of their only downsides. I found they tend to slip down after a while and I found myself having to hitch them up every mile or two. They really need some sort of anti-slip material stitched into the inside of the belt band. I have some suit trousers that include something like this and the Cascada could do with some too.
The only other downside I found with the pants is the fit. I’m 6’4” tall and my inside leg is something like 34” – so I have to take a “Long” leg length – the Cascada “Long” leg is actually a little too long for me – so I had to fold the belt band over on itself to draw the pants up my legs a little. This did seem to help with the slipping a bit though – so it worked out ok.
The pants have a draw-cord in the belt band – as most waterproof trousers do, but they also have belt loops too – which is great, because I really needed to add the belt to help stop them slipping. They also come with two, zipped, front pockets which is something you rarely see on overtrousers.
The leg vents run from the top of the thigh all the way to the bottom of the leg, where a press stud can be used to reduce the volume if you desire. The zip makes the process of getting boots on and off a doddle, but it also allows for venting in warmer wet weather. I still don’t think this makes them an all-year round trouser though – they would be just too warm in the summer months.
I will continue to wear the trousers through the winter – they are so comfortable I want to wear them round the house, but I’d slide off the furniture!
I’ll report back on them after a couple more walks and update with any new insights, but until then if you need a pair of winter walking trousers – or waterproof trousers then these are well worth a try. You could save some money by buying one pair of trousers that will serve both purposes.
At around £105 on the Go Outdoors website, they are no more expensive than the good quality Gore Tex or eVent overtrousers and they are much more versatile. They do weigh slightly more than overtrousers though – my XL Long pants weigh in at 675g, compared to my Rab Bergen eVent overtrousers, which come in at 362g. However, in almost all cases you won’t be carrying them, you’ll be wearing them.
Review #2 – posted 7th December 2011
I think it’s fair to say these are winter trousers – two season trousers at best (back end of autumn, all winter and the early part of spring). Although they are branded as waterproof trousers, they are going to be too warm to wear outside these seasonal boundaries and too heavy to carry for occasional wear. They aren’t something you could wear over normal walking trousers anyway, so you’re unlikely to be carrying them.
They are now my default choice for any walk where the temperature starts below 10 Celsius and is unlikely to rise much beyond this. If the temperature does rise a bit I can always vent them using the full length zips on the outside of each leg – but they would be uncomfortably warm in anything much higher that this temp range.
Last week’s walk up Fair Brook and onto Kinder was another superb test for the waterproof-ness and windproof-ness of these trousers. Although they didn’t keep my underwear completely dry they did keep me warm and well protected throughout. I don’t believe any waterproofs would have kept me properly dry last week – the conditions were truly dreadful; howling wind, driving rain, hail and the odd cat and dog thrown in for good measure. My upper body was covered in my long sleeve Icebreaker Merino base-layer, a mid weight fleece and my Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock – the result was acceptable, but I did feel the wind at times. By contrast, my lower half was only sheathed in the Cascada Trousers and my legs felt fine all day. Not cold and certainly not wet. Hence the assertion that I won’t be using any other trousers than these this winter.
If it’s not raining when you set out they are good for the warmth and if it starts to rain while you’re out they will keep you dry and warm. It saves me carrying overtrousers in my pack and removes the need for that ungainly dance we have to perform when we don them as the rain starts to come down. Job done as far as I’m concerned.
The only slight niggle I still have with them is that they slide down too easily and I do have to pull them up every mile or so – which can be a damn nuisance when you’re wearing gloves and have a base-layer and fleece tucked into them as I tend to do. This could be down to my build though – I’m a fat git and don’t really have hips, so perhaps they wouldn’t slide down as much with a properly defined fell walker!
You can pick them up on-line at Go Outdoors for £108 – or in-store for the same price if you flash your discount card at the checkout – that’s a 10% saving on list and don’t forget Go Outdoors have one of the best Price Guarantee schemes on the market today – and they didn’t even ask me to say that last bit.