The neighborhood loved them right away. My wife—not so much. We have a rule that the non-pregnant, non-on-maternity-leave-and-breastfeeding-all-day members of our household should not wear sweat pants and the like around the house, unless it’s to sleep. Gotta maintain at least some magic in the relationship, you know.

I broke that rule right away when the Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Pants showed up. Ordering them was a gamble, I admit, but having owned a Stretchdown jacket, I knew it was soft, springy, and warm, and the idea of astronaut pants made from the same material was enticing. I’ve had down pants before, but they’re always sad looking. The down clumps and droops, and sure, your legs are warm, but it looks a little like you’ve given up on life (Seinfeld reference).

The Stretchdown pants are not like that. Not at all. Mountain Hardwear doesn’t sew through the baffle, but instead “welds” channels between pockets of 700-fill down, all contained in a stretchy and tough synthetic outer layer. It gives the warmth of typical down insulation, but provides lots of stretch.

Women’s fit.

Men’s fit.

As you can imagine, this is awesome in pants. I use these all the time riding my bike around town on frigid mornings at home, or on cold night rides on dark, spooky trails. If I’m going somewhere snowy, the moment I arrive, these pants go on. They’re go-to camp pants once the sun goes down. They do it all.

They don’t compress as well as the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer pants, nor are they as light. But they’re much, much tougher and far more capable in the outdoors, while being equally as warm.

My wife has come around from thinking of them as lazy pants, like sweats. She digs ’em and wants a pair too. So would you if you tried ’em. Maybe my pick for pants of the year, if I made such a list.

• BUY $249 (men’s or women’s)

– Justin Housman


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