Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: RAB Atlas, trousers....pants are y-fronts!

I’ve had a couple of pairs of RAB Atlas trousers for the last eighteen months or so. (Yes, trousers, not pants. As one fellow English blogger put it, using the word pants makes me think of Y-fronts. Strange that an English manufacturer should use a non-English word in that context. Especially considering that, as far as I know, the company founder, Rab Carrington, was originally based in Sheffield, but not sure if he was born there. Maybe someone could comment?) They have been very good trousers, and still are, pretty much. One pair in particular has been through the wars a little just lately. I thought it about time to review them and go over their pros and cons.

The Atlas pants are, as stated by Rab, a replacement for the Alpine Trek Pant. They are fairly light, sort of between a mid-weight and a light-weight trouser. They use Rab’s own Matrix SW and SWS materials. I would class a mid-weight as Rab’s Vector pants or Mountain Equipment’s Ibex. The Atlas trousers are certainly a little lighter.
First Impressions
The fit and finish on these trousers is good, as good as anything else I have owned or tried. They have a regular fit, so they are not snug, they are fairly loose fitting. So they don’t get in the way of movement, and feel loose enough to wear in the summer. The Matrix fabric is fairly soft and abrasion free on my skin.
The pockets are all zippered, so there is a reduced chance of losing your car keys or change. All the pockets are large enough to fit my hand in, so will accept a wallet, a phone or other similarly sized items. The back pocket is also hand sized, although I never use this, I never have.
The knees are articulated which means the legs are a little closer fitting without causing problems like, erm, builders bum, and the constant pain of having to re-adjust the trousers after steep uphill climbs.
There are two weights of material used on the trousers. The main body is the lighter material with slightly heavier fabric on the seat and knees.
In Use
I’ve used these trousers for a mix of situations. From walks, the inevitable trip to the pub after a walk, work and scrambles. They really can be used for all these uses. I tell a lie, the single colour variant can, the contrastingly coloured variant can’t so much. The Beluga Atlas trousers are all one colour and don’t look out of place in the pub, at work, or on the fell. The Ash Atlas trousers however have two contrasting colours very much like the Montane Terra’s and the Bear Grylls trousers. Now some people may think these two tone trousers look good at the pub, I don’t. Personal choice I suppose. However, the two tone Atlas trousers are at least a little subtle and not so much in your face.
Walking in these trousers in varying conditions and environments reveals their flexibility. They will shed a light shower, and dry quickly if they do get wet. They don’t have the large cargo pockets of other trousers, but I like this. I hate my pockets full of stuff. I use a waist pack and the hip belt pockets on my rucksack. This point was highlighted when I used my Atlas trousers for a scramble up Charnel Clough a couple of months ago. I made the mistake of having my house keys in the pocket. I came across a particularly tough section which resulted in my leg, in the pocket area, scraping against the Peak Grit. The result was damage to the Matrix SW material. If those keys had not been in my pocket, the materials integrity would not have been compromised.
These are my favourite got to trousers. They aren’t my best trousers, they don’t fit the best and they don’t look the best. But they do the job almost as well as my best, survive rough treatment, are very comfortable, dry quickly and importantly, are stealthy at the pub.

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