Holy crap these pants are awesome. They have Kevlar. They are customizeable. They have a great size range. They fit well. They’re warm. They cover all the bases. They’re brilliant.
I guess I have to elaborate, but if you’re in the mood for a quickie review, just stop there and you’ve got the gist of it.
For those who want more detail, check it out: you can set these pants up anyway you want – as bibs, as regular pants, with or without powder cuffs, integrated with the matching jacket (they zip into the Odin Mountain Jacket if you so desire that setup) – they’re fantastic. It’s easy to see that they are designed for the mountain professional. The strategic zippers are a great feature. Finding that the powder cuffs just zip right out was awesome; I hate powder cuffs and usually just cut them off my pants. HH had already thought of this and made theirs removable on the Odin Mountain Pants.
I also like the transition from regular pants to bibs and back again via a waist zipper. I usually stick with the bibs configuration, but if you prefer just pants they work fine that way as well. I like the bibs because they’re warmer, provide one more pocket option on the lower rib cage (though this pocket would be better if it were a teeny bit bigger and could more easily accommodate an avalanche transceiver)
There are two nice pockets on the front of each thigh which is something that most women’s gear lacks. Good pockets are a must and so many manufacturers haven’t figured that out. I like the front-of-legs pockets because they’re always accessible and a lot more flattering than the look you get when you stuff something into hip pockets. The leg pockets are also better when using the pants with harnesses and/or longer jackets. My field notebook fits in there nicely which is great when doing snow science stuff.
Sizing will kind of run the gamut. I can usually wear either a small and tend to find that mediums are just too big and baggy, but I found that the Helly Hansen small was on the itty-bitty side. I can wear it, but for full mobility I swapped to the medium. The M is a little bit big for me but not too bad, and at least women smaller than me will have something that fits them well for once. I’d really like to see gear for women made in numeric sizes rather than just the S/M/L models. it would be great to have women’s pants in lengths as well, like guys have, but now I’m off on a tangent. Back to the Odin Mountain Pants. My only real problem with the size mediums is that they’re obviously made for a taller woman, and at 5’5″ I’m not exactly short. I have to pull the shoulder straps all the way up, pulling well past the end of the elastic to make them fit. Even then they’re still a little loose but it doesn’t actually bother me when I have the bibs on.
These are without a doubt the best professional-grade pants I’ve tried in the last five years. No question. I love Helly’s commitment to making women’s gear to meet professional standards, and I’m grateful to them for their amazing ad campaigns featuring women outdoor professionals – not just in the women’s market, but in the outdoor market. Helly Hansen ads in ski magazines feature women If you roll up on the Helly Hansen boot at OR, you’re likely to see a larger-than-life billboard of a female athlete; something not exactly normal for companies that make gear for both sexes. It’s a testament to Helly’s regard for women that their gear is great and they value their women athletes enough to put them front and center on such a consistent basis without fear of alienating the male market (most likely the reason more companies don’t feature women in their ads, which is lame). Thanks Helly Hansen for a great piece of gear and for having so much respect for women in the outdoor industry!