Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants

Review: Patagonia Reconnaissance pants

Like many outdoor companies Patagonia has come out with a new hybrid pant and jacket that combines 3-layer waterproof-breathable fabric with stretchy soft-shell material into one piece of clothing.  The idea of course is to create a garment that benefits from the advantages of both fabric types through their strategic placement.  Due to this amalgamation of fabrics the resultant garments are not technically a soft-shell or hard-shell so Patagonia ingeniously opted for something new, a Snow Shell.  However what we really want to know is how the clothing works in the real world, on a long wet pitch of ice or skinning up through a snowstorm.  Do they stay dry, breath, flex and move?  Only one way to find out!  We’ve been putting both the Patagonia Reconnaissance pants through some rigorous testing though this review will focus solely on the pants.

Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants
The Reconnaissance Pants & Jacket

The Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants sport a number of features including:

  • Zippered side vents on the outside of each thigh
  • 2 zippered cargo pockets (and only 2 pockets)
  • Zippered cuff with gaiter
  • Stretchy belt
  • Recco reflector
  • And of course, a combination of 3-layer waterproof-breathable fabrics and stretchy soft-shell fabrics

As the main feature of these pants is the composite fabrics lets start there.

Basically the entire pant is constructed of a light hard-shell material except around the crotch area, the inside half of the front of the thigh and between the legs down to the knee.  This seems logical as these are areas of high body heat and moisture but at low risk for impact from external water sources.  The added advantage is that this placement of soft-shell fabric allows the pants to stretch providing more freedom of movement.

Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants
The lighter colored fabrics in the photo are the soft-shell while the darker color is the 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric. Basically the soft-shell material is found around the crotch area

There are 2 pockets on the Recon pants and each is a nice size, reasonably easy to access when wearing a harness and have a zippered top. However, the down side is that there are only 2 pockets.  I’m a big fan of pockets and would have liked to see a back pocket, a couple of hand pockets and maybe even a transceiver pocket… just more pockets.

Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants
1 of the 2 identical cargo pockets on the pants

The pants come with a stretchy belt that seems to work reasonably well and fits under my climbing harness without issue. When I washed the pants the belt, which had been in a sleeve along the waist, worked its way out. Luckily there are belt loops so getting it back on the pants was easy.  I would expect that this belt will loose it’s stretch over time though.  Also of note is that there are 2 buttons for the waist and the fly zipper extends to the top (up under these 2 buttons), I’m not sure of the reason for this but does complicate things when wearing a harness if you know what I mean.

Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants
The fly zipper can be seen going to the very top of the waist band under the two buttons, when wearing a harness it can be difficult to undue just the fly for a quick leak and things can get desperate quickly
Patagonia Reconnaissance Pants
The cuff on the Recon is big enough to fit over ski boots, with the help of the zipper, while still maintaining a low-profile fit that works great for ice climbing

After testing the Reconnaissance pants on both ice climbing and ski touring I’ve been impressed.  The design and fit makes them work equally as well for both sports and the side vents are great for both long sweaty ice approaches and long ski tours.  The pants work well in all types of weather, shedding snow and water effectively but also breathing well where and when needed.  The cuffs fit great over both ice and ski boots while the internal gaiter keeps snow out.  The biggest disappointment for me was the minimalist approach to pockets, 2 is just not enough, and the fly arrangement is strange.

Pros:      Good fit and stretch, breathable, they come in grey if the green is a bit bright for you.

Cons:     No hand pockets, No transceiver pocket, fly zipper & 2 buttons waist combo can be awkward

Overall: A great option for anyone looking for a single pant that does the job for both ski touring and ice climbing.  They are slightly less breathable than the Arcteryx Lithic Comp Pant but have a better fit around the boot and so are less likely to snag on crampons making them a bit more versatile.