Review: Rab Calient Pants

Review: Rab Calient Pants 

Rab, known for their down, is truly a mountain company. This year they introduced the Calient pant.  We found them to be a lightweight breathable pair of hiking pants that look as good on the trail as they do in the dining room.

The Rab Caliente Pants on the Lötschenpass, Switzerland


  • Material: Lightweight Matrix™ plain weave fabric with DWR
  • Sun Protection: UPF 30+
  • Pockets: 3
  • Weight: 265 grams
  • Country of Origin: Indonesia
  • Size and Color tested: 36”, Cumin

Who is Rab?

Rab has a long-standing record of creating top-quality gear for all-mountain pursuits. Started by Rab Carington in Wales, they have been designing gear for the mountains since 1973.  Check out our review of the Rab Khroma GTX jacket if you want more info: Rab Khroma GTX review

What are the Calient Pants?

The Rab Calient are pants designed to be worn hiking from early to late summer. They are Lightweight and breathable and their slim-fit looks good on the trail and around town. They stood up to some long days on the trail this year, in the rain and in the heat. Read on to find out what makes them a good trail pant.

How do they fit?

The Rab Calient pants have a moderately slim fit. They aren’t skin tight nor do they hang loose like ski pants. They are unlike other slim pants, they actually have ample room for us folks with large quads and I really appreciated that. This is of course aided by the stretch of the Matrix material that the Calient pants are made of. 

An early spring walk in the Rab Calient Pant

Working farther down the pants we find articulated knees designed to add some room while hiking and to prevent bunching behind the knee. The articulation is subtle but gets the job done without standing out. 

At the bottom of the pants we find a fairly tight ankle. The narrower bottom reduces bagginess and excess material at the bottom preventing bunching up, rubbing, and getting dirty and worn in general. 

If that doesn’t keep the bottom of the pants tight enough there are eyelets at the bottom of each leg. You can add a cord around the to be able to cinch the legs tight. On other pants, I used this cord to keep the pants bunched up under my knees kind of like knickerbockers. Since I did not have a cord handy, I rolled the Rab Calient pants up. They could be a bit tricky to get past the calves but not impossible. If you think your going to wear these pants with the legs up more than not, Rab has you covered with the Calient shorts!

Eyelets at the bottom fo each leg are large and easy to thread cord through

Tell me More

At the waist is a double snap waistband keeping these pants securely closed. The pants also come with a removable 25mm webbing belt with a low-profile plastic buckle. I found the belt to be more than ample while out to dinner but when hiking it would loosen occasionally. This was not a problem as the Rab Calient pants also have belt loops allowing you to use whatever belt you like. 

There are two zippered hand pockets. Each pocket is made with perforated nylon. This allows for a smidge more airflow on your legs when the pockets are unzipped. On the right thigh, there is another zippered pocket. Lined with the same perforated nylon as the hand pockets, it is big enough to hold an iPhone 8Plus so I imagine it is big enough to hold most larger cell phones or a rite-in-the-rain. 

At the back of the Rab Calient pants is a reinforced back hem. Large squats and an aggressive backpack are not going to affect these pants. There are no back pockets because those just catch on things, and no one puts their wallet in their back pocket anymore, right?

What is Rab’s Matrix Material?

The Calient pants are made of a proprietary plain weave material Rab calls Matrix. Plain weave fabrics are characterized by their perpendicular pattern where the fibers go over and under one another. Plain weave fabrics have great durability and Rab’s Matrix is no exception. The Matrix material weave is so fine that you need a magnifying glass to see it and feels smooth to the touch. Though the pants are DWR coated, I found they would get wet easily but this did not matter at all. The pants dry so quickly that it negates the weak DWR. They provided decent wind resistance and show no wear for the season so durability has been great. 

They also have an SPF rating of 30+ meaning you will almost never get a sunburn while wearing them. 

The Rab Calient from behind on the Lötschenpass, Switzerland

Overview of the Rab Calient Pants

These pants have punched above their weight, literally. Despite Rab rating them a 3 out of 5 on their lightness scale (5 being ultralight), I cannot imagine them being any lighter. Usually, I equate lightweight with being fragile but these pants are anything but. They stood up well to the wear I threw them this summer. 

They were warm enough on days that started cool and cool enough when things warmed in the afternoon. When it got too warm I rolled the bottoms up. They’re convertible!

I only used the belt during dinners and swapped to something stronger on long hiking days. The DWR wore out quickly but with the quick-drying nature of these pants, it did not matter.  

If you are looking for durable lightweight trekking pants that packs down to nothing or are a one-bag traveler these are the pants for you.  

Pros: Incredibly Lightweight and durable. Good Sun Protection. Trail and Dinner Pants! 

Cons: Weak DWR. Including a shock cord for the ankle eyelets would’ve been nice but just having the option to add one yourself is a step up from some other options out there. 

If you are interested in checking out the Calient Pants head on over to Rab and check them out!

Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free pair of Rab Calient pants to test. This in no way affected our opinion and review.