The North Face Men’s Kichatna Bibs – Climbing Gear Review

TNF LogoThe North Face Kichatna BibsFollowing on from his review of the Kichatna Jacket, Kev looks at their counterpart, The North Face Kichatna Bibs…

Performance ****

Features ****

Value ****

This winter I’ve been reviewing a ski mountaineering hard shell combo from The North Face. The Kichatna Jacket (read the review here) and their counterpart, the Kichatna Bibs. I concluded that the Kichatna Jacket was a great all round ski mountaineering jacket, so what about the Bibs?

The North Face Kichatna Bibs: great fit and articulation for skiing.

The North Face Kichatna Bibs: great fit and articulation for skiing.

Well, The North Face say that the: “Men’s Kichatna Bib is a technical, ski mountaineering bib pant in Gore-Tex Pro Shell for backcountry missions.”

So let’s have a look at the features. The Kichatna bibs are a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable bib pant designed for ski mountaineering and ski touring in harsh weather. They are made using 40D 105 g/m² 100% nylon GORE-TEX® Pro Shell ripstop, with a micro grid ripstop woven backer on the main areas and a tougher
80D 150 g/m²100% nylon GORE-TEX® Pro Shell plain weave with a micro grid ripstop woven backer, on the seat and knees.

The bib/body part is manufactured in 225 g/m² 85% polyester, 15% elastane double knit with FlashDry™, meaning it is flexible and breathable as well as quick drying. It does offer a bit of weather protection to your core area, however there is no real need to produce this part in a hard shell fabric as it would compromise breathabilty, and your jacket protects this area anyway.

I found the bib to be very comfortable, fitting closely and not rucking up or being excessively bulky. It worked very well with my other layers. The low profile, laminated zippered pocket was great for keeping my car key secured. The polyester/elastane bib fabric stretches down to waist level and this close fitting bib negates the need for a belt. It was very secure when coupled with the braces and I never felt like the trousers were falling down. Not having a belt meant that there was no excess bulk around the waist and this was really noticeable when wearing a climbing harness.

In terms of fit, the Kichatna Bibs were great. I am 5 feet 9 inches tall, weigh 65kg and have a 30 inch waist with a regular inside leg. I tested a pair in size small and could probably not have asked for more if they had been designed specifically for me! TNF do not offer different leg lengths though so others may find that the fit is not so appealing, but it’s all about trying them on and finding out what works for you.

The cut of the leg on the Kichatna Bibs is great for skiing. It has great articulation meaning the trouser legs move with you, not against you and the hem and internal gaiter easily fit over ski boots. This is aided by the zipper on the gaiter (better than velcro or press studs in my opinion, although perhaps heavier) and also the outer leg zips which stretch up as far as the hips. Whilst the full length zippers allowed the bibs to be ventilated easily and also put on and taken off while wearing ski boots, they did not allow me to answer the more serious call of nature very easily, particularly when wearing a climbing harness! The zippered fly was fine for less serious calls, but I would like to see a glove friendly tab as standard on a £320 bib pant.

The cut of the Kichatna Bibs was also fine for climbing although a bit roomier round the calf than I would look for in an out and out climbing pant. This is a compromise though as the Kichatna Bibs are trying to touch many bases, with climbing, skiing and general mountaineering, and they do this very well.

The North Face Kichatna Bibs: great for climbing too, although roomier around the lower leg than I would want if this was an out and out climbing pant. Note the kick patch reinforcement.

The North Face Kichatna Bibs: great for climbing too, although roomier around the lower leg than I would want if this was an out and out climbing pant. Note the kick patch reinforcement.

The Kichatna Bibs have a 190 g/m² 72% nylon,28% Kevlar® schoeller®-keprotec® reinforcement around the cuffs and this has done a good job of protecting the area covered by this particular fabric. However I have found that I have managed to slice the area around the ankles that is not reinforced (this may be down to my skiing ability!) and it would be nice to see the reinforcement stretch all the way around the lower leg, although I suppose this would be a more ski specific feature and add extra weight.

The North Face Kichatna Bibs coupled with the Kichatna Jacket offer great weather protection for ski mountaineering. Here Kev gets ready to ski off from the Requin Hut, Chamonix.

The North Face Kichatna Bibs coupled with the Kichatna Jacket offer great weather protection for ski mountaineering. Here Kev gets ready to ski off from the Requin Hut, Chamonix.

A couple of other things I like on the Kichatna Bibs are the pockets, which are low bulk and don’t interfere with a harness. They also have glove friendly zipper tabs. Finally, the gaiters are equipped with tie down loops so you can add your own under boot elastics should you wish to.

So, to conclude, the Kichatna Bibs are a great pair of ski mountaineering pants offering full weather protection in the harshest conditions. They are probably a little too much for Spring ski touring as I’d be more likely to wear a softshell trouser, but the side zips certainly offer adequate ventilation. I particularly like the low profile bib and waist, as well as the leg cut for skiing. They work fine for climbing but are not an out and out climbing pant. A drop seat and extra cuff reinforcement would be two key updates for me. Team them up with the Kichatna Jacket (review here) for full on storm protection.

  • RRP: £320
  • Find out more at The North Face website.
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