In May 2014 I reviewed Jöttnar’s Vanir Salopettes. Basically, they got a rave review, but at the end of the review I asked if Jöttnar could make a bibless version too. Well, at the end of last year they kindly obliged with the Vanir LT Pants. And here is the review…
Jöttnar say: “New for 2016, based on our class leading Vanir salopette, Vanir LT (Lowered Torso) is a fully featured, men’s winter mountaineering pant constructed from proven Polartec® NeoShell®.
With articulated and reinforced knees, two sets of swappable zip-out gaiters sized for ski and climbing boots, harness-friendly ¾ length water repellent side zips and full-sized Kevlar™ instep protectors, the Vanir LT climbing pant is already the choice of mountain rescue teams working in the harshest conditions, as well as international mountain guides and ski mountaineers. It delivers true breathability, stretch and robustness in a lightweight, versatile and fully waterproof package.”
I’ve used the Vanir LT Pants for a full winter of nasty Scottish weather and Alpine fun. The first thing I noticed when I put them on was that the cut seemed very different to the Vanir Salopettes that I originally tested. I asked Tommy at Jöttnar about it and this was his reply:
“The new LTs have a similar cut to our latest version of the Vanir. In comparison to the 2013 version of the Vanirs that Kev’s familiar with, approx. 4mm was added to their length and approx. 4mm was added to the volume of the seat and thigh.
I know that Kev happened to get a good fit from our ’13 versions, but for many people our 1st generation Vanirs were too short and too tight. The new ones will give better range of movement and will place less stress on the fabric.”
So, for me, what is the upshot of this redesigned cut? Well, the trousers generally feel more roomy. Freedom of movement is excellent, they fit much better over ski boots but I suppose they are not quite as prime a cut, for technical climbing. That said the cut is still a good one. It is noticeably roomier around the lower leg, and also the hip area. But like I say, not oversized. I suppose I just found the original Vanir cut to be perfect for my shape and size. The first hardshell pants that didn’t flap around or hinder movement! I can see why the new cut has been adopted though as they will more than likely appeal to more of the market.
The stretch of the Polartec Neoshell fabric is lovely and feels much more like soft-shell than hardshell. As Rich stated in his recent review of the Asmund Jacket, Neoshell is very comfortable, but not as waterproof as the likes of 3 layer Gore Tex. As Rich rightly says: “Neoshell is rated with a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm which qualifies as totally waterproof even though some membranes from Gore and the like can approach 30,000mm. However though these extremely waterproof fabrics are ‘breathable’ they are not air permeable and highly breathable in the way Neoshell is.” As somebody who doesn’t particularly like waterproofs, I do really like Neoshell! Sure, there have been some days in Scotland this winter where I have been wearing these and definitely returned back to the car on the damp side of dry, but these have been few and far between.
The Vanir LT Pants feature 3/4 length water repellant side zips, which mean venting is easy and the pants are easy to get on and off. The instep kick patches are brilliant, properly sized and tough! No holes after a whole winter in crampons. Two zipped hand pockets are useful for storing bits and bobs such as compass, snacks and keys and the zipped fly is easy to access even with gloves on. I like the simple belt closure which again, is easy to operate and secure. Jöttnar provide 2 sets of internal gaiters so you can swap them depending on whether you are wearing ski boots or mountaineering boots. This is a nice touch and the sort of attention to detail that helps to distinguish top end brands such as these.
One problem I found with these pants, was the braces. They tended to slip off my shoulders. They either needed to be worn crossed or modified slightly with an elastic band to join them at the back. The hook and loop system to remove them was also incredibly tight and needed a lot of force to get them out.
Over the course of the test I have found these pants to be incredibly tough. The outer fabric also appeared to be very grippy! On my recent Winter Foundation training course for the British Mountain Guides scheme we looked at ice axe arrests. My peers, both dressed in 3 layer Gore Tex, lay down on the icy snow slope and went whizzing off down the hill. I however, dressed head to toe in Neoshell, lay down and barely moved (and I was trying honest!). This led our trainer, Graeme Ettle, to jokingly exclaim that maybe we didn’t need to bother learning to ice axe arrest and should all just dress in Neoshell instead ; ) !
All in all I really like the Vanir LT Pants. Neoshell ticks the boxes for me, it’s waterproof enough and has the comfort of softshell. For me the cut isn’t as good as the originals, but I do acknowledge that the new cut probably has wider appeal. The quality is amazing and well worth the money. Great pants for climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Jöttnar just need to sort out the braces. Available in 3 amazing colours too!
- RRP: £300
- Read more and buy from the Jöttnar website.
About the author:
Kevin Avery has been climbing for over 20 years. He loves all aspects of the sport from sunny cragging to Alpine north faces and bouldering to ski mountaineering. Kev has a keen interest in all things gear, he is Gear Editor at Climb Magazine, enjoyed a spell as Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, is a trainee IFMGA Mountain Guide and highly active in the outdoors. He likes to test kit to destruction. When not climbing he enjoys running in the hills and cycling as well as a decent pint of ale!