Enlightened Equipment Insulated Torrid Pants Review
I am always cold. Always. Insulated pants are basically my dream, but most of them are either too heavy or too expensive for me to justify as a backpacker. When I saw, late last fall, that Enlightened Equipment had come out with a line of lightweight and affordable insulating pants, I snagged a pair as quick as I could. At five ounces and $140 for a women’s small, the Torrid pants seemed just reasonable enough to carry along in my pack as an overindulgent luxury item on cold-weather trips. Plus, since I already own and love the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pullover, I had reason to suspect that the pants would be just as delightful.
Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants At-a-Glance
Weight: 4.75 oz*
Materials: 2 oz/sqyd Climashield APEX synthetic insulation; 7, 10, or 20D nylon fabric with DWR finish
Click here for the men’s Torrid pants.
*My measurement for a women’s small, 28″ inseam, 10D inner and outer fabric; the site reports 5.17 oz for the same specs.
Circumstances of Review
After receiving these pants last fall and waiting several frustrating, unseasonably warm months for winter to arrive (culminating in 75-degree weather from Christmas until New Year’s Day), the mercury dropped and I basically lived in my Torrid pants throughout January and February. I took them for several frigid hikes in northwestern Pennsylvania during that time, in which conditions were icy and ranged from single digits to the low teens.
Who are these pants best for?
Most insulated pants are made for mountaineers, ice climbers, skiers, etc.—people for whom warmth, moisture management, and abrasion resistance are paramount. For those pursuits, weight is a secondary consideration at best. In contrast, Enlightened Equipment’s Torrid pants are designed with backpackers and thru-hikers in mind. They have a restrained amount of synthetic insulation—enough to take the edge off the cold during a shoulder season backpacking trip, not enough to provide standalone warmth on top of Mount Everest—and a minimalist design that favors weight and cost savings over functional movement.
These pants would be ideal for early-season thru-hikers and backpackers who run cold. My women’s small weighs just 4.75 ounces, so I don’t feel bad throwing them in my pack for a backpacking trip. At that weight, call them a luxury item and don’t think about it any further. Costing just $140 (if you price out other down/synthetic insulated pants you’ll see why I use the word “just”), these pants are modest enough to fit in your budget both financially and weight-wise.
Fit and Comfort
I tested the pants in a size small with a 28″ inseam. They generally fit well and were loose enough in the legs to easily accommodate extra layers beneath. That said, I have curvy hips, and I found that they were a little tight in that area only. According to EE’s sizing chart, my hips are right on the edge between a small and medium. Lesson learned: next time, I’ll size up to a medium to make sure I have plenty of room. The waistband is adjustable, so you won’t have to worry about the pants fitting loosely up top.
Although they are bulky in appearance, the Torrid pants aren’t really baggy. They have a straight-legged, somewhat loose cut. Enlightened Equipment says they run about a half-size large to accommodate layers underneath. The wide legs are designed to come down over the tops of your shoes to protect your ankles. I have a tendency to knock my ankles together when I walk and the bottoms of my pants always get torn and dirty, so I deliberately went with a short inseam to keep that part of the pant out of harm’s way.
While the ankle area is loose enough to squeeze a pair of Altra Lone Peaks through, it’s a struggle and feels like the pants could get dirty and damaged if you did that all the time. You probably couldn’t even fit a bulkier pair of shoes through. Easier to just remove your shoes before changing into the pants unless you’re really in a pinch.
Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants Features
Climashield APEX insulation: Climashield APEX is a top performer in the world of synthetic insulation. It’s continuous filament insulation that’s known for superior loft, thermal efficiency, and compressibility. Continuous filament insulation is also very durable, enjoying longer-lasting loft and compressibility than other classes of synthetic fill. Like other synthetics, Climashield APEX will continue to keep you warm even when wet and won’t be damaged by water.
No sewn-thr0ugh seams: Many insulated pants have numerous sewn-through baffles, but not these bad boys. The lack of seams eliminates cold spots and potential failure points where the fabric could rip.
Elastic waist: The shock cord waist cuts out drafts and keeps the pants snug around the waist. It’s adjustable, which is helpful depending on how many layers you have underneath / how much you ate for dinner that night.
READ NEXT – Enlightened Equipment Torrid APEX Jacket Review
Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants Pros
Toasty warm: I tested these pants in very cold conditions, and they really made a difference in my overall comfort. On their own, they aren’t enough to keep you truly toasty below freezing if you’re just standing around camp, but they at least take the edge off and do a great job blocking wind.
I really enjoy the lack of sewn-through seams on these pants. It’s just a delightful tube of toastiness running up each leg with no cold spots. Sewn-through seams allow cold air to pass right through and also increase the chances of fabric rippage over the life of the garment, and fortunately, the pants’ best-in-class Climashield APEX insulation doesn’t need baffles to keep its structure.
Lightweight: My pair clocks in at a feather-light 4.6 ounces, so vanishingly lightweight that I don’t feel guilty at all throwing them in my pack. Heck, I could offset the weight of these pants just by carrying two fewer granola bars in my food bag.
Affordable: At $140, these are possibly the most affordable insulated pants on the market right now. Down pants can easily cost twice as much, and even other synthetic offerings are much more expensive. Considering that you’re getting a custom-made garment made with the absolute best, most durable synthetic insulation on the market (and is also dramatically lighter than any comparable pair of pants), $140 is quite a steal.
Customizable: The various customization options allow you to really dial in the fit and weight of these pants. You get to choose your inside and outside color, the weight of the fabric, and your inseam length. Just beware that they take loner to ship because they’re being made to order. At the moment, EE’s lead time is between three and five weeks. Make sure to plan ahead if you’re thinking of snagging a pair of these bad boys for an upcoming hike.
Handmade in the USA: Who doesn’t like supporting a small local business? Minnesota-based Enlightened Equipment started out as one guy making stuff in his basement and has since grown into a 50-something-person company that still hand-makes all of its own gear onsite.
Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants Cons
Incessant swishing noise: The nylon fabric makes quite a bit of noise, whether walking or just shifting slighting inside your sleeping bag, which can be annoying. Related note: you’ll definitely want to wear base layers underneath these pants. Slippery nylon against bare skin is not the most wonderful sensation in the world.
Delicate: I chose 10D fabric for the inside and outside as a middle ground between weight savings and durability. You can go as high as 20D nylon for the exterior fabric, and I recommend that you do so if you plan to wear these pants outside the sleeping bag. To me, seven and ten-denier fabric just don’t offer enough abrasion resistance to move around camp confidently. In fairness, I haven’t had any holes or rips so far, but I’ve babied them pretty heavily too.
Bulky: Not a huge deal on the trail, where I can stuff them in my pack and not think about them all day. Still, while these pants are vanishingly lightweight, they’re quite bulky. When I’m not on the trail they’re fairly inconvenient to store. I’m sure I’ll come up with a way to keep them out of the way eventually, but so far everywhere I put them they seem to take up an inordinate amount of space.
Changing into them is a whole thing: It’s not like you could step off the trail for a 15-minute lunch break and easily slip these pants on to stay warm while you’re not moving. Putting the Torrid pants on is a full-scale sit down, take your shoes off, shimmy-shimmy drill every dang time. If I’m putting these pants on, they’d better stay on for at least a few hours to justify the effort. Ankle zips would make them so much easier to change into by eliminating the need to remove your shoes. (And yes, I say this while fully acknowledging that the simple, minimalist design of these pants is kind of their whole schtick.)
My Enlightened Equipment Torrid pants are lovely and warm. But realistically, I don’t see myself taking them on longer trips—even in cold weather. They’re just too bulky and inconvenient to really have a place in my pack for weeks on end—I’d rather just haul out my sleeping bag to drape over my legs than have a whole extra garment for that purpose.
On shorter “glamping” hikes, though, you bet your butt I’m taking them. I can’t wait to lounge around camp with my Torrid pants and puffy, ensconced in full-body warmth and comfort no matter what the weather’s doing. And just because I don’t plan to thru-hike with them, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Given how lightweight and affordable these pants are, they’re worth a look if you run cold.
Shop the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants – Women’s
Shop the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants – Men’s
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These Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants were donated for purpose of review.
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