Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Ibex Ramble Wool Pants

Item: Ibex Ramble Wool Pants
Size 34"
Made in China
MSRP: $195
Did I pay for them: No

Growing up in cold and snowy northeast Washington, I always had a pair of Army surplus wool pants in my pile of winter gear. Most who have chased down Army surplus wool pants know that sizes favor the huge, the super skinny tall, and the elfishy short. So, while I always had a pair of wool pants, they were either obnoxiously tight and long (and therefore prone to blowing out at the crotch) or many sizes too big.

All the same, ever since reading Papillon as a boy--where the narrator extols the virtues of wool before leaping off a cliff into the frigid Atlantic ocean--I've been a wool believer. So I spent many childhood winters sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, horse-fussing, and ski-jogging in ill-fitting wool Army surplus pants.

But when I discovered the REI ACME pants a few years ago, which came in normal sizes, were warm, kept me reasonably dry, and looked good enough, I think I may have subconsciously given up on the biennial search for better wool pants.

Until...late last summer, when the folks at Ibex sent me a few things to try. Among them, these bitchin wool pants. As I first gazed upon them, my wool-pant love revived with a Phoenix-like intensity. Verily.

These help me clean up like no tomorrow. 
There's no denying the righteously utilitarian look of wool pants. There's a no-nonsense, manly, Hemingwayish thing going on there. Hopefully I'll never be in a situation where I'll actually have to live up to these manly pants. As for color, there appears to be about three hues of grey that are legal wool-pant colors: greeny-grey, grey, and dark grey. The Ibex pant is in the greeny-grey camp, and the cut is super refined -- by my standards, which tend to favor the more technical-gear-slob look.

In my old work life, where I never actually saw people, I didn't have to worry about how I dressed, and I looked it. Now, as one who attempts to teach young minds, I'm told that I need to look "professional." These pants shine in the pro department.

Righteous belt was a gift from Liza last year. These pants just make a perfect home for that belt.

And as daily drivers, the pants totally rock on the bike: they're cut a bit loose so my monster thighs don't bind up my panties; they've also got a gusseted crotch. Like all Ibex stuff, they're super quality with nice finish details: little hemmed pocket edges on the rear and side zipped pocket, comfy-silky pocket lining (with little silhouettes of sheep), and metal buttons and rivets. There are no bikey details and I'm not sure I'd want them here, though if there was a way to do a really discreet ankle cinch thing, then I'd be down for that. Otherwise, I'm fine with bender clips or velcro jobbers.

Sheep. Metal bits. Transcend buckle.

I've commuted and mountain biked in these pants through wet, snow, and cold. I've pretty much worn them daily since the first of December. They are the perfect weight for daily inside and out wearing. In woolspeak: they're 22.5 microns. So apparently, that's weighty enough to keep the hard cold and wet out whilst being light enough to not roast you in a heated office.

For fit: I'm a 34 waist and these fit a tad loose when I got them a few months ago. Writing this at the end of the December, they're feeling just right, so they run a bit big. One peeve of mine is that you only get to choose the waist size, there are no inseam options, so 34" waist comes in 33" inseam only. I'm normally a 30 inch inseam, so I had to have them altered. Pants like these are worth getting dialed in at the perfect length, so it's disappointing to me that Ibex doesn't provide a range of inseam options, though I understand why they don't.

In any case, I expect these pants to be lifers. If they give out any time before that, I'll report it here.

1 comment:

Andy D. said...

Nice review. Those look like great pants. I'd go out and buy a pair right now if they were about half the price. I've been relying on some old Banana Republic wool classic alpinist-type pants that I got at a thrift store several years ago. I have also gone the army surplus route, but sizes never quite align with my needs.