Review: Ferrosi Pants by Outdoor Research
A Breathable Softshell Pant for All Seasons
If the thought of shopping for a hiking pant makes you roll your eyes, then we have something in common. For me, finding the perfect hiking pant is an exercise in frustration. Several years ago, I stumbled on the Ferrosi Pant by Outdoor Research, and I’ve been in love with it since. In this review, I’ll dig into the features of this pant… you already know I think it’s great, so keep reading if you want to know why. Otherwise, just go buy a pair already!
The fabric is basically an extremely thin, stretchy softshell. It cuts a majority of the wind while still remaining remarkably breathable. The fabric will shed a very slight amount of precipitation, which is nice when getting car washed by dewy plants in the early morning or in a quick, light drizzle. If the rain continues for long, they will wet out completely. The good news is that they dry incredibly fast.
A good hiking pant needs to balance some competing characteristics. It should be lightweight enough so as not to weigh down your body or pack, but rugged enough to survive moving through dense brush without getting torn to shreds. Unlike most pants which use a woven nylon material to achieve these characteristics, the Ferrosi pant adds spandex to the mix (86% nylon, 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop) which allows the fabric to also stretch and move with you during even the most acrobatic movements. The stretchiness of the fabric allowed OR’s design team to tailor the pant with a slimmer profile than the average hiking pant. No need for a droopy gusseted crotch that looks like you’ve got a soccer-mom tank ass. These pants are actually flattering to your buttskie-butt.
So let’s talk about tailoring, because at the end of the day manufacturers largely have access to the same materials. But how they assemble the garment and the features they include or remove will dictate how well a piece suits your needs. Articulated knees ensure that there is zero movement restriction, and as mentioned above, the Ferrosi Pant is fantastic in it’s fit. OR calls it a “Standard fit” for what they describe as “A looser fit for comfort in both technical and casual apparel”. While this description sounds baggy, in practice I find the pant to fit well enough that I never think about its fit. It just feels great, especially when paired with a lightweight baselayer beneath.
Waist & Inseam
With waist sizes from 28 inches (usually available only on OR’s website) all the way up to 38 inches, you’re bound to find your size. The waistband is lined with a soft brushed tricot material that helps the pant stay in place, reduces chafe and absorbs moisture. The oversized belt loops accommodate belts up to 1.5 inches thick. The Ferrosi Pant comes in both short and regular hem lengths, which is awesome for me. I have short legs and find it nearly impossible to find pants that don’t drag on the ground. That being said, inseam length scales proportionally with waist size. So if you are built with atypical proportions you may have some difficulty finding the right fit.
The cuffs of the pant are elasticized with plastic cinches. I love this feature. Cinching the cuffs helps keep pests like tick out. If hiking in boots, you can pull the cuff over the ankle of the boot and voila! No dirt or rocks in the boot. Leave those gaiters behind! (You’re out of luck if you’ve already graduated to trail runners.) Otherwise, the cuffs can be bloused over your footwear if that look is desired. A final benefit of the cinch cuffs is that they can quickly be pulled up to capri length just below the knee and held in place with the elastic – no need to roll them up. This is great to quickly regulate heat. I used these pants on my Kilimanjaro climb and would frequently do this in the afternoon when the the weather got toasty.
When it comes to pockets, the Ferrosi Pant is not overly generous. It features two slash pockets up front that are not very deep. The pockets are constructed from the same material as the pant against your leg as well as a mesh liner against the exterior of the pant. This creates a slick interior and items like chapstick, keys, and change can easily slide out if the angle of your leg is pitched too high. The shorter depth is compatible with harness leg straps, so you won’t ever accidentally pinch your keys between your leg and the harness leg loops! Dual zippered rear pockets help you not lose your wallet. Having two pockets to choose from means the pant works well for lefties like me.
The most useful pocket on the pant is the vertical zippered thigh pocket. Not really a cargo pocket because it is very svelte – and the opening is vertical – you can nevertheless carry a large cell phone or folded up map quite easily. The lower volume of this pocket over a traditional cargo pocket means items are less likely to rattle around as you walk. The zipper ensures the contents don’t escape, no matter what position you end up in.
Despite the thinness of the material, I’ve never once torn a pair of these. I own several in various colors and styles and have used a pair as my primary hiking pant for five years. It is still alive and kicking. I have noticed that the fabric, particularly the thighs begin pilling when subjected to abrasion. I originally used a pair as my climbing pants at the rock gym but noticed severe pilling and abrasion wear and tear on the knees and thighs so I switched to something more rugged. If you’re looking for a rock-ready version of these, check out the Ferrosi Crag pant which is reinforced with Cordura in the high-wear areas.
Since the material is a petrochemical-based fabric, it is extremely susceptible to fire sparks and embers. While you’re not going to erupt into flames if an ember hits you, it will immediately go through the fabric. Unfortunately this is typical of all nylon and polyester fabrics, so exercise caution near the campfire.
The Ferrosi is going to shine best in three-season hikes and climbs where you’re not experiencing the hottest or coldest conditions. It can eat up winter activities simply by adding a baselayer or fleece tights beneath, but since it wets out quickly you’ll need to be careful not to sit in the snow. I regularly use it for summer hikes out east due to concerns of ticks and Lyme disease. However after hiking the PCT in shorts, it’s going to be hard to return to pants in the summertime.
Over the years, the Ferrosi Pant has steadily become my go-to for all but the coldest weather outings, and I heartily recommend it. The Ferrosi Pant is part of OR’s Ferrosi line which includes tops and bottoms that hold the fabric as their commonality. I own both this pant and the crag pant version as well as the hooded jacket and wind shirt. I prefer the Ferrosi material for the pants. On the tops I find it too heavy and only viable for a very narrow range of conditions.
Do you own a pair of Ferrosi pants? I’m interested in in hearing about your experiences with the pant. What do you use it for most? Where has it let you down? Maybe there is a different pant that you like better? Share your stories in the comments below!
The product reviewed in this article was purchased independently with personal funds. This site, and the author have no affiliation with the product or brands discussed. Opinions shared are based on years of experience with multiple versions of the product.