“I forget I am wearing them.” Nick reviews his favourite waterproof trousers.
I have been using Paramo clothing for nearly ten years now and on a wet day, hill walking in the Lake District or for winter mountaineering in Scotland it is my first choice every time. Having initially been slightly sceptical of Paramo’s mythical performance capabilities, a couple of glowing recommendations from good friends convinced me to invest in a pair of Aspira salopettes and I have not looked back.
Paramo was established in 1992 and, taking its cue from nature, has developed highly breathable and water resistant fabrics that mimic the action of animal fur by transferring water away from the body. In contrast to other types of waterproofs, Paramo garments do not require membranes or taped-seams which means they can be indefinitely re-proofed using products such as Nikwax and also easily repaired if necessary.
The Aspira Salopettes probably fall into the bracket of functional rather than fashionable leg wear and they do not overdo it on the features. They have full-length side zips backed up by poppers which allow for venting that can be fine-tuned as required. More durable fabric covers the knees and backside, areas which are more likely to come in contact with the ground, particularly during a day of winter mountaineering. Two chest pockets are useful for storing items such as phones or cameras and can be easily accessed if wearing a Velez or Aspira smock over the top. Adjustable braces and a narrow waist belt help with fit.
I went for the medium/long option and they are pretty much the perfect fit for me. The salopettes have a slightly slimmer cut compared to the Aspira trousers which were designed to accommodate a ski boot underneath.
The soft, rustle free fabric is pleasant to wear all day. The broad elastic shoulder straps don’t cut in and can’t be felt when you are wearing a rucksack. The ultra-breathability and wicking performance of the fabric has kept me comfortable all day every day: notably on a few occasions when friends and colleagues, who were wearing more expensive laminated waterproofs, have become cold and wet.
The fabric has taken a lot of abuse, particularly when sliding around on the snow teaching people how to ice axe arrest and kneeling for extended periods when canoeing but it has survived extrememly well and any small tears can quickly and easily be sewn up. The water repellency can be renewed by washing in Nikwax Tech Wash and TX Direct when required.
It may sound odd but the best thing about these trousers might just be that I forget I am wearing them. I can put them on in the morning and I don’t need to worry about my legs for the rest of the day. In colder temperatures I usually wear a thin pair of long johns underneath but for a lot of the year they can be comfortably worn against the skin and there is no need to carry an extra pair of waterproof trousers in your rucksack.
Considering the amount of use I’ve had from mine I consider them fantastic value for money. Paramo has an excellent environmental policy and a friendly customer services department that can deal quickly with returns or repairs. I must confess to now owning two pairs of the Aspira salopettes: one I save for winter mountaineering and an older pair for ghyll scrambling and canoeing.
Now for the bad news: in the process of writing this review I discovered that the Aspira range has been discontinued. There are a few still left to be found – the Paramo shop in Keswick said they still have some in stock. So get out there quickly and snap them up. Alternatively for general hill walking you may want to consider the Cascada trousers or the new Enduro trousers for high mountain activities.