There are few things less inspiring to spend your hard earned cash on than waterproof overtrousers. But as all UK hillwalkers know, there are few things more vital.
Patagonia have been utilising their proprietary H2No fabrics widely and extensively for years, and their 3 layer version features in the Torrentshell 3L pants. Patagonia describe the pants as 'simple and unpretentious' which begs the first question: What do you need in waterproof trousers?
There are the several-hundred-pound, full side-zip, Kevlar kick patch, bomb-proof and flattering variety; wear all day, climb a north face and ski off the summit with only a flimsy pair of tights beneath. These are not those.
What most people need in waterproof pants, is an occasional 'overtrouser.' Perhaps the most important feature is the durability to withstand months (hopefully years) scrunched up in the bottom of a rucksack without fraying at the folds. For this is where overtrousers should be.
If the worst comes to the worst - and this is the UK - it might rain. You'll ignore the first 5 minutes of drizzle. So when it starts to get heavy and you decide to bite the bullet, there are some key requirements. You need to be able to get them on quick. Patagonia's Torrentshell pants have a struck a really good balance with a side zip that is long enough to make it easy to get them on over chunky boots, but not so long it makes the pants bulky when stowed. They are really a breeze to put on.
They're also generously cut to fit over whatever hiking trousers you might be wearing.
Combined with excellent waterproofing - as you'd expect - they confidently tick all the right boxes without any fuss, plus that pack-stuffed durability is evident in spades.
The one downside of a generous fit, is one doesn't look one's best in these shapeless trousers. But that is a universal truth when it comes to overtrousers, and Patagonia can hardly be marked down. Ditto the relative lack of breathability - impossible to replicate the airiness of high-end pants in a pack-proof item that is designed to be abused, so again they shouldn't be judge too harshly on that. In fact the whole scoring system seems a little unfair on such a utilitarian necessity.
And there's the thing; in the UK, they're necessary. Many brands make a bargain version but few have the reassuring heritage of Patagonia - for £110 it's well worth buying into.