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The Dynafit Yotei GTX Pant sets a new standard for getting around in the mountains
Posted on: February 17, 2017
Mountaineering is an endeavor that requires a combination of skills. Moving through mountain terrain safely and efficiently can demand rope handling, rock and ice climbing, and sometimes even ski touring on approaches, which is why the Dynafit Yotei GTX Pants are a worthwhile addition to an alpinist's gear closet.
As I sit here on the airplane returning from a weeklong hut trip in Canada, I am feeling more stoked to write a review about the Dynafit Yotei Pants than any review I have written before. I am amazed at how, in this day and age, there are so many hard- and soft-shell pants for ski touring on the market that are far from my definition of ideal. The Yotei pants come the closest to meeting my standards of any other ski-touring pants I've tried so far.
When it comes to hard shell (often non-insulated and waterproof) ski touring pants, the make-or-break features for me are, in order of priority: 1) Ankle cuff and inner-gaiter sizing—do the gaiter and cuff easily fit over the boot, even when the buckles and power strap are loosened for touring; 2) Pant length—are the pants long enough to reach the top of the boot, or close—we want to avoid the Huck Finn high-water look, and any unwanted snow or cold air sneaking in; 3) Waist and crotch fit—do they stay on my hips or fall off, and is there just enough room in the crotch and bum area to move and breathe, but not so much it looks as if I am wearing an adult diaper; and finally, 4) Standard features—does the pant have all the tried and true features you'd want in a touring pant, such as zipper vents on the thighs, hand pockets on both sides, reputable waterproofing system (i.e. Gore-Tex, Event, etc.), roomy or articulated knees that reduce friction in the thighs when stepping upward, and abrasion-resistant material added to the inner ankle to save the pants from the wear of boot-rub?
Mike Lewis climbs Hidden Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park with the calf snaps closed on the Dynafit Yotei pants. Lewis reports that he liked the calf snaps because they adapted the fit of the cuffs better for ice climbing after he used the pants for ski touring. [Photo] Eric Stoutenburg
Dynafit's Yotei GTX Pant (in Asphalt, Citro, and Octane colors) is a waterproof hard-shell ski touring pant with removable bib and suspenders encompassing all of the above-mentioned features and more. I first took these pants to Chile for two weeks of ski mountaineering. After returning to the U.S., I continued to use them for ice and alpine climbing, backcountry skiing, teaching avalanche courses, and resort skiing in Colorado. Then I used them on a weeklong trip to ski in the Tetons of Wyoming before moving on to another week of hut skiing near Lake Louise, Alberta. After more than 60 days of use, I only found a couple of small things I didn't like about these pants; everything else is stellar.
The Yotei Pants cover all the make-or-break features mentioned above. The inner gaiters are stretchy and easily fit over boot cuffs and a boot heater, and the snaps and Velcro holding the gaiter together stay connected when desired, unlike other pants I currently have in my closet. Without effort, the outer cuff slides down over the gaiter and reaches down to the top of my ski boots.
Lewis takes a break in the Canadian Rockies while ski touring with the Yotei Pants. [Photo] Nick Lumby
The waist has Velcro-adjusting tabs to allow for different numbers of layers tucked into the pants, as well as different-size people. My waist is 31 to 32 inches and my inseam is 32 inches—I wear a size medium in just about everything. However, the small in the Yoteis was a perfect fit for me (the same is true for other Dynafit items I own); I wore them as they came out of the package without adjusting the Velcro.
As far as the standard features mentioned above—thigh zips, pockets, etc.—they're all there and in perfect working order. Beyond that, why do these pants stand out and above the rest?
After 46 days of use, I had never checked to see if my avalanche field book would fit into the front pockets of the pant. Why? Because they rarely do. I was on an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education Course Leader Training in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It's always a good idea to have one's field book handy, but it's imperative on an avalanche training. One morning, I was getting warm while skinning uphill and de-layered the insulating jackets down to my base- and mid-weight layers, neither of which had pockets large enough for my field book. In the same situation on previous days I had been putting my field book in my pack, but I felt unprofessional each time I had to take my pack off to get the book.
"What the hell," I thought, "let me see if I can squeeze this thing into my front pocket." Lo and behold! I didn't even have to squeeze. Nor was the book sticking halfway out of the pocket the way it does in some of the other pants on the market that come close to fitting a field book. I know this must sound completely neurotic to some readers out there, but if you are an avalanche professional, avid do-it-by-the-book backcountry traveler, or anyone who has taken a Level 1 avalanche course and had their instructor tell them to keep their field book handy, then you know what I am talking about. I'm going to beat this horse dead with one more point. With the field book in my left pocket (the beacon goes in the right pocket), I did not have an ounce of resistance in leg movement when skinning uphill—utterly amazing.
Moving on, the Yotei Pant has a beacon sub-pouch in the right, front pocket with an internal plastic clip for the beacon cord. The pouch keeps the beacon from sliding around and ending up on the inside thigh. I would have liked to have the sub-pouch in both front pockets, because sometimes I like to switch it up and give my right hip flexor a break from the added weight. And I'm sure the Left Handers out there would appreciate it, too.
Dynafit busts into a new frontier with the Yotei Pant and introduces small snaps in the calf to tighten the fit of the pant leg for transitioning from skiing into alpine climbing. When you're wearing crampons, baggy pant legs are a major problem. Not only are you likely to slash the heck out of the inside of the pant leg, but more important, it is a risk-management problem. Tripping in the wrong place at the right time, because of a crampon getting stuck in a pant leg, could equal game over. I tried out this feature ice climbing on multiple occasions. The snaps and the intended design worked. I wouldn't make a weeklong ice-climbing trip out of it, but if I could only carry one pant on a trip, and that trip might include one day of ice climbing or alpine climbing and the rest skiing, then the Yoteis will suffice.
The author demonstrates the compatibility of the Yotei Pants with an avalanche transceiver and field book during a trip to the Tetons in Wyoming. [Photo] Chris Brown
I should talk about the bibs a bit. They're awesome. I have another pair of touring hard shells of which the suspenders, especially the left one, never fails to fall off my shoulders and end up halfway down my arm, which I can't get to because it's under my jacket. Annoying. The Yotei's suspenders stayed right where they should. The bib is stretchy and breathable, has a small pocket for credit cards and ID when at the resort, and zips off if desired. There are no bulky metal or plastic buckles connecting the suspenders to the waist that can rub on the hipbones when wearing a pack. The attachment points are high up on the bib.
Other than wishing the left front pocket had the same internal beacon pouch as the right, I found only one other issue I had with the pant. This issue has not been addressed by any pant thus far that I am aware of, so Dynafit's Yotei is on par with the industry on this one. The inner cuffs of all my ski touring pants have a plethora of small holes and worn spots from the hours of boot buckles rubbing on the uphill. The internal gaiter greatly helps protect this area of the pant, but not completely. The result is an expensive pair of pants with a drastically different appearance in which 90 percent of it still looks new, while the other 10 percent is ready for retirement. Retiring an expensive pair of Gore-Tex ski pants after half a season is not an option for most of us. I'd like to see a patch of Cordura on the inside of the ankle cuffs in the future; on all ski touring pants by any manufacturer.
I was recently thinking about a ski guiding day coming up this week in Colorado: "Now that I am finished testing the Yotei GTX Pant, I don't need to wear them any more for research. Should I take my other pair of bright blue hard-shells on Wednesday—they'll be better for photos than black pants, and perhaps I'd simply like to wear something different? But wait! I can't fit my field book in the pant and the suspenders always fall off my shoulders. No way, I'm going with the Yoteis."
For more information about the type of Gore-Tex used in Dynafit's Yotei products, as well as the source of the name Yotei, see the review I wrote on the Dynafit Yotei GTX Jacket.
The author bootpacks up the Dead Elk Couloir in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, wearing the Yotei Pants. [Photo] Nick D'Hulster
Mike Lewis, M.A. is an AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide living in Estes Park, CO. Mike has been guiding and instructing for 24 years throughout the US and internationally. Learn more about Mike at www.LunchboxJackson.com.
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