Rab Bergen Pants

Instead of tucking them away in that tab up there on the top right I’m going to start putting my Sleepmonsters.com kit reviews here on the main page for all to see and comment…

First up some Rab Bergen Waterproof Pants

Rab Bergen Pants
Rab Bergen Pants

The Bergen Pants from Rab are an eVent fabric set of waterproof overtrousers. Rab are a company with a deep foundation in extreme mountaineering clothing, only making a move into the ‘lightweight’ world in recent years, so you’d expect some sound bad weather protection from these togs.

eVent is an expanded PTFE membrane fabric, similar to Gore-Tex but claiming improved breathability for the same level of waterproofing. These pants use the three layer version for extra durability but with minimal features they retain a low claimed weight of 340 grams.

The men’s large size was great on me and allowed a good range of adjustment with an elasticated drawcord waist and unusually was long enough for my 33″ inside leg. (Most large size garments just seem to increase the waist size and not the leg!). With an articulated knee design, movement was unrestricted and the pants didn’t catch on whatever legwear I had on underneath, even on the bike. With the addition of an elasticated drawcord on the hems to cinch things in tight, the fit works great on the bike, articulating well, not riding up and not catching in the chainrings. The waist sits high too, so provides a good overlap with a jacket when conditions are rough, and stops the lower back being exposed when bent over on the bike.

3/4 length water ‘resistant’ zips on each leg feature a two way zip making them very easy to get in and out of in a hurry or with crampons or ski boots on. A popper closure at the bottom of the leg means you can simultaneously open the zip at the bottom and the top to create a chimney effect to aid cooling. This combined with the impressive breathability of the fabric makes them very versatile and I have used versions of these for over a year for skiing, running, biking, hiking, standing in the rain placing checkpoints and walking the dogs.

Fit and form are top notch, however, as much as the theory is good and other reports commend them, I have been deeply disappointed with the eVent fabric’s waterproofness. I am on my second set of trousers after the first were returned because they were leaking, but unfortunately the second set have suffered the same problems. This set have only been used for some dog walking duties and a few short bike commutes so certainly are not suffering from being dirty or being overworked with sweat evaporation. They wetted out very quickly particularly on the thighs and rear, and attempts to revitalise this on the first set were short lived and a good 20 minutes of rain on the bike would have them leaking like a sieve. Many other users have reported great things of the fabric so perhaps I have been unlucky but this is the fourth eVent fabric garment that I’ve had problems with leaking, so despite being taken with the theory of the fabric, I’m yet to be convinced of its performance. These pants will continue to be my first choice for skiing when I will value the wind resistance, breathability, fit and durability, however, when it comes to use in the rain I’ll use something that inspires more confidence in the protection it will provide.

2 thoughts on “Rab Bergen Pants”

  1. I have had a pair of these for about a year now and have taken them out in some pretty heavy driving rain.

    The plusses.
    1. Lightweight.
    2. Easy to put on thanks to the almost full length side zips.
    3. Very waterproof (with caveat, see minuses).
    4. They just look like active trousers rather than overtrousers.
    5. Very quiet compared to most waterproofs. They seem to get quieter the more they are used and washed.

    The minuses.
    1. The light weight means you have to take care with abrasion.
    2. I find that they ride up a bit on me. I find that RAB’s sizing is a bit on the short side. I have the regular length trousers in a small size, designed for 29″ inside leg, which is what I am precisely. But I still find the bottoms of my trousers exposed. So for full protection I always have to combine the Bergens with gaitors.
    3. The expense.
    4. The usual caveat about maintaining the DWR. I have found that as long as the DWR is maintained the breathability is superb, and I can do a lot of hard walking without getting wet inside. However I went through a period of not cleaning them properly and I started to get soaked. It wasn’t that the waterproofing had failed, just that the fabric couldn’t ‘breathe’.

    I am currently trying out some Dutch Army Gore-tex trousers. They are heavyweight (VERY heavyweight) so probably not so good for running. But I’m going to give them a go on the bike to see how they cope.

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