Opinionated World

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Craghoppers Nosilife Cargo Trousers – Nearly A Match For The Best

After just over three years wearing Bear Grylls Survivor Trousers for all my outdoor pursuits, I’m now using their little, not-quite-so-tough, brother.

One of the first articles on Opinionated World was a review of the Bear Grylls trousers that was completely true, very factual but also a bit of a love-in that stemmed from my fanatical views. A couple of months ago, I started trying the non-Bear Grylls Craghoppers kit. Now sitting unused in my wardrobe are four pairs of the trousers I’ve never been without and in their place are the Craghoppers Nosilife Cargo Trousers.

I was  somewhat disappointed to be losing something I’d raved about for years. Now though, my opinion is somewhat changed. I never expected the Nosilife trousers to be bad, I just didn’t expect them to match up and in some areas, the latter is true. For the most part though, they’re very good; here’s why.

Zipped security pocket.

Zipped security pocket.

Nosilife Insect Protection.

Nosilife Insect Protection.

Having done a full inspection of the Nosilife Cargo trousers, it’s clear to see that their big brother is a derivative of them. In-fact, the trousers are only a handful of features away from being identical.

I’ll go through a few features that are listed in the product description for the Survivor trousers and make a direct comparison with my new attire. Both pairs of trousers have ‘boot tape’ around the ankle of the leg which protects the material from being snagged or frayed. The Nosilife trousers keep this discreet and the same colour as the rest of the leg whereas the Bear Grylls range colours it an extreme yellow and red. Both trousers have two leg pockets, two hand pockets, two ‘bum’ pockets and the same two button fastening with zip. They both also have a zipped ‘security pocket’ on the right hand side, plus another one on the left leg. Both also have an elasticated pocket within the large right left pocket and a ‘string’ of material within the left pocket that allows you to attach the Craghoppers Drybag.

Craghoppers Drybag.

Craghoppers Drybag.

Mesh and 'smooth' pocket differences.

Mesh and ‘smooth’ pocket differences.

No stretch panels on the Nosilife Cargo Trousers.

No stretch panels on the Nosilife Cargo Trousers.

Despite all these similarities, there are a few differences. The only aesthetic contrast is the stretchy leg, ankle and seat panels on the Survivor trousers which aid your movement and allow for a whole lot of agility – none of the usual taught material at the back or knee when you’re crouched or stretching. The other difference is one I have a bit of a gripe with – the hand pockets. Craghoppers changed the pocket design in their Bear Grylls range from a mesh design to a smooth pocket presumably because they had a lot of complaints about them ripping. Across the four pairs I own, three have needed to be sewn back together. Save for carrying a wallet and phone in them, I’ve rarely stored anything that should cause a tear in the mesh so it was clearly a weak design. Thankfully, they were updated and are now significantly better. Unfortunately, the Nosilife Cargo trousers continue to use the older, more fragile design so I’m currently waiting for the moment where I have to put my terrible sewing skills to the test once more.

The only other difference is the waistband. The Bear Grylls trousers have a ‘solid’ waistband whereas the Nosilife Cargo trousers are elasticated on either side. Neither a pro, or a con.

The good news is that these still have Nosilife protection which Craghoppers state to be a ‘World exclusive, permanent insect-repellent fabric. Proven up to 90% protection from biting insects and mosquitoes.” It’s true, it works; despite many people being skeptical. I think it’s a huge downside that they’ve dropped this feature from their ultimate line.

I found that the trousers fit snugly around the waist, aren’t at all baggy at the back but still have enough room to move around without the material becoming taught. The legs are nicely cut, not flared at the bottom, while being wide enough to go over any high-top boot. The leg length is slightly odd however, coming up considerably shorter than other trousers in their range. I have a regular leg in all my Craghoppers trousers, which means the inside leg measurement should be 31 inches. The Bear Grylls Survivor trousers are indeed 31″, but the Nosilife Cargo trousers only come up as 29.5″. A full 1.5″ less, which is quite a lot. I also have some significant variation between two identical pairs of the Nosilife trousers – with the second pair being another half an inch shorter at only 29″, which has rendered them completely unusable unless you wear them so low that your pants are showing. It would be interesting to know whether the ‘long’ leg version comes out as it’s advertised 33″ or whether those are missing nearly two inches as well. If I was going to order another pair, I’d go for the longer leg; unless of course this was a manufacturing error and every other pair come out at the intended length.

Boot Tape to prevent snags.

Boot Tape to prevent snags.

Apart from that single issue (and it really is just that), I’ve found these trousers to be much better than I expected. My initial expectations have been surpassed and I’ve not really missed wearing my Bear Grylls trousers – though I find the aesthetics to be slightly less ‘cool’ than those. The Nosilife Cargo trousers come in three colours – Pebble (pictured), Dark Khaki and Black Pepper. The latter of those options probably being the most friendly in terms of everyday wear.

The best bit is the price – with these retailing at around £55, but regularly on sale. Which is roughly £15 less than the Survivor trousers. What you lose on these trousers, in my opinion, doesn’t equate to £15 but more like £5. You’re paying the final tenner for the name ‘Bear Grylls’ and nothing else.

If you imagine the Bear Grylls Survivor trousers without the stretchy panels or the celebrity badge on the side with everything just ever-so slightly less robust and then take 20% off the price – you’ll have yourself a pair of Nosilife Cargo trousers.

My advice is this; If you’re looking for a good quality pair of adventure trousers with plenty of pockets and insect protection at a decent price then you should buy a pair of Nosilife Cargo trousers. If you’re prepared to spend the extra money on a very expensive pair of trousers to have a few elastic panels and a slightly higher occurrence of double stitching, then go with the Bear Grylls Survivor Trousers.


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