Montane Super Terra Pants – Review
We review the Montane Super Terra Pants which are incredibly hard wearing, Cordura reinforced, water-resistant, stretchy, comfortable and overall brilliant adventure trousers for at least half of the year.
André Gide, a French author and former winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature once said: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
I saw this quote not too long ago, shortly before I secured Montane as a review-kit provider following 18 months of perseverance. Montane asked me to pick a number of items from their range to review – as always, I look for things that will fit well on the site and that are somewhat comparable to products I’ve reviewed before. We’ve used a lot of jackets and an array of tops in general, plus a selection of shoes and boots, rucksacks, gear and more. One thing we haven’t spoken much about are trousers and there’s a reason for that.
For five years, I’ve worn Bear Grylls Survivor Trousers almost exclusively on every hike, weekend on the mountains and other adventures. Despite some negative reviews, mostly for the name they carry and the entry-level brand, they have always ticked every box for me. They’re lightweight, hard wearing, quick drying, have a multitude of pockets, they fit well and look good to boot. Jackets, tops and footwear are products I think about constantly – where they can be improved, what differences or changes I’d like to see, how some are over-priced or others that are downright awful. Trousers on the other hand have never been at the forefront of my mind because I have been happy wearing what I’ve felt are a great pair from the outset.
However, things shall change! After all, I am here to review everything and anything I can and to tell everyone about what I think. I felt it was time to lose sight of the shore and to discover new oceans; or in this case, other and potentially better adventure trousers.
The Montane Super Terra Pants were my model of choice and based on comments I had heard about them before, it ought to be the right one. At first glance and probably part of the allure was the similar styling and function to what I’d been used to wearing. As you will all be aware by now, I love good quality and feature-rich clothing but I also like it to look good, so that ticked box number one.
The first notable difference in this particular model of Terra pants is the weight, which in comparison to the Bear Grylls Survivor Trousers is getting on for double – 645g in comparison to 380g. Of course, trouser weight isn’t something you’re going to notice when you’re wearing them but it’s certainly a factor if you’re packing two or three pairs for an extended wild camp. Every gram counts when it’s on your back.
There’s a reason for the mammoth weight difference, another which is immediately apparent. The material is thick, it’s less flexible; it’s tougher. It’s much tougher in-fact. My first realisation is that these things will be truly bulletproof in every scenario. The Super Terra Pants are made from what Montane call ‘Granite’ fabric which is a “highly abrasion resistant nylon double weave with Spandex for a four-way stretch for enhanced mobility and a cotton like feel,” and they’re reinforced on the knee, seat and ankles with Cordura for extra protection. Further, they’ve used the Cordura Hydro fabric, which is waterproof to a 3000mm hydroscopic head. So yes, light rain beads off very nicely and you won’t get a wet backside when you sit down on boggy ground anymore either.
Waterproof ratings are measured by placing a 1” square tube over the fabric and determining how high a column of water – measured in millimetres – can be suspended over it through a 24 hour period without leaking. The higher the number, the more waterproof the jacket is.
Compared to the Survivor Trousers, the Super Terra Pants are bomb-proof. Bear Grylls always claimed his trousers were “wrecked then rated,” and while I’m sure that was true, I ripped a small hole in my first pair on barbed wire and on each of the four pairs I now own, the secondary waist button has fallen off almost immediately. A design flaw Craghoppers have never bothered to fix. Besides that, they have always held up perfectly well but I can tell you from a simple material comparison that it’s obvious which would hold up better over time if regularly snagged against something sharp or slid very quickly down an abrasive surface.
There is of course a downside to the thicker, more durable material – besides the weight – and that’s how warm they are. It’s best to think of the Super Terra Pants as a winter version of the standard ones. I’m glad to have tested them in cold weather rather than over the summer, where I’m certain you’d overheat very quickly. Down the side of both legs there are large ventilation zips which, when undone, expose a soft mesh allowing good airflow all around – enough for a warmer spell in winter but still not enough to cool you down under the summer sun. Below these is an additional ventilation zip that simply opens the leg up rather than being a mesh-backed vent.
The bottom of the legs are reinforced with Cordura, as mentioned earlier but there are a few more features worth noting. At launch, they featured an adjustable ankle width via a velcro strap and buckle – something they must’ve realised took away from the durability of the trousers. Velcro that close to the ground is, in my opinion, never a good idea and I can’t have imagined the plastic buckle holding up too long if you were scrambling over rocks regularly. Fortunately, Montane saw fit to change the design and now all the fluff is gone and in its place is a press stud with three levels of tightness. It’s a suitably strong snap and something you’ll have a hard time snagging open if it gets caught. There is also a single gaiter hook which can be attached to your laces. All of this aids in giving the best protection in bad weather – a close, secure fit to both your leg and your boot. Ideal.
The Cordura covered areas are moderately stretchy, allowing you better freedom of movement for the times when you’re climbing or doing the splits. It’s unusual to have the stretchier bits be the more durable and water resistant of the two fabrics used but that’s how it is here. Each of the panels are neatly triple-stitched for further wear-resistance.
There are numerous pockets on the trousers, all of which allow for very a very secure carry of smartphones, wallets, keys or whatever other valuables you take with you. As I scrambled along the ridge of Crib Goch, I was wondering how comfortable I’d have been carrying £620 of smartphone in the large, open and slippery hand pocket of the Survivor Trousers I would usually have worn. My mind was firmly at ease knowing the spacious – they’re plenty big enough to fit the iPhone 6 Plus in – and zipped pocket left no possibility of me losing something.
The left hand pocket features a secondary sleeve in which you can put your phone so it doesn’t move around – unfortunately in this case, my slab-of-a-phone didn’t fit without restricting my movement slightly so I left it in the main area. The right hand pocket has a secondary security pocket inside which is attached at one end and can be pulled out of the pocket entirely for easy access – this is great for carrying keys or loose change.
On either thigh there’s an additional, angled pocket and a further one on the right side of the seat. What I like about the thigh pockets is how they are contained within the leg itself, rather than an add-on of additional material. I’m sure you all know the feeling I’m talking about – when a heavy object inside a cargo-trouser pocket swings around wildly, bashing against your leg as you walk. That is almost entirely combatted by this method. It not only allows for less annoyance, a sleeker fit but also cleaner aesthetics. This type of construction wouldn’t be possible on the Survivor trousers because they only have one, very thin layer of material.
Every zip puller beside the ones used on the ankle vents sport small, hard plastic moulded ends attached to the zips with a short loop. The plastic is pretty tactile so despite it’s small size, it’s easy to grab with a glove on.
The waist band is softly lined and is incredibly comfortable against bare skin – another plus over my Survivor trousers which have a thin, fairly rough and tight fitting, not elasticated waist that can be prone to digging in if they’re particularly tight around your waist. The Super Terra Pants are also elasticated on both sides and the button seems pretty solidly sewn on as well.
Also included is a webbed belt which I initially had reservations about. The trousers already fit snugly and I’ve never used a belt on adventure trousers before so I decided to remove it, which took a while because the reinforced belt loops are very small and barely big enough to fit the buckle through. With a tug, squeeze and a bit of fiddling it does come off, though it’s actually easier to thread back through. Inevitably, I did put it back on and have kept it that way ever since. The buckle itself is plastic and features a simple but secure notch and groove system – testament to its simplicity is being able to fasten and un-fasten it one handed, though I’m not sure why you would ever need to do this!
Montane say the Super Terra Pants are quick drying and I’d have to agree – under the right conditions, they do dry quickly but the heavier material certainly adds to the drying time over lighter and thinner models.
The Montane Super Terra Pants come in three colours – Triassic Green, Mercury (grey/black) or Phantom (black) – and they retail at £125 which is £50 more than the standard Terra pants and it’s the same amount more than my until-now favoured Survivor Trousers.
I left sight of the shore to find a new ocean and I most certainly did. The Montane Super Terra Pants are comfortable, flexible, incredibly hard wearing, warm in winter (but too warm for summer), water-resistant, have a great selection of pockets and they look brilliant too. Now I’m left wondering what the summer alternatives are like! Over to you, Montane.
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