Review: Women’s Alpkit Chilkoot softshell trousers

Recommended Price: £60
Weight: 324g (size 10)

The first thing you notice about these softshell trousers is their stretchiness. The fabric stretches in all directions, and in combination with an additional diamond panel in the crotch and articulated knees, this means these trousers really do move with you making them excellent for scrambling and shorter bike rides, as well as more general walking. The fit is fairly roomy, especially on the thighs but slimmer on the lower legs so that there is excess fabric to flap about. Certainly the sizing is more generous that on other women’s trousers I’ve had recently, so on a size 10 I had to use a belt (not supplied) to tighten the wide, and very comfortable fleecy-backed and part elasticated waistband.

The fabric feels lovely to wear and has a water resistant finish which allows it to cope with light drizzle or the occasional short, light shower but nothing more serious. It has also proved to be fairly wind resistant but without the heavier-weight fabric and winter warmth I usually associated with softshell. These trousers keep fairly cool in hot Scottish conditions (yes we have experienced this rare weather phenomenon in recent weeks!), although they’re at their best in cooler weather, ie. most the of the time. I’d add thermal leggings in the coldest conditions.

The Chilkoots only come in one leg length, with an inside leg length of 30.5″ so I took advantage of the plain hemmed design to shorten these.

There are 4 zipped mesh-backed pockets: 2 hand front pockets one with a loop to clip keys or tie a compass to, a rear pocket and a spacious thigh pocket with a very small internal pocket which could fit a very small phone but is fiddly to use. All the pockets have cord pulls. There is a YKK branded zip on the fly which is short but topped by two press stud fastenings at the waistband which is comfortable and quick to use.

The Chilkoots are made in China and are available in sizes 8 – 16 in black only. Having used them on numerous Scottish Munro routes, I’ve seen no sign of wear and tear and the matt black surface has retained its smart look so I’ve no reason to suspect these won’t last well despite a lack of reinforcement at the knees and bum. They’ve washed well at 30 degrees and dry very quickly. Alpkit recommend re-activating the water resistant coating using a cool iron but after over 12 washes I haven’t found it necessary to do this yet.

There’s a mens version available in sizes S to XXL, also in black, with all the same features except a men’s cut and just one popper at the waist.

In summary these are excellent and versitile trousers suitable for all but the warmest Scottish days.

Pros: Comfortable, stretchy fabric, robust constructions, excellent value

Cons: No belt, no knee and bum reinforcement

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