FR - MontBell TEC Pants - Ray Estrella
- Hi Larry,
Here is my FR for the down pants, the HTML may be found here:
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The MontBell TEC pants make the best lounge-around camp wear I have ever used at cold-weather campsites. They are very comfortable and pretty warm. They even work as a sleeping bag replacement in a limited way. Please read on for the details.
I have used the TEC pants on seven backpacking and camping trips over the past three months. All backpacking has taken place on or around the North Country Trail (NCT) in Chippewa National Forest and Paul Bunyan State Forest. Camping trips have been in those forests too plus trips to Buffalo River State Park and primitive canoe sites on the Red River. The low temperatures have ranged from 45 to -1 F (7 to -18 C). Many of the trips have seen rain, one trip had a night of sleet and a little bit of snow on one. This picture was taken at Moccasin Lake before the sleet hit.
My first trip with the TEC pants (and matching jacket) was a driving and day hiking pre-scouting trip verifying that canoeist's primitive river camp sites would work for sled-packing trips later this winter. I camped at Buffalo River State Park. Temps got down to only 45 F (7 C), much higher than normal this time of year. It was not really cold enough to wear them in camp but I decided to take the opportunity to try sleeping in them. I brought a pair of down slippers to use with the pants and my TEC jacket. I was on a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pad.
I was fine when I went to sleep in them but woke at 3:00 AM feeling quite cold. I realized that it was just because I had not thought to bring gloves and my hands were cold. I ended up throwing a quilt over me and trying to go back to sleep, but had to immediately get back up to take the TECs off as I was burning up with them on too. Here is a picture I took on that first night.
Another trip that I slept with them was the first night of a 3-day backpacking loop on the NCT and Woodtick trail. It was not my plan to use them for sleeping as it was pretty cold (down to 19 F/-7 C that night) but as my campsite was at a lake access I ended up having some hunters decide to mess with the solo hiker. The TECs allowed me to stay ready to get up fast if I needed to. Around 10:00 PM I decided to get into my sleeping bag as it was getting too cold for the down clothes.
The use that has been more common has been wearing them once I set-up my camp, collect water and get to the point I can take it easy. While hiking I am a blast furnace but once I stop I tend to get cold. I always say that I am a hot hiker and a cold sleeper. To be able to put the TEC pants on at the end of the day is an absolute treat. They are loose enough to be very comfortable, with no binding or bunching. They are much warmer than my fleece pants (what I used to bring for lower body warmth) while weighing less and taking less space in my pack.
Speaking of my pack, I have not used the stuff sack for the TEC pants. Instead I just place them in the bottom of my pack (with my other down items like the jacket, quilt or sleeping bag) and pack everything else on top of it letting the weight of my gear compress it as needed. They seem to be holding up quite well. I see no signs of wear as of yet.
We just got our first measurable snow last night so maybe winter is finally here. My trips should be colder from here on out and will be a better test of the TEC's capabilities. So please come back in a couple of months to see how they worked out. I'll leave with a shot at dinner time, just south of Itasca State park.
I would like to thank MontBell and BackpackGearTest for allowing me have puffy legs, I mean test these nice pants.