To summarize my opinion on these pants: If you’re looking to spend less than $50 on a pair of hiking pants buy them as soon as their next big sale hits, which is practically monthly. If you’re going to pay full price you’re better off getting OR Ferrosi pants for the same price. The quality is good, they look decent and functionally they are very good for hiking.
These pants are a good value only because Eddie Bauer clothes go on sale regularly and if you’re patient you can get them for under $40. Even if you’re not patient you won't have to wait long to get them under $60. Combine all that with their 100% satisfaction return policy, it’s a low risk sort of purchase.
You can buy these on Amazon as well, sometimes for a few bucks less. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy EB gear through Amazon you can't return the item in store. They also aren't Prime eligible.
I wore these pants through 3 seasons of pretty hard use. I use them regularly for long hikes in damp weather as well as snowshoeing. As summer approaches I’m leaving them in the closet in favor of shorts but I’ll pull them back out come fall.
These pants are what you would consider athletic fit. Expect them to hug your thighs and your waist and not have a lot of excess fabric around the bottom part of your legs. The fit, to me, was a plus only because they are made of very stretchy fabric. The stretch means that even though they are snug they will not hinder you when you’re moving around… or if you happened to gain 10lbs since you wore them last.
In winter I generally wore them with a pair of thermal leggings underneath them. EB offers a fleece lined winter version but, again, due to the stretch fabric you shouldn’t have any problems fitting a pair of skin tight thermal leggings on underneath. They are not loose around the ankle either which means they will tend to stay a little warmer and fewer thing can find their way up your leg.
The Fabric and Stretch
The stretch fabric is a key thing to consider when looking at these pants. Movement is essentially unhindered by these pants despite being snug around the thighs. They make good travel pants because of the comfort level and the zippered pockets but I don’t think I would consider them the most stylish. The stretch also means that belts are optional in some cases, probably if you’re on the higher end of fitting into the waist size.
Pockets are important to me when I’m outdoors. My cell phone is usually in my hip pockets and my wallet stays in the zippered side pockets. The hip pockets on these are deep and the fit of the pants is snug. Deep and snug pockets means what goes in tends not to come out on its own. I have scrambled across rocks, over logs and other activities that put my knees close to chest height and have never felt like anything was going to fall out.
Since these pants are snug, nothing really shakes around in the hip pockets but if you put something heavy in the leg pockets they may flap around a bit. I quickly stopped carrying my phone in my leg pocket because of that. I carry a phablet and it fits, barely, but I got annoyed at the back and forth feeling of its weight.
EB doesn’t advertise these as waterproof, only resistant. I have found the water repelling finish on these to be effective. I used them as snow pants (with thermals) a number of times and constantly sat or kneeled down in the snow without any issues. I have not had a chance to use these pants in an outright downpour but they won’t get soaked going through a light rain even with a short rain jacket on. Don’t expect these to be waterproof, just expect that the water resistance works well and will continue work through dozens of washes.
The first pair of these pants I bought had a pocket seam thread start to pull after the first wash. It wasn’t a cosmetic issue either. Had that thread pulled any more the hip pockets would have allowed objects to fall down through the leg. I returned them for a new pair and that pair has been the pair that I have worn excessively. It’s hard to give anything other than anecdotal evidence but for what it’s worth each seam is double sewn and feels like it should last.
That leads me to my last comment about these pants…
Eddie Bauer has a great warranty and return policy. It’s a no questions asked policy that states “Every item we sell will give you complete satisfaction or you may return it for a full refund”. If you give them your phone number (or order online) they will be able to look it up without a receipt.
Eddie Bauer has had many different market positions throughout its history as a clothing maker. At one point the company was a hard-core expedition equipment company. The first American to climb Everest, James Whittaker, used Eddie Bauer’s products. Times changed.
Somewhere in the 70’s the company was sold to, oddly enough, General Mills. They shifted to casual wear and the expedition part sort of equipment got sidelined. You’re probably most familiar with this side of Eddie Bauer, the side that became a trim package on Ford SUVs and whose fleece tends to appear at AARP meetings above all other brands. It’s part casual, part luxury brand.
Fast forward a bit to more recent marketing efforts and you’ll find their First Ascent line. In 08’ EB took a few executives up a 19 thousand foot mountain in the Andes with a few highly respected guides to test prototype gear. They did it again later the next year. It was a stunt to advertise the fact that EB is back in the outdoor game.
Enter the Guide Pro series in the First Ascent line. It’s mid range technical outdoor gear. The quality is decent, the warranty is great and the overall value is outstanding… when bought at a good time. I also wear the High Route Fleece (Hoodie) often and would say it's pretty similair in terms of build quality. Wait for a sale if you're not in a hurry!