I was unsure about reviewing the new Blue Mountain Trekking trousers from Decathlon. I wondered what new thoughts I could offer on another pair of trekking trousers.
Yet, I noticed a couple of innovations that the designers had brought into these pants.
I took the trousers with me on a recent trek to the Himalayas. I was exploring a new trail. It was early summer; there would be snow on the trail.
I wanted to trek light so I didn’t pack too many backup trousers either. I was planning to wear this trousers for most parts of the trek.
I was keen to see how the trousers fared in these conditions.
What conditions did the pants go through on the trek?
On the trek the trousers went through its paces. I did get snow, rough terrain, landslides, screes, brooks to cross, slushy and dusty trails. Except rain, the trousers went through everything.
Design of the Trek 500 trousers
Up front, I loved the thoughtful patches of water repellent fabric at the backside and on the front of the legs. I also loved how they made these patches darker blue in colour. It made the trousers look more rugged, more outdoorsy.
But considering the rest of the material was Nylon (polyamide), it worried me. Nylon is not really known for being too water resistant.
On the trek, where I had to hop over streams, water would invariably splash on the trousers. I noticed how the water would splash in droplets and quickly run off. I liked this. Usually in most trousers, even if they are quick dry material, splashes of water would form a patch.
Here, I have to stick my neck out a bit. Most new trousers have a factory coating which is usually water repellent. I am yet to test the trousers after multiple washes. I’ll have an update this review after a few months of use.
The designers must have been listening to a lot of trekkers because I noticed some lovely new touches on the pockets. Both side pockets were zippered. So no GPS trackers or mobile phones falling off. Below the right side pocket was another large pocket with a flap — very handy to keep maps, charts, pocket notebooks or even phones. On the left there was another zippered pocket below the side pocket.
After a point though, I thought it was an overdose of pockets. On a trek we really want our pants to be light.
Having said that, I thought the pockets were extremely streamlined. They blended in with the trousers so well that none of them looked extrusive. In most trekking pants I see pockets bulging out and that’s never a pleasant sight.
I also liked the pockets breathable inner liners. On a trek it is common to have sweaty palms. They get worse if you tuck your hands in them for a longer stay. I usually carry chickpeas as a snack in my pockets. These are somethings that I munch on all the time. Chickpeas come with skins that can make a mess out of most pockets. I was happy to see that most of the debris passed through the mesh of the pockets. Cleaning was a breeze.
If I had a grouse, I would have liked the pockets to be deeper.
Belt, buckles and velcro
I liked the belt that came with this trousers. With adjusters, I could tighten it to suit my waist size. In most trekking trousers one of my biggest issues are the belts. Most often they become loose after few hours of trekking. On this trek over 4 days I had to readjust it only once. That spoke well of the buckles that came with the belt.
For me, the designers deserve an Oscar for the velcro behind the belly button. It is the most underrated blessing any fabric can have. When it gets cold, your fingers numb, it’s dark in the night, and you want to take a bathroom break, the velcro is a life saver.
It is uncanny the number of times I have found the trousers staying in place just on the strength of the velcro. I have no recollection of how I missed fastening the buttons. But what a blessing!
At the end of the day, if you leave the bells and whistles aside, trekking trousers must be most comfortable on your skin. I found the Trek500 breathable, cool and easy on the skin. They stretched well. The polyamide fabric was chosen well.
I remember the first few days of the trek was warm. I was trekking quickly — I had to cover two camps in one day. Yet, I didn’t feel sweaty when I wore the trousers.
On a snowy day, I wore a light track pant under these trousers and that took care of the warmth.
For me it also matters how much dust and grime stick to the trousers at the end of the trek. Here are some actual photographs that I took from the end of the 6 day trek — I wore the trousers on all six days. The last day was dusty. Despite the ups and downs of the trek, the trousers shook off most of the dust.
Later, when I dipped the trousers into a bucket of water, most of the grime came out. It really did not require a washing machine wash. I was beginning to like the trouser very much.
Other thoughtful touches on the trousers
There’s an internal smartphone pouch. Particularly useful on a cold pass crossing day when you want to keep your smartphone battery warm for those high altitude photographs.
I liked the elastic tightening system at the bottom of the legs. On snow sections I tightened them up so that the trousers fitted well over the shoes. Frankly, I wasn’t walking over too much snow, but these worked almost like gaiters.
At around Rs 2,000 the trousers is not really in the budget segment, but not over-priced either. I would have liked the trousers to come in other colours like beige, khaki, green or grey. I would also like to see a women’s version of this trouser as well.
I didn’t think I would be appreciative of another trek trousers. But I am. The designers have shown a lot of care and concern for some of the nitty gritties of mountain trekking. The little touches that they have added are great.
For trekkers who are on a 6-7 day Himalayan trek, the Trek500 is a good choice.
If you’d like to pick it up, you’ll find it here at the Decathlon store.