On our route home from travelling around the northwest of Scotland we stopped off in the Scottish mountain hub of Aviemore for a coffee and to see what was on offer – and made 2 great finds.
The first was Mountain Spirit, an independent mountain and ski wear retailer run by a brilliant character Rob Edmonds. Rob and his team have a passion for skiing and ski mountaineering so had loads of great knowledge and advice to offer.
Lookout for the upcoming The Spirit is Strong in Aviemore for more on these guys.
The second thing, and focus of this test was a brand called Houdini Sportswear. So who are Houdini?
Reading their “about us” section you get a feel for the positivity and ethos that really attracted me
“Maximum experience. Zero impact.
We are a Swedish outdoor company founded in 1993 that offers a complete range of functional clothing, from underwear to shell garments. We want to help people experience more, perform better and have more fun. Without leaving any impact on the environment. This is our vision. When we design our products, sustainability and functionality always go hand-in-hand – neither is of any value without the other. We make products for curious people with big hearts. People who love this planet as much as we do and therefore want to help protect it.” – Houdini Sportswear
Like many of us I am looking more and more for ways to reduce my negative impact environmentally so this really resonated with me and coupled with the apparent technical qualities of the gear I picked a pair of the Houdini Candid Pants in Blue Illusion (a dark navy).
So what was I testing for ?
- Fit – shape, articulation, comfort overall
- Resilience – waterproofing, thermal qualities and general toughness
- Technical – any elements positive or negative
As it’s a bit early for Ski Season I opted to head for Snow Factor near Glasgow where you can enjoy Blue run equivalent skiing and boarding on real snow all year round in the giant frozen facility (which includes cafe, ice climbing and even an Ice Bar!). Being a newbie it was also a great chance to get back on ski’s and build skills and confidence.
So what did I think about the Candid Pants?
I’m 6’1″ , fairly slim and have long legs so first it’s about fit for me. I have found the Scandinavian brands work better for me (34″ leg) and at a 33″ waist I opted for Medium in the Candid pants which fitted really well. I prefer a clean, not baggy fit as I also look for gear I could potentially climb in and these hit the mark perfectly.
The waist has a great velcro cinch feature that means you can draw the waist in (or let out apres ski!) and it holds well without a belt however belt loops are included but I didn’t experience any slippage without one. Although clean lined they have enough room and shape to allow complete freedom for carving around the slope it total comfort , good knee articulation means no restriction or uncomfy stiff shell areas.
As a newcomer I still fall ever now and then but the Candid’s cope no worries, they have a strong shell outer to beat off any abrasion and the Eco Storm combination of Atmos membrane and 2 Layer shell from Teijin Fronteirs co. means they are fully waterproof not just snow proof but also wick moisture quickly and effectively aiding breath-ability. As a shell they run cooler than an insulated pant so I coupled with powerstretch style leggings and was very comfortable. I tend to run hot so always look for a more breathable offering and these pants met the grade well even after a couple of dozen runs. For context the Snow factor air temperature is -12C and ground temperature is -4C but I felt very comfortable around the legs.
Now for the sexy technical bit !
The candid are a well designed, clean line pant (unless you want to opt for baggier of course and have shorter legs), side vents/zips run full length so venting heat or getting boots on and off are a dream and if I switched to climbing in them, adding them over thin walking trousers I could easily get them over big boots. They also have a reinforced Kevlar instep to reduce abrasion and guard against the occasional crampon scratch.
Small integrated snow gaiters with easy to use studs (even in gloves) and strong, easy to use zips add to the feel of quality overall. I already mentioned the adjustment cinch at the waist – it’s really strong and I didn’t have to keep hauling them up all day but instead could just ski and relax. Pockets wise they have 2 pretty roomy thigh pockets (OK for a small route map) and smaller high front pocket for cash, ski pass or whatever.
The material used in my Candid pants is a proprietary 2L mix of polyester shell from Teijin Frontiers Inc. (again chosen for minimal environmental impact), coupled with the Atmos membrane . Its robust and clearly strong but not as “crinkly” as say Gore-Tex Pro so feels more luxurious and comfortable than some other shells. Eco Storm shell is extremely waterproof to 20,000mm hydrostatic head with a permeability of up to 15,000g/m2 over 24hrs making this one seriously performing fabric. The Atmos is a very clever Hydrophilic membrane meaning it wicks moisture at the molecular level not via pores so doesn’t clog over time and lose its breath-ability.
Houdoni have also worked hard to remove fluorocarbon DWR from their fabric and have been steadily phasing them out since 2015.
Overall : The Candid pants are a high quality, technical ski pant. They performed well in my test, are very comfy to wear and their sustainability credentials are inspirational to say the least. Massive thumbs up from me. I will be seeking out more Houdini in future!
The Candid retails at Euro 350 RRP (Check out Mountain Spirit Aviemore for current pricing in the UK) . They weigh in at 556g and come in 4 colours.
For more on their sustainability see Houdini Sportswear . Check our Houdini on Instgram at @houdinisportswear