Literally, every time I have left the house in these pants, I’ve gotten compliments. Compliments, and the never-ending question, “What pants are those?” So I’ll start here: they are the Ridge Pant made by Alpen Outdoors, thanks to founder Merrit Geary in Montana. She set out to make the ultimate pant “that can help women get from mountain tops to rivers and everything in between” — that also fits beautifully and doesn’t compromise on performance. In fact, her tagline or selling point for the pants is, “Fit above all else.”
After testing for nearly a year, I have nothing but praise for this awesome women’s pant, especially when used for hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing. So far, no matter what use, these pants have shined.
In short: Based on everything Alpen was boasting about the Ridge pants, I expected a thick, burly, Fjallraven- or Carhartt-esque material. Nope. The Alpen Ridge pants are seemingly thin, stretchy, still-durable, and great for layering fabric. I was skeptical at first, so I pushed them to their limits in testing: rubbing against sandy granite rock, belaying and climbing in a harness all day, backpacking through dense pine forests, doing lots of high steps and squatting, hiking on narrow singletrack, and even putting in an 8-hour trailwork day with CFI (splitting logs, clearing trail, and hauling rocks).
Even in rougher terrain, dense forests, and rockier locales, the Ridge Pant ($149) kept up. Its fit is superb, I can easily fit the pant over baselayers, and the pockets are awesome.
- Materials 69% recycled nylon, 26% nylon, 5% spandex (reinforced overlay fabric is 91% recycled nylon, 9% spandex)
- Pockets 6
- Drawstring/adjustable Yes
- Ankle cinch cord Yes
- Sizes 2-12
- Colors 2 (neutral tan "canyon" or grayscale "midnight")
- Stretchy and light
- Durable across activities
- Durable after repeated use
- Easy to adjust
- Flattering and comfortable fit
- No zippered pockets
- Limited colors
Alpen Outdoors Ridge Pants Review
At GearJunkie, I am always so hesitant to say one piece of gear, or apparel in this case, is the be-all-and-end-all thing. That being said, it’s also hopefully evident in our reviews that we put everything through its paces rigorously, and it is cool when a piece of gear does stand out from all the rest. There have been near-perfect, winning pieces of gear for me after all my years of testing. (Here’s one example for reference.)
But, I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say this about a piece of apparel until Alpen’s Ridge Pants. They are as close to perfection for me, and all my outdoor pursuits as a pair of pants could probably get. And true to claims, the fabric and fit are largely why.
The Ridge Pant: Materials and Construction
Firstly, let’s dive into the pants’ fabric. The ridge pant uses two different types: the base fabric is a four-way stretch nylon built to move with you. The second fabric is a reinforced, double-layer nylon framing the backseat and knees and pockets, providing extra protection all around.
“The main fabric is woven to provide stretch without losing its shape and afford the wearer breathability,” Alpen told us, “while the second is there to support you in any and all activities.”
The second huge plus of these pants is the stretch. These pants have so much stellar stretch built into the fabric. I can easily stretch them to pull on over baselayers in colder weather, stretch to execute a heel hook while climbing, or simply stretch to allow more bend in the legs and hips while hiking.
The overall fit of a pant is important, but if we are talking about adjustability and inclusiveness for the user, some stretch (aka spandex or elastane) is arguably more important. The pants’ light water resistance still allows a two-way stretch as well.
These pants are a win when it comes to a balance of weight, stretch, durability, and comfort.
Ankle Cord Adjustment
I also have to mention the other added feature to these pants besides the fabric and the pocket — and that’s the ankle cord toggles. It’s a simple but underrated feature and definitely one you do not get in all pants.
Being able to cinch at the ankles is useful for many an activity, climbing being a huge one. It’s also nice to cinch around your choice of sock/footwear when hiking, especially in sandy or dusty places. Ankle cinches help keep sand, dirt, wind, and cold out.
Pockets and More
These pants have six pockets: two front, two back, and two drop-in thigh pockets. All of them are very deep and capable of carrying just about anything. I’ve used them to stash a pocket knife, lip balm, snack bars, gloves, sunglasses, a phone, a hat, and more.
The pockets have the same stretch as the overall pant fabric and are reinforced so they can hold up to weight, stretch, and high use. More importantly, and a perk you can only figure out from testing, is that they are deep enough that very small items (hair tie, stuff sack, etc.) don’t fall out.
I do, however, wish there was one zippered pocket (or an option for a zippered pocket pant version). I know for climbers, a lot of guides, and some outdoor people in general, this is a must-have. Zippered pockets are even rarer to find on women’s pants and shorts (my favorite currently are the Gnara Go There pants).
The Ridge Pant Final Verdict: Who It’s For
These pants are for the go-getter, the fast-paced hiker, the climber, the rock-hopping fanatic, and the hiker who lives in the alpine. They’re for the trail mom, equipped with pockets everywhere to carry all the gear. It’s a pant for the gritty, dedicated thru-hiker, the backcountry athlete, and the woman who wants assurance that her pants will hold up and stand up to anything on trail. They’re also for the person who spends less than 10 minutes getting dressed in the morning.
No compromises. These pants are for the go-anywhere, always traveling, always moving, not-afraid-to-get-dirty outdoorswoman.
All in all, I have gloriously enjoyed each and every testing hour in these Alpen pants outside. After the first few backpacking trips and day use on low-key trails and afternoon climbs around town, I’ve started packing them on every single trip I’ve been on.
Are they perfect for everyone, for everything, every weather? That’s a tall order, but almost. If I had to fault the pants, like any small brands just starting up, the colors and sizing are limited (currently, pant size 2-12). And though I’ve put in repeated, strenuous testing since the pants arrived in the mail, I’ve still only had them in testing for 4 months.
I am impressed by their durability so far, but I can’t speak to performance down the road. Like all the best pants on the market — I’m looking at you, prAna Halle and Outdoor Research Ferrosi — it takes years and years and, ideally, multiple testers to reach a doubt-free verdict that these are, in fact, some of the most awesome pants around.
Hopefully, we’ll get there. Until then, you can bet you’ll see me and my Ridge pants gracing many more trails in hot pursuit of beautiful views, rewarding miles, and exhilarating vert — all achieved with pants that feel good, look good, and don’t sacrifice anything when it comes to performance.