Alaska Gear Test: Patagonia M10 Anorak & Galvanized Pants Review

The Patagonia M10 Anorak and Galvanized Pants blend minimalism and performance for hardcore alpine adventures. But these garments took a beating in our Alaskan ice climbing test for this review.

Patagonia’s M10 Anorak and Galvanized Pants have been in heavy rotation amongst alpinists for the past few seasons. The M10 Anorak (men’s only) is a study in minimalism, while the mobility of the Galvanized Pants (men’s and women’s) begs for athletic endeavors. We tested the pairing during a frigid, weeklong Alaskan ice climbing trip in February.

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The M10 Anorak and Galvanized Pants comprise a superlight shell system that blends simplicity and function for the ambitious alpinist. The M10 is as stripped down as can be, and the Galvanized Pants deliver high performance functionality.

For those venturing fast and high, both are serious contenders for the go-to shell system. But the M10 Anorak displayed some weaknesses in durability.

Patagonia M10 Anorak & Athletic Pants

Patagonia M10 Anorak

The M10 is a minimalist’s dream. Patagonia forms its three-layer, nylon ripstop waterproof-breathable H2No Performance Standard fabric into a simple anorak. The patterning eliminates seams in the shoulder and back areas, addressing common failure points while enhancing stretch. Ultrasonically welded seams, narrow seam tape, simple elastic cuffs, and a drawcord lower hem limit bulk and weight. A center half-zip and zipped chest pocket round out the 7-ounce package (verified, size medium).

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The Galvanized Pants aren’t as simple, but they still weigh in at a verified 13 ounces (men’s size medium). The standout feature is the abundant stretch in the spandex/polyester H2No waterproof-breathable fabric. Patagonia uses a pattern with slight knee articulation, and a jersey knit backer provides comfort and wicking.

Patagonia Galvanized Pants

The pants have a high cut and removable elastic suspenders. The zipper on the snap tab fly goes through the crotch and up the rear of the pant, providing drop-seat functionality without the need to strip down. A pair of harness-compatible thigh pockets with waterproof zippers also act as vents. Narrow lower legs end in adjustable elastic cords and tie-down loops. The pants also house a Recco reflector.

Patagonia M10 Anorak, Galvanized Pants: Fit

The M10 Anorak is decidedly trim. I’m 6 feet tall and weigh 167 pounds, and all I was willing to wear underneath were a base layer and a light insulating layer (Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hoody). Adding bulk created a tight fit that compromised mobility.

Sleeve length was generous for my 34½-inch arms, and my wrists remained covered during long reaches. The slim dimensions, half-length zipper, and lack of torso pockets made for a smooth fit underneath a harness.

By comparison, the Galvanized Pants have more generous dimensions. The base layer and midweight softshell climbing pants I wore underneath left room to spare along the entire length of the pants (I have a 32-inch waist). And the ample stretch accommodated bulkier layers when conditions required. The length was generous for my 32-inch inseam, keeping boot tops covered during high stepping.

Performance & Durability on Alaskan Ice

Testing involved a week of constant, hard use while approach skiing and multipitch ice climbing near Valdez. Winds often blustered above 25 mph, and temperatures dipped into the single digits. The only water I encountered came from the occasional drips at belay stations.

The H2No fabric of both the anorak and pants never allowed water penetration and blocked the wind no matter how mighty. These primary shell functions never came into question.

Patagonia M10 Anorak Review

During testing, the M10 Anorak never impeded my arms when I performed overhead movements climbing or skiing. The M10’s slim fit caused slight tightness when bending over to stuff a pack, or side bending to manage ropes at belays. However, the trim fit always kept my knot and belay device clear and the view of my crampon front point placements unobstructed.

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There is a small amount of stretch in the unlined fabric, which helped mitigate drag. I could feel this particularly when twisting the torso — the fabric tension was perceptible, but it didn’t detract from performance.

Patagonia M10 Anorak interior fabric
Patagonia M10 Anorak interior fabric

Overall, the M10 Anorak’s styling lends itself better to conditions that warrant keeping it on for the duration of an outing. Luckily, this setup proved ideal for our multipitch ice climbs. A belay parka (Patagonia Grade VII Parka) fit exceptionally well over the limited dimensions and exterior features of the M10.

While the fit was generally solid, the material construction left something to be desired. The M10’s H2No shell fabric feels wispy and prone to lacerations by the various sharps involved in ice climbing. And indeed, my sleeve suffered a half-inch slice, possibly while removing an ice screw. The interior laminated surface also showed signs of abrasion along the areas tucked under the front of the harness (see above).

Shop Patagonia M10 Anorak

Patagonia Galvanized Pants Review

The stretch of the Galvanized Pants made them the most freely moving waterproof shell pants I have tested. I usually use woven softshell climbing pants, losing some weatherproofing to gain mobility. But the Galvanized Pants erased this compromise completely.

Tactilely, the Galvanized Pants disappeared for me, both during approaches and climbs. I never noticed any restrictions or limitations, and the through-crotch zipper was more convenient than other drop-seat configurations. During approaches, the thigh pockets brought welcome heat dumping, so I rarely used them for storage.

Like the M10, the Galvanized Pants suffered some durability issues. These pants forgo edge guards on the lower legs — in combination with the highly elastic fabric, this made the results from nicking a crampon point more damaging than usual. Plus, the soft and stretchy nature of the spandex-enhanced H2No material tended to grab crampon points, resulting in tears (shown below).

Tear in Patagonia Galvanized Pants
Tear in Patagonia Galvanized Pants

By contrast, edge guards and stiffer materials don’t snag crampon points as often. Catching points is user error in most cases, but I have torn other shell pants this way only once in three decades. For reference, I caused three tears in one week in the Galvanized Pants.

And gaiters (or better skills) would minimize this downside of the otherwise advantageous elasticity.

Shop Patagonia Galvanized Pants

Conclusions

The combination of Patagonia’s M10 Anorak and Galvanized Pants makes for a focused ensemble for hardcore alpine objectives. The minimalist M10 Anorak screams for quick ascents, and the mobility of the Galvanized Pants ensures they won’t restrict movement.

The weight of both components pays tribute to the modern alpine ethos of “less is more.” And the M10 Anorak’s superlight status also appeals to the ultralight backpacking crowd.

The Galvanized Pants — available for $329 in men’s and $299 in women’s — are currently my favorite pants for alpine and ice. Their mix of fit, performance, and durability tops the charts for this tester.

As for the M10 Anorak, it scores the same for fit and function, but durability is a concern. Although I subjected the M10 to constant, hard use for a week in inhospitable conditions, I expect more resistance to abrasion in a $379 MSRP shell. Buyers should consider whether durability or comfort is the primary concern before purchasing.

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By

Seiji Ishii has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventure and sports, from participant and competitor to coach and trainer, and finally as an editorial contributor. His interests have spanned cycling, climbing, motorcycling, backpacking, trail running, and training for all of it. He has also designed outdoor and off-road motorcycling gear. He lives in the woods in Wimberley, TX with his wife, daughter and a small herd of pets. Read more of his musings at seijisays.com.

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