In winter, generally, snow pants trump all bottom layers. They might be fully insulated, partially insulated, or hardshell ski pants with a base layer underneath. What I grab depends on whether I’m touring, resort skiing, snowshoeing, or just trying to make it through a gusty snowstorm home.
But, if you are engaging in higher performance-level activities like skinning up steep hills, nordic skiing, ice climbing, or maybe even skimo racing — softshell pants are likely your best option.
And here’s why. Unlike bulky, stiff, or hardshell pants, softshells offer tons more in two specific areas where typical ski pants and hardshell ski pants fall short: stretch and breathability.
Patagonia, REI, Mountain Hardwear, Rab, Arc’teryx, and most big outdoor apparel brands all make softshell pants. Then you’ve got the vast market of smaller nordic skiwear brands, who all also offer various softshell options of their own. But one of my favorite softshell pants for winter (an important specification) comes from a tiny European brand, Maloja. They’ve got full apparel kits for everything from mountain biking to running to cross-country skiing.
The first time I checked out Maloja, I was intrigued. After testing a few pieces of apparel, I can say that the brand really shines in its winter and nordic offerings: insulating vests, jackets, puffy trousers, stretchy pants, and down layers. And last but not least, softshell pants like the DachsM.
In short: The DachsM softshell pants from Maloja have an impressive amount of stretch and breathability. They’re comfortable, versatile, and competitive with other softshell pants we’ve tried. The cherry on top is the 4(!) pockets and the relatively low weight of these pants compared to similar designs offered by much bigger brands.
Maloja DachsM Softshell Pants Review
DachsM Softshell Pants
- Materials 100% polyester laminated with PU layer (Stormshell Light), mesh ventilation slits
- Fabric 3-layer
- Pockets 4 zippered (2 hand, one thigh, one back pocket)
- Waterproofing PFC-free Bluesign-approved DWR
- Breathability claimed no less than 5,000 g/m²/24h MVT
- Verified Weight 12.1 oz / 342 grams
- Sizes XS-XL
- Zippered at leg cuffs for easy on/off with footwear
- Great stretch
- 4 well-placed pockets
- Not overly durable
Testing the Maloja Pants: Great Breathability During High Cardio Activity
Apparel is by far one of the biggest categories of gear we test at GearJunkie — and that makes it tricky. There are tens of thousands of SKUs of outdoor products out there that we sift through each year, pull on, zip up, and put through the paces. Rarely does a layer immediately impress me in the first few hours of wear and testing.
Nevertheless, the Maloja DachsM pants managed to do just this.
I loved the DachsM softshell fit and feel. The adjustable waist is integrated with some webbing and a quick-release buckle; then, there’s a metal snap button and zippered fly. Every component of these pants — the zipper, button, buckle, and pocket zippers included — I could don while wearing gloves.
You’ll also notice the ventilation slits, which serve up extra breathability. The materials are just thick enough for protection but light enough in weight. And it does swimmingly at blocking out wind and cold.
Ski touring, snowshoeing, and ice climbing — I wore these pants almost nonstop for a full two weeks. They got packed down, rolled up, sweated in, washed, stretched, and more. The DachsM’s durability (for a pair of softshells, at least) is fantastic. Sure, there’s not a lot of extra protection in, say, reinforced kickguards or Cordura paneling. But if that’s your priority or preference, there are other pants out there. They just probably won’t be as stretchy or light as these.
Finally, the DWR treatment. The success of softshells lies in the materials — and in winter, a fabric treatment that repels moisture is not to be overlooked. Maloja uses a PFC-free DWR. We got plenty of testing in with these pants hiking and snowshoeing through snow and brushing up against ice. Penetrating moisture was never an issue. And in moderately wet conditions, the DWR worked well.
Pros and Cons
Pros: aside from all the pocket options, the zippered leg cuffs/gaiters were probably the feature I used most in these pants. I do wish the length of the pant/coverage was a hair longer. But I am also taller than average. If Maloja were a bigger brand, I’d expect them to consider adding petite, plus, or tall pant options.
More pros: the stretch in these pants in the hips, butt, and legs is unparalleled — I can bend and move in all sorts of ways and not feel restricted in these pants.
If we had to pick a con, it’d be durability for those who regularly beat up their gear in harsh winter terrain. Be careful not to snag these pants on anything super sharp — they will probably catch and possibly tear.
And another con would probably be the price. There are a lot of cheaper softshell pants out there, for sure. That being said, these softshell DachsM Maloja pants are reasonably priced for the quality they bring. I’d happily pay the on-sale price of $150.
The MSRP for the Maloja DachsM is $200, though. That’s steep. But it’s still competitive with several softshells from Arc’teryx and Mountain Hardwear, as well as the ever-popular Outdoor Research Cirque II Pants. For a similar price point, Maloja’s DachsM offers great stretch and breathability, great winter protection, and a slew more pockets — all at a relatively low weight.
Maloja DachsM Softshell Pants Conclusion
The design and materials Maloja put into these DachsM softshell pants are super sound. The stretch and breathability are impressive. And the low weight (even with all the added pockets and zippered leg cuffs) gives them an edge over most of the competition.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the durability of these pants fares after more usage and multiple seasons.
Bottom line: if you are in the market for softshell pants — whether for ski touring, ice climbing, or strenuous winter hiking — and comfort and pack space really matter — consider the Maloja DachsM.Check Price at Maloja