Norrøna Falketind Flex1 Pants (Women's) Review

The Norrøna Falketind Flex1 Pants ($199) are an excellent softshell layer for hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering. The material used in these pants is breathable, stretchy, and water-repellent, making them great for high-output activities where you want to stay relatively cool.

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Testing Conditions

I've had these pants for two seasons of mountaineering and tested them primarily on multi-day alpine climbing trips in the Sierra in late spring and summer conditions. These pants excelled with the exposure to snow, alpine ice, and abrasive rock. I've also done a bit of general hiking in the Wasatch during the spring and summer, where these pants helped me regulate my temperature in somewhat warmer conditions.

Use

The Norrøna Falketind softshell pants are fantastic for hiking, mountaineering, and climbing in cooler to warm temperatures when you want to stay cool. The manufacturer also recommends them for climbing ice and big wall routes, as well as glacier walking and general outdoor use. The versatility of these pants coupled with their breathability have made these one of the most well-loved pieces of gear I own.

Breathability

I tend to run hot, and they've kept me well-regulated on approaches of varying temperatures while hiking and carrying a 35-pound pack over 10-13 miles with considerable elevation gain. Because sweating in cooler temperatures can be an inconvenience at best, and an invitation for hypothermia at worst, these pants are definitely something to consider if your plans include working at altitude and cool to cold temperatures.

The pants worked just as well after the approach, for example on the Swiss Arête of Mount Sill (14,154') on a beautiful August day. They kept enough wind out and enough body heat in. Paired with a base layer, these are fairly wind resistant and I've generally felt pleasantly cooled down by lighter wind (0-15mph) without feeling cold.

Happy because the Norrøna Falketind Flex1 softshell pants kept me at the perfect temperature on Mount Sill.  Photo Credit:    Derek Tse

Happy because the Norrøna Falketind Flex1 softshell pants kept me at the perfect temperature on Mount Sill. Photo Credit: Derek Tse

That said, you might consider another piece of gear if you are looking for something with insulation or if you're concerned about extended, severe wind exposure, especially if you may have limited opportunities to warm back up.

Overall, if you're looking for breathability and a solid softshell pant to keep you cool during high-output activities, you might find that these become an invaluable part of your kit.

Fit and Comfort

The general consensus of reviews of these pants on Norrøna’s website is that they are flattering, and I agree. The adjustable waist is nice feature that helps you get the fit just right. The product description mentions that the fit is tighter than their other pants for optimal use while mountaineering—the fit is great not just for movement, but also for rolling the legs up and not having too much extra fabric to stuff into gaiters or a harness, for example.  

These pants are stretchy and comfortable. I never think about them while I'm climbing, which is an excellent thing. Doing everything from hiking, climbing over fallen trees, and stemming is easy and comfortable.  

If you're interested in trying a pair, I'd recommend referencing the size chart on Norrøna’s website before ordering. I found the inseam of my usual size to be far too long, while some reviewers on their site find that these pants run small.

Water Repellence

Water beads up on these pants, and they work well if you're encountering snow fields for example. They can take a bit of light rain or snow, but generally work best in clear conditions. When they do get wet, they dry fairly quickly.

Norrøna’s water-repellent Flex1 fabric makes for fewer worries during long walks on glaciers.  Photo Credit:    Derek Tse

Norrøna’s water-repellent Flex1 fabric makes for fewer worries during long walks on glaciers. Photo Credit: Derek Tse

Limitations

I did take these pants out for a day of ski touring which in all fairness, isn't their intended use per the manufacturer. Because they are so fitted, the pant legs didn't fit over my boots. They were great in terms of temperature regulation, but stepping into deep powder had its consequences.

I wouldn't recommend them for ski touring generally unless you could verify they fit over your boots. If they don’t quite fit, they could work in a pinch if you're fairly certain you won't be in an area with deep powder.  

If your plans include glissading, I'd recommend another option—perhaps rain pants or a pair of old swim trunks over these pants if you don't mind the weight and look. These pants will get uncomfortably wet while glissading, and you might want some better insulation if that's part of your plan. Snow is abrasive anyway, and even though these pants are durable, repeated glissading in them will likely wear them down quickly.

Durability

Norrøna's Flex1 fabric is sturdy and resistant to rock abrasions. I've spent a bit of time on granite in these pants and they have held up nicely. After two seasons of moderate to heavy use, they look pretty new with only a few spots of abrasion. I look forward to seeing how these pants hold up with a few more seasons of use in varied conditions.

Summary

Overall, the Norrøna Flex1 Falketind softshell pants are a great choice for high-output activities like hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering. Their stretchy, water-repellent material makes for a versatile pant that excels in a variety of conditions, from cooler alpine rock and snow climbs in the late spring to warmer summer hikes in the mountains. Their versatility coupled with their durability makes for a worthwhile investment.