Of all the things I get asked to test/review, trousers are a first. What can we say about such things; if you read any of the outdoor magazines, they seem to be able to go into great detail where outdoor clothing is concerned. I won’t bang on too much about materials and the science of it all, I’ll just tell you if they worked for me.
Firstly, let’s get the science out of the way. The Cascada II’s are manufactured from ‘Nikwax Analogy’, which apparently mimics the action of animal fur by pushing water outwards to protect from rain, condensation and perspiration, whilst also providing insulation. The science behind this encapsulates Páramo’s ‘directional’ clothing system, see the Páramo website for more about their directional range.
Being into various outdoor pursuits before photography took over my life, I was well aware of Páramo’s reputation for providing the best in waterproof clothing. Páramo seem to have a large and loyal following. Personally, I’d never invested in Páramo due to the fit being not quite right for me. It’s going back a few years now but I always found their garments to be on the large side, not fitted enough for my liking. Additionally I have gibbon like long arms and could never get sleeves to fit me from their range. Speaking to my local outdoor supplier Trailblazer Outdoors, it seems that the fit, is something that Páramo have addressed recently. I can confirm that the fit is much improved, the Cascada II’s feeling comfortable and not hanging too loosely. Additonally, I tried on the Enduro Fleece and amazingly, the arms were long enough and it was nicely close fitting, just how I like it. So it seems these improvements have been made throughout the range.
Anyway, I’m digressing, back to the Cascada II’s. I need to point out that these trousers are not over trousers, let’s get that very clear. The whole system is designed to be worn against the skin, you could also use with long Johns in more extreme cold (Páramo also make these!). If like me, you’re sceptical of finding that Holy grail of the outdoor enthusiast – waterproof and breathable, read on.
I’v been using these trousers now for about a month, and I have to say, I am mightily impressed. When you first try them on they feel very luxurious, soft against the skin, and none of the rustling you get with other waterproof trousers. In fact they don’t feel like waterproof trousers at all! Breathability is very important to me, I can only say that I have a very efficient perspiration system as I tend to break into sweat if I eat a packet of salt n’ vinegar crisps! I can confirm that these trousers are easily the most breathable of any waterproof that I’ve ever tried, and over the years I’ve wasted a lot of money on other brands that claim to be waterproof but have never been breathable enough for me. In day to day use, stood in lakes and hiking around the shores, body temperature was regulated brilliantly. When things got a little more intense, with some hill walking up in the mountains, I was able to use the vent system. The vent is basically a 3/4 length zip down the side of each leg, enabling the air to get to your legs, which felt great and worked well as things heated up. This zip is fully seamed of course and water does not get through when fastened, at all. Additionally, the trousers don’t flap about when the zips are open, press studs are in place to prevent this. I’d say, that these trousers are two season, for autumn and winter use, fine for around 10 degrees celsius and below.
Other features include an elasticated waist (belt hoops if needed), there are two pockets, both of which have zips, the ankle cuff also has press studs for adjustment.
Although I’ve been wearing these for my outdoor activities for a month now, apart from falling over in the lake (fully submerged and legs stayed dry!), they hadn’t been subject to a thorough downpour until yesterday.
I’d been at Filey Brigg in Yorkshire for the day, it rained, in fact it rained consistently, heavily, all day. Guess what? My legs were totally dry after a whole day of rain, not only that, the trousers were totally breathable and I need not say anymore. Comfort, fully waterproof and fully breathable, I’ve been converted to Páramo. I wear these every time I go into the outdoors now and I can’t recommend them highly enough, I’m just hoping Trailblazer will now supply me with a few more items that I’ll happily take out there with me ;-)
And to finish with, I have to post one of my landscape images from the Wastwater trip with my pal Darryll Jones (who kindly provided the images of me wearing the trousers!).