These pants were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…

I’ve had a frustratingly hard time over the years finding a technical shell pant that’s not geekily tight but still walks well. A lot of manufacturers have moved over to a freeride or baggy fit with their apparel that, while it looks cool, jams the crotch if you try to take big steps. Now, I’m not saying the Men’s Hellgate Pant is particularly freeride-y, but it’s not so tight it’s dorky, and yet it strides like a dream.

I’ve put about 40 days into these so far in mostly dry conditions, mostly ski touring in the Purcells and Selkirks, with one very moist sled ride in there, too. Made from Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary Dry Q Elite, the Hellgate is a three-layer pant that does an awesome job venting, keeping you dry and walking fast.

Hellgat Pant
December hours in a remote British Columbia valley, walking hard in the Hellgate.

The two hip pockets are big enough to fit a beacon comfortably without it flopping around, and the left one comes with a lanyard (meant for keys) that clips in nicely. I have yet to use the right thigh pocket at it lands directly in front of my knee, but it’s there if you want it. If you couple this with the Hellgate jacket, though, you have ample pocket room up top and no real need for pockets down low.

One controversial move with pants is always adding suspenders when they’re not bibs, which these are not. Some have found the removable clips holding the suspenders on the Hellgate dig into their backs when carrying a pack, but I haven’t had this problem. I like suspenders more than belts, which cause your pants to ride high and bunch. Given the slightly tight fit here, it’s also nice that the suspenders will let the pants hang a little lower when you take your pack off. But if you really don’t like them, they are removable and there are belt loops.

There are some places you really want an ample stride.
There are some places you really want an ample stride.

The Hellgate has three-quarter-length outer thigh vents that I’m of two minds about: First, it’s nice the zipper starts from below the leg loops of a harness for when you’re ski-mountaineering. On the flip side, you could just have a two-way zipper that’s full length and be able to move your vent wherever you want it to be. As it stands, I find it only vents my lower leg, which doesn’t produce as much heat as my hips, and is right at snow height for most trail breaking, so I have to do them all the way up if the trail’s not already broken. Though, to be fair, that’s the case with most pants. The one other thing I could pick on is the stitching in the Ambush material that guards the lower cuff against your ski edges. While the material itself is tough, the stitching could be more robust.

You might want to consider sizing one up from your usual in this pant, but make sure that doesn’t mean the crotch ends up too low. Where the Hellgate jacket fits a little big, the pants fit slightly snug.

Though the technical features could use a bit more tweaking, the Hellgate shines in its overall fit, toughness and walkability. They’re also well-priced for a do-it-all pant.

MSRP: $380 CAN


  • Fabric Body: Dry.Q™ Elite 40D 3L
  • Body Fabric Content: 100% nylon


Center Back Length: R

  • Apparel Fit: Standard
  • Weight: 1 lb 8 oz. / 677 g


  • Dry Q™ Elite works instantly, breathing before you do, and preventing prevents clamminess to keep you dry on the inside and out
  • 3/4-length double slider zipper allows for easy ventilation ability and boot adjustments
  • Removable suspenders and adjustable Velcro waist allow for customized fit
  • Two fleece lined hand pockets with a single key clip keep the necessities easily accessible
  • Right thigh pocket with water tight zipper fits a map or snack
  • Extremely durable “Ambush” fabric scuff guard prevents wear and tear against ski edges
  • Gripper elastic powder cuffs
  • RECCO avalanche rescue reflector