Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies. Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can’t or won’t turn back.
The Adventure Tech APCU Level V Soft Shell Pant from Propper International are made of Schoeller NanoSphere. They are the perfect trail pant as long as your trip doesn’t include busting through heavy briar patches and sticker bushes.
If you are an old hand in the boonies or in the know on wilderness clothing you have heard the adage “cotton kills.” I follow that sage advice but I also spend most of my field time in Arizona. Oh we get plenty of rain and snow but it is seasonal and mostly specific to geographic regions and altitudes. The result is that we wear a lot of cotton, especially when hunting quail or hiking in the foothills and deserts. And because we live in the land of jagged rocks and sharp stickers, long pants are de rigueur.
The pants that I have worn and the ones that I see most often on other Southwest outdoorsmen are Carhartts. Usually the Mens Double or Single Front Canvas Work Dungarees because they are comfortable, last forever and are just about the only thing that stands up to things like Mesquite, Manzanita and Cholla cactus. The drawbacks are that their pocket configuration is still set up for construction workers, they are heavy, they tend to be warm and they are cotton.
My style of hunting takes me off trail most of the time. Bushwhacking in this country requires the magnum level protection offered by the Carhartts, but for trail running or traditional backpacking it is over kill. I have been looking for a light weight alternative for some time and have had pretty good luck with the TDU or HRT pants from 5.11 and VersaTac Mid and Light pants from RailRiders. They are very sturdy, made for high activity and have all the pockets tactical operators want and need. However, they are made of cotton or cotton blends.
I have been a big fan of Schoeller cloth since I first used it ski patrolling many years ago. It is extremely tough, stretches, breathes well, dries quickly and sheds water. I tried a set of custom made Schoeller cloth pants from Beyond Clothing a few months ago but it didn’t work out. Good idea, bad execution. So I sort of lost interest in the idea. That is until I saw a set of the APCU Level V Soft Shell pants in a recent U.S. Calvary catalog. The pants are an Adventure Tech design but made by Propper International.
Propper makes clothing for the government and military including the outstanding APECS Parka and Trousers that I recommend in the Shell Layer section of this site. I have been aware of Adventure Tech for at least 10 years and have been a big fan of several of their products. I used their military Gore-Tex shell trousers for 5 years as a SAR Tech-EMT with our Sheriff’s office Mountain Rescue Team and I think they are best-in-class. In fact, they are the same design as the current APECS Shell Trousers. For a short time Adventure Tech also made a shell jacket called the Silent Strike Viper that I think was the best shell ever made for anyone that needed waterproof breathable protection in a technical mountaineering shell that was also quiet. It is as quiet as Cabelas MTO50 fabric. What ever happen to it? Beats me, I have tried for years to talk with them about making the Silent Strike available to the public but nobody ever responded to my inquiries. It is a shame too because that jacket is still the one to beat in that niche as far as I am concerned. I am not sure what Adventure Tech is doing now or what their connection is to Propper. Their website is much different than it was and they are only showing the APCU line.
Anyway, the APCU Soft Shell pants have been great for me so far. I have 5 or 6 outings in them so far and I really like them. They fit me well which is to say that they are full cut, the belt loops handle my standard Wilderness Instructor Belt perfectly, and they have good cargo pockets (although I wish they were as big as a standard BDU pocket) but it is the Schoeller fabric that makes them special. It is lightweight, stretches, breathes, durable, repels wind and water, dries quickly and is quiet. It is important to note that they are very durable to abrasion but will snag and pull on the really sticky stuff which is really only a big deal if you are concerned with how they look. That is not an issue for me.
Check them out. I think that you will agree with me that these pants are perfect for the trail.
EDITOR’S NOTE – a particularly astute reader sent me an email pointing out that in the article above I stated that the RailRider VersaTac Mid and Light pants are cotton or a cotton blend which he said was incorrect. He is absolutely right. They are 100% Nylon according to the tag. I stand corrected. Please forgive the error, it was unintentional. Thanks Larry. Good catch.
Also, as long as I am here again, I am a little disappointed in two things. First, the generic Velcro patches that close the thigh pockets on the Soft Shell Pants has become completely useless. For pants this expensive Propper should be using the good stuff. Second, what is the problem with the people at Propper? I have been a Propper fan for many years and supportive of their products here and in other places but I can’t get a phone call returned to save
my life. Not just the media contacts but even the V.P. of Marketing won’t return phone calls or email messages. Very bad form guys. I hope you are more responsive to the troopers in the field that wear your stuff.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can’t or won’t turn back.