In the beginning of 2020, I received CimAlp Laos 4 pants for testing. CimAlp is a French brand which specializes in outdoor clothing and gear for mountain enthusiasts. I first got to know the company last year when I tested and reviewed their Primaloft jacket. As I was and still am really satisfied with that jacket, I couldn’t wait to test the CimAlp Laos 4 pants. Before asking for the pants, I did some research and it seemed to me that these pants are one of their best-selling products for a reason.
Based on my previous experience with CimAlp, their gear is especially good for mountaineering and backpacking as they make lightweight, yet durable products. Hence I was lucky to receive the pants a couple of weeks before going on a short hiking holidays in Slovenia where I for example wore them on the Velika Planina hike and a demanding via ferrata trail. On the Velika Planina hike I tested how the pants perform on longer hikes, while on the via ferrata trail I tested how suitable they are for more technical activities. I did, however, also wear the pants on several short hikes here in Denmark. Below is what I learned about them.
The CimAlp Laos 4 pants are suitable for:
- Via Ferrata
- Everyday use
The CimAlp Laos 4 pants are made of bamboo viscose (72%), polyamide (25%) and elastane (3%). When I unwrapped them, I was pleasantly surprised over the fabric. Due to the high content of bamboo viscose, it’s soft and pleasant to the touch. Nylon makes it sturdy while the elastane fibers provide good stretch. The fabric feels a bit like a softshell fabric but is softer and much thinner. The pants are also reinforced in areas that are subject to high abrasion: They feature the sturdy Schoeller bi-stretch Extreme Cordura fabric on the seat, knees and inner sides of ankles for good durability. All in all, I was impressed over the materials when unwrapping the pants. I was, however, still curious how they would perform in terms of breathability, moisture-wicking performance, drying time and durability – which are the most important qualities for hiking pants. It was time to test the pants in their natural habitat, e.g. on trails.
I started testing the pants by wearing them on several short hikes here in Denmark, and was very satisfied with them. However, as the CimAlp pants are designed for demanding hikes and mountaineering, I knew I couldn’t test them efficiently in mountainless Denmark. Hence, I took them to Slovenia where I wore them on the Velika Planina hike, which was a rather demanding hike with a total distance of 21 kilometers and an ascent of more than 1300 meters.
The first thing I noticed here was that the pants are incredibly comfortable. The material is super stretchy and thus provides great freedom of movement. I was also impressed over the breathability. The pants have similar air permeability as my Montane Terra Pack pants, although that they are thicker and thus also suitable for lower temperatures. When the intensity on the hike increased and I started sweating, the pants also nicely pulled moisture from my skin but still dried completely by the end of the hike. So, the pants perform great in terms of moisture management.
I also wore the pants on the Otmarjeva pot via ferrata trail which I did for a second time now. On the via ferrata trail I was mostly testing the durability of the pants as well as their suitability for technical activities. Due to the stretchy material, the pants were great for climbing. I never felt restricted in any way. I also haven’t noticed any signs of wear and tear even though I wasn’t particularly careful with them while climbing.
I wasn’t particularly focused on odor-resistance while testing these pants. However, I didn’t wash them between the two demanding hikes, and I didn’t detect any signs of odor. Therefore, I guess they do provide some level of odor resistance. The pants are also treated with DWR (organic Teflon EcoElite) so they repel water rather than absorb it.
The CimAlp Laos 4 pants feature two zippered hand pockets, two Velcro thigh pockets and a zippered rear pocket. The hand pockets are large, and I find them very useful. The zippers are equipped with pull loops so it’s easy to zip/unzip them even if you are wearing gloves. I didn’t particularly like the thigh pockets, though. They are located on the front side of the pants which means that items in them would somewhat restrict your movements while walking uphill etc. Thus, I haven’t really used them. Nevertheless, they might be useful for thin items such as a small folded map.
The pants are also equipped with an elastic waist, articulated knees and a drawstring at the hem. The elastic waist is comfy, and I haven’t experienced any rubbing or chafing so far. Articulated knees provide good freedom of movement while walking or scrambling uphill, and the hem drawstrings allows you to tighten the pant legs at the bottom, so they fit nicely around your boots.
Sizing and Fit
The CimAlp Laos 4 pants come in nine different sizes which are based on the width of the waist. So, to determine your size, the company recommends that you simply measure the waist of a pair of non-stretchy pants at home which fits you nicely and the width (not to be confused with circumference) in centimeter is your size. According to this, my size was 44. However, after receiving the pants, I figured out that I could go for size 42, if not 40. The thing is that CimAlp Laos pants have an elastic waist and I got size 44 from pants without an elastic waist. Thus, I recommend sizing down – at least if you are in between sizes. Nevertheless, the CimAlp pants have belt loops, so it’s not a big problem to fit them with a belt if they are a tiny bit too wide in the waist. In terms of length, the pants could be a few centimeters shorter – at least for me with the very average European height of 180 centimeters. I can still use them as they are, but guys with shorter legs might have to get the pants shortened.
Another thing I noticed is that the pants have wider legs than other hiking pants I have. In the beginning I thought this will be a problem while moving around, but I can’t say it bothered me on trails.
Nevertheless, I wish the legs would be a bit narrower as I think that the pants would simply look better and more stream-lined with narrower legs.
Washing and Drying
The pants are machine washable at 30° C, but you should steer clear of softeners and bleach. You should also not tumble dry them. They dry quite fast as the fabric doesn’t absorb much water.
I’ve been using the CimAlp Laos 4 pants for a couple of months now and I’m very satisfied with them. I especially like the fabric which feels nice to the touch and provides great freedom of movement. The pants are perfect for long hikes and mountaineering. They are also very robust and thus great for technical activities such as via ferrata trails. In my opinion these pants can be worn all-year-round. Nevertheless, in very warm conditions (+25° C) thinner pants or shorts might be a better choice while in sub-zero temperatures you might need a bit more insulation. The only things I would change are the thigh pockets
and width of the legs. Nevertheless, these are minor things and I can’t wait to do more hiking trips wearing the CimAlp Laos 4 pants.
Note: In 2021 the CimAlp Laos 4 pants have been updated to the CimAlp Laos 5. The only difference is that the new version has slightly narrower legs – just like I wanted! The link below points to the CimAlp Laos 5 pants.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Stretchy fabric
- Moisture management
- Freedom of movement
- Perfect for year-round-use
- Thigh pockets are not suitable for storing anything but thin items
Trouser legs are a bit too wide