The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Paramo Azuma Vent Trousers

Last weekend, whilst out enduring my solo 28 miler, I listened to Andy Howell's ( series of podcasts ( from The Outdoor Show at the NEC back in the middle of March.

During the first podcast, he talked to Paramo, who described a particular pair of trousers: the Women’s Azuma Vent.

I’ve been after a new pair of summer walking trousers since late last year (when the zip in my previous pair became a little temperamental). I’ve persisted with the old trousers since, which has occasionally led to some embarrassing and airy times, when the zip has just refused to do up.

I was verging on accepting ‘his & hers matching’ status and buying a pair of Montane Terra Pants, but from the verbal description the Azuma’s seemed to be just the alternative that I was after.

Getting home I wasted no time in getting on the internet to find out more. They seemed to fit the bill (except not being water resistant, but in their favour they are £15 cheaper than the Terra Pants), so I ordered a pair.

I got my hands on them late last week (after a trip to the sorting office). Today I tried them out.

In their favour, they’re very lightweight and feel lovely against the skin. They have plenty of pockets (for reasons unknown some designers believe that women don’t need anywhere near as many pockets as men), and omit the zip that I would never use on the bottom of the leg, as sported by the Terra Pants.

Also in their favour, I found out to my benefit today that the thigh vent does exactly what it should. From my first look at them when they arrived, I didn’t think it would be so effective.

On the downside, I don’t think that Paramo has got the female design quite right. The waist is quite comprehensively elasticated, which should be comfortable, but is surely not a flattering look on anyone. Less than a flattering look would not be a problem, if it was comfortable and practical. However, this is where the designers seemed to have erred most. The elastic is just too strong; there’s plenty of give in it (indeed, I can remove the trousers without having to undo them), but its natural state seems to be squeezing you as hard as it can, which leads to sweatiness all around the waistband (as well as being less comfortable).

I’m sure that I’ve not got a size that’s too small. Everything else fits fine (at least, it fits as well as someone my size can expect; I got the extra small and the hips are a bit big and the legs a bit long), and I’m well within the published measurements for that size.

My other complaint is about the ‘patch’ pockets. As soon as you have a handkerchief in each, they pull the material so that it creases across the thigh, so the pockets are really no designed to hold very much. The standard type of pocket (hand through a slit in the trouser, into a shaped pocket liner) in my previous trousers seemed a much better design.

So, a good pair of trousers with which I’m very pleased. Just a couple of tweaks in the design would make them superb.

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