Exceptional walkersâ€™ gear made to order â€“ and made in Scotland. Tested by Don Currie.
Usually, waterproof trousers are stuffed into the bottom of the rucksack, where you hope theyâ€™ll stay all day.
These ones are very different. Theyâ€™re intended to be worn from the start, whether it rains or not. And theyâ€™re comfortable next to the skin. And because each pair is made specially for the customer, theyâ€™re just the right leg and waist measurement.
Theyâ€™re made up at Hilltrekâ€™s small workshop at Aboyne, in Royal Deeside.
- Double fabric for waterproofing and comfort
- Large, zipped back pockets â€“ easily big enough to take an Ordnance Survey map
- Spacious front pockets
- Reinforced knee and seat patches
- Semi-elasticated waist
- Broad belt loops
- Choice of six colours
I have always found waterproof trousers a bit unsatisfactory. Not any more, thanks to Hilltrek.
Every pair I have owned until now has been impermeable, rather stiff and also slightly noisy when the legs rub together. Not wanting to feel sweaty, uncomfortable and even mildly embarrassed (thatâ€™s the noise factor) Iâ€™ve usually kept them in the rucksack as the clouds gather, only whipping them out at the last possible moment â€“ and sometimes after the last possible moment.
Then, when the rain has finished and the sun come out, I have looked for a convenient rock to sit on while awkwardly tugging the overtrousers down and over my muddy boots, hoping I wonâ€™t need to put the now-filthy things on again later.
My new Cabrach Double Ventile Waterproof Trousers offer a vastly superior experience. For a start, theyâ€™re designed to be worn all day, with nothing between them and your legs. The inner fabric is soft and comfortable. With your eyes shut, you could be wearing a well-used pair of jeans or cords. The outer fabric repels water efficiently, while being breathable.
And then thereâ€™s the looks. The great thing about these trousersâ€™ appearance is that theyâ€™re soâ€¦ well, normal.
They look like ordinary walking trousers, not like a lower-half version of the lurid nylon cagoule you had to wear on school outings when you were 10.
To call them stylish would be going too far â€“ theyâ€™re a practical garment, not a cutting edge fashion statement. But if you walked into a pub full of car-borne lunchers you would certainly have no cause to feel inappropriately dressed. In fact nobody would notice you werenâ€™t wearing standard chinos just like theirs.
The fact that by buying them youâ€™re supporting a small but thriving Scottish manufacturing company is a bonus.
So if you have a pair of these is it still worth having conventional overtrousers? Well, yes. The double fabric means theyâ€™re quite warm, which for much of the year is a huge plus point. But on a hot summerâ€™s day youâ€™d be better off in shorts, carrying bog-standard overtrousers in your rucksack in case of rain.
The first time I wore my Hilltrek trousers, for a fairly arduous walk up Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich, I was a bit warm during the sunny spells. But my legs certainly stayed dry through the frequent downpours. And on several expeditions since, on cooler, windier days, Iâ€™ve been very comfortable in them from start to finish â€“ even when it hasnâ€™t rained much.
Hilltrek Cabrach Double Ventile Made-to-Measure Waterproof Trousers cost Â£170. See www.hilltrek.co.uk.