X-Bionic: High-tech pants tailored to mountaineering
By C.C. Weiss
August 16, 2012
When you're trekking, roping, scrambling and climbing up the world's tallest mountains, you can't be worrying about your clothing failing. X-Bionic Mountaineering Pants are designed to work in mountain environments and include key features that keep you lithe and comfortable for the trip ahead ... but such technologically advanced trousers don't come cheap.
Switzerland-based X-Bionic has dissected the concept of pants and rebuilt it with a series of features aimed specifically at top performance in the Swiss Alps - or Dolomites, Rockies, Himalayas and onwards. The pants start off with a blend of 84 percent polyamide and 16 percent elastane that X-Bionic says delivers six-way stretch for superior freedom of movement - something that's important in mountain climbing where you're moving in all kinds of directions. The material also provides abrasion resistance, which should help the pants hold up against the sharp crags, edges and crevices of the mountain.
On top of the durable, elastic build, the X-Bionic pants get a boatload of mountain-specific features. Instead of blanket insulation employed by other pants, the Mountaineering Pants use varied insulation that targets the areas where you need the most warmth. X-Bionic adds different thicknesses of "ISO-Pad" insulation to the buttocks and hip bones to keep your temperature up and legs limber.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the pants, the patented 3D-BionicSphere assists with temperature regulation by working with your body's natural cooling mechanism: sweat. Instead of wicking sweat away like other sports garments, a process X-Bionic says leads to more sweating and ensuing water and mineral loss, the 3D-BionicSphere siphons off excess sweat through an air channel while keeping a thin, cool layer of perspiration on your body at all times. When you cool down (e.g. you're at rest or temperatures are lower), the channel creates an insulating barrier, holding warm air in. The 3D-BionicSphere is located on the tailbone area of the pants, and it diverts sweat that would otherwise drip down to the buttocks causing a little something called swamp #@$ - and ensuing friction sores.
Continuing with its very specific zonal temperature regulation, X-Bionic equips the backs of the knees of the Mountaineering Pants with AirConditioning Spots. X-Bionic describes the crease behind the knee as similar to the armpit in terms of overheating and sweating, and the knitted material on that zone adds air circulation and cooling.
For its efforts in designing the meticulously crafted Mountaineering Pants, X-Bionic took home a 2012 iF Design Award.
As you might have gathered from the laundry list of purpose-built features, X-Bionic Mountaineering Pants will cost a little more than the average twill hiking pants - we're talking US$465. The pants are available in both men's and women's. X-Bionic also offers many of the same design elements on other garments, including jackets and base layers.