Norrøna Svalbard Flex1 Pants – Our Review
My wardrobe is full of softshell trousers. Thin ones, thick ones, stretchy ones, tough ones, lightweight ones – they’re all there. So with so muc h choice available why did I add to the collection with a pair of Norrøna Svalbard Flex1 Pants? Well, to put it simply, they are the most comfortable, most versatile, and the best fitting softshell trousers I have ever worn. Not forgetting the fact that they are made by Norrøna, and that counts for a lot!
For those of you who have not heard of Norrøna, I’ll give you a bit of a rundown. Norrøna dates back to 1929 when a Norwegian outdoor enthusiast, named, Jørgen Jørgensen began searching for durable outdoor equipment that would work in Norway’s harsh winter climate. He started out by sourcing quality materials and began making his own leather straps, canvas backpacks, and cotton clothing; this set the precedence for Norrøna’s quest to produce clothing and equipment from the finest materials available. 84 years and 4 generations later, Norrøna are still producing some of the highest quality (and brightest…!) clothing and equipment available.
The Svalbard collection is designed as ‘essential outdoor gear’ and sits at the heart of the range. The Svalbard Flex1 Pants, as the name suggests, are made from Norrøna’s proprietary fabric, Flex1 – a single ply stretchy fabric that provides wind and water resistance. I would not call them a lightweight softshell, nor would I call them a heavyweight softshell – kind of in the middle, making them perfect for a really wide range of activities. I have been using them throughout the autumn for short hikes through the forest, and all day mountain bike rides across the Purbeck hills. I have walked and ridden with these in almost all conditions (no snow… yet!), and they have come through it all with a thumbs up from me. The degree of stretch that they have is very high for a softshell of this weight, and this allows for an excellent degree of movement, particularly noticeable when walking across rough terrain. With the wet weather we have had recently, and the one of the biggest storms the UK has seen in years, it seems that all of my local MTB trails have been thick with wet mud. Singletrack around the Swanage and Corfe seem to have turned to small streams in places, but the water resistance has been brilliant, and water is still beading off of them as it was on day one.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the fit of these trousers is another real plus point. This is down to a couple of key features. The custom-fit waist system is basically an integrated hip belt – nothing particularly revolutionary there – but the way in which it wraps around your waist means that a perfect fit in almost always guaranteed. And because the belt is not made from a thin, flimsy canvas, but instead a wide, padded strip of Flex1 fabric, there is no digging in, and the trousers are always secure and comfy. Secondly, they have articulated knees, which means that these are not straight cut, but purposively designed to match the shape of the leg when you’re going about your adventures. Again, nothing we haven’t seen before, but in this case it’s never in the way and just lets you get on. Snap tightening around the ankles allows you to create a seal around the shoes/boot – meaning that mud, scree is not going to get down into your footwear. When you combine this by using the integrated lace hook to secure the trousers to your boots, you end up with a very high level of protection.
The Svalbard Flex1 Pants are Norrøna’s bestselling trouser – and it’s clear to see why. Superb levels of weather protection, along with with a brilliant fit and excellent breathability result in a softshell trouser that is hard to beat. Whilst there are other softshell trousers available in Norrøna’s range, perhaps more suited to some activities, these stand out as a do-it-all trouser. What does this mean for me? I can clear out the rest of my softshell trousers, and get a second pair of Flex1 Pants!
+ Custom-Fit Waist System, articulated knees and snap tightening around the ankles result in a brilliantly fitting trouser. .
+ Excellent levels of stretch and weather resistance.
+ Very versatile design.
– Price, at £150, they are at the top end of the softshell trouser market (but you won’t need to buy any more softshell trousers again…!).