“There’s a way to do it better – Find it.” -Thomas Edison
When TREW was getting feedback that their gear was, “Too heavy, too beefy, and not breathable enough.” they set out to find a better way to meet the
needs of backcountry riders. From this quest, TREW developed the Roam 3/4 Bib and Wander Jacket. With the use of the Toray Dermizax® NX membrane, TREW was able to create pieces with increased stretch, decreased weight (Roam Bib 23.4 oz, Wander Jacket 18.8 oz), all while being able to deliver 20,000 mm waterproofing / 40,000 g/m2 breathability.
After hearing about these tech touring pieces, we were excited to see how they performed. Lucky for us, TREW sent out Roam 3/4 Bibs, Wander Jackets, and mid-weight Nuyarn Merino base layers to Devin Overton and Rafael Pease so they could give them a good thrashing. With Devin stacking human powered vertical in Colorado and Rafael riding around the globe, who better to put these pieces through the wringer?
Rafael Pease – A Chilean native who now calls Colorado home. In addition to being an ambassador for Arbor Snowboards, Zeal Optics, and Spark R&D, Rafael also created the FluxVeho Mountain Film Festival and is currently working on Connections Film.
Devin Overton – A San Juan splitboarding Jedi, who is currently on a mission to ride 500k of human powered vertical feet for the season. As of this writing, Devin has already crossed the threshold into 200k and is well on his way to his goal.
When asked what they look for when deciding on outerwear, Devin and Rafael both had a number of items on their checklist. Having an understanding that riders can experience variable conditions through out their trip, an outerwear system that can work well in all conditions is key. A 3l shell featuring a high waterproof rating and fully taped seams is key to keeping you dry when that storm sneaks up on you. Since the majority of a splitters life is spent in the skintrack, having an outerwear system with the greatest amount of breathability and ventilation is extremely important. Things like fully opening zippers underneath the arm and outside of the leg are crucial for shedding built up heat on the way up. The overall fit and design of the pieces is crucial. The pockets should be laid out efficiently where you can utilize them while wearing a pack. A balance should be created between enough pockets to carry the essentials but nothing in excess to keep the weight down. Touring jackets and pants should not be tight or constricting, but they should also not be so baggy that excessive material gets in the way and weights you down.
Too snug of a fit leaves you feeling constricted and looking like a silly rando racer. – Devin Overton
Both Devin and Rafael were impressed with the quality, finish and feel of the Roam 3/4 Bib and Wander Jacket. “Looks and feels like high quality gear. It’s up there on the list with Patagonia, The North Face and any other Gore-Tex based gear.”- Rafael Both noted that the outerwear fabric felt very strong, yet incredibly lightweight. The fit was considered slim with enough room for your typical layering options. Between the fit and the materials stretch, the outerwear was able to move with the body without being constrictive. Both riders felt that the pieces were lightweight with Devin stating, “The Roam will undoubtedly be the lightest pant I’ve ever worn.”
The Wander jacket features three well-placed, generously sized external pockets along with two meshed pockets inside. The fully-opening ventilation zippers beneath the arms are more than large enough to properly shed heat on the days in which you need the protection of a shell going uphill. The Roam 3/4 bib reaches just high enough to serve its purpose of not allowing powder to creep into your under layers, yet doesn’t come up so high onto your torso that it becomes annoying, or too hot for touring. A standard horizontal zippered pocket lies directly below the waist on each leg, with a vertical zippered pocket on the right quad and a very deep Velcro pocket on the left quad. Leg ventilation is one of the most critical features for a touring pant and TREW nailed it with the Roam. Fully-opening outer leg vents run all the way from the waist to just above the knee, while three zipper handles help to keep fabric from opening too far apart and in turn flopping around as you move. – Devin Overton
Devin is shown wearing a size large pants and jacket, and is approximately 6’4″ and 195 lbs. Rafael is shown wearing a size medium pants and jacket, and is approximately 5’10” and 155 lbs.
Devin took the kit out for his first day in just below freezing conditions with a foot of fresh on the ground. With the lack of wind and reasonable temps, the Wander Jacket compacted nicely into Devin’s pack. Devin stated he runs hot while skinning, and took full advantage of both the inner and outer leg vents. The lightweight pants were very noticeable on the way up, so much so that it gave Devin some concern, “I managed to do a fair amount of bushwalking on my way up and the pants didn’t show a hint of damage.” Once on the summit, Devin dawned the Wander Jacket and closed off his vents as he was met with heavy snow and wind. Devin noted that the 80D material over the shoulder was nice to ensure the elements stay out and increased the durability where the straps of his pack rest and rub. When it came to functionality, Devin stated, “The amount of pockets with this combination of top and bottom is amazing, especially given the streamline appearance. The pants have 4 spacious pockets, with one specifically serving as a beacon pocket. I’ve always been a fan of carrying my beacon in a pant pocket, so I really like the sleeve and clip in the right upper thigh pocket to help properly house such an important device. The side pockets on the jacket are HUGE and I like that I can still access them effortlessly even while wearing my backpack.” The garments never felt constrictive and the stretch was most noticeable in the knee and butt area.
The Roam bib went from feeling like a breathable, featherweight pant on the skin up, to burly powder shedding armor on the way down. These pants make absolute sense for anyone looking to tour comfortably and descend aggressively. – Devin Overton
Rafael’s first day was -23 with windchill and almost 5′ of new snow, its safe to say it was frigid and deep. After Rafael discovered he left his skins in Chile, he decided to take his snowmobile out and boot around for some turns. With the medium weight Nuyarn Merino base layers, a thin down jacket, and the outerwear, Rafael was able to stay warm and dry. Much of the day consisted of literally wading through powder. The outerwear and layers fit flawlessly and the shoulder straps of the bib performed far better than other non stretch types he had used in the past. “The zippers for everything are in the right spots, very easy to handle with mitts on.”
Previously I have had a lot of issues with the shoulder straps hurting my private areas every time I bent over to strap in or pick something up. With these, they are stretchy and are incredibly comfortable. – Rafael Pease
After 30 Plus Days of Use
Overall thoughts on the performance of the outerwear?
Devin: After over twenty days of touring in the TREW Roam ¾ Bib and Wander Jacket, I have been very impressed with the way each piece of outerwear has performed. The Roam and Wander combine necessary features of a technical piece with the unique style TREW has become known for. Both the jacket and pant are lighter in weight, more breathable, and tighter fitting than TREW’s FREERIDE line, making the long approach to that steep, gnarly peak a more comfortable experience. This new line is the all seasons, all conditions kit for dominating the backcountry under the power your own two legs.
Rafael: After having used the under layers and outer layers for 21 days straight in Hokkaido, Japan. Trenching through neck deep snow, splitboarding every single day, and boot packing occasionally in 6ft deep pow. I was never wet nor cold. Even in the -35 degree days where it was dumping with no visibility.
What conditions has the outerwear been used in?
Devin: The gear was used on tours in a multitude of conditions, ranging from below-zero morning, to intense blizzards, to sunny days in the 40’s and even a couple days riding chair lifts.
Rafeal: Everything for a 40 degree day in the Colorado backcountry to a -35 degree day winter camping in Colorado. Snowmobiling, splitboarding, boot packing, pow surfing. All the way to Japans deep steep and cold volcanos.
Which conditions did the pieces work best in?
Devin: I find the Roam and Wander to be incredibly versatile garments and well suited for an array of conditions. The place where I noticed these pieces outperforming other shells was certainly on the skin track. All three-layer jackets will keep you dry while standing still in a snowstorm, but most will leave you drowning in your sweat once you start breaking trail up a mountain. As someone who has always overheated when touring in my shell jacket, I have surprisingly found the Wander to be an incredibly comfortable layer for a cold or snowy skin track as it regulates my body temperature and keeps me dry from the inside-out. When the temperatures begin to rise, I’ll often take off my shell, but you can’t just take off your pants when you get too hot. Luckily the Roam ¾ bib is the ideal for every temperature and form of weather you may encounter on a tour.
Rafael: I would say the pieces obviously worked best when they weren’t in neck deep snow…like everything else. But they kept me warm and dry during the longest and deepest of days. With everything from -35 to 40 degrees days I haven’t had one bad day in them.
What are your favorite things about the outerwear?
Devin: I really like the pocket layout of both pieces. Too often technical outerwear companies end up going so minimalist in their design they forget people like having pockets on their pants and jackets. The Roam bib includes 4 spacious pockets, with one containing a special compartment for your beacon. There is plenty of space for snacks, a thin pair of gloves, sunscreen, tools, and whatever else you may want quick access to on your way up the mountain. The Wander jacket has two large torso pockets that can be accessed easily with a backpack on, as well as one chest pocket on the left. Inside the jacket are also two mesh drop pockets for keeping your skins warm on the ride down.
Rafael: The durability and pocket placements. I’m not trying to put down other outerwear, but this TREW gear has been the most durable outerwear I have worn. The outerwear is also so lightweight and breathable.
Do you have any concerns?
Devin: I really don’t have any concerns about the gear. It seems durable and well-designed. Let’s see how the next 100 days go!
Rafael: After more use I felt the medium was a bit too tight especially with a second layer, I should have gone with a large. The straps on the Roam Bib would occasionally become lose and I would have to re-adjust them.
How was the breathability and ventilation?
Devin: The breathability and ventilation of both articles is outstanding. TREW’s new three-layer DERMIZAX NX membrane boasts a 20,000 mm waterproof rating while also providing greater breathability than Gore-Tex shells. When temperatures get too high for even the most breathable fabrics, the fully opening outer and inner leg vents on the Roam allow my legs get a cool, cross-flowing breeze within the pant and the fully opening armpit vents in the Wander help quickly shed upper body heat when I’m working hard.
Rafael: Very good for non-deep days. Touring in some of the deepest places in the world has given me some issues, opening the vents in either the jacket or bib would cause snow to go in (touring in snow that was up to my chest deep at times). The worst thing is sweating in the backcountry, so I try everything to avoid that. When it comes to pants, its not easy to de-layer so you have to rely on the breathability and venting of the pants. Luckily the Roam 3/4 bibs killed it with both breathability and venting.
How was the stretch?
Devin: The stretch of both garments is excellent. I never felt as if I was fighting the rigidity of my outerwear, even when making awkward lunges over down trees on the skin track, or making a jump turns down a narrow couloir. All the crucial articulation points of the gear moved as one with my bending joints as I traveled up and down the mountains.
Rafael: The stretch was good, a bit too much on the bib around the waist and minimal on the jacket. But didn’t bother me at all.
If you could change something about the outerwear, what would it be?
Devin: These pieces are close to flawless, but I would make a couple minor adjustments. I’m not a huge fan of the loose-fitting bib material that goes around the waist. This material seems floppy and could either be sewn tighter or made of a material with a touch of elasticity. I think it would both feel and look nicer with a more snug fit. I also think that the butt on the bibs could use some of the 80D reinforcement fabric. In the mountains I’m often sitting on either a log or rock that may be just sharp enough to tear through the fabric. A little stronger material back there and I’d say they’re perfect!
Rafael: I would switch the color ways to something that pops more. The darker colors made it difficult for fellow riders and the camera to see me while riding. I would change the bib adjusting straps so it doesn’t become lose when touring. The deep conditions I have been in this season have made it difficult to keep your vents open without getting snow inside. I would like to see a mesh on the interior of the ventilation system. Make the boot elastics on the pants a bit tighter, mine seemed to be just loose enough to let snow in while boot packing or shredding in very deep pow.
Some of you may be considering what changes you would make for this to be the perfect outerwear. If you had the ability to create your dream outerwear, it would have the perfect design, colors, size and specs. The problem is, while you may believe it’s the dream design, there’s another four people wishing it was different. There’s no doubt that designing outerwear for people, with different builds, and different opinions, is a difficult task. In our review, both riders utilized their gear in a similar fashion, yet had completely different thoughts on what they would change. While not everyone may agree with adding mesh in the venting, it’s important feedback none the less. Feedback like this could lead to design ideas such as a removable mesh, or a change in the placement of the venting to reduce the likelihood of snow from entering.
We shared the feedback with TREW and it was great to see it so openly received. Founder and CEO, Tripp Frey, let us know that some of the feedback was already slated to be in next years product. The fabric around the top of the bibs is set to be reworked and the suspenders will be improved upon to ensure they don’t occasionally loosen during a long day of charging. While the feedback which was provided likely reinforced changes that were already in the works, it also brought to light new feedback that had not been previously heard. Tripp stated that the additional feedback would be considered for final changes to the fall 2016 version.
We’re excited to see the progression of backcountry specific outerwear and can’t wait to see how TREW continues to innovate.