The Vapor Gore Tex 2L pants from Dakine boast all the features you'd expect from a high end shell pant; articulated knees, mesh lined inner leg venting, water resistant zips and adjustable ankles. But can they really handle the variety of conditions that modern winters are throwing at us?
In a Swiss whiteout the Vapor pants felt unflappable. Dakine give this model a 'tailored fit' which to my eye appears to be less baggy than 'park rat' but with plenty of room to throw a hefty pair of leggings underneath. In fact I only needed a pair or merino leggings underneath - the mesh lining that accompanies a 2 layer shell always seems much warmer than you'd expect, compared with a more minimal construction.
In fact the fit is wonderful. The pants manage to sit on your waist without anything digging in, or scratching and without needing to be hoiked up every 20 minutes. And the length is spot on too - so many ski pants seem to fly at half mast once you get your boots on....
In terms of performance, Dakine rate these as being at the very high end of their offering, and the weather protection doesn't disappoint - in construction/design as well as in the Gore Tex material used. But the shortcoming of this 2L Gore Tex is always going to be in breathability.
During a week of double figure temperatures and blazing sunshine, the leg vents were almost powerless. Hiking for lines would have been hellish, but then any membrane-based shell would struggle in those conditions. Nevertheless, if I was planning on a lot of ski touring, I would look at a 3 layer GoreTex, without the lining.
But that may be an unfair assessment; these are not designed for the fast and light crowd, and in consequence they are confidence-inspiring both in the weather-protection they offer and in their comfort. If those are things you value, then these pants are for you!