The Spencer is very much aimed at freeride and backcountry skiers, as its various features indicate. First off you get a removable bib and braces combo, the bib of which is made from stretch fabric which makes it that bit more comfortable, and is zip-on or off, with a useful zipped key pocket on the left.
If you choose to wear the Spencer without the bib and brace there are elasticated waist adjusters and large belt loops, but if you're looking for hand or rear pockets beneath these you won't find them; the Spencer's pockets are restricted to a zipped cargo pocket on each leg. The lack of hand pockets was also an issue for us with last year's model of the Spencer...
The pants' are highly waterproof (28,000 HH) and breathable and despite their light weight they feel tough and durable. For those long, hot hikes you get two side vents with waterproof zippers, but no backing mesh, and the knees are pre-shaped which further adds to the comfort factor.
We liked the huge Kevlar scuff guards which give the Spencer a hard core appearance as well as protecting them against ski edges, boots and rocks, and the adjustable cuffs and gaiters make faffing around with ski boots easy.
The cut of the Spencer is very generous - our tester is normally a 'large' but had no problem getting into a medium sized pair and found there was still lots of wiggle room once they were on.
The price, which has actually dropped by £10 since last season, and design very much make the Spencer a shell pant for the more serious rider, who will find the build quality, relatively minimalist design and very loose fit right up their couloir.