As wind whips and sleet pelts, it's a pretty miserable feeling lowering your backside onto a wet seat, feeling dampness soak into your thighs as you are hauled up a mountain.
The Lithang pant by Sherpa Adventure Gear will end that feeling forever. The Lithang provides all the protection your body's lower half could ask for.
Made from black weatherproof polyester, the Lithang material is just the right thickness to do its job, without adding bulk or restricting movement.
Small details provide welcome benefits. The waist-band, for example, is lined with soft, light fleece that means there is plenty of comfort and no binding between the shell layer and whatever you're wearing underneath, even with a belt.
Every seam is meticulously taped inside, just daring water droplets to find a weak spot and penetrate. With the Lithang, the water will lose.
Two zippers run the length of the leg, for full access over boots and other clothing. The teeth of those zippers – and all others – are fully covered and hidden, so they can't ice over or stick.
At the shin and cuff, Sherpa Adventure Gear has doubled up on the fabric, providing an extra layer of protection so that the pants will not be damaged by ski boots or hiking boots. Interior garters offer more protection.
Designers provided one pocket, on the right thigh. One or two more would have been beneficial, either on the sides or on the rear.
The Lithang performed flawlessly during several days on the slopes, in a variety of temperatures and conditions. I quickly forgot I was wearing them.
High-end shell pants are a bit of a treat. They're near the bottom of the "must-have" gear list for a day outside at high altitude, after boots, hats, gloves, socks, base layers, sun glasses, and almost anything else. Most of us are probably content to spend most of our recreation time in jeans, with a pair of rain pants at hand if absolutely necessary.
One lone complaint of the Lithang is, therefore, that it is fairly limited in the range of activities it's good for. The pants are terrific for hiking and alpine skiing. But they're too rustly and thick for running or Nordic skiing. They might stay in your closet much of time.
Buying gear from Sherpa Adventure, however, is something you can feel good about. The Lithang is made in Nepal, home to the legendary mountaineers that give the company its name. For each item sold, the company says on its web site, fifty cents goes to a Sherpa education fund. It's healthy to be skeptical of such claims, but most outdoors enthusiasts would like the money going there.
The Lithang does what it needs to do. Help the Sherpas, buy a pair and wave the gondolas goodbye. (MSRP $159)
David Nitkin looks to the outdoors for his endorphin fixes, and has spent his adulthood extending city roots into mountains and valleys.
A native of Boston, David's love of outdoor activities blossomed at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where the school's unique Outing Club encourages students to leave their dorm rooms in all seasons. The college requires incoming freshmen to strap on a backpack and head into the wilderness as a bonding experience that culminates with a breakfast of green eggs and ham at the Mount Moosilauke lodge to honor renowned alumnus Ted Geisel. If that doesn't make you go green, nothing will.
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