Thursday, 22 September 2011


Almost five years ago now, I bought an excellent pair of trousers.

I chose them for my LEJOG, principally for walking in the more populated areas and for wearing in hotels. I needed the trousers on sartorial grounds because back then my legwear of choice for the hills were Polartec Tights; not a good look when combined with my big leather Scarpa Nepal boots – very Max Wall.

My Patagonia Simple Guide Pants were superb trousers and I reviewed them after my LEJOG’s four months of hard use, here. I continued to use them for another 3 years of TGO Challenges and now they are quite knocked about yet still appear to show remarkably little wear to the casual observer. (Are there people who go about casually observing men’s trousers?) However, they have a problem:

When the Good Lord Above, or whoever it was who gives out body parts to newly born babes, dispensed the various bits of my anatomy, it has to be said he was a bit mean in one or two departments deemed crucial for young chaps. Nevertheless, the Old Boy was generous when he dished out my nice long legs. However, rather like the young Milligan, they do resemble two pieces of knotted string hanging from my underpants.

Spike's Legs

My old Patagonia trousers looked fine with great big Scarpa Nepal boots – the regular leg length finished just over the top of the boot collar which meant that they never got too muddy. However, for the last two years, I have been wearing these technical plimsolls and the trousers now looked very odd, finishing above the ankle. Not a good look.

I have floundered about trying to get a pair of trousers the right leg length for these shoes that don’t have the look of hundreds of pockets strapped to the legs & arse which seem to be suited to some sort of Action Man Backwoods figure. I thought I was almost there in April when I bought a pair of Montane trousers but having seen a photo of myself wearing them I think they look ghastly; a terrible shapeless cut. And more crucially, the wrong colour. They are….. The Wrong Trousers!

I found myself in London yesterday morning on a mission to nip in to Snow & Rock in Covent Garden to pick up some nice new fluffy merino socks in between dashing between Waterloo & Kings Cross. Oddly, I just could not remember where on earth it was. I knew I was in the right area and I knew it was down a side street off a main drag. I nipped up and down a few and then, quite by accident came upon this place:


After strolling through the portal it struck me how empty the place was. It turned out that the shop was not yet officially open, whatever that means. They did have a really nice pair of socks and then I found myself in the trousery section…

And came away having spent far too much money on another pair of Patagonia Simple Guide Pants, in black. Strangely, this pair has a longer leg, which is jolly wonderful. They have pockets (2 hip, 1 on the bottom and 1 on the leg) but they are discreet, and zipped. At first glance, they look like a very nice casual trouser. Patagonia’s website states that in medium they have a 32” inside leg. The ones I have bought measure 33” and so are perfect. Comparing them to my old trousers they are an extra 2.5 inches longer. The leg is also slightly roomier, which is fine. They are still a slim style. They have also done away with the draw-cord waist and now resemble any normal trouser. They don’t have the natty little cord zip pulls that the old models had, so I just swapped them from the old to the new trousers.

Even now, I am not sure I could tell you exactly where the shop is but it must be fairly close to Snow & Rock (wherever that is!). There are no signs protruding from the wall to catch your eye; blink and you would miss it. I can’t even find its address on the till receipt. Maybe it was all a dream.

But at last, I have the Right Trousers!


  1. It's bad news if trousers are getting longer because some of us were born on a Friday when the Big Man had apparently run out of long legs and some of us had to put up with something shorter (I will not boast about other areas). My wife despairs about he waste material she nearly always has to cut off - perhaps I could sell you some?

  2. Of course, it could well be that with shorter legs the other departments just *look* longer, Bob...

    Your wife; no connections with Lorena Bobbitt, by any chance?

  3. It was indeed a dream, Alan. If I'm not mistaken, that's a 2014 Ford Miracle parked outside...

  4. I've recently discovered that my favourite summer trousers have a very worn bottom and a holey crease behind the knee, so need to be replaced. My problem isn't leg length (normal) but the ratio of waist (tiny) to bottom (not so). The sizing of clothes is not based on real people and none of us are 'average'. Pants!

  5. Bluey: That outstretched palm - It's giving me nightmares, not dreams ... "Now, Cough!"

    Louise: These trousers have a 9% "spandex" content - very stretchy indeed for the larger bottoms and narrow waists.. They do a women specific model too. They should be tried!

  6. One has to look the part if one is planning a walk in the finest county in the land Alan.

    Above the ankle is a tad silly. Add in the Technicolor dream coat of a waterproof you have and now those rather fine trail shoes in dashing.....ur..ok Yellow and one can see how you needed to address the trouser issue. Now that is sorted you'll hardly stand out from the crowd with your other gear ;)

  7. aahhhh... trail fashion... a subject so dear to my heart..

  8. Martin: Indeed; the whole ensemble was just too.... sudden? Hopefully by adding the master-stroke of a good basic black the outfit will hang together a little more pleasingly on the "casual observer's" eye.

    I'll send you, Baz & Terry that email shortly too on the Peddars Way.

  9. Kim:

    Trail fashion, indeed. I think back to those heady days when we could all just get away with black - sadly, so passée these days...

    A fellow/young lady out on the hills these days needs to look at their best - a strong accent colour is to be encouraged, but leave the colours there. Don't go mad.

    I remember the dreadful fashion victims out on the hill in the nineties - purples and greens everywhere. Shockingly bad taste...

  10. I have evidence that Louise casually inspects men's trousers as it happens. The cheapest strategy is to be constantly pointing at something "over there" in order to distract attention. (pointing with an index finger, oobviously)

  11. So the new-for-the-TGOC trousers weren't a success? And I so remember admiring* (and maybe even fondling) them in the Strathcarron Hotel. Of course, you weren't standing up at the time, so I didn't get to appreciate any shapelessness in the cut.

    (*by which comment I seem to have answered your 'Are there people who go about casually observing men’s trousers?' question in the positive.)

  12. So you've been to Pantagonia then ?


  13. A friend and I drove from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in 1970, and couldn't find Hadrian's Wall (we still suspect it's a fraud to boost tourism). So I wouldn't worry about not being able to locate the odd Patagonia shop.

  14. Pah.
    Consider yourself Lucky Sir.
    I didn't get the long legs either!

  15. Mike, I did try to be subtle. I think...

  16. Pieman! "I have evidence that Louise casually inspects men's trousers as it happens.

    As what happens?

  17. Gayle: I remember, fondly, your fondling of the trousers and indeed I would like to confirm that I wasn't "standing up" at the time...

    I am pleased that you take an interest in observing men's trousers.

  18. Mark A: I believe you would have stood a better chance of discovering Rome's 2nd furthest northern boundary if you had started from the English Channel and driven to the Firth of Forth. Travelling in this direction you would have discovered the most northerly boundary wall as well!

    But, you were quite close. Points for effort. Driving; so much more comfortable than walking. You wouldn't need special trousers either.

  19. Andrew: Saturday's child, then? He just had all the left-over bits by then... You didn't get the red hair and freckles though, did you? That was the Sunday kids.

  20. Louise: Subtlety" That's a woman thing, isn't it? Men do lists and answers. Women, I have been told, do empathy.
    Did you empathise with Mike's torrid trouser terror? No - I thought not.

  21. Actually I got the bloody freckles!

    What happened to those fine trousers you bought in the Lakes.
    You were lucky to get them before everyone knew they were there!

  22. Mad'n'Bad: (or 'Saturday night child') That's my problem; early adopter. The bugs only become evident when you test 'em. I must have been a Beta Tester.

    They will be good for walks in the Alps in the summer. Where no-one knows me...

  23. I'm sitting on Hadrian's wall at this very moment. I can confirm it exists. And is hard. And wet.

    (brought to you by the wonders of mobile Internet).

    On topic: I have a Patagonia fleece that has seen me through at least eight years. Top clothing.

  24. David: It's always "grim up north". Does your internet cable thingy stretch all the way up there then?

    Or could it be a time dilation thing: I blame those bloke with the accelerator - you've gone back in time, back to you cosy warm home. When they switch it off you will be catapulted back up north.

    Scary stuff.

  25. Mr Howell: I am too. It would be perishingly draughty without them. And besides, they stop your legs getting muddy.

  26. All black is NEVER passe'!! You just have to add a splash of color somewhere to show you have soul, right?

  27. Kim: As usual our American cousins are there before the rest of us.

    The addition of a "splash of color" (sic) is becoming problematical; my new socks (the perfect clothing for an Englishman's dash of 'soul' colour) are a heady grey.

    It will have to be the pants; that's 'shorts', I believe, in 'American'. I shall nip out and buy some brightly coloured merino undies!

  28. Nice post Alan.
    Who would have thought, all this commentary about a pair of pants!
    Rubbish, to all those who say they don’t like reading about gear.
    Anyway glad you got sorted. I don’t mind my Terra pants apart from the crap belt which was changed in the 1st week and the lack of wallet pocket which really gets me down.
    Did you have a look at the Rohan offerings in Coven Garden?

  29. Hi AlanR
    I had a look at Rohan in Henley: I quite liked their "Striders" but they looked slightly too "Action Man" for my taste...

    Picky,..... Moi?

  30. I quite like the Striders and the Trailblazers. I wouldn’t say they were too Action Man.

    I use a pair of Columbia Silver Ridge convertibles during our warm summer walks (Ha) but they can get a bit clammy.
    How do you find the Patagonia’s in this respect, do they
    breath well.

  31. Hi AlanR: Perhaps I am confusing the Striders with the "Superstriders"...

    I have always been put off convertible trousers after a friend of mine lost a line of hair from his thighs from the rubbing of the zippy thick bit (that was technical writing, if ever there was technical writing..)

    I *loved* my old pair of Patagonia Simple Guide Pants. They were very breathable indeed - no problem on the hot days of a TGO Challenge - but wouldn't take them to the Pyrenees though. I have my Montane trousers for that place (thigh vents) or better still, shorts.

  32. This is a very wonderful thread about threads.

    Some time ago I considered talking with my tailor - the very wonderful Daniel from Walker Slater in Victoria Street, Edinburgh - about re-jigging my Montane Terra pants. But we ended up in a fit of the giggles.

    Kimbreley, you are SO RIGHT! All black with an accent of cerise or hot turquoise remains a style classic! I am working the '83 FlashDance look as we speak. Mmmm! Leg-Warmers are the New Gaitors.

    Frankly speaking, with the exception of Sloman, Lord Elpus and their acoltyes, the British HillWalkers cut a sorry sight in the fashion stakes.

    Boyz and Grrrls! It's not to hard to put an amusing ensemble together. And do moisturise! You may be young now, but think of your public in years to come!

    Peace and love, sweeties.

  33. How could I forget every boy & gurl's best fashion accessory - the Buff! There are some splendid splashes of colour out there to create the 'amusing ensemble' I have a wonderful deep red cotton neckerchief bought in the Pyrenees too...

    Things will be fine! Just need to tone down the 'stealth green' Paramo somehow...

    Maybe if I moisturise people will admire my perfect complexion rather than the fashion disaster that is my jacket?


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