Explaining to your elderly mother that you need to cut your weekly Sunday chat short in order to “review some bibs” can cause some confusion.
“You were a very tidy eater when you were a boy,” Mom says.
It’s just the kind of pep talk you might need when it’s well above freezing and sloppy at the trailhead, so thanks, Moms. You’re alright.
The Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bibs are pretty alright, too. They check a lot of the boxes when it comes to offering a rugged, GORE-TEX shell bib-pant, at least one set of bibs an absolute must in your backcountry pants quiver.
Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bibs Review
These bibs may very well be the pants to rule them all, what with the built in Recco reflector (didn’t need that this time!), easy-adjust strap/suspenders, and a fabric finish that doesn’t sound like a garbage bag caught in a chainlink fence between your thighs; No swish or crinkle? Awesome.
The well-proportioned, heavy-duty-zip pockets on the thighs are great (I’m a pocket avalanche beacon kind of guy, and these fit my Tracker 3 just fine), and the oversized zip pocket on the bib is swell for stashing maps, a buff, or a transceiver if you prefer; Lots of room and pockets to stash stuff in these well-designed pantaloons.
The fit isn’t mega baggy and as a guy whose hips are just below my armpits I really like the leg length on these. Additionally, the contrast fabric on the thigh zip pockets lends some extra flair to a shell/touring beast pant that can often wind up as little more than water repellent rectangle-man leg-sleeves = Good style points and balance between form and function! And thanks for providing a review pair other than classic black!
I also really dug the loop on the back of the bibs that interfaced with a competing brand’s inner jacket snap- Not even a gale force wind could part my upper and lower layers once I had this going on, and not to keep harping on a point, but the fact these didn’t make me feel like Captain Highliner was awesome- Comfy GORE-TEX yes, garbage-bag/rubber-slicker whilst whaling, no.
Another thing I look for in a bib is how chunky the eyelets (is that the word?) for tightening and loosening the suspenders are. They shouldn’t be like coat hangers clanging around on your chest, and thankfully Mountain Hardwear really nailed it in this regard, too. The interface between the bib and strap(s) is small and understated and shouldn’t get death-stamped into your collar bone or clavicle by backpack straps. Big days in the backcountry, and additional punishment on your body shouldn’t be a thing.
On the topic of vents/venting, the zip vents are, again, thoughtfully placed for the flatulent or hip-sweaty. For my leggy-ness, the side-situated zippers run from mid-back to just below the butt-cheek. For those of you who prefer crotch venting, these may not fit the bill for you. Similarlky, if your most dank zones extend from your hip to your knee, the provided zip-vents may not quite meet your needs, either.
Another consideration that may have some folks balk at pulling the trigger on/in these bibs are the gaiters. I ride the touring specific, drop-back, Boa assist Jones 32 Boots, and found that no matter how much I loosened off the bib straps (thereby dropping the crotch of the bib pants into the barely-above-my-knee zone and compromising my stride length), the gaiters simply weren’t long enough to stay below my boot top. That is, they kept working their way up my boot and eventually letting snow in the boot top and drop-back. I even cinched the boots all the way up at one point to make sure it wasn’t just a boot model issue, stutter-stepped around with the upper cranked Boa-style, and the gaiters still rode up and offered little to no protection after a few more measly strides forward.
Other than that, though, these bibs are banger. I think Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bibs ($399.95) could benefit from having their gaiters run a couple inches longer in the pant leg, but other than that I was upper pumped on the fit, performance, etc… It is a consideration that’s not to be taken lightly, though, as snow-stuffed boots and wet feet are not so great. Disclaimer, though- I could probably take shorter steps on the uptrack, and we did end up breaking trail in a foot of low density fresh pow for much of the day.