Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants – Long Term Usage Review

Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants:

I have been looking forward to writing a review about the Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants for a rather long time. This month I passed the 365-day mark for wearing a single pair of the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants through snow, rain, hail, fog, beautify sunny days, more fog, and more snow and hail. They have been used as my primary pants on every hiking trip I have been on since 2010, have wore them for well over 1200 miles, and encountered every conceivable type of abuse I could think of to try to destroy these pants.

After 1,200 miles of use, an entire year of wearing them (I am at around 375 days as of today’s hike) they have suffered the following damage:

  • The little metal rings for the draw cords on the waist ripped out of the fabric. The first one happened while I was hiking at Gold Bluff Beach in Northern California (see my video) and the second came off when I was on a trip up into the Trinity Alps (see that video). Nether of there were a rush of the draw cords getting caught on a branch or bush or such, they just ripped off on their own. Thankfully it did not result in any additional rippage of the material and all I did was tie a knot in the draw cord to keep the cord from pulling through the slightly larger holes. This is the only ‘defect’ they have suffered, the below two issues were/are my own fault!
  • A small section of threads came loose in the crotch region at around the 200 day mark. It was my own fault. I had them pulled down right against my shoe (thanks to the elasticize drawstring in the ankles that allow you to pull the ankles tight and than put the elastic down around your foot inside of your shoe – love this feature!) and than I proceeded to sit down indian style and caused the slight thread pulling to happen. Thankfully was not big enough to reveal anything ;)
  • Lastly, one small fire hole happened about four inches from the bottom where an ember from a fire ember somehow got lucky. Now I do not think it is wise to stand in front of a fire in a pair of 12-denier rip-stop Ballistic Airlight nylon, but lets just say that on multiple occasions it has been documented that I have stood right next to a fire with these pants just getting nailed my sparks and such and they took it all in style. Again, I do not advise that, just felt like I should explain why the pants might have happened to suffer a hole from a spark from a fire ;)

I think it is beyond fair to say that I have put these pants through much broader conditions than they were ever designed to be.

They may not be as light as the Mont-Bell U.L. Wind Pants (which are 0.4 ounces lighter) and they are made with slightly less abusive resistant material, but these Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants have more than proven themselves to me. They received my #2 award for my “10 Favorite Pieces of Hiking Gear for 2011” and to be honest, they could have just as easily be listed at #1 and maybe should have been.

I have had them on in 102 degree weather and they did not get clammy on me or start sticking to my legs, which I expected them to do at that temperature. I have also had them on down to 18f with a base and mid layer on and was able to move freely without any problems at all.

I have slide down snow fields, walked through blackberry bushes (probably the worst thing ever for ul/sul/xul hiking cloths), walked through fields of 6-8 foot tall ferns (if you did not know, ferns when they get that big, are about as nasty has blackberry bushes), I have posthold with them, I have crossed raging rivers with them, I have strolled along the beach and even done some bushwhacking with them. I have had to crawl up than down Redwood Trees that had fallen across trail, scrambled up and down bolder granite faces, slept in them, washed them in rivers, and waded through mud and muck that I wish I could forget I had waded through. No matter what I have done these pants have been spectacular. They have totally and completely gone beyond my expectations.

Whether you are a heavy hauler, a weekender, a devoted ultra lighter hiker, or somebody that has moved into the super ultra light and extreme ultra light world of hiking, the Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants receive the highest level of praise I can given any piece of gear I have ever bought.

John B. Abela

disclaimer: this product was purchased by the reviewer with their own money and it was not provided by any company for testing and review.

27 thoughts on “Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants – Long Term Usage Review

    1. Hey Shelly,

      Check out the Montbell U.L. Wind Pants as they are unisex, 0.4 ounces lighter and use stronger material. The only thing they lack over the Dynamo pants in regards to features is a lack of zippers at the bottom of the legs. I keep waiting for them to go on sale so I can get a pair and try out to compare them to the Dynamo. Everything about them appears to be better (minus leg zippers.)

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  1. John thanks for the great review.
    I noticed they do not have pockets. Do you wear these over regular shorts with pockets or do you just do with out pockets while hiking. I am thinking these would be a better alternative to the zip off legs I have been using with my shorts and much lighter too. With the elastic waist band I suppose I could wear them over my shorts in the mornings and evenings and reach under the waist band to get at my pockets?

    1. Hey Steve,

      I almost never wear shorts. When I do I tend to slip on the GoLite Mesa Trail 5″ or 9″. The few times I have taken them out and than the cold ocean wind came up I did end up putting the MB Dynamo pants on over them. The process worked out well and is something I am considering for a hike in May that I will be expecting 105f temperatures (average temp where I live is 58f).

      I do not use pockets of any sort, so I am probably the wrong person to ask about using them. No pockets on my pants or jackets, and no pockets on my primary backpacks either. Just my hiking style. HYOH.

      The elastic band on the top is very good on my pair, and if you do not need leg zippers go with the UL Wind Pants and save yourself 0.4 ounces.

  2. Hey John. I learned something yesterday that was a surprise to me and I thought I’d pass it along. At Montbell unisex sizing is exactly the same as men’s, with the exception that they add an XS to the line-up. Bummer for those of us who don’t have male figures…. go figure.

    1. Hey Shelly, sorry for not responding. I was out on a long distance hike when you posted this. Yeah MB pretty much does not cater all that much to the female population. They are adding more and more products each season for women, as are most of the manufacturer these days, which is awesome!!

      1. MontBell in Japan very much does cater to women. Fully half of their line-up, plus special extras for women’s needs, are completely for women. The problem in MontBell America is that although Japanese men’s sizes are readily exported to America and the men there can pretty much fit into the same sizes, Japanese women and American women vary much more greatly (Japanese women tend to be very petite, with small hips and busts), and it is difficult for MontBell to set up a completely new lineup just for American women. A big part of the reluctance of MontBell to get too committed to America is that back around 2000 a large number of American retailers put in a huge order for products from MontBell Japan, and then dropped all the items. It was so bad that MontBell America, after only a year of operation, went bankrupt, and for a number of years they refused to do business with Americans again. They’re slowly gaining back their reputation there and the clothing and gear is increasing every year.

        No affiliation with MB… just an enthusiastic, Japan-based user of their gear since 1978.

    1. Hey Ron, thanks for stopping by and letting me know!! Yeah the U.L. has been pretty much out of stock since I posted this article. Before I posted this the UL was in stock all over the place, now it is almost impossible to find. I keep trying to find a pair for myself and freaking nobody has them. Even hitup my source at MB for a pair and that did not help. Regardless, the Dynamo pants are pretty much the same thing, just different material and a bit heavier because of the leg zippers (which I will admit, have been nice a few times). Checked out your website. It is nice to see a hiker blog about stuff other than just hiking.

  3. Hi John,

    Some of your gear is pretty amazing, downright exotic even.

    Pants are such a personal item, and like you, it’s not like I can try these on or touch the fabric locally before buying, so my question is how do you know by looking at a catalog just how a product such as these Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants are the right choice? Do you order and then have to return lots of stuff?

    I’m up the beach from you, in Bandon Oregon.


    1. Hey Bob,

      In my quest to get to the SUL world I bought a *lot* of gear – thousands of dollars worth of gear. I bought and sold gear really fast (thank you lol) in an attempt to find exactly what worked for me. I was pretty much a poor man for a year of my life (well, already am, but you know, a poorer man lol).

      The MB Dynamo pants were the second pants that I tried. The first were some by OR and they were amazing, but way to heavy once I reached the SUL level, and were not all-day pants.

      I think it is safe to say that I have used these dynamo pants far above and beyond what anybody else out there has – and what they were designed for.

      Montbell in their mots recent newsletter said this about “wind shells” – and I think they really nailed it:

      “they are not wind proof. They are not water proof. They do not have ‘bomber’ construction. So why are the essential when trying to add performance to a layering system? …(yaddah-yaddah-yaddah a bunch of marketing crap)… A wind shell and a quality base layer can provide you with the protection necessary to concerve and manage body heat… these ultra-light layers excell when counted on to preven convective heat loss by sheilding you from chilly gusts and light precipitation.” (hope MB does not mind me posting this… but it is just so amazingly dead-on in what is so very right when it comes to these 12 and 15 denier jackets and pants that they are selling.

      These dynamo pants and the Montbell Tachyon Anorak and the Black Rock Gear Vest make for an unbelievable amazing UL/SUL/XUL outer layering system.

      If you are ever for driving down to the crazy state of CA and want to get out for a hike let me know!!


        1. Hey Scott,

          Well the dynamo material is far from a waterproof material so pretty much “not at all” would be my answer.

          I can walk through a field of tall grass in the morning and my legs are soaked by the time I get through the grass. But I do not care because I have come to accept getting wet (living in the middle of a rain forest helps with that) is just a natural part of hiking.

          I have not bothered to apply DWR spray on them, though I suppose that could help.

          In the end I would say these are far from a pair of rain paints. In fact, totally worthless as a pair of rain pants.


          1. I can answer this. Not well. LOL They hold up for a light sprinkle, but anything harder, or of you touch them, they get wet. First place leaks for me is where my thumbs touche the side of my pants when I walk. They are AMAZING and giving you warmth for such a small light package. I will have them always.

    1. Hey there Anthony,

      I have personally never owned any gear from RAB so I am not at all able to comment on the Cirrus pants.

      In looking at them, they do look pretty sweet. Something that bothers me is these “drawcords”. And not just at the ankle but at knee height. Drawcords might be more convenient and less prone to fail, but they are also something that will get caught on bushes, ferns, cactus, and other plants low to the ground. Just something to ponder on/about is all.

      1. yea i hear you on that. i emailed the company and they never made it to production. i was just looking at my dynamo pants and found that they have an accessible drawcord around the ankles which i never noticed. now that ive cinched them up a bit they seem to fit much better. you could easily add a cord lock to them to make it easier for adjustment. id rather not have the added weight and just tie them off :)

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