Helly Hansen Legendary Pants
Inseam: 31.5”, Zipper Length: 5”
Weight: 18 oz (women’s medium)
Fabric: Helly Tech Performance 2L laminate fabric
- Fully seam sealed
- Fully insulated 2-layer construction
- WarmCore by PrimaLoft 60g
- Recco Advanced Rescue system
- Boot gaiters
- Reinforced bottom hem
- Waistband adjustment and belt loops
Reviewer: 5’6”, 125 lbs.
- Inseam: 30.5”
- Waist: 28”
Days Tested: 12
Test Locations: Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand
The Legendary pants are part of Helly Hansen’s Professional line. Slightly more affordable than their Performance products, the Legendary is still meant to handle all winter conditions, and it comes in both a women’s and a men’s version.
New Zealand’s club fields offer a combination of inbound skiing and easy-to-access backcountry terrain. I was looking for an insulated pair of pants that could keep me warm while I was lapping the rope tow, but that wouldn’t be too hot to hike in. I was also curious how the quality and performance of these relatively inexpensive pants would stack up against other more technical pants I’ve used.
Fit / Sizing
Helly Hansen claims that the Legendary has a “regular” fit, and I found this to be accurate. The pants are neither slim nor super baggy and they’re cut pretty straight to just below my knees. About halfway down the calf, the Legendary flares out into a looser fit, leaving plenty of room to pull the pant down around a ski boot.
As I’ve discussed in my previous ski pant reviews (Scott Explorair and Volkl Nanga), while I generally fall somewhere between a small and a medium, I almost always decide to size up to a medium. I find that while the waist usually fits with either size, I like to have a little extra room for more layers and a less restrictive feel. The only problem that I’ve encountered with the decision to size up is that the legs tend to run a bit long for me.
I was quite pleased to see that the Legendary has reinforced inner cuffs, so if I roll up the pants, the exposed inner material will still be able to withstand some abuse. If you’re worried about waist size, there are adjustable Velcro straps on both sides of your hips that let you cinch down the pants.
Compared to other medium pants I’ve worn, the Legendary fits fairly true to its stated size. Personally, I was happy I chose the medium over the small, since I appreciated the extra room for mobility and additional layers.
The Legendary’s adjustable waist straps are a nice addition, and there are also 2.5” belt loops if you prefer that option.
There are three pockets—one hand pocket on either side below the waist, and one pocket on the right rear side of the pant. The front pockets are well placed and deep enough to comfortably accommodate a cell phone, liner gloves, or a bar.
The Legendary has 12” mesh-lined vents on the inner side of each leg, a nice feature. I’ve worn many other insulated pants that didn’t have vents at all. These vents helped cool my legs during hikes or quick bootpacks, but I think they would have been more effective if they’d been placed on the outside of each leg. I know, insulated pants aren’t the best option for hiking, but I often felt that the air didn’t circulate well despite the open vents.
Warmth and Waterproofing
The Legendary is the least warm of the several insulated pants I’ve worn—including the Volkl Nanga and the Helly Hansen Pacer. That’s not to say that the pant’s 60g PrimaLoft insulation isn’t warm, but rather that it works across a relatively broad range of temperatures.
During the two weeks skiing at New Zealand’s club fields, we encountered mostly mild, spring conditions, with the occasional windy day and freezing temperatures. On most days, I wore a pair of CW-X insulator tights under the Helly Hansen pants and felt completely comfortable down to about 20 degrees. If temperatures had dropped much more, I think a few more layers would have been sufficient to keep me warm.
On days around 40 degrees, the Legendary pants felt pretty warm (especially during hikes), but I found that they weren’t quite as hot as other insulated pants I’ve used, and that they could be worn relatively comfortably in warmer temperatures. (Of course, on 40 degree days, shell pants would have been better, but the Legendary wasn’t unbearable like the Nanga might have been.)
The Legendary pants have a two-layer construction, which Helly Hansen claims to have a waterproof rating between 5,000-20,000mm (if you want to know exactly what this means, check out Sam Shaheen’s thorough Outerwear 101 article).
(Although Helly Hansen provides this rating, I should note that these numbers represent a huge waterproofing range. A rating of 5,000 isn’t very impressive, while 20,000 is probably a bit overkill.)
I found that even during mild bouts of precipitation, water did not bead on the Legendary pant. This is certainly a cause for concern, since brand new pants like this (no matter the cost) should always bead water.
Although the DWR did not seem to be fully effective, I didn’t experience water soaking through to my long underwear at the end of the rainy day. Rather, the Legendary pants felt heavy and damp.
The insulation in the Legendary pants is warm enough for those below-freezing days (although as I mentioned above, it’s not as warm as some other insulated pants I’ve worn), but I found I would overheat quickly on hikes or bootpacks.
Since the fabric isn’t very breathable, it would have been nice to have greater air movement flowing into and out of the pant. As I mentioned above, I think it would help to have the 12-inch vents on the outside, rather than the inside, of the legs.
In his review of the Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Jacket, Dana Allen calls that jacket as breathable as PolarTec Neoshell. The Odin he tested features Helly Hansen’s top-of-the-line professional fabric, while the pants I tested use the second-tier performance fabric. I’d tested the Verglas Jacket (which also has the professional fabric), and it too was more breathable and more waterproof than the Legendary pants.
Helly Hansen does indeed offer pants with the professional fabric, but they cost about $200 more than the Legendary. I can’t say whether or not the pants are as breathable or as waterproof as the Odin or the Verglas jackets, but it’s something to keep in mind…
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