L. L. Bean’s Technical Upland Pants have delighted me, really, for two seasons now. In our increasingly disposable world, it’s a relief to know they still make them. I plan to get a second pair soon just in case they lose their contract with the factory in China that makes them, or however the story tends to go these days.
It’s pretty simple, for me, why they’re the best pants I’ve used hunting chukar: they do not bind when walking up steep hills; they’re comfortable (probably the most comfortable pants of any kind I own); they’re designed well; and they’re incredibly durable. I’m a big fan of wool, for both aesthetic and functional reasons. But these pants are total nylon, man, and I don’t care. They work. I’ve worn other pants that work, too, but I never think about these when I’m on the StairMaster from hell trying to catch up with Angus’ creep on an ascending covey. That’s unprecedented in pants I’ve worn. In the early season, other pants – such as the Wrangler cotton upland pants I loved for years until I tore huge holes on the butt cheeks, or even the early season pants I reviewed a couple years ago – have gotten saturated with sweat and clammified my quads and kneecaps during climbs. These stretch like “articulated knee” softshell spirits helping me uphill. Listen to me. I’m talking about pants. But I mean it. I cannot lie about pants. I’m sorry.
Did I say they’re comfortable? They are. Period.They also fit nicely, which is good for getting the chicks on the hill, you know? I’m talking about the birds. As mentioned, my wife thinks they make me look fat. You be the judge, if you dare. These pants are durable, too. I have hiked more than 200 miles in them so far, and am seeing only a tiny bit of wear (slight, slight fraying) down just above the boot guard where my legs rub together because of the boot protrusions. Speaking of the boot guards, they are cool! It’s a kind of pebbly, stiff fabric that has never picked up a single sticker or piece of cheatgrass. Bean describes them thusly: “Epoxy-resin-coated guard plates on hems will never fray.” Yeah. They also have enough pockets, a cool sticky inside waistband that keeps your shirt from coming un-tucked, and adequate briar protection on the fronts, which also is at least as sticker-proof as other pants’ similar anti-briar patches.
All this for $129, which is a lot more than your old-fashioned jean-type upland pants, but pretty reasonable compared to other “technical” upland pants. I wear them year-round, even on butt-cold winter days without any long-johns (unnecessary). Pulling them out of the closet to get dressed for a day of bird pain always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Really. I cannot lie about pants. Deal with it.