By: Blonde One

Waterproof trousers: an important piece of outdoor gear

We are quite interested in waterproofing obviously; we have commented on tents, coats, skin and now trousers. 

If there’s one piece of outdoor kit that can make or break a DofE or Ten Tors participants success on expedition it seems to be waterproof trousers. It seems that boots generally are purchased with longevity in mind, waterproof coats are more likely to be used in everyday life and so more money can be spent on them to get good quality. Some of my teams have had some recent bad luck though with waterproof trousers. We have had ones that have split at the seams; embarrassing and inconvenient! We have had some that were not designed very well (by a man I assume!!) as they had open pockets. We all know that Dartmoor rain falls sideways so it went straight behind the waterproof layer and got the whole leg soaked. There is always an abundance of pack-a-mac style trousers that might be ok for some activities (maybe Bronze DofE) but do not stand up to the thrashing that they get on Dartmoor. It seems that no matter how careful you are with them they do not stand up well to the harsh conditions that they claim to be designed for. One of our Gold DofE students has recently had a run of bad luck with his. He is a very conscientious and considerate young man but waterproof trousers have been conspiring against him. Between the barbed wire and the Dartmoor peat (with its clothing rotting properties) he has seen off three pairs lately.


The trouble with waterproof trousers is they are expensive and they don’t get used a great deal in everyday life. It is not the done thing to don a pair of these unflattering trousers for a shopping trip with a friend. You don’t usually put them on for a Sunday afternoon stroll on the beach. Therefore they are not a staple item in a lot of people’s cupboards. Doing outdoor activities at school takes commitment from the student but also the family that support them and it is understandable that they don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on all the best new kit! My solution so far is to have a small number of second hand pairs that I can lend. It’s working so far, but only just!

It’s also important to look after your trousers properly to help them to last a bit longer. The main piece of advice I would give after a Dartmoor day is to wash off the peat as quickly as possible.