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ProView – Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque Lite Pants

The Outdoor Research Cirque Lite pants are are an extension of the existent – and excellent – OR Cirque line. They are a lightweight, breathable softshell pant that offer the right amount of protection to be useful, but they may lack in the durability department. 

Outdoor Research Men's Cirque Lite Pants

Product Description: A sibling to the classic Cirque II Pants, the Cirque Lite brings a modern design and lighter weight for rock and alpine adventures spring-to-fall. The Cirque wearer travels through a range of ecosystems before landing their objective, which is why these pants were built to be lightweight for the approach, durable for the climb, and warm enough for the summit. A scuff guard protects yourself from crampon punctures, and a gathered cuff and narrow lower leg streamlines your footwork and visibility while rock climbing. We shaved excess fabric and weight from the Cirque Lite's waistband so it would remain comfortable underneath your harness, and a zip thigh pocket falls beneath your harness as well.

Offer price: MSRP: $120.00

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Durability
    (4)
  • Eco-Friendly
    (3)

Summary

Overall, the Cirque Lites are a great, if not somewhat niche, addition to OR’s outstanding softshell pant lineup. If you have warmer weather snow and mixed objectives or colder weather rock objectives, these pants will shine in keeping you warm and comfortable while on the move. 

Overall
4.2

Pros

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Tons of features and pockets

Cons

  • Don’t expect them to be super durable
  • Small crampon patches
  • Odd waist closure system

Performance

I tested the Cirque Lites in some very disparate environments. First, I took them ski touring and snow climbing. On that day, temperatures hovered around 15-20 degrees. The pants excelled during high outputs times, touring and climbing. Once stopped, though, they tended to lose heat quickly and offer much less water resistance than the Cirques pants. After a few minutes of resting and leaning against snow, my legs were slightly damp.

Secondly, I tested these pants on a few cold days sport climbing in Utah. Understandably, these pants are not intended for sandstone sport climbing, but I feel that the temperatures (high 30’s, low 40’s) were more emblematic of the type of weather OR intends these pants to be used in (similar to late May, early June snow and mixed climbing in Colorado, but I didn’t have a chance to test in those environments). In those weather conditions, I absolutely loved the warmth of the Cirque Lites. They cut wind and provided warmth in a way that my regular, warmer weather rock pants simply do not. 

Fit/Comfort 

A major benefit of the Lites over the original Ciruqe pants is how flexible they are. I love the original Cirques, but they could feel a tad bulky and thick at times. The Lites neatly combine some of the protection of the Cirques with all the flexibility of a summer rock pant. 

Also, these pants are majorly comfortable. They have an athletic trim that makes them feel snug but doesn’t cause them to become tight and restrictive. I am a 30 x 30 pant size and the mediums fit me very well. 

A detractor from the overall quality of the Lites is their tightening mechanism for the waist of the pants. They have conveniently included two snap button closures to allow for different waist sizes, but that is the only tightening mechanism. Thus, if neither of those button sizes fit your waist well, you’ll need to change pant size or wear a belt, which would be a major pain. 

Look/Style

I really enjoy the updated look of the Cirque Lites as compared to the original Cirques. They are more subtle, streamlined, and modern. I have the black version, so the crampon protector on the inside of each leg also blends in very seamlessly.

Features

These pants have pockets! As a photographer, asthmatic, and fair-skinned person, I place a lot of emphasis on exterior pockets on all of my clothing. The Cirque Lites have them in spades. There are (all zippered) two front pockets, a back right pocket, and a front right thigh pocket. The thigh pocket is situated low enough (finally!) that items can be accessed while wearing a harness.

outdoor-research-ciirque-lite-pant-review-dirtbagdreams.com

The crampon patch on these pants is tricky to evaluate. On one hand, the patch is very small compared to other ice climbing/mountaineering pants that I use. On the other hand, the pants are intended to be light. Above all else, I generally think that each person is either the kind of person who sticks themselves or not. So, I think the size of the protection is a bonus if you’re not prone to needing it, and it is a detractor if you have ice climbing pants riddled with holes. 

Weight/Packability

As discussed previously, these pants are light. The Cirque Lites have a reported weight of 13.6 ounces, only 66% of the original Cirques. I think that is an incredibly feature-to-weight ratio. I don’t think the packability of these pants is much of a concern in a practical sense. 

Durability/Construction

A major concern of mine in regards to the Cirque Lite pants is their durability. I love that they are lightweight, but this obviously comes at a cost. While I have not put any holes in these pants yet, they feel significantly lighter and flimsier than the Cirques. It will be interesting to see how these pants hold up after several washes and more climbs. 

Friendliness to the Earth

Unsurprisingly, specific information about the eco-friendly stance of Outdoor Research is somewhat hard to come by. That being said, they are a member of the Conservation Alliance – a group of “like-mind companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations.

The Final Word

Overall, the Cirque Lites are a great, if not somewhat niche, addition to OR’s outstanding softshell pant lineup. If you have warmer weather snow and mixed objectives or colder weather rock objectives, these pants will shine in keeping you warm and comfortable while on the move. 

Shop the Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque Lite Pants on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
Patrick O’Hare

Patrick O’Hare is a Senior Climbing Guide at Front Range Climbing Company. He has been working in outdoor education for eight years and loves helping individuals progress in their climbing careers. You can keep up with his climbing and photography @pjophoto. 

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