Freeride ski trousers need to be a cut above your standard ski or snowboard pants. They should be more waterproof, have better breathability and provide great freedom of movement. Read this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review to find out if they make the grade.
Testing Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant
I tested the Elevate pants while snowboarding in Tignes. Conditions were mostly sunny and it was warm one day with temperatures hovering around freezing. The temperature dropped to around -10°C (15°F) the next day accompanied by a chilling breeze.
The pistes were in great condition and off-piste there was a little powder up high. Although I headed away from the slopes for a bit of a play, unfortunately snow was thin and freeriding was not really on the cards.
So to properly conduct this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review I put them through their paces mainly on piste, blasting around and doing some freestyle. I also went for a rainy hike in the UK to test breathability and waterproofness.
Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review
As far as I am concerned, the most important qualities for freeride ski trousers is that they are perfectly waterproof and windproof keeping you warm and dry whatever the weather. That they are breathable to allow sweat escape during climbs and that they do not restrict your movement.
Waterproof and windproof
As my time on the slopes for this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review was in sunny conditions, I could not test how waterproof they are. Fortunately I live on the edge of the South Downs National Park so I wore them for a hilly hike in the rain.
The Elevate Shell pants use Helly Tech® Professional material which provides 20,000mm waterproofness. Combined with YKK® Aquaguard® water resistant zippers, they should keep you dry all day whatever the mountain throws at you.
I spent around two hours hiking in moderate to heavy rain and the Elevate pants kept me perfectly dry. Moisture beads away quickly and the fully-sealed seams ensure nothing comes through at the weak points.
What keeps you dry also keeps the wind out. On the second afternoon snowboarding a breeze picked up but these Helly Hansen freeride ski trousers kept it at bay.
Furthermore, I regularly snowboard at over 50 kph. At that speed the wind is strong, but I never noticed a draft around my legs, except when I had opened the vents to cool down.
The Helly Hansen Elevate Shell pants are made from a three layer construction, but this does not include any insulation. My instinct tells me that they should not be very warm, as essentially they are just a pair of waterproof trousers.
However, worn with a baselayer I found them just about OK in -10°C (15°F) conditions with a strong breeze for a short while. I think if temperatures were below -15°C (5°F), or it was going to be -10°C (15°F) all day I might start to feel cold if I didn’t chuck on an extra baselayer.
However, I did notice the lack of insulation when sitting and kneeling in the snow and on icy chairlifts. But overall I found I was snowboarding with the vents open more often than closed, which to me demonstrates how warm these Helly Hansen freeride ski trousers are, particularly for shell pants.
The 3 ply fabric construction comes with FLOW membrane to provide ‘unparalleled breathability’. Plus there are leg vents on the outside of the legs to let fresh air in – and sweaty air out – which you can use when you get too hot.
I found when snowboarding hard or putting effort in hiking, that although I was sweating it did not build up on the inside of the trousers. This means you stay dry which helps to keep you warm.
The leg vents work well when you get too warm. However I would prefer them on the inside of the legs. On the outside I found they collected snow more easily when I fell or sat down – less of an issue for skiers. Also I expect having them open when in powder would lead to a lot of snow in your pants as there is no mesh to stop it getting in.
I find I am sweatier on the inside then the outside of my legs, so it seems a strange place to put the vents. But they do a great job of cooling you down, and would be perfect when for hiking for lines or ski-touring – just remember to close them before you you start riding that well-earned powder.
Comfort and freedom of movement
No Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review would be complete without talking about comfort. I found them very nice to wear, the inner lining is soft and slightly warming to touch, plus the waistband can be adjusted to the perfect width with large velcro straps.
In my opinion, freeride ski trousers need to be a little baggy to allow you to move, whilst not being properly baggy to snag on things. The Elevate pants have a relaxed fit which I feel is just about perfect as there is plenty of space and I never felt restricted.
Even when doing grabs and 360s I did not notice the trousers which to me is a sign of them doing a good job. Compared to some other ski trousers I have tried on, Helly Hansen have got the fit perfect for snowboarders and freeskiers.
Being freeride ski trousers the Elevate pants include Recco® advanced rescue system. Remember, this is not a replacement for an avalanche beacon, and is unlikely to save you in an avalanche – but every bit of extra protection is welcome.
There is also a hand pocket that is designed for avalanche beacons. I have to say I am not sure about this, technically the two big pockets could accommodate a beacon, but I am not sure why you would put it in a pocket when it is meant to be strapped to your torso under your outer layers, plus it could bang against your leg.
This aside the position and shape of the pockets is excellent. They are halfway between traditional hand pockets and cargo pockets, which means they are lowered to provide ease of access. They are easy to use when sat in a chairlift and whilst wearing an avalanche pack.
If you are going to be riding powder you don’t want to get snow inside your pants. With this in mind the Elevate pants button onto Helly Hansen jackets.
During this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review I was wearing the HH Ridge Shell jacket and they integrate very well. However, I did find with the outer top and bottoms joined together that my midlayer rucked up a bit, but that was more to do with my midlayer being too short to tuck in.
The boot gaiters use stretch silicone gripper to keep the bottom of the pants in place. This is better than the metal clips of old, as there is nothing painful to tread on before you put your boots on.
There is also robust reinforcement in the heel area and bottom hem. Along with edge protection this will increase the life of your Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pants. Particularly useful if you are short like me and you end up walking on them,.
Helly Hansen Freeride ski trousers: Conclusion
To conclude this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review, I’d say they are the best pairs of shell pants I have ever owned. I normally go for trousers with some insulation and was pleasantly surprised how warm they are without any.
The waterproofness and wind stopping qualities are excellent as is the breathability. The only thing I am not hugely keen on is the vents on the outside rather than inside of the legs, and that they don’t have any mesh to stop snow from getting in. Although this would be less of an issue for skiers.
The Elevate features make these excellent freeride ski trousers. They are very comfortable, never restrict your movement and look good. I thoroughly recommend these trousers, not just for those who like to freeride but anyone looking for a high quality pair of ski trousers.
I hope you found this Helly Hansen Elevate Shell Pant review useful. They come in Ivy Green, Cinnamon, Winter Aqua or Graphite and cost £320, you can pick up a pair here: www.hellyhansen.com/elevate-shell-pant