A short while ago some of you may remember an honest review I wrote about the Hillman XPR coat, supplied by Venator Pro Ltd in the U.K., and at the end of the article I mentioned that I might invest in the Hillman XPR trousers. Well, I did and this is what I think of them.
Like the jacket, not having seen the trousers I was a little cautious about investing in this item of clothing. However as soon as they arrived all my fears were instantly put to rest. When you are in these kind of trousers all day, with pockets and belt fully loaded, in various terrains and weather conditions, often crawling along the ground in mud and snow or wading through streams and crossing ditches, one of the most important requirements is that they stay up where you want them. This is where Hillman XPR trousers excel. They have a detachable braces system which can be removed if you just prefer a belt, but for me this is why I bought them. The back section of the braces consists of a comfortable section of material with a concealed pocket designed to take the Hillman Heatmax 3 heating system. This section then zips to the back of the waist band and two straps come over the shoulders and attach at the front of the waistband. Wearing these trousers with the braces attached is a delight as they always stay in place and are always comfortable to walk in.
,There is no shortage of pockets on these trousers. On each thigh there are three on each side. Two slightly higher up nearer the waist, one small enough to secure a mobile phone and the other slightly larger and deeper. The main pocket on each side is massive and big enough to hold a box of 12 bore cartridges if needed. Inside each of these pockets is elasticated ammo loops for both shotgun and rifle. The pocket themselves have both a stud fastening and magnetic closures, so if you forget to fasten them shut the magnets do their job in keeping you items secure. One of the things that really impressed me about these large thigh pockets is that they have a sloped opening designed in such a way that if you are sitting down, in a high seat for instance, you can still access them easily without everything falling out.
Other features that I really like and makes the trousers comfortable to wear is that the top of the legs have waterproof ventilation zips for when the going gets hot (and yes they really do work), the shaped knees that are really usefully when kneeling down or climbing and the fact that there is an adjustable fastening on the ankles, giving a good fit over your boots or making it easier to use wellingtons if you prefer.
In the short time that I have had these trousers I have pretty much done everything possible to test them out to see if they fail in any way. They have been used here in the U.K. and came with me to Finland (where one of my hosts made me jealous with their Hillman Gamewear 3D hoodies), for deer tracking and deer stalking, duck hunting and fishing at sea, they have been used in the sun, snow and torrential rain. They have been used in temperatures up to 20°C and as low as -7°C at which time they were worn with thermal underwear, and have never once given me any cause for concern. On this point it worth mentioning that the trousers do have an adjustable waistband that allows you to wear them over additional clothing without sacrificing the fit. In fact they are so comfortable being warm in the cold and cool enough in the heat, that unlike many trousers of this type you do not feel the need to take them off at the end of the day.
There is no doubt in my mind that the comfort, warmth and versatility of the XPR Trousers (and Jacket) contributed to the success of me hunting this medal Whitetail deer in Finland, whilst enduring sub-zero temperatures.
In conclusion. These trousers a now my 'go to' trousers for any of the above mentioned activities and more. If I do much more sub zero work in them I would like the Hillman Heatmax 3 system to fit in the back area when high seat hunting for instance, but that would just be a luxury and not a necessity. These are a truly great trouser that really are waterproof and comfortable. If I had any complaints at all it would just be that the waterproof membrane, like the jacket can be noisy when moving around. That said it does work so maybe a small price to pay, and if stalking properly, i.e. slowly, is not a problem.
For full details of the Hillman range checkout Venator Pro: http://www.venatorpro.com/product/hillman-xpr-pants-oak/ and for the Hillman video of these trousers: https://youtu.be/ZAdKFZ8O3Y4