Outdoor Research Carbide Bib Review
Cons: Not warm, short on features, muted style
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Outdoor Research Carbide Bib
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|Pros||Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation, inexpensive||Great performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathable||Great value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibes||Stretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathable||Affordable, warm, comfortable|
|Cons||Not warm, short on features, muted style||Lacks good style and warmth, average comfort||Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent design||Not waterproof, thin material, climbing style||Light on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style|
|Bottom Line||These are great bibs that keep the weather out and fit well, at an affordable price||An affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and features||A good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pants||Durable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin track||An affordable and warm pair of ski pants with a bland style|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Ca...||Outdoor Research Sk...||The North Face Free...||Outdoor Research Tr...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Ca...||Outdoor Research Sk...||The North Face Free...||Outdoor Research Tr...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Main fabric||100% nylon 40D||88% Nylon, 12% Spandex||100% Nylon||87% nylon, 13% spandex||Nylon|
|Insulation||None||None||60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled)||None||Recycled polyester|
|Waterproofing||Pertex Shield 3L||AscentShell||DryVent (2-layer)||Pertex Shield+ (partial)||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate|
|Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?)||Bibs||Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops||Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops||Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops||Button zip fly with hook/loop adjustment|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.64 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.69 lbs||1.64 lbs|
|Weight (in grams)||744 g||599 g||599 g||767 g||744 g|
|# of Pockets||3||4||3||4||3|
|Vents?||Exterior thigh||Inner thigh zips||Inner thigh zips, with mesh||Exterior thigh zips, with mesh||Interior thigh zips|
|Ski-specific features||Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards||Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs||beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, elastic waist|
Our Analysis and Test Results
These bibs perform well in the weather resistance and ventilation departments, but they separate themselves from other bibs in the Fit and Comfort metric. Where other bibs come up short, the Carbide pulls off a feat of garment engineering in terms of comfort and tailoring.
Weather resistance is the most important metric in ski pants generally, and it is also the primary reason why bibs were developed in the first place. The Carbide performs well in this category compared to most other ski pants on the market. These bibs use Pertex Shield as the hardshell material. In our experience, this fabric is almost as waterproof and breathable as the more commonly-known Gore-Tex, while enabling a garment to be sold at a much more reasonable price. In our testing, water never penetrated the pants through the shell fabric. The pocket zippers are not waterproof, which is disappointing, but they are covered by effective storm flaps. In our 5-minute shower test, water eventually started to seep into the pockets through these zippers, but since the pockets are made of Pertex Shield as well, water never made it into the leg compartments.
Fit and Comfort
We are blown away by the comfortable and sharp fit the Carbide brings to the table. These bibs fit through the leg like nicely tailored pants do, and only open up above the waist, making the legs feel sleek and contoured, while the torso feels comfortably loose, to the point where we forget that we are even wearing bibs. The shell fabric is not as crinkly and stiff as Gore-Tex or other heavy-duty proprietary hard shells, feeling soft on the skin of the user's' legs or through lower body base layers. If you are in the market for hardshell ski pants and haven't considered bibs, put these on your list. You will barely notice that they are more than just ski pants regarding comfort.
Most ventilation is accomplished with zippered vents that open the pant to the outside environment and through breathable shell materials that allow airflow through the fabric itself. The Carbide Bib features long external thigh zippered leg vents. These vents are very effective at promoting airflow and venting out warm air from the interior of the pants. Since bibs cover the user's torso, which is one of the warmest areas of the body, it is extra important that bibs have good ventilation to provide comfort on warm days and during high-output activities. The Pertex Shield fabric feels relatively breathable compared to other technical hardshell materials that we've tested.
The Carbide's Pertex Shield fabric is soft and thin, especially when compared to Gore-Tex and proprietary membranes found in other bibs. It makes these pants feel less warm because there is less of a physical barrier preventing the conduction of heat away from the skin on, say, cold chairlift seats. The phenomenon also makes the fabric feel more breathable, although the cooler temperatures could very well be due to more heat being conducted away from the body and less due to the fabric being ultra-breathable. Either way, these pants don't retain much warmth, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you layer underneath.
The Carbide is on the minimalist side for a bib pant. This helps keep the weight down for backcountry versatility, but it also means that these bibs come up short compared to the competition for inbounds bibs. It has two large hand pockets that are very deep, and one has an internal mesh sleeve and clip for an avalanche transceiver. There is also a chest pocket on the torso panel, which is less useful because this pocket is often buried beneath upper body layers. The pants have belt loops and one side zip that extends from the top of the bib near the armpit down to near the knee for easy entry. The suspenders release with a click, and the bibs also have a front crotch zipper for making bathroom breaks more convenient. The cuffs have large scuff patches to aid in longevity, and the elastic powder cuffs have small slots so that power straps can be adjusted without pulling up and down on the powder cuffs. This also adds to the durability of the pants, as the powder cuffs are often the first thing to be destroyed through normal wear and tear.
The Carbide is less baggy and loose than other bibs that we have tested in the past, which is a good thing. Still, they don't quite look as "cool" as we wish they did. The fit of the Carbide is the most notable attribute to their style, which is relatively slim and athletic in appearance. The legs are gently tapered from the hips to the knees without producing too much of a curvy appearance. There isn't too much extra material throughout the thighs, knees, and boot cuffs, preventing a baggy and loose look. We wish the color schemes were more intriguing, as the pants are only offered in navy/purplish-blue, burnt red, and black.
For the performance, these bibs are a great value. They combine excellent weather resistance, a comfortable and athletic fit, and decent style and features into an affordable package that swings well above its weight in terms of price. After testing these bibs, we expected the price tag to be significantly higher. If you are looking for a more stylish pant, you'll have to spend more money.
The OR Carbide Bib is weather-resistant and a comfortable option for both resort and backcountry skiers. It also scores highly for ventilation and has enough features and style to get by on the hill. And despite this high performance, it also comes at an affordable price. If you are looking for protective pair of ski pants for regular use on the hill, even if you don't think you want a bib, consider the Carbide.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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