REVIEWED: Columbia Women’s Back Beauty Passo Alto Heat Pant

These smart-looking winter walking trousers claim to retain the wearer’s own body heat using thermal reflective tech, but are they hot property on a hike?

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They look like party trousers. OK, so they’re simple black on the outside, but inside the Back Beauty Passo Alto Heat Pant are lined with silver slabs of foil, or what Colombia calls Omni-heat technology. Dressed-up in out Sunday for the great outdoors, we headed out to Iceland in winter – where the temperatures never rose much above freezing – to give them a good test.

Foil lining

The mid-rise waste initially felt a bit high, and the apparent foil lining was an early concern, but both worries proved unnecessary. Even on days when extra thermals were required underneath the fabrics didn’t seem to fight each other as you might expect.

Wind chill factor

With bonus wind chill and buckets of rain and snow in Iceland, the Back Beauty Passo Altos underwent a rigorous test. The outer soft-shell worked well as a wind cheater, and the thermally-protective backing cleverly allows the fabric to breath at the same time as helping to retain some much appreciated body heat. Result!

Zip it up

The Back Beauty Passo Altos feature zips in the bottom of the legs to allow either a boot cut style, or to remove them over boots, though we wouldn’t recommend the later unless the boots are clean-ish. The draw string hems with boot hook proved handy when walking in deep snow.

Clean look

After a week’s wear the Back Beauty Passo Altos remained surprisingly clean looking. They repelled small amounts of water really well, not letting a drop through when caught a quick rain shower. The drips seemed to sit on the surface, in fact they only became properly wet when worn behind a waterfall (well, it is Iceland!), but they seemed to dry relatively quickly once back in a warm vehicle.

Water resistance

The water resistance is really impressive. As a photographer I spent a lot of time kneeling on the floor trying to capture a good angle, so the articulated knees in these trousers meant they never rose up. So no cold ankles. A few minutes here are there kneeling on fresh snow didn’t seem to seep through either.


Super-comfortable and snug, and fashioned from fabric with a good amount of stretch – and with good quality zips – the Back Beauty Passo Altos remained a joy to wear. Worn day and evening, all week, both inside and outside, these well made walking trousers kept the warmth in, and the cold out, while retaining a level of style that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve just come off a mountain straight into a restaurant each evening. For travel trousers, that’s almost unheard of.

Price as reviewed: £85

Buy the Back Beauty Passo Altos

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