I was kindly sent a pair of ACAI’s Outdoor Trousers to try out on some adventures in the hills. Having already been aware of the brand through Instagram, I loved the look of their products and was keen to give them a test run to see how they would perform in harsh environments; when hiking, scrambling and in unpredictable conditions. Harvey and I had a trip planned to the Isle of Arran; the perfect opportunity to take my new walking trousers and put them through their paces. So we planned a 9-mile hike and scramble around the Sannox Horseshoe, and I pulled on my skinny Cargo pants, laced on my boots, and was raring to go for a day in the Scottish hills.
Fit & Features — Form-Fitting For Every Shape & Size #EmpoweredByACAI
The first thing you notice about a new pair of trousers is always going to be the fit. If they aren’t immediately comfortable the second you put them on, you’re probably going to fall out of love with them pretty quickly. This is especially true when choosing a pair of outdoor trousers, as you’ll likely be wearing them for big days in the hills (or wherever it is you like to get outside!). ACAI have numerous fits for every body type, so whether you’re petite, tall, or curvy, there’s a pair of trousers to fit your body perfectly. I opted just for regular in a size 8 and the fit was ideal; I knew as soon as I put these trousers on that they’d be comfortable for hours outdoors. They are super stretchy, especially around the thighs and bum (which is usually where I find trousers to be too tight), just the right length to tuck into my hiking boots, and form-fitting around the waist. You don’t need to be constantly pulling the trousers up or down while hiking, because they just mould to your body perfectly.
As you can see in the photos, I opted for the Cargo MAX Stretch Outdoor Trousers in Khaki, mostly because I liked the idea of having pockets — which I always find handy for hiking. The trousers have two large thigh pockets that fit my phone and video camera, but would also be suitable for gloves, snacks or a little map. There are also two pockets on the back (one zipped one open) and two pockets on the side. That’s a lot of pocket space! Something I would say is that I didn’t find the two top front pockets necessary, as the trousers are so tight and stretchy in this area that you wouldn’t really want anything bulging from your waist. I did however like the two back pockets, simply for sliding in any paper, a phone or a cereal bar.
Another feature I was really impressed with was the way you do the trousers up — yep, that might sound a bit strange! But I found that as the trousers closed with a zip, popper and clasp, they felt really secure and strong. It also meant the waistband stayed firmly up and the crotch didn’t slip down, something I find super annoying when hiking.
So, on first try, the fit felt great! But how did the trousers perform functionally in the hills?
Performance — Stretchy, Tough, Water Resistant
There are three main points I want to talk about regarding the performance of the ACAI Outdoor Trousers; stretch, durability, and water resistance. The trousers performed great while hiking, but their stretch qualities could really be tested as we started scrambling up the hillside. I was a little worried that I might have chosen a size too small in the trousers (I usually downsize with outdoor brands because I find the sizing quite large, but I’d say ACAI’s sizing is pretty much on point), but despite that I found them to perform really well when scrambling. I could lift my leg pretty high without fear of any ripped seams, and the knees and crotch area provided a lot of movement. If I were to get another pair, I would get one size up just to provide that little extra movement, but for normal hiking and easy scrambling, the trousers were great. Essentially, when I move, the trousers move. I particularly like the feel of the waist-band when hiking that stays firmly in pace and doesn’t slip down.
My second point is durability. There were numerous times while scrambling that I snagged my knees or bum on the tough Scottish granite, but no abrasions appeared on the trousers despite that. The seams also remained solid and even the buttons stayed in place, despite me catching them on the rock a couple of times. One thing I would say is that I would prefer poppers or zips to buttons on the thigh pockets, simply because they are more durable in the long-term as well as being quicker to close when on the move, but I do like the way the buttons look on the pockets — I just ended up leaving them undone most of the time! I also stuffed the pockets with camera and phone and all the seams remained strong and sturdy.
I’ve seen a few people testing out the water resistance of the ACAI Outdoor Trousers by pouring water straight over them and watching it bead off. I wouldn’t believe it until I tried it myself, but indeed the trousers bead so well and kept me dry when wading through long, wet moorland grass in the morning and then when it started lightly drizzling on the way back. The trousers also dry incredibly quickly, which I love, so even when the water did soak through a little, within 15 minutes the trousers were completely dry. This is a quality that I think is essential in a good pair of hiking trousers.
One final thing I want to mention is breathability. The two times I wore the trousers, the weather was super warm and muggy, and I did find the trousers a little restrictive and sweaty. Personally, when it’s warm, I prefer to wear either super-stretchy thin lycra or shorts, so I would opt to save the ACAI Outdoor trousers for Spring and Autumn, rather than mid-summer, when temperatures are cooler (this could also be due to the fact that the trousers may be a tiny bit small for me). Alternatively, you could try the beautiful taupe colour for the summer to keep a little cooler. Luckily, ACAI have just brought out a pair of awesome hiking shorts, so that might also solve the problem!
I was super impressed by the fit and performance of the ACAI Outdoor Trousers. You can really tell that the trousers are made by women who love the outdoors and want to appreciate every size and shape of the female body. The trousers were comfortable, stretchy, durable and versatile. I could wear them in light rain, when scrambling up a hillside, or on long multi-day hikes. The pockets were essential for practical things like map, gloves and phone, and the length was ideal for tucking just inside my hiking boots. Though I do wish I’d gotten one size bigger, just to add a tiny bit more stretch and breathability when scrambling in summer, I’ll still choose to wear these trousers for big mountain days in Autumn and Spring, when temperatures are a little cooler.
All in all, I love the way the ACAI Trousers look and feel on my skin, as well as the way they make me feel when hiking — empowered by my body, respectful of its shape and size, grateful for the strength I have to hike for miles and miles on end. I love spending time outdoors because there is no judgement from nature; I think we should all learn from this, and these trousers and the values of ACAI as a brand reminded me of that.