Kicking Back in Keeper Pants

Next time you take a chilly sail, slip these under your foul weather gear.

4

Ever since Under Armor convinced us that we couldn’t live without them, base layers have been all the rage in athletics. We’ve reviewed the classics in the past (“Nike Shows Its Salty Side In Base Layer Test,” PS January 2006), and we’ve got variety of these in our closet. We love these tight-fitting underlayers for tops.

But unless it’s below 40F, all we really want is a single layer under our foulies or drysuit. We want the freedom of movement that comes with purpose-built mid-layers, but they must double as civilized pants, so we don’t have run around the boat yard or local diner in long underwear.

We mentioned long soccer training pants in “Sailing Clothes for Cold Weather,” PS November 2019. Since then we’ve added several more models to our quiver and have become addicted. However, before the ink was dry on this report, at least one model we liked — the Diadora keeper pants — were discontinued.

Fortunately, there are enough goalkeepers in the world to sustain a cottage industry of keeper pants and most athletic clothing makers who dabble in soccer offer a pair. Along with Adidas (our current recommendation), Storelli, Reusch, and Kelme are brands that are pop up in web searches. We plan to test the Storelli Exoshield pants in an upcoming report. The nice thing about apparel ordering online is that returns are usually pretty straightforward. If there are any goalkeepers among our readers who’d like to contribute to the discussion, we’d be interested in hearing from them.

Kicking Back in Keeper Pants
Initially developed so that goalkeepers won’t bruise their hips and knees, keeper pants also hold up well for sailing. The padded hips and knees.

Observations

Soccer training paints have a lot of features that sailors will appreciate. The fit is slim but there is a lot of stretch. Complete freedom of movement is guaranteed, without extra bulk to bunch up or snag. The fabric is hardwearing and yet feather light. The finish is slippery, the better for sliding on turf and glancing off other players we suppose, but as a result they also slide inside foul weather gear without binding. Zippered pockets keep safe the keys you forgot to put in your crew bag. Zippered legs provide a snug fit around the ankle, increasing warmth and preventing them from riding up when pulling on outer layers. Zip pockets ensure we won’t lose anything. The minimal belt reduces bulk.

You can’t have both maximum breathability and a tight weave to keep wind out. If it’s cool, windy, or you are out on the water moving fast, you’ll want to put your wind pants on early. Their warmth of keeper pants when wet is less than that of micro-fleece or Merino wool. We’ll slip a base layer under them on the coldest days.

Why not fleece pants? They’re good when it’s cold enough, but avoid fuzzy finishes; they’ll bind under foul weather gear. Again, look for ankle zips, secure pockets, and a waistband.

Banging knees and hips? Soccer keeper pants have pads in key impact areas, the extent of which vary with the model.  The Diadora Padova (now discontinued) and Adidas Tierro pants have just enough padding to take the sting out of kneeling on the foredeck for a 60-year-old cruiser.

The Adidas Tierro line has enough padding to satisfy the most active racer, without the complication of wearing pads that slide out of the way. The downside of extra padding is their bulky appearance and that they don’t protect your rain gear like conventional pull-over kneepads. Some of the more heavily padded versions are obviously intended to be worn under training pants. Many have an instep strap to keep them from riding up. Keeper pants lack pockets, but we don’t miss them since we usually wear them underneath other clothes.

Goalkeeper and Training Pants

BRAND DIADORAWIAMEA $DIADORAADDIDAS MARMOTREI
MODEL Soccer training pantsSoccer training pantsPadova (goalkeeper pants)Tiera 13(goalkeeper pants)Scree (soft shell)Tenton (soft shell)
ANKLE ZIPPERSYesNoYesYesElasticLoose
POCKETS Zippered ZipperedNoneNone Zippered Zippered
INSTEP STRAPSNoNoYesYesNoNo
PRICE203559505959

Wiamea Soccer Training Pants

These are cheap for a really comfortable and durable pant. They’ve been in the rotation for a year and show no signs of wear. The only downside is the lack of ankle zippers.

Bottom line: These are a value at a good price. We rate them our as our Budget Buy.

Diadora Soccer Training Pants

The extra money buys you better zippers, and anti-abrasion fabric inserts on the inside near the ankle. 

Bottom line: A personal favorite, these were our Best Choice in this category.

Adidas Tierro 

One of the better padded models, these are overkill for the sailing we do. You definitely look like you’ve been tending goal in these bulky britches. However, with Diadora’s exit from this category, they are the best option that we have tested. Along with Adidas, Storelli and Rausch are two brands that are pop up in web searches. We plan to test the Storelli Exoshield pants in an upcoming report. 

Bottom line: Unless you  are a foredeck crew who regularly takes a beating, these are probably overkill.

Diadora Padova

Now discontinued — this was one of the more lightly padded models, they provide just enough knee padding to make fore deck work more pleasant.  However, the lack of pockets tends to keep them in the closet unless I’m expecting vigorous conditions. The instep strap is removable, but the knee pads stay in place better with it.

Bottom line: No longer available except in a few sizes, these are recommended, but we miss pockets.

Marmot Scree

This has long been our favorite all-mountain pant, worn ice climbing on Grand Teton, bashing through brush, and even sailing. The combination of abrasion and snag resistance, freedom of movement, wind resistance, and moderate water resistance makes them hard to beat for mountain activities. But they can’t match the wind-blocking performance of simple wind pants or the waterproof performance of real foul weather gear.  As a mid layer, they don’t move or breathe as well as soccer pants.

Botttom line: Training pants better suit our needs.

REI Teton

These are warm and comfortable around the boat yard, but they bind more than the keepers pants and the ankles are loose.

Bottom line: Again, we like training pants better.

Conclusion

We wear training or keeper pants to the boat, under rain gear and dry suits, to the chandlery, and even to the diner for the after-sailing bite. We may look a little bulkier than usual, but at our age comfort trumps appearance almost any day o the week. 

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills techniques required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Diadora has pulled back on its soccer pants since we did the testing. I apologize for the confusion. This is not uncommon in the apparel category, depending on the timing of our tests — since some clothing makers introduce new models annually. We’ve added additional brands of soccer pants in the text and will be doing a follow-up comparison of two of the more popular brands. Since we are comparing apparel, preferences will vary widely anyway — so the purpose of this initial report was more an investigation into a type of product, rather than a comprehensive survey of the category in search of a specific brand. This should have been made more clear. I’ve since updated the article with additional information and brands. We plan to do an update. The Addidas Tierro is a very practical, durable product and is still holding up well in field tests. We scored it lower than the Diadora mostly because of their bulkiness. It should be noted that our testers for this comparison are pretty slim builds.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here