en who ride in the English disciplines don't have a lot of choices when it comes to clothes. Just look at any catalog: You'll flip through page after page after page of women?s breeches before ? Eureka! ? You'll find a page or two of men?s breeches.
Maybe that's just as well ? most men hate to shop and weigh endless choices of anything, especially clothes. So, we picked seven styles of breeches (by six manufacturers) for this trial.
You'll need to choose which breeches are best for you by your discipline and whether they?re for schooling or competition. Like us, You'll weigh comfort, style, durability and price.
For men, fit in the waist and crotch is vitally important in any pair of pants. Men will not wear pants that are too tight or are otherwise uncomfortable just because they?re chic or because they?re a ?hot? color. And very few men will wrestle with a pair of pants, struggling to pull them on (or off) because of some fashion rule.
it's the same with breeches. We aren?t going to wear them if we don't feel comfortable (physically and mentally) in them.
We found the three most comfortable test breeches were the Ariat Men?s Pro Circuit Knee Patch breeches, the Tailored Sportsman Men?s TS, and the Ovation Men?s Ultra DX breeches.
Although each of these breeches is cut in a classically elegant way, we comfortably wore each of them all day long. Tailored Sportsman gets a slight nod for comfort in the crotch and waist over Ariat.
But we prefer the Ariat and Ovation lower leg comfort because they have no closures. (Tailored Sportsman uses a hook-and-loop closure.) The lower legs on the Ariat and Ovation each feature a single, slightly elasticized piece, so there's no rubbing. Ovation has a more elasticized lower leg (called Dri-Lex) that clings slightly tighter than the Ariat.
Said Susan Isaacs, from Tailored Sportsman, ?Fit is about specs, not make, and we have a long-term success with our fit. We do make regular, short and long lengths for men, so selecting the correct size is part of getting the fit right.?
The Ariat breeches aren?t as comfortable to us as the Tailored Sportsman in the waist because the Ariat uses two clasps, instead of one. Jenni Smith, director of brand marketing at Ariat International, said that the Pro Circuit breeches? also use a V-Fit System in the waistband. ?it's an elastic V-panel built into the back waistband to offer superior stretch and recovery to accommodate a rider?s varying hip angles,? she said.
The Irideon Wind Pro Insulated breeches were also extremely comfortable to wear: The Polartec fleece lining gives a soft and plush feeling next to your skin, and, even though they?re basically running tights cut differently, they?re not tight in the waist or crotch. But pulling them on is a bit like wrestling with your pants, because there's no waist closure, no zipper and no leg closures.
A secondary comfort factor is the feel of the fabric against the skin, which is important if you're wearing the breeches all day.
Here's how Ariat addresses the fabric: ?The outer-facing side of the fabric is smooth to the touch, keeping dirt from sticking easily. The inner side of the fabric is soft and brushed for extra comfort against the rider?s skin,? said Smith.
While you can't beat the soft feeling of Irideon?s fleece fabric against your skin, you wouldn?t wear these breeches if the temperature topped 60?° (even 50?°). We wore the Irideon numerous times in 40?° and rain and always felt toasty.
?We were the first in our industry to use the Wind Pro fabric by Malden Mills,? said Jennifer Holmes, vice president of Toklat Originals, maker of Irideon. ?The most important feature is its ability to block four times more wind than traditional fleece. In addition, this fabric has great stretch and a DWR [durable water repellent] coating that keeps rain, snow and mud off the breeches. They?re not waterproof, but they are quite amazing ? water and mud hit and slide off!?
Athletic And Classic.
Style and look are also important to men, but we aren?t seeking a new look when we go to buy breeches; we tend to want what's always worked before, especially if we liked it. With breeches, we want a classic, athletic look, and that's about it.
Ariat and Tailored Sportsman get the nod on classic and athletic styling. They look and feel like riding pants, like athletic wear.
TuffRider and Ovation are classically attractive too ? they?re not too tight, not too loose. They look, basically, like what cavalry or international riders would wear.
Amy Gingher, of English Riding Supply, said of the Ovation breeches, ?The design of the seat seam is commonly called 'Euro Seat.? This feature somewhat mimics that of a full seat; however, the intention is to give the breech much better fit characteristics then normal side-seam breeches. The Euro Seat design helps the pattern maker create curves in the fit that are impossible to do with a simple side-seam breech. This is common with expensive European-made breeches.?
One thing we used and liked a lot??about the Ovation breeches was the pockets. The roomy front pockets have handy snap closures, and the one rear pocket (on the right) has a zipper. For this reason, the Ovation breeches would be excellent pick for all-day wear, especially if you're teaching and have to drive from barn to barn or run errands.
The Devon-Aire Classic Cool Cotton breeches had a looser feel than other breeches. ?They?re not necessarily meant to fit really tight, but we?ve found many men did not like them baggy because it creates folds that were uncomfortable behind the knee and the top of the thigh, so we made them in a 'tailored fit,? which fits snuggly, but also has enough room to remain comfortable,? said Andres Lenoiro, vice president of Devon-Aire. ?They are contoured in the leg to avoid bagging and sagging. Some men go a size up if they want more room.?
We wish the Irideon had pockets or a pouch inside the waistband, as is often done with running tights. ?We've chosen to keep the design slim and not have excess fabric underneath, but it certainly has been on the table for discussion and may make it to a version yet,? said Holmes.
Men don't like clothes that take special washing care. We had no problems with washing and drying these breeches. We washed them on a normal cycle and dried at medium temperature.
If stain-resistance is an issue for you, You'll want to stick with synthetic materials that have a stain-resistent finish. According to Devon-Aire?s Lendoiro, ?Stain-resistant, as well as water-resistant, finishes are not conducive to cotton-based fabrics because they will literally wash out in the first five washes. . . These finishes are only possible on synthetic fabrics.?
These breeches were all acceptable for show or schooling, except the Irideon Wind Pro, which is best designed to cold-weather schooling.
If we could choose only one of these breeches ? and price was not an issue ? we?d take the Ariats. They?re comfortable for all-day wear and stylish enough for shows.
The runner-up choice is the Ovation breeches, as they were by far the most comfortable in the trial.
Since most men are cheap when it comes to buying clothes, the race for Best Buy was vital. Both the Devon-Aire Classic Cool Cotton and the TuffRider Patrol breeches are quality products for the price. However
, the nod for Best Buy goes to TuffRider, as the texture and weight of the fabric was worth the extra money to us.