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Outdoor Research Hemispheres II Bibs Review


By: Danielle Vilaplana, Product Content Writer | September 7, 2022

Outdoor Research Hemispheres II Bibs

The Lowdown

The Outdoor Research Hemispheres II Bibs are stretchy, lightweight bibs made for the backcountry. The soft 3-layer GORE-TEX C-Knit™ fabric is paired with 2-layer GORE-TEX stretch panels in key locations, so I was able to make my way up icy skin tracks and windblown ridgelines without ever feeling restricted. The fabric is very thin so it is not the warmest and probably not suitable for new skiers who will fall often, but experienced skiers will appreciate the efficiency of the Hemispheres II.

They feature four zippered pockets that can carry larger items, and the long, double-zippered vents dumped heat quickly. The zippers also functioned as a dropseat for bathroom breaks, which is shockingly not standard in women’s bibs and is essential in the backcountry and tight resort stalls. 

In addition to the stretch panels, the fit itself is rather baggy and leaves plenty of room for movement or extra layers. They were almost oversized on me, but this bagginess fills a rather unique niche in the ski industry in that they can accommodate a wider variety of body shapes and sizes. The adjustable shoulder straps and belt loops provide enough customization that everyone should be able to get a pretty dialed fit.
 

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Technical Details

The Hemispheres II Bibs are Outdoor Research’s premiere pants for backcountry skiing. 3L GORE-TEX C-Knit™ fabric is soft and comfortable but also fully waterproof, and 2L GORE-TEX stretch panels on the sides and inner thigh allow for a greater range of movement that is particularly appealing on the climb. The stretch panels are generally well protected from the elements and made of GORE-TEX themselves so they’re not likely to soak through, and reinforced insteps protect the thin fabric from sharp ski edges.

Four zippered pockets on the thighs and chest provide plenty of storage space for backcountry essentials, and two of the pockets feature beacon clips. Two long, dual-zippered vents run asymmetrically along the sides of the thighs for dumping heat and also serve as a dropseat for quick bathroom breaks.

Face Fabric 100% Nylon with GORE-TEX Stretch Technology (bluesign® Approved)
Membrane GORE-TEX
Insulation None
Fit Regular Fit
Seam Sealing Fully Taped
Pockets Zip Kangaroo Pocket / Zip Hand Pockets / Zip Center Bib Pocket w/ Avy Beacon Clip
Vents Zippered Upper Thigh Vents
Suspenders Adjustable with Quick-Release Buckles
Warranty Limited Lifetime

Ride Impressions

We had an unusually heavy spring, so I was able to test the Hemispheres II Bibs in a wide variety of conditions. I wore them to Snowbird on days where temps ranged from 15 to 50-degrees, and took them up a mountain in Wyoming for some fresh, heavy powder. They performed as expected in such diverse conditions, which speaks to their versatility and ability to meet the demands of seasoned skiers.

The Hemispheres II Bibs excelled on the skintrack and in variable terrain at the resort. The soft, GORE-TEX C-Knit™ fabric and stretch panels held out blustery powder and slushy snow and never soaked through. The thin fabric blocked the wind well enough to keep warm on a cold resort day, but I rarely wear more than a pair of tights and uninsulated pants so I can’t speak to everyone’s comfort. The baggy fit does leave plenty of room for layering though, so those who run cold definitely have the ability to dress warmer. 

Skinning can involve uncomfortable maneuvering on icy tracks and steep terrain, so the 2L GORE-TEX stretch panels were a huge benefit. Outdoor Research seems like more of a ski brand to me, but I also appreciated the side panels while snowboarding as that motion involves a lot more upper body twisting. 

The bibs were almost too baggy on me, especially in the chest, but I usually struggle to find pants that fit me properly. I think the bagginess actually fills a unique niche in the ski industry though, as the bibs are more likely to accommodate a variety of body shapes and sizes than slimmer cut pants. The torso is excessively roomy and I had plenty of space in the seat and thighs for unrestricted movement and layering. I am not curvy in the plus-size meaning of the word but I am Cuban and Costa Rican, so I don’t fit well in Patagonia pants if you know what I’m saying.

I’m not a fan of thigh pockets for anything bigger than chapstick, so I did not use them but did find they were generously sized and easily fit a phone or a beacon. I loved the kangaroo pouch pocket and could easily fit everything I needed in that pocket alone. 

The zippered vents were extremely efficient and served their dual purpose of releasing heat and functioning as a drop seat for bathroom breaks. I found that unzipping just one zipper worked well enough, but it never hurts to have options.

I surprisingly could not find a single other pair of full-bib ski pants that are designed for the backcountry. The Arc’teryx Incendia Bibs are at a similar price point and weight, and they also feature a soft heathered exterior and GORE-TEX membrane. But they lack the stretch that makes the Hemispheres II so nice and I don’t think they have enough venting or a dropseat, which is a little ridiculous in 2022.  The Outdoor Research Skytour Bibs are also designed for touring, but they use a proprietary membrane and weigh nearly 100g more, so they really belong in a class with heavier pants like the Flylow Foxy Bibs. All in all, the Hemispheres II seem to have filled a unique niche and they did it well.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Pros

Pockets
The Hemispheres II Bibs have four useful pockets, two of which have beacon clips. I don’t like the feel of bulky items in my thigh pockets, so I really appreciated the large dual-zipped kangaroo chest pocket.

Stretch Panels
The 2L GORE-TEX panels along the side and inner thigh allow for more flexibility than other bibs. They are placed strategically in spots that benefit from the flexibility and likely won’t get too wet, so you can move freely without worrying about performance.

Smart Ventilation
The asymmetrical vents were easy to use and very effective at dumping heat, and the dual zippers let me dial how much ventilation I needed. The zippers also served as a drop seat for quick and easy bathroom breaks without removing my jacket.

Accommodating Fit
The baggy fit can accommodate a wider range of body sizes, which is pretty unique in the ski industry. 

Cons

The fit is a little strange, but fit is so subjective that it’s hard to consider it a negative. On me, the Hemispheres II Bibs were too long and wide in the torso and very baggy overall. They were also almost too long and I’m taller than average, so shorter women may need to have them hemmed.

The bibs have the weird boot cut look that is unfortunately common in women’s ski pants. My Arc’teryx Sentinel LT Bibs are pretty much the same width from thigh to hem like men’s bibs and that’s really all I want. Yet I’ve seen this weird “feminine” cut in so many ski pants and I just don’t really find it flattering or useful. 

Who's It For?

The Hemispheres II Bibs are catered to backcountry skiers who expect top-tier waterproofing, breathability, weight, and comfort. The bibs are intended to perform on the climb as well as the descent, thus the thin, 3L GORE-TEX C-Knit™ fabric and 2L stretch panels do not offer much warmth. The bibs seem more focused on dumping heat than retaining it via the very large zippered vents but given the primary use I think this makes perfect sense. Even so, I was never cold in the bibs and felt comfortable on a cold powder day at Snowbird, so resort skiers who also visit the backcountry will find these bibs meet all of their needs. But at $599, I wouldn’t recommend these for newbies, who might test the durability of the fabric in the seat-region beyond its intended usage.

The Bottom Line

The Hemispheres II Bibs standalone as lightweight, comfortable,  full-coverage backcountry bibs. They feature a soft and thin 3L GORE-TEX C-Knit™ fabric with 2L stretch panels for unrestricted movement and can withstand everything from stormy pow days to deep, heavy slush.

The long side zips release heat quickly and easily and also serve as a dropseat for hassle-free bathroom breaks. Four zippered pockets of various sizes can hold larger items like gloves and maps, and the dual-zip kangaroo pocket was particularly useful. 

I was a little less excited about the Hemispheres II Bibs than the jacket counterpart, but that is primarily due to a preference for lower cut bibs and the fact that these didn’t quite fit right. This does not indicate how they would fit other people though or have anything to do with their performance, so I would highly recommend them to backcountry skiers who prioritize comfort and weatherproofing.

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Outdoor Research Hemispheres II Jacket Review

About the Reviewer

Name: Danielle Vilaplana
Age: 29
Height: 5'9”
Weight: 125 lbs
Size Reviewed: Medium
Location(s): Utah & Wyoming
Fit Preferences: Regular
Riding Style: I dabble in touring and have taken my avy courses, but I often get scared by the snowpack in Wasatch and end up riding at Snowbird. That said, I have hiked 7,000 miles across the country with an ultralight pack so I bring that high performance, lightweight mindset to all of my gear, including ski/snowboard equipment.

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