At first glance, our top-selling bottoms look very much alike, but feel them and you’ll find they are built with different seasons and pursuits in mind. I’m going to highlight said differences and the advantages/disadvantages of each so that you can choose the best one for your adventures, which might make life easier if you’re shopping online. Personally, I own both of these pants and rotate them with our lighter weight Camp Cargo zip-offs in summer so that I’m covered throughout the year.

As for similarities, both of these bottoms are DWR-finished and feature 4-way stretch, so you’re good to go in any activity requiring freedom of movement and water resistance. Both offer hand, side, and back pockets as well as zippered ankles for ventilation and fitting over boots. You can layer with both of these options as well and they both are machine washable. If you want a closer look, take a gander at the video below.

EMS Pinnacle Soft Shell Pants

Right now its Pinnacle season, and it has been awesome to see everyone on social sporting their beloved pair in action during their snowshoeing and winter hikes. This fan favorite has been carried over from past seasons with minor upgrades, but has maintained the core features and functionality that has rendered it critical for any cold weather arsenal since its release. This is what makes it a frontrunner in our Ascent Series, meaning it is EMS School guide tested  and trusted in pursuits ranging from backcountry hiking and skiing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. The series utilizes cutting-edge materials that are durable, waterproof, windproof, breathable, and as light as possible without sacrificing the strength needed to withstand life in an alpine environment.

A detail I didn’t know I’d appreciate so much is the elastic waist— I can pile on the layers without worrying about restriction, especially since these pants feature a wide-legged design and 4-way stretch: Despite the durability, you aren’t sacrificing freedom of movement here. The Pinnacle also features a paneled design with articulated knees for an ergonomic fit that moves with your body. Being a shell, think winter for this pant option, but know that it can also come in handy in fall and shoulder seasons. The Pinnacle Pant is available in Men’s and Women’s.

The Pinnacle Pant in action.

EMS Emperor/Empress Soft Shell Pants

Next we have the Emperor/Empress Pant. Considered a soft shell because of its waterproofing, we suggest this pant for fall and spring endeavors as it is lightweight (we definitely do not recommend hitting the ski slopes in these). That being said, these do tend to be my ‘wear around’ pant in winter because I find them very comfortable and can still throw a base layer under these if need be. You’ll find that these offer more stretch than the Pinnacle and they’re also considerably softer and can ideally be worn alone without layers.

The Emperor and Empress Pant.

If you’re deciding which of these would best fit your kit, I would reiterate that they’re designed with specific seasons in mind and to choose accordingly. Ice climbing, winter mountaineering, and activities where you’re going to be hit with the elements for hours on end require the more durable Pinnacle pant. If you’re looking for a more relaxed, lightweight, all-around pant then consider the Emperor/Empress. Or, rotate them both and be covered year-round. If you are looking for straight-up snow pants, then you are in the market for the Squall or Expedition, which we’ll cover at a later date.