The Great Breeches Showdown

First off, this was supposed to be done yesterday, but I had too much fun this weekend and couldn’t get myself to sit down and write all of this plus edit the photos. Blogger fail. Anyways…I currently own 5 pairs of breeches , all bought in the last 12 months or so (technically I have a 6th pair of TS breeches bought years ago, but those will not be included in this showdown as they’re mostly my backups in case I get my breeches dirty at a show). I’m going to give my thoughts on each pair, and I’ve included pictures of myself in all of the breeches, rather than models (I may regret this later…). All of the breeches are 26R, and I’m approximately 5’1. Things to note: I’m generally not a fan of sock  bottoms, because I have more issue with fit in this type of bottom because my ankles are quite narrow. I also refuse to wear riding tights, and my preference for slightly thicker breeches reflects that. Because I have such a short torso, I generally avoid the mid-rose cut, but I also don’t like a super low-rise, because I’m not 15 and my butt would fall out. I suppose it should also be mentioned that being a hunter/jumper rider, I wear only knee patch breeches. Something important to me, but potentially not so important to others, is whether or not my cell phone will fit in one of the pockets. I often ride alone, at night, and in the past have often had to ride several horses alone, with no one to know whether I was hurt, so I need to be able to have my phone on me, not just somewhere in the ring, in case I am debilitated enough that I cannot get to it.

So, in no particular order, here I go.

SmartPak Piper Breeches

Retail: $79.95

I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by these breeches; I really had no inclination to give them a chance, but after Tracy at Fly On Over swore they deserved a chance, I thought I’d try it out. With free returns, and stuff I needed to order anyway that got me free shipping, I figured they were worth a shot.

My previous pair of grey breeches died thanks to my rider’s thunder thighs, so I opted for the Charcoal with Light Grey piping. The color itself is great: it’s got a slight brown tint that helps prevent dirt from showing, but still looks nice. While some don’t like the material, I find it quite comfortable. It’s stretchy enough that I don’t feel at all restricted, especially along the waist, but just thick enough that it helps minimize any flaws. The material also seems relatively dirt resistant!

Fit wise, they seem to run pretty true. While some have complained about gapping in the back, and sagging at the crotch, I find that wearing a belt makes these basically non-issues. There is barely any gapping, even with my hips–which tend to make any pants gap–I don’t have any problems with my belt fitting weird in the back, or having to cinch it so tight that it’s uncomfortable to keep the pants in place. There’s the tiniest bit of sagging, but making sure to get them pulled up really well before I leave the house/bathroom/what have you mostly fixes this. These also sit somewhere between a low-rise and a mid-rise, and I think they come up just enough to be flattering, without making me feel like my torso looks too short.

There’s a bit of pilling inside the thighs, but after my initial wear/wash, there doesn’t seem to be any more. These are still somewhat new, so if it seems that they’re wearing through, I’ll update the post. In general though, they feel as if they’ll be fairly durable, and though they are a bit thick, they don’t seem like they’ll be too hot in the summer.

Of all the sock bottoms I’ve ever tried, these are by far my favorites. They fit all the way down my ankle, but aren’t too long or bunchy. The knee patches are nothing fancy, but are a bit darker to provide a little bit of contrast, and seem to be stitched on well. These also have four pockets, where most breeches only have two, and I’ve found that my iPhone 5c fits exactly perfect in my back pocket, so that it doesn’t have to stay in my front pocket and jab me. The zipper on these is slightly off-center, but this may just be a funky batch. It feels weird when I first put them on, but it doesn’t take long to forget about it.

I paid full price for these, and they are well worth the $80, but SmartPak also has sales on these all the time, plus the discounts you get with memberships like USEF.

Currently, you can get these for 15% off and with free shipping with code WINTER15, but the sale ends today. This sale is over, but SmartPak sends out coupons all the time!

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Equine Couture Sportif Natasha Breeches

Retail: $89.95

As with most of my riding clothes, I ordered these online. At the time of purchase, I had another pair of Equine Couture breeches that I really liked, and I just loved the chocolate brown color of these breeches. This is the one pair in the post that I would suggest sizing up on. Where the Piper’s have a nice stretchy and comfortable waistband, these seems to have less elasticity in the waistband than in the rest of the pants, and if I’m feeling at all self-conscious, I will often not opt for these pants because of the way the waistband sits. These also have a fairly low waistband, which does not help the fit.

The material is fairly durable feeling, those it’s also the least comfortable material out of all my breeches. It’s a tad scratchy, and feels a little stiff and thick. That’s not to say they aren’t still comfortable pants, and perhaps they’d be more comfortable in a size up. Without a belt, there would definitely be gapping in the back, due largely in part to the low waist,  but a belt easily solves this problem, and the thick belt loop in the back helps make sure that your belt does not sit weird or create bunching.

There is just as much branding on these as the Pipers, but I personally like the Equine Couture logo better, and I think it’s a cute design used on the belt loop, and the little tag on the front of the pants.

My one true disappointment with these pants, was that after one wear/wash, the stitching started to come undone on the knee patches. It hasn’t gotten any worse since then, but this, plus a bit of extra fabric around the ankle makes me think these weren’t as carefully constructed as all of my other breeches. The sock on these fits my ankle quite well, but is so long I actually have to fold and tuck the excess sock under so that it doesn’t bunch around my ankles. The pockets on these are fairly tiny, and my phone really doesn’t fit with its case on. I have to get it in just right so that it doesn’t fall out or jab me.

All of this being said, they still look quite nice on, and if you remember to size up, or you don’t have curvy hips, these would be a great option for the price. As a side note, the cute stitching in the back does make your butt look perkier than in most breeches; if you need the help they’re great, but occasionally I see pictures in these breeches and think to myself that maybe it’s too much help…

Currently Riding Warehouse has these in black for only $71.95.

 

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Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Front-Zip Breeches

Retail: $189.99

I bought these in Blueprint after eyeing them for months and not being able to swallow the price. My only TS breeches until this point were a pair of traditional side-zip breeches from high school, which I still use to show in, but which are not nearly as comfortable as their newer models. I had already tried just about every model in the Tredstep’s in a simlar color, but just couldn’t find a pair that fit nicely, so I finally caved and bought these.

Though they sit a bit higher than I normally prefer, these are by far my most comfortable pair of breeches. These are generally my go to pair, and have had lots of love since I bought them just over a year ago. They are starting to show slight discoloration around the seat and knee patches, but otherwise have held up fabulously, with not issues with stitching, pilling, or thin fabric, even where my thighs rub holes in all of my pants. There’s not much to be said here that hasn’t been said already about Tailored Sportsman breeches, but as a comparison to the previous two pairs mentioned, while these fit just as close as my Pipers, and my ECs, they feel a bit looser and less restrictive. For the extra $100, you can tell the difference in quality, especially over the ECs.

My only 2 complaints with these are 1) that because they aren’t quite as stiff, they are slightly less flattering to my tooshie when I am not on a horse, so if that’s something you worry about, it is good to keep in mind and 2) because they are front zip, if I don’t tuck in my shirt, sometimes the clasp at the front pinches. I am only slightly bothered by the lack of tooshie support, I always tuck my shirt in, and I just love the way they feel and fit so much otherwise so these factors don’t really deter me all that much. These have the much improved version of a velcro bottom when compared to the traditional TS breeches, and quite nicely accommodate for my narrow ankles, without leaving a lot of fabric to bunch of leave red marks in my skin after a long day. Though it does make for a funny shape, my phone fits nicely in my left front pocket on these breeches, without any jabbing.

While these are definitely the most expensive riding pants I own, TS breeches tend to last forever, and are generally well worth the investment. It is also worth noting that while I do not like to ride without a belt, this is the one par of breeches I own which I do not have to wear a belt with, though they till stay in place better with one.

 

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Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Side Zip Breeches

Retail: $189.99

Sadly, this is currently the only pair of side zip breeches in my roster, and my two other pairs died. These are the low rise model, bought at our local Dover when my tan breeches died the weekend of the clinic. Though they are “low- rise” TS tends to have a slightly higher low-rise than do brands like Equine Couture and SmartPak. When I’m riding, the fit on these is right where I like them, though when walking around, they feel just a smidge low in the front. Oddly enough, even though they are essentially the same as my front-zips, these are tighter, and with the extra few pounds I’ve gained by working in an office and not getting much ride time the last few months, they are borderline too tight when I am not on a horse. Part of this is the fact that the front sits lower and allows less wiggle room, but the waist also seems tighter. While these are not my go to pair of breeches, they really do look very nice when I am riding, and help make my shape look slightly more elongated than did my tan EC breeches.

Finding a perfect fit in TS breeches is often like finding the match to a glass slipper, but if you can find a pair that fits comfortably, I really think every rider should have at least one tan pair in their rotation.

 

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Lo-Ride: Tan with Lavender Logo

Retail: $198, paid $140

Not a very exciting name, but also not a very exciting breech. I was so excited to get these, and Equestrilifestyle has definitely gained me as a faithful patron with their good customer service, and adorable packaging with a hand written note that you may have seen on Instagram.

Unfortunately, though they are advertised as tan, and they look tan in all the pictures you can find, they are really a green beige. This in itself was not a huge disappointment; yes I was hoping for another pair of lighter tan breeches, these would still suffice for showing and whatnot. Initially, the material feels somewhat thin, but cool and comfy–almost like yoga pants. Once I put them on though, the material felt almost cheap. While it is very stretchy, it is almost too stretchy, and is thin enough that when on, you can see the lining of the pockets. Remember when I said I don’t wear riding tights? Here is one of the reasons: I would like my riding pants to help my shape at least a little if I’m going to be wearing such tight pant anyway. These do not help in the slightest, and will not hide even the faintest of panty lines.

But I was sure that for that kind of money, there was some redeeming quality, so the next day I went out to the barn in them to see how they felt when I was in the saddle.

I can honestly say the fit was so poor and the material so weird that for much of the ride I was distracted by my pants. Material felt loose as soon as I got on and moved around, even ith a belt, the back tried to gap and bunched, while the front came up too high (to their credit, they are advertised as a mid-rise, but I figured they would fit similar to my TS breeches after seeing them on some other people–very tall people it would seem). The knee patches were too wide, and came up over the side of my knee, making it feel as if my knee was slightly restricted, and also resulting in discomfort in the back of my knee where the patch bunched just above my boot. The bottom is neither velcro or a sock, and is just pant all the way down. Despite the stretchiness, this still meant there was an uncomfortable seam, and that the ankle was too big, which led to a lot of bunching, especially because the breeches also came all the way down to my ankle bone.

While they haven’t popped any stitches yet, it seems that there was less attention to detail with these breeches that with the ECs above. While many brands make use of knee patches that contrast with the breeches themselves, and some type of bottom that is meant to be extra functional, these breeches do nothing to wow, or make me feel like I am wearing pants that cost as much as attending a local schooling show.

The pockets are big enough for a cell phone to fit, and the pants are so thin you could probably read your texts through them, but that was about the only plus. While the material itself was fairly comfortable, and I could see how they might keep you cool in the summer months, it did not feel durable, or look flattering. Perhaps these were on sale because Lo-Ride is phasing these out and putting out a new model, but even on sale, I did not feel that they were worth what I paid, and they will finding a new home with someone taller, who has thicker calves, and is less particular about fit, feel, and function.

 

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If I had to rank them I would probably list them as such:

  1. TS Front-Zips
  2. SmartPak Pipers
  3. EC Natashas/TS Side-Zips
  4. Lo-Ride Tan Breeches

I keep checking the Aztec Diamond Equestrian site to see when they will have the breeches I would like restocked in my size, and I’ve been eyeballing a few other brands in the mean time–I’m awfully curious about the sticky knee patches as opposed to the traditional knee patches. Lo-Ride is officially crossed off the list, but what other newer or less known brands should I try readers? As I try new breeches, I’ll try to update this list. Is there anything you wanted to know that I didn’t share?

14 thoughts on “The Great Breeches Showdown

  1. The Lo-Ride’s do look really thin, I see what you mean. Otherwise we seem to have opposite preferences in breeches – Smartpak, EC, and TS are all definite “No’s” for me! They all have the same fit problem too – super super gappy in the waist on me, like I can fit my whole arm in there. Obviously we’re built differently!

    1. I was totally bummed too. You had such great things to say about yours, that I was excited to try mine. Lesson learned: lesser known brands should be tried on in person!

  2. I’m tempted to order a pair of knee patch Pipers next time they’re on sale; the full seat ones were beautiful (I have them in merlot/dark gray), but the crotch sagged badly and the stitching on the full seat came loose after two washes. I liked the fabric a lot, so maybe the knee patch would be a better breech for me!

    1. I could see how the full seat might make the seat sag more. Full seats feel so weird to me, that I just always avoid them. Especially on sale, I think the Pipers in the knee patch are worth another go.

  3. I’m like you… My true love will always be Trophy Hunters. You and I seem to be built very similarly, so appreciate the review on the other brands. I’m interested to see if you like the Aztec Diamonds, if you end up with a pair. Also ps there have been a ton of great eBay deals on size 26 Trophy Hunters. I’m a 28 and I pout every time I see them, because it’s no fairrrr

    1. Of the three pairs of Tredsteps I’ve tried, I’m just not a fan. The low end pair felt stiff and scratchy, and the nicer pairs just didn’t fit my calves. I had the same issue I have with the Lo-Rides around the ankles, which was a total bummer, because they’re so pretty.

  4. Mary

    It’s December, just a year LATER than when you initially posted this, lol.
    Thank you for the reviews.
    You hit on the features that really *do* make a difference when wearing breeches.
    I’ve just filled up a Dover Saddlery.com shopping cart with clearance breeches in my size and am eliminating them one by one as I read your post.
    I’m down to a pair by Cavallo that is reduced by 2/3 price from stratospheric to merely hide-the-debit-card expensive. :-O

    I really hate halting my lessons to tug on my breeches; hoping that paying attention to the features you’ve covered when reading descriptions of breeches will give both the instructor and me a break. lol. Thanks again.

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