Smartpak Piper Breeches: You've probably seen plenty of reviews on these breeches around the blogosphere, but for what it's worth, I'll add my two cents.
I ended up getting the full seats in Merlot. I am currently obsessed with this color and I love the shade it came in. I was pleasantly surprised at the fabric. I'd heard that it wasn't very nice ("you get what you pay for" and all that) but it was a nice fabric compared to breeches of similar price that I'd gotten in the past. The only thing I don't like about the fabric is that it is heavier than my TS/Ariat breeches or my Irideon tights, so it's not suitable (for me) for riding in the summertime when it's 80+ degrees. But then again, I'm a wimp.
I wasn't too sure about getting full seats since I'm a recent convert to them. I've hated them my whole riding career and just recently decided that I actually like full seats. But they are great. The fabric has just the right amount of stick to them without completely gluing you to the saddle. I actually miss riding in them when I wear other knee patch breeches.
The fit on me is fantastic. I am between sizes, either a 26 or 28 but I ended up getting a 26 for these. I love how they fit. The waist is perfect, not too high or too low (I wear a belt with all breeches) and the overall fit too tight even after washing. And they've been washed a ton since I always get filthy at the barn. I love the stretch legs instead of velcro. I really, really don't like velcro. They fit perfectly in my tall boots and aren't too bulky.
I've even gotten compliments on these breeches when I wear them in public from non-horsey people! Which I think is hilarious and awesome.
The only downside: the stitching. I'd read reviews that said the stitching often comes loose with Smartpak breeches. I am experiencing that a little bit right below the zipper, however, it has been "loose" since probably the second ride and I haven't gotten around to fixing it and it hasn't gotten any worse. Plus, it will be a very easy fix to just add a little loop and knot of thread.
Overall, for the price, I don't think you can go wrong with these breeches. I'm definitely going to get a second pair (probably as a birthday gift) which I cannot wait for because these are currently my favorite schooling pair of breeches! My only issue is deciding what color to get them in!
|Really less than optimal dirty mirror picture|
|Another awful picture. But hey, you can see they get used hard!|
FITS All Season Front Zip Breeches: (side note: I actually had a somewhat hard time finding these breeches in front zip and dove gray, but just now googling it I found exactly that! And plus they're 10% off. Nifty. If you were admiring them in the pictures from the horse trial I just did with Misty, here's your chance!)
I saw these on ebay a while ago in a lovely dove gray color and ever since then I was obsessed with that color. The problem I'd seen with white FITS is that they were too see through (I believe they've since fixed this problem?). I eventually found them in my size on ebay for much cheaper than retail and decided to splurge. I'd tried them on in a tack store before and originally thought the fabric was too thin for my liking, but now that I actually own these breeches, I think the fabric is fantastic. It actually has a fairly good weight to it while still being really breathable. They have a slightly higher waist than my other breeches (I tend to go with mid-rise or low-rise though not super low-rise breeches) but the fit is very flattering with a nice wide waistband.
One issue. The stitching COMPLETELY came undone in the crotch region. I think this is a complete fluke as I haven't seen reviews or heard of anyone else having this issue, but I was kind of aghast that such high-end breeches would do such a thing. After all, my cheap-y $30 breeches have not had so much as a loose thread in 8+ years.
They are getting sent off to the tailor's to get fixed up.
I have ridden in them all day twice. The first time they chafed and the second time they did not. I have heard complaints of them chafing, but honestly I think it was because the first time I had really dry skin because the second time I wore them all day was at the horse trial and I rode in them a lot with no problems.
However, I do like these breeches overall and would recommend them. I like the segmented patches. I think they provide a fair amount of stick. Not glue, but definitely noticeable. While butt patches aren't all that flattering, I think on the whole, these breeches are very flattering and I always get compliments on them. They also have the sock bottoms with no velcro. Obviously I am very partial to that!
Tropical Rider Deerskin Full Seat Breeches:
Yet another ebay find. I am queen of all that is cheap! I had no idea what to expect with these breeches because I've never seen them in person. I believe that they're the TR Extreme model with deerskin seat. I got them for 40 bucks just because I wanted a second pair of white show breeches that were full seat. I was so over my little cotton knee patches I'd had for about 7 years.
I actually like them a lot despite a couple problems. First problem was that the seller didn't tell me the zipper was completely busted. Not a big deal, because like I said I got them really cheap and it only took $15 to get them fixed. The deerskin is oh-so-lovely feeling. The fabric... is just meh. It's a little stiff and a little thick in my opinion. It is a "technical" schoeller fabric that is supposed to be wicking and stretchy. I didn't notice it being stiff or uncomfortable while wearing them at all.
Second problem is that the legs are bulky with the deerskin plus the velcro (hate velcro legs!) and my boots which have extra slender ankles... then add in the fact that my previously sprained ankle is still swollen... I had a tough time fitting them into my boots. I'm not sure what to do to alleviate this.
Once I got my boots on however, I loved riding in them. They are STICKY. In a good way. And comfortable. They have a much higher waist than I like, plus narrow belt loops, but when you're riding with a dressage coat on, that's a pretty minor issue.
I have washed them several times with no problems (same with the FITS breeches, using Leather Therapy wash) but the last time I washed them they came out with what looks like rust stains. I've never had a problem with this washing machine and they were washed with the FITS breeches which did not get any stains. Luckily they're in areas that will be covered by boots, but still. Interesting.
Overall, they don't quite score an A like the previous two breeches because I probably wouldn't pay full price for them. Though maybe someday, I'm intrigued by the extended patch breeches. They have too many of my personal dislikes (narrow waistband, velcro ankles, high waist) but I would say that if they're your style then you should go for it. They are very nice breeches.
Plus, I think they made my butt look good. Most breeches have a saggy butt on me (TMI I'm sure). I almost bought this picture, lol.