I rarely darken their door. This American mall fixture, a husk of an outdoor brand that once was. Like Abercrombie and Fitch, a brand bought, hollowed out, and designed to sell fashion that only is merely sometimes accidentally evocative of the outdoors. But Eddie Bauer has one thing that I do greatly adore. Their Eddie Bauer Travex series of pants. Stretchy mandex laden pants meant to cruise through airports.
See, back in 2018 when I was getting ready for a long trip in the Mediterranean I wanted something like what all of my deployers wore. But I didn’t want to be the guy decked out in 5.11 Tactical. It has it’s place, and it was honestly the cushiest deployment orders I could have ever asked for. 5.11 Tactical was for people doing, I don’t know, tactical stuff. Not me, a paper pushing representative of the government.
During this time I found myself walking. A lot. I didn’t have a car so I walked the streets for groceries, to get to parks and museums, and to get to and from work. To a city dweller that’s nothing. But to an office ninja like myself, free soloing Excel spreadsheets and doing the traverse from meeting to meeting, this pant was active enough for me.
Not only did it perform well in the heat and sweat of the middle east but it became my uniform for TDYs across the country slipping through airport security with my stretchy belt and pants in comfort.
Upon my return to the States I found myself also using the pants for hiking. While they sometimes made the familiar vrrrrp vrrrrp vrrrrp noise of a starter jacket on a teenybopper at a cold bus stop in the 90’s — they worked. They fit the bill so much so that in my various wilderness hikes I’ve done, I’m almost certainly wearing Eddie Bauer Travex pants.
Okay sure, but where do they fail? I’ve had three pairs since my deployment. Unfortunately I’m down to one now that’s fully functional.
Pretty much every time I bring up pants on this blog I harp on abrasion resistance. The ability to swim through briars without a pull or a snag is key to the style of sometimes bushwhacking that I like to do. Unfortunately you need to often trade things like breathability for that defense. So, the pant gets okay marks for abrasion resistance — though not stellar. I’ve had three pairs of these pants for about 8 years and can say they’re good — and for the price per pair they’ve held up for sure. But you will get briar scratches all over your shins if you’re bushwhacking, and a few snags in the fabric. In return the pants are quite light, fairly durable, and breathable.
Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Zipper?
In the generation of the pants that I have, the zipper pull that Eddie Bauer used for the side pocket where you’ll park your wallet is comically small. I really don’t have the foggiest idea why. It’s so damn tiny. After a few dozen washes you may find that this zipper pull falls right off or snaps in half, rendering that pocket useless. I’ve extended my pant use on at least one of my pair by throwing a split ring through the remaining half of the zipper. It’s not ideal, but it does work.
Getting Yourself a Pair
They’re now marketed as the Horizon Guide Pants, though a search for Eddie Bauer Travex will pull them up. At $85 they aren’t cheap. Inflation sure must have caught up here too. If you can justify them as dress casual like pretty much every millennial tech bro I know, perhaps this will work for you. If nothing else they work well for hiking and for breezing through the TSA paired with a sweet Arcade belt. While Eddie Bauer used to market everything from sports coats to shorts to go with your Sperries, it seems they’ve trimmed down their offerings in recent years.
I have been told though that another thing not to sleep on from this mall store is their micro puffies. For the solid colors in earth tones they’re hard to beat when compared to Patagonia, FirstLite or others for hunting and fishing. The down jacket is after all the first thing that they patented in the 1920’s. So it might also be worth checking them out.