REI Mistral Pants Review

Durable, reliable, top performing pairs of outdoor pants are essential to enjoying your favorite activities year round. REI offers a decent variety of outdoor pants in both tall and petite sizes. The REI Women’s Mistral Pants are a high quality pair of pants perfect to wear for hiking and backpacking in the spring, fall and winter.

REI Mistral Pants Featured

Design and Materials

The Mistral’s are made of a 4-way stretch nylon/polyester/spandex blend allowing them to accommodate a wide variety of body types and remain comfortable. The articulated knees and flexibility of the fabric provide great freedom of movement when you’re scrambling, snowshoeing, and backpacking. The inside lining of the pants feels nice on your skin and the waistband even has a soft fleece inner lining for comfort. The waistband has five belt loops and the pants are secured in the front via a snap button and zipper fly. At the bottom of each leg are 10 inch tall leg zippers which make it easier to put the pants on over a pair of hiking boots. The zipper pull on these has been designed to be flipped up and out of the way when fully zipped to avoid damage to the zipper on the trail.

The pockets not only serve to store items but can be unzipped for added breathability if you’re feeling a little hot since they are made of a soft mesh fabric. This mesh fabric is also great in the winter if you need to warm your hands up as you will have quick access to essential core body heat in the hip pockets. The only disadvantage of the hand pockets is that the zipper can be a little scratchy on your skin if you are moving around with your hands in them. There are a total of four good-sized zippered pockets on the pants, two in the traditional rear positions and two on the sides of your hips.


REI Mistral Pants 1With regards to fit, the Petite Mistral pants are a bit shorter in the inseam at 28.5 inches making them a perfect length for those of shorter stature. Although REI notes on their site that the rise sits 1-2″ below the belly button, unfortunately they actually sit an inch or so above the reviewer’s belly button (5′, 15.5″ torso, pants size 4). REI doesn’t indicate on their site if the design changes in the Petite version also included decreasing the rise in the front, which is an essential feature when designing petite versions of pants. The waistband was also a little loose, however this is a plus when it is colder outside and you want to tuck a your shirts into your pants. In the hips and seat of the pants, the volume in those areas  is generous, allowing for a very comfortable fit although the rise in the front of the pants still needs to be shortened.


Boasting a water and wind resistant softshell, the Mistral pants were tested in both rain and snow and performed quite well against water and moderate wind and demonstrated their quick drying capabilities once they became wet. These are a spring, fall and winter pair of pants although in the winter, it would be suggested to wear a baselayer under these for snowshoeing or longer duration hiking in sub-freezing ambient temperatures. The Mistral’s would not be suggested for use in aerobic activities in temperatures greater than 55F or in the summertime as they do help retain a fair amount of body heat.

Overall Recommendation

Overall if you don’t mind a little higher rise in the pants these are a great option for hiking, biking or backpacking in cooler weather. They are well made, durable, come in a shorter petite version, and perform great against water, snow and mild wind. At $99.50 they are a bit pricey but if you find them to fit well, a solid investment.

Basic Information
Manufacturer Model REI Mistral Pants – Women’s
Model # Item # 815972
Size Petite, 2 – 14
Cost 99.50
Pros Flexible fabric, durable, lightweight cool weather pants, water resistant, petite sizing
Cons Front rise, hip zippers uncomfortable with hands in pockets
Best Uses Cool Weather Hiking, Biking, Backpacking, Trekking, Casual
Pants Specifications
Weight 17 oz.
Cut Shorter length for petites
Pockets Four zipper, mesh lined pockets, two in rear, two on sides of hips.
Fit Adjustments None
Material 68% nylon, 23% polyester, 9% spandex
Additional Features 10″ zipper at leg bottoms, fleece lined waistband

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7 Comments on “REI Mistral Pants Review

  1. Has REI discontinued these? I’ve been waiting several weeks for them to restock size 4 regular. Right now they just have size 12 in the regular size (discounted).

    • Hi Lisa. I checked with REI on the Women’s Mistral pants series, Item #815971, and it looks like they will be discontinuing them. However a quick glance at their listing of soft shell pants and they stock KUHL, Marmot and Outdoor Research versions. Feel free to give those a try and let me know how it goes!

  2. Thanks! I tried Outdoor Research Cirque, and it’s fantastic except a couple of inches too long (no petites). Outdoor Research Ferrosi is great and not too long but it’s not water resistant (doesn’t claim to be, anyway). The prAna Halle is good, but it’s also too long, and the fabric feels starchy. I might consider the short prAna Halle. I haven’t tried Mammut or Marmot or KUHL, yet. It’s too bad REI removed a fantastic product. A couple of months ago, I was able to snatch a size 6 Mistral, and I love it except it’s just a little big (needed size 4, which was out of stock). I saw that REI also sells an Activator pant which looks similar to the Mistral and “resists rain and wind”. There’s only one color available right now, asphalt gray. Before I return the size 6 Mistral, I might try the Activator and compare them side by side (I’m 5’3″ and 125 lbs.)

    • (That was supposed to be a reply to your comment and not a new comment… I’m still getting used to WordPress. Their “Leave a Reply” terminology is a little ambiguous…)

  3. Lol Lisa, no worries. I’d be interested in trying the Activator versus the Mistral as well. Feel free to post some of your findings, I’ll let you know if I hear anything further from REI. Take Care!

  4. I just received an additional response from REI. They indicated the Activator Pants will replace the Mistral Pants and they also come in petite sizing. If I get the chance to try them out I’ll certainly post and updated review 🙂

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