The Align MX comes close to perfection. KobeBean puts these warm, stretchy winter pants at the very top of their category.
The Align MX Pant was originally released as part of Veilance’s fall/winter 2018 collection, which premiered two new pieces. The Align MX and Isogon MX Jacket both had the new MX designation, borrowed from mainline Arc’teryx products, where MX indicates that the pieces are built for movement in mixed weather conditions. MX pieces typically include stretch, highly breathable fabrics, and a focus on durability. The Align MX and Isogon MX represented Veilance reworking and winterizing two of their spring/summer pieces: the Align Pant and mainstay Isogon Jacket.
Style and use case
The Align MX is a Veilance take on a heavy chino. It features two slash hand pockets and two large zippered pockets on the rear thigh, in lieu of back pockets. The thigh pockets are quite large and feature two small internal organization pockets on each side. These pockets are ideal for storing small items like a slim wallet, cards, cash, and papers. Storing anything larger will create some discomfort, especially while sitting (you will pretty much be sitting on your stuff).
The Align MX is intended to be used in cold weather, as the thick soft shell fabric retains heat and resists wind and water. They’re great for urban biking and moving around outside, while the technical details are subtle enough to make them serviceable in some office settings.
The Align MX are made from Arc’teryx’s patented Burly Double Weave fabric, a 70-denier blend of 50% nylon, 43% polyester, and 7% elastane. The pants feel quite stretchy and the material is extremely weather- and abrasion-resistant. A DWR finish adds some extra protection against precipitation.
A natural comparison for the Burly Double Weave is the popular Schoeller Dryskin, which is also a stretch-woven nylon/poly soft shell. Burly has a similar handfeel to Dryskin, but is less prone to stretching and bagging out, both between washes and over the long term. Burly also has less sheen than Dryskin, giving it a more subtle and less technical appearance.
These are some of the warmest pants that Veilance has to offer. Although Veilance states that the intended climate for the pants is “wind”, they work very well in rain, snow and extremely cold temperatures, especially if layered with long underwear. The breathability of the fabric prevents them from feeling clammy, and does a good enough job trapping heat for comfort in winter conditions.
Comfort and articulation
This is where it gets really interesting. Like its predecessor, the nylon/cotton Align Pant, the Align MX has a standard crotch seam and outer seam below the cargo pocket, which is atypical for Veilance pants. The crotch is gusseted for comfort and durability, and another seam runs from the back of the waist to just below the knee, which helps maintain the shape of the leg and allows for extra range of motion while moving and sitting. This seam layout is exclusive to the Align MX, which is notable since Veilance sometimes applies old patterns to new materials when creating a new pant (e.g. the Indisce and Convex LT).
The Align MX is very comfortable. The relatively loose fit, stretch and articulation makes them feel great to move around or sit in. The fabric is far from coarse, and taped seams provide additional smoothness against the body. The range of motion is excellent, to the point where it seems to me that these pants could be utilized effectively for more up-tempo winter activities like hiking, snowshoeing, and perhaps even backcountry skiing.
Users who spend most of their time sitting down — at a desk or while traveling — should have no issues with the Align MX either. The pants do not feel restrictive at all while sitting, and the cargo pockets are perfect for storing small items one might carry around the office or on a plane.
This is the biggest Veilance pant, while still fitting slim relative to offerings from other brands. The slight structure of the cargo pocket and articulation gives the pant a slightly curved appearance, which creates the illusion of larger quads and longer legs. The thighs are roomy, as are the calves. Even though there is some taper, especially below the knee, the pants have large leg openings, indicating that they are designed to be worn with chunkier sneakers and boots.
Probably the most notable aspect of the fit is the rise, which is very low. The waist is a little larger than other Veilance pants to ensure they fit on the hips, which to me seems unnecessary given the stretchiness of the material. As the seat has virtually no shape, it creates the appearance of something like a straight line from the rear and down the leg. Depending on your body type, the pants could look like slim and sleek chinos or pretty wide, techy cargo pants with a unique shape (for me it’s the latter).
I have very little concern about how the fabric of the Align MX will hold up, “Burly” is an appropriate name for the material. The main concern I have is the seam tape peeling, which is a fairly common issue with Veilance pants after years of use. However, Veilance tends to repair peeling tape free of charge.
It is worth noting that the tape’s adhesion combined with the minimal seam allowance creates some potential for blowouts. That said, the roomy fit and stretch of the Align MX serves to lower the stress on the seams and vastly decrease the likelihood of a seam blowout from normal urban use. The Burly fabric appears to hold the seam tape well, which is another good sign, since there is some variance in how different Veilance fabrics mix with their seam tape.
It is always a bit of a risk altering pants like these, due their articulation and taped seam construction. Many of the “standard” alterations (waist in/out, crotch in/out, seat in/out, flattening hips) are impossible without a tailor equipped to deal with reapplying the tape, not to mention that altering the pants voids the warranty around the altered area. Hemming the pants should be doable by any tailor and, if need be, the waist can be taken in with minimal risk by adding darts to the waistband. I have had darts added to several of my Veilance pants, including my Align MX, since I have a 28” waist and Veilance no longer makes that size. A downside of adding darts without cutting the fabric is that the extra material protrudes slightly against my waist.
If you are willing to lose the seam tape, the presence of a standard crotch seam on the Align MX allows for the pants to be tapered quite easily. I have had a pair of mine tapered from the crotch down, to create a more standard slim chino silhouette. The fit is pretty similar to the old Align Pant, but much more comfortable due to the stretchy MX fabric.
The Align MX is a superb option for a fall/winter pant. Like all Veilance pieces, they are feature-packed in a minimalist package, and offer plenty of weather protection without compromising on aesthetics. The Align MX is subtle enough to go unnoticed as a “techwear” pant in an office setting, while visually striking enough to attract some attention due to their unique shape, pocketing and seam layout. As far as Veilance pants go, they are a steal at $375 retail.
Versatile look, subtle but still aesthetically interesting. Works in the office as well as in the outdoors, with a bit of tech edge if that is how you style it.
I hold Veilance’s Burly Double Weave higher than Schoeller’s beloved Dryskin with its excellent combination of stretch and warmth. Combined with carefully considered design and features these are some of the best winter pants you can find.
This review is a slightly edited version of a review first posted on Medium.