Hot weather: Rapha Fast + Light. I know, I know, there’s a certain temperature where pants don’t make sense anymore. However, for riders struggling with poison oak or other trailside nuisance, these pants are ideal. They’re also near the top of my list for all-day comfort – I’d happily take them on a mega mission without thinking twice. The included repair kit and lifetime repair services are also nice touches.
Comfort: Yeti Ridgway. It was difficult, because almost all of these pants ended up fitting my dimensions quite well. The Ridgways have a relaxed fit in all the right places, and when I wore them I felt more like I was wearing crazy comfortable sweatpants rather than some kind of technical mountain bike gear. Some of the more form-fitting options didn’t lend themselves as well to relaxation, while these feel like they were designed almost specifically for that purpose.
Durability / adverse conditions: NF DP4. The DP4 pants ended up being the ones I grabbed the most for rainy commute days, bike park rides, or anytime I cared more about having more fabric between me and the ground rather than the lightest fabric possible. Yes, they get a little toasty on hotter days, especially around the belt, but they’re a solid choice for much of the year in the Pacific Northwest or similar climates.
Race day: DHaRCO Gravity Pants. It was hard. Running pants tend to be more fitted, without too many additional features. However, in the end, it was an added feature that made me tip my hand – the fact that the DHaRCO pants have a pocket would make me choose them over the Specialized Gravity pants. I really like the fit and finish of Specialized’s Gravity Pants, but having no room to hold anything is a tough sell, at least for me.
Why aren’t my pants on this list?
I am convinced that the number of MTB pants on the market is at an all time high, and as I prepared this review more and more options were appearing. I had to draw a line somewhere, especially since the weather was about to be too hot for pants. If you want to know more about the other options, this roundup from last year is another good resourceand includes options from Fox, POC, TLD and others.
How about buying a cheap pair of synthetic hiking pants from a thrift store and calling it good? This is a very valid option too. One thing to consider is that some non-bike specific pants will be a little looser around the wrists and may require some tailoring to make them fit and functional like the ones shown here. However, basic sewing skills aren’t that hard to develop, and they can save you money that can be spent on important things like mid-course snacks.
Title image: Sara Kempner