Top PicksWarm weather: Rapha Fast + Light.
I know, I know, there's a certain temperature where pants stop making sense. However, for riders who are dealing with poison oak or other trailside nuisances, these pants are ideal. They're also close to the top of my list for all-day comfort - I'd happily grab them for a mega mission without thinking twice. The included repair kit and lifetime repair services are nice touches too. Comfort: Yeti Ridgway.
This was a tough one, since almost all of these pants ended up being a pretty good fit for my dimensions. The Ridgway's have a relaxed fit in the right places, and when I wore them I felt more like I was wearing a pair of crazy comfortable track pants rather than some sort of technical mountain bike apparel. Some of the more form-fitting options didn't lend themselves as well to lounging, while these ones 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 drizzly shuttle days, bike park laps, or any time when 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 warmer days, especially around the waist band, but they're a solid choice for a good portion of the year in the Pacific Northest or similar climates. Race day: DHaRCO Gravity Pants.
This was a tough one. Race pants tend to be slimmer fitting, free of too
many extra features. However, in the end it was an extra feature that tipped my hand - the fact that the DHaRCO pants have a pocket would make me pick them over the Specialized Gravity pants. I do really like the fit and finish of Specialized's Gravity pants, but not having a spot to hold anything at all is a tough sell, at least for me.
Why aren't my pants on this list?
I'm convinced the number of MTB pants on the market is at an all-time high, and as I was putting together this review more and more options kept showing up. I had to draw the line somewhere, especially as the weather teeters on the brink of being too warm for pants. If you'd like to read about other options, this round-up from last year is another good resource
, and includes options from Fox, POC, TLD, and others.
How about buying a pair of cheap synthetic hiking pants from a thrift store and calling it good? That's a totally valid option too. One thing to consider is that some non-bike-specific pants will be a little baggier around the cuffs, and may require some tailoring to make them fit and function as well as the ones featured here. Basic sewing skills aren't that hard to develop, though, and they can save you money that can be spent on important things like mid-ride snacks.
Title image: Sara Kempner