Ahh, summertime. The air is warm, the dirt is dusty, and the sun is glaring. It’s the perfect time to don a pair of black pants for mountain biking, eh? For some, yes. For some, no. It depends on the climate, or climate variability, the breathability of the pants, and maybe proximity to lift-accessible terrain. These four pairs of pants are a solid choice for all-around trail riding though, and will give your legs some added protection if gravity riding is your forte, or you like to keep chain scuffs and dust off the calves.
686 x Evil Everywhere Blackout, $120
These pants, along with the new jerseys and shorts are 686’s first foray into bike gear. They partnered with Evil for these pants, and naturally everything they made is blacker than the inside of a carbon frame. The Everywhere pants have stealth zipper venting pockets – or zippered vents that are kind of deep, on top of the traditional hand pockets. They are full of technical details, like an articulated knee for a better fit with knee pads, a cord key loop for attaching a set of keys, and a zippered card pocket.
The pants are made from mostly nylon, with a DWR finish. There are nine pockets of varying sizes, a drawcord around the waist, and a look that says “I’m going straight from the trail to the record store.”
- Plenty of functional features
- Good aesthetic
- Getting the right fit can be tricky
- Loose up top
The Blackouts feel cool and comfortable, and have a good amount of stretch to them, but the fit feels off. 686 says that they recommend sizing up as the pants can fit small. I usually wear a 32 and was sent a size 34. These are a little small for a normal 34, but are still too big for me and the hips have too much room in them. I’d recommend trying both sizes if that’s a possibility. The drawstring ensures a good fit on the waist, although compared to the other two options above, the pants are not as agile around the saddle, and they fit long.
The aesthetic and feel of the pants are great however, and they would be right at home on the trail — or on a dig day — and the thought put into the functionality of the pants is excellent.
Best for: Riders who want a great look that will work for dig days, casual riding, and post-ride drinks.
Available at 686.com.
Fox Ranger, $100
Fox’s new Ranger pants are made for everyday trail riding or light gravity riding, with their Defend pants as a more aggressive gravity option, or the FlexAirs as a lighter, more breathable option. The Rangers have a slim, athletic fit to reduce snagging, and an adjustable, built-in belt. They are pretty basic, with two pockets, and a zippered stash pocket/vent. The pants are made from mostly polyamide nylon, with a little bit of polyester and elastane. The Rangers come in black, khaki, blue, and olive with sizes ranging 28-38.
They have a sturdy feel and like the description says, a nice slim fit. The ankles come up pretty high, which is a nice benefit to keep them out of the chainring, and the crotch is pretty high up too to avoid snags on the saddle. As far as mountain bike pants go, they are a dead simple and relatively affordable option that should do the trick for most anyone.
Since they are a black pant, I would love to have another vented pocket on the right side, or even a small zippered vent. My other nitpick is the adjustable belt. It’s awkward to use, and I’ve since bound it up somehow, so that the buckles are stuck and out of reach. The pants fit true to size so I’m not reliant on the belt for adjustment, but it’s not a very good design and I’ll probably just cut the strap off. A touch of silicone on the inside of the pants would also be nice.
- Slim and tailored fit; not bulky
- Adjustable belt needs improvement
- Needs more vents for breathability
The pants do work well otherwise, and are fairly breathable, but most people will want to skip them on the hottest summer days, unless you’re riding the bike park all day. Don’t forget the knee pads. Since the cuffs are elastic, put the pads on before the pants.
Best for: Mountain bikers who want a great, fitted, simple, affordable pant option.
Nukeproof Blackline Trail Pants, $110
Nukeproof only has this one simple pair of riding pants on offer, and they designed them quite well. The straight-ahead trousers have a slim fit, with a crotch that’s high enough not to catch on your saddle and ankle hems tight enough to keep them out of the chain’s reach. The fit is close and minimal, in keeping with most gravity racing long-legs these days. The Blackline Trail Pants are available from Chain Reaction Cycles for $110 in black and dark blue, cut into “unisex” sizes ranging from small to XXL.
The trouser threads are a sturdy blend of 88% polyamide, with 12% spandex to give them flex while you move about on the bike or crash on the ground. The pair of smaller hip pockets are each large enough to fit a cumbersome iPhone 11, or a few snack bars. Inside the pockets, a fishnet material prevents the usual “super sweaty where the pockets are” sensation, and there’s a key-clip in the left pouch in case you forget to zip that side shut.
- Lightweight fabric and slim fit
- DWR water-repellant coating
- Long inseam for taller riders
- Could use more pockets
- No reinforcement in the knees or seat
- Logos start to come off in the wash
I received a size small of the Blackline Trail pants, and they fit just as well as most size small pants I test. There are the usual velcro adjusters on the waist, and a little silicone inside to help them stick to your skin or knickers. The lumbar portion is slightly raised to keep you covered, and the legs are easily rolled up to adjust them to your leg length or fashion preferences. If you want to look like all the cool DH and BMX kids with their pants rolled halfway up the length of their socks, you can do that with this pair.
I have ridden in rain and dust alike with these pants, and I would definitely pay $110 for them. They add the touch of protection that I want on a fast gravity ride, they fit somewhat tight but work well with kneepads, and the fabric breathes enough to make them tolerable in temps up to about 27° celsius. They also do a descent job keeping the mud puddles out, provided it’s not pouring, which can be a vital feature on high alpine adventures.
Best for: Riders seeking the most aerodynamic fit.
Available at Wiggle.
Showers Pass Rogue, $105
The Rogue pants are new to Showers Pass as of this year, and they have done a great job with the trail trousers. They’re not necessarily MTB-specific but they will work great on the bike, and feel similar to the brand’s trusty shorts. The Rogues are water-resistant, have a slim and tailored feel with tapered legs, and are made from a breathable nylon-spandex with four-way stretch and a DWR coating. Inside the waist the Rogues have silicone grippers to keep them up, and two front and back pockets. They are available in either black or green and sizes XS-XXL, fitting waists from 26 – 38.
The Rogue pants were very easy to get along with. They are lightweight, the most breathable, and most subtle of the pairs included here. If you are deterred by the gravity-minded options of the 686 and Fox pants, the Showers Pass Rogues are a more natural option for pedaling deep into the dark woods. The fabric on these pants feels the lightest out of the bunch, and is the most breathable.
- Very breathable
- Subtle aesthetic
- Inseam may be too long for shorter riders
- Lack of additional pockets
There is an adjustable velcro waistband inside, and silicone grippers help keep the waist in place. The inside of the pockets are mesh for added breathability and the clasp and snap closures give them added security.
These pants keep a slim fit and aren’t a problem on the bike, but they aren’t quite as ankle-hugging as the Fox pants, and the cuffs run a little long. That’s nothing a roll or two of the cuffs won’t fix.
Best for: Trail riders who want breathable coverage, but don’t want the look of an aggressive gravity pant.
Available at Showers Pass.