“Nice pants, who makes those?”
Zack was the first in our group to start wearing them this winter as far as I can tell, though Chase notes he’s been wearing these for years. The answer to the question — Wrangler — is just as surprising as the fact that these mountain bike pants are available at Target stores and online for about $27. Chris got them next, and I had to see what the fuss was about for myself.
Wrangler ATG Synthetic pants
- Available at Target
The Wrangler ATG line (All Terrain Gear) includes a number of items, and the synthetic (not canvas) pants are the ones that seem well suited to mountain biking. I chose a pair of Slim Fit Taper Trail Joggers due to a couple specific features I wanted, though friends seem to like the other versions just as well.
Starting at the waist, the Joggers include a sewn-in nylon web belt with a plastic buckle. The belt doesn’t wrap all the way around the waist which limits its functionality, but it does tighten the waist enough to dial in the fit a bit. Ideally I would have chosen a pair with a 32-inch waist, but I could only find 34s in stock at my local store. If I cinch the nylon belt to the max the pants fit fine, though with an awkward bulge at the front. There’s also a set of external belt loops if you want to run your own. Based on my research only the ATG Joggers include a nylon belt, and that’s one of the reasons I chose this style.
The pants feature five pockets total, though none are zipped. The two rear pockets are mostly useless on the bike, and the front ones are only marginally so without zippers. I don’t generally put anything in my pockets when I ride (I once smashed a phone that way) but I do like using the pockets as hand warmers and for holding keys and things when I’m getting ready for the ride.
Moving down the leg, the Wrangler ATG pants feature articulated or “pre-bent” knees which is pretty great, especially for active use on the bike.
At the far end of the legs there are elastic cinchers that are, IMO, pretty much mandatory for mountain bike pants. It seems not everyone agrees however, and there are plenty of bike-specific pants that don’t include any kind of hem cincher or strap. The obvious reason for cinching the right ankle hem is to keep the pants from getting caught in a chainring; on pants that don’t include a strap or cinch, I end up using an external velcro strap which works fine, but it’s just one more thing I have to keep track of in my kit. So, the drawcord hem on these is a big plus for me.
Materials and fit
The Wrangler ATG Slim Flit Taper Joggers are made from 95% nylon, 5% spandex just like many of the mountain bike pants on the market. The material doesn’t feel especially soft; in fact I would say it’s on the rough side, and I can already see that it attracts lint and hair easily. That’s not to say the material is uncomfortable though; I did a 50-mile ride in these pants recently and they felt great the whole time.
Unlike many MTB or bike-specific pants, the Wrangler ATX pants do not seem to be treated with a DWR coating of any kind. Even light rain sprinkles quickly soak right through.
As for the usable temperature range, I found the Joggers are comfortable between about 40°F and 65°. Where I live that makes them a solid winter and shoulder season choice. I wouldn’t characterize the ATG pants as breathable or insulated; as far as thickness goes, they’re basically middle-of-the-road. And since there aren’t any clever vents, what you see is what you get.
Of course mountain bike pants are meant to protect riders from trail abrasion as well, and while I haven’t tested these in a crash they seem like they should be up to the task. Wrangler positions the ATG series as workwear and outdoor wear so they promise to be pretty tough. The material thickness definitely gives me confidence.
I’m really stoked on the fit, despite the fact that the waist is a couple inches too big for me. Oh, and I would have preferred pants with a 34-inch inseam instead of a 32, but luckily the inseams tend to run quite long. Seriously, in Levi jeans I wear a 36-inch inseam, yet somehow these 32s are only short by millimeters. As far as the waist goes, I would say they run true to size.
It seems a big reason these budget mountain bike pants caught on so quickly among my friends — aside from the price — is that they look pretty damn good. The colors are on trend for men’s MTB apparel (black, gray) and they aren’t boxy rectangles that flap in the wind. Sadly for the ladies, Wrangler does not offer women’s sizes or styles.
But don’t let that stop anyone. The Wrangler ATG pants are available in at least four different styles, three colors, waist sizes from 30-40, and three lengths (30, 32, and 34).
Pros and cons of the Wrangler ATG pants for mountain biking
- Cheap mountain bike pants
- Generally available for in-store purchase
- Multiple sizes and styles to choose from
- Good bike performance
- No DWR coating
- Open pockets dump their contents when riding
- Nylon belt doesn’t go all the way around the waist
It’s not surprising mountain bikers are finding a lot to like in the Wrangler ATG pants. They’re affordable, available, and tick the major boxes when it comes to performance on the trail.
As we stopped to catch our breath and eat a quick snack on Sunday’s ride, Jacob furrowed his brow and pointed toward my legs.
“Hey man, who makes those?”