Feel Good, Ride Good: 7 Pairs of Mountain Bike Pants, Tested

All photos by Daniel Palma

It’s no secret that for women the struggle is real to find MTB gear that fits properly. Women have a difficult time finding mountain biking pants, and some even resort to purchasing men’s pants. Where are the mountain bike trousers tailored for women? Well, we’ve found and tested out seven women’s pants below!

A note: Finding the perfect fit for MTB pants, or any MTB clothing for that matter, does take some trial and error due to the fit differences across brands and styles. I can personally attest that it takes a bit of research to find pants that fit my specific waist, hip, and thigh measurement ratio.

For reference, my measurements are:
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 155lb
Waist: 33”
Hips: 35”
Inseam: 29.5”

My first impressions on these pants are based on my personal sizing measurements. However, there are so many other important features that distinguish these pants, and we hope that this roundup will help our readers with their next pants purchase.

Revel Rider Flow Pant

It is only right to start off this pants roundup with the Revel Rider FLOW pant. Revel Rider brand was created by women for women and designed with the goal of filling the void and offering mountain bike clothing that women truly want.

These are easily one of the most comfortable pairs of mountain bike pants I have worn. They are breathable, flattering, and durable. They fall under “regular fit” sizing, giving them room at the seat and thigh, but they’re not extremely loose. These pants offer plenty of internal room for knee pads and a chamois. At the same time, the fit does not interfere with pedaling or saddle movement.

The tough and lightweight fabric makes these a great choice for autumn riding, providing just the right amount of coverage for those chilly months ahead while helping to dissipate heat through the ventilation holes in the inner thighs and at the calves. I used these pants during another one of our California heat waves and the pants kept me comfortable during a full day of riding.

The pants have a very flattering fit while maintaining a roomy interior. I never had the feeling that the tapered leg would catch on the chainring.

The snap button, velcro, and zipper closure system at the front offers a secure fit. The waist adjuster comes with six sizing loopholes for optimum fit. Even when looping it all the way, the pants did not bunch up as they have a decent amount of stretch.

The side zippered pockets do not interfere with pedaling or other movements on the bike and items stay out of your way, offering great room for essential items like a phone, snacks, or credit card.

These pants are the closest to a perfect fit I’ve ever had for pants. I’m 5’6” and weigh 155lbs. and a medium fit true to size.

At a glance

  • Pockets: two zippered thigh pockets, one zippered pocket at center back
  • Waistband: snap closure and zipper, plus six adjusting loopholes on each side
  • Ankle cuffs: zipper for adjustments
  • Fabric: DWR coating
  • Fit: regular
  • Colors: Red, Black (tested)
  • MSRP: $130

GORE Women’s Trail Pants

With rainy days ahead, the GORE Women’s Trail Pants are a great addition to your MTB wardrobe to keep you dry and insulated on cold rides with their GORE-TEX Active fabric.

These pants are easy to slip on with their elastic, stretchy waistband with plenty of room to wear a chamois and just enough room at the knee area to wear some G-Form knee pads. The Trail Pants also feature a zipper at the ankle cuffs with two buttons to adjust the cuff width. These fall under GORE’s Active Fit sizing, a bit looser fit than most pants. Active Fit suits a wide range of wearers while still delivering the unique benefits of GORE® Wear garments, so order your typical pants size.

California has been quite dry this past season and we have yet to get any rain so I decided to do a water repelling test of my own. The pants did amazingly well at shielding water, keeping my legs dry and warm. These pants were built to keep you riding comfortably through the cold wet months. If your riding conditions are constantly cold and wet, these pants will work well to wick sweat off your legs and at the same time keep the rain out.

A nice detail is the reflective GORE logos, improving visibility for others while you’re riding at night. In my opinion, the only downside is the lack of a waistband adjuster and zippered pockets.

 These would make great commuting pants as well during the rainy season.

At a glance

  • Pockets: small key pocket inside waistband; no outer pockets
  • Waistband: stretchy, no adjuster 
  • Ankle cuffs: zipper and snap closure 
  • Fabric: GORE-TEX Active fabric
  • Fit: regular
  • Distinguishing features: GORE-TEX Active Waterproof, packable
  • Color: black
  • MSRP: $200. Available at Amazon, JensonUSA, and Backcountry in Women’s and Men’s styles.

Fox Defend Kevlar Pant

The Fox Defend Kevlar Pants have become one of my favorite mountain bike pants. They are designed to offer full coverage, total mobility, and durable construction for all-around riding, while also looking stylish.

The material is lightweight and very breathable due to its blend of Spandex, Nylon, Polyester and Kevlar. With laser-perforated ventilation holes throughout the legs, the pants keep the airflow going, deflect wind, and keep water out while riding. At the end of a hot ride, I am not in a rush to peel them off, as I do with other warmer pants. With that said, these pants perhaps wouldn’t be the best for very cold winter months, and instead are ideal for leg protection in mild to warm temperatures. 

Their all-way stretch and snug fit offer comfort, and the fitted overall feel helps keep the fabric out of the way and and snag-free while riding. The knee areas are shaped to on-bike posture and have Kevlar® fibers that offer protection around the knees with high cut, tear, and abrasion resistance properties.

While the tapered ankle cuffs don’t have an adjuster, they are stretchy enough to fit your feet through, yet tight enough to keep the ankle cuffs in place and out of the way. I would like to see a zipper at the ankle cuffs, but it’s no major hindrance to riding performance.

The ratchet closure is a Fox staple, and offers a really secure fit with adjustment options.

Closeup of ratchet closure for secure fit and adjustment options.

The fit and high quality materials and stylish design makes the price tag seem less off-putting. When you wear these pants you will feel that every penny you spent was well worth it and you’ll have a pair of go-to MTB pants for years to come.

At a glance

  • Pockets: two hand zippered pockets
  • Waistband: ratchet closure 
  • Ankle cuffs: tapered
  • Fit: sport
  • Distinguishing features: Kevlar® fibers, water-resistant finish
  • Colors: Dark Purple, Black (Tested)
  • MSRP: $169.95. Available at Wiggle, Backcountry, and JensonUSA in Women’s and Men’s styles and sizes.

Club Ride Overland Pant

The Club Ride Overland Pants can be used for a variety of outdoor adventure activities or a casual ride. The overall fit and style make it hard to choose these over other pants for mountain biking, and instead, they seem more suitable and comfortable for everyday wear. 

These are form-fitting around the waist and bum with enough stretchiness to wear a chamois snuggly underneath. As you move down the leg, they become straight/wide from the knee down to the wide ankle cuffs. Resembling a pair of your favorite stretchy jeans, these pants are complete with a snap button and zipper waistband closure and standard five pockets, and belt loops all around the waistband. The traditional “jean-style” pockets are deep enough to fit an iPhone XR, while the small drop-in hip pocket can fit a small snack. I typically like my MTB pants/shorts to have lower pockets, so I opted to utilize my hip bag instead.

The material is thin and breathable which doesn’t make these as protective for rougher trails as other pants in this roundup. The Overland Pants seem to be intended for light trail riding, but missed out on ventilation holes for airflow. I wasn’t too into the bell-bottom ankle cuffs. Although the cuffs never caught onto the chainring, I was still wary that they might.

Overall these pants seem better suited for a casual short ride or daily normal wear.  They wouldn’t be the best for very cold winter months, but instead are ideal for all other seasons with warmer or mild temperatures to protect your legs while riding. They could also make for great commuting pants if that’s your thing. 

At a Glance

  • Pockets: five pockets; two front and two back hand pockets, plus one drop in hip pocket
  • Waistband: snap button and zipper
  • Ankle cuffs: wide / bell bottom style
  • Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Fit: regular, true to size
  • Distinguishing features: DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) 
  • Colors: Tan Wheat (tested)
  • MSRP: $99.95. Available from Club Ride.

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm Pants

The Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm Pants are designed for MTB riders who aren’t afraid of the cold, wet, rainy winter weather conditions. These pants are very lightweight, breathable, and are designed to keep you riding through the wettest of conditions. They are fully waterproof to keep rain, snow, and cold temperatures out, while also providing breathability and a comfortable fit utilizing their H2No fabrics. 

The Dirt Roamers feature an MTB-specific OppoSet® waistband that allows for a fine-tuned fit without getting in the way of hip packs. It is a sleek design on the right of the button clasp, almost unnoticeable at first glance. The waist adjuster can be pulled to make the fit snugger, and there is a small clasp to pull in order to release and relax the waistband. 

The material is midweight and very breathable and it’s made with 100% recycled Nylon. There’s a soft-knit backer to eliminate clamminess against the skin, that also keeps legs cool and helps control body temperature.

Patagonia states that these pants are fully waterproof with a 3-layer H2No® Performance shell that blocks weather while remaining breathable. I went ahead and did a water repelling test of my own. The pants did amazingly well shielding water, not only keeping my legs dry and warm, but also protecting my iPhone XR that I stored in one of the waterproof zippered thigh pockets. Both pockets are deep enough to fit an iPhone XR and are designed to go toward the back of the leg to keep items out of the way while pedaling.

A nice feature is the (almost) knee-high zipper that lets you open up the ankle openings and be able to pull the pants on and off without removing shoes or knee pads. Or, you can unzip the ankle cuffs for maximum ventilation!

Overall these are very flexible and allow for unhindered movement, making them a great choice for all-day winter riding. 

The Dirt Roamer pants are almost perfect; the only thing that was off for me was the sizing. I followed the sizing guide which led me to get a large, which ended up being way too big and loose on me. These pants fall under their regular fit -“Neither slim nor oversized. Regular-fitting technical garments may be worn over heavier midlayers.” 

However, there was something strange about their sizing:

  • Medium can be a size 8 -10 / 29.5 – 30.5 waist.
  • Large can be a size 12 – 14 / 32 – 33.5 waist.

This is a big range! My waist measurement is 33in which is a size large according to the chart. If you’re in between sizes, you might want to save yourself the headache and get both sizes to try them out and find your best fit. 

At a glance

  • Pockets: two waterproof zippered thigh pockets
  • Waistband: adjustable MTB-specific OppoSet®
  • Ankle cuffs: zippered 
  • Fabric: H2No® Performance Standard shell: 3-layer, 3.5-oz 40-denier 100% recycled nylon stretch plain weave with a soft polyester knit backer and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish // Panels: 3-oz 20-denier 100% recycled nylon solid ripstop bonded to a 100% polyester circular-knit back with a DWR finish
  • Fit: regular, not true to size – fit too loose – check sizing guide carefully
  • Distinguishing features: Fully waterproof 3-layer H2No® Performance shell, OppoSet® waistband
  • Colors: Black, Stellar Blue (tested)
  • MSRP: $269. Available at Patagonia, REI and Competitive Cyclist.

REI Co-Op Junction Cycling Rain Pants

The REI Co-Op Junction Cycling Rain Pants are one the first MTB pants I acquired, and are an overall great value for under $100. These are great all-around, all-season pants for mountain bike, trail riding, and even commuting that will last you through many rides, wears, and washes. 

With 90% Nylon material in the front and 79% Polyester material in the back, they are breathable and can be worn comfortably in sunny, warmer days. I’ve ridden with these in the summer when I wanted to have some extra leg protection instead of just shorts and they’ve kept me cool. I’ve also ridden with them during chilly evening rides and they’ve kept me warm and not clammy. The fabric is stretchy, allows full mobility, and has plenty of room to wear a chamois and knee pads without compromising comfort.

The waistband is a comfortable stretchy material with a drawcord to adjust the waistband tighter. However, there is no clasp to keep it tightened, so a knot may be needed to keep the adjustment in place. 

It is nice to have some reflective detailing on the lower legs that helps to be seen in low light. The reflective coating sits on top of the zippers at the ankle cuffs. These zippered ankle cuffs help to put on and take off the pants easily over shoes or knee pads, and they can be opened up for extra ventilation if needed. 

A very important note: although the name states “rain pants”, please be aware that these are not fully waterproof. Instead, they repel water enough from only the front side, in case you are ever caught in the rain unprepared out on the trail. You can make a quick escape back to dry land and stay relatively dry. The back of the pants is not waterproof. 

Overall if you’re not looking to spend over $100, these are a decent, entry-level pair of pants to start off with. Also, they are made with Bluesign-approved materials which means the materials are produced in a way that conserves resources and protects the health of the environment, workers, and wearer.

At a glance

  • Pockets: two side pockets, small rear zippered pocket
  • Waistband: drawcord waist adjustment
  • Ankle cuffs: zippered cuffs
  • Fabric: 91% Nylon, 9% Spandex (front)
  • Fit: regular, true to size
  • Distinguishing features: feflective detailing, bluesign-approved materials
  • Colors: Black
  • MSRP: $79.95. Available from REI.

Maloja PalmoM

Maloja was founded in 2004, inspired by an image depicting a snowboarder flying through the air on a powder-laden day with sugarcoated mountaintops. That image led the founders to the geographical location of Maloja, and the brand has since focused on road, mountain biking apparel, and Nordic/ski activewear and lifestyle streetwear apparel. The Maloja PalmoM pants are well designed to fit and move on mountain bikes while also not looking out of place while walking to the curbside pickup. 

These lightweight pants fit nicely over a chamois and the pre-shaped knee area allows G-Form knee pads to be worn underneath. They fall under “regular fit” sizing, which isn’t too loose or too clingy, and have a nice form fit.

The Softshell material adds a welcomed layer of coverage for windy rides, yet offers decent breathability for active conditions. Maloja states that the MVT rate of this garment is no less than 5.000 g/m²/24h.  What is MVT? It stands for Moisture Vapor Transmission. The ability of any fabric to transfer moisture is dependent on its ability to “wick” it through the fabric, measured in grams per square meter per 24 hours. This means these pants allow 5 grams of moisture to pass through a square meter of fabric in a 24 hour period making the PalmoM pants very effective to transport water vapor (sweat) away from your body to keep you sweat-free, while keeping the wind out.

I’m a personal fan of any and all adjustable waistbands, and these pants fit the bill with a press button, zipper, and velcro closure.

Another nice feature is the zipper that lets you open up the ankle openings, making it easy to pull the pants on and off without removing knee pads.

The superb, high-quality materials and stylish design makes the price tag not at all scary. When you wear these pants you will feel that every penny you spent was well worth it. This company has gone above and beyond to create the perfect garment for your preferred outdoor activity. In contrast with some of the pants in this roundup, the PalmoM pants have crossover potential that allows them to work for many other outdoor activities beyond mountain biking. One pair of pants that can do it all and will last for years to come? Count me in!

At a glance

  • Pockets: two front pockets with invisible zipper, one thigh pocket with invisible zipper
  • Waistband: adjustable waistband with press button, zipper, and velcro closure
  • Ankle cuffs: partly elastic leg ends with short side zip
  • Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Distinguishing features: 100% Windproof 3-layered Softshell, DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent)
  • Fit: regular, true to size
  • MSRP: $229

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