Lady Pants! I can’t help think of the Little Britain sketches ‘These are Lady Pants for Ladies because we ARE Ladies, aren’t we?’ But to those less immature and more familiar with Gore product naming conventions, it will be obvious that these are simply waterproof trousers for women. Aimed at the ‘recreational’ cyclist, Gore bill these as being multifunctional overpants with reliable wind and rain protection.
Available in all black, or black with fluorescent yellow calves, I had the fluorescent version in a size 38 – which is equivalent to my usual UK size 12. These fit just right round the thighs – these trousers appear to be quite snugly cut in the thigh area – but are rather baggy round my waist. Length-wise, they are perfect for me, which is a refreshing change as I usually have to buy trousers in special longer lengths. That said, I suspect some riders are going to find these too long – so for reference, I’d usually wear a 32 inch leg in jeans.
The calves and ankles are fitted with velcro, so you can tighten the trousers for riding. This is done not just around the cuff of the ankle, but also with a velcro spot on the calf, which means you don’t have any flapping round your calves while riding. Let the velcro out, and you have a pair of waterproof trousers which will double up for walking, with the legs fitting comfortably over a pair of wellies.
Both models have some small reflective patches on the sides, but on the flouro version it’s the superbright calves that are going to grab your attention. They do seem to be particularly bright – I’ve had a lot of comments about just how bright my calves are. I can admit that these ‘woah, those are bright!’ comments indicate that these are in the functional commuter category rather than the enduro cool category, but the all black version is available for the style conscious Ninja.
Moving up the trousers, so to speak, the knees fit comfortably. The fabric isn’t flappy, but there was still room to pedal without any restriction on the knees. But round the thighs, they’re really quite snug. They’re sold as being comfortable next to skin, and they are, which is just as well as there isn’t really enough room to wear anything other than leggings or lycra undershorts underneath. If you want trousers to sling over your office chinos on the way to work, then these are probably not for you – I don’t think there’s enough room in the thighs for this to be comfortable, at least for me – and in this respect I think the ‘overpants’ selling point needs to be clarified. They’re pants for over lycra, or leggings – not just any old trousers.
And so up to the waist, which is where these trousers fall down. Literally. As a product of being big enough to fit over your hips without a fly, the elasticated waist is quite large. It’s also fairly low cut. I’d have liked to have seen a higher waist with perhaps a good quantity of velcro to hold the waist in place, but instead there’s a sort of elasticated drawstring loop which means that, try as I might, I can’t get the waist to stay tight and high enough on the bike. There’s a constant feeling that they’re about to expose my bum below my jacket hemline. There’s a rear zipped pocket at the back of the waist, but I’ve not used this as any weight would only pull the trousers down more. More problematic for the mountainbike rider, the slipping down creates a baggy crotch which risks catching and impeding movement on the bike on technical sections – although they’re probably aimed more at the gentler end of the market where perhaps this isn’t such a problem.
This is a real shame, as the waterproofing is excellent. I’ve ridden them in some of the wettest weather on record, and I’ve remained dry. The water hasn’t got in, and they’ve been breathable enough that I’ve not drenched myself in sweat either. Gore’s claim that they are comfortable next to skin is entirely accurate – I have found myself wearing these simply for the comfortable wind protection and fluoro flashes on commutes, with just lycra shorts underneath. The inside of the trousers is a sort of soft fabric feel, rather than a tacky or rubbery waterproof, so even when pedalling hard I’ve never found the trousers to feel sticky. I’ve washed them on a number of occasions without re-waterproofing, and the water still beads off them on wet rides, too. Bonus.
The seat area is reinforced and doesn’t let in water even when the pedalling action rubs the trousers against the saddle. The legs are well thought through, and provide a good of freedom of movement without being hugely flappy or baggy. I can’t say that I’ve even found the fabric particularly rustle-y – something which can drive me to distraction. So it’s a shame that the waist is such a let-down for me. Admittedly I have quite large hips and thighs compared to my waist, but I’d have thought this fairly typical for many cyclists.
Overall: I’m so impressed with the waterproofing, breathability and comfort in the legs that I’m considering investing in some braces, and if Gore do a re-design of the waist I’ll be first in line to test these again. But check they fit you carefully before you splash out.
|Element Gore-Tex Active Lady Pants
|by Hannah for 2 months