Our guide to the best mountain bike trousers around. MTB trousers have come a long way in recent years. Once largely the prevail of downhill riders – stiff sweaty things – now we all enjoy the fruits of fabric technology advances and pull on a pair of pants before hitting the trails.
Our favourite MTB trousers
- Ion Shelter Pants
- Madison Flux Trouser
- Endura MT500 Spray Trouser
- Nukeproof Blackline Trail Pants
- Fox Defend Pants
- Giro Havoc Trousers
- Troy Lee Designs Resist Pant
What to look out for
Obviously the trousers have to fit you – in the waist and in the leg. Get out a measuring tape and write down your actual hip, waist and leg measurements so that you can compare them to each manufacturer’s sizing chart – they’ll likely vary a bit.
Trousers can now be worn all year round. For summer MTB pants, look out for lightweight fabrics with laser-cut ventilation holes, or zippered vents with mesh liners. For cooler weather, look for windproof panels and DWR splash-proofing. Some trousers will have reinforced or heavier weight fabrics in the saddle area – especially useful for durability in muddy, gritty conditions.
Mountain bike trousers should be tapered around the calf and ankle so that you don’t catch your cuffs in your chain. This is likely to be achieved by either elastic inserts, zippered openings, or stiffened and shaped fabrics.
Most trousers will be cut to accommodate slim fitting knee pads that are easy to pedal in. If you prefer to wear bulkier kneepads with more emphasis on protection that pedalling, look for trousers with articulated panels around the knees that give more space for pads.
Waist fastenings come in many forms. Ratchet fasteners are great for offering adjustment and a secure fit. Velcro waist tabs may also offer fine tuning of fit, but they’re most comfortable when they’re on the outside of the waistband. Trousers with a raised rear waistband will likely offer more coverage and comfort when leaning forward on the bike. A secure fit is important – you don’t want the crotch of baggy pants to catch on your saddle when descending technical sections.
If you like to carry things in your pockets, pay attention to the size and placement of them. Will your phone fit? Is the pocket for your phone just exactly on that spot where you always hit the ground…?
Best Mountain Bike Trousers
Ion Shelter Pants
Overall: Ion has made consistently durable and well thought out trousers for years now. The Ion Shelter is the more water repellant and poor weather option. They are available in both men’s and women’s cuts. Read our review.
Madison Flux Trouser
Overall: The Flux trousers are available in sizes S to XXL to cater for waist sizes 28” to 42.5”. Waist adjustment is done via a ratchet system and they also use a standard zipped full height fly. The rear yoke area has printed silicone grippers to stop any slippage and they also benefit from two small pockets on the thoughts for stashing those ride essentials. To help shrug off the worst of the weather the outside also has a DWR coating that helps trail spray bead off. Read our review.
Endura MT500 Spray Trouser
Overall: Designed for tough conditions with a performance fit and seat panel waterproofing, the Endura MT500 Trouser seem like the ideal solution for UK winter riding. These are available in both a men’s and women’s cut. Read our review.
Nukeproof Blackline Trail Pants
Overall: These are made from an 88% polyamide/12% elastane construction, which gives them a four-way stretch and makes them really easy to manoeuvre in and comfortable to wear. They have a slim tapered fit, but are not overly tight, the waist is nice and snug without being tight and while there aren’t any belt loops, there are Velcro adjusters for cinching things up. Now available in men’s and women’s cuts. Read our review.
Giro Havoc Trousers
Overall: Generously sized lightweight trousers that feel good to the touch and aren’t as skinny-cut as many MTB pants. A DWR coating beads water off it really well, but think ‘Californian winter’ and wear these for cool UK summer days. Read our review.
Fox Defend Pants
Overall: Durable, water resistant and snug fitting pants designed for downhill and enduro. Available in both men’s and women’s cuts, with ratchet strap waist for a secure fit. Read our review.
Troy Lee Designs Resist Pant
Overall: Like most of Troy Lee’s kit, the Resist Pants are a great looking pair of trousers, but more importantly, they’re perfect for riding in the rain and slimy conditions. The material is a Bluesign 10k waterproof stretch material which somehow, magically, prevents water from leaking in, but has enough stretch to keep them comfortable on the move. The material comes with a Teflon EcoElite finish that helps water to bead up and roll off, but also stops mud and grit sticking firmly to them. Read our review.
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