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Best mountain bike pants 2023 | How to find the best MTB trousers for you

The best cycling trousers as tested by our experts

Best mountain bike trousers

Mountain bike trousers are an essential item when riding in cooler temperatures, fully covering your legs and providing warmth and protection from the elements.

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Improvements have been made to the design of cycling trousers over the years, moving away from the original motocross-style of trousers that generally lacked breathability.

Modern mountain bike trousers – or pants, for our American readers – now feature cycling-specific cuts, are usually made from comfortable and breathable stretchy materials, and have ample space to wear knee pads underneath.

Here, we outline the best cycling trousers we have reviewed, as rated by our expert testers.

We also have a summary of the best waterproof mountain bike trousers if you’re riding in wetter weather. If you’re lucky enough to be riding in fairer climes, why not check out our roundup of the best mountain bike shorts?

The best cycling trousers in 2023, as rated by our expert testers

Specialized Trail Pant

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Specialized Trail Pants do a great job of balance comfort, coverage and protection, and work incredibly well on the bike.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Price: £110 / $135 / AU$200 / €120
  • Sizes: 28in, 30in, 32in, 34in, 36in, 38in
  • Excellent fit and trail-friendly design
  • Bags of comfort and proven durability

Specialized’s Trail Pants offer a superb fit with their VapoRise fabric offering welcome stretch. They feature three conveniently located zipped pockets and a ratchet buckle to tailor fit.

They also feature a water-repellent treatment for puddle splashes or light showers.

Our testers found them amongst the most comfortable trousers and their durability satisfies the high asking price, representing one of the best all-rounder trousers we have tested.

Decathlon Rockrider All-Mountain Bottoms

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The snug, athletic fit feels great on the bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • Price: £40
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • The trousers strike the perfect balance between performance and cost
  • DWR water-repellent but not fully waterproof

By far and away the cheapest trousers we have tested, our tester was seriously impressed with Decathlon’s Rockrider All-Mountain bottoms.

They strike the perfect balance between performance and cost. The Rockrider’s also feature a DWR water-repellent coating and stretchy fabric to ensure optimal fit. They are equipped with two thigh zip pockets and an elasticated waist to adjust tightness.

Despite not being billed as waterproof, even when they do begin to let in water, they are still comfortable due to the soft-shell construction.

Nukeproof Blackline Pants

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Blacklines offer a great cut, some useful features and perform incredibly well on the bike. The price is seriously impressive, too.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • Price: £80 / $110 / AU$120 / €104
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Well-considered fit and shaping for riding performance
  • An excellent option for changeable weather

Nukeproof’s Blackline pants were initially launched in 2019 and are still as impressive with their latest iteration. They impressed our tester with their relatively lightweight four-way stretch fabric, which offers close to an unparalleled fit among the competition.

Nukeproof pays attention to the details with two zipped pockets that provide ample storage that won’t flap around inside when riding. They additionally feature a DWR coating to protect against puddle splashes and light showers.

O’Neal Trailfinder Stealth Pants

4.5 out of 5 star rating
he only downside is that the seat panel on the pair tested started to discolour.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £75 / $100
  • Sizes: 28in, 30in, 32in, 34in, 36in, 38in
  • Excellent tailored cut and fit
  • Simple but effective closure system

A cheaper option offering very good quality and performance, the Trailfinder Stealth’s are closer-fitting and don’t flap around when riding in the mud or rain.

They feature a tailored cut and fit and we were impressed with the simple but effective semi-elasticated waist and ratchet buckle closure.

They work well with knee pads and contain two zipped hip pockets. The only downside is that the seat panel on the pair tested started to discolour.

Poc Rhythm Resistance Pants

4.5 out of 5 star rating
There are two zipped pockets and a fluorocarbon-free DWR coating.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £185 / $200 / AU$325 / €229
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • No waist adjustment
  • Reinforced with ripstop panels and Cordura

Despite the lack of a waist adjustment that allows you to size up or down depending on your favoured leg length, these trousers provided an excellent fit around the waist and hips.

The ankle cuffs are elasticated and the fabric used is relatively lightweight but it has a bit of stretch to it. There are two zipped pockets and a fluorocarbon-free DWR coating.

7mesh Glidepath Pant

4.0 out of 5 star rating
We’d suggest not loading the pockets too heavily, given how light the material is.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £150 / $170 / €170
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • The lightest on test but super-comfy, especially on longer rides
  • DWR treatment wards off puddle splashes and light rain showers

The 7mesh trousers impressed, particularly on longer rides. They feature two rear-facing zipped pockets for storing essentials, in addition to two hip pockets. We’d suggest not loading the pockets too heavily, given how light the material is.

Off the bike, the fit and cut doesn’t look quite as tailored but that’s not the case on the bike.

Knee pads fit underneath easily and they are adjusted via a lockable buckle and strap.

The ankle cuffs could do with a little more stretch when taking off and putting on the trousers. They are also quite pricey.

Fox Ranger Pants

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Fox’s Ranger pants offer minimal features but incredible performance on the bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £90 / €90 / AU$100
  • Sizes: 28in, 30in, 32in, 34in, 36in, 38in
  • Comfortable with an excellent cut and shaping
  • Waist adjustment a little fiddly

Fox’s Ranger Pants performed admirably with their relatively simple design over having lots of functions. They are quite close-fitting and are unlikely to flap about when riding.

They use a strap and double loop system to cinch your way into them and feature two hand hip pockets and a single zipped pocket for essentials located mid-way down the left thigh.

Whilst they’ve proven durable in the year of testing, they are difficult to put on and take off and pulling them and off over testing has unbonded the hems which have started to drop down.

Rapha Trail Pants review

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Rapha has done a great job with its new Trail Pants, managing to balance fit, feel, comfort and features really well. They’re certainly not cheap, though.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £130 / €155 / $180 / AU$230
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Fabulously comfortable, fearsomely expensive
  • Overall very well designed

Rapha entered the mountain bike kit market to much fanfare in 2021 and, so far, we’ve been really impressed with everything we have tested.

The brand’s Trail Pants are no different, with little bar the high price holding them back from a higher score.

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Pant

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Troy Lee’s Skylines are another seriously comfortable option, both on and off the bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Price: £110 / $119 / €130
  • Sizes: 28in, 30in, 32in, 34in, 36in, 38in, 40in
  • Lightweight and some of the comfiest out there
  • Bluesign approved fabric

Another fairly lightweight entry, Troy Lee’s Skylines are another seriously comfortable option, both on and off the bike, although the lower legs could be more snug.

There are two zipped hip pockets that are decently sized and knee pads fit well underneath.

There are perforations behind the knees to help prevent overheating and there is a heavier protective panel on the inside of the right leg to protect the crank arm if it comes into contact with it, although this can bunch up if your legs are on the shorter side.

Buyer’s guide to mountain bike trousers: what to look for

It’s hard to beat trousers for riding in cooler conditions.
Steve Behr / Immediate Media

Mountain bike trousers are a necessity when the temperature drops and the trails become muddy and filled with puddles. They provide well-needed warmth and protection from the elements.

They are particularly convenient in that you can simply remove your trousers at the end of a muddy ride and not have to worry about washing mud and debris off of your shins and knee pads.

Mountain bike trouser design really has come along leaps and bound – they are no longer as hot, heavy, ill-fitting or restrictive as they used to be.

They’re also no longer solely reserved for cold winter riding. Some riders prefer to ride in trousers outside of the colder seasons, for example when the trails are overgrown.

There are a range of trousers to choose from for a variety of conditions, from waterproof options for the foulest winter conditions to lightweight, perforated options for more clement weather.

Ultimately, the best trouser for you will depend on your requirements and the type of riding you partake in.


The shape, or cut, of trousers is a crucial factor in how they’ll perform.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

So what are the key factors you need to look for in a decent set of mountain bike trousers?

Firstly, the shape and fit need to work. If the trousers are overly baggy, there’s a likelihood they’ll absorb water and mud and feel heavy and flap about when you’re riding.

Equally, be careful to ensure that the cut isn’t too tight, as that will restrict freedom of movement and you won’t be able to fit knee pads underneath.

It’s important to note how the trousers move when you’re pedalling (known as articulation) and how they interact with your knee pads. If the trousers don’t articulate well, you’ll be constantly adjusting your knee pads from where they slip down your legs.


Adjustability is also key.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Most cycling trousers will have adjustability built-in, allowing you to perfect the fit so they can articulate well when pedalling.

That may be through a ratchet closure, a waistband or a buckle-and-loop system. Generally speaking, the more expensive the trouser, the more sophisticated the closure.

Many trousers feature grippers on the inside of the waistband, typically made from silicon, to hold the garment in place and stop them from riding down.


Pockets are key if you want to stash away your phone to catch a sweet ‘gram on your ride.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Pocket placement is another key factor to bear in mind for storing essentials when riding.

They need to be large enough to store your valuables and be positioned well to avoid your items rattling around when riding. It adds further manufacturing complexity and cost when they are zipped.


Many trousers feature perforations to allow them extra breathability, typically at the thigh area or just below the waist.

Lighter weight options will feature additional perforations and some trousers may also include zipped vents.

DWR is a breathable coating that’s applied to the fabric to repel water. Look out for perforations to aid breathability.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media


Some trousers have a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, or similar, to help repel water from puddles or light showers. This is a breathable coating that’s applied to the fabric during manufacture and repels water by making it bead and roll off the garment rather than soak into the fabric.

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This doesn’t replace a pair of fully waterproof trousers, but it’s reassuring to know that trousers that feature this technology can withstand some water. The DWR coating needs to be reapplied from time to time.