It’s quite a task to find the right clothes to wear on wet rides, whether they’re warm or cold, but Fox claims its Ranger 3L Water Pant provides the solution to that problem.
We’ve all been there; wearing too many layers on muggy but soggy spins as you get progressively wetter from the inside out. But, if you’re not wearing an effective barrier to the outside elements, water will seep in much quicker than you can perspire and both can create uncomfortable rides.
One solution is to accept that by wearing fewer breathable fabrics you’re going to be hot and sweaty, but the cold rain will be kept off your skin. Another is to concede that you can wear enough layers to keep you warm but the rain is going to drench you to the bone.
More recently, there’s been an increasing trend for lightweight, waterproof – or at least repellent – and breathable kit. Tourers, softshell jackets and even proper hardshell waterproofs are all getting better at preventing water from getting in and letting sweat out quicker.
Fox’s Ranger 3L Water Pants aim to do just that, designed to keep the wet out while venting the body’s moisture and heat through its lightweight fabric. I took to the trails to find out how they perform.
Fox Ranger 3L Water Pant specifications and details
Designed for trail riding, Fox claims the Ranger 3L Water Pant is impressively versatile. Built to be light and flexible, Fox has used a polyester and spandex blend along with a tapered leg that’s cut to help with pedalling comfort on the bike.
The material has a claimed waterproof rating of 10,000mm and a 10,000g breathability score. The seams are internally taped, which Fox claims helps to affirm their weather-resistance.
The pockets are quite small, but you can squeeze a small phone and keys in them. Andy Lloyd
The external surfaces are coated in a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that should fend off water, dirt and other nasties flicked up from the trail.
Zipper-sealed pockets sit either side of your thighs and the pants are fastened around the waist with a ratchet strap that can be used to adjust fit.
Fox Ranger 3L Water Pant performance
In the depths of winter the Ranger 3L Water Pant has real appeal. The DWR coating is good at brushing off puddle splashes, light rain and particularly wet muck spat up from your tyres.
The ability to keep the elements out and away from your skin is impressive across the whole of the trousers’ construction and is apparent when you see satisfying beads of moisture sitting on the fabric’s surface.
Increase the level of muck to a gloopier, thicker consistency and the additional stick means the pants don’t shed dirt quite as well. This has the tendency to compromise their waterproof qualities, especially around your arse’s contact patch with the saddle.
If the trails then return to a river and water splashes over and rubs into the stuck-on mud, you’re almost guaranteed to get a wet tush. To be fair to the pants, it’s unlikely any breathable material will stand up to this level of abuse and we’re all too conscious that the best way to stay dry is to also stay clean.
It’s worth pointing out that the thigh and shin panels didn’t allow any water to enter at all during the testing period.
I was impressed with how breathable the pants were. Even on sticky, mild and wet days it took quite some doing to overwhelm them with perspiration. And, once I’d cooled down after a steamy climb, I didn’t think that they were compromised by internal damp that can cause you to get cold.
There’s no zipper on the fly, instead the pants close using a ratchet strap. Andy Lloyd
In fact, with just a pair of padded shorts and knee pads on underneath they offered a great range of practical usability. The soft internal material was comfortable even once it had soaked through from the inside thanks to sweat, or the outside thanks to water ingress around the bum.
The cut is well suited to pedalling and there’s ample room around the knees for bulky pads, although the extra heat they can create might not be ideal. I had no problems with excess heat when using slimmer knee pads, though.
The legs are fairly short and with the pants positioned correctly on my hips there was a small gap between the leg’s cuff and my shoe. This meant that in very splashy conditions my socks got wet very quickly.
The pockets are big enough to fit a set of car keys or a small multi-tool, but a large phone pushes them to their limits and reduces the trousers’ comfort when pedalling.
The fly-less waist closure didn’t let any water in and it’s great being able to adjust the fit using a simple ratchet strap rather than relying on Velcro or pull cords.
The legs are quite short around the ankles which can cause your socks to get wet. Andy Lloyd
Fox Ranger 3L Water pant bottom line
A true wet weather companion that offers top levels of performance. They’re comfortable and light enough for all-day epics, repel water and wet mud with ease and breathe surprisingly well.
The saddle contact patch does let some water in when the conditions are particularly disgusting, but the only way I’d expect the wet to stay out is if I was wearing a plastic bag.
To get the most from these pants you’ll want to use them when it’s disgustingly wet and cold – they’ll prove their worth instantly.