Fox’s Ranger mountain bike pants feature heavily tapered legs and include some simple details that make sense on the bike.
They aren’t, however, packed with features, instead offering more of a pared-back design that shows you don’t always need all the bells and whistles to make a decent pair of mountain bike trousers.
At £90, their pricing is competitive and despite a couple of niggles, I’ve ridden in my test pair of Rangers for close to a year now and they’re still going strong.
Fox Ranger pants details
The first striking thing you’re likely to notice with the Rangers is their heavily tapered, figure-hugging cut. This isn’t to ensure you’re as aero as possible while sauntering down the trail, but simply adds an element of practicality on the bike – baggy trousers are likely to flap about as you pedal, especially when caked in mud, which is very annoying.
The lower legs are really quite close-fitting and despite the elasticated panel at the rear of the ankle cuff, there’s not masses of give, which can make getting them on and off a little tricky (especially when balancing on one foot, caked in mud, in the rain while getting changed in a trail-centre car park).
Fox has constructed the Rangers from a relatively stretchy, light fabric. At just 270g (for the size small), the Rangers are certainly light, but the fabric doesn’t feel delicate or fragile, and it has proven to be durable throughout testing.
Unlike many brands, Fox made the decision not to add perforations to the material, instead relying on its lightweight breathability to prevent you from boiling over.
A simple, single meaty popper is all that’s used to keep the Rangers closed. There’s no zipped fly or Velcro in place to keep the overlapping fabric in place, but I had no issues with the trousers gaping open or coming undone.
In a similar vein, the pockets aren’t over-complicated. Two hand hip pockets are useful off the bike and there’s a single zipped pocket for essentials located mid-way down the left thigh.
Like much of the competition, the Rangers feature waist adjustment. But rather than opt for the more common Velcro adjusters (or the even more straightforward elasticated waistband), Fox uses a strap and double-loop system (a little like you’d find to adjust a strap on a backpack).
While the double loop lies almost perfectly flat and sits really close to the trousers, I found it fiddlier and less convenient to use. That said, once you’ve adjusted it to your preference, you can soon forget about it (unless you need to make some adjustments after a particularly big meal).
Fox Ranger pants performance
On the bike, the Rangers are outstanding performers. The svelte, tailored cut certainly helps to play its part here, keeping the fabric of the lower legs close to your own. There’s no annoying crank rub and even when they’re drenched through and weighed down, very little in the way of material shifting around.
Perfect for pedalling in
On top of that, the Rangers move with your own movements. Despite the fact that Fox hasn’t designed much in the way of rise through the rear of the waistband (as you’ll find on some trousers, all of which is to help shield your lower back), I never had any issues with the waist not staying up while riding.
They also work well with knee pads, and although the tapered legs are quite snug, I managed to get bulky downhill-style pads underneath without any fuss.
While pedalling, the Rangers move smoothly over knee pads without snagging or pulling them down, which is a real plus.
The leg length is spot on for me, which helps. Some riders with longer legs might get chilly ankles, but I’d take that over having too much excess fabric gathered up, collecting mud and flapping about, any day of the week.
Tough but not without their faults
While there’s no denying that the Rangers are great on the bike, they’re not perfect for a number of reasons.
Yes, they’ve lasted throughout the nearly year-long test period and despite the lightweight construction, the material has proven itself to be robust enough to handle scrapes and knocks without issue.
But, due to how tight the ankle cuff is and the limited give in the elasticated panel, they’re not the easiest to get on and off.
Still, pulling the tight cuffs on and off repeatedly has, over time, resulted in the bonded hems unsticking and dropping down.
It is, though, something you’d need to look closely in order to pick up on and I’ve not noticed any issues occurring because of this, which is reassuring.
Decent details but room for improvement
Changing to a different waist-adjustment mechanism would make the Rangers even easier to live with, and there’s another detail I’d like to improve upon too.
There’s no denying that the two hip hand pockets are useful, but off the bike more than on it. The small zipped pocket on the left thigh is indeed handy, but I can’t help thinking adding a second zipped pocket would benefit most riders.
Why? Well, I’d prefer to be able to separate those items out rather than cram keys and a phone into one pocket.
I found this less of a problem because I tend to just use zipped pockets for storing keys (with my phone in a waist pack), but there have definitely been times when I’ve wanted to securely stash more yet wasn’t able to.
It’s not a massive issue, but it feels as though the Rangers’ appeal would increase even more with a small change such as this – though I’m sure their price tag would, too.
How we tested
I tried out the Fox Ranger pants as part of a group test, riding them back-to-back with several other pairs of trousers.
Also on test:
- Endura Singletrack II Trouser review
- Specialized Trail Pants review
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline
- Nukeproof Blackline Pants review
In terms of performance, the shape, cut and fit of the Rangers most closely compares to the Specialized Trail pants.
But why, if the Rangers feel similar on the hill, don’t they score as well as the Trail pants? Well, I’d say Specialized has nailed not just the fit, but almost everything else too. The Trail pants might not be exactly feature-heavy, but their waist adjusters, closure and pockets trump those seen on the Ranger.
The differences might be minor, but they all add up in the end. However, it’s still worth pointing out that I really rate the Fox Ranger pants.
Fox Ranger pants bottom line
I’m a big fan of the Fox Ranger pants, but still feel there’s some room for improvement. A slight alteration to the waist adjustment and potentially adding a zip to one of the hand pockets would be pluses.
In terms of outright performance, though, the Rangers work really well on the bike. Their sleek, close-fitting profile means they’re great to pedal in, stay exactly where they need to be and feel comfortable, even after hours in the saddle.
The price is decent, too, which helps.
|Price||AUD $100.00EUR €90.00GBP £90.00|
|Weight||270g (30in) – as tested|
|Features||Sizes: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38in
Material: 85% polyamide nylon, 9% polyester, 6% elastane
Inseam (measured from crotch seam to bottom of ankle cuff): 28in
Women’s version available: Yes
Pockets: 2 hand hip, plus 1 zipped