Rapha has really been picking up the pace when it comes to its off-road offering and, so far, those who have worn the kit in anger have been really impressed.
While other roadie brands have tried to jump into the mountain-bike market in the past, it hasn’t always worked. But Rapha seems to have done its homework and the kit has been proving itself out on the trail.
Naturally, Rapha’s mountain bike range couldn’t be considered complete without a set of trail pants, which is why the brand launched these at the tail end of 2021. Like the rest of the range, the new Trail Pants are well-made and include some great rider-friendly features.
Rapha Trail Pants specifications and details
Rapha offers the Trail Pants in six sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL) and unusually, compared to many mountain bike brands, four different colours (including black, so don’t worry).
The double-weave fabric is said to be very durable without feeling too heavy. I weighed my size small sample pants in at 370g, which is competitive compared to other top contenders from the likes of Specialized, Nukeproof and Fox.
Thanks to a tailored cut, the Trail Pants are close-fitting around the hips and thighs, and although the legs taper, they remain looser around the ankle than some, which should help with getting them off once caked in mud. There’s a decent amount of stretch at the ankle cuffs too, which helps further.
And to help ensure they continue to keep you properly covered when you’re sat down and mashing at the pedals, the rear of the waistband is raised to make sure your lower back isn’t left exposed.
Along with six sizes to choose from, there are also two lockable buckles and adjuster straps at the waist (rather than the more common stretchy Velcro tabs), as well as belt loops to guarantee the fit is just right.
A metal keyhole popper and fly closure help to keep the Rapha Trail Pants firmly and securely done up.
Two zipped, rear-facing pockets on the thighs are great for storing essentials securely. What’s even better is that both of these pockets include internal dividers. This helps to separate items but also prevents smaller things (such as keys) from shifting around while you ride. It’s a nice touch that not every other brand offers.
On top of that, there are also two hip pockets, which have consistently proven useful when off the bike.
To cap things off, Rapha has added a DWR coating to the fabric of the Trail Pants in a bid to keep the worst of the rain and puddle splashes off your legs.
Rapha Trail Pants performance
The Rapha Trail Pants feel extremely comfy from the get-go, with a great fit around the hips, waist and thighs.
Tailoring the fit is easy enough with the lockable buckles and straps, though these are fiddlier to use than the more common Velcro tabs we’re used to seeing, especially with gloves on. That said, once adjusted, I’ve not had to readjust the fit, so it isn’t a massive problem.
When it comes to all-important leg length, I found the Trail Pants to be just about right, thanks to their 30in inseam (size small). Although the lower legs are tapered, I’d happily have them closer-fitting if I had the option, but not by a huge amount.
That’s mainly down to wanting to maintain the fit once they’re totally caked and soaked in mud. Not that I’ve had any major issues here, though. Yes, the lower legs will shift around a little more than the likes of the Specialized Trail Pants, but they’re not at all bad.
The DWR coating has proven to be extremely effective so far, preventing hefty puddle splashes from penetrating the fabric and soaking my legs. There’s a chance this protection could wane with more use and washes, though.
There’s no denying that the Rapha Trail Pants are comfy to pedal in. With more than enough room beneath to fit knee pads, I’ve been consistently impressed by how well they articulate and avoid snagging on bulkier pads while turning the cranks.
Of course, having a pair of trousers that are comfy and well-fitting is one thing, but if they’re near to impossible to take off or, dare I say it, don’t include a pocket to stash your phone so you can upload every ride straight to Strava, there’s clearly something wrong.
Fortunately, Rapha delivers on both fronts. While I’ve said already that I’d like the lower legs to be slightly closer-fitting, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the stretch and space around the ankle cuff (well, not too much, anyway).
Why? Well, I haven’t ever done yoga, but I’d hazard a guess that the shapes being pulled by mountain bikers while trying to remove muddy trousers, balancing on one foot at the back of a car as the rain pelts down to be classed as ‘highly advanced’. Or whatever the equivalent of a yoga black belt might entail.
Basically, while I want a well-shaped fit, I also want to be able to whip the trousers off with ease when I’m done, without falling flat on my face.
Thanks to the looser fit at the ankle, along with the elasticated cuff, getting the Raphas on and off is easy, even when absolutely plastered in mud.
And as for storage, they come up trumps here too. That’s thanks to the two zipped thigh pockets, which are backwards-facing. Inside are internal dividers to keep the content separate, but also prevent items from shifting around.
These pockets are secure and when loaded, the content goes almost unnoticed thanks to the positioning and how well it’s held against your leg.
There are also two useful hand pockets. While these aren’t particularly secure to use when riding, they’re handy to have when off the bike, and I found myself using them more than I imagined.
Just as I found with the Endura Singletrack II trousers I tested recently, I never felt the need to use the belt loops provided.
How do the Rapha Trail Pants compare to the competition?
Having recently completed a trail pants group test, where I put 11 pairs up against one another, it’s interesting to see how the Rapha Trail Pants stack up.
As the Rapha pants aren’t quite as figure-hugging as their counterparts from Specialized, I’d say their closest rivals are the Nukeproof Blackline Pants. The Rapha Trail Pants trump the Blacklines in terms of storage features, but they’re closely matched when it comes to comfort.
Where the two differ most is that the Blacklines are that bit lighter (we’re not talking much here, but the Blacklines feature more perforations to help with airflow), while the Raphas certainly heat up more quickly on warmer days. Whether the Raphas will prove to be more durable or tougher is hard to say at this point, though.
Oh, and the Rapha pants cost £50 more than the Blacklines, which will no doubt help people make their minds up pretty quickly when it comes to parting with cash.
Rapha Trail Pants bottom line
While these Rapha Trail Pants are some of the priciest out there (POC still trumps them in this department, though), I can’t help reaching for them whenever I’m heading out on the bike.
They’re comfy, well made and offer some nice, rider-friendly features. The waist adjustment could be a little neater and there’s scope to tailor the lower legs a little more, but otherwise the fit works well for me and I’ve found them a pleasure to pedal around in.
|Price||AUD $230.00EUR €155.00GBP £130.00USD $180.00|
|Weight||370g (S) – as tested|
|Features||Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL
Materials (main): Nylon 89%, Elastane 11%
Materials (contrast): Nylon 88%, Elastane 12%
Inseam (measured from crotch seam to bottom of ankle cuff, size small): 30in
Colours: Blue Green/Egg Shell; Dark Red/Light Grey; Green/Black; Black/Light Grey
Women’s version available: yes