The Specialized Trail Pants clearly take inspiration from the downhill-focused Demo Pro Pants that won me over back in 2017, thanks to their low weight, handy features and pedal-friendly design.
At the time, the Demos were one of very few pairs of trousers that were comfy when being worn for long days pedalling on the trail bike, and when these launched, I wore them almost constantly.
The Trail Pants take that formula but have been created with an even more trail-friendly design and, as you’ll soon find out, I absolutely love them.
Specialized Trail Pants details
The Trail Pants are constructed using Specialized’s VapoRize fabric. This offers a bit of welcome stretch, which helps not only with fit, but also with how the trousers articulate as you pedal and move around the bike. Specialized has added a water-repellent treatment to help ward off light rain showers and puddle splashes.
Arguably the most striking feature of the Trail Pants is their cut. While the hips and thighs remain relatively roomy, the lower legs are heavily tapered in a bid to keep them from interfering with the cranks while you turn the pedals.
Despite how skinny the lower legs appear, getting them on and off isn’t as bad as you might imagine, thanks to half of each ankle cuff being elasticated. This also helps to provide a really close fit once on.
Specialized offers the unisex Trail Pants in six different sizes (from 28-38in). Fit around the waist can be adjusted easily using the ratchet buckle, which combines with a zipped fly to keep them nice and secure while riding.
Just in case you do start to really warm up while riding, there are perforations dotted down the inner thigh to help dump heat. That said, at 300g, the Trail Pants aren’t exactly overly thick or heavy.
Thanks to the three zipped pockets, it’s easy enough to stash essentials while riding. The two hip pockets are a little more generously sized than the rear-facing thigh pocket on the left leg, which is ideal for stowing a phone.
Specialized Trail Pants performance
Tight, but not too tight
While the tapered lower legs of the Trail Pants might look a touch extreme, I’m a massive fan of the cut and shaping. Yes, you could argue that they’re tight enough to warrant some aero gains, but it’s how they feel on the bike that’s won me over.
The fit around the waist of my 30in trousers felt accurate and, thanks to the ratchet buckle, is easy to alter to get it feeling properly spot-on, particularly useful if you’ve overindulged on your mid-ride lunch stop.
The hips and waist articulate well, too, meaning that when you move, the Trail Pants move with you and stay exactly where they need to be. I’ve never had to hike them up during a ride, or suffered from a sagging crotch when they’ve been plastered in mud.
Alongside the cut, for me at least, it feels that Specialized has totally nailed the leg length (my inseam is roughly 30in).
Taller riders might feel the breeze on their ankles a little compared to us more compact types, but I’d rather that than loads of excess material bunched up and left to flap about as I pedal.
In fact, get them slathered in wet mud and the Trail Pants manage to avoid shifting around and won’t slap your shins or rub your cranks with every turn of the pedals.
These are easily some of the comfiest trousers I’ve pedalled in, and that level of comfort doesn’t diminish when the pants get the inevitable soaking you can expect through the winter months.
As and when you do get caught in the rain, the Trail Pants do a decent job of shrugging off splashes, though won’t keep the wet out during prolonged downpours.
Thankfully, they do dry quickly enough. As you’d expect, the effectiveness of the water repellency does wane over time and with more laps of the washing machine, but six months on, my trousers still offer a reasonable barrier between me and the elements.
Thanks to the relatively lightweight fabric used here, I’ve had no major issues wearing the Trail Pants on milder days in the hills either.
As you’d expect, they’re not as breezy as a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts on a sweltering day, but I’ve never felt too clammy wearing them in late summer/early autumn or during the later weeks of spring.
That said, while not the thickest, the Trail Pants do keep you a little warmer on really cold days.
You’ll still want properly waterproof mountain bike trousers with zero venting if you’re planning on riding in a monsoon during the depths of winter, but the Trail Pants still do a decent job of adding a little extra warmth compared to riding in shorts.
Well-considered design details
Despite the svelte looks, Specialized has managed to leave enough room around the knees for chunky knee pads.
And thanks to the give and make-up of the material, the Trail Pants move smoothly with and over knee pads without snagging as you pedal, which is something that can’t be said for all pants of this nature.
The three zipped pockets are sizable enough to stow keys, a card and phone without issue. Thankfully, the content is held tightly enough against your leg to prevent the contents shifting around too much while you turn the cranks.
Yes, those tight lower legs do mean that getting the Trail Pants on and off isn’t as easy as some straight-cut equivalents, but thanks to the semi-elasticated cuff and the natural give in the fabric, you won’t need to be rolling around the car park with these stuck around your ankles.
And to be honest, I’ll happily live with this and how well they work on the bike, compared to baggier pants that flap around constantly while riding.
Having now worn the Trail Pants for over six months, I’ve been seriously impressed by how well they’ve held up.
After numerous washes, crashes and hours in the saddle, they’ve not discoloured, lost their shape or suffered any rips or tears.
That means while the asking price is quite high, I think the performance more than justifies the cost. It helps that they work well in a variety of weather conditions, too.
Specialized Trail Pants and how they compare
I rode the Specialized Trail Pants as part of a group test and back-to-back with 10 other pairs of trousers.
The Trail Pants came out on top against some seriously impressive competition, including Nukeproof’s Blackline pants, which are cheaper but arguably not as well proportioned, and POC’s Rhythm Resistance pants, which perform impressively but cost nearly twice as much.
Also on test:
- Nukeproof Blackline
- Endura SingleTrack II
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline
- Fox Ranger
Other notable performances came from O’Neal’s Pathfinder pants, which are well priced and nicely shaped, though did discolour over time, and Troy Lee Designs Skyline pants, which offer some great features but couldn’t quite match the Specialized Trail Pants in terms of performance.
Specialized Trail Pants bottom line
The Specialized Trail Pants are a great all-rounder and have proven themselves in a variety of weather conditions, managing to provide a great mix of coverage, protection, warmth and comfort.
While the figure hugging look might not be to everyone’s taste, it does help them to perform brilliantly on the bike, articulating nicely as you pedal and never shifting around or flapping about even when caked in mud.
The features that are included were spot-on for my needs and only helped add to the ride experience. The fact their styling is beyond subtle too is another win in my book.
|Price||AUD $200.00EUR €120.00GBP £110.00USD $135.00|
|Features||Sizes: 28in, 30in*, 32in, 34in, 36in, 38in
Pockets: 3 zipped
Inseam (measured from crotch seam to bottom of ankle cuff, size small): 29.5in