The best MTB pants have gone from motocross-styled trousers reserved for downhill racers into something you might now reach for when heading out on a trail ride. And thanks to advancements in fabric technology and tailoring, MTB pants have become a popular choice all-year round, rather than just for foul weather.
Gone are the days of bulky and thick MTB pants that didn't breathe, now the best MTB pants are made from the same materials as you'd find on the best mountain bike shorts, with stretchy fabrics and smart tailored fits that even feature vents. Brands have realized that a slimmer fit is less obtrusive, and can help to keep the best knee pads in place, too.
Our experts have tested a wide range of pants in all kinds of riding conditions, so you can be sure there's a pair of MTB trousers to suit your needs. Our top pick is the Gorewear Fernflow pant, and our budget buy is the O'Neal Trailfinder Stealth.
Keep reading for our pick of the best MTB pants or jump to the bottom to find out what to look for when buying a pair. And if you're in the market for some riding trousers for the worst of the weather, you might be interested in our guide to the best waterproof MTB pants.
The best MTB pants
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The quick list
Best MTB pants overall
Excellent fit and form, and breathability that works extremely well in a range of temperatures.
Best value MTB pants
Great fitting, super-fast drying pants with all the features you need at an excellent price.
Best for mild weather
Best MTB pants for mild weather
Outstanding pants with a flawless cut, supreme comfort and top-tier on-trail performance.
Best waterproof MTB pants
Next-level weather protection and comfort in grim conditions, excellent breathability and a brilliant fit.
Best lightweight MTB pants
Excellent fitting lightweight pants that are comfortable enough to ride in all day long.
Best women's lightweight
Best women's lightweight MTB pants
Extremely comfortable, breathable and fast drying, premium quality trail pants.
See the next 7 pants ↓
Best all-day MTB pants
Excellent all-round performance pants for long days in the saddle.
Best casual look
Best casual look MTB pants
Comfortable and versatile riding pants with a stylish casual look that's great for off the bike too.
Best women's fit
Best women's fit MTB pants
Excellent female-orientated pants, proportioned well, and with a waterproof and breathable laminated seat lining.
Best cooler enduro
Best cooler enduro MTB pants
Well-made, well-shaped and comfortable, great pants for chillier spring/autumn days.
Best luxurious feel
Best luxurious feel MTB pants
Great-fitting, high-end trail pants made with Merino wool and recycled polyester.
Best for versatility
Best MTB pants for versatility
Top-quality, lightweight pants that hit the sweet spot for mixed trail and weather conditions.
1. Best overall
Gorewear says its Fernflow pants are designed to be your constant companion on technical trails in cool and changeable conditions and in our tests we found they more than live up to this. They are a great fit, have enough stretch comfort and warmth for cooler days, offer spray and water protection, and look good for casual use too.
The Fernflow is made using Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper which is both windproof and water resistant, with fully taped seams adding more protection through the vulnerable seat area. Freedom of movement comes from a mix of four-way stretch in the fabric and a cut that articulates the knees in a riding shape.
The back waist is cut high to prevent it pulling down as you move around on the bike, and tabs at the side waist allow you to dial the fit. Long off-set zips at the hem are designed to make it easier to pull on over shoes. Two hip pockets are also zipped and side vents allow the legs to be opened right up. The overall cut is slim but not tight and the legs are long.
We tested them in a range of temperatures from a mild 14 C, down to a shade above zero, and found them comfortable in all conditions. On warmer days we opened up the leg zips. The water resistance of the Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper was enough to keep spray off from the trail and the odd shower off from above.
Available in Black or Utility Green, they are excellent trail pants and ones you’ll be living in on and off the bike.
Check out our Gorewear Fernflow pants review for more details.
2. Best value
O'Neal's Trailfinder Stealth pants are a lightweight race pant that was originally designed in collaboration with Greg Minaar. Despite having input from the greatest downhiller of all time, the Trailfinder Stealth pants are very affordable.
O'Neal has used a stretch fit fabric and added super-stretchy triangular ankle inserts to help give the pants a really close but not constricting fit. The stretch material means there is enough give in the material to fit over knee-pads and still comfortably pedal. While there is no weather protection, the material is lightweight and quick drying. Closure and waist adjustment is handled by a ratchet and zipped fly.
Check out our full review of the O’Neal Trailfinder Stealth.
3. Best for mild weather
Subtle to the eye, the Trail pants from the big red S strike a perfect balance of all-day usability, style, and protection.
Constructed using Specialized’s in-house VaporRize fabric, they have a featherweight feel and an ultra-breathable function on the trail. Adding to the Trail pant's breezy operating temperature are a series of well-positioned laser perforated vents. It does mean the Trail Pants aren’t the best option for the colder months, but their operation is noteworthy when things are mild.
The shape of the pants themselves is more tapered than most which results in a racier fit, but elasticated ankle cuffs are in place to make sure they’re a cinch to get on and off and additional material around the knees means they’re knee pad ready.
A buckle waist keeps them in place and secure, and the three zipped pockets ensure your ride essentials are stowed with confidence. They're offered in a gigantic size range and either Black or Charcoal colorways.
For more info, read our full Specialized Trail Pant review.
4. Best waterproof
Beyond the best mountain bike garment name ever lies the only waterproof riding pants we’ve ever tried that actually kept us properly dry, regardless of the conditions or ride duration. And the best part about 7Mesh’s Thunder Pants is it doesn’t even need to be horrendous weather to use them, thanks to their exceptional cut and incredible breathing properties.
At first, the fit felt strange due to their peculiar fly-less arrangement and less-conventional front fastening, but it’s obvious that everything has been done with foul-weather protection being the first and foremost priority.
The Thunder Pant doesn’t feel like old-school waterproof pants of the past either, as the state of the art Gore-Tex Pro 3L fabric is smooth and brilliantly tailored. Their lengthy Vislon zips up each leg allow you to slide them over shoes, kneepads, and even other pants, too. 7Mesh offers the Thunderpants in XS – XXL and there are even pre-marked cut guides on the neoprene cuffs so they can be cut to any rider's ideal length. Oh and there’s room for proper knee pads without a compromise in fit or comfort.
Yes, the price tag is high enough to make your eyes water, but it’s one of the few products that over-delivers when it comes to fit, function, and elite performance. If you’re frequently riding in wet weather climates the 7Mesh Thunder Pant is a genuinely game-changing product.
Find out more in our full 7Mesh Thunder Pant review for full details on these weatherproof pants.
5. Best lightweight
iXS has designed their Trigger pants to be close-fitting aerodynamic gravity race pants, but they are still comfortable enough to wear on an all-day trail ride.
iXS has used its X-stretch fabric, made from recycled PET fiber, and given the Triggers well-considered, pre-shaped tailoring for a close, flap-free fit. There is extra space to accommodate knee pads, and mesh panels on the back of the knee do a great job of stopping your pads from getting too hot. The closure is handled by a simple zipped fly and a combination of poppers and velcro. The waist has some adjustment as well, using internal velcro adjusters on the inside to fine-tune the size.
The great shape and lightweight material mean they are very comfortable to ride in and dry quickly if it rains. We have ridden in the Triggers a lot and other than a bit of fading on the seat, they have held up very well. The Triggers come in a range of size and color options, including a Black-Graphite if the graphics are a bit loud/racey for your tastes.
Check out our iXS Trigger pant review for more details.
6. Best women's lightweight
While Rapha may be better known for its high-end road attire, the brand's relatively fresh mountain bike range has included some impressive boutique-like items too, and the Women’s Lightweight Trail pant is one of them.
Rapha’s Lightweight Trail pant is constructed from a uber-lightweight, four-way stretching and abrasion-resistant material which is then sewn in a multi-panel formation to provide a slim, unrestrictive cut. The inner ankle gets reinforced where the cranks may rub, and the waistband is cut high at the rear to provide additional comfort and protection.
While the lightweight pant is designed for mild and mostly dry weather conditions, its DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coating does an excellent job of shrugging off puddle splashes and random rain showers, all while drying notably quickly.
Due to their killer fit, exceptional craftsmanship and great looks, Rapha's Lightweight Trail pants are a solid three-season investment. Another huge bonus is Rapha’s repair service, which will get you back up and running should you encounter a rip or stray stitching.
Make sure to hit up our in-depth Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight pant review for more information. We have also reviewed the Men's Rapha Trail Lightweight Pants which share the same versatile performance but are tailored for chaps.
7. Best all-day
100%'s Airmatic Pants are a top option for keeping the worst of the dirt and the elements at bay. Even on long days in the saddle it's easy to forget you're in full-length trousers as the lightweight, four-way stretch fabric is barely noticeable as you ride.
The shaped cut made with 18 fabric panels is excellent and allowed us to wear fairly bulky knee pads in testing without any noticeable pull while pedaling. A 'mountaineering inspired' wide metal hook and multiple eyelet closure system works well to secure the waist, while a textured silicone section inside the waistband helps prevent noticeable slippage, even when wet and coated with mud.
The nylon, spandex, polyester mixed fabric doesn't get too heavy when wet and dries quickly. It's treated with a DWR coating that shrugs off showers initially, but as usual, doesn't last more than a few machine washes. The fabric is definitely snag resistant and has come out on top despite catching on many hanging brambles at speed.
The Airmatic pants come in two funereal colors – black and charcoal – which is pretty sensible as they're designed to get hammered in winter. Sizing starts with a 28in waist and goes up to 38 at two inch intervals. Our 30in test sample seemed pretty bang on size-wise, but there's not a huge amount of waistline adjustment available from the closure system, so we'd advise double-checking the size chart before you buy. The pants are also available in a women-specific model.
For more, head over to our 100% Airmatic Pant review.
8. Best casual look
The Shredder pants are aimed to be an ‘everyday riding pant’. That means lighter materials, a more casual cut, and a few other less riding-focused features.
They use a four-way stretch material which has a slim fit and articulated knee panels to give them a slightly better fit on the bike. The material is DWR-treated to help ward off splashes and drizzle too. Waist closure is handled by a single button and zipped fly and the waist has some Velcro adjusters for fine-tuning fit. The pants are available in men's (28-38in) and women's (W0, W2, W4, W6, W8, W10) versions. We found they fitted as expected, with our tester opting for his normal size of 32in waist and using the adjusters to bring them in a touch.
There are two standard pant hand pockets and a deep zippered side pocket on the hip to secure items when riding. Fasthouse has added a small loop above the left hand pocket should you want to secure keys or tools to your pants with a karabiner or lanyard.
For more details, see our full Fasthouse Shredder Pant review.
9. Best women's fit
Leatt launched women’s specific clothing back in 2019 and it’s great to see a wider and well-thought-out range, including the Women’s MTB Gravity 4.0 pant.
Made from polyester and spandex, the Gravity 4.0 pants are comfortable and flexible, with a pre-curved fit around the knee which gives room for knee guards. The inside of the knee area is lined with the three-layer waterproof laminate fabric and the shin brush guards give added reinforcement. There’s a Moto-style buckle for adjustable fastening, two zipped hip pockets and a phone pocket on the rear waistband.
The pants have a MoistureCool mesh lining to help retain warmth in colder conditions and wick away sweat in the heat. Lazer cut ventilation holes also provide breathability around the base of the back and the areas of the thigh most likely to sweat.
In our tests we found these pants were a great fit for the female shape and they withstood everything we threw at them. They are windproof and kept us warm enough, and the water resistance is enough to keep you dry in fairly rainy conditions. They wash really well after being put through their riding paces and the waterproof lining has so far not been affected.
They are on the pricier side but these pants are a great investment, with the fit and attention to detail spot on.
Check out our full Leatt Women's MTB Gravity 4.0 review for more details.
10. Best cooler enduro
Canyon’s MTB pants are aimed at trail and enduro MTB riding and are also used by the Canyon CLLCTV enduro team.
The pants have a slim profile with a tapered shape, and are constructed with panels made from polyester and elastane which has been DWR treated. The material features some perforation holes around the front of the thigh and at the rear of the knee too. The ratchet and zipped fly closure provides a secure fit, and there are two reasonably sized zippered hand pockets on the front of the thigh.
We found the shaping great, with a close flap-free fit with enough stretch to assure that there is no restriction of movement or snagging around the crotch. We could fit a set of knee pads underneath, although for bulky pads it could be a bit tight.
With a heavy-weight material they are fairly warm – we were comfortable up to around 12 degrees before we started to get a bit hot on long climbs. The pants didn’t become unpleasant or heavy when riding in wet weather.
Overall, we found them a great fit and very comfortable, and best suited for chillier spring/autumn trail days. Check out our full review of the Canyon MTB pants.
11. Best luxurious feel
Mons Royale specializes in high-end, sustainable outdoor sports clothing. The Virage Pant is a lightweight trail trouser made with Merino wool and recycled polyester that's created from PET plastic bottles, with added elastane for stretch. A Merino power knit back panel is also used to help with fit.
They are a standard, tapered fit, so not DH racer tight or walking trouser baggy, and have articulated knees with enough room for knee pads. The waistband uses a double-press button fitting with a handy Velcro area around the poppers to ensure secure closure. There are two hand pockets and a zipped phone pocket.
We were impressed with the material – it felt tactile and thin, but had a good amount of stretch and a robust feeling. The fit was great but we would have liked some form of adjustment in the waist area to fine-tune mid-ride. Throughout testing, despite plenty of mud, grit and occasional crashes, we found them faultless with no signs of damage in high-wear areas like the crotch and knees.
Check out our Mons Royale Virage Pants review for more details.
12. Best for versatility
Dainese’s HGL is lightweight, windproof and water resistant, making it a great riding pant for changing trail conditions.
The HGL pants are made from a DWR-treated nylon fabric, which has a bit of in-built stretch, using several interlocking panels, which create a contoured fit especially around the knee. The pants taper at the shin, with a bit of slack in the knee so you can get a set of knee pads underneath.
The waist features a custom Slide-Fit closure system, which you can’t micro-tune in the same way as a Velcro tab, but does mean there’s no bulk at the waist. The pants feature full-size zipped hip pockets, elasticated ankle cuffs, full-length zips on the calves, as well as a hook button on the back of the waist for gloves (which seems a bit pointless).
In our tests we found the cut and fit of the HGLs excellent and could fit a decent-sized knee pad underneath with no bunching or pulling. They have enough protection when the trails are still a bit fresh but are light enough so you’re not going to overheat as it warms up. They offer a good amount of splatter protection and are easy to clean.
For more info, read our full Dainese HGL pants review.
13. Best all-year use
7 Mesh’s Flightpath pant is intended to be worn all year round, with the benefit of providing full leg protection in the rough.
The pants are made from a rugged nylon with a raised yarn in the main body and legs, and stretch inserts down the back of the calves. There’s a zip fly and hook and ladder waist adjuster, two hand pockets, and two side-facing zippered pockets.
We found the cut and fit of the Flightpath pants excellent. The overall effect is slim but not tight, roomy through the thigh and tapering through the calf, with the stretch insert down the back of the calf ensuring full freedom of movement. The articulation over the knee was bang on, and the shaped cut meant the waist stayed reassuringly in place.
7Mesh achieves its objective of these being year-round (with perhaps the exception of the very hottest days) pants. We found ourselves wearing them on summer days when we need protection from thorns and nettles, as well as on three degree centigrade frosty starts with only a liner underneath.
Check out our full review of the 7 Mesh Flightpath Pant.
How to choose the best MTB pants
Can you wear pants mountain biking?
It only takes one or two rides in cold temperatures trying to ride with leg warmers under the best knee pads for mountain biking to realize it's far from the best solution. Not only do they provide a bit of extra warmth, but MTB trousers also serve as the first line of defense from the muddy projectiles being flung off your mountain bike wheels. When you arrive at the trailhead after a mucky ride, you can just peel off the muddy clothes rather than trying to scrub the lower portion of your legs before you get into the car.
Trousers also offer a first line of defense from gravel rash, fern burn and your pedals when you slip one over a techy feature or in a g-out.
Waterproof or non-waterproof MTB pants?
Just like jackets, there are distinct differences between waterproof and non-waterproof garments. While truly waterproof fabrics will keep the wet weather on the outside, the moisture-proof membranes are at a disadvantage in terms of breathability, feel 'crunchy' and usually don't have much in-built stretch.
If you live in a place where winter riding also requires a snorkel, the best waterproof MTB trousers will be your best choice. Otherwise, we'd recommend their softshell cousins — they are considerably more comfortable and often have a DWR treatment to help light rain and splashes roll off the fabric.
How to pick the right fabric?
Yes we know we've just alluded to fabrics, but using the right textile in the right place can make or break a set of trousers. Look for lots of stretch fabric used throughout because if the materials aren't moving with you, they will bunch, bind, pinch and chafe.
How to find the right fit?
While skinny jeans may not appeal to your fashion sense in the real world, you want riding trousers to be form-fitting as this will help keep your knee pads in place and prevent the trousers from flapping in the wind and catching on your saddle. We are not talking painted-on, but form-fitting. Also, look for articulated knees that will help the pants fit you better in the riding position.
Everybody is built differently, so adjustability is key to a good fit. Look for hook and loop adjustment at the waist as well as Velcro, snaps or zips around the ankle to make sure the lower cuff is snug around your leg.
What extras should you look for?
Some riding trousers feature extra padding or abrasion-resistant materials around the knees, hips and shins, while others have a mesh liner that runs part of the way down the leg to create a slip plane. We are big fans of additional features like these that create a point of difference, but make sure they don't come at the cost of fit or comfort.
How we test MTB pants
Our expert testers have thrown all kinds of abuse at these MTB pants, putting them through extremes of temperatures and weathers, over several months of intense riding. They have been assessing a range of criteria, including their fit, comfort, ease of putting on and off, stretch, breathability, waist closure, storage, weight, durability, and looks.