If you’re living in cold, and especially wet climates, and want to ride year-round, owning a set of the best waterproof MTB pants (or trousers) is a total must. With weather-resistant technologies also being integrated into the best MTB pants, the current offerings look slicker and perform better than ever before, too.
Besides a sleek-looking cut, the best waterproof MTB pants need to have both waterproof and breathability ratings that will withstand the heaviest downpours during the hardest sessions. The overall construction of the trouser needs to be tough enough to cope with the abuse of modern mountain biking, so things like reinforced panels, abrasion-resistant materials, useful vents, and well-thought-out pockets are great to see.
The best waterproof MTB pants can be pricey at times, but buy the right ones for you and they’ll make a huge difference to your riding comfort during the winter months. Our expert reviewers have been putting a selection of waterproof pants through their paces in the foulest weather conditions. Our top pick is the Rab Cinder Kinetic pants, and the Altura Nevis III Overtrouser is a great budget buy.
Keep reading to see our most recommended options for this winter season, and skip to the bottom if you need help with what to look for when choosing waterproof MTB pants.
Best waterproof MTB pants
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The quick list
Best waterproof MTB pants overall
Super breathable, comfortable 'wear all day' pants that give impressive weather protection.
Best budget waterproof MTB pants
These budget pants fold down small and are a great, easy to pack, emergency layer.
Outstanding performance waterproof MTB pants
Next level weather protection and excellent breathability, with briliant fit, comfort and durability.
Excellent breathability waterproof MTB pants
Exceptional fit and market-leading waterproof and breathability ratings.
High mobility fit
High mobility fit waterproof MTB pants
Well cut and durably built DWR-treated MTB pants best suited to winter riding.
Premium craftsmanship waterproof MTB pants
Excellent fit and comfort, and versatile enough for three-season riding and off-bike too.
See the next 4 waterproof pants ↓
Great wet-weather features
Great wet-weather features waterproof MTB pants
Stealthy design with a tapered fit and reinforced seat panel, and great weather protection.
Stylish design waterproof MTB pants
Excellent build quality and one of the best-looking weather-resistant pants around.
Tough construction waterproof MTB pants
A well-presented wet weather workhorse that’s tough as nails and great for colder conditions.
Exceptional waterproofing MTB pants
Taking more of a traditional fit, these pants offer some serious poor weather protection with great breathability.
1. Best overall
Rab’s Cinder Kinetic Waterproof pants take the brand's proven, high-performance Proflex fabrics, building them into really comfortable, weatherproof, wear-all-day leg wear.
The front of the pants uses 20 D Proflex stretch knit face three-layer, PU membraned 100 percent recycled polyester, and the back half uses a woven version of that fabric. The seat panel, rear thighs, and drive side hem get more rugged reinforcing panels, and the crotch seam is offset to reduce wear too. They’re fully coated with a PFC DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment and all the fabrics, zips, cords, etc, are fluoro carbon free too.
The fabric stretch allows a much closer, tailored fit than most waterproof trousers. The raised, rounded back waist with a silicon grip print naturally sits high and secure but you can also adjust the fit with a single-handed shock cord on the right, front side. There are two hand pockets with YKK AquaGuard zips and zipped thigh vents too. The pants have a double popper and zipped fly, and ankle zips make pulling them on/off easy.
In our tests we found the fit was perfect, and the soft fabric and stretch make them feel much more like a trail trouser than the rustling, stiff, clammy feel of most waterproof pants. The highly breathable knitted front fabric and woven back panels kept them sweat-free at cruising pace, and the leg vents helped regulate temperature and dried undershorts quickly if they did get damp.
For more, check out our full Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Pants review.
2. Best value
Massively cheaper than any other option here, the Nevis Overtrousers are a great choice for those wanting weatherproof pants at a price that won’t break the bank or those who just want a reliable, packable emergency layer.
However, the price cut isn’t without compromises. The design has a very simple elastic waist fit and there are no pockets, vents, or other features. It’s more trash bag than tailored in fit and appearance, although there are velcro leg adjusters to stop them getting snagged in your drivetrain. The 10k/10k fabric spec means the running temperature of the Nevis pants is noticeably warmer and the water will make its way through sooner when compared to the more expensive alternatives here.
3. Outstanding performance
7mesh's Thunder Pants are one of the best waterproof MTB pants available if your riding regime is as regular in winter as it is in summer.
We found the fit and fastening of the Thunder Pants a little weird at first but once the side straps are tight then there were no problems. One feature that immediately stood out to us was the leg zips that extend above the knee so you can easily pull them off at the end of a ride or put on knee pads without baring your bottom to the weather. The zips are also double-ended should you need to vent any heat quickly.
The Thunder Pants are constructed from Gore-Tex Pro 3L fabric so they are properly waterproof and breathe well, meaning you can wear them if there is just a threat of rain too. Finally, the seat is armored with 70D weight fabric and 30D on the inside of the legs to stop gritty saddles from wearing holes in your pants.
Read our 7mesh Thunder Pant review for all the dirty details of these excellent waterproof MTB pants.
4. Excellent breathability
The Endura MT500 waterproof trouser is so good it almost makes us want to ride in the worst possible conditions. An exceptional fit, a totally dialed cut, and market-leading waterproof and breathability ratings make for near-flawless wet weather riding pants.
They're constructed using ExoShell40DR fabric which is lined with a high-wicking mesh layer and then topped with a durable laminated outer shell to provide an outstanding blend of breathability and waterproofing. All of the layers are seam-taped together for added protection against the elements. The materials used also stretch in four directions which, in turn, provides unrestricted movement on the trail; something that’s highly appreciated if you’re looking to wear pads underneath. Full-length zips make fine-tuning a total cinch and, thanks to them opening wide at the feet, the MT500 offer easy on-off with shoes on. The fact they're finished with water-resistant hand pockets means precious electrics will be kept safe during disgusting conditions.
We don’t think they look quite as good as the offerings from Troy Lee Designs or Fox, but if outright performance and weatherproofing are your top priority then the MT500s are a guaranteed performer.
What’s also amazing is that if you’re not 100 percent satisfied with the product Endura offers a no-quibbles 90-day refund or replacement policy. We’re highly confident you won’t need it but it’s reassuring to have and makes the high price tag a little easier to swallow.
For more details on Endura's MT500 Waterproof pants, check out our full Endura MT500 waterproof clothing review.
5. High mobility fit
Leatt's MTB 4.0 riding pants aren't strictly full-on winter warmers, however the four-way stretch, multi-panel pants have a DWR treatment. So while we found they won't offer as much protection from the weather as proper rainproof fabrics they still shrug away general winter muck well, especially around the inner legs and seat panel where a heavier material has been used.
While there are perforations for venting they don't allow much cool air to pass through, which makes these pants better suited to colder months compared to many race pants on the market.
The fit is good, although a little baggy compared to other pants we have tested. That said the pre-curved and tapered legs accommodate full-on hard shell pads easily while not flapping or causing any constriction when pedaling. If you want a tighter fit the material has enough stretch to potentially downsize if you're on the small end of the sizing, although its probably worth trying them on if you are going smaller.
Head over to our Leatt MTB 4.0 pants and 2.0 jacket review if you're interested in some colder weather riding kit this season.
6. Premium craftsmanship
At $299 this offering from highly-regarded outdoor brand Patagonia isn’t cheap by any means, but decades of outdoor tech experience and a fully fair-trade certified manufacturing process result in one of the most ethical and tech-filled top-performing options on the market.
A proven, hyper-waterproof three-layer H2No performance layer has been tailored into a bike-specific cut which allows waist and knee areas to fall naturally into the on-the-bike attack position. This totally dialed fit means the waistband never digs in when hunched over on prolonged steep climbs and the shaped knee fits really well with pads. Speaking of pads, a long lower leg zip means they can be put on without taking them off, and the trousers can also be quickly put on without removing shoes – ideal if you’ll be using them as a packable outer layer. The fit is looser compared to the likes of Fox and Troy Lee Designs, though, so expect some flap at speed.
In our tests we found the combination of the performance and comfort of the fabric, and the excellent ride-specific, non-binding fit meant we were happy to wear this pant whether it was raining or not. It’s also served us well hiking in freezing conditions in Scotland.
Yes, the price is high, but you’ll be thankful for the extreme levels of weather protection if you’re heading into testing wilderness environments. We also massively value Patagonia’s brand ethos which means products designed with pure passion get manufactured in the best possible circumstances.
Check out our Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm Pant review for more details.
7. Great wet-weather features
The Resist from the legendary Troy Lee Designs takes its silhouette from its super-popular regular pant range and integrates a host of wet weather-specific features.
The stealthy-looking design is made from a multi-stretch waterproof fabric which is then treated with an environmentally friendly water-repellent coating and contained together with fully taped seams, all with the aim of keeping you dry and comfortable when the heavens open – something they do really well in a way that lets the water continually bead off, leaving you dry and comfortable.
A well-thought-out reinforced seat panel means there’s durability against gritty saddles and two front vents provide just enough cold air flow if you do begin to run hot. The tailored fit looks steezy and makes for zero wind flap, but because there’s no netting-style liner the waterproof material has a tendency to stick to neoprene logos on some kneepads, which can lead to the pant being pulled down. This is an annoying oversight on an otherwise close to flawless product.
8. Stylish design
Fox is one of the coolest brands in mountain biking so those who are fans of rocking a Fox head gear setup will be pleased to see a wet-weather-specific design being integrated into the lineup.
Reading between the lines you’ll see that Fox only states the Ranger Water pant to be water-resistant and not waterproof, but this isn’t obvious when out in downright terrible conditions, and these trousers do a stellar job of rejecting the rain and keeping you dry. Keeping those elements out is a lightweight three-layer construction that sports well-rounded waterproof, windproof and breathable traits. It’s not got the same waterproofing longevity as the Endura or Patagonia options but it’s decent enough for the majority of wet riding. We did, however, find the ratchet waist adjustment to be one of the best and most reliable systems out there.
While we never found it to be an issue, there are no vents to be opened here which could be a problem if you’re living in warm and wet conditions. That said, we found Fox’s chosen material to be naturally cool thanks to its good ventilation. If you’re looking for a pant to perform in the coldest temperatures, then Fox has a ‘Fire’ range that integrates a fleece lining with the aim of retaining body heat – worth checking out if you frequently run cool on colder days.
9. Tough construction
The UK has a reputation for some of the wettest and most miserable winters around so it’s no surprise that British brand Madison specifically designed a riding trouser to tackle the dank, and the DTE feels like it takes the overbuilt approach to fight the testing English elements.
Toughness is the name of the game, and the inner thighs, bum panel, and knees all get extra reinforcement to provide an extra layer of protection against the mud while also staying robust for crashes. The trade-off for this beefy construction is weight and a hotter than average running temperature. They’re also more noticeable when you’re pedaling than lighter, tighter pants.
There are adjustable straps around the calves to allow for the fit to be fine-tuned and a double-popper waist fastener keeps things secure and simple.
10. Exceptional waterproofing
The Gorewear C5 definitely has more of a traditional waterproof pant feel to it, which is to be expected since it utilizes a Gore-Tex material to defend the elements. Gore-Tex's Active range is softer and quieter than the normal variant so they melt into the background when you’re riding. The ‘over trouser’ style fit is roomier than the modern skinny trend, too, which leaves ample room for pads, or if you’re wanting to pop them on as an emergency outer layer, but it doesn’t look as slick as others.
When the heavens do open, the waterproofing is exceptional and the breathability feels comparable to the brilliant MT500. Where it isn’t quite as dialed as the MT500 is the fit and while there is an articulated knee there isn’t much in the way of tailoring resulting in a loose fit that does flap around in the wind.
The bum panel gets generous amounts of reinforcement without adding too much weight and there’s also a unique little interior key pocket which is a neat touch.
How to choose the best waterproof MTB pants
What materials and construction are used?
There are a lot of good riding pants currently on the market and most feature some sort of weather-resistant or DWR coating that does a good job of shrugging off puddle splashes and light showers, but when should you hang those up and reach for a fully wet weather-specific option? Well if your riding conditions favor amphibious vehicles then a proper waterproof trouser is going to keep you drier, warmer and therefore more comfortable out on the trails.
To gain the desired waterproof status required the best waterproof MTB pants make the switch from stretchy softshell construction to a fully moisture-proof membrane. These are often constructed with two or three layers – a waterproof layer that is topped with an outer face fabric, or in a three-layer variant, you’ll typically find the waterproof membrane sandwiched between a specifically designed inner and outer layer.
How do you measure waterproofness?
Without a doubt, the most important part of a waterproof MTB pant is its ability to keep you dry regardless of how frequent the puddle splash is or how heavy the downpour is. Waterproofing is measured by how many vertical millimeters of water are supported by an inch circle of fabric over 24 hours without leaking. The fabric needs to support a minimum of 1,500mm but some fabrics will be rated at 50k plus and, as a rule, the higher the fabric rating the more waterproof the whole product is. But, in the real world, regardless of how good the technology is said to be, no set of pants is totally waterproof and if you’re out for prolonged periods of time in torrential conditions you will get wet. But with the best waterproof MTB pants, it’s just a case of how long this is before the water does begin to seep through.
Are the best waterproof MTB pants breathable?
You can have the most waterproof material in the world, but if it’s not breathable it’s not suitable, especially when worn for endurance activities like mountain biking. But what does breathability actually mean? A breathable material lets body heat and sweat efficiently exit which in turn helps regulate temperature and stop the pants from having a ‘boil in the bag’ effect resulting in them getting wet from the inside out.
Breathability also gets a numbered WVT (Water Vapor Transmission) rating and typically the higher the number the better the sweat evaporating properties are. Typically, a poor breathing fabric will have a rating around 6,000, anything between 10,000 and 15,000 will be acceptable but still sweaty during big effort circumstances, whereas anything 30,000 plus will offer the best moisture evaporating results.
What should I look for in the best waterproof MTB pants?
Vents are also a great way to keep things cool when the going gets hot, however, vents that use zips need well-thought-out waterproof sealing to keep the elements out when closed. Openings like zips create potential easy access for water and also add weight to the overall package, but if executed well they’re a nice feature to have, especially if they mean the pants can be put on or removed without needing to remove shoes beforehand.
If you’re riding pack-less, then good pockets are a must. The best waterproof MTB pants should feature watertight zips which will keep moisture away from mobile phones and car keys when riding.
Should MTB pants be tight?
The fit of riding pants is super important, especially ones that are designed to keep the mud and water at bay. We like to see pants that sit high up the back, which means there’s extra coverage against the clart and the higher waistband helps keep your lower back warm on colder days. If you want to wear a pair of the best knee pads for mountain biking you’ll also have to make sure there’s enough room to get them on underneath, especially if you’re going to be wearing heavy-hitting downhill-style pads on uplift days. The leg also needs to be slim enough to ensure there’s no drivetrain interference and the length needs to hit the sweet spot to make sure ankles are covered but without any excess bunching.
All the pants listed here fit well but we always recommend trying them on before you buy, as one may fit your body proportions and armor choice better than another. Look out for pants with articulated knees too as they fit much better on the bike as they’re pre-molded to the attack position.
How we test waterproof MTB pants
Our expert testers have ridden these pants in the worst of all weathers, seeing how they fare for waterproofing and breathability in the heaviest downpours during the hardest sessions. They have also been assessing their fit, comfort, ease of putting on and off, stretch, waist closure, storage, weight, durability, and looks.
Meet the testers
Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect’s contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire, he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear.
Russell has been heavily involved in mountain biking for decades. He originally started out designing and building trail center routes, but soon moved to specializing in MTB photography and product testing. As well as Bike Perfect, over the years, he's shot and written for just about every British MTB mag and website in existence, including MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Bikeradar.com.