If you’re living in cold and especially wet climates and want to ride year-round, owning a set of the best MTB waterproof trousers (or pants) is a total must, and with weather-resistant technologies being integrated into the best MTB trousers, the current offerings look slicker and perform better than ever before too.
Besides a sleek looking cut, the best waterproof MTB trousers 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 withstand the abuse of modern mountain biking too, so things like reinforced panels, abrasion-resistant materials, useful vents and well-thought-out pockets are great to see.
The best waterproof MTB trousers 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. Scroll down to see BikePerfect’s most recommended options or skip to our guide that covers everything you need to know when purchasing a new pair of waterproof MTB trousers this winter season.
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The best MTB waterproof trousers (or pants) you can buy today
The Endura MT500 waterproof trouser is so good it almost makes us want to ride in the worst possible conditions, with an exceptional fit, a totally dialed cut and market-leading waterproof and breathability ratings make for near-flawless wet weather riding pant.
Constructed using ExoShell40DR fabric which is lined with a high wicking mesh layer and then topped with a durable laminated outer shell providing a market-leading blend of breathability and waterproofing. All of the layers are seam taped together for added protection against the elements too. The materials used also stretch in 4 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 with them opening wide at the feet the MT500 offer easy on-off with shoes on. 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 MT500’s are a guaranteed performer.
What’s also amazing is that if you’re not 100% 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.
One of our favorite looking riding pants on the market, the Resist from legends Troy Lee Designs takes its silhouette from their 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.
Sporting 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.
At $269 this offering from highly regarded outdoor brand Patagonia isn’t by any means cheap, but decades worth 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.
Utilizing their ever proven, hyper waterproof 3-layer H2No performance layer and tailoring it into a bike-specific cut which sees waist and knee areas that naturally fall 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 pads can be put on without removing and the trousers can also be quickly put on without moving 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.
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.
Fox is one of the coolest brands in mountain biking so those who are fans of rocking a Fox head getup will be pleased to see a wet weather specific design being integrated into the legendary line-up.
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 they do a stellar job of rejecting the rain and keeping you dry. Keeping those elements out is a lightweight 3-layer construction that sports well rounded waterproof, windproof and breathable traits. It’s not got the same waterproofing longevity as the likes of 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.
Whilst we never found it to be an issue there are no vents to be opened here which could raise an issue if you’re living in warm and wet conditions. Although, we found Fox’s chosen material to be naturally cool thanks to its good breathability. If you’re looking for a pant to perform in the coldest temperatures, then Fox has a ‘Fire’ range which integrates a fleece lining with the aim of retaining body heat – worth checking out if you frequently run cool on colder days.
The UK has a reputation for some of the wettest and miserable winters around so it’s no surprise 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, the inner thighs, bum panel and knees all get extra reinforcement to provide an extra layer of protection against the mud whilst 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 trousers.
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.
The Gore C5 definitely has more of a traditional waterproof trouser 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.
Massively cheaper than any other option here the Nevis overtrousers is a great choice for those wanting weatherproof overtrousers 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 is very simple with an elastic waist, simple Velcro tabbed ankle and no pockets, vents or other features and it’s more trash bag than tailored in fit and appearance which can have extra paint rub consequences. 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.
When to know you need waterproof riding trousers?
There are a lot of good riding trousers 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 favour amphibious vehicles then a proper waterproof trouser is going to keep you drier, warmer and therefore more comfortable out on the trails.
1. Materials and construction
To gain the desired waterproof status required the best options 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.
2. Waterproof rating
Without a doubt the most important part of a waterproof trouser is its ability to keep you dry regardless of how frequent the puddle splash or how heavy the downpour. Waterproofing is measured by how many vertical millimeters of water are supported by an inch circle of fabric over 24hrs without leaking. The fabric needs to support a minimum of 1500mm 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 trousers is totally waterproof and if you’re out for prolonged periods of time in torrential conditions you will get wet. But with the best trousers, it’s just a case of how long this is before the water does begin to seep.
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 trousers from having a ‘boil in the bag’ effect resulting in them getting wet from the inside out. Breathability also gets a numbered WVT (Water Vapour 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 6000, 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.
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 trousers can be put on or removed without needing to remove shoes beforehand.
The fit of riding trousers is super important, especially ones that are designed to keep the mud and water at bay. We like to see trousers that sit high up the back, this means there’s extra coverage against the clart and the higher waistband helps keep your lower back warm on colder days. If you’re a knee pad wearer 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 DH 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 trousers listed here fit well but we always recommend trying on before you buy, as one may fit your body proportions and armor choice better than another. Look out for trousers with articulated knees too as they fit much better on the bike as they’re pre-molded to the attack position.
If you’re riding pack-less, then good pockets are a must. The best waterproof MTB trousers feature watertight zips which will keep moisture away from mobile phones and car keys when riding.