In chilly winter temperatures, riding with minimal amounts of exposed skin is a very wise idea. A pair of MTB pants such as 100%'s Airmatic off-road trousers will help you cover up and keep warm, though if you fancy riding in the cold and the wet, the best waterproof MTB pants will be your top choice.
Design and specifications
The 100% Airmatic Pants are made using a fairly lightweight, four-way stretch fabric and have a shaped cut consisting of 18 panels that give plenty space for knee pads. A wide metal hook and eyelet closure system secure the waist, while a textured silicone section inside the waistband is designed to help prevent slippage.
Each upper thigh has a zipped inner pocket big enough for stashing essentials. The righthand pocket has an inner section designed to hold a phone in place during pedaling.
The pants come in two funereal colors – black and charcoal, which makes sense as they're designed to get hammered in winter. Minimalist branding goes with the low-key colors in the form of a subtle, but reflective,100% logo near the right knee.
Sizing starts with a 28in waist and goes up to 38 at two-inch intervals. The Airmatic pants are also available in a women-specific model.
Even during long days in the saddle it's easy to forget you're in full-length trousers as the Airmatic's lightweight fabric is barely noticeable as you ride. I tested them with a variety of pedal-friendly knee pads, from slimline knee guards to bulkier models such as 100% Terratec+. The shaped legs and stretch fabric meant there was no discernible pull on the pads while pedaling – even when wearing the bigger pads.
The pants are treated with a DWR coating that shrugs off showers initially, but as usual, doesn't last more than a few machine washes. The manmade fabric shrugs off splashes, doesn't get too heavy when wet, and dries quickly. Despite its light feel, the fabric is definitely snag-resistant and has come out on top despite briefly catching on many hanging brambles at speed.
I tested the pants in a variety of fall (autumn)/winter temperatures and conditions from around 12 degrees Celsius down to minus 3 or so and they were comfortable throughout. The fabric makes an effective wind barrier but is breathable enough so I didn't feel like I was overheating on the warmer days. There's no venting in them though, so I'm sure the Airmatics would run pretty warm in more temperate conditions.
My 30in test sample seemed pretty bang on size-wise, but there's only about an inch of waistline adjustment available from the closure system, so you'll need to get the fit bang on if buying online.
If you're after a reasonably priced and versatile pair of MTB pants that you can use in winter as well as fall and spring, the 100% Airmatic Pant is an excellent choice. Maybe it's slightly outperformed by Specialized's Trail Pant in certain areas, but I much prefer the straighter leg look of the Airmatics.
Tech specs: 100% Airmatic Pant
- Price: $109.00 / £109.99
- Use: Trail MTB
- Fabric: 70% Polyamide (Nylon), 16% Elastane (Spandex), 14% Polyester
- Colors: Charcoal (tested), black
- Weight: 335g
- Sizes: 28 to 38-inch in two inch intervals. A women's version is also available