Trail riding pants tend to fall into two camps, they are either that contradiction in terms, loose tights, or waterproof overtrousers. In my experience, while the ‘baggy tights’ are comfortable enough, they aren’t the most flattering bits of kit and overtrousers might keep you dry, but they are noisy and tend to impede your pedaling.
What Gore has done with the Fernflow Trail Pant is combine the best bits of each, creating a full-length pant that has stretch comfort and enough warmth for cooler days, and adding a good amount of spray and water protection. As with the Lupra jacket we recently reviewed, Gore's attention to detail with both the materials and fit is impeccable.
And somehow, even though functional performance is at the core of the pant, Gore has wrapped it up in a cut designed to work for casual use too.
Design & Specification
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 as either you or the day warms up.
Let’s start with the fit, which from the get-go feels just right. The back waist sits high over the hip bones, and once you’ve pulled it in to fit using the side tabs (an easy Velcro adjustment), no matter what terrain you’re riding it doesn’t pull down. At the other extreme, the ankle zips open almost all the way to the back of the knee and unlike most ankle zips that tend to be at the side, they are off-set and angled to the back. Deliberate or not, it seems to have done a better job of keeping the mud and spray out.
The overall cut is slim but not tight – think jeans more than overtrousers. The legs are long, even for someone a shade over six feet tall, the result being that the hem of the pants sits over the top of your foot. This is such a bonus, if like me you wear boots for messy trail days – the pant hem covers the top, keeping them, (and the fastenings) much cleaner. Likewise if it rains, water runs off the trousers, rather than dripping down into the collar of your shoes or boots.
Staying with the legs, the shared, (or articulated) knee isn’t so extreme that they look weird off the bike, but riding it creates just enough ease that they don’t catch when you ride. I personally find most long pants catch at the knee at some point when I pedal; it’s not comfortable and can feel like it’s pulling them down. These don’t – Gore has balanced enough height at the back with enough curve through the seat and over the knees that not only is your ride unimpeded, everything stays where it’s meant to.
I’ve been testing these in a range of temperatures from around a mild 14 C, down to a shade above zero. Every time they have been underpinned with a padded liner, on warmer days I open up the leg zips and they have been comfortable in all conditions. The water resistance of the Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper has been enough to keep spray off from the trail and the odd shower off from above.
I would never expect or want to wear trail kit off the bike, but the Fernflow is not only so damn comfortable, it looks like a regular pair of outdoor pants, so I find myself wearing them on down days or for hiking too.
Excellent fit and form and breathability that works extremely well in a range of temperatures. I’ve tested many different pairs of trail pants and hand on heart these are the best to date. They are being lived in on and off the bike.
Tech specs: Gore Fernflow pants
- Price: $170 / £169.99 / €179.95
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Color options: Black, Utility Green
- Weight: 337g (EU Large)