The New Zealand-based brand Mons Royale has been producing high-end sustainable winter sports clothing since the company was started by Hannah and Hamish Acland back in 2009. Hamish was a pro skier, so they naturally started making ski and snowboard clothing to start with, but soon realized a lot of the material tech could be used in other outdoor sports like trail running and mountain biking.
The brand specializes in high-end Merino wool and natural fiber products, all ethically and, where possible, locally sourced. Its kit is also designed to last with strong, hard-wearing materials and high-quality stitching and manufacturing methods. This helps reduce waste but is also great for riders. Hopefully, more Mons Royale kit will appear in our best MTB pants and best mountain bike jersey features in the future.
Design and specification
The Virage Pant is a lightweight trail trouser made with Merino wool and recycled polyester that's created from PET plastic bottles and is designed for general trail use in mild conditions. The polyester and Merino blend is used to keep the weight down and increase durability, and Mons adds some elastane to give the material a degree of stretch to aid the fit and comfort whilst riding. A Merino power knit back panel is also used to help with fit. Power knit is a fabric technology we have seen used in footwear with shoes from brands like Giro and DMT's GK1. It has a four-way stretch, stays smell-free, and increases the natural wool's durability. Although not new technology, it is unusual to see it used in riding pants.
Mons classes these as a standard fit, so not DH racer tight or walking trouser baggy [though they do look a tad MC Hammer – Ed]. They taper towards the elasticated ankle and have articulated knees with enough room for MTB knee pads. The waistband is elasticated with loops for a belt and uses a double-press button fitting with a handy velcro area around the poppers to ensure secure closure and a decent-length zip with a well-placed backing cover that helps stop catching anything with the zip.
Storage spaces are limited on the Virage in keeping with its lightweight intentions, with the only options being hand pockets and a pocket big enough for your phone with a lock-down zipper. Branding is subtle and gives the pants a classy look, with a small logo on the side of the calf area and a tab on the side of the waist. If you are a fan of the full factory Moto race look, then I'd suggest you look elsewhere, but the subtle style of these looks great, in my opinion, and worked well off the bike, too, whether walking the dog or frequenting a cafe.
When I opened the packaging, I was immediately impressed with how light they felt, not just in terms of grams but also how tactile and thin the material felt. Despite feeling potentially fragile, they still managed to have a good amount of stretch and a robust feeling. I tested the black version, but I would say the color is more of a dark charcoal than I liked, with the polyester sections having a lighter tone than the knitted wool section.
I usually wear a 32” waist and leg and followed the size guide provided by Mons and went for a medium that fitted well, although I would have liked some form of adjustment in the waist area to fine-tune the fit mid-ride. They do have loops for a belt, but I find it too restrictive, especially if wearing a waist pack. The standard fit worked well for me – it was tight enough not to flap about and get caught but with no feeling of being restricted at all.
The extra room in the knee area was welcome, and during testing, I used a variety of pads, from close-fitting trail versions to larger enduro options, and all fitted well with no bunching or tight spots in use. The Powerknit rear panels also really helped with the fit for me; I sometimes struggle with fit around the glutes, so the extra stretch here was appreciated.
Throughout of testing, they have been used in all the weather Yorkshire could throw at them and have been faultless with no signs of damage in high-wear areas like the crotch and knees. Despite plenty of mud, grit, occasional crashes, and machine washes they have kept their color and look as good as when they first arrived.
The Mons Royale Virage are well-made, top-quality pants with a great fit, that look good on and off the bike and have lasted very well throughout the test period. Although expensive, the materials used have a quality feel and should last many seasons, which offsets the high cost somewhat. My only criticism is the niggly lack of adjustability at the waist, but bar this, they are an excellent choice and some of the most comfortable trousers I've worn.
For more information, check out Monsroyale.com
Tech specs: Mons Royale Virage Pants
- Price: $189.95 / £164.95 / €179.89
- Colors: Black, Copper, Dark Sage, Undercover Camo
- Weight: 137g
- Materials: Recycled Polyester & Merino Wool
- Blend: 81% Recycled Polyester, 14% Merino Wool, 5% Elastane
- Sizes: Standard fit, S, M, L, XL, XXL