Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Pants review – outstanding, premium-priced waterproof trouser

Rapha's Trail pants combine the brand’s tailoring and design know-how with a well-proven waterproof fabric

Man wearing Rapha Trail Gore-Tex pants with woods behind
(Image: © Mick Kirkman)

BikePerfect Verdict

Pretty much the only thing stopping me awarding top marks here is the very high asking price.


  • +

    Superior cut and fit to rival products

  • +

    Waistband design and reinforced fastener is bulletproof and has a ton of adjustment

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    Tapered leg stays out of the drivetrain’s way

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    Plenty of room for knee pads without looking weird

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    Superb breathability and fabric feel

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    No crazy graphics or styling

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    No excessive zips or vents


  • -

    The sky-high price

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    No zips on thigh pockets

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With or without the deluge that’s been pouring onto the UK recently, waterproof MTB riding trousers are a wardrobe necessity pretty much wherever you live. Keeping legs and backside dry means you can ride in comfort and warmth for way longer in filthy, wet conditions and it also allows riders to hose off rather than clog up washing machines with mud all winter long.

I’ve tested dozens of waterproof MTB trousers over the years and if you don’t want to read further, I’ll start by saying these Rapha Gore-Tex Pants are by a margin the best I’ve tried to date. The (significant) catch though is the UK brand that’s best known for swanky road cycling kit and lifestyle gear is asking some serious money for them.

Back of man wearing Rapha Trail Gore-Tex pants with woods behind

They are a comfortable, slim cut, without any of the flappiness often found in waterproof pants (Image credit: Mick Kirkman)

Design and specifications

This high asking price is at least reflected in a level of design detail and tailoring I’ve not found anywhere else. Without any bulkiness and baggy spots, overall fit around legs and butt is just right, and I’ve also heard the same from riders elsewhere on other titles both taller and shorter than me.

Waistband stability is a particular highlight as the pant sits higher at the back, uses double tensioning straps to cinch the waist in tightly well above the hips and firmly locks the material in place with cam-lock fasteners that never accidentally loosen or undo while riding.

Waist band of Rapha Trail Gore-Tex cycling pants

The waistband is easy to adjust with double tensioning straps and stays rock solid (Image credit: Mick Kirkman)

On top of this, Rapha’s waistband uses a sturdy metal button with an internal slot that can’t accidentally pop or pull open. This means you have to pay attention removing the trousers as yanking them open won’t undo them without pulling both sides in a tad to unlatch the popper. This extra level of detail is especially welcome on a piece of kit that will routinely get so covered in mud you might be adding over a kilo of crap to your legs and all of this weight wants to pull trousers down to the ankles much more so than a regular weather riding pant.

Rapha doesn’t specify the exact type of 3L Gore-Tex fabric used, but I’m assuming it’s not Gore-Tex Pro (like 7mesh’s Thunder Pants) as it would also likely shout about it? The material is actually pretty quiet when pedaling and less crinkly than most waterproof fabrics and, as you’d expect, there are fully taped seams inside, which have proven very durable and remained stuck fast through a full winter of very filthy, gritty riding conditions.

Two perfectly positioned hip pockets fit a full-length smartphone inside and hold contents close to the thighs in a stable spot, but neither of these has a waterproof zip (a feature I find usually stops the worst of water ingress on rival products). Finally, there’s a hanger tab at the rear to hang the pants up to dry after you’ve hosed them off (I generally try to resist ever washing waterproof kit to prolong life).

Button on Rapha Trail Gore-Tex cycling pants

The sturdy metal button at the waist adds extra security (Image credit: Mick Kirkman)


Rapha’s shape is relatively slim and cut more like a pair of skinny jeans than a baggy and flappy pair of outdoor trousers. A whopping six size options help tune perfect fit and the default fabric cut/position comes with a slightly bent knee (as it would be while you’re riding seated or stood up) so they match leg shape. There is also tons of room in the backside for cyclist’s glutes, so there is no pulling or tightness as you turn cranks or shift about off the back of the bike.

Because the waterproof Gore-Tex material follows the shape of the legs on the bike so well, even though the fabric isn’t really stretchy, there’s no sense of restricting or inhibiting movement or any tight spots anywhere. Rapha’s trousers also taper in below the knee (where there is also plenty of room for knee pads inside) to an elasticated cuff that prevents excessive splashes and water creeping in from the bottom. Being tighter on the calf and ankle (without zips) also means less mud can cling to material in the zones where wheels fire it up the most, therefore reducing weight, flapping around and the chance of the expensive fabric getting caught in the drivetrain. 

I love Rapha’s waistband setup here and rate it as the best I’ve tried in a waterproof or maybe any other kind of MTB pant. It’s simply rock solid once set in position, and however much mud and gunk are blasted onto the surface, adding weight, the pants stay well planted on the hips. The bonus is there is also extra security in the grooved waist popper that resists the accidental opening that I experience too often on other trousers I wear a lot like Fox’s Ranger.

So far, I haven’t mentioned the main offer here, which is the waterproofing itself. Rapha’s trousers don’t offer any extra waterproofness over leading three-layer rivals like Fox’s excellent Defend or 7mesh’s pants, but the protection is at least as good as any other I’ve tried or you can expect anywhere else. This means hours of protection in most saturated conditions unless it’s absolutely biblical rain (when I reckon no waterproof will ever cut it anyway). Breathability is very good too, so even on milder wet days, there is no sense of the dreaded boil-in-the-bag, old-school, waterproof feel.

Rapha’s thick 70-denier weave fabric (all over) has proved super tough and resisted any little snags or rips from general wear and tear, sharp vegetation or the front chainring too, which is the exact opposite of one of my other favorite winter riding trousers, Rab’s more breathable and suppler Cinder Kinetic. There is also a reinforced panel inside the drive side leg for extra protection against damage from chainrings.

To compare further, Rab’s fabric is stretchier and almost like a regular riding pant in terms of comfort, but the material can get snagged and damaged far too easily. Rapha’s skinnier calf and ankle zone and elasticated cuff also trumps Rab’s baggier setup with an unnecessary zip to flap around or get damaged. 7mesh’s excellent and similar Thunder Pant also has a long ankle zip I can live without.

Hanger loop on back of Rapha Trail Gore-Tex cycling pants

There's a handy tab at the rear of the waistband to hang the pants up for easy drying (Image credit: Mick Kirkman)


This Gore-Tex Trail Pant is the best waterproof MTB trouser I’ve ever tested. Rapha’s fit and features are superb and the fabric offers next level protection and comfort in properly grim conditions. The top performance comes with a price tag that is going to make plenty of riders balk though.

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The lowdown: Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Pants
WaterproofingAs good as it gets★★★★★
BreathabilityExcellent even on warmer rides★★★★★
DurabilityTough fabric that shrugs off snags★★★★★
Value for moneyA very high RRP but these are best in class pants★★★★

Tech specs: Rapha Trail Gore-Tex pants

Mick Kirkman
Freelance writer

An ex-elite downhill racer, Mick's been mucking about and occasionally racing mountain bikes for over twenty years. Racing led to photo modelling and testing kit for magazines back in the day, and, nowadays, he's mostly riding enduro-style terrain on conventional and electric bikes. As curious as ever about products and tech, he's as likely to be on the other side of the lens or computer screen rating, reviewing and shooting all the latest gear. Mick's list of regular clients includes Bike Perfect, MBR, MBUK, and most of the leading UK MTB publications at one point or another.