Rapha Trail Lightweight Pants review – light and relaxed fitting trail riding pants

Rapha’s Trail Lightweight pant’s minimalist design is very comfortable and surprisingly versatile

Rapha Trail Lightweight pants review
(Image: © Paul Brett)

BikePerfect Verdict

Comfortable, lightweight, and extremely fast drying make the Rapha Trail Lightweight pants a versatile addition to your riding wardrobe.

Pros

  • +

    Lightweight material

  • +

    Loads of waist adjustment

  • +

    Minimal well-placed pockets

  • +

    Space for kneepads without baggy knees

  • +

    Fast drying

Cons

  • -

    Relaxed tapering has a looser fit below the knee

  • -

    DWR treatment wears off

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Rapha launched these lightweight versions of its existing trail pants at the start of summer last year. We have been riding them on solid rotation since and while the lightweight material and airier feel may suit the warmer months, we have continued to wear them into winter with great success. 

This surprising versatility combined with a comfortable relaxed fit means they easily make the Rapha Trail Lightweight pants one of the best MTB pants

Rapha Trail Lightweight pants review

The pants have are pre-shaped but Rapha has kept paneling and tailoring to a minimum  (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Design and specifications

Rapha has used a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) treated nylon fabric which has a decent amount of four-way stretch. Rapha has taken a minimal approach to tailoring and managed to give the pants a pre-shaped riding fit with fewer panels.

The cuffs are elasticated at the rear to give a closer fit around the ankles and there is a reinforced panel on the inside of both legs to give more durability against crank abrasion and stop flapping which could cause drivetrain snagging issues.

The closure is handled by two secure poppers and a zipped fly, the waistband uses two lockable adjuster buckles on the hips which can be used to fine-tune the fit. There's a loop on the inside of the waistband if you want to hang them up.

Rapha Trail Lightweight pant popper detail

The closure is a simple double popper and zipped fly  (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Storage capacity has been kept to a minimum with two zipped rear-facing pockets. Both pockets feature a long easy-to-grab plastic zip tag and the left-hand pocket has an extra slip within the pocket to hold a phone more securely.

Rapha offers several color options from grey (as tested) to brighter gold and teal options – which at the time of writing is currently discounted heavily. There's also a women's specific Trail Lightweight version too which comes in three different color options

As I also mentioned in my Rapha Explore short review, Rapha’s sizing is a little odd. Rapha offers a good spread from XS to XXL although the Small 30.5in waist and Medium 33in waist puts me slap bang in the middle. I opted for the medium and the adjusters offered enough adjustment to bring them in although that did give a little bit of aesthetical bunching to the front of the pants. The Trail Lightweight pant waist has no elastication either so there is no extra give if they are a neat fit. If you do get the wrong size, Rapha offers a 30-day returns policy so you could always swap them out for another size if needed.

Rapha also covers the pants with their repair services as well as including a repair kit with color-matched iron-on patches for at-home hole fixing.

Rapha Trail Lightweight pant pocket detail

The rear facing pockets are well positioned so they are don't cause discomfort when riding (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Performance

The stretch from the material and close fit means the Trail Lightweight pant offer excellent comfort and freedom of movement and there were no problems fitting Rapha’s Trail kneepads underneath as well. The slim, rather than race-tight, fit also means you don’t have overly baggy knees if you go for a ride without knee protection. While they don’t sit as close to the leg as other riding pants, like Specialized’s Trail Pant, the legs are still slim enough to keep flapping to a minimum. I would prefer a snugger fit around the rear and a more tapered leg, although that's my personal preference and I still found the pants to be very comfortable. The waist is easily adjusted using the buckles and any excess webbing can be tucked away to avoid flapping.

The lightweight material means they perform well in warm conditions although the lack of any additional venting limits airflow so they can get a bit warm when wearing kneepads on hot days.

The DWR treatment worked well at first, however, its effectiveness diminished quickly after repeated washing. Although My test pants are only really capable of fending off the lightest of showers now, the material is incredibly fast drying. That means if you do get caught in heavy rainfall it doesn't take long for the pants to start drying making them a great option for changeable conditions.

Other than the DWR treatment, durability seems decent as well. My pants haven’t been subjected to any crashes but are still looking great after plenty of trail use.

Rapha Trail Lightweight pant elasticated cuff detail

The cuffs are elasticated and have a reinforced inner leg panel to improve durability (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Verdict

Rapha’s Trail Lightweight pants are certainly lightweight as well as comfortable to ride in. They don't feature any additional venting so they run a little warmer if you wear pads than the lightweight name might imply. I still found they were comfortable in a wide range of temperatures from single digits to double figures including changeable conditions thanks to the extremely fast-drying material.

The looser trail fit isn’t to my taste, and I would prefer to see Rapha leverage the stretch of the material or add a little more tapering for a closer fit. That said I didn’t have any problems with snagging or annoying flapping so if you aren’t interested in a tight race pant fit, the Trail Lightweight pants are a great option. 

Tech specs: Rapha Trail Lightweight pants

  • Price: $150 / £110 / AU $205
  • Fabric: Nylon 88%, Elastane 12%
  • Colors: Light Grey, Navy/Orange, Blue Green/Egg Shell, Old Gold/Black, Ultramarine/Deep Blue
  • Weight: 260g (medium)
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.


Rides: Canyon Strive, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg