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Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants – supremely comfortable and well-made riding trousers for mild weather

Excellent cut and quality make Rapha’s Women's Trail Lightweight Pants stand out

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants
(Image: © Jon Slade)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Totally unrestrictive, well-designed and premium quality trail pants to see you comfortably through the shoulder seasons.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent fit with superbly comfy waistband

  • +

    Well-placed phone pocket

  • +

    Knee pad compatible

  • +

    Durable construction

  • +

    Free repairs

Cons

  • -

    Leg length options would be great

  • -

    Waist press studs a bit stiff

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

The cut is spot on for riding, with articulated knees and stretchy fabric (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Well known for its stylish and high-end roadie cycle wear, Rapha has lately branched out into MTB clothing and brought the same top-quality design and construction to its off-road collection, with lots of attention to detail that really makes a difference on the trail, as evident with these trousers which are worthy of a place in our best MTB pants guide.

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Rapha also makes a warmer winter version, called plain Trail Pants. It’s good to see that Rapha uses some recycled fabrics and includes five generous-sized iron-on, color-matched repair patches here; it also offers free repairs if the damage is beyond patching.

If you’re unconvinced by trousers (aka pants), an incidental advantage is no more ‘MTBer’s tan’ – that stretch of calf covered in dust/mud/sheep/cow poo (delete as applicable) – so you can don your post-ride legwear without interruption if heading straight to the pub or café from the trails.

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

The high-cut stretch rear waist stays in place without bulky straps or Velcro (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Design and material

These Women's Trail Lightweight Pants are constructed from very lightweight, four-way stretch, abrasion-resistant material and consist of many different panels, each made from one of three nylon/elastane fabrics with varying amounts of stretch. The seamless gusset is super stretchy, as are the back and lower legs. There are tough patches bonded to the inside of the inner ankle, where you might rub the crank. The stretch waistband is cut high at the rear, fastened with a zip fly and double press studs. 

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

The legs taper to elasticated ankles so there’s no excess material to get caught (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Overall fit is slim, flattering and functional, the legs tapering to elasticated ankle cuffs so there’s no excess material to catch on the chainring. Despite their narrow fit, there is ample room to wear knee pads underneath (as long as they’re not too bulky). The design is also ergonomic, so they fit perfectly when you’re in the riding position, with pre-shaped legs to accommodate bent knees. A large zipped thigh pocket has an inner phone sleeve, and the fabric boasts a DWR coating to repel water.

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

A tough patch is bonded to the inside ankle to prevent wear (Image credit: Shim Slade)

Performance

These really are a fantastic pair of riding pants. Their quality is obvious as soon as you take them out the bag, and they feel instantly comfortable when you put them on, thanks to their great fit and silky, barely-there fabric. Rapha has nailed the cut – high waist, tapered legs and articulated knees – to give total freedom of movement, aided by the four-way stretch fabric. The broad, stretch waistband is genius – so simple yet it stays in place even if you’re hanging off the back of the bike. It’s by far the most comfy waist I’ve worn, with no bulky adjusters to dig in or make you sweaty, or catch on your jersey.

Another top feature is the generously sized thigh pocket; its position on the outside left thigh means it is both easy to access and the contents don’t interfere with pedalling. I carried my smartphone in it (using the internal sleeve) and soon forgot it was there when riding.

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

Perfect pocket placement means even a huge smartphone doesn’t interfere with pedalling  (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Back to the premium-feeling fabric: even though it is thin, in comparison to shorts the long legs keep in a welcome amount of warmth. It’s not dipped much below 55 F while I’ve been testing these pants, and they’ve proved amply breathable when grinding up climbs, although I’d happily wear them when there’s a proper nip in the air. 

Before their first wash, the DWR finish did an incredible job of beading water, and subsequently it shrugged off splashes adequately, but the beauty of the lightweight material is it is very fast-drying indeed so it doesn’t matter if you do get caught in a downpour. In addition, it’s proven impressively resilient so far. I’ve ridden on paths overgrown with brambles, gorse and bracken and there’s only the odd snagged thread to show for it.

Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

Fine fabric and a low-cut front waist add up to a cool and supremely comfy fit (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Verdict

Rapha’s Women's Trail Lightweight Pants are outstandingly comfortable, exceptionally well made and look good to boot. Breathable and fast drying, for such thin trousers they’re pretty durable, and they boast a very useful thigh pocket too. A men’s version is available too, with slightly different features.

Tech specs: Rapha Women's Trail Lightweight Pants

  • Price: $150 / £110
  • Sizes: XXS -XL
  • Colors: Dark red, green, dark grey
Shim Slade
Freelance writer

Shim first discovered MTBs when she moved to Bath in the mid-nineties and has been making up for lost time ever since. She started working on Mountain Biking UK nearly 20 years ago and also counts What Mountain BikeCycling PlusOff-road.cc and Bikeradar among the bike-related magazines and websites she's written for. She loves exploring technical singletrack, has ridden England, Wales and Scotland C2Cs and gets out in the Quantocks and the Black Mountains as often as possible. Other regular riding destinations are the Lake and the Peak Districts, and an MTB holiday in India is her most memorable, partly for its uber-steep tech. The odd trip to the Forest of Dean and Bike Park Wales inspires her to get wheels off the ground, but that’s a work in progress, helped by coaching with Rach at Pro Ride and formerly Pedal Progression