Not all that long ago, Rapha dove headlong into the world of mountain biking. Launching this past Spring, their initial efforts were initially geared more toward warmer weather, but all along I was very curious to see how they’d fare with their first attempt at a trail pant – a category that just seems to be getting better and better as of late. After much badgering, I got a sample set in advance of their release date and just in time for some shredding in cooler temperatures. Read on to see how they’ve been working out…
Details Rapha Trail Pants
- XS, S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL
- $180 USD
- Black, Dark Purple (tested) Green
As far as the cut goes, the first thing you should know is that Rapha put in solid work when it came to gusseting and articulating the pants to work around kneepads. I’ve found them to be comfortable with anything from a minimalist pad to a full on DH knee guard.
Doubling up on pockets – the storage layout is brilliant. There are two forward facing open slash pockets, just like a pair of jeans. What’s nice about them is that they’re quite deep, but the opening isn’t so big that you have to worry about items flying out. They’re also laid out *just* narrowly enough that your cell phone won’t flip sideways while riding – a pet peeve of mine.
The other option is to store your cell phone or key fob in the smaller zippered pockets at the sides. Bonus points for putting in a sleeve to keep items in place, as shown above.
Rapha’s trail pants features belt loops so that you could run your own cowboy belt if you really chose to…But they also feature a very clean way of cinching the waist as well. The built in closures snug things up nicely and don’t slip over time.
The inside of both ankles feature a thick abrasion resistant patch to prevent premature wear and degradation.
…And the outside features a stretchy cuff to keep things nice and snug.
The waist belt is higher cut, so you won’t get loam in your pants on the steeps, and there is also a sturdy hang loop for air drying.
Lastly, one thing that’s taken some getting used to – but I’ve grown quite fond of – is the button closure. It’s not a standard snap button, but rather a clasp. This means that it won’t pop off and come undone under pressure (a good thing!). It might feel unnatural at first, but it’s superior to every other closure I’ve used in the MTB world.
On the trail
First things first, there are a couple of noteworthy bits worth going over with Rapha as a brand, as regards their approach and general direction. Coming from the road side of things and being unconventional in that space, they offer some interesting programs like a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, free repairs and even a jersey downsizing program for riders who’ve lost weight.
On the whole, they’re a brand that strives to impress. Anyhow, I’ve been riding some of their trail gear lately and I’m truly wowed by the quality and ingenuity of the materials as well the cut and sew. As far as the pants are concerned, they’re no exception.
Starting off with fit, it’s safe to say these pants fit accurately. I’m a 31″ waist and I could go for either small or medium, depending on preference/fit. I opted for medium and I’m quite happy with the choice. One reason for this is that the cinch closure on the belt simply does not slip.
I’ve been frustrated in the past with brands who lean on a stretchy elastic closure sto tighten their waistbands. That approach tends to not have enough bite and sags out over time. This was not the case with the Rapha Trail Pants – or with their shorts for that matter – and for the first time, I’m not finding myself being annoyed that I erred up in size. You might wonder why I don’t simply always size down…Well, I have a very short torso and thus a long inseam – which means I’m not in a hurry to shorten my pant legs past the point of no return.
Anyhow, moving on to finish, comfort and all that jazz…The material Rapha has chosen for these pants is excellent. It is both stretchy and breathable – meaning that for the bulk of the shoulder seasons as well as Winter, you’ll be quite comfortable in them and you’ll be able to move about on the bike as you see fit, perfectly uninhibited. The fact that their fit is pre-cut with articulation in mind is a part of the equation worth mentioning.
I might also add that out of the gate, the material does a nice job of repelling moisture – although after many a washes, I was considering applying a fresh layer of water repellant. Anyhow – Rapha did their homework with the smart choice of leaving room for kneepads and having the waist band higher cut in the back, so you don’t get loads of loam where the sun don’t shine.
As far as other aspects go – as if it wasn’t already obvious, I loved features like the additional cell phone storage slash pockets as well as the drying hang tag and the clasp style closure. Little things like the wear patches on the inside of the ankles also indicate these pants are in it for the long haul.
At the end of the day, these just might be my new favorite riding pants. Regardless – for a freshman effort, I’m super impressed and I am very much looking forward to checking out future efforts from Rapha that are coming down the pipe. It’s nice to see them shaking things up in the MTB space…