Pulling on a pair of waterproof mtb trousers in the winter is a great way of staying warm and dry, whatever the trail conditions.

In the past, waterproof trousers/pants looked awful and were rustley, crinkly and boil-in-the-bag as soon as you got moving. But advances in fabric technology mean that the latest options a soft and comfortable, stretch as you pedal, keep you warm and dry when the spray is flying, and even look good off the bike. Here’s our round-up of the best options on the market.

Complete your weather-resistant outfit by pairing your trousers with a good waterproof mountain bike jacket, and keep your face clear of mud by popping the best mudguards you can find on your bike.

Fox Ranger 3L Waterproof Pant

Fox Ranger 3L Water Pant

Sizes: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40in | Waterproof rating: 10k | Breathability rating: 10k | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy: Great on-bike comfort. Decent waterproofing. Stylish.

Reasons to avoid: Nothing of note.

You might not be able to tell from the pictures but the Fox Ranger 3L Water Pant doesn’t have that typical nylon trouser construction, it’s more of a soft shell. The face fabric contains a high percentage of Spandex, which means it has a four-way stretch ability, is less noisy and, in our opinion, way more comfortable.

But don’t let that imply this trouser is less effective at keeping you dry because it’s actually really good. It uses Truseal, a three-layer fabric that features a membrane middle layer to boost wicking and waterproofness. Combine performance, comfort, fit and the price and you have a high performance winter pant – totally recommended.

Read our full review of the Fox Ranger 3L Waterproof pant

Troy Lee Designs Resist Pant

Troy Lee Designs Resist Pant

Sizes: 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40in | Waterproof rating: 10k | Breathability rating: 10k | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy: Nice stretchy fabric. Good cut. Useful pockets.

Reasons to avoid: Premium brand means a premium price. Ankle cuffs can be quite tight when removing over wet socks.

For a brand based in sun-kissed southern California, Troy Lee has nailed the winter trouser brief with its new Resist pant. It fits well (although you may need to size down as the fit is generous at the waist) with plenty of mobility, so it doesn’t actually feel like you are wearing a waterproof pant.

In fact we’d happily wear these on cool spring and autumn days, even when it wasn’t raining. Zipped hip pockets and well-placed reinforced panels add to the practicality. Only the price washes a little of the lustre away.

Read our full test review of the Troy Lee Resist pant

Scott Trail Storm Waterproof pants

Scott Trail Storm Waterproof Pants

Sizes: 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40in | Waterproof rating: 10k | Breathability rating: 10k | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy: Good waterproofing and breathability. Well tailored fit, with no excess material. Stretchy cuffs, Great for taller riders. Good price.

Reasons to avoid: More of a straight cut than tapered – more an observation than a criticism.

Scott has done well with its Trail Storm Waterproof pant; it’s ideal for taller riders, the fit is well thought out and the rain protection is excellent. It also comes in men’s and women’s versions, which is a boon. And while £135 is a lot of money for waterproof trousers it’s actually better value than most other premium brand offerings.

Read our full test review of the Scott Trail Storm Waterproof Pants

100% Hydromatic pants

100% Hydromatic Pant

Sizes: 28-38in | Waterproof rating: 10k | Breathability rating: 10k | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy: Excellent waterproofing. Goldilocks fit – neither too tight nor too baggy. Breathable.

Reasons to avoid: Waistband is too loose.

This 100% waterproof trouser uses a 2.5-layer fabric with a little bit of stretch and is rated 10k for both breathability and waterproofness. While it’s true that other quality riding trousers with a DWR coating that keep you dry-ish in less severe conditions can be had for half the money, the Hydromatics are priced in line with other fully winterised equivalents.

As such, they are genuinely waterproof and can handle full days in horrible conditions.

Read our full test review of the 100% Hydromatic Pant

Altura Ridge Thermal Men’s Waterproof Trousers

Best trousers for cold, wet riding days

Sizes: S – XXL | Weight: 350g | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy: Warm on the coldest days. Reasonable protection from splashes/showers.

Reasons to avoid: Can be sweaty in ambient temps over 10ºC. Legs are a bit baggy.

The technical layer (made from Polartec Powergrid) is essentially a pair of fleecy shorts stitched in that reach down to just above the knee. Outside this, a waterproof softshell material with fully taped internal seams and two hip pockets (with waterproof zips) keeps out rain and splashes, and there are also two longer thigh vent zips to manage heat and cooling/ventilation.

In terms of waterproof resistance, we found Ridge is very effective against both splashes and sustained rain and keeps you bone dry inside, but the dull soft-shell fabric doesn’t quite bead water or shrug off muddy splashes as readily as a more traditional waterproof trouser, such as the 100% Hydromatic or Troy Lee Designs Resist, and can get heavier than some fabrics as a result.

If you’re looking for a waterproof riding trouser that offers meaningful extra warmth, Altura’s Ridge Thermal is a really effective solution. It’s warm and dry, so you can’t argue with the functionality and it’s also really stretchy and easy to move about in.

Read our full review of the Altura Ridge Thermal Men’s Waterproof Trousers

How we tested

All of the waterproof mountain bike pants above have been thoroughly tested in the wettest weather and muddiest trails we could get our bikes on. They’ve been tested against heavy and light rain, and upward splashes from puddles and wet ground. Breathability was assessed based on how they felt after hard riding, and they were also assessed on comfort, fit, features, price and value for money.

What to look for in waterproof mountain bike trousers/pants

We’ve tested a whole load of mountain bike pants, and all of the ones we’ve selected above have scored highly enough to make our list of the very best out there. They’ll all get the job done, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the more expensive options will be a bit more durable and comfortable to wear.


The durable water repellant (DWR) is a surface treatment to the fabric that helps water run off rather than soak in

How do brands test for waterproofness and breathability? And what do the figures mean?

Most quality waterproof trousers are built from a laminate fabric, which consists of a waterproof/breathable membrane which is either sandwiched between two nylon layers or stuck to the inside of one. The membrane is the bit that keeps you dry and Gore-Tex is the most well-known brand. Most clothing brands use their own waterproof fabrics, to varying success.

All waterproof fabrics are rated for waterproofness and breathability using standardised lab tests. The waterproof rating involves placing a piece of fabric under a vertical pipe and it with water. Then measuring the height at which the water starts to leak through the fabric. Anything over 10,000mm (10 metres) is pretty watertight in normal conditions.

Breathability is also rated – look for the MVTR (Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate) figure. This measures how much water vapour passes through a fabric and condenses over a 24hr time period. Above 20,000g/m²/24hr means good breathability.

A key point to understand is that these will be the figures for the fabric in a lab, and the performance of the garment also depends on the design. For example, large pockets will mean areas of the jacket will use two layers of fabric, instead of one, which will reduce breathability. Large logos, zips and seams will also effect the performance of the garment. In other words, often the simplest garments work the best.

Fabric construction

Manufacturers describe their garments as having two or three layers, but what does this mean? A two-layer fabric is made up of an outer face fabric bonded to the waterproof membrane. Inside may be a hanging mesh liner to protect the inner membrane. On a 2.5 layer, the mesh liner is replaced with a micro (or half) layer, which is either bonded or printed onto the membrane.

A three-layer garment has the membrane sandwiched between two Nylon layers, and this is becoming the most common construction.

Fox Ranger pants

Vents can help heat escape, but also let dirt and water in.


To be honest, on legs, vents are generally unnecessary but some of the pants here do have them. In terms of temperature, we wouldn’t recommend waterproof pants above 10ºC, as they’re likely to just be too hot. Instead, a summer trail pant with a DWR coating will be the best option.


We’d always recommend getting a waterproof MTB pant with pockets as they’re very useful for phones, car keys and other essentials, even when getting ready to ride.

Pockets are usually on the hip, but can he found lower down on the thigh as well. Our preference is for the former, though a lower pocket can work too, as long as it is not too baggy, as the contents will slap against your thigh when pedalling. A waterproof zip is a must here.

100% Hydromatic pants

100% Hydromatic pants

Waist closure

There are various options when it comes to waist closures for waterproof pants. A simple pop-stud might be used, but these can wear with age and burst open at inopportune moments. MX-style ratchet buckles are much stronger and safer, although the 100% pants recommended here use BOA’s dial closure, which is also comfortable and secure.

With a good set of waterproof trousers you can splash through puddles like a five year-old

Do I need to wear padded shorts under my mountain bike trousers?

Not necessarily, although a lot of riders do. It’s very much a question of personal preference, but if you’re looking for a little padding and, dare we say it, insulation in your nether regions, a good liner short can make longer rides a whole lot more comfortable.