An amusing name, some unique features and a high-tech fabric aren't enough to give 7Mesh's expensive Thunder Pant trouser a leg up over the competition.
While the Thunder Pant sounds like the kind affliction you might experience after a curry and a few pints, it is in fact a waterproof trouser from Canadian outerwear wizards 7Mesh. 7Mesh has taken a really unique approach with the Thunder Pant in a couple of areas, so does this innovation justify the premium price and make it a contender for the best mountain bike waterproof trouser on the market? Time to find out.
Starting at the bottom (not bum) and working up, the Thunder Pant gets an extended cuff made from a material that looks and feels like neoprene. These are designed to effectively seal off the bottom of the leg and prevent any water ingress. But to help ease body ingress and egress, a combination of hook and loop and waterproof zip stretches all the way up beyond the knee. Not quite stripper pants, then, but not far off, and this enormous opening means it’s no problem pulling them on or off over shoes and/or knee pads.
Turn the cuffs over and you’ll see cut marks printed on the inside. Yes, 7Mesh wants you to take a pair of scissors to your very expensive new trousers in order to get the perfect fit. It sounds like madness, but actually it makes a lot of sense as leg length and waist circumference can vary wildly, and this way the brand can ensure everyone gets the perfect length and the ultimate water seal. It’s a little daunting cutting the hem, but you can always trim a bit at a time to make sure you don’t go too short and 7Mesh has provided a decent video on YouTube to guide you through the process.
Moving up the leg, there’s a small zip pocket on the right leg – just about big enough for a phone or a car key – then we get to the second of the Thunder Pant’s unique features – the no-fly zone. Yes, instead of an opening and a storm flap, the Thunder Pant has an Action Man style flat crotch, although there are dual adjusters and stretch panels to secure the waist.
As you’d hope for the £280 asking price, the Thunder Pant uses premium Gore Tex Pro three-layer fabric throughout, boasting an impressive 28k waterproofness rating and 25k breathability rating – that’s some of the highest available. 7Mesh has used different versions of Gore Tex Pro in different areas, with the most rugged fabric at the seat and upper legs and the most breathable at the waist and lower legs. Fabric stretch is minimal, and the pant is quite stiff and rustly when pedalling compared to something like the Troy Lee Designs Resist pant.
Waterproofing and breathability are first rate, and the Thunder Pant’s light weight is noticeable when pedaling for long periods, especially in heavy rain when other pants might start to wet out. The soft inner layer feels nice against skin, but we’d prefer a bit more stretch in the fabric. After a muddy, stinking winter ride, we really appreciated the zip/velcro legs – it made getting undressed a lot easier when hands are cold and wet socks don’t want to pull through tight cuffs.
On the other hand, the no zip fly was really annoying and made mid-ride comfort breaks really awkward. As far as we can see, omitting the fly has no real advantage either, as water never really gets in from the front. We also found it annoying that there was only one pocket as we’d prefer to be able to separate phone and keys when we’re riding without a pack.
When I tested 7Mesh’s equally high-end Skypilot jacket, the price of admission was well worth the increase in performance, but in the case of the Thunder Pant, I’m not so sure. With a conventional fly and an extra pocket, the top end fabric could justify the extra outlay over something like the excellent Troy Lee Designs Resist pant. But at almost double the asking price, I couldn’t live with those quirky features.