Adventure riders ask a lot of their pants and jackets. They need to be waterproof, breathable, well ventilated, warm and offer good protection from the elements, as well as abrasion and impact resistance in a crash.
Waterproof and breathable would seem like a contradiction of terms, and at one time having both would have been an impossibility. But with the advance in technology of today’s fabrics like Gore-Tex, both are achievable.
In this article, I look at 5 of the best Adventure Motorcycle Pants available today.
Like Adventure Motorcycle jackets, pants should be a comfortable fit, well armored and be able to easily transition between different types of riding terrain.
Pushed for time? Here’s a quick summary 5 of the Best Adventure Motorcycle Pants being reviewed here.
1. Klim Dakar Pants – Top Pick
2. Klim Carlsbad Pants – Best Of The best
3. Pilot Motosport Dura Over Pants – Best Budget Over Pants
4. Firstgear Kathmandu Over Pants
5. Scorpion Yosemite Pants
Prices range from $115 up to $490 so I have focused on low to mid-range Adventure pants and over pants.
How to choose Adventure Motorcycle Pants:
There are a few terms you’ll come across when looking at motorcycle pants and jackets.
Here’s a brief explanation of some of them:
- Denier: A term used in the textile industry. It is a measurement of the density of the fibers. It measures the weight in grams of 9000 meters length of the material. The lower the Denier number, the finer the material, the higher the number, the coarser the material.
- Kevlar: A lightweight synthetic fabric which has a very high tensile strength, which makes it good for abrasion resistance.
An important factor if you drop your bike on the road.
- Cordura: Duponts original brand name for a line of highly durable fabric.
- Reactive Armor: A type of armor that is soft and flexible at rest and becomes rigid on impact. An example is Leatt’s 3DF impact foam used in their body armor, which instantly transforms into a hard energy absorbing substance under impact during a crash. Other manufacturers like Klim call it D30. It is used in numerous sports, even the military use it.
- Hard Armor: A plastic armor used on impact areas like knees and hips in pants, and elbows and shoulders in jackets. It is typically covered by a cushioning foam material on the inner side for comfort.
- CE rating: The letters “CE” are the abbreviation of the French phrase “Conformité Européene” which literally means “European Conformity”.
It has to do with European motorcycle safety standards. America has unofficially adopted these standards, but they are not required by law for street use. In contrast, to ride a motorcycle in Europe, you have to have protective apparel that meets these standards. <Source>
Motorcycle Pants Options:
Kevlar Motorcycle Jeans:
The big advantage of Kevlar jeans is that they look like normal jeans. So if you wear them around off the bike you don’t look like an astronaut or stormtrooper. Commuters are the perfect candidates for wearing motorcycle jeans.
They provide a far better level of abrasion resistance than normal jeans. To achieve this they are either reinforced with an abrasion resistant material like Kevlar woven into the denim or have an inner liner sewn in, which tend to be bulkier than the woven denim type.
Some even include impact protection in the form of removable armor with pockets on the outside for quick removal.
Motorcycle jeans offer better protection than normal jeans, but they are not at the same level as dedicated motorcycle pants.
Motocross/Enduro Style Pants:
Generally more lightweight and flexible than Adventure style pants, but you need to add your own knee pads/braces and hip protection. If you like to use a knee brace, this is the best option.
They are also designed to be worn inside the boots, and have no pockets or ventilation zipper openings like Adventure style pants.
Adventure Style Pants:
Adventure Touring pants need to be extremely versatile to withstand multiple types of terrain and weather conditions. Textiles are almost always the material of choice.
Adventure riders tend to be very active on the bike in off-road situations, so the pants need to have great mobility and flexibility. They are available as both over pants and as regular pants.
They are generally designed to be worn over the boot and have built in knee and hip protection, or pockets that are designed to insert the armor.
They feature varying levels of waterproofing and thermal layers, lots of pockets and an abrasion resistant shell. Some have zippers designed to attach to a matching jacket.
It’s perfectly OK to mix and match jackets, jerseys, and pants to find the combination that works for you and the type of riding you do.
If you prefer to motocross style ‘In The Boot’ pants you then have the option of adding your own knee and hip armor. Generally, this type of armor often stays in place and offers better protection than the armor built into the pants themselves.
As the name implies, over pants are worn over your normal pants. They are especially useful for commuters as you are wearing your normal pants when you get to your destination. They tend to fit on the loose side, so adequate adjustment is important.
There are a few features to look for in over pants:
Full-length side zippers make it easier to get them on and off without removing your footwear.
Lots of stretch panels to help mobility which can be hindered because you are wearing two pairs of pants.
Adjustable fitment at the waist and ankles is important to keep them as snug as possible.
Being waterproof is a huge advantage, especially as they are being worn over your normal pants, which aren’t.
Here are my 5 top choices for the best adventure motor pants available today, compiled from my 30 plus years experience of Dual Sport, Enduro, and Adventure riding.
1. Klim Dakar Pants
The Klim Dakar pants are a classic adventure design that has been popular for years.
If you are an off-road rider you probably have your own armor for knees and hips, you may even use a knee brace, so these pants don’t come with armor as standard, but they have the pockets for the installation of armor if you want it.
If you don’t have your own armor Klim’s D30 armor for knees and hips (either CE level one or two) are available.
The body of these pants is made from a durable Cordura textile material, with the hard-wearing areas of the knees and seat being the heavier 840D Cordura, and the less impact prone areas a lighter 600D Cordura.
The inside of the pant legs are leather, which helps you grip the bike, and also offers better heat resistance should you touch a hot exhaust pipe.
Breathable stretch woven panels at the back of the waist, above the knees, at the back of the legs and in the crotch help with flexibility and comfort.
The lower legs are wide enough to fit over adventure boots or bulkier off-road boots. The long velcro straps at the pants cuff give you lots of adjustment so that you can make them fit for your boots.
Venting for these pants is good, with long zippers placed diagonally on the upper thigh, so they catch heaps of air when open.
Also on the thigh alongside the zip vents is a zip-close cargo style storage pocket large enough to hold a decent amount of stuff, although personally, I prefer to use the pockets in the jacket.
The waist is secured by a sturdy double snap closure with velcro adjusters on the sides. On the inside waist is a silicone material to help keep your pants up and jersey tucked in.
- Controlled ventilation off-road pant chassis
- 840D Cordura integrated into knees and seat
- Genuine leather on inner knees which add grip and protection
- New breathable stretch woven panels at the back waist, above the knees, back of legs and in the crotch
- New printed fabrics on abrasion-resistant high tenacity 600D Cordura
- Karbonite Ripstop Cordura nylon on cuffs, with Velcro adjustment
- Adjustable zippered thigh vents for airflow
- DWR treatment for water resistance
- Billowed cargo pockets on thighs
- Silicone waistband to keep pants up and jersey tucked in
- Side waist adjustments
- D30 compatible armor pockets in the hips and knees
- 3M Scotchlite reflective material on the back of the leg
- Moisture-wicking breathable liner with stretch zones
- Vented TPU accents on the knees
- Embroidered Logos
- Excellent durable construction
- Good ventilation
- Leather panel to inner knees
- Armor not included. Available as optional extra
The Dakar pants are also available as ‘Dakar In The Boot’ style. They have most of the same features, the main difference being the wide range of brighter colors. They do not have the pocket for knee pads, as with MX style pants it is assumed you will use your own knee protectors.
These are more durable than your average MX style pants and come in at about $20 cheaper than the ‘over the boot’ style.
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, 30, 32, 32 Tall, 34, 34 Tall, 36, 38, 38 Tall, 40, 40 Tall. Refer to the chart below or go to Klim Sizing Chart
The Klim Dakar Pants are part of the complete riding suit with a matching Dakar jacket. For my review of the Dakar jacket: 5 Best Adventure Motorcycle Jackets
2. Klim Carlsbad Pants
The Klim Carlsbad pants are built for the hard-charging Adventure rider who spends the majority of their time off-road but still wants a comfortable ride when touring.
Klim now has an ADV section for riders who spend most of their time off-road and a Touring section for riders who spend the bulk of their time riding on the road.
Like the Carlsbad jacket, the Carlsbad pants are designed to replace the Latitude pants as ADV/off-road pants, with the Latitude pants now being part of their Touring line for riders who spend more time riding on the road.
The Klim Carlsbad pants are a lighter weight option to the more heavy duty Badlands pants for riders thinking the Badlands may be a little too much.
The Carlsbad pants are a fully waterproof breathable Goretex shell with D30 CE Level 1 rated hip and knee armor.
The hard-wearing abrasion areas of the knees and seat are a double layer of 500D Cordura ‘Ripstop’ nylon, with a leather inlay at the inside of the knee which helps provide a good grip of the bike while riding in the standing riding position off-road. The leather also provides better heat resistance should you contact the hot exhaust pipe.
The mapped mesh wicking liner is reinforced with Cordura at the inside of the knee and cuff for wear resistance.
A large YKK zipper down the thigh with a flap provides the main ventilation to the pants. The air is vented out through zippered exhaust vents at the back of the thigh.
Alongside the thigh vent zipper is a large zippered cargo pocket with a Velcro flap which provides heaps of storage.
At the waist, there is a snap closure at the front with velcro adjustment at the sides with an elasticated stretch to it. At the rear, there is a connection zipper for use with the Carlsbad jacket.
At the bottom of the leg, there is a three position snap closure at the cuff which gives you plenty of adjustment if you choose to wear the pants over the boots. The zipper now includes a gusset which is a big help, especially in water crossing situations. There are also reflective strips at the back for nighttime visibility.
By adding your own base and mid layers you can turn the Carlsbad into a pair of cold weather riding pants.
Englishman Lyndon Poskitt of Races To Places fame gives a great review of the Carlsbad riding suit.
- Guaranteed To Keep You Dry Gore-Tex performance shell
- 500 Denier Cordura Ripstop fabric in abrasion zones
- Leather inner knees with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, overlaid on inner leg panels for wear and heat resistance
- Black 3M Scotchlite industrial grade reflective materials for increased low-light visibility
- YKK zippers
- Glove-friendly zipper pulls
- D3O CE Level 1 hip and knee armor included
Pockets / Ventilation
- 2 thigh intake vents
- 2 thigh exhaust vents
- 2 storage pockets on thigh
- Velcro brand waist adjusters
- Mapped mesh wicking liner with Cordura at the inner knee and cuff for wear resistance
- Adjustable cuff design allows for boot and knee brace/guard access
- ‘Jacket-to-pant’ zipper integration system
- Articulated fit
- Gore-Tex shell
- CE rated armor
- Good ventilation
- Hip armor tends to shift a bit in the seated position with the vent zipper open
Sizes: 34, 36, 38, 40. Refer to the chart below or go to Klim Sizing Chart
The Klim Carlsbad Pants are part of the complete riding suit with a matching Carlsbad jacket. For my review of the Carlsbad jacket: 5 Best Adventure Motorcycle Jackets
3. Pilot Motosport Dura Over Pants
The Pilot Dura over pants have been recently been updated, replacing the Pilot Omni over pants.
There’s a lot to like about these pants, such as the full-length entry zippers and the permanent waterproof liner. They are a good match with the Pilot Trans.Urban V2 jacket (review)
They are a ‘Pilotex’ outer shell, which is very water resistant on its own, with a permanently attached waterproof/windproof and breathable REISSA membrane liner and then a nylon mesh layer inside that.
‘Pilotex’ is Pilot’s own blend of nylon/poly fabric which is a 600 Denier weight. The knees and seat use a double layer of Pilotex material to provide additional abrasion resistance.
As these are over pants, they don’t have any additional thermal insulation layer. You add your own base layer, but anyone wearing them will be wearing at least one layer of clothes underneath anyway.
The Dura over pants also features full-length side zippers which make putting them on over your clothes and boots easy. No need to remove your boots.
Along the length of the leg zippers is a flap with a continuous Velcro fastener that runs the full length of the zipper to aid in providing weather protection.
Flexibility is important in motorcycle over pants and the Dura has an accordion-style expansion panel at the rear below the waist, and above the knees. Above the accordion stretch panel at the rear is an 8-inch zipper attachment for connection to the Pilot jackets and the Pilot V-Brace suspenders.
A nice touch is the mating half of the zipper which is included in case you’d like to connect to a different branded jacket.
Behind the knees and at the crotch is constructed of ‘Flexdura’, which is a one-way stretch fabric that has a softer feel than Pilotex.
CE approved knee protection is an upgrade over the replaced Omni over pants. It’s a reactive armor that Pilot call ‘Core Force Active’ technology, which is a polyurethane protector that is soft and flexible at rest and hardens on impact to disperse energy.
The knee protectors fit into an internal pocket in the liner that are accessed using a ‘RedTab’ locator at the opening. Hip protection is a 6mm (0.25″) foam pad which sits in an internal pocket and can be upgraded to Pilot’s ‘Core’ hip protectors.
The ‘RedTab’ system is a bright red colored tab that makes it easier to locate connection points against the all black interior. It is also used on the V-Brace suspender attachment points.
The main waist closure at the front uses a gusseted opening with a zipper, some Velcro and two snap fittings. At the sides, there are adjustable Velcro waist straps with elastic pulls to adjust the fit.
There are two front pockets with vertical zippered closures. They are big enough for smaller items like a phone, wallet or keys.
Venting of the Dura is by a 16.5cm (6.5″) long vent along the outer section of each thigh, protected by a waterproof zipper. Unfortunately, the vents do not flow air through the REISSA waterproof liner, so air does not directly reach your body. There are also no exhaust vents at the back of the leg, which would have helped the air flow situation.
YKK zippers are used throughout, while waterproof YKK zippers are used on the side thigh vents.
The Dura Over Pants are a nicely constructed pant in the low $100 price range, and offer great value for money when compared to other over pants on the market.
- Constructed of Pilotex 600D NPF throughout with overlay panels at the knees with triple and double stitched seams for high strength
- The seat has high strength double wall Pilotex 600D NPF panels from waist to thigh, leg to leg
- Pilotex 1000D FlexDura used in the crotch and behind knees for ease of movement
- Reflective 3M Scotchlite panels on the outside of calf for increased visibility at night
- Sewn-in waterproof/windproof and breathable REISSA membrane allows moisture out, not in
- Large main zipper with waterproof gusset to keep water out while seated
- Large YKK EZ PULL zippers on outside of legs with Velcro wind flap
- Removable 3 position adjustable CE approved Core Force Active armor technology in the knees that flexes and conforms to the body for comfort, but hardens and disperses force upon impact
- Exclusive RedTab system used on adjustable knee armor pockets for locating access points in low light conditions
- RedTab internal waist straps accept Pilot V-BRACE Suspenders
- Two zippered large YKK EZ PULL hand/cargo pockets
- Two zippered waterproof intake vents on thighs
- Sewn-in tail bone pad
- Large lower back stretch panel for ease of forward motion
- Sewn-in hip webbing loops to hang pants from when not in use
- Elastic main zipper flap pull with double non-scratch rubber head snaps
- Adjustable Velcro waist straps with elastic pulls and elasticized hip panels to adjust the fit
- Ankle straps are fully adjustable with Velcro
- Elastic pull tabs at ankle flaps
- Screened Pilot logo on front, TRIAD logo on the back of the waist
- Perforated hip pads can be replaced with upgraded Pilot Core CE level 2 microcellular PU hip pads
- 8″ attachment zipper includes both sides of the zipper to be used with any jacket
- 2 Year Warranty
What’s New Since 2017?
- New design since 2017 replaces the Omni Over Pant giving it a new separate identity
- Newer, low sheen Pilotex 600D NPF material used
- New easier to use EZ PULL zippers on outside of leg ease on/off use
- New screening of Pilot and TRIAD logos at front waist and upper back waist
- Blank rubber head snaps replace Pilot logo snap heads
- PPSS System – Panel to Panel/Seam to Seam sewn in Velcro for high strength
- Full-length side zippers
- CE rated armor
- Permanent waterproof liner
- Limited pockets
- Limited venting due to no exhaust vents
- Full-length side zippers may be a possible leak point
Sizes: Small, Medium, Medium Tall, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, XXX-Large
The Pilot Dura Over Pants are a good match with the Pilot Trans.Urban V2 Jacket. For my review of the Trans.Urban jacket: 5 Best Adventure Motorcycle Jackets
4. Firstgear Kathmandu Over Pants
The Firstgear Kathmandu Pants are an all season all-weather ADV/Enduro style riding pant designed to be worn as overpants, so they are designed to be worn over whatever mid layer you are wearing.
The ‘Hypertex’ shell is designed to be waterproof whether you have the thermal liner in or out. The inner insulated liner is 2/3 length and easily removable.
The shell is constructed of 420 Denier rip-stop nylon and 300 Denier high-density nylon panels.
The suspenders and yoke are removable. The yoke is a mesh fabric to keep cool against your back.
Suspenders allow you to wear your pants comfortably with the waist a bit looser than normal which is great while on the bike, and they won’t slip down when you stand and walk. If you want to wear these pants without the suspenders you can simply remove them.
At the waist, there is Velcro adjustment at the sides and both a D-ring and snap closure at the front. The fly is a YKK zipper with a gaitor behind because these are a completely waterproof breathable shell. At the rear waist, there is a connection zipper for use with the Firstgear Kathmandu jacket.
The two front flap pockets are pass-through so that you can quickly and easily get to your valuables, and are protected by YKK rubberized zippers to keep moisture out.
Ventilation is through two large diagonal thigh intake vents with YKK rubberized zippers and mesh behind.
Hip and knee protection is D3O T5 CE Armor with Ripstop 3D foam padding externally at the knee. The D30 armor is ‘Reactive Armor’, which means it is soft and flexible at rest and becomes rigid on impact to disperse energy. The position of the hip and knee armor is adjustable to allow you to ensure it is in the right position for you.
Waterproof and breathable stretch fabric panels to the back of the waist yoke, crotch, inner thigh, and knee back give you flexibility and allow the pants to move with you.
At the cuff, a long YKK zipper which extends up to knee level gives you a wide opening that allows you plenty of room to fit over off-road style boots.
There is an internal storm gator with a silicone grip which is elasticized for a snug fit around your boots to keep moisture from traveling up the pant leg.
- ‘Hypertex’ waterproof and breathable outer shell constructed of 420 Denier rip-stop nylon and 300 Denier high-density nylon
- Dynamic Fit: Athletic, dynamic, out-of-the-saddle fit
- Pants are sized to fit over your clothes
- Fully adjustable D3O T5 CE Armor in the hips and knees – delivers the same protection as standard CE foam armor, but is thinner and more flexible, resulting in a more comfortable, flexible fit
- Back of waist yoke, crotch, inner thigh and knee back features waterproof & breathable stretch fabric that adds flexibility and reduces binding
- Chamude suede knee patches minimize tank scratches
- 10-1/2” diagonal thigh vents catch the air when open and keep out the elements using YKK #5 rubberized zippers – vents can be held open by folding the cover inward to hook and loop closure
- Integrated short bib and suspenders that can be easily removed to your preference
- Insulated 2/3 length pant liner that is easily detachable
- Includes 10” pant-to-jacket full conjunction zipper that attaches to your jacket
- One time adjustable waist held in place by hook and loop closure
- Above the knee YKK #5 two way zipper easily fits over boots – protected by an exterior storm flap with rain gutter to keep out moisture
- Knee and leg opening is now enlarged to fit over off-road boots
- Two front flap pass-through pocket openings for gaining access to internal pockets – protected by YKK rubberized zippers to keep moisture out
- One cargo pocket on right thigh for storage with seam sealed pocket bag to keep moisture out
- Internal storm gator with silicone grip and elasticized for a snug fit to keep moisture from traveling up the pant leg
- Zippered fly-wide-gusset for easy on/off-waterproof and breathable
- 2-year limited warranty
- CE Certified armor
- Removable inner thermal liner
- 100% waterproof
- Lack of full side leg zippers that make over pants so convenient to take on and off over clothing. This is the trade-off to achieve 100% waterproofing.
Sizes: 32, 34 Tall, 38, 40, 42 Tall.
They are sized to fit over your street clothes, so simply choose the size you normally wear. For wearing over light clothing, choose the waist size you normally wear, but if you plan to wear these over heavy clothing then you will want to choose one size up. The pants are offered in both short and tall versions, so you can consult the chart to pick the best inseam.
The Firstgear Kathmandu Pants are part of the complete riding suit with a matching Firstgear Kathmandu jacket. For my review of the Kathmandu jacket: 5 Best Adventure Motorcycle Jackets
5. ScorpionEXO XDR Yosemite Adventure Touring Pants
The ScorpionEXO XDR Yosemite is a well-ventilated textile mid-weight Touring or Adventure pant which comes with a removable waterproof Airguard liner for when the weather turns nasty.
The main chassis is constructed from a 5oo Denier nylon with a heavier duty 1680 Denier nylon used in the harder wearing high abrasion areas of the knees and seat.
Across the top of the seat is an expansion panel to give you flexibility, and there’s also an 8″ zipper for attaching to the matching Scorpion XDR Yosemite jacket.
The front waist closure is by two hook and loop fasteners and the zipper fly has a gusset behind. There are two Velcro waist adjusters at the sides.
Large diagonal zippered vents on the front of the thighs allow cool air to enter, and smaller exhaust vents on the back of the thighs allow hot air to escape.
Two large cargo pockets on the thighs provide heaps of storage, and there are also two front hand pockets for smaller items.
Knee protection is Sas-Tec C.E. certified armor with a stretch panel above the knee. Hip protection is PE foam which can be upgraded to Sas-Tech C.E. armor if you want some extra protection.
At the bottom of the legs, the cuffs can be secured over your boots by a Velcro closure to prevent them from flapping in the wind at highway speeds.
The Scorpion Yosemite pants are available in Black and Grey.
- Constructed from 500 denier nylon main material with heavy duty 1680 denier nylon abrasion zones at knees and seat
- Adjustable vents on front and rear of thigh for flow-through ventilation
- All critical seams are Exo-Stitch safety seams with heavy bar tacking at high-stress areas
- ‘NightViz’ reflective accents on thighs and lower legs for increased nighttime visibility
- Large Velcro adjustment areas at bottom of the cuff
- Removable H2OBlok waterproof and windproof liner
- Two large cargo pockets on thighs and two front hand pockets
- 8″ elastic panel and YKK zippers connect pants to the matching jacket
- Pockets with PE (Polyethylene) foam at the hips
- Sas-Tec viscoelastic C.E. certified armor with molded Velcro at knees for infinite adjustability
- CE Certified armor
- Removable waterproof liner
- Good storage
- No leather panel to the inner side of knees
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, XXX-Large
The Scorpion XDR Yosemite Pants are part of the complete riding suit with a matching Scorpion XDR Yosemite Adventure Touring Jacket.
Adventure riding pants (and jackets for that matter), need to have it all: waterproof, breathable, well ventilated, warm, cool, protective, abrasion and impact resistant – it’s a big ask.
All of these pants fit the bill, but here is my opinion of the best available today:
Top Pick: Klim Dakar Pants
The Dakar pants have long been a favorite with adventure riders. By offering a top quality shell with the option to add the armor if you choose, Klim has been able to give you a top-level product at an entry-level price.
Best Of The Best: Klim Carlsbad Pants
If you are looking for Top of the Line lightweight Gore-Tex pants for some hard-charging off-road adventure riding, but don’t need the heavier duty features of the Klim Badlands, the Carlsbad could be the answer for you. You will also be saving yourself about $200.
Best Budget Over Pants: Pilot Motosport Dura Over Pants
With so many features that you’d expect in Over Pants twice the price, it’s hard not to like these pants. A well-constructed pant from a name brand company, all for about $100.
All of these pants are part of a riding suit that includes a matching jacket. Refer to my post: 5 Best Adventure Motorcycle Jackets Below.
Is there an adventure riding pant or riding suit that you think should be on this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.