Full disclosure – I don’t own a fat bike. But I was recently provided a pair of Bontrager OMW Softshell pants to review. But I do live in Whistler, BC and we do have some wintery weather here that’s still great for riding before we become buried in snow.
At first look, the pants seem very well constructed. It’s obvious these are not simply nor cheap cycling shells intended for the casual rider or commuted. There is obviously a thought of thought put into design and features.
The fabric, Profila Softshell, felt durable to the touch – providing some reassurance they would not rip open when snagged on the 1st branch found. Pulling them on, they were comfortable with a relaxed but not too baggy fit. The integrated belt is a great feature and allowed the pants to feel snug enough I was not worried about them riding downward while on the saddle. Length was good (I’m a 32” inseem), and there seemed to be the right amount of room around the hips to allow a lycra underlayer.
The integrated gators stymied me at first. Did I put the stirrups internal to my shoes or around the bottom? I tried both and was not sold on either fitment. I do not normally ride with Gortex socks or the like, so the idea of keeping a bit drier was good but I was not quite sure how to achieve that with just the pant gators and regular cycling shoes. Perhaps some high-top winter cycling shoes would create a better waterproof system when used with the gators.
Ride 1 was a brisk but sunny day, -3C, hitting some local lower elevation trails. Leaving the house, it was immediately clear the pants provided superior warmth compared to other winter-adapted riding ensembles I have. On the bike, the pants did not ride down and there was adequate articulation room in the knees for pedaling. Looking down, I did have a concern about the amount of loose material around the ankle and how close it was to catching in my chainring. In spite of continuing to be concerned about this, the pants never got caught in the chainring in any of my rides. Returning home after a couple of hours, I remarked the pants had kept my lower body warm while also providing reasonable breathability. I also liked the pockets – having kept my multi-tool in 1 and not being bothered by the tool bouncing around while pedaling.
Ride 2 was a night ride in the pouring rain. Let’s just come out and say the obvious. These are not Gortex pants, although the Profila has a 10K mm waterproof rating. Again about a 2 hour ride through the rain and mud. I was thoroughly soaked through by the end. But not cold. The pants continued to do a great job keeping my lower body warm. The Profila material was also not the best material for shedding mud. And lastly, while these pants are not intended for commuting, any black cycling pants would benefit from generous reflective materials. Being seen is always a concern on a bike.
And ride 3 was a great mix of cold and wet snow. And mixed in darkness again. This was actually up a local Whistler trail called Yummy Numby and down the last section of Comfortably Numb. I’ll say again, the OMW pants keep you warm enough for winter season riding. And are durable enough I was happy to have them as a little extra protection on a trail ride for which I might normally wear some knee protection in the summer. This ride I did hit the deck twice, with one mishap resulting in an OTB. No scuff marks, rips or visible wear on the pants upon my return.
Overall I’ve been quite happy with the pants. Warm, good fitting, care and attention to detail in design and features, and seemingly durable. I may even try them for some snowshoeing or cross country skiing. I never did figure out the gators, but they are also removable. And the ONW nomenclature. ‘On my way’? I didn’t know if I was late for something.
Price: $239.99 usd