REI’s Co-Op Cycles Soft Shell Pants (men’s and women’s) are a wind-resistant, double weave soft-shell pant that’s good for cold weather riding. They’re quite warm, with a brushed interior that makes them extremely comfortable to wear even when I’m not sitting on bicycle seat. While they’re quite similar to the soft shell cycling pant that REI used to sell under the Novara moniker, these soft shell pants have a much sturdier waist drawstring that won’t pull out of the pants the first time you tighten them.
Specs at a Glance:
- Fabric: 92% nylon/8% spandex
- Color: Black
- Gender: Men’s and Women’s
- Inseam length: Men’s (32″), Women’s (31″)
- Waterproof: No
These soft shell pants have a gusseted crotch that allows for free range of motion and reflective strips down the sides of the legs and backs of the calfs for higher visibility. The legs taper around the ankles to prevent any interference with your chain, while lower legs zips allow easy on and off. Unfortunately, there’s just one rear, zippered pocket, big enough for a small wallet or set of keys. I guess the assumption is that you’ll be wearing a jacket with pockets in cooler weather.
Breathability is very good with stretch fabric around the waist-band and behind the knees to vent heat. I’ve taken them down to 30 degrees without feeling a chill, but they do get a way too warm to wear as you near the mid-forties (degrees) if you’re climbing hills.
The fit is relaxed without feeling baggy, providing plenty of space if you wear chamois shorts. They don’t look at all like cycling tights, and were it not for the reflective striping, you could probably wear them that at the office and no one would give you a second look.
Can you use these pants for hiking and other winter sports? Absolutely, although they are warmer than the REI Activator Soft Shell Pants that I usually wear for winter hiking and snowshoeing. If you use the Cycling Soft Shell Pants them for this purpose, I’d recommend them as a cold weather option because the double-weave soft shell retains a lot more heat.
Disclosure: REI provided the author with a pair of pants for this review.