So you’ve got the helmet, the gloves and a trusted motorcycle jacket yet you know there is something missing from the ensemble.

Ensuring you are not only covered where it matters due to weather conditions while out on your motorbike; the difference between you landing up with intensely painful and unfavourable wounds on your legs due to a slip or crash while out on the road or tour – certainly may be a solid and reliable pair of motorcycle pants.

So where do you begin? How do you select the right pants? Many of your questions will be answered as we explore the various styles, designs and factors to consider when choosing the best motorcycle pants for you and your riding needs.


If you are reading this wondering whether or not it is even necessary to buy a pair of motorcycle pants and why you should go spend more money when you can ride in your perfectly comfortable pair of biker jeans or cargo pants? Well, out of many of the reasons (which we will cover more in this article) – the most important and vital reasoning behind wearing a durable and quality pair of motorcycle pants is safety.

biker wearing touring gear

Furthermore, have you ever been out on a ride with those thin cargo motorcycle pants or jeans and the weather conditions almost numb your bones to the brim?

Why spend your ride out being uncomfortable, unprotected and impractical when you can invest in a good pair of motorcycle pants that work with your riding style and ensure those jeans or cargos are left at home. 

For those who specifically spend hours out on the road or touring, you will need to count on your gear and riding apparel to get you through comfortably and safely.

As a biker you know that there are almost always risks involved when out on a ride and one of them certainly is the slide. Many motorcyclists have experienced the slide, whether it be from an oil spill in the road, miscalculation on the brakes when taking a corner or too much speed; the slide will find you and the one half of your body almost parallel to the ground and when you are riding at a certain speed, the graze against your legs could be excruciatingly painful. A motorcycle pants can aid and protect you from the harsh impact and grazing a motorcyclist can experience when sliding out or other accidents or crashes for that matter.

So now that we have made it pretty clear as to why motorcycle pants are quite crucial to preparing for your ride or tour, let’s get into what are some of the best motorcycle pants for touring as well as how to choose the right one for your riding experience.


Let’s take a quick look at the various types of motorcycle pants, which generally match the type of rider:


    These are typically for those who are taking long haul rides and require sustainable comfort alongside protection. Spending hours riding can be incredibly rewarding but not if you are struggling with comfort and the right fit. Usually, cruiser pants are designed with leather or textile materials offering features like impact resistance, waterproof and weather resistant or thermal linings.

    Motorcycle pants needed for racing are designed with impact and speed in mind. While racing, you need to be comfortable but also have a fitted pants to accommodate your ride as anything which might sit a bit loose or baggy could interfere with your performance and concentration when out on the track. More often than not, sport bike pants are designed and manufactured with leather materials to provide the more snug fit and in addition to the material used; the ability to withstand a longer abrasion at high speeds is of utmost importance when selecting the right race pants.

    riders with adventure touring gear
    Understandably, with adventure touring comes exposure to various terrains and weather conditions and with all the adventure the typical ADV rider will experience, it is almost a no-brainer that durability, comfort and flexibility are key when it comes to choosing a suitable adventure motorcycle pants. Features will typically include abrasion-resistance outer shells, breathable materials, thermal liners of which many liners can be removed if needed as well as protective reinforcements for impact and crashes.

    For those who prefer their day-to-day commute on the bike, the over pants is exactly what you need to keep the ride comfortable and protect against weather conditions as well as protecting your work or casual clothes. Over pants are usually more adjustable to be able to slip on over your clothes but are not to be worn or substituted as gear.

When selecting the right motorcycle pants for you, especially when it comes to touring, it is always recommended to have a clear understanding of all the features and materials typically found with motorcycle pants gear. So let’s take a look at the various materials motorcycle pants are designed with and essentially identify the right material to select for your ride and tours:

Synthetic Material

When it comes to identifying synthetic materials, these will typically include polyester, nylon or Kevlar. These materials are recommended when you are looking for lighter and more flexible materials. It all depends on what type of rider you are and what the conditions might be when out on the bike. If you are planning an adventure tour, synthetics are not top of the list as they do not provide as much protection or abrasion resistance as one would need. Synthetics are commonly found with the more casual rider motorcycle pants. However, Kevlar also categorised under synthetics, can substitute the lacking of other synthetics when it comes to abrasion resistance and can provide a certain amount more protection on your ride.

Leather Material

As with any apparel or gear made from leather, it is widely understood that leather always provide durability, long-lasting reliability as well as sufficient protection and abrasion resistance for accidents or crashes. As leather is tightly woven, not allowing any form of breathing; you can be sure to keep the warmth trapped in with those colder weather conditions or climates.

leather motorbike touring trousers
Understanding or trying to decide which materials would suit your ride best, there are a few key elements to take into consideration, which we have simplified into the below questions to ask yourself:


  • What level of protection do you require for the style and type of rider you are? Leather is of course the tougher material, offering a high protection and ability to sustain your pants against multiple crashes or falls.
  • Is comfort an important aspect for you as a rider? Choosing between textile and synthetic materials over leather will depend on whether you are comfortable with a more breathable and lighter material or prefer a heavier and more durable material.
  • What do you prefer with regards to maintaining your motorcycle pants? Of course, with leather materials it is somewhat more difficult to clean and wash and you will need specifically tailored cleaning materials and practises to maintain your leather pants. Synthetic pants are a lot easier and can usually be washed easily at home – but of course, it all depends on how you answer the rest of the questions too.
  • What does your budget have to say? Not everyone is able to splurge on the most expensive materials or riding gear so be sure to check in with your budget and see what you can afford in terms of the best value for your money. As leather is more durable and can sustain a lot more wear and tear, leather pants tend to be a bit more pricey than your textile or synthetic materials, but there is always a good deal to be found so make sure you shop around and try out all types of pants which fit within your budget.



Now that we have a clear understanding of the various types of motorcycle pants, materials and preferences to identify; let’s get into choosing motorcycle pants specifically for touring or adventure riding.

Here are a few features to look out for when searching or choosing a pair of motorcycle touring pants for your ride:

  1. Abrasion and weather resistant outer shells
  2. Waterproofing and rain-blocking material
  3. Knee pad and reinforcements
  4. Cuff closures for your riding boots
  5. Breathable vents and mesh panels
  6. Ease of fit adjustments such as buckles and zippers
  7. Lining and insulation
  8. Reflective Material for night-time visibility
  9. Sufficient pockets for convenience
  10. Cold weather back protection (a high waisted design)


For a moment, let’s pretend that you have catered to all the features and preferences listed above; there is one final element to always keep in mind when buying any riding apparel and that is of course how well it fits and how comfortable it is for you as the rider.


motorbiker on tour

Keeping in mind that your comfort and fit is not just for when you try on your new gear or motorcycle pants, it is just as important that the comfort remains throughout your ride, especially when touring and riding for hours.

Riders will always recommend that when you are buying new motorcycle touring pants, or even riding pants for that matter, it is always best to try them on and then take a seat on your motorcycle. This should allow you to feel the ease of motion, take a look at how the cuffs, padding and length fit while in the seated riding position.

You want to make sure your riding pants are not cutting into you at the hips or behind the knees and that once you have put your riding boots on, the pants are long enough and fitted enough to comfortably fit over or under the boot and straps.

Another important thing to keep in mind, especially when planning on a long tour, is that your motorcycle pants are not intended to fit completely snug. You want to ensure there is some room for clothes you are wearing underneath, some breathing space for those stop off points.

To wrap up our guide to the best motorcycle touring pants and how to go about choosing and selecting the right pair for you, here is some common terminology you might be exposed to especially if you are completely new to motorcycling:

  • ADV: This is an abbreviation for “adventure” commonly referring to the style of bike as well as the type of rider or riding.
  • AT-GATT: With any rider, there is always the chance, and in some cases more possible, to crash or slide while touring and often you might hear riders refer to the “AT-GATT” rule. Following this rule, which refers to “All The Gear, All the Time” will keep you in check and help prevent injuries by wearing your protective gear at all time.
  • Kevlar: A heat-resistant synthetic fibre, known to be ten times stronger than steel, and is used in terms of acquiring body armour gear and protective apparel for your motorcycle touring.
  • D30 Reactive Armour: This form of armour or protection is soft under normal conditions and comfortable but when it expose to high impact, the force enables the armour to be highly resistant and shock absorbent while still providing a flexible and slim fit.
  • Gore-Tex: A waterproof and comfortably breathable protective material used for any high-performance apparel and used for motorcycle touring and riding to prevent rain from being absorbed and coming in through your gear but still allowing for perspiration to escape.

Whether you are an avid rider or just starting out, ensuring that you have the best protective gear and apparel is absolutely vital to your safety and experience. Make sure you ask as many questions as you possibly can when it comes to choosing the right apparel, gear and motorcycle pants for your ride. Keep in mind the various features discussed in this article, your intentions and perspective on riding, your knowledge areas as well as the type of riding you are interested in. The terrain you plan on touring is also just as important when deciding on the right apparel along with weather conditions.

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter at Study Crumb, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the motorbiking adventure space, focussing on all types of biking both on and offroad. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


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