O’NEAL TRAILFINDER PANT REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston // @robert_johnston
Photography by Adam Lievesley // @adamlievesleybmx
With prices in the mountain bike clothing market reaching unprecedented heights, as the premium brands test the breaking point before their prices exceed desire, the gap for lower priced clothing that still performs well on the trail is opening up. Undercutting some of the top brands riding trousers/pants by as much as £100 is O’Neal, with their £75 Trailfinder model. Given that £100 can get you a solid amount of uplift time (or beer), I was intrigued to see how the Trailfinder would stack up out on the trail.
To keep things at a sensible price point, O’Neal focused on delivering a good ride experience without adding any particular bells or whistles. The Trailfinder therefore flies well under the radar, with a plain black silhouette and a discreet silver O’Neal logo on the leg to give them some identity. The entirety of the Trailfinder is made from a lightweight and breathable 4-way stretch material that sits close to the skin with an “athletic” slim fit. An elastic waist keeps things comfortably in place, with an adjustable ratchet closure to provide some fine tuning and security. Down at the ankle there is no cuff to be seen, instead relying on the slight elasticity of the fabric and a tailored fit to avoid any flapping or getting caught in the chain. On the upper thighs are two side pockets with zippers to store your phone and essentials when on the trail.
At £75/€90/$100, the Trailfinder pant is about as cheap as you can expect to find a riding trouser from a major brand, offering the looks and extra protection provided by a trouser over a set of shorts to a wider group of riders. The Trailfinder is offered in waist sizes 28”-38” with even 2” gaps between sizes.
I went on the larger side of my 33” waist with the size 34 Trailfinder pant and was glad for this when pulling them on for the first time. The “athletic” fit is on the more extreme side of things, with a skin-hugging profile that relies on the stretch in the material to offer the necessary flexibility in movement, for my relatively chunky legs at least. You will notice my phone very clearly protruding from my leg in the photos, however there was no associated discomfort, as strange as it may look. The stretchy material is very thin, offering limited warmth or protection from the elements but breathing well, more akin to a trail-short in feeling than your typical motocross style trouser from the past. With the waist buckle on the smallest limit, things stayed in place well enough, but if my waist were any smaller then I would need the size down for sure. Around the knees there is enough space to run a thin knee pad, but bulkier options caused some issues. The cuff-free ankles have just enough space to remain comfortable without any excess material to worry about getting caught in your drivetrain.
On the trail, the Trailfinders were comfortable and generally flew under the radar. The thin material holds on to limited moisture, preventing them from becoming heavy and sagging on the wetter days, though you certainly felt every bit of moisture. A water repellent coating would be great to see here; in fact, I ended up adding my own coating after some use, which helped to increase their versatility. The material turned out to be on the lower end of the durability scale, with a rogue pedal pin managing to add a tear into the material on the leg early in the test, and a hole opening on the knee area after contact with a protruding dropper lever on a climb. After many gritty miles in the saddle, a grey wear patch began to appear on the butt, though it did not lead to any problems other than being somewhat unsightly. Overall, the Trailfinder pant has not blown me away, but at £75 it’s certainly a reasonable value item for a rider seeking a simple riding pant for all but the coldest rides.
O’Neal’s Trailfinder pant brings a decently performing budget offering to the table for those looking to add a set of purposeful pants to their riding apparel. They are not particularly waterproof or tough, but riders who want a touch more warmth than a short or simply want the look and function of a trouser will be well served.