Commuter Pants for Women

Bike commuting pants. Not shorts or capris, but real pants that look polished and professional. Dozens of companies offer them for men, but if you’re female, the pickings are pretty slim. The good news is that they do actually exist (don’t think this was true 5 years ago). Here are your spring 2013 options in one convenient location.

First, what makes a commuter pant? Generally, these are designed to be something you would actually wear both to a meeting and on an urban commute.  I value sweat-wicking fabric, non-chafing seams, and a lack of reflective stuff in obvious places. I prize this kind of clothing – not having to change clothes saves me at least 10 minutes every morning. I could just bike slower, but I really really like going fast.

Outlier Women's Daily Riding Pant1. Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pant – $225
These slim leg pants have generated quite the buzz in the blogosphere since being introduced in 2011. Reviews, both by friends here in Minneapolis and on the internet, have been pretty positive, though everyone I know who owns these got some kind of miraculous deal.  Notable features include the lack of reflective stuff and logos, Schoeller water and abrasion-resistant fabric, and a reinforced butt. As far as I can tell, the only thing not ideal about this product is the $225 price tag (up from $180 last season). Outlier also recently introduced a jeans style Dungaree pant.

Beta Brand Bike to Work Pants2. Betabrand Women’s Bike to Work Pants – $108
This San Fran based company makes stretch cotton commuter pants with reflective tape on the inside of the pant cuff (for rolling up when you’re outside) and a reflective back pocket flap that can be tucked in for the office. They’ve got a reinforced crotch and a higher back to eliminate gaping, and have also gotten pretty good reviews. I do question the use of cotton in otherwise very bike-centric product – I like to bike fast and cotton makes me feel clammy and gross because it doesn’t dry very fast.

Proof NY Visser Pant3. Visser Proof NY Pant – $180
These appear to be similar to the Outlier Daily Riding Pant – Schoeller fabric, stretch, slim cut. There’s no mention on their website of a reinforced rear, though. I’m perplexed by the fact that they brag about false pockets. I demand real pockets! This is a new product, and reviews are scarce. The only one I found is non-bike related, but positive. At $180, you’ll save $45 off the Outlier version.

I haven’t purchased any of these yet. My idea of spending a lot of money on clothes has been shopping at a consignment store instead of thrifting. Yet I fantasize about cute, well-cut, well-made clothes crafted from amazing technical fabrics. Maybe someday I’ll take the plunge. In the meanwhile, I’m stalking sweat-wicking but not bike-specific pants (like some from Lole) on sale websites.

I want to see Endura, Levi’s, Nau, and the dozen or so other companies with dedicated men’s commuter lines engage in a little gender parity. Women’s styles are often sold out of popular colors and sizes, so clearly there’s room in the market, especially if you can make something that costs less than $100. While I’ve been managing to get myself to work on a bike and look nice without $180 pants, I am frustrated by the non-functionality of most professional clothing designed for women (such as pockets so small they can barely hold chapstick). Dreaming of a day when my performance clothes and my dress clothes are the same clothes.

September 2013 UPDATE: REI recently released a women’s specific bike jean for $79.50. This makes me feel like the active wear industry might be hearing our collective cries of frustration!

7 comments on “Commuter Pants for Women

  1. Have you written to or called the manufacturers you mention? Just curious..

    • I have not – my research was done through internet searches and industry resources. Are you referring to the manufacturers I highlighted who are actually making women’s bike apparel or to the ones who I wish were making it?

      • The ones you wish were making it. I wonder if their teams have even considered it. This market is growing. I think it’s in anyone’ best interest to get in now.

        I get by with my LLBean gear but look forward to being able to afford dual-use clothes like these designed for commuting.

  2. Hi, good riding pants that look nice is something I’ve been looking for too….then I decided I could fix that problem myself! We’re in the process of making prototypes now. Do you want to talk? I live in Minneapolis. Contact me offline, thanks.

  3. Thanks for following my blog! This post was on the email sent to me to notify me you were following. I don’t own a single pair of good commuting jeans and want one (or more) SO BAD! There are more coming out now, but most of them are only for men or have, like, ONE option for women and several for men. Not cool! Great post, though.

    Also, I’ve never spent $200+ on a pair of jeans! It’d be hard to ever get me to pay me that much, unless it releases a super-protective-see-through-bubble-shield that protects me from street harassment and being run over 🙂

    • I’ve never spent $200 on pants, either – just wanted people to know about the (limited) options out there! A friend in Minneapolis is working on prototypes. Stay tuned!

      If you hear of new products, I’d love to know about them. Also products that protect against street harassment and being run over. I think bells are marketed that way sometimes. Mine must be defective.

  4. […] cool – although I would quibble with their claim that their product is unique. There are at least two other companies making a similar pant. The main high point for this product right now is the price point: you can […]

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