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Riding a bike in the winter requires specialty gear if you are to avoid the cold. This means finding apparel that actually works well for fat biking, a task easier said than done. Take the pants, for example. Pants need to first and foremost keep the legs warm and dry. They cannot be loose fitting as to avoid snags on the chainring and other components, but must allow room for base layers. And most important of all, they need to move freely and avoid restricting movement. Ski pants are generally too bulky and cold weather road biking gear isn’t quite up to the task for riding in and on snow.
For these reasons, we were drawn to the Adidas Terrex Skyclimb pants. These soft shell pants made for alpine touring seem to fit the bill with all of the requirements for use as capable fat biking apparel. Adidas thought so too, sending us over a pair for review. After 50 miles of riding snowy single track on our excellent Diamondback Oso Dos fat bike in Park City, Utah, here’s what we thought.
The Skyclimb comes with the usual gamut of features you’d find in high end alpine touring pants, including a clear effort on minimizing the amount of stitching and areas for water/cold to penetrate (notice the bonded front pocket zippers for example).
For fat biking, however, the ski edge protection at the bottom of each pant leg was particularly intriguing for chainring protection. This reinforced areas of the legs are meant to protect against encounters with sharp ski edges, making them ideal for any brush ups against a chainring. Stirrup loops at the bottom of each leg were also very helpful in wrapping around our large 45NRTH Wolvhammer Red Wing boots and keeping the pants in place during movement.
Adidas has also taken extra steps to make sure that all of the materials used in construction are approved by bluesign, a system that ensures use of sustainability sourced textiles.
How do they fit? In a word, fantastic. Slim and snug fitting, but not restrictive or tight. In fact, the preshapped knees make the pants fit so well while on a bike that it’s hard to believe they weren’t designed for a bike in the first place. I wasn’t a huge fan of the internal drawstring to make small tightening adjustments around the waist, however, as I found it difficult to release and widen if needed.
Flexibility During Use
With a tight fit around the waist and stirrup loops at the bottom keeping the Skyclimbs in place, one would imagine that the pants should feel slightly restrictive or stiff. In reality the feeling is quite the opposite. They transition well with pedal movement, striking a balance of never feeling loose but never feeling like your range of motion is limited.
Every Terrex product from Adidas we’ve tested in the past has been intensely durable. The Skyclimbs are the first product that have missed that mark. There hasn’t been any critical failures, but signs of wear and tear are already showing after what would be considered minimal use. Specifically, material fraying on the knees and between the legs is especially noticeable after only several uses. Perhaps this is due to their use with an activity in which they weren’t designed. But I can’t help but think the demands of a day spent alpine touring on the Skyclimbs would be equivalent if not more than that of a fat bike outing.
Adidas Outdoor sells the Skyclimb for $399. That falls on the higher end of the price spectrum to be certain, especially when compared to other soft shell pant options the company offers at a third of the price. Part of this premium is surely due to the bluesign certification and materials.
While riding, I am immensely impressed with the way the Adidas Terrex Skyclimb performs. Based on that criteria alone, we have seemingly answered the question this post asked in the first place: can an alpine touring pant be used for fat biking? Why yes, yes it can. And quite well, too.
My reservations keeping me back from an all-out recommendation revolve around durability. To be clear, no part of the Skyclimbs has failed to the point of preventing me from using them. But fraying material after only 50 miles of riding isn’t really on par with a pair of $400 pants, especially compared to the legendary durability of basically every other Terrex product we’ve tested from Adidas. If you have the means and want the best performance for fat biking pants, these are what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for longevity over performance, Adidas line of lower price point soft shell pants may be where your money is best spent.