Race Face Agent AndrewM
Wet Weather Product Review

Race Face Agent Pants Reviewed

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Oct 16, 2018

Secret Agent

Raceface's Agent pants are 3-ply waterproof with a wicked stretch-factor thanks to 10% spandex. All-ride comfort - even once the mercury rises - comes courtesy of a mesh interior and some solid-ass venting. With the sealed seams and waterproof membrane (10,000mm; 10,000g/m2) they're as drench-proof as any commuter pants I've worn but they have a pile of trail-friendly features, and belt loops. 

Belt Loops. B-E-L-T-L-O-O-P-S. Why can't everyone else figure it out for rain gear? Screw your drawstrings. 

Race Face Agent AndrewM

Inner leg reinforcement against crank rub. The Agent pants have been patterened with an eye to pedaling comfort and durability. 

Race Face Agent AndrewM

Comfortable but technical cut that isn't too baggy. Belt Loops! There's also an adjustable waistband system if that's your preference. 

They cost 175 USD but frankly they're worth every penny over the too-short Gore Bike Wear and Endura shorts I've previously tested. So far - knock on wood - they're damn resilient to putting the bike down hard and I've been patching waterproof breathable clothes for years so I'm not panicked about hitting the deck while sporting the Agent pants. 

Race Face Agent AndrewM

Tapered legs to avoid hooking on trail features or bike features and two-position ankle snaps.

I like to think of myself as a critical bastard, but, other than the inevitable comments about pricing, the only thing I'd change is to make the pockets a bit deeper. For those, like me, that have had past issues with Race Face soft goods, the stitching and zippers are premium quality and there's ample gusseting where it's needed. 

Race Face doesn't make any claims about armour fitting under the Agent pants and I don't generally pedal in knee pads. My Leatt hardshell knees easily fit inside and, thanks to the stretchy waterproof material Race Face uses, the range of motion is excellent. I will note that breathability goes out the window as soon as I combine a set of full-on knees with pants. 

I Hate(d) Pants

Until the Agents, I hated riding in pants. Race Face hasn't made the first waterproof pants I want to ride in, the Agents are the first pants of any sort I've wanted to ride in. Between the comfortable cut, the stretchy material, and breathability, I've been happily wearing the Agent pants even when there isn't a reasonable chance of a deluge. In addition to being immensely comfortable for pedaling, apartment living is much cleaner and easier when I arrive home from a late rip with clean legs.

nsmb_2018_gearreview_kona_satori_PI_shoes-4939.jpg

When it's pissing rain I pull on my Showers Pass socks and with the overlap from the Agent pants, my feet stay comfy. Photo: Dave Smith

In terms of said comfort, this is probably drifting into the TMI category but I just rock the Agents with a pair of Saxx boxers. No thick lycra mid layer required. 

Race Face Agent AndrewM

Mandatory crotch shot. Waterproof zippers and sotto voce branding. 

I'm re-reading this review and thinking, "wow, if I don't seed this piece with some random criticism some, cynical, folks are going to have a hard time taking me seriously". What can you do? The Race Face Agent pants have replaced an entire drawer of gear for me - both rain gear and fall-weight riding gear. 

These Race Face Agent pants are straight up amazing. They're my secret weapon, rain or shine, for fall-winter riding and they've rendered every other piece of, below the waist, rain gear I own redundant. If it's 10°c or less I'm wearing the Agents clean or dirty. I've been in them a minimum of three days a week whether it's shuttling Cypress or pedaling up the relentless No Quarter climb on Fromme. They're easily my favourite piece of cycling clothing ever and if it's wrong to be fully stoked on them I don't want to be right.

175 USD is a lot of money for a piece of clothing I'm taking out into the woods and crashing in but I've spent more on gear that has impacted my experience significantly less. If you're out riding in the pissing rain regularly I'd recommend checking them out at Race Face or at any stocking dealer. 

Comments

GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - Oct. 16, 2018, 7:32 a.m.

OK.... I need to try the kool-aid... there is a pair of these at the shop that I have tried on 3 times and now I need to try them out in the wild... thx buddy... ;-)

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AndrewMajor
+1 Merwinn
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 7:48 a.m.

It’s my nature to despise being the Jim Jones in this situation but you really do NEED a taste because until you try them they’re just another piece of expensive rain gear.

In all my years in the industry I’ve never once thought “wow, shops should really demo X piece of clothing” but what the hell, if people will mix sweat with demo/rental helmet pads why not some pants that can be washed? It’s an item I wouldn’t have considered but now I’m in love.

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brad-sedola
+1 Andrew Major
Brad Sedola  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:21 a.m.

So how is the taping of the seams? The Agent jacket and shorts from the last few years have been terrible. I browsed the MEC racks of shorts on a few occasions looking for a pair where the seams were taped well. No luck. The jackets were not much better. I broke down and went 7mesh with the shorts. Belt loops, Goretex, expensive, but very well made. God forbid I outgrow them and need the next size up (getting close).

I'm in need of a new set of waterproof pants. I almost jumped on these before they were sold out on MEC. Very skeptical to mail order them based on what I've seen in the past.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:39 a.m.

In all honesty, I’ve never flipped a water proof garment inside out and thoroughly inspected the seam taping - I’ve just taken it for granted unless there’s been an issue. 

I’ve had zero leak points but I’ll flip them and have a really good look this aft and report back. Thanks!

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AndrewMajor
+1 Brad Sedola
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:42 a.m.

Thanks for the prompt. I've added some images of the seam tapping. It all looks good to me.

Reply

xy9ine
+2 Brad Sedola Henry Chinaski
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:58 a.m.

i've had two pairs of agent shorts have seam tape fall off within months - rendering them very much not waterproof. judging by the mec comments this doesn't seem to be an isolated issue. at least mec's return policy is solid. hopefully current production runs have seen improvements.

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Henry-Chinaski
+1 Brad Sedola
Henry Chinaski  - Oct. 16, 2018, 11:11 a.m.

Same experience.  The agent shorts were possibly the single worst mtb clothing item I have ever purchased.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 11:23 a.m.

I’ve worn and washed these pants a tonne already - but will report back if any longer term issues come up. Quality of manufacturing looks really good but I’ve never looked at the shorts up close to compare.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Oct. 17, 2018, 8:01 a.m.

Everyone I know who bought the RF shorts when they 1st debut. Same deal one or two rides and the seam tape was falling apart. Heard the early jackets did the same.

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jason
0
jason  - Oct. 17, 2018, 12:19 p.m.

Hope the seams hold up.  I have a pair of Agent shorts and they are garbage.  Such poor quality.  So bad that I don’t want to return them as I don’t want a new replacement.  

Seems are poorly sealed.  I re-ironed the seems initially but now the tape no longer sticks.

On the short there is an internal cuff to keep out water.  On both legs this came off.

The material absorbs water (dwr is either not working or was never applied) so the materials wets out and then soaks through.  

And of course it keeps moisture and heat in.  Which would not be bad except for the wetting out/leaking issue.

So now I use a proper short ( https://www.sweetprotection.com/en/mudride-shorts/828005.html?dwvar_828005_color=TEBLK&cgid=15312 )   for heavy rains and a regular baggy for light rains.  The Agent short just occupies space in my gear bag.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 17, 2018, 1:16 p.m.

Again, can’t speak to the shorts at all but these are proper 3-ply / 2.5-ply (lower legs) 10k/10k water proof material. I added photos of the tapping job to the article; it looks good to me.

I have lots of hours/washes already and they look great (photos of pants/seams are now, not new).

I will certainly report back if I have any issues.

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jason
0
jason  - Oct. 17, 2018, 7:20 p.m.

Yeah, hopefully they use better material than a couple years ago and their quality control upped their game.

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Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:42 a.m.

Haven’t heard of much 3L outerwear with a separate mesh liner. 

I take it the liner helps reduce the soupy feeling inside the pants?

I have a pair of Norrøna Fjørå Dri3 shorts that are the absolute hype for wet weather riding. Pair those with a pair of proper merino socks and I’m good to go. 😎

There is a Dri1 pant but unsure if I’d like the inner lining of it.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:47 a.m.

Yes. So comparing them to the stretchiest / priciest Gore pants I happily just sport a pair of athletic boxers under these but really need another layer under the Gore - read lycra shorts - or they feel soupy and cold on the descent after a hot climb. 

I’ll add a photo of the mesh liner later. It’s a great feature I should have captioned (thanks!).

It’s just a thin mesh lining so it’s about comfort not insulation.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:43 a.m.

Thanks for the prompt. I've added some photos of the mesh liner.

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DemonMike
+1 Andrew Major
mike  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:54 a.m.

legs are a tad short IMO , and the zipper is awkward to use when the time comes.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 9:14 a.m.

Had a very tall friend make the same comment - but hadn’t tried them on yet in his size. Inseam should probably grow with larger sizes.

They’re perfect for me. Stretchy enough that they don’t shorten much in the extremes of pedaling. But, I do wear tall waterproof socks religiously if it’s pissing out.

I’m only ~5’9” but I have a fairly long inseam for my height.

Haven’t had any issues watering ferns :-)

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primoz-resman
+1 grcgrc
Primož Resman  - Oct. 16, 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Thanks for the info. L through XXL pants should be 83 cm inseam (32 3/4 inch). I'm running the shorts that have a 15 inch inseam (the Agent ones, but i also have a pair of Ambush shorts and a Dakine Derail, which are all 15 inch inseam) and they are on the short side, to even prevent pad gap on my thigh they would need to be 16 or ideally even 17 inch :/

Looked at the 7mesh stuff, holy cow, finally some long enough shorts (mostly). But, holy somethingelseentirely the pricing?! :D

EDIT: i have a to-the-floor inseam of around 91 cm. And i'm an M waist size :/

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:07 p.m.

Just heard back from Race Face and future production runs of agent pants will have longer inseams.

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smcmain
0
Samuel McMain  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:09 p.m.

How much longer? Or did they say? I too have a long inseam and M waist. 93cm

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:21 p.m.

Dates / Dimensions TBA.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 16, 2018, 9:04 a.m.

I checked the sizing recently. Not even close. I need a 31 waist and 29 inseam.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 9:11 a.m.

I would have guessed the small would work well?

I’m in a medium.

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Captain-Snappy
+2 Andrew Major mike
Merwinn  - Oct. 16, 2018, 9:30 a.m.

"B-E-L-T-L-O-O-P-S."

Preach it!

Reply

grcgrc
+1 Zapp
grcgrc  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:02 a.m.

If the sizing that RF puts on their charts is accurate, these will be too short for pants and too long for knickers. The chart says the XL has a 83cm inseam and my legs are 92cm. Mind you this is nothing new. I am accustomed to clothing being aimed at the XL wearing crowd as being short and more rotund. I will continue to search for something with a more appropriate inseam length.

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primoz-resman
+2 Niels grcgrc
Primož Resman  - Oct. 16, 2018, 12:18 p.m.

I hate this so much... See above, i can't even get shorts to be long enough (yeah, sounds weird, but i suppose you understand that).

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grcgrc
0
grcgrc  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:55 p.m.

Dickies. And check out squidbikes.com. They take Dickies and add a chamois. Shorts are near indestructible. And long. Love my Dickies.

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DemonMike
+2 Paul Lindsay Andrew Major
mike  - Oct. 17, 2018, 8 a.m.

Do they have helmets that clear Man buns as well!!

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AndrewMajor
+2 grcgrc Niels
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:09 p.m.

Just heard back from Race Face and they’re listening to feedback. Look for longer inseams on future production runs of the Agent pants.

Reply

smcmain
+1 Andrew Major
Samuel McMain  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:32 a.m.

How's the waterproofing? I've got a pair of the Agent shorts and they're more of a softshell than true raingear. That being said, they're better than nothing and stay dry through light rain and a few puddles.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:16 p.m.

I’ve never used the Agent shorts to compare. These pants are very good - definitely a waterproof pant not a softshell.

But, when you look at the 10k/10k rating there are certainly more waterproof options on the market.

The thing is that thanks to the cut/ stretch/ breathability/ light-weight these are actually awesome to ride in.

Reply

earleb
+1 Andrew Major
earle.b  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:39 p.m.

Kinda surprised to see this much praise for a 10k/10k fabric. I've have thought they would be a sweaty soup inside when riding in slightly warmer conditions.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 4:44 p.m.

You know I’m a sweaty, dad-bod equipped, beast. I wear them dying on my single speed up No Quarter. 

Combination of the mesh liner allowing for a very light under layer / feeling less clammy and the stretchiness making for less rigid skin/material contact? The ass venting?

Under 10-degrees and I’m wearing them rain or shine. If it’s not raining, and closer to 10 than 5, I definitely pair down my top layer a bit compared to wearing softshell 3/4 shorts.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 16, 2018, 8:41 p.m.

SSing NQ is just masochistic. what gear are you pushing (and do you clean it)?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:15 p.m.

It’s really not that bad. I know a handful of guys who clean it SS and none of us has pro skills or fitness. Once you have the SS mindset it’s actually way more fun than climbing NQ geared. 

I regularly clean it (with breaks) and have cleaned it in one effort from pavement to gravel. Mostly I do like tonight and walk the one long steep stretch between old Dream Weaver and where the switchbacks start again (also had an off on the skid road higher up), walking that pitch just makes all of life more pleasant.

Tonight I was on my Walt. I run a 29x2.6” SE2 out back which rolls well, 32:22t gearing and the 32t is oval which I find evens out torque (less slipped tires) but does feel like a bigger gear than 32t-round. I often run it 32:21t but I’ve been riding No Quarter a lot and the 22t is WAY more pleasant.

On my Honzo - which is heavier and has a suspension fork - I regularly run 30:21t (again Oval) which is pretty similar but if I’m working on my bike and know NQ is on the menu I’ll occasionally slip a 22t on which makes it more pleasant.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 17, 2018, 2:19 p.m.

my knees hurt just reading this. i am liking that route more & more these days however. just with a 44t rear cog.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 16, 2018, 10:21 p.m.

Tonight was a great example. In a hurry to make my group ride and assumed it was colder than it was (surprisingly humid on Fromme too). Totally dry so in hindsight I would have worn shorts but when things got really sweaty standing and hammering up the road I wasn’t turning back. 

Thanks to the liner I never felt like I was swimming in crotch soup. Below the liner (knees and lower legs) things were really sweaty a couple times on the climb but any time we regrouped I was comfy again quick and was never clammy on the descent. 

Again, would have preferred shorts tonight but the Agents were totally fine and that’s max heart rate out of the saddle sweaty beast mode for most of the climb.

Reply

auzz-man
0
auzz-man  - Oct. 20, 2018, 1:40 p.m.

Love my Agent pants, first time riding with pants but after a particularly wet ride in September I bought a pair off Raceface's site for 145 CAD soon as I got home

Reply

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