Review: Albion Zoa Rain Trousers

Waterproof trousers for on and off the bike

Feature type Review

Read time 6 mins

Published Jun 29, 2023

Author Matthew Pink

Matthew Pink BASE’s brand head honcho is a denizen of the crag. He gorges on adventure culture, hankers for epic treks and grinds his gravel bike round the Bristol orbit.

Our Verdict

Premium quality, comfy and well-cut tapered waterproof trousers to suit most cycling and commuting needs. And can be nifty away from the bike too.

RRP £200
Weight 289g
Fabric Pertex Shield 3-Layer Waterproof Fabric with C0 DWR 
Features Easy-Over fastening system,Reinforced ballistic nylon seat panel,

Pros

  • High level of waterproofing
  • Great cut and tailoring around the legs
  • Ankle fastening super effective
  • Excellent breathability

Cons

  • Pretty noisy
  • No leg length alterations
  • Even when pulled the tightest, waist fastening not tight enough
  • Little too much bunching at the ankle

What I’m Looking For

I’ve never considered proper waterproof trousers for cycling. Why? Up until now, frankly, I couldn’t be bothered. It felt like an extra bit of kit that was pretty unnecessary. I’ve never really minded getting wet legs, it was always the top half that made the difference, however long the ride. Well, that, and keeping your hands dry with the right gloves. So when this was suggested I was pretty sceptical to be honest. Waterproof trousers have their limit at the best of times, often turning out to be not so waterproof after all, especially when exposed to downpours for long periods.

But, thinking it over, I was looking for a cut and shape that wouldn’t sag or catch as well as serious toughness around the seat plus enough fastenings to give me some options to tweak to my own body shape and quirks. Given they’d be getting most run-outs in the wintry gloom and early mornings, some proper reflectivity wouldn’t go amiss either.

First Impressions

Slick, cool and subtle as you’ve come to expect from the Albion brand. The cut of the leg is obvious and interesting straight away. The colour is low-key olive grey which is a touch downbeat but can be offset with eye catching upper body wear of course. The muddy splashes might be also a bit less visible. The zippers look excellent and should be easy to wip on and off as a result. All in all: smart in both senses.

Slick, cool and subtle as you’ve come to expect from the Albion brand

Who are these trousers for?

For the expert and casual alike, these trousers can easily suit an urban commuter looking to keep warm and dry in the down seasons but also a seasoned cyclist on longer, more gnarly routes. You could easily wear them all day without overheating, get sticky with sweat or suffer any chafe. You could also pop these over bib shorts or tights but probably not over any other trouser of size and chunk, like more casual or office wear for example.

The test

I wore the Zoa trousers during various showery rides and sodden commutes in the tail end of winter, before spring arrived in Bristol in 2023. Terrain included gravel, bridleways, tarmac and dirt tracks with some serious squelchy sections. I generally wore them with only simple padded undershorts underneath.

Temperatures ranged from 2-13 degrees C in the main and I opted not to try with any substantial layers like a jean or chino underneath during city commutes because my instinct was that it would be too restrictive.

You could easily wear them all day without overheating

What Stands Out

Great cut and tailoring around the legs

I love the shape of these trousers. There is a lovely arc on the underside and the tapering down the leg is just about right, although some ability to alter length would probably be beneficial.

I also tried these just as waterproof hiking trousers to see if the cross-functional nature of the jackets in the Zoa range could also apply here. It’s fair to say they are more than adequate in that regard, so if you’re packing for a hike’n’bike or a trip when the weather may vary but you want to stay light and free.

Ankle fastening super effective

I couldn’t quite sort out the waist fastenings to stop them slipping a bit at the back but the ankle fastenings were elegant and perfectly sealed. The material feels tough and resilient and the fasteners are well set.

Excellent breathability

Even after four or five hours in the saddle, and with some pretty taxing uphills, I really didn’t feel any clamminess or stickiness inside the trouser legs at all. This continued to be true as the days warmed up a little; we’re prone to some early humidity in Bristol and North Somerset as winter turns to spring but I never felt overly hot.

Value For Money

These are super pricey at £200 but this is pretty much the benchmark for similar brands and their wares of this type.

The question is: how much value and runway will you get out of them? Four months in and I notice barely any wear on them at all, the performance has been excellent, so the future looks bright (well, olive grey).

BASe Bottom Line

Albion proves itself again as the Brit premium cycling brand for the discerning customer. The Zoa range is its zenith to date.

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