In America, men really have only two pragmatic options for leggings — pants or shorts — yet most of us are blessed with four solid seasons. In my backyard (in Idaho), a good amount of high desert scrub is also in the mix. So, sometimes I’m looking to split the difference.
Enter the knicker. The below-the-knee style that is the knicker shines when the sun doesn’t — cold, wet, and windy weather can bite at the thighs. Bashing through brush on a hike only rubs salt in the wound. Knickers offer protection while freeing your calves to the wind.
A longtime fan of Patagonia’s Nine Trails short, this year I was excited to see the brand release a Nine Trails Knicker. I’ve put a few hundred miles in a pair running and mountain biking in the Boise foothills this spring.
The fit is great, materials are durable, and the design is simple. Overall, I found them a great match for shorter distance training runs during the ‘tween seasons. See below for a break-down of these great “short pants.” —Steve Graepel
Where To Test It: Mountain biking, trail runs, sport climbing
Who’s It For: Men looking for extra leg protection of a pant with some of the freedom of shorts
Boring But Important: The Nine Trails Knicker uses a 3.5 oz., 91% recycled poly with 9% stretch-woven blend, treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. This all adds up to a robust pant in a lightweight offering that protects the upper legs from wind, light rain, and abrasive vegetative conditions.
Important Specs: The pants weigh 5.5 oz. and have a 21-inch inseam, dropping them just over the knee. The articulated knees keep the hem where it belongs, always below the knees.
Two front pockets have room for a pair of light gloves or energy gels, and a rear zip pocket holds a credit card, house key or gel pack. The waist has an elastic band and an external drawstring. I found the pants hold themselves up well enough to forego the string.
Unlike the Nine Trails Short, there is no liner. This gives you the flexibility to use the knickers while cycling, where you would throw them over your bike shorts anyway.
Made In: Vietnam
Killer! Knickers straddle the weather gap between tights and shorts. And since my foothill trails are lined with scrappy sage, it’s easy to come home a wounded weekend warrior. The Nine Trails Knickers are strong enough to deflect the rogue snag yet supple enough to move with you.
Flaw: The articulated knee hem slightly chafed the back of my knees on extended runs. Unlike my Nine Trail shorts, the side pockets are open (no zip or envelope closure). And the rear zip pocket is too small for a Tacoma key fob or iPhone.
Knickers aren’t for everyone. If you run with the Sons of Anarchy, your crew may suggest you “grow a pair” before you buy a pair of these….
First Impressions: I love the fit of these pants and find myself wearing them around the house and between training sessions. The athletic fit excels in fast forward sports; I actually prefer them for cycling where the look is less “downhill baggy” yet also not Lycra-tight.
Who Should Buy It: The lack of pocket zippers implies these are for the short to mid-distance runner
Contact Brand/More Beta: Patagonia Men’s Nine Trails Knicker Pants