The Albion Zoa Rain Trousers are a well-thought-out pair of waterproof trousers, with lots of bike-specific touches. They're suitable for bikepacking, mountain biking, commuting, and even hiking. The waterproofing is very good – though not impervious to heavy rain – as is the breathability, making them useful whether it's cold and wet or warm and wet, and they won't make your legs sweaty like some waterproof trousers. The price is steep, but it's on a par with others; they're a sound investment if you want to ride comfortably in all conditions.
If you're interested in the Albion Zoas, check out our guide to the best waterproof cycling trousers for more options at a variety of prices.
Albion doesn't state a specific use case scenario for its Zoa Rain Trousers, but they're versatile enough to be used in any situation where you want to keep your legs protected from inclement weather, either in prolonged bouts of rain, or short and sharp showers.
You could wear them over the top of regular trousers, as sort of conventional waterproof overtrousers, but personally I think they're best over a pair of bibs, whether long or short, in cold or warm weather.
The initial purchase price is rather steep, but given how often you'll be able to use them, and how well they perform, you'll get your money's worth.
Fabric and fit
The trousers feature a three-layer waterproof fabric, Pertex Shield, with a C0 DWR coating (a more eco-friendly durable water repellent treatment than the standard C8 or C6 methods), with taped seams on the inside.
The idea behind this fabric is it offers good protection without sacrificing weight or breathability. It's waterproof and windproof, and is also quite soft to the touch; there's no lining on the inside, and the material feels fine against your legs.
At 289g the trousersare reasonably light, and they pack down small enough to slip into a bag.
Gore's Gore-Tex Active fabric would probably be the closest competitor, as that's the lightest three-layer fabric the manufacturer produces. Unlike the Gore Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Pants we reviewed a few years back, Albion's Zoa Rain Trousers are designed primarily to work on the bike, and have lots of neat touches to back this up.
They have a slightly slimmer, more tapered fit to them – at the ankles they taper right down to keep the pants snug and away from your chainset. You can still get a layer underneath, no issues, but the trousers aren't going to flap about and they almost feel like wearing a pair of sweatpants. The only potential issue I can see with the fit is if you have very chunky ankles – it might be a little snug, although you can unzip them slightly as a workaround.
At the rear of the trousers is a reinforced ballistic nylon seat panel (the remainder of the garment is a 64% recycled nylon, 36% nylon mix), which is very hardwearing and is designed to prevent wear on the area that comes into contact with your saddle – a really useful touch. Either side of this are two reflective strips which offer a little bit of low-light boost.
Albion calls the colour of these trousers Olive Gray, which I think is a pretty accurate representation of how they look in the flesh – they're probably more grey than anything. It definitely makes for a nice change from the usual black.
Reverse coil YKK Aquaguard zips feature on both lower legs, and handily go all the way up to the knees, making it easier to put the trousers on, or take them off, in a rush – they'll easily go over shoes too.
Similarly, there's a Velcro fastener on the left-hand side of the waist that allows you to instantly increase the waist diameter of the trousers to help get them on or off. A'half-belt' helps to adjust the fit to suit.
On the opposite side of the waist there's another Aquaguard zip that serves as an access pocket, enabling you to get to the right hand pocket of whatever trousers you're wearing underneath, but there are no pockets on the Zoas themselves.
To fasten the trousers there's a zip and popper.
The Zoa Rain Trousers are available in a wide variety of sizes, from XS to XXL. I had the large size on test, which according to Albion is suited to a waist in the 83-88cm range. I'm around 82cm so the medium would have been a better fit for me at the waist, but at 6ft 4in, I always find any extra leg length useful so chose the large, and I was still able to get the trousers tight enough thanks to the adjustability.
Albion doesn't specify leg lengths on its sizes, and while the length here was OK for me, both on and off the bike, I would appreciate the option of choosing a more suitable leg length. On the bike there was a bit of an ankle gap where water can get in.
I realise it's an aspect of design that adds complexity to the process, but when you're spending this sort of cash, you want to get the best fit possible. That said, you'll probably be fine if you're of an average height.
The trousers are comfortable to wear, and the soft material means you don't really notice them all that much, although you can hear a little bit of a 'swooshing' noise as you pedal along. It's not loud, like some overtrousers, but it's definitely there.
I did have a slight issue at times, depending on the bike I was riding and how far the trousers were pulled up, where the right zipper would bunch at the side of my knee and rub ever so slightly. That could be simply down to my leg length and where my knee is positioned in relation to the trouser leg, or some other factor, as it never happened on the left leg. Weirdly, it wasn't a problem (that I can recall) riding off-road.
Of course, the most critical aspect of these trousers is how well they work in the rain and also how breathable they are. I've worn a fair few pairs of overtrousers, and have always found that the cheaper ones just can't shift enough perspiration, making for uncomfortable riding.
I cannot stress how good the Zoa Rain Trousers are. Even when I was pedalling hard, there was virtually no build-up of sweat on the inside.
>9 top survival tips for cycling in the rain
Testing took place during winter and spring, so I can't comment on how they fare in warmer weather, though I do think in that scenario they'd be best used as a backup anyway. In very cold temperatures (around 0 degrees) the trousers did help to fend off the chilly wind a little bit, and as the weather got warmer towards the end of spring, I found that my legs stayed comfortably warm without getting sweaty, though of course how you layer underneath is crucial to managing your temperature.
In terms of resistance to wet weather, I think the Pertex Shield fabric does a very good job of balancing waterproofing and breathability, but there's only so much water it can take on before it succumbs. In field testing, the trousers started to become porous after about 50 minutes of pretty torrential rain; in static testing, with a hose aimed at the trousers on a substantial shower setting, it took about 15 minutes before I could start to see patches coming through. Both test settings were at the more extreme end of the spectrum, so even though 50 minutes doesn't sound that long, I think that's a good performance. Sure, you might be able to find trousers with a more substantial waterproof layer, but will they be as breathable?
One other aspect where the Zoa Rain Trousers really shine is their durability. Some of my test routes were technical off-road terrain, and I managed to fall off a fair few times. I was fully expecting to see a tear, or at least some kind of abrasion, after coming into contact with brush and rocky ground, but after several washes they look as good as new.
At £200, Albion's Zoa Rain Trousers are a big investment. If all you're after is a simple pair of waterproof trousers for commuting in, you can find much cheaper ones, but you'll get many miles out of the Albions given that they work well across a wide range of activities – and that you'll actually want to wear them given how breathable they are.
They're also around the same price as other premium options. Gore no longer makes the Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Pants I mentioned earlier, but it does have the Gore-Tex Paclite Trail Pants, which cost £199.99. The two-layer Paclite material is lighter, but slightly less hardy. There's also a non-Trail version that's £179.99.
For no-frills waterproofing, Btwin's 100 City Cycling Rain Overtrousers are worth a look, for £19.99.
Iwein reviewed the very similar looking 900 Waterproof Cycling Overtrousers last year, when they were £29.99 (confusingly, the 900 City Cycling Rain Overtrousers are £79.99). He found they would keep your legs dry for a short journey, but your legs will get damp if you're working hard.
If you're willing to spend the cash, I think you'd be hard pressed to find waterproof cycling trousers as good as this. In terms of waterproofing and breathability they're very good, they're comfortable to wear, and have a lot of neat touches such as the tapered fit, and the ankle zips and Velcro fastener, which make getting them on and off a breeze. Leg length options would be a bonus.
Very comfortable waterproof and breathable overtrousers, ideal for all kinds of riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Albion Zoa Rain Trousers
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Albion says, "Keep riding in comfort, no matter the weather. Waterproof trousers designed for maximum protection and minimum fuss when the elements are at their most challenging."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pertex Shield 3-Layer Waterproof Fabric with C0 DWR for protection against the elements
Easy-Over fastening system - waist and ankle fastening system designed to make the trousers quick and simple to put on and take off in a hurry when already wearing legwear and shoes
Engineered fit for maximum comfort and articulation when pedalling
Reinforced ballistic nylon seat panel to add durability, with reflective trim either side to aid visibility
Right side access zip for pocket use when worn over other legwear
Elasticated wide grippers at ankles and waist to keep the trousers in place
YKK reverse coil Aquaguard zips
Fabric - Main body: 64% recycled nylon, 36% nylon. Seat panel: 100% nylon.
Made in China
Rate the product for quality of construction:
I cannot fault the quality of this garment.
Rate the product for performance:
Waterproofing and breathability are very good.
Rate the product for durability:
Lots of offs on rough terrain, but not a mark on them.
Rate the product for fit:
Slim and tapered round the ankle to keep the material snug.
Rate the product for sizing:
At 6ft 4in, 80kg and with a 32-inch waist, I was in between a medium and a large. Large gave me a bit more leg length. Length is good, though a long version would be a nice touch (as would a short version for shorter folk).
Rate the product for weight:
Pretty light given their capabilities.
Rate the product for comfort:
Very good – like a pair of your favourite joggers.
Rate the product for value:
They're the same price as Gore's Paclite Trail Pants. Not cheap, but an investment that should last you a long time and see a lot of use.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Just wash them like normal cycling gear.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very breathable and the waterproofing is good enough to see you through about an hour of heavy rain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They don't make your legs sweat.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're similar in price to the Gore Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Pants we tested previously, and the Gore-Tex Paclite Trail Pants are £199.99 (the non-Trails £179.99).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good. Yes they're expensive, but with premium three-layer materials like Pertex Shield or Gore-Tex Active, that's what you're looking at paying to play. The advantages are worth it: the waterproofing is very good and the breathability is exceptional. They've also been designed to be used on and off the bike, and work well across a wide variety of activities including mountain biking, bikepacking, gravel riding, and even hiking. After three to four months of testing they're also showing no signs of wearing, partly thanks to the excellent build quality.
Overall rating: 8/10
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom buildMy best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 yearsI ride: A few times a weekI would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,