The Perfect Pants for the Mongol Derby

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Join us as 2019 Mongol Derby rider and RW customer, Molly Pearson, compares an Ovation breech and a Kingsland tight in her search for the perfect derby pants. What is the Mongol Derby, and how did these two riding pants perform during Molly's rigorous Derby training program? Get all the details below!

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What’s the Deal with the Derby?

On August 4th, I will be one of 40 nut-jobs riding in a 1,000km endurance horse race across the Mongolian wilderness. We’re given 25 semi-feral Mongolian ponies and 10 days to navigate our way across Genghis Khan’s long-distance postal system using nothing but maps, a compass, and good karma.

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The Mongolian ponies really are semi-feral.

No wonder the Mongol Derby is known as the longest and toughest horse race on Earth! Learn all about it here.

As we ride across the Steppe, we’ll encounter flash floods, hail, wild dogs, yaks, and extreme chafing. This means I’ll need tough, comfortable gear I can really depend on that also won’t smell too terrible after 10 days in the saddle with no showers.

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The Mongol Derby is the adventure of a lifetime!

Why Kingsland and Ovation?

As I’ve been training for the Mongol Derby, I’ve been looking for some more compressive pants to ride in.

The compression helps your knees
and ankles when you spend 13
hours
riding for 10 days straight!​

So naturally, I treated myself to an excursion from Riding Warehouse to test out some potential gear. I mean, who doesn’t love getting something in the mail? Especially when it’s something for riding!

I ripped through the box and pulled out my two new prized possessions: the Kingsland Karina F-Tec Full Seat Grip Compression Tights and the Ovation Aqua X Kneepatch Breeches.

I opted for the Kingsland Karina Tights because of their technical compression fabric, and because they promised to be breathable and moisture wicking (something I’ll need when I cross Mongolian rivers on horseback)! I selected the Ovation Aqua X Breeches because I like feeling fancy! But really, I chose these for their UV protection and their “cool-to-the-touch fabric.” Mongolia is known for its extreme weather, which includes brutally hot temperatures.

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2018 Mongol Derby rider Eliza Allan crossing the river after the bridge at station 18 washed away.

Now you have the what and the why. Let’s get to the comparison on how they performed!

Kingsland Karina Tights

I must be an idiot, because I opted to ride my first 50-mile endurance race in pants I’d never worn before. But hey, Mongol Derby training that doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!

I had 8.5 hours of saddle time to chafe, rub, and burn...and none of that happened. I think this really speaks to the quality of the tights.

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All smiles at the 2019 High Desert Classic 50-mile ride, featuring the majestic Alex and me in the Kingsland Karina tights and Anique Signature top. | P.C: Gore Baylor Photography

Let me say this again: I did my first 50-mile ride ever. In pants I’d never worn before. And I didn’t chafe one bit. This might be an athletic miracle!

When I first pulled the Karina's on, I was a little concerned that I’d gained 10lbs overnight, because they were super tight, and I had to wrestle to get them up over my waist. But over time, that high and wide waistband was a real asset. The snug fit offers some extra back support, which is ideal for long hours in the saddle.

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Me and Alex setting out in the morning at the High Desert Classic.

At one point during the ride, we went through a narrow canyon and my horse, Alex, bumped me against a tree. It was hard enough to scrape some skin off my knee, but the Karina Tights themselves didn’t rip, once again proving the super tight woven compression fit.

However, I think the thing that makes these
tights so good in an endurance setting
is a drawback for regular riding.

They’re not the kind of pants you’ll just slip into, hang out in all day and forget you’re wearing. No one will ever wink at their partner and say, “let me slip into something more comfortable,” and go put these on. It takes a while to get used to the friction of the silicone print rubbing together when you walk, and you feel like a million bucks when you take them off!

So, if you’re looking for some standard issue, long day at the barn breeches, I’d go a different route. The Kingsland Karina’s are high performance tights to be worn with a purpose. They are great for support, distance, and for compression around your joints.

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The Kingsland Karina's offered the right support I needed for my first 50-mile ride on Alex! | P.C - Gore Baylor Photography

Ovation Aqua X Breeches

After I opened the box and put these on, I proceeded to dance around the house in them for the rest of the day, even though I wasn’t going riding until 6 hours later. While I normally don’t like riding pants with a zip and clip waist closure (because I like all my pants to be eating pants), these were a lot more comfortable than I expected.

What I like about these “cool to the touch” Aqua X Breeches is that they are, indeed, cool. They make me feel like a really chic dressage rider. Although I’ve never ridden dressage, I feel more elegant in them than in any other breeches I’ve owned.

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Mongol Derby training session at home in the Ovation Aqua X Breeches

Additionally, the fabric on the Aqua X’s doesn’t get hot in the baking sun. No matter how sweaty I got, these prevented any sweat from revealing itself in unflattering locations. Huge win.

Plus, something about the fabric really keeps dirt and dust from making themselves known. I’m able to live my childhood dream of wearing the same pants for days in a row without my mom yelling at me for being a dirty raggamuffin...because no one knows they haven't been washed for a week!

However, I did find the silicone knee patches to be a bit too sticky. They work fantastically for riding bareback, but they don’t give me as much freedom and movement as I’d like in the saddle for distance riding.

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Riding bareback is perfect training for the Mongol Derby!

The other drawback about the Ovation Aqua X’s for me personally is the low-rise style. While they did fit me, I found myself wanting to hike the breeches higher up around my waist, but not having any more room to go. I have a pretty long waist and torso, so I definitely prefer a mid-rise or high-rise style, especially for long hours in the saddle. I think these breeches would be perfect for someone with a shorter waist, or someone who prefers a low-rise style.

Well, there you have it, folks! Thank you for tuning in to my comparison of the Kingsland Karina Tights and the Ovation Aqua X Breeches. I’ll be back soon with some tips on rider fitness as I keep training for the Mongol Derby!
 

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