When you hit the trail with your bicycle, you will obviously think about the gear and accessories you need to stay safe and have a successful experience, and there’s no doubt you’re going to put in a lot of effort when getting the best bike.
But you should also spare some thought for the type of clothing that you need to wear, like your bike shorts, as these can make a big difference in the quality of your mountain biking experience.
What material is best for bike shorts?
To help you stay comfortable when tackling rough terrain, padded shorts are worth investing in. These come in a variety of materials to keep you comfortable and increase their lifespan.
There are other considerations to ensure that you purchase mountain bike shorts that tick all the right boxes. With that in mind, let’s check out the best mountain bike shorts, for both men and women.
Best Mountain Bike Shorts – Reviews for 2021
Best Mountain Bike Shorts For Men, Winner: Men’s Summit WXB Shell Short
Waterproof and comfortable, these best men’s mountain bike shorts have what it takes to make your mountain biking a much better experience. Let’s see their pros and cons.
- These shorts have taped and bonded seams, which makes them durable and strong.
- They’ve been designed with breathable waterproof fabric so you don’t have to worry about them getting wet on the trail. If they do, they won’t make you feel uncomfortable.
- They’re made out of light fabric for extra breathability, but you’ll get to enjoy three layers of WxB fabric in the area where your shorts make contact with the bike saddle so that it doesn’t wear away with use. This will also make it more comfortable to ride your bicycle for many hours at a time.
- The waistband doesn’t contain elastic. This makes you feel much more comfortable when wearing these shorts and it also ensures a more customized pair of shorts because you can make use of external hook and loop adjusters to get the perfect fit.
- The side pockets are designed at an angle. They are facing backwards instead of positioned down the front of your thigh. This is important to move pocket contents out of your way when you pedal.
- With a longer inseam and scalloped leg openings, you will feel protected when on a rough trail. This also has another benefit: your lower legs won’t feel like they’re restrained when you pedal.
- These best waterproof mountain bike shorts have bonded lower leg hems. These are angled to comfortably make contact with your knee pads.
- They have BioViz reflective parts for increased low-light visibility, so you can always ensure you stay safe and seen when on a mountain trail.
- When you sweat or get rained on during mountain biking rides, you can end up feeling really uncomfortable. So you’ll love that these shorts have eco-friendly water-resistant treatment on them that sheds moisture.
- It’s worth bearing in mind that some people who have purchased these shorts have reported issues with the sizes.
- Others have reported that the shorts’ padding can be a bit uncomfortable when wearing the shorts during times when you’re not biking. This means you’ll need to use them solely for when you’re on your bike and change into something else when you’re off the trail.
- They only come in black.
Runner Up: Men’s Summit Shorts
An important feature to look for in mountain bike shorts is lightweight fabrics that are comfortable without compromising their durability. If that sounds good to you, you’ll love these shorts by Pearl Izumi.
- These are lightweight trail shorts that don’t have an elastic waistband to keep them in place, making them much more comfortable.
- Their crotch panel is completely seamless so it won’t get in the way when you’re in the saddle.
- The shorts come with an external hook and loop straps. These mean you can get the best fit.
- They contain side pockets that are angled backwards. This makes them easy to access during a bike ride while also ensuring their contents don’t get in the way or press into your thighs.
- The leg openings and both bonded and angled. This prevents chafing on the legs or snagging on your knee pads which can get really uncomfortable.
- These shorts have a water-repellent coating. This prevents trail spray from getting you down, while ensuring that the shorts stay as fresh as possible.
- They also have a premium liner with a quick-drying chamois so you don’t have to worry about washing and drying them.
- They come in four color options: brown, orange, green, and black. The orange is especially great to wear when you’re spending lots of time outdoors because it’s a safety orange tone to ensure you stay as visible as possible.
- Some people who have purchased these shorts have commented that they would have liked it if the fabric was a bit more stretchable.
- Others have mentioned that the liner is a bit short.
Alternative: ZOIC Boys Ether Jr. Shorts
If you’re looking for something a little different, these ZOIC shorts are worth considering. They’re tough and look the part! Here’s what you should know about them.
- These shorts have air-flow mesh ventilation panels. These panels appear on both the back of the shorts and down the legs.
- They have a flat front waistband with a snap and zip fly closure.
- They’re loose-fitting so they’re perfect if you’ve found that many other mountain bike shorts on the market always feel too tight for you.
- These shorts make the perfect item to bring with you on your outdoor adventures because of how they are easy to clean – simply hand-wash them and hang them out to dry.
- They have an elastic back waist to ensure they stay snug, but they also have side adjuster tabs made of velcro. These further ensure that the shorts will fit well but also stay comfortable, so you can wear them all day long.
- These best mountain bike baggy shorts come in black, blue, neon green, and neon yellow.
- These shorts are not padded, so they’re probably not best for you if you want mountain bike shorts that you can use for long periods of time.
Best Mountain Bike Shorts For Women, Winner: Women’s Summit Shell Short
These colorful Pearl Izumi mountain bike shorts will ensure you stay fashionable when mountain biking, but they have a lot more to offer than making you look good. Here are the pros and cons to know about.
- These shorts have been designed by women who ride, so they’re made with a focus on being as comfortable as possible. They have lightweight and stretch-woven fabric that makes them breathable.
- They have a comfortable waistband because it’s adjustable so you can always be guaranteed of having the best fit.
- They have a 10-inch seam that gives you enough coverage for low-profile knee pads.
- Some women who have purchased these mountain bike shorts have praised how they are not too long while also moving with you instead of restricting your movements.
- They’re made from recycled polyester, so they’re great for the environment.
- One thing about these shorts is that they’re really stretchy so you should bear that in mind when purchasing them.
Runner Up: Pearl Izumi Women’s Journey Short
This is another great find from Pearl Izumi. These best women’s mountain bike shorts for women have what it takes to be your new favorite pair of shorts for whatever outdoor activities you wish to partake in. Let’s see what they’re all about.
- These shorts are made out of stretch-woven nylon that’s both comfortable and strong.
- They contain a floating liner underneath, which gives you compression and also remains dry all day long. This makes them one of the best padded mountain bike shorts on the market.
- What’s special about these mountain bike shorts is that they’re made with a yoga-inspired waistband for the ultimate comfort. This means the waistband won’t pinch or chafe you.
- They have a rear pocket that’s centered. It stays out of the way while you’re riding while also giving you the perfect spot to keep your valuables, like your smartphone, safe.
- These shorts offer a relaxed fit so they won’t make you feel restricted on those long rides.
- These shorts are a bit shorter in length than some others that we’ve featured in these reviews, which can be less comfortable for longer trips.
- Some people who have purchased these mountain bike shorts have reported that they tend to ride up a bit.
Best Mountain Bike Shorts FAQ
Now that we’ve looked at the best mountain bike shorts on the market for men and women, let’s explore some important questions about these types of shorts and if you really need to buy mountain bike shorts or you can get away with wearing other shorts.
Why are mountain bike shorts so expensive?
If you’ve purchased mountain bike shorts before, you will have noticed that these shorts can be quite hard on the pocket. But why? It’s worth bearing in mind that mountain bike shorts are made specifically for the activity of mountain biking, even though some mountain biking shorts are useful for other activities.
They are built to be strong and waterproof, so they require tough and special materials in order to give you what you need to stay comfortable out there on a trail. They usually have extra features as compared to regular shorts, such as stretchy material and additional pockets.
If you consider what mountain bike shorts can and should do for you, then their higher price tag makes sense. For example, they need to be designed in such a way to give you greater movement without restricting you, they need to be durable enough to take a beating – whether that involves you crashing your bike, getting scratched by tree branches, or splashed with water – and they have to prevent discomfort when making contact with the bike saddle.
Even though mountain bike shorts can be expensive, you can find ones that are easier on your pocket. You don’t have to take the plunge and purchase expensive mountain bike shorts, especially if you’re biking for the first time or sussing it out to see if it’s a hobby you will want to pursue.
You can get away with a less expensive pair of shorts in this case. However, if you’re serious about mountain biking, you’ll soon see that paying a bit more for the shorts will make you feel so much more comfortable when you’re on your bike and that the money is worth it. High-quality mountain bike shorts will have a longer lifespan than those made with cheaper materials, so they’re an investment.
Why do mountain bikers wear baggy pants?
This is a question you might have asked yourself at some point. Or perhaps when you noticed that mountain bike pants are quite loose at the retail stores you couldn’t help but ask yourself why. Well, there are good reasons for this.
When you’re stuck in the saddle, you don’t want to feel like your legs are restricted. You want freedom of movement so that you can pedal. This is why mountain bike shorts are usually built to be baggy and comfortable.
But, there are other reasons why these shorts tend to be loose. When they’re designed in such a relaxed way, they give you more room for extra pockets so you can have important items at hand when you’re outdoors. They also help you to feel cooler during long bike rides because they won’t be stuck to your skin the whole time, while allowing your skin to breathe.
There’s also the issue of knee pads. Mountain bike shorts need to be loose and long so that they can properly cover your knees and knee pads. The last thing you want is for the shorts to ride up and bunch up around the top of your pads.
We can’t forget about your biking safety. If your riding pants are loose-fitting and long, they will offer you more protection. They won’t chafe in the crotch area or make your shorts get caught on the saddle. If you happen to crash your bike, your baggy (and hopefully padded) shorts will also help to keep you safe and minimize your risk of injury.
Do I really need bike shorts?
You might wonder if you really need to invest in a pair or two of mountain bike shorts or if you can just get away with wearing other shorts you already have at home. It’s not a good idea to give mountain bike shorts a miss in favor of regular shorts because, as we’ve seen in this article so far, these shorts are specially designed for the purpose of mountain biking.
Even if you’re just starting out with mountain biking and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, mountain bike shorts are a must to have. They offer greater durability and comfort than what you’ll find in regular shorts. It’s similar to ensuring you wear strong enough shoes when hiking or the right gear when doing yoga.
You need to dress for the activity you wish to partake in otherwise you won’t be able to feel good. Mountain bike shorts will usually be stretchy so that your legs aren’t restricted when cycling. They will also have padded crotch liners to wick away moisture and prevent friction from getting in the way of your outdoor activity.
You need to remember that when mountain biking your clothing choices aren’t going to be focused on aerodynamics so baggy shorts can be a better choice, whereas they’re not appropriate if you’re doing other activities, such as riding cross country. That said, they need to be filled with pockets and be made of durable fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, to ensure that you’re protected and that they last.
A good tip when choosing the best mountain bike shorts is to think about whether you’re going to be cycling uphill or downhill. This will also influence the type of shorts you should wear. For example, if you need downhill riding shorts, these will need to be thicker and longer in style as that will offer you greater protection that you need.
Should I wear underpants under cycling shorts?
Mountain bike shorts usually come with padding included to make them more comfortable and also to offer you protection but this type of padding is usually a bit thinner than the type of padding you’ll find in road shorts. This is because when you go mountain biking you will sit upright in your bike and your riding position will change between standing and sitting so you don’t need very thick padding.
You’ll also find that many bike shorts have removable liners, as we’ve seen in our reviews of the best bike shorts. This means you can choose to wear bike underwear, which is basically padded liner shorts. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t wear regular underwear with your liners as that will lead to nasty chafing.
Another good reason why you shouldn’t wear underwear underneath your cycling shorts is that the padding is supposed to be able to do its job and keep you comfortable. It needs to be right against your skin so you don’t want underwear to get in the way or make you feel like you’re wearing too many layers.
The pad (also called a chamois) produces a cushion between your body and the saddle. It also works well to absorb sweat so that it doesn’t accumulate on your body. This pad is usually made out of gel, foam, and soft fabric cover. You can find pads that are of different thicknesses, so opt for a thicker one if you want more support.
In order to allow the padding to do its job when you’re mountain biking or doing other types of cycling, you must skip the underwear. Having a pair of your regular underwear underneath your cycling shorts removes all the benefits you can get from the padding, such as moisture control and friction control.
Since mountain bike shorts are designed to be comfortable while offering all the above-mentioned benefits to you, especially for longer rides, you will feel comfortable not wearing underwear underneath them. This might take some getting used to, but once you get onto the bike and ride for a while, you’ll see that it’s so much better.
If you want to go mountain biking, make sure you’ve got the best mountain bike shorts before you head out!
As we’ve seen in this article, mountain bike shorts are not the same as regular shorts. They offer many benefits to you when you go mountain biking because they keep you safe, comfortable, and improve your performance.
If you’ve never purchased such shorts before, you might wonder which ones are the best for the money. We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ve featured the best mountain bike shorts for men and women, looking at all of their respective pros and cons so you can make the right choice, stay safe out there, and enjoy the ride every time.