When I first launched into mountain biking back in the day, I was convinced my clothing didn’t matter (to be fair, I still feel that way). I had an old pair of spandex cycling shorts from my foray in road cycling, and figured that would work. And did it? Absolutely. Let me be the first to tell you that any shorts with some decent padding will get the job done.
But if you want to step up your game and invest in a pair of mountain biking shorts that look the part and protect your neither regions, I highly recommend checking out the four options below. Some are packed with features like hip pockets, an adjustable waist, waterproofing, and potentially a liner. Others are more streamlined. All are comfy, perform well, and will have you shredding singletrack in no time.
Pearl iZUMi Launch Print Short
Built with lightweight two-way stretch fabric, the Launch Print short features a water-repellant finish to shrug off trail muck. The external hook-and-loop (i.e. generic Velcro) adjustable waistband ensures a perfect fit, and the high back means you don’t have to stress about flashing your crack to the entire trail. The Launch Print include the Select Escape 1:1 Chamois, a liner that I’ve found to be quick drying. Bummer: They are easily the priciest option on the list.
Note: Sierra had the best price when we published this, but if they don’t have your size, check out Pearl Izumi’s site.
Flylow Carter Short
I consider these my multisport short for days when I want to do it all. The Carter is uber breathable and stretchy enough to handle long days on the hill. But it also looks good, which makes it easy to throw on at the beach (it dries fast) or even tuck underneath a harness if you’re really having a big day. A zippered thigh pocket is a nice touch since nothing sneaks out, but I do wish these had an adjustable waist band. Tip: The Carter shorts do not come with a chamois liner.
REI Co-op Link Double Bike Shorts
If you’re searching for shorts and a liner but don’t want to spend your mortgage to get it, the Link Double shorts are the perfect solution. The inseam is on the shorter side (9.5 inches) but the adjustable waistband and pockets add features usually found in pricier brands. The water-repellant finish does what it needs and the UPF 50 coating further protects your skin. Considering the Link Double come with a liner, these are tough to beat for the value.
Club Ride Apparel Ventura
They’re not fancy or frilly, but if you want a pair of shorts that fit well and are comfortable all day long, the Club Ride Apparel Venturas are up to the task. The adjustable waist (via internal button tabs) ensures a proper fit around the middle. Club Ride’s NoCrackBack™ does what it promises, and keeps your booty out of sight. Two zippered pockets are enough to hold keys and a bar, but the shorter length (10.5-inch inseam) bothers some women who ride with knee pads. Bottom line: these are tough to beat for comfortable and flattering every-day-on-the-trail shorts.