With the best mountain bike shorts, you’ll never have to experience biking in hot, uncomfortable pants again.
Choosing the best product can be a challenge. You’ll have to consider the fit, the material, the durability, and the flexibility of the shorts. We have created this guide to help you choose the best shorts for mountain biking.
We made it easy for you. We have considered both what experts and customers have said about some of the top mountain bike shorts on the market. We then narrowed it down for you to the five best models you can get today.
Without further ado, here are the best MTB shorts of 2019:
How to Choose the Perfect Mountain Bike Shorts
Get the right fit
Sizing mountain bike shorts is pretty straightforward. If you know your ordinary shorts size, the same size often applies for mountain bike shorts. Some models, especially those with a lot of padding, are a bit more snug than ordinary shorts. Then you might want to go up a size. Many shorts will allow you to size down a full size thanks to the adjuster straps.
One thing to consider when it comes to the fit of the shorts is the length of the shorts. Too short mountain bike shorts will provide less protection, look worse, and will feel uncomfortable. If you wear kneepads, make sure the shorts won’t bunt up or hang up on your pads.
Choosing between lycra or baggy shorts
Baggy shorts are the standard when it comes to mountain bike shorts. They have a more casual style with a more loose fit. But it’s not just all about the looks. Baggy shorts have some advantages for mountain bikers. They offer some protection from brambles and nettles in overgrown trails. They also sometimes come with added padding for extra protection from falls. They are often more durable and offer scuff protection in a crash. And, they offer a way to store things such as your hydration pack.
You won’t find many mountain bike shorts made of lycra. There are, however, some advantages of getting a pair of lycra shorts:
Lycra shorts are lighter and less restrictive than baggy mountain bike shorts. They also provide no friction between the skin and the shorts. With a pair of lycra shorts, you’ll get the best possible breathability but less protection. If you are active and feel baggy shorts are too restrictive and heavy, go for a good pair of lycra shorts or lycra bibs.
The good thing about lycra bibs is they always stay in place. Even if you don’t like the look of them, you can always wear a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts over your lycra bibs to get the best of both worlds.
Flexibility or Durability?
When choosing mountain biking shorts, there’s always the dilemma of durability vs. flexibility. Do you want added protection or higher freedom of movement? Unless you spend a big amount of cash for your next bike shorts, you’ll have to make a decision between the two.
The flexibility of the fabric always comes at the expense of the abrasion resistance
To make a good decision, consider how you ride. If you are crashing a lot or riding in trails with tons of vegetation, consider a bit more durable mtb pants. If you are XC rider that prioritizes freedom of movement, then go for something really flexible.
Stay Dry, Warm and Sweat free
Many baggy mountain bike shorts come with something called DWR. DRW stands for durable water repellant and is a surface treatment that will cause water to run right over the surface of the shorts. DWR treated shorts aren’t fully waterproof, but they will offer splatter protection and protect from light rain. Another advantage of DWR is that it will keep the shorts cleaner since mud and dirt won’t get stuck in the fabric as easily.
To manage the temperatures, the one thing to look out for is the vents. Many mountain bike shorts have vents on the inside of the leg or in the center of the shorts. Some models have ventilation in the pockets or on the sides of the shorts.
No matter the location of the vents, make sure they let in enough air for the climate you’re going to ride in. For really hot weather a pair of lightweight shorts with tons of vents is the way to go. If you are usually riding in colder temperatures, look for zippered vents. Zippered vents is a great way to maintain good temperatures as you can adjust how much cold air you let in.
Features to consider
An often underlooked feature in mountain bike shorts is the pockets. The best mountain bike shorts usually have front, back and cargo pockets. The right pockets will help you carry everything from your phone and keys to your hydration pack. Large items such as keys and your phone can cause injury if you crash if you have them in the wrong pocket. Normally you just want to keep smaller items such as cash or nutrition pills to avoid getting hurt or breaking items such as your phone in a crash. If you have to catty the phone with you the zip pocket just below your leg is a relatively safe position to store it. Consider the size of the pockets. You want them to be just big enough to hold stuff. You don’t want too large pockets that will cause items to bang on your legs every pedal stroke.
Most mountain biking shorts have some type of closure system. Some shorts that focus on keeping down the weight can come with no closures at all. These light shorts focus on stretch panels in the waistband for adjusting the fit.
The most basic closure system is a simple button. Button closures are generally secure, but they can open when leaning over hard when you’re doing a tough climb.
Some shorts have ratcheting closures. These won’t open accidentally, but since this is a more complex closure system be prepared to pay a bit more for shorts with this kind of closures.
Many shorts have velcro straps to adjust the fit. The location of the straps doesn’t really matter. What matters is the length of the adjusters. You want a longer adjuster so you can make more adjustments.
You don’t need to have both belt loops and waist adjusters, but many shorts comes with both so you can still use a belt if you want to.
Many mountain biking shorts feature a chamois pad for added protection. Padded shorts will give you some protection and cushioning but don’t expect them to make an uncomfortable saddle suddenly comfortable.
The quality of the chamois can often make a big difference. The best chamois is multi-density for lower weight, multi-thickness to reduce bulk and is in a single piece to eliminate seam chief.
Best MTB Shorts Reviewed
Fox Ranger MTB Shorts
The latest model of the Fox Ranger mountain bike shorts has more stretch and a better fit than it’s predecessor. On first look, these might look like your ordinary pair of shorts, but they are highly breathable, padded and have some neat features for mountain bikers.
The padding is provided by a solid Pro Form chamois that will protect you from falls.
The shorts fit most people well and sit nicely over the knees. The breathable two-way stretch material feels great, and it’s nice they have a fully separate inner liner.
Adjusting the size is easy. The Fox ranger mountain bike shorts have an extra strap in the front for quick adjustments and have hidden velcro tabs inside the waistband. If you prefer wearing a belt, it also has belt loops. The sizes tend to run a bit small, so if you are between sizes, it’s often better to size up.
The biggest con of these shorts are the pockets. There are only three pockets, and none of them are zippered.
|Nice low-profile look|
|Plenty of ways to adjust fit|
|Sizes tend to run small|
|No zippered pockets|
The Endura Singletrack is a baggy mountain bike short made of Cordura nylon. It’s designed to keep you warm and dry. It has DWR finish that will help you stay dry and will keep it clean since water and mud will run right over the surface. Every seam has been double stitched for added reliability.
It has a zippered rear waist pocket and front hand pockets.
The tighs of the Endura Singletrack have meshed vents so you can stay cool on the trail.
When it comes to sizing, it can be inconsistent. For some people, one size might feel too large and the size below might feel too small. Another disadvantage is the limited waist adjustability. Size is adjusted by using the elastic material and velcro straps on the sides. The velcro tabs have limited range in adjustability, and both the velcro and the elastic material can lose their bite over time.
The chamois is thick and offer plenty of protection. The downside to the thick chamois is it can feel a bit mushy on the saddle.
|Many color options|
|DWR finish to protect from water and mud splashes|
|Limited wasit adjustability|
|The thick chamois might feel mushy|
|Sizing can be inconsistent|
If you are a downhill mountain biker, then the POC Resistance might be just what you need. The POC Resistance MTB shorts have everything you need for long days of downhill riding. They are made to work with knee pads and have a pre-shaped fit designed for maximum pedal comfort.
When riding with these shorts, it’s easy to bring stuff with you thanks to the four pockets. The lower pockets are zippered. The upper pockets are quite deep; however, it would have been even better if those were also zippered so you could store larger item there.
It’s a lightweight mountain bike short made of a durable and stretchy nylon fabric with good breathability. The fabric does a good job at repelling water and will keep you cool and dry all day.
To adjust the fit, it comes with belt loops and a velcro waist adjustment system. The liner fits well, and it’s stretchy and holds well. Sizing seems to be a bit inconsistent in these shorts. Most customers felt they had a fit that was true to size. However, there are customer reviews that clams they felt it was too big and others that felt it was too small.
|Pre-bent to work with knee pads|
|Made of stretchy and water-repellant materials|
|Good fit both with and without knee pads|
|Sizing may be inconsiztent|
|Would be even better with zippered upper pockets|
Zoic Men’s Black Market Cycling Shorts
The Zoic Black Market Shorts are made of a blend of lycra and spandex. The material is really lightweight. This means you’re not constantly reminded you are wearing bulky shorts when riding. Another advantage of the material is that even after many hand washes, they still look brand new.
Customers of these pants love the amount of pockets they have. These shorts come with two open front pockets, two zippered pockets, a small zip pocket on the side for iPod and a zip pocket on the back.
The outer shorts have a relaxed fit and are not too long but not too short either. Unlike standard bicycling shorts fully made of lycra, the inner shorts of these short are made of a lycra mesh. This means it won’t be as tight as ordinary cycling shorts, so you get a more relaxed fit. You won’t get as much compression as with full lycra shorts, and some might find the inner shorts a bit thin.
Adjusting the fit is easy with either the included belt or with the velcro adjustments. The included belt is quite bulky, and many decided to ditch the belt and instead rely on adjusting the size with the velcro adjustments.
It’s easy to take on and off the padding. The padding will give you some added protection, but it won’t give you much in terms of comfort. It will, however, reduce numbness after a long day of mountain biking.
|Tons of pockets and most of them are zippered|
|Inner shorts are quite thin|
|Not the most comfy shorts|
|The included belt is bulky|
Alpinestars Drop 2
The Alpinestars Drop 2 shorts are designed with an emphasis on ventilation and range of movement. This is an excellent product if you are riding technical terrain all day and need a pair of shorts that will stay comfortable all day long.
These shorts Fare made of a polyester blend that Alpinestars call rip-stop stretch. It’s a lightweight material that is breathable and will last a long time. The shorts have been reinforced around the hem to add durability. Even after crashes, they usually stay unscratched. It has an all-around solid construction and has a Noosfeera chamois that will add comfort and some padding.
It’s a baggy pair of mountain bike shorts with a fit tight enough that it won’t catch on any branches or vegetation on the trail. Some customers felt it was harder to get off the bike with these shorts since they sometimes caught on to the seat.
For those of you that ride with pads, you don’t have to worry about the shorts hanging up or bunting up. With a nice appropriate length for pads, these are great for downhill and enduro riding.
The price of these pants is quite steep. However, if you want to have the best in durability, comfort, and range of movement, then these might be the best you can get.
|Good range of movement|
|Zippered tigh pockets|
|Some felt it hanged on to the saddle|
A good pair of mountain bike shorts will keep you warm, dry, and sweat-free. Unless you spend a lot of money, you’ll often have to decide between better durability or better flexibility. Make sure to get a mountain biking shorts that fits your style of how and where you ride.
If you want the best of the best, then my recommendation would be the Alpinestars Drop 2. These shorts have a premium price, but when it comes to durability and range of movement, it’s hard to find anything better.
If you’re an aggressive mountain biker that needs shorts that work well with pads, go for the POC Resistance Mountain bike Shorts.
If you’re looking for an all-around option for mountain biking, the Zoic Black Market, the Fox Ranger, and the Endura Singletrack MTB shorts are all good options. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages so make sure to read the mini-reviews above.