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Women’s mountain bike shorts are the one piece of gear that I’m most picky about when it comes to riding apparel. They’re also the one piece of gear that is hardest to get right, right? I recently tried on about 10 different pairs of shorts and they all fit differently! Most were too small (FYI women’s mtb shorts run tiny). Others were too short and most just didn’t fit right. It seems that there is a huge size and fit discrepancy between brands.
I know that everyone has their preferences when it comes to shorts and every body is different, but in this post, I’ve rounded up my favorite pairs of women’s mountain bike shorts that fit well, are comfortable to ride in, and are durable enough for long days of shredding the trails – lady style.
Two Wheeled Wanderer Favorite
When I discovered the POC Essential Women’s MTB Shorts I felt like I hit the jackpot. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. They are seriously my favorite mountain bike shorts that I’ve ever owned. I particularly appreciate the length because they reach past my knees, eliminating any gap between knee pads (which I wear on almost every ride). They may be too long for some women, but for me at 5’8 who prefers long shorts, they’re perfect.
I also like how the hips are wider and the legs are not tapered. The fit is actually designed for women who have muscles and curves, something that’s sadly hard to come by in the women’s athletic apparel category. That being said, if you do have more of a straight body type, these might not fit as well.
I’ve ordered three pairs and when new colors come out I will be ordering more. I’m a size 8-10 and the large fit perfectly. Read my full POC Essentials MTB Shorts review here.
Shorts with an Elastic Waistband
The SHREDLY Curvy long shorts won the Gear Of The Year award by Outside Magazine in 2020 and they’re the short of choice for many women riders. So what’s so great about them? For starters, they don’t have front buttons or zippers. Instead, they have an elastic waistband with a drawstring, eliminating any sharp cutting into your stomach when pedaling.
These shorts also have a shaped back panel that allows for more room for those muscular bums and thighs and the inseam varies by size so you’re not stuck with super short or super long shorts.
I do find that the material of SHREDLY shorts is a bit heavy and bulky and while the snap side pocket is big enough for your phone, it’s not tight against your leg so you can feel your phone bounce around a lot.
That being said, a lot of women love SHREDLY shorts (especially for their fun colors and patterns) so if you’ve had trouble finding the ‘perfect’ mountain bike short that fits just right, give the SHREDLY Curvy a try.
They also come in a short 7″ version.
Lightweight & Breathable Shorts
I tried the Backcountry Slickrock Shorts and as someone who’s tall (5’8) and prefers a long, baggy leg, they weren’t for me. But that doesn’t mean you won’t like them! In fact, they get great reviews and they’re designed with the athletic woman in mind.
The waist is adjustable with an integrated belt and they have a silicone grip strip at the waist to keep them in place. The lightweight, breathable material makes them great for hot rides or everyday pedaling.
One drawback is that they only have two front zippered pockets, which are a little tight for most phones.
Best shorts for Downhill Days
Revel Rider is a bit of an under-the-radar women’s mountain bike shorts brand, but it should be more mainstream! They’re based in Bend, Oregon and they make women’s mountain bike clothing designed for women riders by women riders. Every piece is designed to be functional and performance-based.
The RevelRider Flow 2.0 Shorts are exactly that. They have a high-rise back that is missing from a lot of shorts and helps keep your bum and lower back covered even on the steepest of descents. They’re made from thick, durable material and they also have clever hook-and-loop waist adjusters that don’t loosen as the bike park day wears on.
Also check out their Ride Shorts, which are a little less burly and better for longer days of pedaling.
Shorts with Chamois
I don’t typically recommend buying mountain bike shorts that come with their own liner because separate liners are usually better quality, but the Terry Vista shorts are a little different.
These shorts have a minimal brief-style chamois with thin padding that could be a great option for those who don’t like a bulky liner. The chamois can be removed for separate washing or if you’re heading out on a quick ride and want to leave the chamois at home.
More great options
I really love the colors and patterns of Wild Rye Freel Shorts. They’re fun and playful, but not overly feminine like many of the SHREDLY options.
The fabric is 4-way stretch, however, I do find them a bit more stiff than other shorts I’ve tried. They also don’t have an adjustable waist, which isn’t ideal (at least for me).
All that being said, Wild Rye makes really high-quality shorts and I know a lot of women who love them! If you’re looking for a less expensive option, check out the Wild Rye Kaweah which is made from a slightly less stretchy fabric.
DHaRCO is a fun-loving brand out of Australia. They make casual and practical mountain bike gear for the everyday rider and their women’s Gravity mountain bike shorts are a great option for lady-shredders.
They’re lightweight, durable, stretchy, and quick-drying all of which make them a good choice for all types of riding. I will say, though, that these shorts aren’t as good for curvy shapes because they have a slimmer, straighter fit.
The one thing I don’t love about these shorts is the feminine cursive DHaRCO logo rather than their normal DHaRCO logo.
Fox is known for making excellent mountain bike protection (I love their Enduro Sleeve Knee Pads) and in recent years, they’ve put a lot more focus into designing and creating women’s mountain bike apparel that isn’t just “shrink it and pink it”.
These Fox Defend Shorts have a women’s fit with room for hips and a booty and the tapered legs are long enough so that they don’t squeeze mid-thigh.
They’re also perforated with ventilation throughout, which helps keep you dry and cool on schweaty climbs.
The only downside to these shorts (aside from their steep price tag) is that the plastic ratchet bucket hits right at the stomach, which may not be comfortable for everyone.
One hundred and eighty dollars is a lot of money for mountain bike shorts, but these 7Mesh Glidepath shorts have a lot going for them. First, 7Mesh is a really cool company based out of Squamish, British Columbia. They believe that mountain bike apparel should stand the test of time, so they design their clothes to be durable. But, if you ride hard, they also have a crash replacement program where they’ll help repair or replace your gear at a discount.
7Mesh also works with local First Nation people, primarily through their IYMB program (Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program) as well as several other organizations.
So yes, their shorts are expensive, but you’ll be supporting a small company dedicated to making high-quality gear and making the world a better place.
|POC Essential MTB Shorts||15″||Velcro tabs||$99|
|SHREDLY Curvy Long Shorts||Varies||Elastic + Drawstring||$110|
|Backcountry Slickrock Shorts||10″||Belt||$88|
|Revel Rider Flow||?||Elastic Hook||$105|
|Terry Vista Shorts||10″||Elastic||$125|
|Wild Rye Freel||12.25″||None||$129|
|DHaRCO Gravity Shorts||?||Velcro tabs||$107|
|Fox Defend Shorts||14.5″||Ratchet buckle||$120|
|7Mesh Glidepath Shorts||15″||Hook and loop||$180|
What to look for when buying
Unlike other mountain bike gear, such as shoes, where size and fit are generally agreed-upon across the board, women’s mountain bike shorts are a whole different ballgame.
Shorts can fit very differently based on height, weight, hip size, butt shape, thigh and waist measurement, and more. Add in fit preferences (baggy vs fitted) and one short could be someone’s favorite pair ever and another’s most uncomfortable (or unflattering) pair in the world.
So while I can’t say which women’s mountain bike shorts will be the winner for you, here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping:
Women’s mountain bike shorts come in a range of lengths from 7″ shorties to super long 14.5″+ baggies. Depending on your height and length preference, you can narrow down your options. For example, I’m pretty tall at 5’8 and I really like shorts that reach just past my knee, so a longer inseam is my preference.
If you want an inseam length that is tailored to your height, check out SHREDLY shorts. Their inseam lengths vary based on size.
Just like regular shorts and pants, mountain bike shorts will range in fit from figure-hugging to loose and baggy. Personally, I like something in the middle or erring on the loose side, but other women might prefer a tighter fit.
I will say that some shorts and brands cater more toward women with curvy or muscular builds while others do not. If you fall into the curvy category, be sure to look for a short that is constructed to fit that body type versus one that has more of a straight composition.
Most mountain bike shorts are made from polyester and some sort of elastic material like spandex, nylon, lycra, or elastane. If you want a short that stretches a bit while you pedal, be sure to look for ones that have a slightly higher percentage of stretchy material.
To get the best fit for a variety of body types, most women’s mountain bike shorts come with an adjustment at the waist. This could be velcro, buttons, waist straps, or even a belt. Shorts that don’t have an adjustable waist, are less versatile when it comes to getting a good fit.
Water repellant finish
If you’ll be riding in wet conditions, some mountain bike shorts are designed with a DWR (durable water-repellant) finish. If this is important to you, check to see whether a short has a weather-resistant coating before buying.
If you try one of these women’s mountain bike shorts based on this post, let me know how they fit in the comments below! And did I miss any? What is your favorite women’s mountain bike short and why?