Looking for a proper mountain bike shorts instead of wearing the lycra cycling shorts?
As you probably know, lycra doesn’t look as good on a mountain bike compared to the road bike and certainly not as durable or water-resistant.
Most high quality mountain bike shorts today are designed to provide you the best protection and comfort when you tackle for trails, single tracks or those fast, aggressive downhills. Things like water-resistant, type of fabrics, padding and even pockets for extra storage.
If you’re looking for recommendations as part of your research, read on.
I’ve picked 16 of the best mountain bike shorts for both men and women for you to consider.
Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Men
1. Zoic Ether with Liner
Carlsbad, California company Zoic claims to have invented the mountain bike short 25 years ago, and they haven’t given up their position at the top since.
The Zoic Ether is their flagship product, combining the best value with tons of great features as well as reliability.
These shorts are made from a sturdy blend of materials which breathe easily, instantly wick away moisture, and shape to accommodate your form while you’re riding.
The ZO-Tech chamois liner guarantees comfort during your ride. Mesh patches are placed strategically throughout the garment to ensure cooling and airflow, while an inseam gusset takes care of any uncomfortable or annoying snags or hangups on the saddle.
Anticipating necessary accessories or interesting finds along the way, Zoic has included two deep front pockets, a rear wallet pocket and two secured thigh pockets.
2. Louis Garneau Range 2 Shorts
For those on a budget, the Louis Garneau Range 2 offers everything that made the first iteration of these MTB shorts a hit, along with some welcome updates and improvements.
Stretchy Rhino fabric provides comfort and durability all at once, while a built-in AirFit mesh liner with included AirSport chamois protects soft skin. These fabrics are all resistant to stains, abrasions, and water, preserving appearance as well as performance and making these a great choice for cycling around town as well as off road.
A new and improved waistband opens these shorts up to more riders than ever, and the breezy 10.25” inseam falls just below the knee on most riders, so you won’t have to worry about either discomfort or excessive leg exposure off of the saddle.
3. POC Essential XC Shorts
Swedish company POC is well-known for exceptionally user-friendly and durable outdoor apparels.
The POC Essential XC shorts is made from lightweight, stretchy, water-resistant material which allows for comfortable, satisfying rides no matter the weather. It can be be worn in combination with lycra or on its own, offering you a greater versatility in your clothing choices.CLOTH
Plenty of storage is provided by the securely-zipped deep side pockets. A secure fit can be had with velcro enclosures at the waist, making precise fitting easy and comfortable.
Specially designed for cross-country riding, these shorts are easily adaptable to riding in town, with POC’s guarantee of quality and years of expertise to back them up.
4. 7Mesh Industries Glidepath Shorts
The 7Mesh Industries’ Glidepath shorts are the perfect choice for trail riding. It’s designed for quick, easy movement without retaining uncomfortable moisture.
Constructed from rugged, resilient, water-repellent synthetic fabric, these are designed to sync up naturally with your movements while you ride, with no undue restrictions on your legs or joints as you adapt to conditions on the trail.
A concealed waist adjustment system allows you to make minute changes to the fit so you can be comfortable and secure no matter your size or shape. Plenty of space is provided for accessories or tools with an array of side and rear pockets.
Finally, to ensure you remain protected and visible after sundown, reflective decals are built right into the fabric.
5. 100% R-Core DH Shorts
Downhill and enduro riders will be especially well set-up with the 100% R-Core DH shorts.
These relaxed-fit 600D polyester shorts incorporate flexible mesh ventilation patches and perforations made to maximize breathability and allow for rapid evaporation of moisture, allowing you to feel comfortable and cool throughout your ride in any heat.
An ultra-secure fitting system is built into the waistband, allowing riders of different shapes and sizes to comfortably wear them without fear of slippage. A single ample, securely-zippered pocket provides lots of space for storing essential small items within easy reach.
The stretchy rear panel will help you maintain speed and control as you navigate tricky rides.
6. Assos Rally Cargo Shorts
As Assos’ first foray into baggy MTB shorts, the Rally represents an impressive initial effort.
The Assos Rally Cargo shorts are intended to fit exceptionally well on all who wear them, combining loose-fitting comfort with unbelievably comfortable form-fittingness.
With the front inspired by Assos’ road shorts, they won’t snag or catch uncomfortably on the saddle or slow you down as you shift to adjust to changing terrain.
Made from Type 498 fabric, specially formulated for years of abuse, these shorts easily resist water, stains, and tears. When confronted with moisture, they’ll rapidly expel it so you can enjoy the rest of your ride refreshed and comfortable.
Although the Assos Rally might more accurately fall somewhere between road shorts and mountain bike shorts, they combine the best of both worlds, resulting in a garment that offers outstanding quality.
7. Troy Lee Resist Shorts
Troy Lee has an ironclad reputation for exceptionally well-designed gear for off-road cycling no matter the weather.
It should come as no surprise that the Troy Lee Resist is built from the ground up to resist the most persistent wet weather.
Made from Teflon, the same material used to line cookware and reinforce protective gear, these shorts handily deflect water while remaining light, loose and breathable. A bonus feature can be found in the spacious pockets, which can be quickly unzipped to allow the breathable mesh pocket liner to increase airflow.
Lastly, a built-in belt adjustment system allows for a snug, non-slip fit with every use.
8. Pearl Izumi Summit AmFIB Pants
The Pearl Izumi Summit AmFIB Lite Pant is perfect for cold, clear days when you’re in need of robust coverage for legs while hitting the trail.
Breathable ELITE AmFIB Lite fabric makes up the exterior, easily blocking out wind and moisture without smothering your legs. The interior is constructed from cozy thermal fleece, and moisture-wicking patches are built into the back of the knees to quickly dispel any accumulated sweat or vapor.
A comprehensive adjustment system is incorporated into the waistband, allowing you to ensure you have a comfortable, snug fit. The pockets include zippers to secure valuables, and reflective elements help keep you visible to other riders and motorists in low light.
Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Women
1. Shower Pass XC Shorts
For budget-minded bikers who don’t want to sacrifice on looks or performance, the Shower Pass XC shorts are an excellent affordable option.
These actively comfortable baggies are made from a blend of flexible, 4-way stretch spandex and nylon for plenty of airflow, free movement and great ventilation. The tough material can also survive abrasive brush or earth with ease, protecting your investment as much as your legs.
As a surprising bonus for such an affordable pair of shorts, the fitting system is an advanced combination of an adjustable waist cinch with silicone grips to ensure a firm but comfortable fit. Reflective accents and plenty of pockets top it all off, maintaining visibility in low light and providing plenty of storage space for extras and necessaries.
2. Maloja NeisaM. Printed Shorts
A terrific blend of style with functionality, these shorts are an outstanding offering from Bavarian outdoors experts Maloja.
The Maloja NeisaM is made from tough but forgiving multistretch fabric that moves with you as you tackle challenging XC rides, they also quickly wick away built-up moisture.
The NeisaM. has been designed to last, with triple-seam stitching all but guaranteeing a long useful life no matter the demands placed on them. Resilient fabric printed in striking patterns will stand up to scratches and abrasions from brush, dirt, and stone.
The fit system is composed of a semi-exposed elastic waistband which will keep you covered securely without any bother about tabs or bulky excess fabric.
3. Fox Racing Ranger Shorts
It’s hard to go wrong with the Fox Racing Ranger. It’s a sleek, stylish and ultra-functional MTB baggies.
These are made from Fox’s proprietary advanced TruDri fabric, heading off clamminess and uncomfortable perspiration buildup. Outside, a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish handily deflects mud and water, making cleanup a cinch and allowing you to maintain a spotless appearance.
A detachable liner is included for maximum comfort, with Fox’s own EVO chamois pad included. This dual-density padding is strategically placed at high-pressure points in the seat to help cope with impacts and rubbing for a comfortable ride.
4. Yeti Norrie 2.0 Shorts
The Yeti Norrie 2.0 is another exceptionally stylish pair of shorts with a high level of design considerations.
Available with or without knee pads, the Norrie 2.0 allows for a wide range of movement with 2-way stretch fabric to adapt to your motions. A gusset is incorporated, providing the same comfort and spaciousness included in men’s shorts as a matter of course.
Friction is cut down with the inclusion of glide patches, allowing you to make your pedal strokes as swift and smooth as you like. A secure two-button front enclosure with a webbing adjustment system help create a secure fit to protect you on enduro rides.
5. 100% Airmatic Shorts
The 100% Airmatic lives up to the implication of its name with an exceptional free range of movement built off of its gusseted crotch and spacious cut.
The blended polyester and elastane fabric exterior is as tough as it is flexible, allowing you to resist scrapes and cuts, breathe easy and charge up steep inclines without sacrificing comfort or movement.
With a knee-length cut, there’s plenty of room in these affordable baggies for additional padding on rocky downhill, enduro, and trail rides.
You can securely bring along extras and valuables in the zippered pockets. A mesh back panel provides reliable ventilation, and the silicone printing and adjustable waist reduce slippage while making for a perfect fit.
6. Endura SingleTrack Lite Shorts
The Endura SingleTrack Lite 2 is an incredibly lightweight, breezy and cool, which is sure to make warm-weather and desert adventuring that much more satisfying.
You can count on a wide range of motion from the 4-way stretch material, enhancing your responsiveness to changes in the trail as well as your overall performance. Zippered vents provide the option to enhance airflow, and they combine easily with your preferred liners and chamoises.
Adjustment for a good fit is simple and quick with hook-and-loop fasteners at the waist.
7. POC Essential MTB Shorts
Simple, spare and dependable, POC’s Essential is perfectly named, being a great choice for MTB riders no matter your skill level.
Constructed from tough, lightweight nylon, these can be counted on to outlast the rigors of the trail while ensuring you can enjoy a full range of motion as they flex and shape with you. An extended rear panel provides full coverage for your lower back when you’re on the handlebars, with built-in knee bends shaping to your form while you work the pedals.
You can quickly adjust the fit on these lightweight shorts with the simple velcro tabs at the waist. These shorts can easily deflect brush, debris, and water with a rugged inseam and a DWR finish.
8. Gore Wear C5 All Mountain Shorts
The Gore C5 mountain bike shorts lives up to Gore’s long-standing reputation for incredibly durable construction.
It’s constructed from a double layer of tough synthetic fabric coupled with a long inseam. This makes them all but impervious to tears, cuts and abrasion while guaranteeing coverage and easy, adaptable movement.
Plenty of room for additional body armor and after-market padding is included, and the adjustable hook-and-loop tabs on the waist make securing a perfect fit for downhill and enduro simple.
The back and inner thigh are furnished with splash protection to mitigate annoying moisture and unsightly mud stains, and the stretchy rear panel will keep you covered from rain and slippage alike.
6 Things to Consider Before Buying Mountain Bike Shorts
In this section, we’re going to breakdown all of the crucial aspects and elements that you need to consider before purchasing the perfect pair of mountain biking shorts.
1. Types of Mountain Bike Shorts
If you’re really into mountain biking, there are differences in the type of shorts, depending on the type of mountain biking you do.
Each type of shorts have a specific property, feature and design that allows it to perform best in a particular discipline.
Cross Country (XC) Shorts
XC shorts are typically made using lightweight materials that stretch giving you optimal freedom of movement while on the long arduous tracks you’ll encounter when riding cross country.
Water repellent material is a feature of most XC mountain bike shorts such as POC Essential XC, Troy Lee Resist and Fox Racing Ranger due to the fact that most cross country tracks are going to throw some water at you.
These shorts typically feature a simple and efficient fastening system so that you have flexibility, breathability and reliability all in one.
Trail MTB Shorts
Trail shorts area somewhat of a blend between XC and enduro shorts.
These shorts typically have pocket storage and more breathable materials than you will find in enduro shorts.
Most trail tracks will have some water, so trail shorts are usually made with water-resistant fabrics such as Gore-TEX.
Enduro riders need shorts that can stand up to the intensity that comes with downhill riding.
Along with the more durable materials, they also incorporate stretch panels for less restriction and more breathability. They also typically have a ratchet enclosure waistband as well as the ability to be paired with a jersey.
2. Padding and Protection Levels
Mountain biking is an intense spot, especially when you’re riding downhill tracks with large drop offs for long stretches of time.
A good way to offset some of the inevitable discomfort you’ll run into when riding is by wearing a good pair of shorts with a high quality chamois pad and use chamois cream as well.
This will provide you with enhanced comfort, stability and support where you need it most regardless of the type of mountain biking you’re doing.
Lycra is one of the most common materials used in the production of cycling bibs and shorts.
And although lycra enhances breathability and freedom of movement, it’s not very durable and is not a good choice of material for mountain bike shorts.
Materials such as brushed knit fabric and nylon materials are much more durable than lycra and you should always look for these materials when purchasing a good pair of mountain bike shorts.
For example. the Gore Wear C5 shorts is made from double layers of touch synthetic fabrics for maximum protection.
Some riders will wear their favorite lycra bib underneath their baggier mountain bike shorts for extra protection as well.
4. Adjustable Waistbands
For maximum comfort, you want to choose a pair of shorts that come with an adjustable waistband.
Adjustable waistbands give you the ability to change the size and overall fit of your mountain bike shorts on the fly.
If you plan on riding for long periods of time with shorts that use a buckle or velcro, they will inevitably become uncomfortable and annoying and adjustable waistbands in shorts such as the Louis Garneau Range 2 and 100% R-Core help you avoid that.
If you are riding XC or trail, you’ll most likely need a pair of mountain bike shorts that come with good pocket space. A lot of riders take a backpack with them on their rides for carrying water, a first aid kit and bike tools.
However, you can offset some of the weight on your back by storing smaller, lightweight things like gels, and cash in your pockets.
This is when a pair of shorts with plenty of pocket room such as the Shower Pass XC comes in handy.
6. Water Resistant Coating
Most mountain bike shorts have an ultra-thin treatment called DWR (Durable Water Resistant) that is designed to keep water out and you dry.
If you know that you’re going to be hitting the trails in rough weather or a wet trail, you need to make sure that you’re wearing a pair of mountain biking shorts with water resistant materials.