Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $48 - $80 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Casual styling, Fully removable liner short
Cons: Lack of zippered pockets, Silicone leg grippers
Best Uses: general mountain biking, casual wear
The Fox brand is well known to all mountain bikers the world over. Fox Racing is best known for their suspension products while Fox Head produces apparel and protective gear, from helmets to gloves. These two companies separated long ago, but both went on to be very successful in their respective fields.
The Ranger short is a widely available mountain bike specific short that is very well disguised as a casual short. It is made from a lightweight, breathable, two-way stretch material and has a fully separating liner short. The Ranger ranked middle of the road in most of our tests, with the exception being in the style department where it excels, especially if you are looking for a short that doesn't look like a bike short. It is inexpensive compared to most of the others we tested. Our major complaint is the lack of zippered pockets and the uncomfortable silicone leg grippers on the liner short.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Fox Ranger is the most casual and least athletic looking short we tested. This short has one of the shortest inseams and is also one of the lightest weight shorts in our review. It has three pockets which do not have zippers, and a fully separating Spandex liner short with a decent chamois.
The Ranger has the most casual styling out of all of the shorts in our review. From afar, this short could easily be mistaken for a pair of Dickies. If you plan on wearing your shorts off the bike, this short should be considered since it looks much less like a bike specific short than any of the other shorts we tested. It comes in solid black or grey with just a few small Fox logos. If you like to keep it incognito, this is your short.
We couldn’t find any durability problems with the Ranger. The seams and fabrics held up well to our tests. This is a well made and simple short. Since it lacks in bells and whistles there isn't much to fail.
The Ranger is slightly short on features. Pun intended.
The shorts do have a velcro and elastic waist adjustment mechanism. Keeping with the incognito styling of the short, the velcro tabs are hidden on the inside of the waistband. We actually prefer this placement of the tabs over placing them externally, since it sandwiched the tabs in place and prevented exposed velcro from snagging on our jersey.
The outside of the waist band also has five regular belt loops to provide the option of wearing a belt with the short. This was the only short we tested with this feature and keeps with the theme of wearing the short off the bike as well.
The Ranger lacks in securable pockets. The two hand pockets are mesh lined and quite deep, but they tend to open up a bit when pedaling. We didn't trust a phone or bike tool to them.
There is also a right rear slit wallet pocket that closes with a velcro tab. We don't like having items in this area when riding and think that this pocket is better suited for a wallet when off the bike.
If you need a short with more securable pockets to carry your goods, consider our Top Pick Award winner the Dakine Boundary or our Best Buy Award winner the Zoic Ether.
The Ranger is cut more like a pair of Dickies than a mountain bike specific short. The front of the short did not feel as baggy when pedaling as some of the other shorts, however. We prefer a slightly longer inseam and shorter rise for sitting on a saddle. While there are no specific stretch panels, the entire outer short is constructed from a two-way stretch material which never felt restrictive.
The liner short is constructed from Spandex, which flowed well against the outer material. This Spandex provided a small amount of compression and kept the thin, but well constructed Pro Form chamois in place. Unfortunately, the legs of the inner short are finished with the widest silicone leg gripper of all the shorts in our test. These grippers pull at the skin while riding and became more and more irritating to us the longer we pedaled. We wish that Fox used a doubled over material or some other way to secure the legs like those found on high end road cycling shorts.
The Ranger's inseam is just 10 inches, which provides slightly less coverage than we prefer. While the leg openings are big enough to fit over knee pads, the short length is likely to allow a bit of leg showing between the top of the kneepad and the bottom of the short. (In case you don't know, this is a major fashion faux pas.) If you usually wear pads or come off the bike frequently, consider our Editor's Choice winner the Troy Lee Ruckus, which is made from a burlier material and has ample length to be worn with knee pads.
Though the Ranger does not have a particularly ergonomic cut, the loose fit of the legs and the stretch fabric allow it to pedal well. The two-way stretch material never feels restrictive.The smooth Spandex liner flows well against the textured outer short material with no hang ups. The silicone leg grippers that serve to hold the legs of the liner short in place are irritating to the skin. We aren't a fan of silicone leg grippers because they tend to pull on the skin and these are some of the worst we have tried.
This is the best short if you prefer casual styling or plan on wearing riding gear off the bike. We recommend leaving the liner short at home before heading to the bar. In the bike park, we don't ride with a hydration pack or with a jersey with pockets, but we do like to carry a small multi-tool and a cell phone. The Ranger lacks completely in securable pockets, and we found ourselves electing to test other types of shorts when we road in the park so we could safely carry these two small items. However, this short works well for pedal missions where you will also be carrying a hydration pack of some sort.
The Ranger is the second least expensive short we tested. They retail for only $9.95 more than the least expensive short in the review, the Canari Canyon Gel II, but you get a much more stylish short with a fully separating liner with the Ranger. If you are on a budget, we highly recommend you go with the Ranger over the Canyon Gel. The Ranger is more versatile, more comfortable, and more stylish.
The Fox Ranger is the best short to buy if you want a short that can be easily worn on or off the bike. It has a very casual appearance, which will blend in as a typical street short. This short pedals well and has a good liner with a great chamois. Our biggest complaint with the Ranger is that it lacks in zippered pockets, which prevented us from carrying anything in the pockets while riding for fear of losing it. If you always ride with a hydration pack or a jersey with pockets this might not be a problem for you.
Fox also makes the Ranger Cargo which is the Ranger with two added cargo pockets. This version looses the rear wallet pocket but gains two more usable pockets, one of which secures with a zipper. The Cargo version is also available in either 10” or 12” inseam lengths and retails for $10 more than the regular Ranger.
— Luke Lydiard
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Most recent review: July 15, 2014
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