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100% Airmatic - Women's Review

For all day, big rides in technical terrain the Airmatic is protective, comfortable, and durable
100% Airmatic - Women's
Credit: Backcountry
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Price:  $89 List | $81.41 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable material, 13-inch inseam works well with kneepads, comfortable
Cons:  Not the most breathable, a little heavy
Manufacturer:   100% Airmatic
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 20, 2019
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Fit and Comfort - 30% 9.0
  • Pedal Friendliness - 30% 8.0
  • Protection - 20% 9.0
  • Pockets - 10% 7.0
  • Style - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The 100% Airmatic short is true all-mountain riding apparel. It has a longer inseam to work perfectly with kneepads, the four-way stretch material is comfortable and flexible for pedaling, and it even has DWR in case of rain. We especially appreciate the non-bulky and super functional waist adjusters that made for a great fit.

The only downside to the Airmatic is that isn't the most breathable, so we got a little steamy on hot days. We also would like to see a little feminine flair, just because.

If you need a high-performing and protective short, the Airmatic is definitely recommended.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable material, 13-inch inseam works well with kneepads, comfortableLightweight, four-way stretch, excellent fit, breathable, super comfortableGreat fit, smart waist adjustment, usable pockets, lightweight, comfortableLightweight, comfortable, large functional pocketsLightweight, breathable, many pockets, affordable
Cons Not the most breathable, a little heavyNot as protective for burly terrain, openings in pockets make them less secureNot waterproof, slim fit may not work for all ridersPlain style, might be too long for some ridersNot water resistant, runs large, velcro waist adjusters
Bottom Line For all day, big rides in technical terrain the Airmatic is protective, comfortable, and durableOne of the best fitting shorts we have ever tested, with a minimalist design, lightweight, and a high level of comfortReally comfortable and lightweight shorts that fit well, have great pockets, and look good on and off the bikeA comfortable and functional pair of shorts with useful pockets and a long enough inseam to work well with knee padsA very functional pair of mountain bike shorts that are lightweight and super affordable
Rating Categories 100% Airmatic - Wom... Patagonia Dirt Roamer Specialized Trail C... Yeti Cycles Norrie Zoic Navaeh
Fit and Comfort (30%)
9.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Pedal Friendliness (30%)
8.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Protection (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Pockets (10%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Style (10%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Specs 100% Airmatic - Wom... Patagonia Dirt Roamer Specialized Trail C... Yeti Cycles Norrie Zoic Navaeh
Shell Fabric Polyester, elastane 90-denier 86% recycled polyester/14% spandex with 4-way stretch and a DWR finish Vaporize woven fabric 2-way stretch polyester with PFC-free DWR finish 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Lining Main Fabric None None None None None
Chamois None Sold separately None None None
Inseam Measurement 13 in 12.5 in 11.5 in 13 in 11 in
Number of pockets 3 2 4 4 4

Our Analysis and Test Results

Color Update
The Airmatic short returns for 2022, although it is no longer available in the blue color we tested. They now come in Black, Seafoam, Slate Blue, and Lavender. -May 2022

The 100% Airmatic is tops for protection and also provides comfort and fit. It might not be the most feminine or the most breathable, but for big mountain rides, we want this pair in our quiver.

The longer inseam, DWR finish, and 4-way stretch are all working together to make for a good pedal up and great protection down. We found it to be a little bit warm on the hottest days, but the protection they provide was worth being a little steamy.

Performance Comparison


100% Airmatic - Women's mountain bike shorts - the 100% airmatic was a favorite for technical rides and big days in...
The 100% Airmatic was a favorite for technical rides and big days in the mountains.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Fit and Comfort


The Airmatic is an all-mountain short, no question. The inseam is 13 inches, one of the longest in the test, and works perfectly with knee pads. The material is burly but flexible, and overall the shorts are super comfortable.

100% Airmatic - Women's mountain bike shorts - the simple waist adjuster!
The simple waist adjuster!
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Talk about winning at waist adjustment! The simplicity of the waist adjuster on the Airmatic definitely had us questioning why other brands are using Velcro and buttons and making fit so complicated. The waistband incorporates a series of sewn openings in webbing that can accommodate a metal "mountaineering-inspired" hook. Though not the lightest adjustment system, we found this to work brilliantly, and along with the silicone grip pattern on the back of the waistband, these shorts fit right and stay put, without any bulk or extra fabric.

The Airmatic runs a little large, with the smallest size being a small. The 100% size chart is spot on and we recommend using it to select your size. We bought for a 35-inch hip, which is just below the bottom end of the small. The loose fit worked for us, but if you often wear an XS, you might be swimming in these.

Pedal Friendliness


The 100% Airmatic is made of a heavier weight material, suitable for an all-mountain short. Consequently, it is not as breathable as some other options, however, there is a mesh back panel for added airflow, and it has a roomy cut.

With 4-way stretch, we had no problem moving and grooving in these shorts. While they really shine on technical rides with knee pads, they would be a great choice for big all-day rides in the mountains where weather can be unpredictable. The DWR finish helps keep you dry, and the length and weight offer good coverage and protection. The tradeoff for that protection is that they are a little heavy and a little warm for hotter days.

Protection


For technical and all-day rides, the Airmatic is a winner and scored highly in the protection metric. The 13-inch inseam works flawlessly with kneepads. On close, brushy trails the mid-weight material saved us from scratches and scrapes. In an unexpected rainstorm, they helped keep one tester dry. Though possibly not quite heavyweight enough for full-on downhill riding, these shorts would still be an optimal choice for almost all riding that requires extra protection.

100% Airmatic - Women's mountain bike shorts - the 13-inch inseam is protective with and without kneepads.
The 13-inch inseam is protective with and without kneepads.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Pockets


With the inspired waist adjustment system, we had high hopes for excellent pockets. The Airmatic has three zippered pockets, two of which are stacked on top of each other on the left side. They are useful for snacks and lip balm, but the placement makes them a little awkward for pedaling. The phone-friendly zippered pocket on the side of the right leg is a good size and in the right place, but on a chilly 40-degree day a phone stashed in that pocket was covered in sweat droplets. If you have a waterproof cover on your phone this won't be a problem. For the rest of you, please note: this pocket is not super breathable.

100% Airmatic - Women's mountain bike shorts - what to do with these pockets?
What to do with these pockets?
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Style


Style is subjective, but a lot of lady riders are looking for a bit of flair when they suit up for a ride. The Airmatic are not a bad looking pair of shorts — they have a functional cut and flattering fit — but aside from being very bright blue, it lacks any specific feminine flair. There are no cute details or contrasting colors, no thoughtful design touches. They strike us as a dude short that is cut for a woman. These are mountain bike shorts, no doubt about it. If you appreciate some nice details and contrasting colors, there are many girlier shorts to choose from.

100% Airmatic - Women's mountain bike shorts - the airmatic is comfortable pedaling and protective in technical...
The Airmatic is comfortable pedaling and protective in technical terrain.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Value


These shorts are in the middle of the bunch, price-wise. They are packed with features, however, and if you are an all-mountain gal that prioritizes good protection and performance, the Airmatic is a solid option.

Conclusion


We are stoked to see a tough, well-fitting short like the Airmatic made for women. It provides excellent protection and coverage and was one of the best with kneepads that we tested. It is not the most breathable, and the pockets are a tad confusing, but for riders that need protection and pedal-ability, we give it two thumbs up.

Laurel Hunter
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