Reviews You Can Rely On

Rapha Trail Shorts Women's Review

One of the most comfortable mountain bike shorts out there, with 4-way stretch and a uniquely low-profile waistband
Rapha Trail Shorts Women's
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $150 List | $150.00 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight, durable, great pockets, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Rapha
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2022
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
95
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 14
  • Fit and Comfort - 30% 10.0
  • Pedal Friendliness - 30% 10.0
  • Protection - 20% 9.0
  • Pockets - 10% 9.0
  • Style - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

If you are looking for one pair of mountain bike shorts for almost all of your riding needs, then the Rapha Trail Shorts would be our recommendation. They are immensely comfortable, stretchy in all the right ways, and versatile enough in their design to work on warm days and cool days, mellow rides, and technical shreds. They come with a high price tag, but if you want to stay present on the trail rather than feeling your shorts bind up in your thigh creases, these are one of the best shorts we have tested and are our new Editor’s Choice.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $150 List
$150.00 at REI
$68.99 at Evo
Compare at 3 sellers
$89.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.99 at Evo
Compare at 2 sellers
$74.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
95
90
86
85
76
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Lightweight, durable, great pockets, comfortableLightweight, four-way stretch, excellent fit, breathable, super comfortableWeather and water resistant, comfortable, flattering cutStylish patterns, comfortable, protective, good pocketsLightweight, breathable, many pockets, affordable
Cons ExpensiveNot as protective for burly terrainBulky waistband with velcro tabs, too warm for hot daysSizing is trickyNot water resistant, runs large, velcro waist adjusters
Bottom Line One of the most comfortable mountain bike shorts out there, with 4-way stretch and a uniquely low-profile waistbandOne of the best fitting shorts we have ever tested, with a minimalist design, lightweight, and a high level of comfortA technical short that provides protection from wet trails and is also really comfortableA good looking and versatile pair of shorts that doesn't slouch on the detailsA very functional pair of mountain bike shorts that are lightweight and super affordable
Rating Categories Rapha Trail Shorts... Patagonia Dirt Roamer Endura MT500 Spray... Wild Rye Freel Zoic Navaeh
Fit and Comfort (30%)
10.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Pedal Friendliness (30%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Protection (20%)
9.0
7.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
Pockets (10%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Rapha Trail Shorts... Patagonia Dirt Roamer Endura MT500 Spray... Wild Rye Freel Zoic Navaeh
Shell Fabric Bluesign and Oeko-Tex certified, 88% Nylon, 12% Elastane 90-denier 87% recycled polyester/13% spandex 4-way stretch nylon front panels with DWR finish, waterproof 3-layer rear panels Nylon 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Lining Main Fabric None Sold seperately None None None
Chamois None Sold seperately None None None
Inseam Measurement 13.5 in 11.75 in 13.5 in 12 in 11 in
Number of pockets 4 1 2 3 4

Our Analysis and Test Results

Rapha is known for its high-quality biking clothing, and the Trail Shorts are no exception. While being minimal in design, they are highly functional and supremely comfortable. These shorts are understated to the max but quickly became a favorite due to the quality construction, thoughtful details, and high-performing design. No wonder they are our pick for Editor’s Choice.

Performance Comparison


Our Editor's Choice, based on being comfortable, breathable, and...
Our Editor's Choice, based on being comfortable, breathable, and generally awesome.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Fit and Comfort


The Rapha Trail Shorts are made from four-way stretch nylon and elastane fabric that easily stretches to fit. The fabric is lightweight and breathable, offering a high level of comfort, especially while riding.

The Trail Shorts are offered in six sizes, from XXS to XL and we found them to fit true to size. In keeping with the minimalist look and feel, there is no waist adjustment mechanism at all, other than the natural stretch of the fabric. The waistband material offers plenty of stretch, however, to accommodate differences in waist size. On the pair we tested, we could easily make the waist at least an inch wider by pulling on it. This lack of bulk allows for high levels of breathability and a very comfortable feel under a pack. One note — the snap at the top of the fly does not function as a traditional snap but slides into place and locks in order to hold securely. It holds really well! So much so, if you forget to slide it open, you could potentially pull the whole mechanism out of the fabric before it would pop open.


At 13 1/2 inches, this is one of the longer inseams in our test. The length does not feel restrictive or excessive, but riders who prefer a shorter pair of shorts may not be pleased. However, our testers feel the length allows for great coverage from the sun and wind and the lightweight fabric is supple and breathable enough for warm weather riding, plus they play well with knee pads.

This clever slide/snap mechanism holds really tight! Don't pull to...
This clever slide/snap mechanism holds really tight! Don't pull to open.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Pedal Friendliness


With four-way stretch, the Trail Shorts flex and stretch whether you are pedaling, crouching, bending, or standing. The svelte waist has no extra fabric bunching up under a pack, while the cut of the shorts ensures that they sit comfortably above the hip bones and don’t slide down while you are moving. Most importantly, these shorts have a gusseted crotch which allows for greater movement and keeps the fabric from getting caught on the seat.


We had no issues with the leg material creeping up and the fabric and fit mean no loud swishy nylon is heard. In terms of pedal friendliness, these shorts will be a very best friend, receiving top marks in this category. These are the kind of shorts that work so perfectly you forget you are wearing them.

No matter how you move on the bike, the Trail Shorts move with you.
No matter how you move on the bike, the Trail Shorts move with you.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Protection


While the Trail Shorts are lightweight, the material is not flimsy or delicate. In several run-ins with pokey branches, fences, and other hazards, the shorts came out unscathed, with no indications of pulled thread or damage. Should you crash and tear the shorts, however, they do come with a handy patch kit and additional repairs may be performed by Rapha if the patch kit won't cut it.

The longer inseam offers protection from the sun and weather. We didn’t get to wear these in stormy or wet conditions, but we tested with sprayed water and watched as it beaded up and rolled away. Rubbing water into the fabric also demonstrated that it didn’t soak through to the inside of the leg, so we feel fairly confident that the Trail Shorts offer a high level of water resistance.


For riders that want to wear knee protection, these are wide enough at the leg opening to fit over knee pads and long enough to avoid the dreaded gap between shorts and pad.

Water beaded up and rolled away on the Rapha Trail Shorts.
Water beaded up and rolled away on the Rapha Trail Shorts.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Pockets


The Trail Shorts are equipped with two zippered pockets, symmetrically placed on the outer thighs. Roomy enough to hold a phone and snacks, they also have pockets inside the pockets. Rapha calls these “integrated phone sleeves” and if your phone does not have a case, you could definitely stash a phone securely here, though it seemed easier to have a phone in the main pocket area and use the smaller interior pocket for lip balm and snacks.


The pockets are sewn to the outside of the shorts which is a great design feature for mountain biking. It keeps the contents within the pockets from swinging around inside the leg material and holds everything close to the body. The zipper pulls are flexible plastic material which is easy to grab with gloves on. While there are fewer pockets on these shorts than many others in the test, two functional, well-placed pockets are really all that we need to carry essentials on shorter rides.

Pockets that are sewn onto the outside of the leg mean that...
Pockets that are sewn onto the outside of the leg mean that everything inside them stays close to the body while pedaling.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Style


Rapha’s style tends to be classic and timeless— they are not known to offer wild patterns or bright colors — and their mountain bike line is no different. Monochrome is the name of the game with the Trail Shorts. Zippers, zipper pulls, and thread are all the same color as the fabric. Only the waistband snap and the logo offer any contrast. The effect is minimal, which is in keeping with the overall clean lines of the shorts as a whole. Nonetheless, the shorts have a casual appeal that would not look out of place at the bar or cafe for post-ride celebrations.


The legs are fairly long and have a subtle flattering taper. Not everyone will like the long-ish 13 1/2 inch inseam, but we like the protection and versatility that comes with a longer short. These are shorts that work with knee pads or without and will last for many seasons without going out of style.

The longer inseam of the Rapha Trail Shorts offers protection from...
The longer inseam of the Rapha Trail Shorts offers protection from trail hazards and works well with knee pads.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Value


While these are the most expensive shorts in this test, the Trail Shorts are incredibly versatile and of notably high quality. Breathable enough to be worn in warm weather and water-resistant enough for wet days make them a do-everything mountain bike short. They are not cheap but they can do it all and we think they are worth the cost.

Conclusion


The Trail Shorts from Rapha are one of the most thoughtfully designed mountain bike shorts in our test. Every feature from the easy-access pockets to the durable fabric to the length seems well considered to make your ride better. There is very little not to like about these shorts, though they do come with a steep price tag. If you are looking for one pair of shorts that does it all, however, these are our top pick.

Laurel Hunter
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More