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Specialized Trail Cargo Shorts Women's Review

Really comfortable and lightweight shorts that fit well, have great pockets, and look good on and off the bike
Specialized Trail Cargo Shorts Women's
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $110 List | $110.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Pros:  Great fit, smart waist adjustment, usable pockets, lightweight, comfortable
Cons:  Not waterproof, slim fit may not work for all riders
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2021
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91
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Fit and Comfort - 30% 10
  • Pedal Friendliness - 30% 9
  • Protection - 20% 8
  • Pockets - 10% 9
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

With an excellent, performance fit, thoughtful ventilation, and perfect pocket design, we couldn't be happier with the Specialized Trail Cargo Short. They are lightweight and comfortable and have a long enough inseam to protect from the sun on warm days, making them perfect for long rides when you want to be out for hours. If we have a quibble, it's the rather subdued colors offered, but they do go with everything. They have a slimmer cut, so be sure to check the sizing carefully. Specialized offers more sizes than most, however, so most riders will be able to fit in these shorts.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $110.00 at Competitive Cyclist$110.00 at Backcountry$79.20 at BackcountryCheck Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$56.21 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Great fit, smart waist adjustment, usable pockets, lightweight, comfortableFeminine fit, burly material, glide patches for smooth pedaling, easy cinching at the waist, zippered pocketsLightweight, four-way stretch, excellent fit, breathable, super comfortableStylish patterns, comfortable, protective, good pocketsLightweight, breathable, many pockets, affordable
Cons Not waterproof, slim fit may not work for all ridersNot the lightest weightNot as protective for burly terrainSizing is trickyNot water resistant, runs large, velcro waist adjusters
Bottom Line Really comfortable and lightweight shorts that fit well, have great pockets, and look good on and off the bikeA flattering and durable short built with an emphasis on downhill funOne of the best fitting shorts we have ever tested, with a minimalist design, lightweight, and a high level of comfortA 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 Trail Cargo Shorts... Yeti Cycles Norrie 2.0 Dirt Roamer Wild Rye Freel Zoic Navaeh
Fit And Comfort (30%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
Pedal Friendliness (30%)
9.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Protection (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Pockets (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Style (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Trail Cargo Shorts... Yeti Cycles Norrie 2.0 Dirt Roamer Wild Rye Freel Zoic Navaeh
Shell Fabric Vaporize woven fabric Stretch polyester with DWR 90-denier 87% recycled polyester/13% spandex Nylon 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Lining Main Fabric None None Sold seperately None None
Chamois None None Sold seperately None None
Inseam Measurement 11.5 in 12 in 11.75 in 12 in 11 in
Number of pockets 4 4 1 3 4

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our testers are pretty discerning when it comes to mountain bike shorts, and the Specialized Trail Cargo Short quickly became a favorite. When these shorts landed in our laps we had questions. They are so lightweight, will they actually be durable? We rode through the prickliest bushes around and they survived without a mark, pull, or snag. Would the material stain and hold up to Central Oregon dirt? We rode in the heat and dust and they looked totally fresh at the end. The pockets are functional and we think they look great, too. Truly, these are an excellent pair of shorts that won us over and became our favorite for all-around use. The Trail Cargo is our top choice when it comes to riding on warmer days and when we don't need as much protection.

Performance Comparison


Flattering, functional, and lightweight. These shorts quickly became...
Flattering, functional, and lightweight. These shorts quickly became a new favorite.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Fit and Comfort


The Specialized Trail Cargo Shorts are one of the best-fitting pairs of shorts that we tested. They come in 6 sizes, from XS to XXL, so most riders should be able to get a dialed-in fit without having to rely on a waist adjustment system to hold their shorts up. However, this model also has low profile webbing pull tabs on both sides to make micro-adjustments for the perfect fit. You simply pull the tabs to tighten and lift up on the rings to loosen them up. These adjusters add minimal bulk to the waist, meaning they look more flattering, but more importantly, there isn't a lot of extra material to hold sweat or bunch up under a pack strap. The attention to detail here really impressed us, as the rings are placed just inside fabric tabs on the waistline for a clean look that also keeps them from being pulled accidentally.


While we found the sizing chart to be accurate, the cut of the legs may be a bit slim for some riders. If you have particularly powerful thighs, consider sizing up.

Super easy to use waist adjustment tabs that you can adjust on the...
Super easy to use waist adjustment tabs that you can adjust on the fly and don't add bulk to the waist.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

The fabric is a mixture of polyester and spandex and has subtle 4-way stretch — it moves with your body without feeling like it may slip down. The inside label is printed on a grippy, silicone material that also helps to hold the shorts in place. The waistband itself is very soft and feels comfortable next to the skin. The shell fabric is relatively lightweight and breathable, but we appreciated the addition of small perforations on the insides of the thighs. This provides ventilation where you tend to build up heat and makes these shorts an excellent choice for summer riding.

Perforated holes provide ventilation on the inner thighs, where heat...
Perforated holes provide ventilation on the inner thighs, where heat can build up.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Pedal Friendliness


Fabric that stretches in all directions will almost always make for a comfortable ride on the bike. It allows for movement when pedaling, bending, crouching, and climbing. The Trail Cargo fabric features a four-way stretch that moves without feeling sloppy. In fact, we hardly noticed our shorts at all and focused instead on riding, the ultimate goal in a pair of shorts.


While the material is soft on the outside, it features a smoother backing next to the leg that allows it to slide smoothly on top of the thighs while pedaling. This keeps the legs from creeping up or binding, especially when you are pedaling in the saddle.

The perfect amount of stretch means that these shorts move with you...
The perfect amount of stretch means that these shorts move with you but don't slip down.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Protection


The Trail Cargo shorts are fairly lightweight, making them a perfect choice for summer rides. We put them through all the same tests, riding through scratchy bitterbrush bushes and other grabby vegetation, and saw no indication of wear or snagging. Fortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to test them in a crash situation, but a lighter weight short such as these may not offer as much protection when you hit the rocks. Overall, however, we are impressed with the durability of this model.


The fabric is called VaporRize and claims to be water repellent. We tested primarily during an unusually dry spring and were unable to test waterproofness in real conditions, but we did splash some water on the fabric and watched it soak in. It dried quickly and by no means did the fabric feel soggy, but these probably wouldn't be our top choice if rain is in the forecast.

The inseam is 11 1/2 inches, which provides ample protection against the sun and is just long enough to work with knee pads.

This zippered pocket provides easy access to a smart phone and holds...
This zippered pocket provides easy access to a smart phone and holds it secure and close to the body without interfering with pedaling.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Pockets


We are big fans of the pockets on the Trail Cargo Short. There are two zippered pockets, placed asymmetrically, which we found to be quite functional. The larger zippered pocket on the right side provides easy access to a smartphone while holding it securely against the thigh. The smaller pocket on the lower left leg holds snacks, lip balm, or keys, keeping these objects away from the body. Importantly, the pockets are sewn onto the fabric of the shorts so their contents don't swing around while you ride.


The Trail Caro also features hand pockets, which are great for holding things while you are getting ready to ride or for casual use. We never recommend storing anything in an unsecured pocket while riding, and the placement of these means anything stashed in here would be quite uncomfortable while pedaling. A consequence of the gusseted fly is that using the hand pockets makes the fly pop open. The mesh provides modesty, but regardless, we found this to be a bit awkward.

A little bit awkward to always look like your fly is open. Luckily...
A little bit awkward to always look like your fly is open. Luckily, it only did this when we used both of the hand pockets at the same time.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Style


While the Trail Cargo shorts are only available in smoke or black, our testers appreciated the high quality, attention to detail, and subdued looks. The asymmetrical stitching and thoughtful design make this a stylish, if understated, short.


The waistband closes with a sturdy metal button but there is no zipper or velcro tab holding the fly closed. There is a mesh gusset here, which provides ventilation as well as visual protection, but it would be nice to have this secured down flat.

There are other shorts with fun and flashy patterns, and we wouldn't mind seeing this pair with some bolder color options, but overall, we found them to be quite flattering and easy to wear anywhere pre or post-ride.

The fabric stretches, but the cut is a bit slim so you may want to...
The fabric stretches, but the cut is a bit slim so you may want to size up if you like to wear knee pads or have extra athletic thighs.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Value


Priced at the higher end of the spectrum of the shorts in this test, the Trail Cargo Short feels like a high-quality product and performs really well. We believe that comfort and performance make for the best riding day possible and are well worth the money spent.

Conclusion


With very thoughtful details, it is hard for us to find anything that we don't like about the Specialized Trail Cargo Short. They may not be protective enough for the burliest rides, but they held up really well in our tests and performed well on long and short rides and cool to hot temperatures. We feel these are one of the best options for trail riders seeking comfortable, high-performance shorts for everyday trail riding.

Laurel Hunter