The 100% Airmatic shorts are an excellent option for all-mountain and gravity riders. These shorts are constructed with a 4-way stretch fabric that has a high-quality feel. The fit is relaxed and baggy, but they maintain a good level of pedal-friendliness. Three pockets offer adequate storage space without feeling obnoxiously large. The Airmatic shorts play very well with knee pads given the longer inseam and wide leg openings. The shorts aren't perfect, however. The waistband lacks any real adjustability, and the closure system is bizarre and inconvenient. To be clear, these may not be the best option for the rider who is riding a 120mm trail bike and wants to climb for three hours, but they are an excellent choice for gravity-inspired riders. The best part? They are among the least expensive pairs of shorts in our current test class. They carry an $89 price tag but do not come with a chamois liner.
100% Airmatic Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Stylish, functions well with knee pads, high-quality and reasonable price
Cons: Minimal waistband adjustment, over-complicated closure system
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Airmatic shorts scored well in most categories of the test. They definitely look good, have mostly sensible features, and appear to be built to last. These shorts were on-track to unseat the Troy Lee Design Ruckus shorts for the best gravity short. Unfortunately, the unique closure system and lack of any substantial adjustability in the waistband don't allow these shorts to reach their full potential. Still, these are nice shorts that will work well for many gravity-focused riders.
The Airmatic shorts are comfortable. The baggy feel is relaxed, and there isn't any restriction of movement. The fabric has a pleasant feel against your skin and isn't prone to irritating the rider. This isn't a pair of shorts that we are dying to take off after a ride to change into something more comfortable.
As we mentioned before, these shorts do not come with a padded liner, also known as a chamois. Climbing comfort relies heavily on the chamois. We don't recommend skimping on this purchase.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The Airmatic offer a nice fit. They feel like they are well-designed and deliver a baggy fit without tons of excess material or bunching of material in odd places. Some baggy shorts, like the 7Mesh Glidepath, feel overly loose and less refined, creating what we call a ballooning of excess material. The Airmatic shorts feel like they had a far more precise design process. They are baggy but don't feel frumpy. They still hold a shape; it is just looser than the Troy Lee Designs Skyline short.We tested a size 32 short. We found these shorts to fit a little larger than expected. They felt slightly more in line with size 34 shorts we tested as opposed to other size 32 pairs.
These shorts deliver solid pedal friendliness. Given the longer inseam and baggier construction, they won't be as pedal friendly as the Troy Lee Designs Skyline, Fox Flexair, or Specialized Atlas Pro shorts. That said, for a baggy and relaxed short, they offer reasonable performance in the saddle. People who are used to more trim fitting shorts may say that the extra material kind of bounces with each pedal stroke. We can attest that the Airmatic fare better than other baggy shorts like the 7Mesh Glidepath. Still, if your idea of fun is multi-hour climbs, you may not be stoked on these shorts.
These shorts do not come with a padded liner or chamois. Riders can use their favorite liner within these shorts, but 100% does not include one.
The Airmatic shorts have many sensible features with a couple of real head-scratchers. The pockets are sensible, the stretch panel on the rear creates a free range of motion, and the waistband is nice and wide. Unfortunately, the closure system is a bit of a gimmick, and you have minimal adjustability with these shorts.
Let us start with the good. The three pockets offer sufficient storage. The two side pockets located at the hip are substantial without being huge. There is ample space for whatever you might slip in these pockets like a phone, a wallet, multi-tool, some nutritional bar. There is a slightly smaller pocket located on the front of the left quad about halfway down the short. This pocket is smaller and would be nice for lighter items like a credit card, a folded up trail map, or something like that. These pockets are all accessed by zippers. We found the tabs attached to the zippers to be a little too small. They can be challenging to grab and use on the fly. If you stop and get off the bike to use your pockets, you'll be just fine.
There is a stretch panel on the rear of the short just south of the waist. 100% calls this Stretch-mesh venting that promotes airflow and a free range of motion. We found this area does deliver an element of increased mobility, although we aren't sure it has a substantial effect on ventilation.
The most notable drawback of these shorts is the closure and adjustment system. The closure system is a metal hook on a flap that you pull over and drop into one of five slots to fine-tune the fit. 100% says mountaineering pants inspired this system. We found the actual closure system works fine; it just offers limited adjustability. The only waist adjustability these shorts have is which of the five slots you connect the closure hook onto. There is no elasticity in the waistband or the closure system. Most shorts have some sort of adjustable elasticized band where you can pull the waist significantly tighter, allowing you to wear shorts that are slightly too large for you if need be. The slots that you connect the closure hook to are simply not sufficient enough. Yes, you can do some fine-tuning, but it's not the same as a fully adjustable waist.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of serious wear that might spark durability concerns about these shorts. They feel like a sturdy fabric that won't be prone to wear through too quickly. We used the pockets frequently, and the zippers functioned flawlessly throughout testing. There is no fraying or disintegration of the stitching or seams.
One area that bears watching is the main seam running down the center of the rear of the short. The placement of this stitching is precisely where you are contacting your saddle. Shuffling around on your seat has some friction, and we have seen some seams split relatively easily from this. Again, the 100% shorts don't show signs of this being an issue. It appears the Airmatic have an extra pass of stitching to reinforce this seam. Still, it is something to keep an eye one.
The Airmatic shorts look good. Our pair of test shorts were the navy colorway, and they have a nice stealthy look. These shorts have a clean appearance with strategically placed reflective logos. The Airmatic look like they would be home in the back of an old shuttle truck or riding the lifts at the bike park. The fit looks baggy, yet well-designed and practical.
These shorts ooze enduro or all-mountain style. They have a relaxed look but maintain a nice-looking fit. Looking at the 100% website can be a little deceiving. On the web, we found that they look a little more fitted and tight than they are. We assure you, these shorts have a little bit more of baggy look than the website suggests. To be sure, the baggy-ness has a much more refined look than the clumsy 7Mesh Glidepath shorts.
The Airmatic have a reasonably clean look. They don't have the minimalist look like the Specialized Atlas Pro or Patagonia Dirt Roamer. They have a substantially more intricate design. Some may like this, and some may find it just a tad overdone. The pockets and zippers are well-hidden. The stitches and seams are more pronounced on the Airmatic shorts. They are raised and don't have the seamless look like some other shorts. They aren't necessarily a distraction when looking at the shorts; they just create more visible lines.
There is a large 100% logo on the outside of the right lower leg. The text One Hundred Percent is a little bit smaller and sits on the front and outside of the lower left leg. There is also a reflective patch on the front of the waistband where the text Airmatic is printed. The 100% logo on the lower right leg is large. It is probably the largest logo on any of our test shorts. Some people, who don't like feeling like a walking billboard, may not like this. Who can blame them?
The Airmatic shorts don't have any specific protective features such as attachments for hip-pads or reinforced zones. That said, they work very well with knee pads, and the length of the short gives a little peace of mind. The fabric feels substantial like it could survive a tumble down some rocky trails without being torn to shreds.
The 100% shorts work well with knee pads. Our short testing overlapped with knee pad testing, so we had plenty of pads to try on with these shorts. The longer inseam on the Airmatic shorts provides enough length to avoid any gap between the top of the knee pad and the bottom of the short. This is often referred to as pad gap and is somewhat of a faux pas in the industry. The leg holes at the bottom of the short offer enough clearance for most pads. Trail-oriented sleeve-style knee pads work great with these shorts. These are soft and slim knee pads that pedal well. Enduro-style knee pads that have a hard protective surface but are still on the slim side of things also work well. Downhill knee pads are a little tight. These are bulkier pads that maximize protection. That bulk doesn't leave a ton of room in the leg opening.
We are confident that these shorts could survive a healthy crash without being torn to pieces. They aren't a paper-thin like the Patagonia Dirt Roamer or Fox Flexair, and they have a bit of weight and thickness. While this isn't going to offer any significant protection, having a more substantial fabric can provide some marginal protection in the event of a crash where you slide a bit.
It can be difficult to determine the best application for some shorts. With the Airmatic shorts, it is quite easy. These shorts are a nice option for the all-mountain/enduro rider who wants a baggy do-it-all short. These work well with knee pads and would be at home ripping shuttle laps or riding the lift at the bike park. They are a particularly good option for the budget conscious enduro/all mountain rider.
If you are doing loads of climbing and spinning, there are some better options. While the 100% offer decent pedal performance, there are better options for those who prioritize pedaling.
At $89, the Airmatic shorts are a great value. They feel well-designed and perform well within their intended application.
These shorts do not come with a padded liner. Newer riders who may not have built up a stockpile of liners over the years will need to factor that in as that might be an additional purchase.
The 100% Airmatic shorts are dialed baggy shorts. They have a high-quality feel at an attractive price point. Features include well-designed pockets, a stretch panel that delivers a nice range of motion, and a soft and comfortable feel. The bizarre closure system and lack of substantial amounts of adjustability definitely hurt the Airmatic's final score. Still, these are great shorts for the enduro/all-mountain rider.
— Pat Donahue