Reviews You Can Rely On

100% Airmatic Review

A dialed all-mountain/enduro short that ticks most of the boxes but has some minor waistband issues
100% airmatic mountain bike short review
Credit: 100%
Price:  $89 List
Manufacturer:   100%
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 3, 2023
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • Comfort - 20% 8.0
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 8.0
  • Features - 20% 7.0
  • Durability - 20% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 8.0
  • Protection - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The 100% Airmatic shorts are an excellent option for trail, all-mountain, and gravity riders. These shorts are constructed with a 4-way stretch fabric that has a high-quality, durable feel. The fit is relaxed and baggy, but they maintain a high level of pedal-friendliness. Three pockets offer adequate storage space without feeling too large. These shorts play very well with knee pads given the slightly longer inseam and wider leg openings. Our biggest gripe is that the waist closure system is somewhat inconvenient. 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 we feel they are an excellent choice for aggressive all-mountain and enduro riders. The best part? They are among the least expensive pairs of shorts in our current test class.
REASONS TO BUY
Stylish
Functions well with knee pads
High-quality and reasonable price
REASONS TO AVOID
Minimal waistband adjustment
Over-complicated closure system
Editor's note: We updated the Airmatic shorts review with the addition of alternative purchase recommendations on January 3, 2023.

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100% airmatic mountain bike short review
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Stylish, functions well with knee pads, high-quality and reasonable priceTrim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyGreat ventilation, low-pro waist adjustment, welded leg openingsClean style, reasonable price, pedal-friendlyAffordable, trim fit, comfortable
Cons Minimal waistband adjustment, over-complicated closure systemA little heavy, below average ventilationSmall pockets, lightweight material may not be the most durable, asymmetrical waist adjustmentDeep pockets allow contents to flop around while ridingSmall pockets, no vents, big logo
Bottom Line A dialed all-mountain/enduro short that ticks most of the boxes but has some minor waistband issuesA trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly wellThis lightweight, highly breathable trail short is a great choice for cranking out the miles on hot daysHighly functional trail-riding shorts that offer clean styling and a great in-saddle feelThese trail-riding shorts offer an excellent combination of performance and affordability
Rating Categories 100% Airmatic Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger
Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.5
8.5
8.0
8.0
Fit and Pedal Friendliness (20%)
8.0
8.5
9.0
8.0
8.0
Features (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Protection (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Specs 100% Airmatic Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger
Shell Fabric Polyester elastane stretch blend 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra 87% recycled polyester, 13% spandex VaporRize woven fabric TruMotion® 2-way stretch ripstop fabric -92% nylon, 8% spandex 2-way warp stretch w/ DWR coating
Removable Inner Short? No Yes No (can be purchased with liner) No (can purchase with liner) No (can be purchased with liner)
Lining Main Fabric CyTech Premium AIR COMP None None None
Chamois Foam pad TMF 4-hour None None None
Inseam Measurement (inches) 12 12.5 12.5 13.5 12
Number of pockets 2 2 2 2 2
Weight (grams) 250 grams 244 grams 165 grams 224 grams 208 grams
Weight (ounces) 8.8 oz 8.6 oz 5.85 oz 7.9 oz 7.3 oz
Weight Liner N/a 4.3 oz N/a N/a N/a

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. They are comfortable with a nice fit and a high level of pedal friendliness. While we found the waist closure system to be a little over-complicated, we feel these are a great option for aggressive trail, all-mountain, and enduro-style riding.

Performance Comparison


100% airmatic mountain bike short review - these shorts are baggy, yet well-designed.
These shorts are baggy, yet well-designed.

Comfort


The Airmatic shorts are comfortable. The baggy 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.

We found the articulated waistband to feel good in the seated pedaling position, and we didn't experience any unwanted pressure from the waist closure. The seams at the knee are also well-executed, and we didn't have any issues with chafing on our skin or them hanging up on knee pads. 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 offers a nice fit. They occupy a nice middle ground between the slim, tailored fit and the gratuitously baggy downhill style. The design seems dialed to deliver a baggy fit without tons of excess material or bunching in odd places. Some baggy shorts 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 or flapping in the wind.

We tested a size 32 Airmatic short. We found them to fit a little larger than expected. They felt slightly more in line with size 34 shorts as opposed to other 32-waisted pairs we tested.
100% airmatic mountain bike short review

These shorts deliver a high level of pedal friendliness. Given the longer inseam and baggier construction, they aren't as pedal-friendly as the top scorers in this metric. That said, for a baggy and relaxed fit short, they offer reasonable performance in the saddle. People who are used to more trim-fitting shorts may find these shorts to feel a bit cumbersome in comparison.

Features


The Airmatic shorts have many sensible features. The pocket layout is great, the stretch panel on the rear creates a free range of motion, and the waistband is nice and wide. Unfortunately, we found the closure system to be a bit over-complicated with a limited range of adjustability.

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, a multi-tool, or 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, energy gel, or a folded-up trail map. These pockets are all accessed by zippers. We found the tabs attached to the zippers to be on the small side, and they can be challenging to grab and use on the fly with gloves on. If you stop and get off the bike to use your pockets, you'll be just fine.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - the 100% shorts have large, easy-to-access, pockets.
The 100% shorts have large, easy-to-access, pockets.

There is a stretch panel on the rear of the shorts just below the waistband. 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 had 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 a limited range of 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. Yes, you can do some fine-tuning, but it's not the same as a fully adjustable waist.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - the airmatic shorts sit just below the kneecap.
The Airmatic shorts sit just below the kneecap.

Durability


Throughout testing, we observed no signs of serious wear that might spark durability concerns about these shorts. The sturdy fabric does not feel 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 has an extra pass of stitching to reinforce this seam.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - the large logo is placed on the outer right leg.
The large logo is placed on the outer right leg.

Style


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 with clean lines. Looking at the 100% website can be a little deceiving. On the web, we found that they look a little more fitted and tighter than we found them to be. We assure you, these shorts have a little bit more of a baggy look than the website suggests, but they are not overly baggy or ill-fitting.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - these shorts look clean and fit well.
These shorts look clean and fit well.

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, but it's still not obnoxious.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - the funky closure system offers little adjustment and is difficult...
The funky closure system offers little adjustment and is difficult to use.

Protection


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 shorts 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.

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 shorts. 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.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - the airmatic's length is a little restrictive when climbinbg.
The Airmatic's length is a little restrictive when climbinbg.

We are confident that these shorts could survive a healthy crash without being torn to pieces. They aren't 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.

100% airmatic mountain bike short review - these shorts are definitely designed for charging downhill.
These shorts are definitely designed for charging downhill.

Should You Buy The 100% Airmatic Shorts?


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. These are great all-around shorts for the enduro/all-mountain rider.

What Other Mountain Bike Shorts Should You Consider?


If you're operating on a budget and spend most of your time going for regular trail rides, the Specialized Trail Shorts will save you a few bucks. If price isn't as much of a concern, the Patagonia Dirt Roamer shorts are an impressively lightweight, pedal-friendly, and breathable option that perform well on long rides and warmer temperatures.

Pat Donahue
 
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