The Dakine Boundary shorts are a minimalist pair of shorts that excel at pedaling. With only one pocket, they are not likely to be on the short list of riders who prefer to ride without a pack. Thin, ultra stretchy fabric makes for a great pedaling short, but the lack of protection and storage limit the versatility of the shorts. A great choice for the XC racer who does not like the lycra look.
Dakine Boundary Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Four-way stretch fabric, waist adjustment is hidden and stays put, lightest short in our test
Cons: Only one poorly placed pocket, no liner short
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Our Analysis and Test Results
At just under 5oz, the Boundary short is the lightest short in our review. Super thin ultra stretchy fabric and welded seams make for a competitor that pedals nearly as good as lycra. These are great shorts for aerobic efforts, but the lack of features and poor durability drive the overall score and versatility down.
These shorts have a snug fitted cut similar to the Kitsbow Mescal. They are a technical piece of kit, with welded rather than sewn seams. The look of the Boundary is very reminiscent of higher end board shorts. This model is not a flashy short, by any means. The dark navy color of our test version has black mesh vents on the legs and a very subtle Dakine logo on the right leg.
The dark fabric of the main body, make the black vents and logo almost invisible unless you are looking. These are great shorts if you are not looking to scream "I'm a mountain biker" everywhere you go. We like the sleek, simple style and it stands in stark contrast to some of the more moto-inspired designs such as the 100% Airmatic.
The Boundary is a minimalistic short that is not heavy on features. One feature it does have is a built-in waist adjustment that takes the place of a separate belt. The waist is adjusted with dual velcro tabs connected to elastic at the rear, which is hidden inside the waistband. We've come to prefer exterior waist adjustments over internal adjustments because internal adjusters are harder to access and make mid-ride adjustments a pain. The waist adjustment is not nearly as user-friendly or comfortable as the adjustment system on the 100% Airmatic. Our testers found that the Velcro tabs on the inside of the waist created pressure points particular when used with a hip pack.
A pair of mountain bike shorts does not necessarily need six pockets like the Zoic Ether, but the single zippered pocket on the right leg of these shorts is a bit too minimal. The pocket is decent in size, but because of the light weight of the material, we found that anything placed in the pocket flaps around horribly when riding. The only thing this pocket would be useful for is a bike park pass, a credit card, or a few dollars for a Red Bull. You will have to place your cell phone and bike tool in a hydration pack or jersey pocket when riding in the Boundary.
When we first got the new Boundary, we were skeptical that the welded seams would hold up to the abuse of mountain biking, but we were pleasantly surprised with the durability. Since this short is good for cross-country epics, we put more miles in this pair than any of the others in our test, and the seams held up without fail. With that said, we never crashed when testing this short, and we would not expect it to survive if we had. The fabric, while ideal for pedaling, is ultra thin. These shorts function well for cross country riding, but we would recommend you steer clear of the bike park.
Another area where we were concerned about the long-term durability was the inner leg mesh vents, which also use welded seams. We've owned other garments which used welding and mesh together and found that they failed prematurely but both the seams and mesh held up as well as any other part of the short.
Despite having one of the longer inseams in our test, the material this short is constructed from is very lightweight and would not provide much protection in a gravelly dirt nap. The long inseam measurement is a bit deceiving, as the Boundary sits higher on the leg than other shorts in the test with a shorter inseam. Less room in the seat of the shorts makes for great pedaling characteristics and the effective coverage is similar to the Kitsbow Mescal. Though we didn't purposely take any diggers while wearing them, our testers agreed that this is not the short they'd want to be wearing if they went down on a hip at speed.
The leg openings are a bit narrower than other shorts we tested and don't fit over full-size kneepads as well. You can wear kneepads with the Boundary, but this short won't drape over the pads the same way as some of the more downhill oriented shorts in our test. If your riding is more towards the Downhill end of the mountain bike spectrum and you always wear full-size kneepads, we recommend that you check out either the Troy Lee Ruckus or the Pearl Izumi Elevate.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The Boundary is one of the highest scoring shorts we tested, and a favorite amongst our testers for cross country rides. The fit is tailored, similar to the Kitsbow Mescal and designed for the riding position. The super light 4-way stretch fabric creates almost no resistance to the pedal stroke, and the fabric glides over the skin. If pure pedaling performance is what you are after, this short has it.
The Boundary is a very comfortable short. The lightweight fabric combined with mesh vents makes for a fresh and well-ventilated ride. The articulated cut is similar to the Kitsbow Mescal and does a good job of preventing excess fabric from bunching at the waist. Our only complaint is the internal waistband adjustment which can create pressure points at the waist where the Velcro layers overlap. This was more of an issue when wearing a hydration pack or hip pack, but with the limited storage of these shorts, a pack is almost a necessity if you plan to carry tools. This model does not come with a liner short.
This short is best for cross-country and trail marathons. It is the best short we've tested for cross-country racers and riders who won't wear lycra. This pair makes a great hiking short or makeshift swim trunk for a dunk in the lake as well, so you can get a little more bang for your buck with the ability to use this short for multiple activities.
The Boundary is a great short for cross country riding, but the list price is $90 and it does not come with a chamois liner. Compared to the Zoic Ether short, which is $10 cheaper, more versatile and it comes with a liner, it is hard to make a solid argument for the value of the Boundary. We consider the Boundary to be a good pair of shorts, but they are not a good value.
This short is best suited for XC missions because of its lightweight and unrestrictive fit. It should be combined with a well-padded chamois liner to cushion the blow from miles in the saddle. We wish that it came with a nice liner short to round out the overall package and increase the value of the short.
— Curtis Smith