Fox Racing Ranger Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Affordable, comes with chamois liner, trim fit, clean style
Cons: Hanging mesh pockets, limited ventilation
Manufacturer: Fox Racing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ranger has been a mainstay in Fox Racing's line of mountain bike shorts for years. The latest iteration returns with a blend of affordability and performance that earned them our Best Buy Award. These reasonably priced shorts are made from a durable stretch ripstop fabric, with a slimmer, performance-oriented fit, and a functional, low-profile waist adjustment system. The casual styling looks good on the bike and off, plus they come with a comfortable chamois liner, making them an even better value.
Testers found the overall comfort of the Ranger shorts to be quite good. Whether pedaling uphill for miles or ripping a long downhill, they faded into the background and went generally unnoticed. We feel that is pretty much ideal, as you shouldn't need to think about your shorts as you're focusing on the task at hand.
The primary factor in the Ranger's comfort is their well-designed fit. These shorts come in even waist sizes 28-44, so you can be sure to get a pair that should be very close to your typical waist size. The goggle strap-inspired waist adjustment system pulls tension evenly across the back of the shorts and is low profile enough that it doesn't cause any pressure points on the waist. The waistband is articulated, low in the front and higher in the back, and doesn't put any pressure on the lower abdomen when seated pedaling. The inside of the waistband is also lined with a TruDri moisture-wicking fabric that dries quickly and feels soft against the skin.
The 2-way stretch ripstop fabric of the shell isn't the softest material, although we had no complaints about the feel on the skin. Likewise, the stitching at the hem of the leg opening sits flat and never caused any irritation or abrasion, even on longer rides. The fit is on the slimmer side of the spectrum, so people with large quads may find them to feel a little restrictive and need to size up. These shorts do no feature any ventilation, though we found them to not feel too stifling while testing in moderate temperatures. The limited ventilation of these shorts is something that riders in especially hot climates may want to consider.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
While they look somewhat casual and loose fitting off the bike, the Ranger shorts have an athletic, performance-oriented fit that we found to be very pedal-friendly. The design and fit of these shorts feel impressively dialed both on and off the bike. We found them to stay in place well, and not slip down or self-adjust while riding. While they aren't the most pedal-friendly shorts we tested, they weren't all that far off.
Our 32-inch waist test pair fit true to size and the goggle strap-esque adjustment system is easy to use on the fly and offers a couple inches of waistband adjustment. The waistband has just the right amount of articulation and doesn't put any pressure on the lower abdomen when seated. The 12-inch inseam rises well above the knee when pedaling and does not conflict with the pedal stroke in any way. The seam of the hem above the knee is not welded like a high-end short, but the stitched seam never gave us any issues, even on longer trail rides. We tend to prefer softer 4-way stretch fabrics, but the 2-way stretch material was surprisingly unrestrictive. With a relatively slim fit, there is little excess material around the legs to create drag or flap around in the wind. The crotch is also cut nice and high which helps prevent snagging on your saddle on the descents.
The Ranger shorts are somewhat minimalist in their design, but they do have a handful of useful features. There are a total of three pockets, two hand pockets with hanging mesh linings, and one zipper pocket on the left thigh. The two hand pockets are deep and work best when off the bike, as the hanging mesh lining allows the contents to flop around while riding. The thigh pocket is backloading and holds it contents relatively snugly against the outer thigh with space for smartphones up to the size of an iPhone 11 or so.
The waist adjustment system is a somewhat unique feature that Fox says is inspired by a goggle strap. These external adjustment straps are located on both sides of the waistband and they pull tension evenly across the back of the shorts. The plastic sliders are easy to reach and adjusting the waistband tension on the trail is quick and easy. The low profile system stays in place well and we never experienced any discomfort caused by pressure points or conflict with a fanny pack. Inside the waistband, the TruDri lining does a good job of wicking away moisture, plus it feels good on the skin.
The Ranger shorts also come with a removable chamois liner. While it is far from a high-end liner short, we found it to be quite comfortable. The thin polyurethane foam pad avoids being too bulky and the spandex shorts are thin, stretchy, and highly breathable. The waistband and leg openings of the inner shorts are also not too tight, but snug enough to keep the shorts in place while riding.
After riding in the Ranger shorts for several weeks, we don't have any complaints about their durability. The craftsmanship appears to be top-notch, and the materials used in their construction feel robust enough to handle several seasons of abuse.
The 2-way stretch ripstop material has a slightly heavier-duty feel than some of the lighter weight fabrics used by some competitors. Our test pair show no signs of premature wear, despite repeated brush-ups against sharp bushes and a minor crash or two. The major seams are all double-stitched and there is no loosening or pulling of threads visible, even in the high friction areas like the seat. The lighter pewter color of our test pair shows no staining, likely thanks to the durable water repellant finish applied to the shorts that repels water and mud.
In recent years, Fox has moved away from their flashy, moto-inspired aesthetic to a simpler, cleaner, and more casual look. The New Ranger shorts are a good example of that, with a solid colorway, trim fit, muted tones, and small logos. These shorts look a lot like a pair of casual shorts, with clean lines that disguise their technical riding short identity.
On the bike, these shorts have a slimmer, performance fit with a shorter, 12-inch inseam. They rise well above the knee when pedaling and have more of a trail riding look and feel to them. The leg openings are on the smaller side, but we found them to work relatively well with lower profile knee pads, though not without the potential for pad-gap. Off the bike, these shorts look pretty normal and casual and would not be out of place at the bar or the grocery store. They fall right to the top of the knee when standing, with no bulkiness or excessive bagginess. A relatively tasteful FOX logo printed on the lower left thigh is the only thing that tells the world these are mountain bike shorts. The Ranger currently comes in 4 solid color options, black, navy, pewter (tested), and chili.
The Ranger shorts offer ample protection for everyday trail riding, though they are far from the most protective shorts we tested. We feel they are best suited for riders seeking an affordable short for XC style trail riding. Gravity enthusiasts will be better off looking at shorts with a longer inseam and a thicker material.
The ripstop material used in the construction of these shorts feels quite durable and capable of withstanding conflicts with trailside bushes and minor tumbles across the ground. The material is quite thin, however, so those who crash hard or often may find the limits of its protectiveness in a hurry. The 12-inch inseam is also on the shorter side, leaving a little more knee and upper leg exposed when riding and limited their compatibility with knee pads.
Fox packs a lot of value into this quality pair of affordable trail riding shorts. Not only do they fit well and perform well on the bike, but they come with a relatively comfortable, removable chamois liner. If you're on a budget and are looking for a stylish pair of shorts to complete your riding kit, then look no further.
The Ranger shorts bring style, comfort, and performance to the trail in a reasonably priced package. We feel these pedal-friendly shorts have a lot to offer the trail rider on a budget, plus they come with a comfortable chamois liner short. The athletic performance fit and minimalist design might not be for everyone, but there are plenty of riders who will love these casual-looking technical shorts, especially for the price.
Fox Racing makes a full range of mountain bike clothing including several different models in their Ranger line.
The Ranger Lite short is even more affordable than the Ranger we tested. They are made from a lightweight technical stretch fabric and come with a removable chamois liner short. They have two pockets and 12-inch inseam.
The Ranger Utility shorts are very similar to the Ranger shorts we tested, but they have a 13-inch inseam as well as an additional cargo pocket on the right thigh.
The Ranger Water shorts are made for riding in wet conditions with a 3L waterproof breathable rear panel that is intended to repel water and mud. Otherwise they look the same as the regular Ranger short, but they do not come with a liner short.The Ranger Rawtec short is the most technical and most expensive of all the Ranger models. They feature bonded seams at the waist band and hem, TruDri and TruMotion fabrics, and abrasion resistant zones. They do not come with a liner short.
— Jeremy Benson