Fox Racing Ranger Cargo Review
Cons: No ventilation, no zipper fly
Manufacturer: Fox Racing
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ranger Cargo has been a mainstay in Fox Racing's line of mountain bike shorts and are popular for their casual styling and impressive value. Redesigned for 2018, the Ranger Cargo has seen improvements in the waist closure, pocket layout, and fit, with a new and refreshed casual look. Including a chamois liner short, they are still a great value and the new winner of our Best Buy Award.
In general, the Ranger Cargo shorts are quite comfortable, both on and off the bike. The loose fit falls right in the middle of the road and is neither too snug or too baggy. The waist articulation is comfortable for extended periods of seated pedaling and doesn't put any excess pressure on the lower stomach. The 12-inch inseam is a good length that rises slightly above the knee when pedaling, so there is no irritation from friction. All of the seams inside the shorts sit flat and don't rub or cause chafing or discomfort in our experience. They also come with a padded chamois liner short, it is far from the best but does add significant comfort over nothing at all.
Our biggest concern about the comfort of the Ranger Cargo is their lack of ventilation. The medium weight fabric is comfortable in most situations, but when it's really warm outside these shorts aren't doing much to help keep you cool. That said, when things cool off, these shorts will keep you warmer than some of the competition made from much lighter fabrics. They also aren't the quickest drying shorts, though they do dry reasonably quickly, they can't match the quick-drying nature of the lighter weight fabrics.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
Overall, testers found the fit of the Ranger Cargo shorts to fall about in the middle of the bagginess spectrum. They are loose-fitting but far from excessively baggy, nor are they tight in any way. The Ranger Cargo shorts come in even waist sizes 28-38, and we found them to fit true to size. This is quite helpful in getting the correct size for you. The waist closure also offers a couple of inches of adjustment to help dial in the fit should you drop a few pounds or the shorts stretch out over time. The waistband is well designed, higher in the back and lower in the front, and is articulated slightly for comfort when seated and pedaling. Fox calls it their "Rider Attack Position" (RAP) design, and it makes for a comfortable fitting pair of shorts on the bike.
Overall, the Ranger Cargo is comfortable for extended periods of seated pedaling, they rise just above the knee and don't tend to hang up on your thigh during your pedal stroke. The 2-way stretch fabric is medium weight and adds the slightest resistance to the pedal stroke, something you are only likely to notice if you were to compare them side by side with our top-performing models. Shorts with lighter, stretchier, and softer materials, were notably more pedal-friendly in our testing.
The Ranger Cargo isn't exactly a feature-packed pair of riding shorts, but the features they do have are functional and help improve their performance and your riding experience. One of the best things about them is the fact that they come with a chamois liner. It's far from the best chamois liner, but it is comfortable and way better than riding with none at all. If you're a chamois snob, this liner will probably not meet your standards. If you're a rider on a budget looking for a good value, then this short and chamois combo is tough to beat.
A new pocket layout is one of the notable improvements in the redesigned Ranger Cargo shorts. A total of 4 pockets, two hand pockets, a cargo pocket on the left thigh, and a zippered back-loading pocket on the right thigh, are all quite functional. The two hand pockets are mesh-lined and tacked to the inside of the shorts, so their contents don't just flop around while riding. The zippered thigh pocket is situated vertically on the seam on the right thigh and is a backloading mesh-lined pocket that holds its contents securely against your leg. This pocket is large enough to fit an iPhone 6 or similar size smartphone. The cargo pocket is relatively low profile with a flap over the top to keep your contents in place.
The "Fox Link" closure is designed to both secure the shorts in the front while also adjusting the tension of the waistband. This is done with a metal hook that is attached to a webbing strap that runs most of the way around the shorts inside the waistband. Pulling on the webbing creates even tension as it slides through the waistband and the metal hook slots into one of the several webbing loops on the ladder at the front of the shorts to achieve the desired tension. There is no zipper fly on the Ranger Cargo, only a shortened opening where the fly would be that uses a small snap at the top. This is one of our few qualms with these shorts, stopping to relieve yourself on the side of the trail involves opening the waist closure completely every time.
It is also worth noting that there is no ventilation on the Ranger Cargo shorts. Many of the shorts in this review have little or no ventilation, although the material used in the Ranger Cargo is a little heavier, and therefore these shorts feel a little warmer.
The Ranger Cargo shorts appear to be a very quality product. Our initial inspection of them proved that they have excellent quality control, as there isn't a single loose or long piece of thread on them either inside or out. The medium weight 2-way stretch fabric used in their construction is a nice middle ground between the super heavyweight materials and the lightweight fabrics used in other shorts. This fabric has held up well during our testing and shows no signs of wear from contact with trailside obstacles like bushes and even a little tree bark. We can only speak for the black color shorts we tested, but despite riding in some wet and muddy fall conditions they clean up nicely every time, and there are no signs of staining on the seat or anywhere else. All of the seams and stitching remains in like-new condition, even after hundreds of miles of use.
The included chamois liner also appears to be constructed with the same attention to detail as the shorts and is still in great shape. We are slightly concerned that the soft foam used in the chamois itself may be prone to wearing out quickly, but we imagine you could get a season or two of use out of it, depending on how much you ride.
If there's one thing the Ranger Cargo shorts aren't lacking, it's style. By this, we mean a subtle and casual style that looks good both on and off the bike. If not for the Foxhead logo on the left thigh, you might not ever know these are mountain bike shorts.
They have a relatively standard 12-inch inseam length and hang right about the top of the kneecap on our 6' tall tester when standing. When seated pedaling, they rise about a couple of inches above the knee. They have a loose, but not excessively baggy, fit, with a medium-size leg opening that is compatible with most low to medium profile knee pads. Overall, the fit is on the slimmer side when compared to gravity style shorts, but roomy in comparison to slimmer fitting options. The Ranger Cargo comes in four solid color options, Black (tested), Navy, Cardinal (red), and Sand (an off white).
The protection offered by the Ranger Cargo is like a lot of the other shorts in this review, we'd call it moderate. The 12-inch inseam length provides coverage down to the kneecap when standing and a couple of inches above when seated and pedaling.
The medium-weight material is more robust and more protective than some of the lighter and softer fabrics used in some of the competition, but less protective than the heavyweight fabrics in burlier shorts. The leg opening isn't huge, though it is large enough for compatibility with low to medium profile kneepads, although they may hang up a little on bulkier pads.
We feel the Ranger Cargo is a great value. Not only are these shorts good looking and comfortable, but they come with a removable chamois liner. If you're a rider on a budget, or even if you're not, this is a solid deal worthy of our Best Buy Award.
We don't hand out our Best Buy Award to just any pair of shorts. The redesigned Ranger Cargo has an improved fit, a functional pocket layout, and a secure adjustable waist closure. During testing, we were impressed by their comfort, quality, durability, and versatility, all of which come at an unbeatable price with a chamois liner included. If you're looking for the best value in a pair of mountain biking shorts, then consider your search over.
— Jeremy Benson