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The 5 Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Women of 2024

We tested models from Zoic, Yeti, Patagonia, Wild Rye, and more to find the best women's mountain bike shorts
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Best Mountain Bike Shorts Women Review (We've put 14 of the top-rated women's mountain bike shorts through our extensive head-to-head testing to determine the...)
We've put 14 of the top-rated women's mountain bike shorts through our extensive head-to-head testing to determine the best for your body and riding style.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams
By Tara Reddinger-Adams ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2024

The Best Women's Mountain Bike Shorts for 2024


Let's be honest: finding a great-fitting pair of women's mountain bike shorts can be daunting. Our bodies are all shaped differently, and with so many different models on the market, it can be hard to determine what will work best for you. Since 2017, we've trail-tested nearly 40 different pairs of women's mountain bike shorts. Our latest review puts 14 of the most popular and best-rated shorts on the market in head-to-head testing. Our six test metrics will help you determine what shorts work best for your riding style, body type, and budget.

No matter how you like to hit the trails on your mountain bike, we've tested the bike essentials you need. From the best cycling sunglasses and mountain bike helmets to knee pads and the top women's mountain bike shoes. If you're looking for road cycling shorts or bibs, we've also tested those in our women's bike shorts review.

Editor's Note: We updated our women's mountain bike shorts review on May 22, 2024, to include a section on how we test.

Related: Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Men

Top 14 Mountain Bike Shorts - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $108 List
$64.77 at Backcountry
$69.97 at Backcountry$115 List
$115.00 at Backcountry
$129 List
$64.50 at Backcountry
$165 List
$61.93 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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63
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Pros Stretch fabric and waistband fit a variety of body types, available in three lengths, wide leg opening for knee pads, sizes 00 - 16Size charts are accurate, 15" inseam and leg opening works well with knee pads, zip close hand pockets are 10" deep, DWR fabric, comfortable with and without chamoisWell placed zip close pockets, unobtrusive waist adjust, 13.5" inseam and 21" leg opening works well with knee pads, good cut for larger thighs, breathable fabric, comfortable with and without chamois when pedalingLightweight, breathable fabric, unobtrusive waist adjust tabs, well-placed pockets, length and leg opening works with knee padsLightweight, breathable fabric, well-placed pockets, low-profile comfortable knitted waistband, comfortable for pedaling, but the overall fit is very trim
Cons Mesh pocket lining can bunch up, warm in hot weather, 11" inseam may not work with all knee padsRuns small, sizing tops out at an XL, minimal airflow for trail riding, fabric can snag and pill on bushesWaist measurement is larger than size chart, little stretch across hips, fabric can snag on bushesFabric is clingy when sweaty, most wearers will need to size up (check measurements in size chart), fit can be hard for curvy bodiesSizing runs small, trim fit is very form-fitting, measurements for hips and inseam are off, inseam too short knee pads
Bottom Line These shorts are comfortable and are designed to fit a range of body typesGreat shorts park riding with DWR fabric, space for knee pads, and deep hand pockets, but they run small, and only have marginal breathability for trail ridingA breathable short that works well with pads, has great pockets, and can accommodate larger thighsThese breathable shorts are a great choice for hot days, fit well with pads, and have well-placed pockets, but check the size charts, because they run smallWith lightweight, stretchy fabric, these are quite comfortable for pedaling, but their 10.5" inseam does not play well with pads, and they have a very form-fitting cut
Rating Categories Shredly All-Time 11... POC Essential - Wom... Yeti Cycles Norrie... Patagonia Dirt Roam... Rapha Trail Lightwe...
Comfort and Fit (25%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Pedal Friendliness (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Protection (15%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Breathability (15%)
5.0
5.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Features (10%)
6.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Quality Construction (10%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Shredly All-Time 11... POC Essential - Wom... Yeti Cycles Norrie... Patagonia Dirt Roam... Rapha Trail Lightwe...
Shell Fabric ecoMove (recycled polyester/spandex ) Stretch nylon 100% polyester 90D 86% recycled polyester, 14% spandex, with 4-way stretch and a DWR finish 85% nylon, 15% elastane
Inseam Measurement 11" 15" 13.5" 12.5" 10.5"
Number of pockets 4 3 4 2 2
Chamois None Sold separately None Sold separately Sold separately
Chamois Fabric None None None None None


Best Overall Women's Mountain Bike Shorts


Shredly All-Time 11" - Women's


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 6.0
  • Pedal Friendliness 8.0
  • Protection 8.0
  • Breathability 5.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Quality Construction 9.0
Inseam: 11 inches | Pockets: 4
REASONS TO BUY
Cut to fit a variety of body types
Available in three lengths
Comfortable without chamois and with chamois
Right thigh pocket in a good location
Wide leg opening for knee pads
Available in sizes 00-16
REASONS TO AVOID
Mesh pocket lining can bunch up
11" inseam may not work with all pads
Warm in hot weather

The Shredly All-Time 11" short features a zipper and snap closure paired with a wide stretch waistband. The result of this combination is incredibly comfortable and minimizes waist gap. The 21.5" leg opening is generously cut and accommodates bulky knee pads. The 11-inch inseam has a wider cut thigh, allowing the short to cover the top of knee pads without any pad gap or riding up as you pedal. For those who ride without pads, the top of the leg opening glides smoothly over the lower thigh above the knee. The All-Time 11" is offered in sizes 00-16, making it some of the more inclusive sizing in our review. Shredly's size charts include both waist and hip measurements, which we found to be accurate. We highly recommend measuring yourself before ordering to ensure the best fit. If you're between sizes and ride sans chamois or with a thin chamois and have thinner thighs, you can likely size down as the hips and thighs are not baggy. Our testers can pull on the shorts without undoing the zippers or snaps but would not want them tighter in the upper thighs.

Like most things, the All Time 11" isn't flawless. The 4-way stretch fabric stretches more vertically than horizontally and lacks breathability. As the mercury rises, the shorts feel a bit warm and tend to trap moisture in the thighs and crotch when riding sans chamois. The pockets are generously sized, and the right thigh (6 inches by 5.5 inches) and upper left thigh (8 inches by 5.5 inches) pockets zip close to keep valuables secure, but the mesh lining can bunch up. Furthermore, the left thigh pocket sits on the top of the thigh, and bulky items like a cell phone are best kept in the right thigh pocket. Despite these shortcomings, the All Time performs well across all our metrics and has a great fit that accommodates a variety of body types and sizes. But for those hot days when you need better airflow, the breathable and lightweight Patagonia Dirt Roamer is a more suitable choice.

Looking for a longer or shorter inseam? The All-Time also comes in a 5" and a 14" inseam.

mountain bike shorts womens - the all-time 11&quot; wide elastic waistband and stretch fabric are...
The All-Time 11" wide elastic waistband and stretch fabric are comfortable for pedaling, don't ride up, and the inseam is long enough to cover the top of our kneepads while pedaling.
Credit: Byron Adams

Best Value Women's Mountain Bike Shorts


Zoic Navaeh


62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 5.0
  • Pedal Friendliness 6.0
  • Protection 6.0
  • Breathability 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Quality Construction 7.0
Inseam: 11 inches | Pockets: 4
REASONS TO BUY
6" of waist adjustment
Lightweight stretchy fabric
Good breathability
Thigh pockets are in a good location
REASONS TO AVOID
Leg opening may not work with all knee pads
Hook and loop waist adjusters are bulky
Stitching is a bit sloppy

The Zoic Navaeh is constructed of lightweight and durable VersaLight 4-way stretch fabric, which moves with the body and breathes well in warmer weather. During testing, our shorts got tangled up in a prickly pear cactus and were covered in needles, but there were no holes, rips, or runs in the fabric after they were removed. The Naveah runs true to size and has a slimmer cut, but not so much as to be overly clingy or tight. The 19-inch leg opening is wide enough to accommodate low-profile pads, and the 11-inch inseam covers the tops of knee pads without riding up. The hand pockets are rather narrow, but the thigh pockets are large enough to hold a phone comfortably and open to the back. Pedaling with items in the thigh pockets is comfortable. For those who like to snap their chamois into their shorts, chamois snap tabs are built into the waistband.

Zoic's size chart lists a medium as fitting 43-44 inches through the hips, but we measured it at 39 inches, which is a bit snug. Some reviewers mention sizing up for a better fit, which is a personal preference. The stitching on this pair of shorts is a little hit-and-miss, with long, loose threads in the pockets and inside the shorts, and the hook and loop waist adjust tabs are a little bulky. Still, the Naveah has well-thought-out features like zip-close pockets, good pocket placement, and durable, comfortable fabric. These shorts are also a good value and can frequently be found online for less than their list price, making them hard to beat. If the stitching gives you cause for concern about construction quality, check out the Shredly All-Time 11", which is one of our top performers in this metric with a comfortable waistband.

mountain bike shorts womens - the navaeh has a breathable fabric with well-placed thigh pockets...
The Navaeh has a breathable fabric with well-placed thigh pockets, but the leg opening cut may not fit all knee pads. Overall, the shorts perform well and are a good value.
Credit: Byron Adams

Best Women's Shorts for Trail Riding


Yeti Cycles Norrie - Women's


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 5.0
  • Pedal Friendliness 8.0
  • Protection 6.0
  • Breathability 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Quality Construction 6.0
Inseam: 13.5 inches | Pockets: 4
REASONS TO BUY
Well-placed, large zip-close pockets
Unobtrusive waist adjust
Inseam and leg opening work well with knee pads
Comfortable
Fit well with and without chamois
REASONS TO AVOID
Waist measurement larger than size charts
Fabric can snag on bushes and run

Yeti Cycles Norrie combines a breathable fabric with a 13.5-inch inseam and a 21-inch leg opening, which works well with various knee pads. Yeti uses small webbed pulls on the outside of the waistband, which provide three inches of waist adjustment. These pulls are unobtrusive and easy to use to eliminate gaps at the small of your back. The cut at mid-thigh (measured eight inches below the crotch) is wider than any other short in our review, at 23 inches, allowing more space for larger quads. This extra space also allows for additional space for a chamois to be worn comfortably under the shell without any binding or pulling. Four small perforations are found below the hand pockets and add a bit of airflow into the leg. Even on 85°+ days, these shorts breathe well. On the low hip, you'll find well-placed zip-close pockets that measure 13.25 inches by 6 inches and open towards the back of the thigh, which is comfortable for pedaling with a cell phone inside.

The 2-way stretch material that the Norrie utilizes is less stretchy than other shorts with a four-way stretch. The material holds up well but snagged on a thorny bush, causing a small run in the fabric. Depending on your measurements, you might experience some pulling across the widest part of the hips when squatting. The waist measures 1.5 inches larger than the range listed on the size charts — 34.5 inches at the smallest. But the hip measurements are spot on. Unfortunately, the Norrie does not have an extended size range and only comes in sizes XS-XL. Downsides aside, the Norrie is super comfy in various temperatures, works great with and without chamois, with and without pads, and features large pockets, making them a great choice no matter how you hit the trails. If you prefer a durable pair with abrasion-resistant 4-way stretch fabric, take a look at the Troy Lee Designs Mischief.

mountain bike shorts womens - the cut of the norrie works well with pads, and with a chamois as...
The cut of the Norrie works well with pads, and with a chamois as well as they do without. They're comfortable, breathable, and a great pick for riding, especially if you have larger quads.
Credit: Byron Adams

Most Breathable Mountain Bike Shorts for Women


Patagonia Dirt Roamer - Women's


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 5.0
  • Pedal Friendliness 6.0
  • Protection 7.0
  • Breathability 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Quality Construction 9.0
Inseam: 12.5 inches | Pockets: 2
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight breathable fabric
Unobtrusive waist adjust
Well-placed pockets
Inseam and leg opening are sized for knee pads
Extended sizing from 0-22
REASONS TO AVOID
Fit can be difficult, especially for curvier bodies
Fabric is clingy when sweaty
Runs small

The Patagonia Dirt Roamer is constructed of a very lightweight material that breathes incredibly well and provides generous airflow, making them a great choice for summer rides in hot places. They feature welded seams and a low-profile waistband with OppoSet tabs for adjustment, which work quite well. The back of the waist is cut slightly higher to help eliminate the gap at the small of your back and can help prevent the shorts from riding up. They have a generous cut in the seat, which provides ample space for a chamois but may be baggy without one. The 12.5-inch inseam with a 21.5-inch leg opening has an asymmetrical cut and drapes nicely over knee pads with no gap. Without pads, the fabric is smooth and comfortably glides over the top of the knee while pedaling. Additionally, two zip-close pockets are found on the lower thigh and are out of the way when you pedal.

Dialing in the fit of the Dirt Roamer short can be challenging. It runs small, so we recommend using Patagonia's size chart to achieve a better fit. When referencing it for testing, the chart placed us at two sizes larger than our normal pant size. These shorts come in sizes 0-22; however, most people need to size up two sizes, making the sizing less inclusive. The lightweight 4-way stretch fabric can bunch up into the crease between the hip and thigh when walking. If you ride sans chamois, the fabric will trap moisture in high-sweat areas and become clingy. And yet, the breathability the Dirt Roamer offers is hard to match, making hot weather riding more enjoyable. If you ride with a chamois, you may also find the POC Essential a comfortable choice. We found the POC sizing to be accurate, eliminating some guesswork, too.

mountain bike shorts womens - the dirt roamer fabric is very lightweight and airy and great for...
The Dirt Roamer fabric is very lightweight and airy and great for hot weather rides. The seat is fairly roomy and the fit will change depending on if you wear a chamois (lower left) or sans chamois (lower right).
Credit: Byron Adams

Best Women's Shorts for Park Riding


POC Essential - Women's


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 6.0
  • Pedal Friendliness 8.0
  • Protection 8.0
  • Breathability 5.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Quality Construction 7.0
Inseam: 15 inches| Pockets: 3
REASONS TO BUY
Size charts are accurate
Inseam and leg opening are knee pad-friendly
10" deep, zip-close hand pockets
DWR fabric
Comfortable with and without chamois
REASONS TO AVOID
Sizes are smaller than other brands (and top out at XL)
Minimal airflow for trail riding
Fabric can snag on bushes

The POC Essential MTB short offers full coverage, good airflow, and a DWR finish to meet the needs of trail and park riders alike. The Essential short features a stretch nylon construction with a 15-inch inseam and 20-inch leg opening, cut longer in the front than the back, making it a great choice for bulky knee pads — even burly downhill ones. Two zip-close hand pockets are lined with an ultra-silky fabric that feels fantastic, and are generously sized at 10 inches by 5 inches, allowing you to store your pass securely. A bonus to the pocket size is that it is deep enough to allow you to scan your pass through your shorts as you go through the turnstile. Hook and loop closures on the waistband are a tad bulky but provide up to six inches of adjustment, making it easier for pear-shaped bodies to dial in the fit. Moreover, riders with larger thighs will appreciate the generous cut on the legs, which does not bind you. The Essential also plays well with a chamois and has enough extra space to comfortably fit one without restricting movement.

Compared to other brands, POC's sizing for the Essential is smaller, but their size charts are accurate and feature both hip and waist measurements. Unfortunately, though, their sizing does not go beyond XL. The DWR stretch nylon repels dirt and water, but it can snag, especially on thorny bushes or when tangling up in the washer with velcro closures on gloves. But even after getting caught in thorny catclaw, the fabric did not tear, just snagged. Also, the DWR stretch nylon fabric is not the most breathable and has minimal airflow for trail riding in temperatures above 75°F. Still, they are quite comfortable, durable, and protective for park riding. If you prefer a more breathable short, the Yeti Cycles Norrie is a great choice. The breathable fabric and wide leg openings make it a better match for riding in hot weather.

mountain bike shorts womens - the length and fabric of the essential is great for park riding, but...
The length and fabric of the Essential is great for park riding, but is a tad warm for trail riding in warmer temps.
Credit: Byron Adams

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
70
Shredly All-Time 11" - Women's
Best Overall Women's Mountain Bike Shorts
$108
Editors' Choice Award
68
POC Essential - Women's
Best Women's Shorts for Park Riding
$100
Top Pick Award
68
Yeti Cycles Norrie - Women's
Best Women's Shorts for Trail Riding
$115
Top Pick Award
67
Patagonia Dirt Roamer - Women's
Most Breathable Mountain Bike Shorts for Women
$129
Top Pick Award
63
Rapha Trail Lightweight - Women's
$165
62
Zoic Navaeh
Best Value Women's Mountain Bike Shorts
$80
Best Buy Award
59
Dharco Gravity - Women's
$107
59
Troy Lee Designs Mischief Shell - Women's
$120
58
Endura SingleTrack Lite - Women's
$120
56
Wild Rye Freel
$129
55
Specialized Trail Cargo Shorts Women's
$110
46
Cycorld Padded with Pockets 06 - Women's
$64
45
Fox Ranger Lined - Women's
$90
45
100% Airmatic - Women's
$99

mountain bike shorts womens - having a comfortable pair of shorts that works for your riding style...
Having a comfortable pair of shorts that works for your riding style and gear is important.
Credit: Byron Adams

How We Test Mountain Bike Shorts for Women


We have spent hundreds of hours riding trails in these shorts to learn what it takes to keep us comfortable and protected. Each testing cycle begins by researching and purchasing the best, most popular, and most promising shorts on the market, and subjecting them to intensive side-by-side testing and scrutiny. We considered how a short's design and cut affect its overall comfort and fit while considering differences in body shape and personal preferences, such as chamois or no chamois and pads or no pads. We measured every component of these shorts, comparing them to their manufacturer specifications and to each other. We performed extensive field testing in Colorado and Arizona, testing their pedal friendliness on single track trails, in parks, on downhill runs, and over technical terrain.

Our six ratings metrics for our women's mountain bike shorts review include:
  • Comfort and Fit (25% of overall score)
  • Pedal Friendliness (25% of score)
  • Protection (15% of score)
  • Breathability (15% of score)
  • Features (10% of score)
  • Construction Quality (10% of score)

For more on our testing, see our full How We Test article.

Our testing occurred during the summer months in Colorado and...
Our testing occurred during the summer months in Colorado and Arizona, where temperatures varied from 60 degrees and wet to over 90 degrees with lots of sunshine and heat.
The Airmatic has a unique, albeit bulky, waist adjustment with a...
The Airmatic has a unique, albeit bulky, waist adjustment with a metal hook and nylon loop system.
We tested each short with and without knee pads and with and without...
We tested each short with and without knee pads and with and without chamois, as each are personal preference.
We assessed the fit and hit the trail to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each pair.

Why Trust GearLab


Our lead tester is Tara Reddinger-Adams. Tara spends most of the year exploring the canyons and mesas in and around Sedona, Arizona, on foot and on her mountain bike. When the temperatures rise, she escapes to cooler climates to ride, paddle, and visit friends and family. Tara has become a bike enthusiast, exploring the world by mountain bike for over 15 years. Not only does Tara eat, sleep, and breathe mountain biking, but she has also spent many years working professionally in the mountain biking community. She has 11 years of experience working in a bike shop, six years of experience coaching and guiding mountain biking, and a few years racing cross-country and enduro. Tara spends a lot of time working on her bike and discussing components and gear in detail, giving her excellent insight into what makes a great pair of shorts for different kinds of pedalers.

mountain bike shorts womens - having a short that moves with your body is more comfortable than...
Having a short that moves with your body is more comfortable than one that binds. Unfortunately, these shorts had little flex and were uncomfortable.
Credit: Byron Adams

Analysis and Test Results


Wearing the right women's mountain bike shorts is almost as important as choosing the best bike for the ride. Do you live in a warmer climate and need a short that breathes well? Lightweight, breathable, stretchy shorts might be the one for you. Or you may enjoy lift-accessed downhill riding. In that case, you might prefer a more durable fabric and a longer inseam that accommodates bulky knee pads. Regardless of your riding style, we are here to help you find the right pair of shorts. We researched and selected the top-rated women's mountain bike shorts and tested them on the trail. Comfort and fit are paramount, but we also evaluate their pedal friendliness, protection, breathability, features, and construction quality.


Value


We don't consider the price of the products we test in our performance evaluation, but we do appreciate a good value. While we aim to determine the best products available, sometimes the best can be expensive, which doesn't necessarily work for everyone's budget. The Patagonia Dirt Roamer is made of high-quality materials but is also one of the more expensive pairs we tested. It's worth the investment for those who ride frequently and need high-quality shorts that can keep up with them. On the other hand, the Zoic Navaeh is a lightweight option with zippered pockets, has a more affordable price, and has a solid all-around performance.

mountain bike shorts womens - riding a variety of terrain and in varying temperatures allows us to...
Riding a variety of terrain and in varying temperatures allows us to better determine how a short performs.
Credit: Byron Adams

Consider Your Location and Style of Riding
Where do you like to ride your bike? Do you ride laps on shorter local trails, go on all-day adventures, ride shuttle laps, or ride the bike park? Do you prefer a shorter inseam or a longer inseam that covers the tops of your knee pads? Do you wear knee pads? Do you like to ride with a chamois or liner, or do you prefer a more shell-like pair of shorts? We test every pair with all of these preferences in mind to highlight the ones that are best for you.

Comfort and Fit


Uncomfortable clothing is just that, uncomfortable. And women's mountain bike shorts are no different. Making performance athletic apparel that also needs to match body types and ride styles is a challenging undertaking. They could be too big in the waist but too narrow in the hips. Or they gap in the back when you bend over the bike or slide down as you pedal. We want shorts that fit and are comfortable, and in this very important consideration, we're assessing bike shorts that give women the ability to find a custom and comfortable fit.


Before ordering our test shorts, we took our body measurements and compared those to the manufacturer's size charts, ordering the size that best matched our measurements. When we received our test shorts, we measured the waist, hips, upper and lower thigh, leg opening, rise, and inseam and compared those measurements to the size chart, noting any discrepancies.

Some companies provide the measurements of their models in their product descriptions. These numbers and photos can help give you an idea of how the shorts fit that body type and, therefore, how they may fit your body type. We recommend referencing companies' size charts to ensure you order the best size based on your measurements.

mountain bike shorts womens - we measured the waist, hips, upper thigh, mid-thigh, leg opening...
We measured the waist, hips, upper thigh, mid-thigh, leg opening, inseam, and rise of each pair of shorts with a tailor's tape and took note of all measurements.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Many of the shorts did not match their listed measurements in the size charts, with some being two or more inches smaller than the listed size in the waist or hips. These discrepancies can make it difficult to find the right size when ordering online. The Cycorld Padded, Dharco Gravity, Endura SingleTrack Lite, and Specialized Trail Cargo Shorts have the most accurate measurements when we compared our test shorts to the manufacturer's measurements. We can't stress enough the importance of taking your measurements and referencing the manufacturer's size charts when buying online, as many shorts require a completely different size than your standard pant size.

mountain bike shorts womens - note the sizing differences in these shorts. many of the size large...
Note the sizing differences in these shorts. Many of the size large shorts are cut smaller than the medium Endura SingleTrack Lite shorts. This makes finding the proper size even more difficult.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

After measuring the shorts, we tried on each pair and took notes of areas where they felt tight or loose, where they gap, bind, bunch up, and how a chamois affects the fit of the shorts. We also moved off the bike in our shorts, walking, squatting, bending over, etc., to see if any areas gap or are tight. We then considered what body types the shorts fit best. Knowing that we're all shaped differently, we tried to determine what body types the shorts fit best based on the short's measurements.

What is a Chamois and Do I Need One?
Most women's mountain bike shorts do not have a sewn-in padded liner. Companies will frequently produce a liner short, or a chamois (pronounced "shammy"), for a separate purchase, or offer versions of the shorts with or without a chamois. Personal preference is a huge factor in the choice of a liner short — some people appreciate their ability to soak up perspiration and prevent chaffing, while others find they bunch up and add bulk.

The POC Essential and Shredly All-Time 11" earn the highest scores in our fit and comfort metric. The waist measurement on our Shredly All-Time 11" shorts measures 34 inches, which is 1.5 inches larger than listed on Shredly's size chart. The All-Time features a unique waistband that pairs a zipper and double snap closure with a wide stretchy waist in the back, achieving a very comfortable, no-gap fit. The shorts are a touch tight in the upper thighs on our tester, who has large quads, but are not uncomfortable. The fabric is flexible, moves with the body, and is cut to fit a range of body types. Shredly offers some of the more inclusive sizing in our test, with the Essential offered in sizes 00 through 16. If you're in between sizes, you may consider sizing down if you don't have large quads, as we can comfortably pull on our shorts without undoing the snaps or zip fly.

The All-Time 11&quot; is one of the most comfortable shorts in our review.
The All-Time 11" is one of the most comfortable shorts in our review.
The Essential is also comfortable, especially for park riding, where...
The Essential is also comfortable, especially for park riding, where a longer length is preferred due to its added protection.
Every pair will fit each body type differently. Overall, we like the Shredly All-Time (left) and POC Essential (right) the best.

Despite running small in the hips (41.5 inches on an XL), the POC Essential short's hook and loop waist has six inches of adjustability, and the four-way stretch material moves with the body with no tightness. They are comfortably loose without being billowy, and we feel their cut will fit straighter and curvier body shapes alike. However, they run small, with an XL measuring smaller in the hips than a medium in some other brands, meaning their sizing is limited.

mountain bike shorts womens - the hook and loop closure provides six inches of waist adjustment.
The hook and loop closure provides six inches of waist adjustment.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Pedal Friendliness


Pedal friendliness is about how shorts work in action. Adjusting your shorts throughout your ride can distract you from the trail and be annoying. Extra fabric catching on the saddle on the descent can be dangerous, while material bunching up in your thigh creases when you're grinding uphill can chafe and be a ride-ending experience. We are looking for the perfect amount of stretch and a cut that works with us while we ride. This combination allows us to pedal with ease and move freely in and out of the saddle without making adjustments.

For our pedal friendliness metric, we looked at how each short fits and performs while pedaling when wearing knee pads and without knee pads. We also tested each pair with and without chamois to see if it affects the short's fit or performance while pedaling. Shorts that do not ride up, bind, or snag on the nose of the saddle and that can comfortably accommodate a chamois earned the highest marks in this metric, with the POC Essential, Shredly All-Time 11", and Yeti Cycles Norrie earning the highest marks.


The Shredly All-Time 11" has an 11-inch inseam with a 21.5-inch leg opening, allowing the fabric enough space to drape over the top of knee pads without being tight against the knee pad and pulling up. While riding sans pads, the shorts lay comfortably on the top of the thigh with enough space to move and flex with leg movement without riding up on the thigh. The seat of the shorts and gusseted crotch provide enough space and flex to comfortably accommodate a chamois without the crotch of the short pressing into the chamois. The POC Essential has a longer, 15-inch inseam and 20-inch leg opening, which does not ride up or bind while wearing pads and comfortably drapes over the top of the knee while pedaling without pads. The DWR four-way stretch fabric comfortably moves with the body for unrestricted movement and comfortably accommodates a chamois.

mountain bike shorts womens - while pedaling, the all-time 11&quot; stays in place and doesn&#039;t bind up...
While pedaling, the All-Time 11" stays in place and doesn't bind up against or above knee pads.
Credit: Byron Adams

The Yeti Cycles Norrie's 2-way stretch fabric moves with the body while pedaling and provides unrestricted movement, even on riders with larger quads. The 13.5-inch inseam and 21-inch leg opening work well with and without knee pads. The short's opening and length allow them to fit over knee pads with space to spare, preventing them from riding up while pedaling. The gusseted crotch and stretch 2-way fabric have enough flex to wear a chamois underneath without binding or bunching comfortably.

mountain bike shorts womens - the norrie has a wide leg opening that does not get caught on pads...
The Norrie has a wide leg opening that does not get caught on pads as you pedal.
Credit: Byron Adams

Protection


In this metric, we looked at protection in terms of how well the shorts protect your body from sun exposure, making note of fabrics with UPF ratings and how abrasion-resistant the women's mountain bike shorts fabric is. It's worth noting that even lightweight fabric protects our thighs from harmful UV rays. We love the sun, but we love our skin more, and hours of sweating in the saddle can wear off even the most diligently applied sunscreen. In some riding environments, like the desert southwest, plants such as agave and catclaw frequently grow alongside trails, and brushing up against their thorny or spiky stems and leaves is unavoidable. Having a layer of more substantial material beyond lycra can trap thorns and needles and prevent them from going into your skin.


We also looked at the design of each pair to see if the inseam length and leg opening work with knee pads and if there is pad gap. (This differs from the pedal friendliness with knee pads in our previous metric, which looks at whether wearing knee pads causes the shorts to fit differently while pedaling.) Of course, pad gap will depend on your height and inseam. Taller testers may need a longer inseam to ensure there is not a gap.

Pad gap occurs when there is exposed skin between the top of the knee pad and the opening of the short. Femur length plays a role in pad gap, and your experiences may vary from those of our testers because of differences between our femur length and yours.

mountain bike shorts womens - here you can see how a shorts length and cut affect how it interacts...
Here you can see how a shorts length and cut affect how it interacts with knee pads. The shorts on the left have shorter inseams and narrower legs and pull above the knee pad while pedaling. The shorts on the right have longer inseams and wider legs and cover the knee pad while pedaling.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Many women's mountain bike shorts performed well in this metric thanks to longer inseams, wider leg openings, and durable fabrics. The Troy Lee Designs Mischief Shell stands out for its 13.5-inch inseam and 20-inch leg opening that works with low-profile and bulky downhill knee pads. The Bluesign certified 4-Way stretch woven fabric has a UPF 30+ rating for preventing sun exposure and is very thick, durable, and abrasion-resistant. The thick fabric prevents thorns from reaching the skin and traps them in the fabric's dense fibers.

mountain bike shorts womens - these shorts have a very durable, (albeit warm), material, and a...
These shorts have a very durable, (albeit warm), material, and a long inseam to fully cover pads.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Shredly's All-Time 11" features a 4-way stretch material that protects the skin without being overly stiff and warm. The fabric can catch and pull on thorns and needles but does not snag or tear. The 21.5-inch leg opening and 11-inch inseam pair well to cover knee pads with no gap or exposed skin while pedaling. For those with a longer femur, the All-Time also comes in a 14-inch length.

Here we have four different shorts that whose leg openings all...
Here we have four different shorts that whose leg openings all interact differently with our knee pads.
The inseam of a short will determine how much of your thighs and/or...
The inseam of a short will determine how much of your thighs and/or knees are exposed to the sun and to vegetation that grows along trails.
The length and material of each pair are important considerations when determining how much protection the shorts offer.

POC Essential and the Dharco Gravity feature thicker fabrics that are more abrasion resistant, have longer inseams (15 inches and 14.25 inches, respectively), and wider leg openings that easily accommodate pads or provide additional low thigh protection for those who ride without pads. The POC shorts feature an asymmetrical leg opening that is cut longer in the front than the back to better fit over knee pads and prevent pad gap. While wearing the POC shorts, we had an unfortunate run-in with a catclaw bush. Thankfully, the thorns got caught in the short's durable fabric before they reached our skin. However, the fabric did suffer some small snags from the thorns.

mountain bike shorts womens - an unfortunate run-in with catclaw resulted in the fabric snagging...
An unfortunate run-in with Catclaw resulted in the fabric snagging. The thorns caught in the fabric instead of our skin, which is a win.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Breathability


Breathability can play a factor both in hot weather and in cooler conditions. A short that does not breathe well may feel uncomfortably warm in hot weather, and a super breathable short may feel cold in cooler temperatures. While it's easy to adjust clothing for cooler temps since you can add layers, there's only so much you can take off when it gets hot. For this metric, we looked at how breathable each pair is or how much airflow you can feel moving through the shorts. We also looked at moisture retention, how much moisture built up in the fabric, if the shorts became clingy, and how quickly they dry out while riding. Lastly, we looked at vents. Some shorts have venting, and others don't. When vents were present, we determined if they added airflow to the shorts. Shorts with ample airflow that wick sweat and dry out quickly earned the highest marks in this metric.


Patagonia's Dirt Roamer has a lightweight, four-way stretch fabric that hangs away from the body and provides ample airflow even on hot summer days. Yeti Cycles Norrie has a more substantial fabric that is quite comfortable and breathable in hot weather. Four small, perforated vents are found below the hand pocket on the top of the thigh and help to move air into the short. The wider cut through the thigh also allows the fabric to not cling to the body and improves airflow.

mountain bike shorts womens - these small perforated vents help to move air into the lower part of...
These small perforated vents help to move air into the lower part of the thigh.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The Rapha Trail are made of a hybrid fabric blend that surprised us with its above-average breathability in hot environments. They're a tad clingy when really working up a sweat, particularly in the upper thighs, and lack any added ventilation, though. The Zoic Navaeh is also more breathable than average and dried quickly when we soaked them with sweat from a hard ride.

mountain bike shorts womens - the rapha trail get a bit clingy when we were sweaty, but still...
The Rapha Trail get a bit clingy when we were sweaty, but still offer above-average breathability overall.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Features


For this metric, we examined features, which include pockets, zippers, waist adjusters, and other items, such as silicone waist grippers that are part of the women's mountain bike shorts design. We took note of the location of each pocket and how easy it was to open and close while on the bike. We also measured the dimensions of each pocket and noted whether they have zippers and if the zippers have a coating or pull tab. These small details can make a zipper easier to use while wearing gloves. We also looked at the waist adjust system (or lack thereof) and extended and compressed it fully to measure how much adjustment there is in the waist. While wearing the shorts, we adjusted the waist, noting how hard or easy it was to adjust the waist with gloves on. We also looked at the materials used in the waist adjustment and how they felt against the body, as they can add bulk to the waistband. Furthermore, we examined each waist closure system to see how easy and intuitive it is to use. For example, some shorts have multiple snaps with velcro, while others may just have a button. Lastly, we looked for additional features the shorts may have, like chamois liner loops. Shorts with easy-to-use, secure pockets that don't interfere with pedaling and whose waist adjust system is discreet and easy to use scored highest for this metric.


The Zoic Navaeh scores well in this metric thanks to its four pockets, whose zippers have a small plastic coating, making them easier to grab with gloves on. The thigh pockets are angled, and items in them sit towards the back of the thigh when pedaling. This placement is out of the way and more comfortable than having an item on the top of the thigh while pedaling. The Navaeh uses a hook-and-loop waist adjustment, which adds some bulk to the waist but is not noticeable while pedaling.

mountain bike shorts womens - the naveah&#039;s thigh pockets have an angled opening and items sit...
The Naveah's thigh pockets have an angled opening and items sit towards the back of the thigh, which is less obtrusive when pedaling.
Credit: Byron Adams


Patagonia's Dirt Roamer and Yeti Cycles Norrie score well in this metric because of their large, well-placed thigh pockets and waist adjust systems. Both pairs employ a small, discreet webbing system for their waist adjust. This system has less bulk and does not rely on elastic to adjust the waist of the shorts. The Norrie has some of the largest pockets in our test. The two hand pockets are 5.25 inches wide by 8.75 inches long and expand slightly at the bottom by 9/16 inches. The thigh pockets are even larger at 13.25 inches by 6 inches and open towards the back of the thigh. They extend from the bottom of the waistband to the mid-thigh and have plenty of space to secure valuables. The Norrie also features silicone grippers on the waistband, providing extra no-slip security to keep your shorts from sliding down.

Be careful not to ride with items in your pockets that could become hazards in a crash. Be mindful of what you place in your pocket and zip them closed so nothing bounces out while riding. Too much for your pockets? Consider checking out our favorite women's daypacks to take everything you need along for the ride.

mountain bike shorts womens - the small webbing system works well for adjusting the waist, is...
The small webbing system works well for adjusting the waist, is unnoticeable while wearing, and is easy to use with gloves on.
Credit: Byron Adams

Quality Construction


We assessed the construction quality of each short by closely examining the inside and outside of each pair of shorts and its seams and stitching, looking for loose threads, untidy ends that can unravel, and missing stitches. We also examined each pair of shorts after each ride for any areas of wear, paying attention to high-wear areas such as the seat and inner thigh.


Many of our shorts perform well in this metric and have quality construction. The Patagonia Dirt Roamer stands out for its welded seams, meaning no stitches exist. Welded seams also feel smoother against the skin, as they don't have the bulk of traditionally sewn seams.

mountain bike shorts womens - each pair of shorts is closely inspected for uneven seams, loose...
Each pair of shorts is closely inspected for uneven seams, loose threads, missing stitches, etc. Here you can see long threads that if pulled may begin to unravel a seam.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The Shredly All-Time is well assembled, with evenly sewn seams, no loose threads, or long ends on threads. The shorts are durable and show no signs of wear. Several other pairs of shorts also proved themselves capably built and well-designed, including the Rapha Trail, the Endura Singletrack, the Wild Rye Freel, and the Specialized Trail Cargo. All five of these pairs of shorts have sturdy seams without loose ends or dropped stitches and easily survived our extended testing period without any visible signs of wear.

mountain bike shorts womens - some shorts work best without kneepads due to their inseam and cut.
Some shorts work best without kneepads due to their inseam and cut.
Credit: Byron Adams

Conclusion


Finding the right mountain bike shorts can seem perplexing, especially when buying online, unable to try them on to see if they fit your body. We hope that our side-by-side testing and thorough examination of all of these shorts have helped you to determine which pair will work best for your shape, your ride, and your budget.

Tara Reddinger-Adams