When mountain biking first emerged, riders tended to carry over the apparel choices from road riding – tight-fitting spandex pants, lycra shorts that stick to you like glue, and highly aerodynamic clothing. As the sport evolved, riders started opting for more loose fitting options (sometimes called “baggies”) instead of the body-hugging lycra. Looking at some of the shorts on the market today, it’s hard at first glance to tell whether they’re bike shorts at all. Decades later, you have plenty of choices to select the best mountain biking shorts that cater to your personal preference and riding style.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we strive to help you find the best gear for enjoying some quality time in the saddle. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best mountain bike shorts so you can hit the trail and enjoy some downhill bliss.

For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out the Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Women.

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Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Bike Shorts

  1. Flylow Cash
  2. POC Resistance Enduro Light
  3. PEARL iZUMi Journey
  4. Patagonia Dirt Craft
  5. Club Ride Apparel Mountain Surf
  6. Louis Garneau Leeway
  7. PEARL iZUMi Canyon
  8. Club Ride Chachi
  9. Sweet Protection Hunter Light
  10. Patagonia Endless Ride Liner Bibs

 

Comparison Table - Best Mountain Bike Shorts

PictureNameMaterialLinerAdjustment MechanismPocketsPriceRating
Flylow CashPolyester/ SpandexNoInternal Velcro3$$4.8
POC Resistance Enduro LightPolyamide / SpandexNoExternal Velcro2$$$4.9
PEARL iZUMi JourneyPolyester (Liner: Polyester / Elastane)YesDrawstring Closure3$$4.6
Patagonia Dirt CraftNylon / Spandex (Liner: Polyester / Spandex)YesExternal Hook-And-Webbing3$$$4.9
Club Ride Apparel Mountain SurfPolyester / SpandexNoInternal Velcro6$$4.7
Louis Garneau LeewayPolyester/SpandexN/AExternal Velcro2$$4.7
PEARL iZUMi CanyonPolyester / ElastaneYesInternal Velcro5$$4.5
Club Ride Chachi91% Polyester/9% SpandexNoInternal Velcro6$$4.8
Sweet Protection Hunter LightProprietary Plant-Based FabricNoHook-And-Loop Tabs1$$$4.8
Patagonia Endless Ride Liner BibsNylon / SpandexYesN/ANone$$$4.8
PictureNameMaterialLinerAdjustment MechanismPocketsPriceRating

 

Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Shorts for Mountain Biking

Flylow Cash

Specs
  • Liner: No
  • Material: Polyester/ Spandex
  • Pockets: 3
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Internal Velcro
Features
  • Fabric Provides UPF 40 Sun Protection
  • Zippered Thigh Pocket
  • 11.5-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: RIDING WHILE LISTENING TO MUSIC

What began as a quest to build better ski apparel has turned into a grassroots company that now designs reliable apparel for trail, water, and lifestyle. Flylow’s first products debuted in 2005, and since that time, the Colorado based company has expanded their mountain bike apparel offerings to include tops, bottoms, and accessories.

Wear these shorts over a chamois (padded short) for a lightweight outer short that will aid in deflecting limbs, branches and high grass, giving you added protection for a full day on the trail. The low profile, internal Velcro around the waist allows secure adjustment with or without a belt. A pocket within a pocket with Velcro closure ensures your phone will remain secured for your entire ride.

POC Resistance Enduro Light

Specs
  • Liner: No
  • Material: Polyamide / Spandex
  • Pockets: 2
  • Adjustment Mechanism: External Velcro
Features
  • Side Zippered Pockets
  • Fully Lined
  • Accommodates Knee Pads for Enduro Riding
  • 12-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: ENDURO (DOWNHILL) RIDING

Founded in 2005, POC Sports (or more commonly referred to as just POC) is a Swedish company that was founded to address and improve ski racing safety. This same technology was applied to other adventure sports which included mountain biking. The line now includes body armor, helmets, apparel, and eyewear.

These extremely durable and lightweight shorts are designed to protect the rider from the unforeseen dangers that await you around every turn. For enduro (downhill) riders or those seeking extra protection, the shorts are designed to accommodate knee pads under the shorts. Additional features include Velcro adjustments along the side to allow for a dialed-in fit and zippered side pockets to store all your essentials.

PEARL iZUMi Journey

Specs
  • Liner: Yes
  • Material: Polyester (Liner: Polyester / Elastane)
  • Pockets: 3
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Drawstring Closure
Features
  • Two Open Hand Pockets And One Rear Pocket
  • Removable Liner Shorts
  • 12-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: BUDGET CONSCIOUS MOUNTAIN BIKERS

For over fifty years, Pearl Izumi has been a staple in the cycling industry for both professional racers and weekend warriors desiring to wear performance apparel. Founded in Japan, Pearl Izumi makes apparel and cycling shoes.

Featuring a standard chamois liner short, the Journey has a board-short styling with drawstring closure. The liner shorts are removable so when the ride is over, you can shed the chamois and enjoy a burger and brews before heading home. The two-way stretch fabric of the outer short has a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment to aid in keeping you dry throughout your ride.

Patagonia Dirt Craft

Specs
  • Liner: Yes
  • Material: Nylon / Spandex (Liner: Polyester / Spandex)
  • Pockets: 3
  • Adjustment Mechanism: External Hook-And-Webbing
Features
  • Two Drop-In Hand Pockets And One Thigh Zippered Pocket
  • Liner Shorts and Outer Shorts Snap Together
  • 11.5-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: LONG DAYS IN THE SADDLE

A highly recognized name in the outdoor industry, Patagonia is consistently pushing the envelope in sustainability and environmental advocacy. In recent years, Patagonia expanded its line and returned to producing mountain biking apparel. We couldn’t be more excited!

The Dirt Craft shorts feature a 3-layer mountain-bike-specific padded liner short with a durable water repellent (DWR) treated outer short. This combination ensures comfort and protection for whatever the trail throws your way. The removable liner short can be easily removed. The baggie outer shorts are also compatible with other padded mountain bike shorts in the Patagonia line, including the Endless Ride liner shorts and bibs.

Club Ride Apparel Mountain Surf

Specs
  • Liner: No
  • Material: Polyester / Spandex
  • Pockets: 6
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Internal Velcro
Features
  • Zippered Pockets On Both Legs And Four Open Pockets
  • Reflective Accents For Increased Visibility
  • 12-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: FASHIONABLE MOUNTAIN BIKING

Founded in 2008 in Sun Valley, Idaho, Club Ride was born out of the need for technical and stylish apparel options. Whether riding or styling, the brand has successfully achieved both.

Improving on past versions, the updated Mountain Surf short sports new and improved fabric along with internal Velcro waist adjustments. Made with stretch woven fabric, these shorts are ideal for a day on the trail, but may also become a favorite go-to short for post riding activities. Six pockets provide ample storage for your gear on and off the trail. Did we mention that the style is also available in a plaid version?

Louis Garneau Leeway

Specs
  • Liner: N/A
  • Material: Polyester/Spandex
  • Pockets: 2
  • Adjustment Mechanism: External Velcro
  • Other: Padded Short Included
Features
  • Two Front Pockets
  • Reflective Accents On The Back (to keep you visible on the trail)
  • Outer Shorts Compatible With Other Garneau Inner Shorts And Bibs
  • 11.5-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: ALL-DAY COMFORT

Founded in 1983 by Canadian road racing and track cyclist, Louis Garneau began making his now renowned brand of apparel and gear in his father’s garage. The Garneau brand expanded rapidly and is now an industry leader.

The Leeway liner shorts can be worn in conjunction with the outer short or as a standalone padded short for road riding. The padded liner short features memory foam for a comfortable ride. The outer shorts are made of trail-ready, abrasion resistant fabric. Adjustable tabs on the side of the shorts feature dual Velcro strips for dialing in the fit. The snap loop fastening system makes them compatible with other Garneau inner shorts and bibs.

PEARL iZUMi Canyon

Specs
  • Liner: Yes
  • Material: Polyester / Elastane
  • Pockets: 5
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Internal Velcro
Features
  • Two Hand Pockets, Zippered Rear Pocket And Side Cargo Pockets
  • High-Rise Rear Waistband Keeps Shorts Secure Fit
  • 12-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: CASUAL TRAIL RIDING

Unlike the Pearl Izumi Journey Short, the Canyon is designed with a snap front closure and zip fly. The outer short is made of quick drying and moisture wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry on the trail. The casual styling makes it ideal for post ride activities as well. Dial in the fit with internal Velcro tabs. Detach the inner liner short for post ride activities.

Club Ride Chachi

Specs
  • Liner: No
  • Material: 91% Polyester/9% Spandex
  • Pockets: 6
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Internal Velcro
Features
  • Six Pockets
  • Reflective Accents
  • 11-inch Inseam

BEST FOR: TRAIL AND TOWN

Flylow began with a mountain bike rider looking to provide clothing that was technical enough for the trails but fashionable enough to wear after the ride for lunch and drinks.

Made from stretchy, double weave fabric, these shorts are chock full of pockets, six in all, for securing all of your essential for a day on the trail. Internal Velcro adjustments allow for creating the perfect fit and style. With a luxury appearance and a durable construction, these shorts will be adept at performing on the trails. And to borrow wording from the brand, they are “technical enough to ride in, stylish enough to live in.”

Sweet Protection Hunter Light

Specs
  • Liner: No
  • Material: Proprietary Plant-Based Fabric
  • Pockets: 1
  • Adjustment Mechanism: Hook-And-Loop Tabs
Features
  • Zippered Cargo Pocket
  • Laser Cut Ventilation Holes Increase Breathability
  • Reflective Accents

BEST FOR: DOWNHILL PERFORMANCE

What began as a school project back in 1988 gave rise to the birth of Sweet Protection. The brand was born out of the idea of creating products that were ‘stronger, lighter, better.’ They set out to produce superior protection that allowed people to push their boundaries. Today the brand makes protective gear and apparel for the snow, bike, and paddlesports arenas.

A lightweight version of another short in the line, the Hunter Light still ensures technical performance while reducing the weight. The outer fabric creates a water repellent layer while laser cut ventilation holes increase breathability. Exterior Velcro adjustment allows for a secure and comfortable fit every time.

Patagonia Endless Ride Liner Bibs

Specs
  • Liner: Yes
  • Material: Nylon / Spandex
  • Pockets: None
  • Adjustment Mechanism: N/A
Features
  • Gel Chamois For Increased Comfort
  • Silicone Leg Grips Eliminate Slippage
  • Compatible With Patagonia Dirt Craft And Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts

BEST FOR: WEARING UNDER OTHER MOUNTAIN BIKE OUTER SHORT

Patagonia has a reputation for creating high quality products for lifestyle and adventure based activities. They recently returned to producing mountain biking apparel and riders are going to reap the benefits.

The Endless Ride bib has a short version as well and both will provide a chamois option for any of the shorts above that don’t come equipped with an inner liner. However, these bibs are designed to work interchangeably with the Patagonia Dirt Craft short. They also possess a gel chamois pad for increased comfort and durability on longer rides. The stretchy jersey fabric of the bibs is enhanced with mesh panels while the open mesh panel on the back increases breathability.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING MOUNTAIN BIKING SHORTS

FIT

Regardless of the activity, fit is paramount. No one wants to wear apparel that is too tight or too loose when engaging in performance activities like mountain biking, especially when you’re careening down steep hills and need all your focus to stay in control.

There are two options for saddling up for a day on the mountain. The first is compression fitting lycra-based products that have the chamois padding built into the shorts. While they are tighter fitting than the second option, they shouldn’t be so tight that they reduce circulation.

The second option is the looser fitting mountain biking shorts that are typically worn over a chamois inner short that will provide necessary padding for a day in the saddle. They provide more protection for your legs as they extend down further and are often made of abrasion resistant materials to shed off branches along the trail.

 

LENGTH

Lycra based riding shorts typically only cover your leg to about the mid thigh region. The looser fitting shorts on this list tend to have a longer inseam and often extend down to the knees with some extending long enough to cover and accommodate knee pads for downhill/enduro riding.

 

WAIST ADJUSTMENT

Most mountain biking shorts will come with waist adjustment options. Unlike your casual shorts, you’ll want to be able to customize the fit. Lycra bibs and shorts don’t have this option as they are already form fitting. Look for shorts that have either internal or external Velcro adjustments or hook and loop.

 

POCKETS

Pockets are essential as the Lycra options for traditional road cycling have very little options in this category. Pockets make it easy to store phones, keys, energy bars or gels that you need quick access to. If you’re wearing a hydration pack where you can store some of your essentials then you can get away without having pockets, but they’re super convenient for quick access. Look for pockets that have zippered access for those important items that you don’t want to lose on the trail like your phone and keys.

 

CHAMOIS

Some baggies will come with an integrated or detachable chamois (padded liner short). If the short doesn’t come with this option, it’s highly recommended that you purchase one separately as they can prevent discomfort and chafing that can come from a long day in the saddle.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CHAMOIS

As mentioned above, a chamois is a padded inner short. The padding can be made from a variety of materials including foam or gel. Most are designed to anatomically provide the best padding for the rider and helps to wick away moisture created from high exertion activities.

DWR

DWR, or Durable Water Treatment, is a coating or treatment applied to fabrics that makes them water resistant. This is ideal when the weather is apt to change unexpectedly or you encounter water elements on your ride and splashing occurs.

BIBS

There are two options when looking for Lycra based biking shorts. The standard padded liner shorts fit around the waist. Bibs extend up further and have straps that loop up over the arms and rest on the shoulders, providing extended coverage up the lower back.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Women’s Mountain Biking Shorts | MTB Shoes

MTB Jackets | MTB Gloves

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