Best mountain bike shorts: comfortable, protective, waterproof, stash storage, stylish... whatever you're looking for in, you'll find it here.

The best mountain bike shorts as reviewed and recommended by our panel of expert testers. This short list includes a spread of baggy mountain bike shorts at a wide range of price points as well as padded liners to make your time in the saddle more comfortable.

Looking for more leg for protection from falls or foul weather? Read our guide to the best mountain bike trousers for everything you need to know about full-length options. If you’re after a complete wardrobe, have a look at our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike jerseys.

Best trail shorts for men:

Endura Singletrack Lite short winner logo

The Endura Singletrack Lite short is aptly named.

1. Endura SingleTrack Lite

Best value summer riding shorts

Sizes: S – XXL | Colours: Blue, black, green, orange | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Perfect combination of fabric, tailoring, sizing/length/colourway options

Reasons to avoid:

  • Wider knee opening (for pads) can look a bit flappy without pads on the regular cut

If you’re like us at mbr, chances are the weather has to be pretty blinking warm before you opt to wear short instead of lightweight riding trousers. The fabric of these shorts is a combination of nylon and elastane. In other words, they’re a little bit stretchy but still hang away from body-clinging. Despite being an overtly warm weather short, they are coated with a light DWR treatment to help prevent water from soaking in (it beads up and rolls off instead). The adjustment cinches are rear-mounted to prevent tummy bunching, which is a good idea. They carry off the trick of being on-trend fit-wise whilst still being actually decent performing sportswear.

Read our full test review of the Endura SingleTrack Lite short

7mesh Glidepath shorts

The 7Mesh Glidepath shorts are a hit both on and off the bike.

2. 7Mesh Glidepath shorts

Best lightweight option

Sizes: XS – XXL | Colours: Loam, Black, Midnight Blue, Redwood | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Invisible barely-there fit and articulation
  • Perfect pocket placement
  • Good moisture shedding

Reasons to avoid:

  • The premium price means you can buy two shorts elsewhere for this cash
  • Hook and ladder waistband not ‘infinitely’ adjustable

As with most 7Mesh garments, the Glidepath short doesn’t come cheap, but if you can afford the high price tag they pay back with superb comfort and minimal weight. The four-way stretch fabric is more elastic than any other short we’ve tested, yet the fabric is also cool, comfortable, and super breathable. We loved the cut – close-fitting without being clingy – and the styling works on and off the bike. While expensive, the lifetime crash replacement policy does take the sting out it.

Read our full test review of the 7Mesh Glidepath short

The Sweet Protection Hunter stands the test of time.

3. Sweet Protection Hunter

Best shorts for durability

Sizes: S – XL | Colours: Black, green | Weight: 281g | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great fit, sizing, length, comfort and durability
  • The redesigned waist adjustment is a welcome improvement too

Reasons to avoid:

  • The price is too high
  • The zippered pocket on the leg too low

The front of Sweet Protection’s Hunter short extends lower than the back, which means the short hangs better when riding, and covers knee pads without leaving a gap. There’s a light fabric that’s comfortable but not so flimsy that it billows or rides up. This is helped by a smooth internal ribbon that helps the hem to slide as you pedal. We were really impressed by the durability – our test sample looking box-fresh after three months wear.

Read our test review of Sweet Protection Hunter

An asymmetric hem on the Fox Flexair reduces the chance of a pad gap appearing.

4. Fox Flexair

Best shorts for ventilation

Sizes: 28 – 40in | Colours: Black, grey, blue, green, red | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Comfortable and stylish
  • The laser cut holes really make it cool and breezy too

Reasons to avoid:

  • The laser cut holes really make it cool and breezy, restricting its use to summer only

These Fox Flexair shorts are basically acclaimed Fox’s Flexair pant with the lower leg chopped off. And it retains the longer version’s comfort, style, and practicality. The lightweight perforated fabric is nice and stretchy and really airy, making it our top choice for scorching summer days.

Read our test review of Fox Flexair

Best trail shorts for women:

Endura Singletrack Lite Shorts

It’s hard to overlook the Endura SingleTrack Lite shorts for bang for buck.

1. Endura SingleTrack Lite

Best women’s short

Colours: Blue, black, green, orange | Sizes: XS-XL (regular and short length options) | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Long and short sizes
  • Well ventilated

Reasons to avoid:

  • On the tight side, so you may want to size up

As we’ve already highlighted with the men’s version, Endura’s SingleTrack Lite is an impressive short that blends comfort, ventilation, and price into a package that’s hard to beat. We also love the ability to choose from two lengths depending on your body shape. Very much a summer short that’s most effective in hot weather, but as the mercury rises, this is the short we reach for.

Read our test review of the Endura SingleTrack Lite women’s shorts

Adidas Five Ten Brand of the Brave Shorts

The Adidas Five Ten Brand of the Brave shorts were well liked by our testers.

2. Adidas Five Ten Brand of the Brave

Best short for eco-credentials

Colours: Black | Sizes: 6 – 18 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Eco-friendly and sustainably produced
  • Comfortable and well-designed

Reasons to avoid:

  • Waist closure is overkill
  • You may need to size up on the larger sizes

The Adidas Five Ten Brand of the Brave shorts are really well shaped for hips and bums and boast a good length, nailing a fit that feels like it could suit almost everyone. Although you might want to size up if you fall in between sizes.

Read our test review of the Adidas Five Ten Brand of the Brave women’s shorts

Best storage liner shorts:

The Madison Flux Capacity lets you carry some essentials without a hip pack or flappy shorts.

1. Madison Flux Capacity

Best storage liner short

Sizes: S – XXL | Rating: 8/10

Like most storage shorts, the Flux Capacity features an integrated bib to stop it hanging low when fully loaded but it does means you will need to shed upper layers if you want to squat down for, you know, a few minutes. If you only need to stop briefly there is a fly opening at the front, handy since the front of this short sits quite high on the chest. Niggles? The chamois pad is on the bulky side, the pockets are a bit fiddly to access and the silicone leg grippers are rather basic.

How we tested the best mountain bike shorts

All the shorts here were tested over a variety of summer conditions, from really hot and humid, to damp and mild. We assessed the fit, sizing and comfort while pedaling, the position and capacity of pockets and the effectiveness of waist adjusters and fly closures. We looked for any knee pad gap, as well as measuring all the inseams. To test the DWR effectiveness, we also sprayed each pair of shorts with a set amount of water and measured how much had soaked through after a set period of time.

Jaffa jodphurs

A proud pair of winning shorts

What to look for in the best mountain bike shorts:

As befits mountain biking’s relaxed, chilled-out vibe, its clothing has always favoured a baggier, more casual disposition compared to the tight, performance-driven options worn by road riders. From the early jeans and work boots repurposed by the Repack pioneers, through surf shorts in the 90’s and heavy-duty protective freeride wear in the early noughties, mountain bike clothing has evolved dramatically, with standard issue kit boasting lightweight, hi-tech fabrics, built-in stretch, wicking properties and waterproof coatings. For a relatively simple garment, mountain bike shorts have been on quite a journey in the last 40 years.

And the reason shorts have made such great strides is that, globally, the sportswear market is worth a staggering $353 billion. Annually. So there is no shortage of budget swilling around to fund research and development. And that means that MTB clothing benefits from innovations being made across the entire sportswear industry.

Spada Pro Orion short

A good pair of shorts blends a whole host of factors, but if we focus on fabrics to start, we now see that most MTB shorts are made from a polyester/elastane mix. Polyester is, of course, a man-made fabric with excellent durability as well as resistance to shrinking and stretching. It’s also easy to look after and quick-drying. The elastane element gives the garment a stretchy property, making it more suitable for high intensity activities involving lots of movement. And yes, you probably know it better by one of its trade names; Lycra or Spandex.

On top of these highly technical fabric blends, many brands add a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. And while that might seem like a waste of time on a pair of shorts, where water can splash up the leg, it actually makes a lot of sense to prevent the seat area becoming saturated from spray. No one likes a soggy bottom, after all.

Mountain bike shorts also need to have a secure fly closure, pockets for storage and a cut that allows freedom of movement without billowing in the wind.

For this test we’ve assembled 10 of the latest shorts from an assortment of the most popular brands. Read on to find out which are pants and which are the bee’s knees.

7Mesh Slab shorts

Flat seams on the 7Mesh Slab shorts reduce friction and chafing.


All the shorts tested here use some variation of nylon/polyester/elastane mix. On average there’s around 10-15 per cent elastane to add sufficient stretch to the fabric. Flatlock seams are popular to join panels of material as they are strong and low profile, so there’s less abrasion on bare skin. Some shorts are now ultrasonically welded, or taped, which not only creates a more waterproof join, but it is impressively unobtrusive, eliminating chafing.


Fashions come and go, and with them hem lengths. Most trail shorts now have a relatively tailored, slim-line cut with a length at or around the knee. While length is really down to personal preference, it does depend to some extent on whether or not you wear knee pads. Too high and the short can ride up above the pad and expose an unflattering band of skin – known as the pad gap.

7mesh Glidepath short

A built-in belt on the 7Mesh Glidepath short helps security.

Waist adjuster

To add an element of adjustability, and room for a post-ride slice of cake, most shorts come with some form of waist adjuster. These can be subtle and hidden or external and easy-to-access.


Buttons, buckles and poppers – no, not the stomach contents of an 80’s raver, but different ways of fastening a fly. Whichever method is used, it needs to be quick and easy to fasten and unfasten, as well as secure; the last thing you want are your shorts falling down when you have to get off the back of the bike on a steep chute.

Rab Cinder Crank shorts

In our view, pockets are essential, come with zips, and should not sit too low on the thigh.


As riding packless has become more and more popular, so pockets have become more and more important on trail shorts. You don’t want huge cargo pockets that let you carry around the kitchen sink, as these will just flap against your thighs, but you do want enough space for a phone and a key at a bare minimum. Ideally the pockets should keep the contents secure against your body so they don’t rattle around.


Zipped vents let you tune the amount of cooling air that can enter your shorts on a hot day, but these add weight and cost. So the latest trend is for laser-cut holes around the inside thigh.


A DWR coating gives a level of rain and splash protection.

Durable Water Repellent

Or DWR for short. This is a treatment, or coating, added to the fabric to make water bead on the surface and run away, rather than pool and be absorbed. It’s useful on shorts to prevent uncomfortable wet bottoms while pedalling.