Padded liner shorts are a mountain biker’s secret weapon: they’ll help you ride further and for longer while staying comfy in the saddle… there’s even space for storage in some of them

MTB liner shorts are an essential for long days in the saddle, they bring plenty of comfort without feeling bulky, getting in the way or cramping your style. They fall into two camps, the traditional bib shorts with elasticated straps that come up over your shoulders and now feature internal storage for your keys, tool, snacks or anything that lets you leave the pack behind. And minimal boxer-brief style padded liner shorts for cycling.

Take your pick, they’re both excellent in 2024 and will stop those pesky saddle sores spoiling your fun, letting you ride for longer in total comfort. Finally, don’t forget to complete the look with some baggy shorts or mountain bike pants/trousers to go over the top!

Jump to: Best MTB liner shorts for men
Jump to: Best MTB liner shorts for women

Best MTB liner shorts for men

Rapha Padded Liner shorts

Liner shorts don’t come better than this, the Rapha chamois offers superlative comfort

1. Rapha Trail Liner shorts

Best overall padded liner shorts

Colours: Black | Sizes: XS – XXL | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Super comfortable in all conditions
  • Cool fabric that’s noticeably dry to the touch
  • Elasticated/silicone cuffs don’t dig in

Reasons to avoid:

  • Expensive for an undershort

Rapha’s liner is a winner, it’s superior material has a slight compressive effect that keeps it perfectly in place while you’re riding, and it also gets an antibacterial and sweat wicking treatment to keep you fresh. There’s a subtle silicone gripper that is just tacky enough to hold on, but doesn’t leave a nasty red mark afterwards.

It’s not just the material that helps Rapha stand out, there are mesh panels at the side to get air moving, and the whole thing feels incredibly well made and a cut above the rest. £90 is a ton of cash for a liner short, but it’s the best of the best, and we reckon it’s worth paying for this kind of comfort.

Read our full review of the Rapha Trail Liner shorts

7Mesh Foundation brief padded short liner

7Mesh has made a masterpiece in the Foundation, it’s super-breathable and keeps you cool even on the hottest days

2. 7Mesh Foundation Brief

Best minimalist padded liner short

Colours: Black | Sizes: XS – XXL | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Light, minimal, not restrictive at all
  • Keeps you cool on baking hot days

Reasons to avoid:

  • Pad feels a bit weird at first if you’re used to a traditional full-length chamois

7Mesh’s Foundation liner shorts are built differently to the rest. Rather than using bulky padding that wraps right round the front and can stifle air flow, the Foundations protect just your bum area and the sit bones, making the whole package a whole lot breezier. Perfect for anything but the chilliest of days.

They stay in place beautifully too, no matter how dynamic you get on the bike, and the thin fabric stays dry and comfy even on hot days that can turn you into a sweaty mess down there. The 7Mesh secret to success is that thin fabric then, it doesn’t bunch up or budge an inch, and it also doesn’t have to be in the perfect position, as some roadie chamois do. It’s stretchy breathes well and doesn’t chafe.

Read our full review of the 7Mesh Foundation Brief

Scott Trail Underwear Pro +++ short

Scott’s Trail Underwear Pro +++ short moves like a second skin on your body

3. Scott Trail Underwear Pro +++ Men’s Shorts

Best breathable liner short for hot weather

Colours: Black | Sizes: S – XXL | Rating: N/A

Reasons to buy:

  • Minimal bulk, breathable, comfortable

Reasons to avoid:

  • Expensive when bought separately

The Trail Underwear Pro liner breathes like nothing else in hot weather. The chamois is 3D formed meaning it matches the contours of your nether regions perfectly. It’s this that makes the Scott short so comfy, there’s no bunching and it means there’s only ever ‘just enough’ padding in once place.

The bulk of the short uses four-way stretch perforated fabric so it moves easily, wicks well and dries quickly. It’s not cheap when bought as a standalone liner, but it comes as standard with Scott’s Trail Vertic and Trail Tuned shorts, so definitely the way to go.


The Specialized Mountain Bib Liner is a great liner short, add in the gear storage and it’s incredibly versatile

4. Specialized Men’s Mountain Bib Liner with SWAT

Best storage bib liner short

Colours: Black | Sizes: S – XXL | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • The original storage liner short. Excellent design throughout.

Reasons to avoid:

  • Premium price

Specialized makes the best storage liner short on the market, at its heart is the brand’s own Body Geometry Mountain chamois, which we’ve found to be super comfortable even on big days out. The short itself is made from a breathable mesh, and its held to your legs by comfy lycra grippers. 

You won’t carry more gear on anything else either, storage comes via three really big lumbar pockets and the middle one is big enough to take a full size water bottle. There are also big pouches on each thigh, and everything is held snug and secure without a hint of wobble.

Read our full review of the Specialized Mountain Bib Liner

Best MTB liner shorts for women

Endura Women's Singletrack Liner Shorts

A combination of price, comfort and breathability have the Endura liner shorts out on top

1. Endura Women’s Singletrack Liner Shorts

Best overall women’s liner shorts

Colours: Black | Sizes: XS – XL | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent quality lycra with stretch and support
  • Great value for money
  • Good size range, wide waistband and leg cuffs
  • Breathable mesh, comfortable chamois

Reasons to avoid:

  • Leg length might be on the long side for shorter riders

Endura’s Singletrack Liner shorts are class leading, they’re made from stretchy and breathable mesh that still manages to be supportiv. The waistband is wide enough not to roll over and dig in, while at the other end the leg cuffs are secure yet soft and gentle on your skin.

It’s the chamois where things really get good though, it’s thick without being overly bulky, and it covers all the right places without doubling up or bunching. Combine that with the excellent price, generous sizing (there’s XS to XL on offer, and XL lining up with a UK18) and good build quality and the Endura Liners can’t be beaten. 

Rapha women's trail liner shorts

Rapha’s liners cost a packet, but there’s no beating the comfort they deliver

2. Rapha Women’s Trail Liner

Best premium liner shorts with excellent comfort and fit

Colours: Black | Sizes: XS – XL | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Simple but super comfortable fit and design
  • Breathable mesh side panels

Reasons to avoid:

  • Premium price tag
  • Limited size range for larger riders

Rapha’s shorts use premium quality lycra, which makes them both supportive and firm, and incredibly comfortable and soft on the body. There’s no budging the Raphas either, they stay where they should all day long, while the flat front panel over the stomach is ideal for comfort, with no bunching. And the chamois offers great comfort on long rides.

At the sides you get mesh panels to make the Raphas more breathability and keep you cool in hot weather, and there are even storage pockets on each side that’ll hold snacks, keys, your phone or any number of useful trail items.

Specialized Women's Trail Liner with SWAT

The SWAT storage on Specialzied’s shorts is first class, while the chamois and shorts are comfy too

3. Specialized Women’s Mountain Liner Bib Shorts with SWAT

Best women’s storage bib shorts

Colours: Black | Sizes: XS – XL | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Plenty of on-board storage pockets
  • Great fit and comfort, drop tail for comfort breaks

Reasons to avoid:

  • Strap set up a bit confusing
  • Limited size range for larger riders

The Women’s Mountain Liner shorts boast four pockets, including a zippy one for your dosh/phone/keys, while the others will take a proper size water bottle too. You also get thigh pockets ideal for snacks and gels, and everything is held securely in place when you’re riding.

The Spesh Liner doesn’t have an especially thick chamois, but it’s just right for cushioning without getting in the way or rucking up. The mesh fabric main body is just as good, it’ soft and stretchy but also supportive, while the whole package is light and airy for hot-weather riding. And the best bit – a drop tail for easy loo stops.

Velocio Women's Trail Mesh Bib Liner short

4. Velocio Women’s Trail Mesh Bib Liner

Best for inclusive sizing and hot-weather riding

Colours: Black | Sizes: XXS – XXXL | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Inclusive range of sizing, XXS to XXXL
  • Lightweight breathable mesh is great for hot days
  • Wide comfortable straps

Reasons to avoid:

  • Mesh feels rough when stretched tight
  • Chamois is a shade too narrow

Velocio’s liner shorts are our top pick if you’re after a wide range of sizes, They’re available from XXS to XXXL, everyone will be able to find the perfect fit. There’s even an online sizing guide to do the leg work here for you.

The shorts are a win too, the mesh is stretchy and reasonably soft, white the straps are wide and comfortable. There’s also an extra strap across the back to stop the shoulders sliding off when you’re working hard. It also means you can pull just the back of the shorts down for a toilet stop.

The Cytech chamois is a chunky one, but it’s very comfortable with plenty of padding. You also get a mesh pocket on each side to add some storage for snacks or other gubbins.

How we tested

All of the shorts above have been thoroughly tested by our team of expert reviewers. Each pair of shorts above have been ridden on a number of mountain bike rides in a range of conditions, and judged for value, comfort, fit and features. By testing and judging the shorts head-to-head, we know that the shorts included in this guide are the highest scoring and best performing ones we’ve tested.

What to look for in the best padded short liners for mountain biking

1. Chamois or pad

This is the pad that sits between your nether regions and the saddle, and it’s usually made of foam, gel, or a combination of both. It’s designed to sit next to the skin (so no knickers, boxers or pants underneath!). Chamois pads come in different thicknesses and sometimes also width fittings, and it’s very much a question of personal preference on what you go for.

2. Lycra or mesh fabric

The shorts themselves will be constructed from a stretchy Lycra material. You can also get more lightweight shorts, ideal for summer or hot-weather riding, that are either completely constructed from mesh, or have mesh panels.

3. Pockets

Lots of liner shorts now come with pockets, usually located on the thigh or at the small of the back, and made of the same lycra or mesh as the shorts themselves. These pockets are handy for carrying snacks or change if you’re looking to ride light, or if you need more storage on longer rides.

4. Waist shorts or bib shorts

There are two types of liner shorts; waist shorts which are a bit like tight boxers, and bib shorts which have shoulder straps. There are pros and cons to each of them, and again it’s a matter of personal preference which you go for.

5. Fit

To work effectively, the liner shorts should sit next to the skin like leggings or tights. This is to prevent the pad moving around or bunching up, which would be uncomfortable, and to prevent chaffing, because no-one wants that going on in this region of the body.

What are padded liner shorts?

Padded liner shorts for cycling and mountain biking are lightweight lycra shorts that have a cushioned pad – called a chamois – that’s positioned to sit between the genitals and bum to provided cushioning, support and comfort while riding. They are made of a lightweight material and are designed to be worn against the skin; they are essentially cycling underwear, so you don’t wear underwear underneath them. Many mountain bikers wear them underneath their baggy shorts.

Are padded liner shorts worth it?

Many riders swear by padded liner shorts, especially for longer rides, but other riders prefer to just ride in their normal underwear under their baggy shorts, and that’s totally cool too.

Obviously we can’t dictate what you want to wear while riding, and a lot comes down to how comfortable you feel wearing un-padded underwear.

But we would suggest that there are some pretty strong reasons for wearing a specific padded liner short – namely performance fabrics will help wick sweat away from the body and dry much quicker than pure cotton, the pad/chamois itself will help support and isolate your soft tissue area during long periods in the saddle, it’s unlikely there will be any annoying seams that can cause chafing, and some models give you storage options, which can help spread the load and allow you to ditch your pack for shorter rides.

Do I wear underwear under padded liner shorts?

That’s a big no! If you do opt for padded liners, then think of them as cycling underwear. They’re designed to be worn next to the skin, as that’s when you’ll get the greatest benefit from the features that have been designed in.

They don’t look glam, but they can help keep your nether regions comfortable

Should I go for a boxer-style padded liner or a bib-short liner?

Once again this is very much down to personal preference, but each type does have it’s specific advantages and disadvantages.

Boxer-brief style padded liners are lightweight and minimal so you can wear them as normal underwear and not feel constrained or self conscious. They also make it easy to take a comfort break on a ride.

Bib shorts, on the other hand, can require a fairly extensive level of undress or some creative techniques when you need to go to the outdoor bathroom, unless they have built-in features to make this easier – most women’s bib shorts are designed to be able to easily pull down the back for toilet stops. They’re also more restrictive when you’re not actually riding, such as hanging out after a ride or driving to and from the trailhead. But the bib loops keep the short from slipping down and help prevent bunching up, so they can be more comfortable on longer rides.

That extra support from the shoulder straps also lets brands incorporate pockets and storage, for holding water bottles, tools, pumps, inner tubes and snacks. This can be a real bonus if you want to ditch your pack but still carry all the essentials. However, we would urge caution here, as carrying objects on your person can potentially cause injuries were you to crash and land on one of them.

Do I have to buy a padded short liner separately?

No, absolutely not. Many – but not all – baggy shorts come with padded liners included, and many of them are very good and save a load of money compared to buying the outer short and the liner short separately.

Is there a difference between padded cycling shorts for men and women?

Yes. Since the chamois pad on the shorts is designed to sit directly on the skin, and given that there are certain anatomical differences between male and female genitalia, it’s no surprise that there are usually different designs of shorts to suit men and women.

The shape and structure of the pad will be slightly different, the cut of the shorts themselves will be different, and women’s bib shorts in particular usually have features that make comfort breaks in the wild a bit easier – for example, the rear of the short will detach or pull down, so you don’t have to take your top off to relieve yourself.

But again it’s down to personal preference – if you feel comfortable wearing the shorts, just do it!

What is chamois cream, how do I use it and do I need it?

Chamois cream is an antibacterial anti-chaffing cream that is used to prevent rubbing between the chamois pad on liner shorts and the skin, specifically the delicate skin around the genital and bum region.

There are lots of different kinds with different consistencies and formulas, scented and unscented, but it usually comes in either a tube or a tub and has a creamy consistancy and a white colour.

To use chamois cream, take a generous scoop or squeeze and apply to areas of skin that will be in contact with the saddle via the chamois pad. Some riders also apply chamois cream to the chamois pad itself.

As to whether you need it, that’s a matter of personal preference. For a lot of trail riding, uplift days and short rides, most riders don’t bother. However if you’re planning on being in the saddle for a long time, and particularly if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of pedalling, it can really help avoid friction and potentially saddle sores.