A good pair of women’s MTB shorts are an essential part of your MTB kit and with more and more choices being made available for women what should you look for when choosing a pair? Features to consider include fit, if they shed water, ventilate sweat, zip in the right place and stretch in others, whether or not they have a liner, if they’re durable enough to protect against brambles and remain intact when you superman down the trail!

Mountain bike shorts fall into two broad categories: baggies and Lycra. Baggies are more durable, offer more protection, provide the option of storage, and come in a more casual style. While baggies fit looser than Lycra shorts, there are still fit differences between baggies. Some are designed to be snug without being completely form-fitting. Others have lots of room.



Fabric is a key consideration, often dictated by your riding style. If you’re off for a cross-country pedal a lightweight, slimmer cut may be your best bet.

The 100% Airmatic Skylar. A light weight, 4-way stretch, slim fitting short with padded liner idea for long days in the saddle.

The Raceface Indiana shorts, the lightest women’s MTB shorts on the market.


For downhill or the bike park you’ll be less bothered about weight and more concerned with protection. Downhill shorts are usually made with more durable fabrics but should still offer stretch for when you’re moving around on the bike.

The Fox Flexair downhill shorts are ultra durable and tough.

The ION Seek cargo shorts are a comfortable, bike-specific fit made from a flexible and robust fabric.

The Raceface Khyber are hard-wearing and great looking.

The Dakine Mode shorts are a downhill short that has it all, tough durable fabric, long inseam, lots of pockets and venting.


Riding in the UK you also need to consider the weather so shorts with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating or waterproof ones are a kit essential. To keep you riding through the winter you might also consider trousers.

Sombrio’s V’al shorts are a mid weight option with 2-way stretch and a DWR finish.

The DWR treatment on the ION Scrub shorts prevents the fabric from absorbing rain and liquid.

The Madison Flo waterproof shorts will keep you on the trails no matter what the weather

The ION softshell trousers are lightweight, flexible and durable. The DWR coating makes them an all-year riding trouser.


If you wear knee pads, look for shorts that won’t bunch up on your pads. Generally, if a short rests mid-knee cap or below when standing off the bike, they won’t ride up above your pads when pedaling. More slim-fitting shorts won’t have large enough leg openings to accommodate bulky pads, and will snag or ride up above the pads.


Pockets provide useful storage, and are generally found in three different configurations: side cargo, front slash, and rear center. Pockets need to be big enough to hold your stuff, but snug enough to keep everything in-place and secure. There’s nothing worse than something banging into your knee because of a poorly-designed pocket.

Padded Liner

Some MTB shorts, e.g. the 100% Airmatic Skylar,  include an inner liner with a chamois pad. Liners that are not sewn into the shell generally work better, as the liner doesn’t shift when the shorts move, keeping the chamois in place. You can also buy liner shorts on their own to wear with any MTB short.

Waist Fastening

A comfortable and secure method of closure that is easy to operate with gloved fingers is essential. Heavier duty shorts often have a low-profile ratchet and zipper fly. Ratchet closures almost never open by mistake. Lighter shorts range from no closure at all, relying on stretch panels in the waistband, to a single-snap button with a board-short style fly.

Of course, it’s tough to make a pair of shorts that fits everyone, so most shorts also have waist adjusters to cinch the shorts down a size.

Color and Print

Color and print is a personal preference from staple black to floral prints.

Nearly all brands offer a black option, an MTB wardrobe essential!

Blue has been a popular color through the 2017 MTB ranges including the ION Traze

Stand our from the crown in DHaRCO’s poppy red gravity shorts

Brighten up your MTB wardrobe with some floral prints. The Maloja WeisskleeM shorts come in blue and plum (shown)

A good pair of MTB shorts should strike a simple balance: lightweight but durable fabric, a comfortable fit without chafing or irritation, plenty of adjust-ability and enough pockets to be practical.


2017 Women’s MTB Shorts


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