For Women

Best MTB Shorts for Women

September 26, 2022

Moun­tain bik­ing shorts can be an over­whelm­ing realm of the sport, espe­cial­ly for women. There are so many options, and every­one has a dif­fer­ent body type; what brand or style your friend loves may not be what fits you best.

There are women-spe­cif­ic brands, uni­sex, or maybe you feel most com­fort­able in men’s style. Women’s moun­tain bike appar­el brands are on the rise. More and more women are rid­ing bikes and real­iz­ing that there is a big gap in wom­en’s moun­tain bik­ing appar­el, espe­cial­ly when it comes to per­for­mance, fit, and col­ors. Not every woman wants pink or pur­ple shorts. Also, brands are being more mind­ful of being inclu­sive of all sizes and body shapes.

We reached out to a few female mountain bikers to get input on the best mtb shorts (for women).

Lori Van­den­brink – Mar­ket­ing Man­ag­er and Guide

Mea­sure­ments: 5′7″, 132lb, size 6

Favorite MTB Short: Giro Hav­oc

I live in North Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton where the sum­mers are hot and dry. Many of the MTB shorts that I’ve tried have been made from too thick of fab­ric mak­ing them too hot for me to ride in dur­ing the peak sum­mer months. The Giro Hav­oc, my go to shorts are made from a thin, stretch­able, but durable fab­ric. In addi­tion to the thin fab­ric, the shorts fea­ture per­fo­rat­ed ven­ti­la­tion along the sides of the legs to keep you cool­er on the hottest days. The shorts also have vel­cro straps at the waist so you can cinch to fit. In addi­tion to the two hand pock­ets, the shorts fea­ture a zip­pered pock­et on the right leg. While I don’t use the hand pock­ets aside from stash­ing a piece of trash, the zip­pered pock­et fits my iphone per­fect­ly. These shorts are very ver­sa­tile. In addi­tion to rid­ing in them, I wear them with­out a sham­my for hik­ing. They are also quick dry­ing after a dip in the riv­er and fash­ion­able enough for a stop at the local brew­ery after­wards. The Giro Hav­oc get my vote.

XM Vo – Vet­eri­nar­i­an and avid moun­tain biker

Favorite MTB Short: Abit

Mea­sure­ments: size 4 (27 pants), 5′7″ slim frame (mid-thigh diam­e­ter ~52 cm; hip cir­cum­fer­ence ~92 cm; hip length (greater trochanter of femur) to mid­dle of kneecap: 41 cm (stand­ing)

Women’s’ short in gen­er­al I had trou­ble with find­ing the right fit and com­bo of fea­tures:  inad­e­quate pock­et design (not enough pock­ets, too small to fit a phone, poor place­ment where my pock­et con­tent (phone/knife) would get in my way of ped­al­ing or poke me in the ovaries when flex­ing my leg), were too high waist­ed, or had too much excess fab­ric in hip area, or were the wrong length. I stopped look­ing after I got the Abits.

Abit Shorts: They are top rat­ed for our men’s favorite shorts and a favorite of some women. Here is why:

“Ladies! Abit shorts aren’t male or female spe­cif­ic, and don’t need to be because the mate­r­i­al and design prac­ti­cal­ly gives you a cus­tom fit! I had to wait a cou­ple of years for my small­er size to be man­u­fac­tured for my slim 5′7″ size 4 frame and when it final­ly did, I snagged a few pairs, and I get an addi­tion­al pair year­ly so that I don’t have to do laun­dry as often, but I can’t tell which ones are the new one’s vs the old ones because they hold up so well! (And they fit year-round, no mat­ter how much exer­cise, or donuts, I get or not get). 4‑way stretch with two dif­fer­ent lengths and styles to cater to both our pref­er­ences and body shapes- (ath­let­ic vs slim; 12″ and 13.5″ inseam). They have a well-secured but­ton clo­sure (not those snaps that pop open with that extra effort uphill or that extra burg­er post ride) and sol­id buck­les on both sides to cinch them tight when you’ve sweat­ed that extra weight around your mid­line off or if you have less waist then you do hips. The mate­r­i­al is stretchy, com­fy, and although not the light­est of fab­rics on the mar­ket, the DWR water resis­tance is key in the moody PNW. They are per­fect for brushy sea­son when oth­er fab­rics get snagged by branch­es or those thorny black­ber­ry bush­es- or if you do trail work and ride on the same day you don’t need to baby these. If you need more air flow, the well-placed pock­ets (4 of them) can be opened to the mesh inte­ri­or fab­ric to make vents (or you can throw in a 12oz cold beer in them to cool you down fur­ther). The inte­ri­or of the low­er pock­ets also has a lit­tle stretch sleeve to secure your phone, wal­let and/or pock­etknife to pre­vent them from slid­ing around while you’re shred­ding. I have three pairs (or more?) and pret­ty much most of folks in our PWN Seat­tle com­mu­ni­ty wear them (the founder is local trail advo­cate and rid­er), which might explain why Abit runs out of sizes peri­od­i­cal­ly, be patient, they are worth it and grab your size as soon as it pops up or get two dif­fer­ent sizes for the days you want to looks sleek and fast vs days you pre­fer loose and rad! I even wear them when I’m not rid­ing my bike because the pock­ets are just so convenient!”

Brit­ta Berube – Sales and Guest Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er and Guide

Mea­sure­ments: 5’9, 165lbs, size 10

Favorite MTB Short: Zoic Bliss Short

Find­ing a pair of women-spe­cif­ic moun­tain bik­ing shorts that fit my curvy body has been nonex­is­tent for a very long time. I have thick thighs and an aver­age waist. Shorts that I have tried were typ­i­cal­ly either too tight in the waist and bag­gy in the thighs, or too tight in the thighs and had zero stretch, or they were just way too bag­gy over­all. I had basi­cal­ly giv­en up and just went with men’s shorts.

When I was intro­duced to Zoic Moun­tain Bike Shorts, I imme­di­ate­ly fell I love. They were soft, stretchy, and fit per­fect­ly in all the right places. They are breath­able, stretchy, light­weight, have lots of pock­ets, and very durable. They offer fun prints and neu­tral col­ors that aren’t obnox­ious­ly bright.

I start­ed out lov­ing their Navaeh Shorts until they came out with the Bliss style. They basi­cal­ly com­bined their best short with a wide span­dex waistband—genius! I spend half the year in the desert and the oth­er half in the moun­tains and have test­ed these shorts in many con­di­tions. They have sat­is­fied me on every ride! They real­ly are the most com­fort­able short I have found that fits my body perfectly.

Zoic recent­ly start­ed mak­ing their shorts and lin­ers from 85% recy­cled con­tent to reduce the impact on the envi­ron­ment. A com­pa­ny who does their part on help­ing the plan­et speaks vol­ume and I will always try their prod­ucts verse oth­ers who are not on board with sustainability.

It’s hard to dub just one pair as the “best mtb shorts”, so here are our top five favorites. 

  1. Abit Gear
  2. Giro Hav­oc
  3. Zoic
  4. Patag­o­nia Dirt Roamer
  5. Wild Rye