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.