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The 10 Best Women's Mountain Bike Shorts of 2021

Mountain biking in street clothes is sort of like skiing in jeans. It’s not the worst, but once you try purpose-built gear, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. That’s especially true when it comes to shorts. Sure, plenty of women have a great time riding bikes in yoga pants or board shorts, but mountain bike shorts have a lot to offer. Some of that has to do with fit, clothes fit your body differently when you’re in an attack position on the bike than when you’re just standing around casually. The best mountain bike shorts will have stretch materials and a bike-specific fit so that they don’t ride up as you ride down.

Bike shorts are also more durable than casual or athletic apparel. They’re designed to stand up to riding fast through the tight brush and shrug off crashes. They might seem expensive up front, but they’re built to last. Finally, good bike shorts have good pockets. Pockets without zippers or velcro don’t do you much good on a bike. It’s too easy to have a phone or tools slip out of them and get lost. And you don’t want whatever is in your pockets to dig into your leg in a crash. So good bike shorts have pockets that keep gear securely out of the way.

All that’s a lot to ask from any item of clothing, but these women’s bike shorts do all that and more. That’s why they’ve made our best-of list. So read on to learn which of the best women’s mountain bike shorts will keep you happy on your rides.


Shredly The MTB

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Shredly makes female-specific gear in a wide variety of colors, fits, and patterns. Their “The MTB” short is exactly what it sounds like, a short to ride bikes in. Shredly has designed this short with all-day rides in mind, so in addition to two hand pockets, it also has a stash pocket that closes with a flap to keep tools or other valuables secure. The waist has a low profile internal adjustment system that keeps them comfortable and secure no matter how sweaty you get, and they come in a variety of wild patterns, or just plain black if you’re going for the stealth look.

Shredly also built in two vents to the front of the thighs, they’re zippered so you can slip them open when things get hot, and a mesh lining keeps bugs out. The contoured waistband extends higher up than usual, to keep you covered even when you’re in an aggressive riding position, and the synthetic liner wicks moisture well. Shredly also offers this short in a “curvy” fit, with a more generous cut to accommodate more body types. So if you’re looking for a do-it-all short with all the features you can need, and a ride range of sizing and fit options, look no further.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Above the kneeTwo hand, one stash pocket$105

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Wild Rye Kaweah

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Like Shredly, Wild Rye is a female-first brand determined to bring a fun new aesthetic to mountain bike apparel. The Kaweah is their most accessible and affordable short, designed to bring high-end performance to the masses. As such, it’s designed with a mid-knee fit that works well with kneepads, polyester material that stays stink-free even after hot muggy rides, and a feature set that will handle just about any riding style.

The Kaweah short has the usual two hand pockets, along with a large zippered side pocket for tool or phone storage. This pocket hangs out of the way when you’re riding so it won’t rub uncomfortably when you pedal. Instead of having an internal adjustment system, the Kaweah has belt loops so you can add your favorite belt. If you’re looking for an affordable short in a unique pattern, check out the Kaweah.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Mid-kneeHand pockets, zippered side pocket$99

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Wild Rye Freel

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

The Freel is Wild Rye’s flagship short, designed with premium materials. The main difference between the Freel and the Kaweah is that Freel uses a four-way stretch nylon material, instead of polyester. That makes them more breathable, more durable, and lighter. In addition, the Freel has a DWR coating that will help them shed light rain without wetting out. The Freel features the same fit as the Kaweah, although the lighter stretch fabric means that they’ll move with you more smoothly, and the same pocket layout, with a large zippered phone pocket on the lower leg.

When it comes down to choosing between the Freel and the Kaweah, it’s really a question of what you want. If you’re a new rider, buying your first shorts, the Kaweah will serve you well as you figure out what fit and features you need. For more experienced riders, who know they like Wild Rye’s shorts, the Freel is the premium option that will keep you happy for a long time down the road. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with Wild Rye’s shorts.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Mid-kneeHand pockets, zippered side pocket$119

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DHaRCO Gravity

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

DHaRCO’s Gravity shorts are, as the name suggests, designed for women who like going downhill. That means that they’re made of slightly burlier materials than some of the other options on this list, and they have a longer cut to offer more protection and accommodate knee pads. That doesn’t mean that these shorts will feel out of place on trail rides though. If you like the longer cut, these also have all the features you need in a pair of everyday shorts, like stretchy, moisture-wicking material, an adjustable waist, and zippered pockets. And the tailored cut of the Gravity shorts looks good at casual events post-ride too.

Even though DHaRCO’s Gravity short is billed for shuttlers and bike park riders, it does just about everything well. So if you’re looking for a technical short that’s cut just a little longer than most women’s shorts, and works well with our without kneepads, well, DHaRCO has your back.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Below the kneeTwo zip pockets$95

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MONS ROYALE Virage

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

MONS ROYALE’s brand aesthetic could be summed up as “careful minimalism paired with premium materials”, and their Virage short lives up to that promise. There’s no long list of features and pockets here. Instead, MONS figured out what a bike short is supposed to do, and designed these to do just that, really well. They come with an included belt to adjust the waist, and one zippered pocket for a phone or other valuables. The shorter cut keeps them comfortable on long rides, and strategically placed seams ward off chafing.

The real magic of the Virage is in its material though. MONS’ signature blend of recycled fabric, stretch spandex, and merino wool creates a material that is light, durable, comfortable, weather-resistant, and never gets smelly. These shorts just work, really, really well. So if you like to travel light and fast, and need a short that can keep up, check out the Virage.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Above the kneeOne zippered pocket$140

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Patagonia Tyrolean

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Patagonia’s Tyrolean shorts are a no-nonsense, high-performing option for riders who like to chase trail on all-day rides. Like all of Patagonia’s apparel, the Tyrolean shorts are designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible. They’re made of 91% recycled polyester, with added spandex to give them some stretch. This combination makes them comfortable, breathable and helps them move with your body while you’re pedaling.

The Tyrolean has a shorter cut than the other shorts on this list, they don’t work well with kneepads, but they allow your legs to breathe more on summer days. The zippered thigh pockets keep your phone out of the way, so you don’t have to worry about losing it on big descents. What really sets the Tyrolean apart is the minimalist waistband. There are no belt loops, velcro flaps, or even a button here. Instead, the elastic waist keeps the shorts up with a wide band of stretchy material. This means there’s less chance of chafing, especially if you’re wearing a backpack with a hip belt. If you’re looking for a very light, minimalist short, the Tyrolean has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Mid-thighZippered hand pockets$79

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Pearl Izumi Summit Shell

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Pearl Izumi has been dialing in their mountain bike gear for years longer than many other apparel brands have even existed, so it’s no surprise that their Summit Shell shorts get all the details just right. The Summit’s fit is carefully designed to comfortable on the bike, and flattering off of it. The seams are all placed to minimize chafing, and the hem is shaped to work well with kneepads.

Pearl Izumi uses an integrated strap and hook system to adjust the waist fit, it’s simple and secure. The hand and back pockets are all shaped to help keep their contents secure, as well as not interfere with your riding position. Pearl uses a polyester and elastane mix through the short’s material so that they repel water and bushes, but still stretch and stay breathable and comfortable. If you appreciate the dialed details, the little things that make garments great, you’ll love the Pearl Izumi Summit Shell shorts.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Above the kneeTwo hand, two back$100

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Sweet Protection Hunter Light

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Sweet Protection excels at packing a lot of technology and performance into an understated package, and the Hunter Light short is no exception. They have a smooth, casual styling that won’t look out of place as you grab post-ride tacos, but underneath that polished exterior, they have a bunch of features that optimize them for long rides and warm weather. Their velcro waist adjustment makes it easy to keep the shorts comfortably snug around your hips, and laser-cut ventilation holes keep things airy. The shorts are made out of a merino wool blend fabric that stays cool and light to the touch, dries quickly, and is odor resistant. So, if you miss a laundry day between rides, the Hunter Light won’t stink. Plus, the longer inseam length works great for riders that wear knee pads, offering plenty of overlap, making these great women’s enduro bike shorts.

If you live somewhere hot, and want a pair of bike shorts that will keep you cool and dry quickly, without looking out of place when you’re not on the bike, Sweet Protection’s Hunter Light shorts are a great option. This total package makes them some of the best women’s bike shorts available.

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
Below the kneeThigh pocket$99.95

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Fox Ranger

Best women's mountain bike shorts of 2021
 
 

Fox makes a huge range of bike apparel, but that doesn’t mean they skimp out on sweating the details. In fact, their Ranger women’s shorts are some of the most popular and best women’s mtb shorts. They’re not as light and breathable as the Sweet Hunter, instead, they’re designed to work well in a wider range of climates. They’ll stay comfortable on hot days, but their DWR coating means they’ll shed rain and mud as well if you find yourself caught out in a storm. The longer 12” inseam on the Ranger shorts is great for riders looking for some more coverage, this also makes them work better with knee pads, eliminating the “gaper gap.”

The Ranger shorts also come with detachable chamois to add extra comfort for long days on the bike. If you’re looking for something simple, and very, very functional, with the added bonus of some water resistance, the Fox Ranger is a great choice.

 

LengthPocketsOriginal Price
At the knee2 hand, 1 thigh$89.95

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evo Bike Shorts

Best 2021 mountain bike shorts

We set out to build a great pair of no-frills, but functional mountain biking shorts. Nothign too fancy, just the shorts that you'll grab ride after ride. The lightweight Schoeler fabric wicks moisture away from you and keeps your legs cool, while at the same time keeping rain out with its DWR coating. While these shorts do have belt loops for when you want to dress it up, a velcro waist adjustment system means they’ll stay in place over long days on the trail as well.

While these shorts do have your usual hand pockets on the upper thigh, they also have a zippered lower pocket on each side, perfect for stashing your phone or snacks. They keep their contents secure during long rides, and hang unobtrusively out of the way. Finally, these shorts don’t just look good out on the town and feel good on your body, they also do good. 2% of every purchase goes to youth serving non-profit organizations. So if you want a short that does right by you, and the community it comes from, check out the evo bike shorts.

 Liner Included? Pockets Original Price
 No 4 $99.95

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