When you are out on the mountain biking trail, the last thing you need is uncomfortable shorts that get heavy with sweat, chafe and restrict your movement. Even worse, worrying if your shorts might catch on anything and send you tumbling.
Those highly functional Lycra mountain biking shorts that professional road cyclists and series weekend cyclists wear just don’t seem quite like they belong on the mountain biking trial. You’re right, the best MTB shorts are something different.
If you are struggling to find the perfect pair of mountain biking shorts, we have the answers for you.
Take a look at the most functional and funky MTB shorts on the market. We have also put together a complete guide containing everything you need to know about choosing the best functional MTB shorts (choice of style is down to you!).
10 Best Mountain Biking Shorts
Wespornow Men’s MTB Shorts
These shorts that end just above the knee mix style and comfort and are perfect for taking to the trails in the saddle.
The shorts are made from a breathable and flexible fabric that is 90 percent Nylon and 10 percent elastane. There is plenty of room to move, but they aren’t super baggy. These shorts will stay in place as they have an elastic waistband, internal drawstring closure, and both a button and Velcro fastening for extra security. There are also belt loops if you fancy it.
They have an inner pair of Lycra shorts with inbuilt chamois with gel pad to keep everything comfortable while you are out on the trail. There are five pockets, so you have lots of options for finding a safe place to store your valuables, and there are three colours to choose from, so something for everyone.
- Lightweight, cargo-style MTB shorts
- Inner shorts with chamois
- Five pockets
- Five sizes and three colours
Lixada Men’s Bicycle Shorts
These shorts are stylish with their long over the knee length, and waistband details that are both stylish and functional in terms of keeping your shorts up where they should be.
They are made from a lightweight and breathable fabric that combines 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex so you get the stretch and movement that you need in every direction without feeling like you are exposing yourself with tight shorts. The fabric is also moisture wicking, so will full sweat away from your body quickly.
The opening of the leg ranges from 52 to 58 centimetres depending on the size, which means they close around the knee and won’t ride up, but leave enough space for a chunky set of knee pads.
The waistband is elastic with Velcro adjusters to tighten them, no belt required. But don’t worry, this is good quality Velcro that won’t pop under a little belly pressure.
There are zippered pockets on the sides and front of thighs on both legs, so you can find the most comfortable way to distribute your valuables.
There are three colours available: Black, Blue, and Dark Green.
- Breathable polyester
- Breathable polyester-spandex fabric
- Elastic and Velcro waist adjusters
- Multiple zippered pockets
- Multiple colours
Colorwin Men’s Mountain Bike Shorts
If you prefer something lightweight and baggy, then these loose fit shorts from Colorwin might appeal, and they are available in three colours (blue, grey, and black).
The shorts are made from lightweight fabric that is 92 percent polyester and 8 percent elastane. It uses both an elastic and drawcord fastening so you can be sure that they won’t ride down while you are on your bike.
But while these pants are nice and loose, they have a tighter inner short with inbuild chamois to make cycling a bit more comfortable.
Available in five sizes, there are both standard trouser pockets and cargo style pockets on the side of the leg. These are closed with Velcro rather than zippers, so they could be more secure.
- Loose fit MTB shorts
- Polyester-elastane fabric
- Easy elastic and drawstring fastening
- Includes tight inner shorts with chamois
- Five sizes and three colours
Brisk Mike NTB Shorts Model 7No products found.
Another great option from one of the most popular brands on the market, these shorts have been ergonomically designed specifically to meet the needs of professional mountain bike riders.
The shorts are made from fabric PP-MEG advance polymer using nano-spores technology that is designed to keep the body dry and cool, and to keep the fabric looking new for longer. There are also strategically placed vented mesh holes that allow for comfortable air circulation.
The stylish outer short comes with a tighter inner short that has an inbuilt C-protector chamois made from top quality Pad-X material that is shock absorbing. The chamois is also treated with Super-X nano thread so there is question about it get soggy or uncomfortable.
There is a firm elastic grip waist and the shorts are fastened with durable studs. There are six pockets to choose from, including two thigh pockets sealed with zippers for extra security.
Choose between four sizes and five colours.
No products found.
ARUSUEXO Men’s Loose Fit Cycling Shorts
If you want something beyond the usual black and blue options (though those are also available), check out these shorts from ARUSUEXO, which also come in striking orange and sky blue.
These stylish shorts are made from an ultra-soft and lightweight water-resistant fabric (polyester and spandex) with four way stretch for ultimate range of motion.
These shorts will feel extra secure with a double button closure, elastic waistband, and Velcro tabs that helps you adjust for the perfect fit.
There are six pockets, but you won’t find any wasted on the back. Instead, there are two zipper secure pockets on each thigh for secure and comfortable storage.
- Soft, lightweight, water-resistant fabric
- Four way stretch
- Double button closure and Velcro tabs
- Six pockets
- Five sizes and five colours
Brisk Bike MTB Shorts
Anyone looking for a more interesting look, such as camo and wedge colour contrasts, look at these other great shorts from market leader Brisk, which comes in 15 colour options, including three camo styles.
But these shorts aren’t just about style, they are also highly functional. They use Brisk’s excellent ergonomic design designed for maximum range of motion for professional MTB riders.
The shorts are made from Nylon-elastane fabric that has moisture wicking qualities. They are fitted with inner shorts with an inbuilt chamois that is also treated with Nano-Spores to full away moisture and keep you dry and fresh.
Secure your shorts using Brisk’s JC-Studs, and enjoy extra snugness with a wide elasticated waistband. There are also six pockets including two thigh pockets with zippers so you can secure all of your valuables with you.
- Professional ergonomic design
- Durable and moisture wicking fabric
- Inner shorts with chamois
- Six pockets
- 15 colour options
Nuckily Men’s Mountain Bike Cycling Shorts
These cargo style loose fit shorts will appeal both for the trail and casual wear, and are available in black and dark green. They fall to just below the knee and sit comfortably and securely on the hits fastened with a secure hook and eye, elastic, and Velcro adjusters.
The shorts themselves are made from a lightweight polyester and elastane material that allows for full range of motion and dries quickly.
Unlike a lot of the other options on this list it does not come with an inner short and chamois, but they are baggy enough that you could wear an alternative if you wish. But this is ideal if you plan to wear these shorts on the street as well (no one wants a chamois unless they are on a bike!).
- Lightweight polyester and elastane
- Styled for the bike and the street
- Five pockets
- Hook and eye and Velcro tab fastening
- Two colour and six size options
Madison Zenith Men’s Baggy MTB Shorts
These mid-weight shorts offer good performance, but also transition from saddle to street. Again, this means that there is no inner chamois, but they are bay enough to wear one separately if you choose.
These shorts come in five striking colours, and have a bold contrasting inner lining that add an extra level of style. There are also four pickets on the front, all sealed with zips to keep your valuables secure.
The shorts themselves have a four way stretch crotch for full range of motion, and it is treated with a DWR coating to keep you dry from trail spray. There are subtle vent panels to help keep you cool, and the fabric is moisture wicking.
Keep your pants up with a double snap fastening on an elasticated waist that also has Velcro tabs for adjustment.
Madison is so confident about the quality of these shorts that they actually come with a limited lifetime warranty!
- Shorts for both street and saddle
- DWR waterproof coating
- Double snap fastening with Velcro tab adjusters
- Five colours
- Limited lifetime warranty
Mountain Bike Shorts Buying Guide
When choosing the right MTB shorts, you need to choose a style that you love, and a pair of shorts that you feel amazing when wearing. But the shorts also need to be functional for the sport.
When looking at the functional side of the short, these are the main things to consider.
You will notice that most mountain bike shorts are actually quite long, extending down to at least the knee. There are a variety of reasons for this. The most important might be that shorter shorts allow debris from the trail to jump up and enter your shorts, which can be quite uncomfortable.
The length also adds a level of abrasion protection to the knees, as they are quite exposed when you are riding. Ideally, you should be wearing knee pads for this as well, and longer shorts can cover up the top of the knee pads not leaving a gap between where the pads finish and your shorts start.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right fit for MTB shorts. But you will need to choose between something stretchy, or something loose. Either way, they need to give you the necessary range of motion without squishing anything or having any fabric digging into you.
But as well as freedom of movement for pedalling, you also need to think about if you are going to be using knee pads – which you should! Read our complete guide here.
Are you knee guards going to go under of over your shorts, and either way, will they fit comfortably?
Perhaps you are thinking that you want to go for a lightweight fabric to keep you cool, and that is an option, but not necessarily the best choice for serious downhill trails where twigs, branches, rocks, and other debris may be jumping up against your legs.
Also, remember that in the case of an accident, your shorts are the only thing standing between your thighs and a serious abrasion injury.
You will want something durable to protect you, and waterproof, since there are few trails that don’t have a bit of water on them.
Inner Shorts & Chamois
When you choose stylish baggy MTB shorts, you will often find that they come with “inner shorts” a tighter pair of shorts on the inside, a lot like you get with some swimming shorts.
These are often your replacement for those Lycra cycling shorts. They are relatively tight to the skin and made from moisture wicking fabric designed to keep your dry. But most importantly they incorporate a chamois.
Yes, that is the padded crotch area that make sit a bit more comfortable to sit in the saddle for hours.
If your selected shorts don’t include this feature, you may want to use a separate pair of cycling underwear with chamois.
If you are looking for options, consider:
- XGC Men’s Quick Dry Cycling Underwear with 4D Gel Pads
- Souke Sports 4D Padded Men’s Cycling Underwear
- Kuyou 4D Padded Gel Riding Shorts
With readymade clothes there is no such thing as the perfect fit, especially after a big meal, so you are going to want to consider how the pants are adjusted so that they stay where you want them.
You will often need to choose between fastenings on the outside, which can catch on things, and fastenings on the inside, and that rub irritably against your skin.
If you want to carry valuables with you, think carefully about the placement of the pockets.
Cargo shorts style pockets on the lags are great for holding larger items, but they can tend to swing uncomfortably while you are peddling, and you do have a crash, you might find yourself with a broken mobile where it hit the floor.
Hit pockets are better for securing your gear, but if they aren’t placed correctly, or your shorts are too tight, they can inhibit your range of movement.
Whatever style you go with, make sure that the pockets have a zip seal so that nothing unexpectedly jumps out.
Are MTB shorts worth it?
While there is no need to buy a pair of shorts branded for mountain biking, getting something with the features needed for mountain biking can make a big difference to how comfortable you feel in the saddle.
You need the right range of motion, fabric that is moisture wicking, and something that will let you use a cycling chamois, whether it is build into the shorts, or you want to use something separate underneath.
Pocket placement can also make a difference in terms of not having items rubbing against you, and not losing anything on a bumpy trail.
Why are MTB shorts long?
MTB shorts tend to be long to over up your knees, and more importantly, you knee pads, offering an extra layer of security and abrasion protection to these important and vulnerable joints.
Longer shorts also provide protection to the crotch area, as it reduces the chances of debris entering the leg opening of your shorts and making unpleasant contact with the crotch area.
Are Mountain Bike shorts padded?
Many mountain bike shorts options have padding around the crotch, called a chamois, to make sitting in the saddle for hours a lot more comfortable. Option that don’t have this inbuilt are usually baggy enough that you can wear your own pair of padded inner shorts inside to protect you.
Best MTB Shorts: The Verdict
While it is certainly important to have a pair of stylish mountain biking shorts that you love, functionality is also important. Luckily, there are lots of amazing options out there that bring together trends and functionality.
Overall, we love the Wespornow baggies Five pocket design with UPF50, waterproof, chamois, and hugely versatile makes them our number one pick. It’s also at a great price point that’s affordable for everybody. We spend enough on our bikes, we don’t want to spending a fortune on shorts as well!
As a runner up, we went with the ARSUXEO Loose Fit MTB Shorts. Stylish and well made, with 6 pockets and very lightweight, we think they’d be a great choice for mountain bikers at all experience levels.
Finally as a budget choice, we think the Nuckily Lightweight MTB Shorts offer exceptional value for money. The cheapest on our list, but doesn’t mean they can’t handle the trails. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still get a great pair of mtb shorts without compromising on comfort.
Last update on 2023-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API