The 5 Best Mountain Bike Shorts – [2020 Reviews]

Before going out and buying a pair of MTB shorts you need to consider the style of biking you mostly do.

Once you have this down you are in a good position to choose a good pair of MTB shorts to have you riding in comfort. There are a few different styles of mountain biking shorts and we are going to cover them here.

Best MTB Shorts

 ZOIC Men's Ether MTB Bike ShortsFox Ranger Cargo ShortsPearl Izumi Divide Shorts
editors choice
Fabric:Dura flex stretch fabric2-way stretch polyesterWater-resistant 4-way stretch rip stop fabric
Pockets:6 total, 4 zippered3 Total, 1 zippered3 Total
Features:Electronic pocket with wire guideDurable, abrasion-resistant & comfortableSnap closure, internal waist adjustment
Chamois Included:YesYesYes

For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: MTB Helmets, Bike Multi-Tools, Bike Lights.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated MTB Shorts For 2020

  1. ZOIC Ether MTB Cycling Shorts
  2. Pearl iZUMi Divide Shorts
  3. Fox Ranger Cargo Shorts
  4. Cycorld MTB Shorts
  5. Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Men’s BMX Shorts

Our reviews of the top rated MTB shorts with our buying guide will help you choose the right pair for you.


MTB Shorts Reviews

ZOIC Mens Ether Cycling Shorts
When you want to find a pair of shorts that does it all for a bargain price, then look no further than the ZOIC Ether pants. I really like these mountain bike shorts a lot.

When I put these on I just want to ride hard! They come in several colors from Neon to a plain black, depending on the look you are wanting.

Personally, I like lots of pockets so I have options and flexibility what I carry and where. This is one thing I like about the Ether shorts.

Lots of pockets.

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There are 2 hand pockets and are not zippered or secured in any way which is fine. There are 2 zippered that completely seal, one on each side that are perfect for expensive items you want protected.

There is an “electronic” pocket with a headphone port and a cord guide with a secure zipper. And lastly is a rear zip pocket that works for credit cards or some cash.

ZOIC Mens Ether Cycling Shorts
ZOIC Men’s Ether Cycling Shorts

Getting a good fit is quite easy with the Ether shorts. The elastic waist band keeps the shorts snug whether sitting and peddling or standing up.

The waist band also has Velcro adjustment tabs on both sides and a snap enclosure.

Where the shorts come up a bit “short” is in the Chamois, its fairly thin and not as well designed as the Fox Ranger.

I wasn’t crazy about the seams on either side of the Chamois. The leg openings are wide and it has a 12 inch inseam so that it just comes over your knees.

These shorts can be worn just as well with out the inner lining/Chamois so they offer a lot of flexibility.

I would consider upgrading the Chamois if you need a really good quality/thicker one for more protection.

The “Dura” flex fabric stretches enough to make riding comfortable but is not waterproof like the Elevate shorts. It is thick enough to provide protection for your legs while not too thick to be hot or uncomfortable.

With plenty of well placed pockets, tough and durable fabric I think the ZOIC Ether are the best mtb shorts with chamois.

 


If you shy away from the full lycra look, but still want to stay light on the bike, the Pearl Izumi Divide shorts are your solution.

These are among the longest of the options you can buy, so there will not be a gap between knee pads and the shorts.

The material is tough and durable while being stretchy and flexible at the same time – not an easy thing to do!

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The shorts are also on the baggy side, so they have plenty of room and are comfortable to wear for hours of intense riding.

4 way rip-stop fabric and wicking properties also ensure speedy drying in case you get caught in the rain.

With a padded back pocket and two front leg pockets, these shorts provide ample storage for essential items, and the front has a comfortable fold over flap attached with 2 snaps.

This video shows the “Summit” Shorts, which are very similar to the “Divide”.

Pearl Izumi - Summit Short

This is a seriously comfortable pair of shorts which provides a good measure of leg protection with their long inseam.

If you wear knee pads, then these are the best mountain bike shorts for you.

 


Fox is one of the best known brands in Mountain Biking and the Ranger’s are their best selling MTB shorts. At first glance you might even mistake them for a pair of dress shorts.

The side cargo pockets blend in and they are available in a variety of colors and styles.

I wish they had more zippered pockets. There is only one pocket on the side, so for that reason keep anything expensive in that pocket and use your hydration pack for any other important items you want to carry.

These are not exceptionally long shorts so they wont cover your knee pads and will probably just touch the top of them.

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Fox Ranger Cargo Shorts
Fox Ranger Cargo Shorts

They are a comfortable, lightweight pair of shorts that look more like something you would wear going out with friends than a pair of mountain bike shorts.

If you don’t want to look like a hard core biker, then these are your shorts.

The included liner with chamois is of good quality and provides some compression to keep the Chamois where it needs to be.

They are not particularly baggy for a pair of MTB shorts, but they are made of spandex that stretches in 2 directions so as to not restrict pedaling.

The shorts are also adjustable with velcro tabs that you cannot see.

There are belt loops as well that seem unnecessary but since these are not your typical MTB shorts, that should not be surprising.

I wish they had made all of the side pockets zippered but at least there is one that is secure. The Fox Ranger’s are one of the best padded mountain bike shorts!

 


If you can’t resist a night time bike ride, the Cycorld MTB Shorts are the ideal pair for you.

These are made from polyester and spandex, with a special reflective design on the leg pockets to ensure you remain visible and safe on any course.

The shorts have been made to last, with reinforced crotch seams to resist the rough and tumble in your trail. A velcro button and YKK zipper make throwing these on a breeze. 

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They are also great for storing necessary supplies – this pair has 6 pockets in total. With so much storage space, you can take whatever you need with you on your ride.

When the weather turns hot, the Cycorld has you covered with its quick-drying, breathable spandex material. A soft elastic waistband works to prevent chafing on those sticky summer days.

No wonder these are a crowd favorite!

 


Troy Lee Designs knows how to make MTB equipment and the Ruckus shorts are no exception! The shorts are made from a combination of polyester and spandex for durability and strech comfort.

The rear panel has a 2 way stretch with mesh for comfortable riding all day. The waist band have velcro straps that give you up to two inches of adjustablity.

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The mesh on the outside of the legs give you ventilation when you are working up a sweat and also have zippered inner thigh vents for maximum comfort in hot weather.

Maybe the one downside is the lack of pockets, one hand pocket and two zippered pockets for secure storage. You most likely don’t want to have your shorts weighed down anyway do I don’t see this as a drawback.

Finally, if you care about the environment, the TLD shorts are Bluesign approved.

 


Considerations For Choosing Mountain Biking Shorts

Best MTB Shorts

Types of Mountain Bike Riding

The first thing you need to take into consideration is the type/style of bike riding you primarily do.

Trail Riding/Cross Country Riding

The term “Mountain Biking” is a general catch all phrase for riding off road. Where I do a lot of riding in Florida, even though we call it mountain biking, clearly there are no mountains in FL. So Cross Country or Trail Riding is a better term.

Trail riding is more or less flatter, smoother riding where you are siting the your seat a majority of the time. For this type of riding, protection is not paramount. Here flexible, durable shorts is more important.

Downhill Riding

This style of riding is all about speed and with it protection. Since you will most likely be wearing full face helmet with goggles and knee/elbow pads your choice of shorts is more important.

Ideally these shorts will be longer coming down over your knee pads so as to provide better protection. You probably don’t need a liner or chamois here.

Enduro Riding

This term is used now to refer to as “mountain biking” meaning you are riding up and down hills/mountains and your choice of shorts is most important here.

You need a combination of protection BUT they they cant be too thick so as not allow maximum flexibility and allow you to peddle whether standing up or sitting while changing positions constantly.

Not a lot of this in Florida unfortunately.

Best Mountain Bike Shorts

Features

Mountain bike shorts do not offer that many features to consider, lets take a look at what is critical and whats not. In my opinion, simpler is better.

Pockets

The less there is to break or rip the better. For the Trail/Enduro rider who usually rides with a hydration pack, then you may not care about pockets or lack of them.

Maybe you would prefer they not even have them because you can store all essentials in your pack. I would recommend at least on or two however since for a short ride you may not want to bother with the pack.

I only bring mine when I plan on riding for longer times or the weather is very warm. if downhill riding is more your style you probably are not using a pack and need a few zippered pocked for storage.

I cannot recommend ZIPPERED pockets enough, Velcro is just not gonna cut it. Do you really want to trust your expensive smart phone to a velcroed pocket?

I don’t!

Length of Shorts

This is more of personal preference on how long you want you your shorts to be. Shorts that reach to your knees will give you some extra protection. If you wear knee pads you want them to reach the top of the pad to give more complete protection.

Water Resistance

While usually not a big consideration in choosing a pair of shorts, but if you ride in wet, marsher areas like you will likely encounter in Florida you might want waterproof shorts. This is especially true if you keep valuables like a phone in your pocket.

Adjustments & Sizing

Since its pretty unlikely that the shorts you buy are going to fit perfect right out of the package, some adjustments are necessary.

I think the best shorts have a snap fastener with Velcro tabs that allow you to fine tune the fit to allow for maximum comfort. You don’t want your shorts falling down when you have to stand for pedaling!

It seems many shorts tend to run small so take this into consideration before you order a pair.

Padding/Chamois

Best MTB Shorts With ChamoisWhen I say Chamois I am referring to the padding in the biking shorts that is essentially what makes the bike shorts and not just shorts.

The Chamois provides your butt and other sensitive areas with some padding. They are all made from synthetic materials that can be washed.

Buying a pair of shorts with a Chamois is not a necessity since you can always buy a liner with a better quality Chamois later.

You just want to make sure they are removable and washable. Since the shorts will most likely well out last the chamois being able to remove it is important.

Chamois are typically made of a foam that form fits the shape of your body providing protection and anti chaffing properties. You can find more expensive ones using a silicone gel however.

What is important though is it is positioned correctly to do its job and it has wicking properties to allow moisture to evaporate and not get soaked.

Comfort
Support
Features

The ZOIC Ether are our Editor's Choice as the best MTB shorts with their combination of comfort, support and features.

User Rating: 4.08 ( 3 votes)

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Richard Remick

I am an avid traveler and adventurer, I love skiing, snowboarding, hiking and camping in Colorado in the Dillion area, and when I am in Florida you can usually find me on the water either paddleboarding or kayaking. My recent passion is scuba diving, I got certified a few years ago and "get wet" as frequently as I can.

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