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Backcountry Slickrock Bike Short Review

Backcountry has long been one of my go-to sites for ordering bike parts and accessories. But I’d never tried their Backcountry branded bike clothing until last spring when I tested the Women’s Slickrock Bike Short.

I immediately began recommending the Slickrock bike shorts to my friends who prefer a more tailored, feminine short.

Then, this spring Backcountry release the Slickrock short in multiple lengths (awesome!). I’ve been wearing the 5 inch short as much as the weather has allowed.

Read on to learn more about both the long and short versions….

backcountry kit

Women’s Slickrock 10 Inch Bike Short

One of the biggest complaints I hear from women about baggy mountain bike shorts is that they’re not feminine. Baggy shorts obscure curves and can be unflattering. Worse, most are boring black.

If those sound like your complaints, you’ll like the Backcountry Slickrock Bike Short. These shorts hug your curves and come in soft, feminine colors. The delicate holes at the thigh add an additional flirty touch, as well as aiding in air flow.

backountry mtb shorts in action

Pros:

  • Tailored cut
  • Feminine colors and perforations on the thighs
  • Integrated belt
  • Lightweight fabric works well on hot days
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Run a little small

Price & Where To Buy: $88 at Backcountry.com*

Built In Belt Keeps Shorts In Place

Waist closures on women’s mountain bike shorts are one of the hardest things for brands to get right. Velcro can rub on sensitive skin, and it gets worn after too many washes.

Belt loops are often worthless–how many women wear a belt while mountain biking?!? Discard the adjustable waist altogether and ladies with big hips and narrow waists end up with the dreaded waist gap.

Backcountry has come up with a good solution on the Backcountry Slickrock short. It has a built-in belt that does good job of cinching things down without being restrictive or causing rubbing. There is always the possibility that the plastic buckle may not stand the test of the time, but so far, so good.

The back panel also has some silicone grippy dots on it to keep your shorts from riding up (or riding down). Cause nobody wants to show plumbers crack.

Thin Material Breathes Well And Dries Quickly

The material on the Slickrock short is unique. It’s incredibly thin and almost feels papery. This makes it ideal for hot days and also for fast drying.

In addition to the thin material, there are tiny (pretty) vent holes on the thighs that provide a bit of additional breathability. I found these shorts very comfortable on warm rides.

thigh vents

The thinness of the material doesn’t mean a lack of durability. I felt confident wearing these on backcountry rides, and for sitting on rocks and dirt. The DWR finish means that the shorts are somewhat water repellent, and dirt repellent as well.

That said, I do think I’d pass on wearing these shorts for enduros or more aggressive riding, as they just don’t provide quite enough protection. For most trail rides, they’re perfect.

Run A Little Small

At 5’5″ and 125 pounds with more muscular thighs and bum, I’m a size 6 and usually somewhere between a small and medium depending on the brand. With the Slickrock shorts, I followed the size chart and opted for size small.

After a few rides, I definitely wish I’d sized up to a medium. These baggies aren’t all that baggy, which is great for women looking for a more form fitting short, but I needed a little extra breathing room.

Most of the time, I go chamois-less. In these shorts, I would definitely have needed to size up to fit a more substantial chamois. As it was, you could definitely see my panty lines…..

bum on the backcountry shorts

The shorts in sizes XS to XXL, and while this will accommodate most female mountain bikers, women on the larger end of the size spectrum may find that the shorts run too small.

Two Zippered Front Pockets

The Slickrock shorts have two zippered front pockets. These are a decent size, although the slimmer fit of the shorts meant I couldn’t fit much in them. That said, I did appreciate being able securely stash my ID and some cash.

Affordable

Mountain bike shorts can be absurdly expensive, with some of my favorites running close to $200. At only $88, the Backcountry shorts are a great budget option that don’t feel all that “budget” in construction or look.

backcountry long sleeve mtb to

Backcountry Slickrock 5 Inch Short

I’m a big fan of “short” shorts for mountain biking. I ride pretty much every day, and if I’m always wearing long shorts, I screw up my tan!

Just a couple of years ago, there was only one option for a shorter inseam mountain bike short (the Club Ride Eden), but today there are way more options. The latest of which is the Backcountry Slickrock 5 inch short.

Pros:

  • Can be worn on or off the bike
  • Short enough you don’t end up with weird tan lines
  • Waist closure works well
  • Fabric is lightweight for hot days
  • Coating is water and dirt resistant

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come in as many colors as other lengths
  • Holes at back can show off undies
  • Sizing runs a little small

Price & Where To Buy: $99 at Backcountry.com*

Look Good On Or Off The Bike

My favorite thing about these shorts is that they don’t immediately look like mountain bike shorts. I wore these for a ride, and then left them on the rest of the day while I did some yard work and took the dog for walk. I wouldn’t do that with most mountain bike shorts, including the longer version.

That said, they aren’t quite as tailored looking as the Club Ride Eden, lending them to athletic uses more than going out to lunch. Still, I love that they can be used for hiking and camping as well as biking.

Ideal For Casual Trail Rides

I bike nearly every day during the spring, summer, and fall, and the majority of those rides are trail or gravel rides. For these kinds of rides, I love short shorts.

The 5 inch slick rock shorts let my legs breathe, don’t mess up my tan line, and they are flattering too.

Short shorts are not ideal, however, for more aggressive rides. They don’t provide enough protection and they would look super dorky with knee pads.

The material on these shorts is thinner too, and I’m not sure how they would hold up in a major crash. So choose these shorts for your more mellow rides, and pick an enduro-style short for aggressive or backcountry adventures.

Lightweight and Breathable….But Vent Hole Placement Can Be Problematic

These shorts are the ideal summer short, not only because of the length, but also because of the material. The Slickrock shorts have a very thin, paper-like fabric that breathes really well.

Ventilation is also aided by the small fabric holes at the inside of the legs and the upper butt. These look decorative, but also aid with airflow.

My only minor complaint with the hole placement on the 5 inch slickrock shorts is the fact that some are on the butt right where you can see your undies or chamois. This might not be a big deal if you’re wearing a black chamois underneath, but I learned the hard way, if your wearing pink panties–yikes!

Waist Closure Works Well

There are so many different types of mountain bike short waist closures out there, and some work better than others. I really like the one on the Slickrock Shorts.

The 5 inch version has the same waist closure as the longer versions. It uses a zipper, snap, and built-in belt. I found that this did a great job of cinching the shorts do my more narrow waist.

waist closure

Fabric Wicks Water And Dirt

The (thin) fabric on the Slickrock shorts has a DWR coating that does a good job of wicking both water and dirt. We’ve had a ton of water run-off on our trails this spring, and I’ve had to do a couple of dubious river crossings. I’m happy to report that these shorts are quick to dry and didn’t feel very wet even after going in the river.

Similarly, the shorts brush off well if you’ve been sitting on the ground or have dust on them. Because they’re shorter, however, you might end up with more of that dust and dirt on your legs!

That said, the black definitely showed mud splatters from those creek crossings.

Zippered Front Pockets

There are two zippered front pockets on the Slickrock 5 inch shorts. They’re not huge (these are short shorts, remember?), but can still fit some stuff.

I found myself using them to stash snack wrappers, and loved that I didn’t have to worry about losing anything out of them.

slickrock shorts have two front zippered pockets

Limited Color Options

The biggest bummer to me about the 5 inch Backcountry Slickrock shorts is the lack of color options. While the longer version comes in a variety of colors, the short shorts only come in black or purple.

If you’re looking for fancier colors and designs, you might prefer the Shredly Short Shorts.

Pay Attention To Sizing

After picking the 10 inch Slickrock shorts in a size small and struggling to fit in them, I chose the 5 inch shorts in a size medium. Much better fit for me!

My butt, hips, and thighs fit well in these shorts, but I ended up with some extra fabric in the front of the crotch. Still, if you’re in between sizes, I’d recommend sizing up.

The Shorts Come In Additional Lengths Too

In addition to the 5 inch and 10 inch versions that I tested here, the Slickrock Women’s shorts also come in a 9 inch and 7 inch version. There’s a length for whatever you prefer!

More Mountain Bike Clothing!

About The Reviewer

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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