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 this spring when I tested the Women’s Slickrock Bike Short and Women’s Hero Dirt Hoodie.
I was particularly impressed with the Slickrock bike shorts which I’ll be recommending to my friends who prefer a more tailored, feminine short. And the Hero Dirt Hoodie is a good long sleeve option for in-between not-too-hot, not-too-cold shoulder season days.
Read on to learn more about both….
Women’s Slickrock 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.
- Tailored cut
- Feminine colors and perforations on the thighs
- Integrated belt
- Lightweight fabric works well on hot days
- 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.
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…..
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.
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 Hero Dirt Hoodie
The Backcountry Hero Dirt Hoodie falls somewhere between a sun shirt and a cool weather layer. It’s slightly silky and stretchy like a sunshirt, but warm enough for cooler spring days.
I enjoyed biking with Hero Dirt Hoodie on 50-60 degree days, but it worked just as well for trail running and hiking as well. And I imagine that on warmer winter days, this is something I’d use for cross-country skiing as well.
- Plenty of ventilation
- Zippered rear pocket
- Works well on and off the bike
- Elastic drawstring frayed after only a few uses
Price & Where To Buy: $99.95 at Backcountry.com*
Works Well For Shoulder Season Riding
The hoodie works well for those in between days where it’s too warm for a flannel but you aren’t quite ready for a short sleeve yet either. I found it worked great for spring riding on days that were still a bit nippy but too warm for hoodies like the Shower’s Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie or Club Ride Sevy Hoodie .
The Hero Dirt Hoodie works well even on climbs where you might heat up thanks to plenty of ventilation. The neck unzips as do two front chest vents. All are covered with a mesh fabric. This provides just enough airflow to keep the jersey on as it hovered around 60 degrees.
While the hoodie works great as a long sleeve jersey on cool (but not cold) days, it works less well as a layer. The top doesn’t unzip fully, and the hick neck necessitates taking your helmet off to put it on or take it off. Not ideal for days when you may need to layer/unlayer several times.
While the Hero Dirt Hoodies feels well made overall, I did have one durability concern. After only a few washings, the elastic cinch cord at the neck decided to fray to a point where it’s almost ready to snap. There’s really no good way to replace or fix this. Not great.
Aside from that one issue, however, the stitching and material have held up well and still look brand new even after being sprayed with dirt and dust.
Rear Zippered Pocket
Way too many mountain bike tops come without any pockets, but this hoodie actually has a large zippered rear pocket. And it was even big enough for my cell phone and keys. This was my favorite part of the hoodie.
“Extras” Are Fun Off The Bike
I’m a big fan of a good hoodie, kangaroo pocket, and thumb holes. All are comfy and cozy!
That said, they’re all pretty much worthless on the bike. Thumb holes don’t fit well over mountain bike gloves, the hood is too small to fit well with a helmet, and the kangaroo pocket hangs down awkwardly if filled while riding.
For these reasons, I found myself using this top more for drinking a beer in the parking lot or for trail running or hiking than I did for biking. Still, it’s always nice to have a piece that works well on the bike AND off, which seems like what the Hero Dirt hoodie was designed for.