They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but we think a good pair of mountain bike shorts can be too. If you’re spending big hours in the saddle, good shorts can be the difference between comfort and misery. Also, we know you’re not vain–but a good pair of mountain bike shorts should look good in that summit pic.
Here’s a round-up of our favorite women’s mountain bike shorts. These picks are comfortable, durable, and look good.
We’ve tested them all, and have polled our girlfriend’s to make sure they agree.
If you need help choosing, scroll to the bottom to view our comparison chart and for our tips on picking the best short for you.
Key Takeaways In This Article
- The best mountain bike shorts come from women-owned, women’s-specific brands like Shredly and Wild Rye.
- Most (but not all) mountain bike shorts are sold without a liner. You can buy a chamois liner separately.
- Longer shorts are ideal for use with knee pads and to provide extra protection. Short shorts work well for hot weather and to prevent weird tan lines.
Top 10 MTB Shorts For Women
|What We Love
|Shredly MTB Short
|Yoga-style waistband (option), colorful prints
|Wild Rye Freel or Freda
|Feminine design, beautiful fabric
|Zippered pockets, comfortable chamois
|Club Ride Eden
|Short shorts, cute enough to use as a regular short
|Longer, work well with knee pads
|PNW Shuttle Short
|Sturdy, water resistant material
|Rapha Trail Shorts
|High quality construction, super stretchy
|Thin and breathable, good for hot days
|Revel Rider Flow
|Ideal for bike park and shuttle days
|Pearl Izumi Summit
|Airy and lightweight, fun prints
Shredly MTB Short
Shredly is a women’s-specific company that offers high-quality mountain bike shorts for women that fit well regardless of body size and shape. The Shredly MTB Short is a favorite among our community.
Shredly offers two different waistband/fit options: the AllTime, which closes via zipper/snaps, and the Limitless short (previously called the Curvy), which has a yoga-style waistband and a looser fit in the thighs. The Limitless short is not just made for “plus-sized” ladies but caters to women of all sizes who need shorts that fit their hips and thighs.
Shredly offers their MTB short in three length options: short, mid-length, and long. All of the shorts are made in the USA, come in a wide range of sizes, and offer a secure, zippered pocket.
Shredly’s shorts are well-known for their cute prints and colors, which set them apart from other brands.
The Shredly shorts do fit quite baggy. If you prefer a more tailored look, choose a different short.
Read Our Review: Shredly MTB Shorts
Price (MSRP): $98-$115
Wild Rye Freel (or Freda)
Cutest shorts ever?! Quite possibly. We love every single color and pattern that Wild Rye puts out.
Fortunately, the Wild Rye Freel short is as comfortable as it is attractive. The fabric is super stretchy and does a good job of accommodating women with muscular thighs and bums.
This is an enduro-length short meaning that it’s a little bit longer than your average short. Thanks to the extra length, the Freel works well with knee pads and for anybody wanting a little extra coverage.
If you want a shorter short, we love the Wild Rye Freda as well. It’s the exact same short, but with a 7 inch inseam.
I used to complain about the price of these which felt high, but the cost of all the other mountain bike shorts have gone up while Wild Rye has stayed about the same. They’re no longer more expensive than other shorts on the list, but the quality remains higher.
Read Our Review: Wild Rye Freel Short
We like the Zoic Navaeh shorts thanks to their comfortable chamois, adjustable waistband, and stretchy material. The shorts come in multiple colors and patterns and flatter nearly any figure. If you like pockets, the Naveah shorts have PLENTY–and they are all zippered.
You can buy the shorts with our without a chamois liner which we appreciate. If you do choose the liner, it’s removable and a good one for all-day rides.
The shorts are durable, and even after a year of heavy use, all zippers and snaps remained intact.
The original short hits right at the knee, while the new shorter 7″ version of the Navaeh is great for giving your legs a little extra sun.
The legs are a little narrow so if you have thicker thighs (like me!) that might be something to consider. A short like the Shredly will be a better fit.
Read Our Review: Zoic Navaeh
Price (MSRP): $110 (with liner), $80 (without liner)
Club Ride Eden
Looking for a “shorter” short? The Club Ride Eden is just what you want. The 7″ inseam allows you to get a better suntan and has a feminine look. It works great on the trails and for the pub after your ride.
The short has a comfortable, minimalistic chamois and the back is cut a bit high so you don’t end up showing off any plumber’s crack. We also like the reflective details, so cars will see you when biking home from the aforementioned pub.
While many will dig the no-diaper feel of the liner, other ladies may want something more substantial. Don’t need a liner? You can order it without.
Read Our Review: Club Ride Eden
Price (MSRP): $99 (with chamois), $79 (without)
The Yeti Norrie is another longer short that is perfect for use with kneepads. The water-resistant fabric helps keep you dry and is stretchy enough to be comfortable on both big climbs and downhill days.
The waistband is adjustable with silicone grippies on the inside to help keep the shorts in place, and the gusseted crotch provides extra room for mobility.
My only complaint is that the newer version of these shorts got rid of the zippered pockets on the legs. While the pockets are still large and roomy, they no longer have a zipper to keep your lift pass or cell phone secure.
The other thing to be aware of when ordering is that they run a bit small, and the legs are narrower than most. I have a larger bum and thighs and wish I had sized up in these.
Read Our Review: Yeti Norrie
Price (MSRP): $115
PNW Shuttle Short
You might be familiar with PNW Components for bike parts, but did you know they make mountain bike apparel too? The PNW Shuttle short is not only one of our faves, it’s one of the more affordable long-length shorts on this list as well.
These are longer shorts so work well for ladies who like additional coverage or who want to use the shorts with knee pads. They are roomy but don’t look frumpy.
The Shuttle short only comes in one color (black) but the DWR coating works well for shedding dirt and mud, and will also keep you relatively dry in drizzle. The fabric feels lightweight, but is super durable.
Read Our Review: PNW Shuttle Short
Rapha Trail Shorts
Rapha is known for making gorgeous, high quality cycling clothing, and they know make mountain bike clothes as well. As you would expect from the brand, the Rapha Trail Shorts are perfectly constructed but rather spendy.
If you can stomach the price tag, the Trail Shorts are one of the best-fitting, best-constructed shorts around. The material is extremely stretchy and is so comfortable on the bike you might forget you’re wearing them.
They come in several pleasing colors, and are cut longer for use with knee pads. The fit is rather slim, but the stretchy material makes up for it.
In addition to the traditional Trail short, there’s also a new “Light and Fast” version with lighter material better for hot summer riding.
The only thing we’re not crazy about is the lack of an adjustable waistband.
Read Review: Rapha Trail Shorts
Backcountry Women’s Slickrock Short
The Backcountry Slickrock short is ideal for women who find baggy shorts unflattering and masculine. The shorts come in soft, feminine colors and are tailored to hug a woman’s curves.
They are also well suited for those who ride in hot conditions. The material is very thin and lightweight. Tiny perforations on the thighs add a flirty touch to the shorts and help in air flow.
The shorts come with a built-in belt that cinches well without being restrictive, and the back panel has silicone grippy dots to keep the shorts from riding up or down.
In addition to the original 10 inch shorts, the Backcountry Slickrock is now offered in multiple lengths include a 5 inch short short.
The shorts come in sizes XS to XXL, but women on the larger end of the size spectrum may find them too small. I had to order up a size to get a good fit.
Read Review: Backcountry Slickrock Short
Revel Rider Flow
Revel Rider is yet another women-owned, women’s-specific mountain bike apparel brand that is more gravity focused. Their Revel Rider Flow short is long enough to use with knee pads and has large enough zippered pockets to store your lift pass and other valuables. This makes it an ideal short for bike park or shuttle days.
The shorts are cut for curvy, athletic bodies (thank you!) with wider thighs and a narrower waist. You can safely order your normal size with these shorts.
The material is thicker and durable to provide additional protection. Grab these for more aggressive and/or backcountry rides, but leave them at home for hot days.
Pearl Izumi Women’s Summit Short
For hot weather riding, few women’s mountain bike shorts compare to the lightness and breathability of the Pearl Izumi Summit shorts. During the summer months, these quickly became a staple in our riding wardrobe, especially on the most scorching days.
Beyond their breathability, the Summit shorts cater to those seeking a sleeker, more tailored appearance without being excessively baggy. They’re also an excellent pick for those in need of fast-drying shorts, ideal for bikepacking or traveling.
Unlike many shorts from the big brands, the Summit Shorts come in quite a few fun colors and prints.
The only thing we didn’t love about the Summit Short is the included chamois liner. The sizing was smaller than the shorts, and the liner isn’t detachable (unless you cut it out). The good news is you can buy the shorts with the chamois liner, or just as a shell.
Read Review: Pearl Izumi Summit
These shorts didn’t make our list of favorites, BUT they might be a great option for YOU. ‘Cause, ya know, every body is different.
Ripton & Co Women’s Diesel Jorts
The Ripton & Co Jorts are the cool new trendy thing on the bike trail. And there’s actually a good reason–they’re comfortable! A gusseted crotch means you can actually move in the shorts, and you won’t end up with chafing down there.
In addition to that, these denim shorts just look like regular jean shorts. You can wear them riding, but you can wear them to meet up with friends or run errands.
The only thing to be aware of is that returns and exchanges are really difficult. If you prioritize customer service, you might want to skip these.
Club Ride Savvy
If comfort, is your number one priority, consider the Club Ride Savvy. These are pretty much the most comfortable pair of shorts we’ve tested–but they look a little frumpy (in my opinion).
They are also incredibly lightweight and work very well in HOT weather. The fabric designs are cute and the cut works well with knee pads.
The only thing I’m not crazy about on these shorts are the waistband. The drawstring cord is awkward and has a tendency of coming undone.
Read Our Review: Club Ride
Showers Pass Women’s Apex DWR Short
The Showers Pass Apex short is your traditional black mountain bike short–with a DWR finish added. This makes it both water and dirt resistant, and ideal for wet or dusty riding conditions.
The short is slim-fitting but not tight, and is stretchy without clinging anywhere. While the shorts are long-ish (11″), they were quite baggy enough to fit well with pads. That said, they are perfect for trail riding.
The unique thing about these shorts are the reflective accents. If you are riding gravel roads are headed home from the trailhead, this can be a nice feature not found on many mountain bike shorts.
Read Our Review: Women’s Apex DWR Shorts
POC Essential Short
The POC Essential short is designed specifically for riding with knee pads so you won’t get that weird gap between your pads and your shorts. There’s also room for a chamois if you like riding with one.
The waist is adjustable, and there is plenty of room for ladies with fuller hips and bottoms. As with all our favorite bike shorts, the waste is highly adjustable and can fit a wide range of body shapes.
They do NOT come with a chamois, so make sure to buy one separately if needed.
Price (MSRP): $100
Fox Ranger Short
We like the Fox Ranger short because it’s reasonably priced and comes with (or without) a comfortable, removable liner. We also appreciate that they are cut to accommodate more muscular, athletic ladies.
The waist is adjustable, they come in several colors, and the front pockets are roomy. Finally, the price is pretty darn attractive, especially for a short with a chamois.
The only drawback is the lack of side or rear pockets, and they only come in 3 colors.
Read Our Review: Fox Ranger
Price: $89.95 (with chamois liner)
Patagonia Dirt Craft MTB Shorts
Patagonia makes mountain bike shorts? Yup, we were surprised at first too. But also really, really happy because Patagonia stuff is the best. Not only are there clothes ethically sourced, but they’ll also help repair your clothing item if it is ever damaged or torn.
As for the Patagonia Dirt Craft shorts, the shorts themselves are comfortable, but they look a little frumpy compared to other shorts on our list. Additionally, while the original chamois was super comfy, it’s recently been replaced with one that’s not so great.
How to Pick a Pair of Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts
Not sure what you should consider when weighing your options? Here are a few things you should think about (and what we looked for when testing and reviewing the shorts on this list).
The perfect length is largely a personal preference. Most women prefer a mid-length short, but there are reasons for picking a longer or shorter short.
Longer shorts are best for enduro or downhill days since they fit over knee pads and won’t create a weird gap. They also provide extra protection in case you have a crash.
Shorts on this list that work well with knee pads and for bike park days include the PNW Shuttle short, Yettie Norrie, & Revel Rider Flow.
Short shorts can help keep you cool on hot days and keep you from getting the dreaded bike short tan lines. These are increasing in popularity and more and more options keep popping up.
Short shorts include the Wild Rye Freda, Shredly 7″, Club Ride Eden, and Backcountry Slickrock 5″.
Chamois or No Chamois
Before buying a pair of shorts, make note of whether or not it comes with a chamois. Some shorts have a built-in liner, others have a removable liner, and some come without a liner at all.
Which you prefer is totally personal, just keep in mind the cost of buying a separate liner if you like having a chamois. Some women (myself included) choose not to ride with a chamois at all!
If you do like riding with a little padding, and the pair of shorts you’re looking at does not come with one, consider a chamois liner pair from Wild Rye, Shredly, or Club Ride. Or, if you’re on a budget we like the cheap ones from Baleaf.
Look for a waistband that is ADJUSTABLE. There is nothing worse than having either a waist band that is cutting into your belly or that is hanging loosely around your middle. Women come in all different shapes and we need bike shorts that are built to accommodate them.
Some waistbands adjust via a velcro strap, others use a drawstring, buttons, or built in belt. My personal fave are the yoga style waistband on the Shredly Limitless shorts.
Do you like to carry things in your shorts while riding? If so, look for a short with plenty of pockets. The Zoic Navaeh, for instance, has a BUNCH of pockets and they all have zippers which is nice.
On the other hand, you might ride with a hydration pack and not have much need for pockets. In that case, you might prefer the Yeti Enduro shorts which have a single rear zipper pocket.
Price & Quality of Construction
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to mountain bike shorts. A good quality short will be durable and last for years, so I think it makes sense to pay a bit more.
To get a good quality short, you should expect to pay around $100. Shorts that cost less than this are more likely to lack things like an adjustable waistband and water-resistant fabric.
That said, if you’re on a budget, you can always take any pair of athletic shorts and go ride. Don’t let a lack of the coolest gear keep you from getting out!
Made In The USA & Sustainability
Most bike shorts are made overseas. If a “Made In The USA” label is important to you, we recommend Shredly.
Similarly, we like to look for shorts that have a strong commitment to sustainability. Patagonia has done a good job in this regard.
Bike short sizing can be all over the place and many of the bigger brands have made shorts that are not all that forgiving to women who aren’t a size 6 or who have hips or more muscular thighs. The better women’s bike short brands (Shredly, Wild Rye) have done a really good job of creating shorts that fit a wide range of sizes and shapes.
Personally, I prefer to buy shorts than come in regular pant sizes (2,4,6,etc) than in subjective sizes like S, M, L. If you do pick a short that measures in S,M,L, do yourself a favor and get out a measuring tape and actually compare your measurements to their size chart.
If you have more muscular thighs opt for shorts from Shredly, Club Ride, and Revel Rider. These are cut a little more roomy.
If you have thinner legs, you’ll like the Backcountry Slickrock, Zoic Navaeh, Pearl Izumi Summit, and Yettie Norrie. All have straighter legs.
How We Tested These Shorts
All of the shorts listed here were tested by me (Kristen Bonkoski). I also enlisted help from my mom and sister (who’ll you see pictured in some of these photos) and friends.
Testing mountain bike shorts is really easy for me, because I ride just about every day, weather permitting. So, I just go out and do my thing, trying out new shorts as I go.
The shorts listed here have been on bikepacking trips, to countless lift served bike parks, on backcountry epics, and quick lunchtime rides. I’ve crashed in them, rode in the rain and mud in them, and put them thru a whole bunch of wash cycles.
While I put all the shorts thru the wringer, I definitely look to other women for their feedback too. Sometimes I’m surprised that the shorts I love don’t work so great for my friends.
So, I take that into consideration too. The top shorts we’ve listed here are one’s that are recommended time and time again by friends, mentors, and the ladies in our Femme Cyclist community.
More Help For Your Butt
Don’t let your journey to a comfy bum end with your shorts. Here are some more articles to help you dial in the perfect recipe for your backside.
- Best Women’s Mountain Bike Saddles
- Best Women’s MTB Chamois
- 7 Tips for Preventing and Healing Saddle Sores
About The Author
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.