Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (2024)

The best women’s mountain bike shorts combine comfort, style and practicality, allowing for long days in the saddle with easy access to pockets and fasteners.

The range of women’s mountain bike shorts is greater than ever, with styles available for all disciplines of mountain biking, from cross-country to downhill.

Women's mountain bike shorts tend to comprise two layers, with an inner padded liner helping to prevent chafing and an outer short that usually features pockets.

Apart from employing a more contoured cut, many women's-specific mountain bike shorts will feature a different waist from men's mountain bike shorts, usually with a pull-on design.

The following women’s mountain bike shorts have been rated on overall comfort, construction, practicality and fitment, while highlighting any women’s-specific design features.

You can jump to our buyer’s guide to women’s MTB shorts at the end of this article.

Best women’s mountain bikes shorts

Endura Women’s SingleTrack Lite Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (1)
  • £80 as tested
  • Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL – regular and short lengths
  • Colours: 'Berry', black, 'cayenne', 'harvest', 'kingfisher', 'saffron'

The Lite version of the popular SingleTrack II shorts features a familiar tailored fit and length with a ‘barely there’ feel, being lightweight and breathable without compromising durability.

A zippered fly with a popper closure gives the shorts a clean look and elasticated Velcro adjuster tabs enable you to fine-tune the fit around the waist.

There are three well-sized zippered pockets – two on the front and one on the rear.

The high elastane content ensures stretch in all directions for an excellent fit, which can be altered via the adjuster tabs on the waistband.

The 13-inch inseam length of the regular version works perfectly with knee pads, and the shorter 10-inch version is great without protection.

The PFC-free DWR coating worked well to ward off the worst summer showers and puddles, with the water beading on the shorts' surface.

The Endura SingleTrack Lite shorts offer the perfect balance between keeping you cool in the heat, providing protection from the odd scrape and splash on the trail, and offering an exceptional fit.

  • Read our full Endura Women’s Singletrack Lite Shorts review

Rapha Women’s Trail Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (2)
  • £110/$150/€130/AU$190 as tested
  • Sizes: XXS-XL
  • Colours: Black/light grey, blue/light grey, purple/light grey, 'egg shell’

Rapha has truly hit the nail on the head with the Women’s Trail Shorts.

The Bluesign-certified material is very comfortable and enables unrestricted pedalling.

A wide, elasticated back panel offers a fantastic fit, even if you have a much narrower waist than hips, and the shorts are cut high around the back, to keep you covered in the riding position.

The legs are tapered and have hems shaped to accommodate knee pads and a long 15-inch inseam. Instead of poppers, the shorts fasten with a short zip and sliding clasp, which is very secure.

A large zipped pocket sits on the outside of each thigh, facing rearwards. These aren’t only easy to access on the move but also have an inner divider that keeps your phone perfectly in place.

The shorts are supplied with adhesive repair patches (repurposed from fabric leftovers) so you can fix them up if you end up getting a bit too rowdy on the trails.

Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Short II

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (3)
  • £80/$120/€100 as tested
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: Black, ‘cocoa red’

The Endura MT500 Spray Shorts II are ideal for riding in wet, changeable conditions and the transitional seasons, thanks to the waterproof panels on the rear of the shorts and the DWR-treated fabric.

The fit of these women’s mountain bike shorts is great. The contoured hem at the front works well with knee pads and the shorts sit comfortably around the waist, with the Velcro tabs providing plenty of adjustment.

The branding on the shorts is pretty loud, which might be a drawback for some, but when the weather’s bad and staying dry is the priority, these Endura shorts are hard to beat.

  • Read our full Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Shorts II review

Troy Lee Designs Luxe Short Shell

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (4)
  • £119 as tested
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: 'Rosewood', 'wildflower', 'cream', 'solid steel green', 'solid black', 'snake multi', 'wild cat white'

Troy Lee Designs' Luxe mountain bike shorts are tailored to have a sleek stretchy waist and hips akin to yoga pants, making for a high-performing lightweight, minimalist design.

Made from 4-way stretch, Bluesign-approved UPF 50+ fabric, the tailoring of stretch-fit panels around the body, side panels and waist negates the need for a fly opening.

Finishing just above the knee with a 12.25-inch inseam (size small), they can be worn with or without knee pads.

The phone pocket held my phone securely and the rear pocket is large enough to carry a key or one of the best multi-tools.

The Luxe shorts meet expectations, with a high-quality design and manufacturing.

At £119, they are expensive, but for the cost, you get a lightweight pair of shorts with exceptional comfort and fit that perform equally well on and off the bike.

  • Read our full Troy Lee Designs Luxe Short Shell review

Altura Esker Trail Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (5)
  • £65 as tested
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: Black, purple

The Altura Esker Trail Shorts are a high-quality, well-tailored, hard-wearing pair of all-year-round mountain bike shorts.

They feature two zippered front pockets and have an extended back panel with a soft lining.

They have a stretch panel over the hips to help them conform to your shape and feature a slip-on design.

The lack of buttons, zips and poppers made the waistband really comfortable to wear a hip pack over.

With their 13.5-inch inseam, they size up and fit true to Altura’s claims.

The mid-thigh-height front pockets let the shorts down; carrying something as bulky as a phone or multi-tool was distractingly uncomfortable, but there was enough space for cash or a bank card.

However, the pocket location and size presents a serious downside, especially if you like to keep your phone or other items on you.

For the relatively low price, though, you get a versatile piece of kit that's more comfortable than some more expensive alternatives.

  • Read our full Altura Esker Women’s Trail Shorts review

Fox Women’s Flexair Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (6)
  • £100 as tested
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: Black; 'plum perfect'

Fox’s Flexair shorts sit at the top of the range and don’t disappoint when it comes to well-considered tailoring, with functional features that enhance their aesthetics.

Made from a 10 per cent elastane four-way stretch TruDri fabric, designed to wick sweat away from the body, Fox intends the Flexair shorts to provide all-day comfort.

A good proportion of the weight lies in the ratchet closure, which also serves to cinch in the fit of the waistband.

It's easy and flawless to use, but feels somewhat out of place on an otherwise lightweight piece of kit.

Thankfully, its location means it was comfortable even when worn under a hip pack.

The Fox shorts have a sleek fit that offers just enough space to wear a liner comfortably underneath.

Their 9.75in inner-seam measurement enhances the racy fit; they finish just above the knees and when in the saddle slide up to just below mid-thigh level. They're perfect for riding a cross-country bike without knee pads on a hot summer day.

Designed for a close fit, the Flexair shorts are high-quality, XC-oriented mountain bike shorts.

  • Read our full Fox Women’s Flexair Shorts review

Fox Women’s Ranger Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (7)
  • £75/$90/€85/AU$100 as tested
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: Black, purple, dark green, khaki, grey

The Ranger Shorts from Fox Racing are good value for money, thanks to the inclusion of a comfortable, dual-density liner, which is also removable.

The shell is made from an incredibly stretchy fabric with a DWR treatment to help shed water and dirt. It comes in a variety of colours and has a minimal, baggy look.

The cut of the shorts has a 12-inch inseam, providing room for knee pads, but they ride low on the hips rather than the waist.

A robust metal popper closes the shorts, but waist adjustment via sliders and straps is a bit fiddly.

There are plenty of pockets that are well-placed for on- and off-bike use.

Overall, these mountain bike shorts are hard to fault, just make sure you get the right size.

  • Read our full Fox Women’s Ranger Shorts review

Nukeproof Outland Women’s Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (8)
  • £50/$65/€58/AU$80 as tested
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: Black, blue

Offering a comfortable fit, a good selection of pockets and low-key branding at a very reasonable price, the Outland shorts from UK brand Nukeproof are excellent value.

The 13.5-inch inseam works well with knee pads for average-height riders. Elasticated Velcro tabs on the inside of the waistband help you dial in the fit, while the material is looser around the thighs for good freedom of movement.

A zipped fly runs to the top of the waistband, covered by an asymmetric flap secured with two strong poppers.

There are two mesh-lined, jeans-style pockets on the hips, which are perfect for stowing a pair of the best mountain bike gloves, as well as a larger zipped pocket on the right thigh.

While this holds a smartphone securely and doesn’t impinge on pedalling, if it were rear-facing rather than front-facing, it would be much easier to unzip while riding.

The DWR fabric treatment works well, causing puddle splashes to bead off the outer surface of the shorts.

Our main concern is how durable the Outland shorts are because our sample started to show a considerable amount of wear in the saddle area after just a few weeks of testing.

Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (9)
  • £90/$99/€100 as tested
  • Sizes: 2-14 US (8 on test, equivalent of UK 12)
  • Colours: 'Forge grey', 'camp green', 'Tasmanian teal'

Made from 86 per cent recycled polyester, with 14 per cent elastane for generous stretch, these responsibly made slim-cut shorts have minimal styling and are best suited to XC, trail and gravel riding.

The multiple panels are sonic-welded together rather than stitched, to improve comfort. The material is incredibly light and coated with a DWR (durable water-repellent) treatment to protect you from splashes.

A button and zip fastening forms part of the adjustable waist, with a thin webbing strap to tighten the fit marginally, using the button as a buckle.

These might not be the cheapest mountain bike shorts, but you are getting a responsibly sourced and made product.

Due to the close fit, I’d suggest the Patagonia Dirt Roamers are best suited to cross-country, trail and gravel riding, rather than enduro duties.

  • Read our full Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Shorts review

POC Essential MTB Women’s Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (10)
  • £85/$100/€100/AU$150 as tested
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: ‘Light basalt blue’, ‘uranium black', ‘axinite brown’

Despite their Essential name, these shorts from Swedish brand POC are certainly no basic option – they boast the same great quality and attention to detail the company has become renowned for.

With a 14-inch inseam and pre-shaped knee panels, these are longer shorts that give great coverage when worn with pads.

Up top, a high-fitting, shaped lower-back panel keeps you covered when bent forwards in the saddle.

The fit is relaxed, which we found perfect for manoeuvring freely around the bike. As on most of the best mountain bike shorts, there’s Velcro waist adjustment, and the YKK zip runs right to the top of the waistband, where it’s covered by an asymmetric flap with two poppers.

The comfortable, lightweight and stretchy DWR-coated nylon fabric shows no sign of wear, even after some decent use.

There’s a small zipped card pocket on the rear waist, plus two zipped hip pockets, which are a good size and work well off the bike.

We weren’t impressed by the hip pockets when riding – their location means larger contents, such as a phone, get in the way of pedalling. A zipped outer thigh pocket would be better.

Troy Lee Designs Mischief Women’s Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (11)
  • £100/$109/€125 as tested
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: Black, ‘cheetah black’

The Mischief shorts from Troy Lee Designs are a good example of how women’s mountain biking kit has come a long way in recent years, with a great balance of performance and fit.

Available as a shell only or with a liner, the shorts are made from a Bluesign-approved four-way stretch fabric that is designed to move with you and feels comfortable when pedalling.

The inseam extends just below the knee and covers pads easily. This, paired with the casual fit, three pockets and waist adjusters, helps make them great all-rounders, for everything from bike parks to enduro races.

The only thing stopping these mountain bike shorts from getting a full five stars is the price, but a premium price isn’t a surprise from a premium brand such as TLD.

  • Read our full Troy Lee Designs Mischief Women’s Shorts review

Also consider…

The following women’s MTB shorts scored fewer than four out of five stars, so they haven’t been included in our main list. But they may still tick the right boxes for you.

Rockrider Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts ST900

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (12)
  • £25 as tested
  • Sizes: L-XL
  • Colours: Black, 'strawberry pink', 'deep petrol blue'

A budget offering from Decathlon’s mountain bike brand Rockrider, the ST900 shorts demonstrate once again that you don’t need to break the bank to buy decent baggy shorts.

The polyester/elastane mix is incredibly stretchy and soft against the skin and is treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. The shorts are designed for summer riding, and there are many tiny laser-cut holes on the inner thighs for ventilation.

You won’t find any adjustability in the fit of the waist, although the wide elastic band means the shorts can stretch to fit your hip shape. The shorts are secured by a zipper fly and metal sliding clasp.

There are two water-repellent, zipped pockets: a small one in the lower back much like in running apparel, and a larger phone pocket on the outside of the lower right thigh. A single loop on the waistband is added for the storage of gloves.

The shorts size up big around the waistband and the legs are a little short for knee pads, but for budget baggies, they’re hard to beat.

  • Read our full Rockrider Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts ST900 review

100% Women’s Airmatic Shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (13)
  • £80 as tested
  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Colours: 'Seafoam', mauve, red, blue, black

The understated design of these shorts is a real winner, and the minimal reflective branding not only looks ace but should last for a long time.

Internally, there are silicone gripper triangles on the waistband to keep the shorts in place. Although the shorts aren’t supplied with a liner, there are popper loops if you want to attach one.

There are three zipped, mesh-lined pockets: two on the left hip and one larger pocket lower on the right thigh.

The fit is figure-hugging, with a looser cut around the knees. However, the legs aren’t overly long and there are some seams in the crotch area.

The polyester/elastane fabric mix yielded a little stretch and gave a non-restrictive fit on the bike, while the mesh lumbar panel added some breathability.

The zip fly, and metal hook and loops along the waistband didn’t give as much adjustability as we expected.

Overall, the Airmatics are a solid pair of trail riding shorts, but not the most budget-friendly. With their close fit, sizing up is recommended if you prefer baggier shorts.

Buyer’s guide to women’s mountain bike shorts

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (14)

With the rapidly growing number of options on the market, finding the right pair of women’s mountain bike shorts is easier than ever before.

While not every pair of shorts will be right for you and your riding, with a bit of research, you will be able to find something that fits your needs and aesthetic taste.

If you’re looking for your next pair of women’s MTB shorts, here’s what you should take into consideration to find the perfect cycling shorts for you.

Fit and size

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (15)

Probably the most important factor to consider is how your new mountain bike shorts will fit. This is why we recommend always trying shorts on before buying, if possible.

While sizing varies from brand to brand, it’s great to see more brands stocking a large size range.

The best women’s mountain bike shorts often look lower in the front when laid flat and rise higher in the back. This is because they are designed not to cut into your waist when you’re riding, but are high enough at the back to provide coverage from dirt and trail debris while not riding down.

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (16)

Look out for shorts with an adjustable and stretchy waistband, which are great for providing a comfortable and versatile fit.

Next up is the leg length. If you ride predominantly with knee pads, you may want to look out for baggier shorts with a longer inseam that reach down to the top of your knees.

If, however, you rarely wear knee pads and want a shorter and lighter pair of shorts, a more fitted cross-country-oriented option may be the one for you. Some brands, such as Endura, produce shorts in two different lengths to suit different riders.

Materials

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (17)

The materials from which the shorts are made will dictate their durability, water repellency and stretch.

Mountain bike shorts are most commonly made from a mix of polyester and elastane. If you value a good four-way stretch, look for options with at least 10 per cent of the latter.

A DWR (durable water repellent) coating helps the shorts to bead efficiently and, while it doesn’t make them entirely waterproof, is a great compromise of weight and water repellency for all but the most rainy rides.

Look out for PFC-free (fluorocarbon compound-free) options, such as the Patagonia Dirt Roamer shorts.

We have a dedicated list of the best waterproof mountain bike shorts if you’re interested in something that will help keep you dry.

Features

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (18)

Alongside an adjustable fastening mechanism, a well-designed pocket layout increases the usability of your mountain bike shorts.

While the number and size of the pockets is down to personal preference, we recommend at least one small zipped pocket for storing valuables such as keys, lift passes or cash.

Strategically placed perforations in the legs aid airflow and are especially useful in summer when you want to maintain coverage but not overheat.

Lined shorts vs shells

Some shorts come with an integrated liner short and padded chamois. These are often attached to the outer shorts but can be cut out or otherwise removed if required.

Chamois shorts are a very personal thing, and just because you like a brand’s outer shorts, it unfortunately doesn’t mean you’ll gel with its liners.

Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend shorts with integrated liners unless you’re sure the chamois suits you.

Best women’s mountain bike shorts in 2024 | 11 top-rated women's MTB shorts and buyer's guide (2024)

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