Summer Bikepacking Shorts Roundup

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...
Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

While on the hunt for the perfect bikepacking shorts, we tested several different pairs from Showers Pass, The Overland, Chrome, PEdALED, Kitsbow, Velocio, and Bontrager. Read on for reviews of seven casual cycling shorts, many of which are new for 2020…

Selecting the perfect pair of shorts for bikepacking ultimately comes down to personal preference. Lots of people prefer the looseness and durability of traditional baggy mountain bike shorts for technical riding, while others prefer a slightly more subdued, casual look. And some folks are just fine with cut off jeans. When it comes to cycling-specific shorts, features like zippered vents, strategically placed stretch panels, pockets (or lack thereof), and DWR coatings are all standard options. And while all those features have their place, most of us here prefer casual shorts that are comfortable while out riding, but can also can be worn day in and day out and feel just as comfortable on a night out in town. Logan and I tested seven different cycling shorts this summer that fit this category; most of them were recently released or of particular interest to us. Find our thoughts on all of them below.

Chrome Folsom Shorts 2.0

Chrome Industries is known for producing hardwearing, quality products, perhaps best known for their shoulder bags and backpacks. They also have a few different shorts in their lineup. Based around a relaxed fit and an 11” inseam, the Folsom Shorts are made from a quick drying 4-way stretch nylon, reinforced in high stress areas, and have a U-lock holster for those riding in the city. A comparable short in the women’s line would be the Anza Short, which uses the same fabrics but a slimmer fit and 6” inseam. The Chrome Folsom Shorts are available in sizes 28 to 38, and are currently only offered in black.

Chrome Folsom Shorts Review
  • Chrome Folsom Shorts 2.0 Review
  • Chrome Folsom Shorts 2.0 Review
  • Chrome Folsom Shorts
  • Chrome Folsom Shorts
  • Chrome Folsom Shorts

Miles’ Thoughts: I love the design and look of the Folsom Shorts, and they have really turned me on to Chrome’s products. They are a heavier weight material than the rest of the shorts I’ve tested this summer, which feels durable and ready to take on some bushwhacking and rough use. I wear the Folsom Shorts when I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for the day, as they don’t look like a cycling short but are comfortable enough for normal use, day rides, and bikepacking. The heavier weight fabric, although treated with a DWR finish, eventually does wet through and dries a little slower than other shorts I have, but the quality is top notch and they’ve been my go-to short all summer and fall. My one complaint is that within the first two weeks of wearing them constantly there were signs of pilling on my rear end, where they make contact with the saddle. Thankfully it hasn’t seemed to progress further than that, so I’m wondering if my saddle was particularly dirty one of those days.

  • Material: 94% nylon / 6% spandex
  • Size Range: 28-38
  • Size Tested: 34
  • Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
  • Price: $120 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: ChromeIndustries.com

Chrome Union 2.0

The Chrome Union 2.0 is a revamped version of the company’s classic, city-style short that they claim was inspired by “NATO military shorts and mountain biking baggies.” The Union 2.0 is constructed from a water resistant, semi-stretchy polyester material and has a rugged construction. The shorts feature two back pockets, fairly deep stretchy front pockets, reflective trim here and there, and a full zip wallet pocket. The Union is quite long—the longest shorts that Chrome make—and kind of has a 90s skate-style aesthetic, which I can appreciate.

Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review
  • Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review
  • Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review
  • Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review
  • Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review
  • Chrome Union 2.0 Shorts Review

Logan’s Thoughts: The Union 2.0 is incredibly comfortable and fits really well. All the pockets are highly useable and with full belt loops they’re kind of a crossover garment that can be worn while riding singletrack or out to a brewery on a warm afternoon. They have all the features I look for in a short, and a nice fit as well. My biggest gripe is that they may be a little too long for my taste. Some folks might dig it, but I ended up double rolling the hem to make them a little more comfortable. This actually worked and I wear these shorts quite a bit now. My other quibble, and one that might be related to the length, would be that they don’t come in a size 33 waist. The 34 is a little big for me, but I suspect the 32 would be too tight, as is usually the case. Otherwise, I highly recommend these shorts and expect them to last a really long time.

  • Material: 94% Nylon / 6% Spandex / DWR 4-way stretch fabric
  • Size Range: 28-38
  • Size Tested: 34
  • Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
  • Price: $110 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: ChromeIndustries.com

Overland Elemental Shorts

First announced in 2019 as a sub collection of England-based Morvélo, the Overland promised a more casual look but without skimping on technical features. Since then, The Overland has branched a little further away from their parent company, but their initial apparel line still exists and has actually been expanding ever since. The Overland Elemental Shorts are a good example of a technical yet mostly casual cycling short—constructed from a quick drying 4-way stretch polyester with two front pockets, belt loops, and not much else. The entire Overland range is unisex sized, and the Elemental Shorts are available in sizes x-small to xx-large.

Overland Elemental Shorts
  • The Overland Elemental Shorts Review
  • The Overland Elemental Shorts Review
  • Overland Elemental Shorts
  • Overland Elemental Shorts
  • Overland Elemental Shorts

Miles’ Thoughts: The Overland Elemental Shorts are by far the best fitting shorts I’ve worn. They fit true to size, which has allowed me to leave my belt at home, and they are lightweight enough to be comfortable on hot, long days on the bike while also dry quickly if they become wet. Their slim fit and subdued styling mean I can easily wear these off the bike as a regular day short without looking remotely out of place, and they pack up small, which is the cherry on top. Unfortunately, the front snap buttons don’t hold that tight and have a tendency to pop open randomly, which has been kind of frustrating. If this is addressed in an updated version, I’d be all over them.

  • The Overland Elemental Shorts Review
  • The Overland Elemental Shorts Review
  • Material: 90% polyester, 10% lycra
  • Size Range: Unisex XS-XXL
  • Place of Manufacture: TBD
  • Price: £45 (~$56 USD)
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Overland-Store.com

PEdALED Kyoto Shorts

I’ve now put a ton of miles on PEdALED’s Jary shorts, which I love, so when they sent their new Kyoto shorts to try, I was a little skeptical and didn’t think they could compete. However, the Kyoto shorts are completely different than anything out there, so it’s hard to compare the two. Like other PEdALED garments, they’re designed in Japan and made in Italy. But, unlike the Jary, or other shorts, they don’t have a zipper, vent, or even a button for that matter. In fact, all they have is a left front zippered pocket, a zippered right rear pocket, and a unique drawcord closure.

PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review
  • PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review
  • PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review

The Kyoto is constructed from a lightweight polyester material and has a very clever fly that uses nothing but a stitched in and folded piece of fabric. When the drawcord is laced up and tied, the fly is elegantly concealed. This not only makes them incredibly simple, it also eliminates the risk of breaking a button or zipper. And, without those things, they might just be the lightest cycling shorts I’ve seen to date.

  • PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review
  • PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review
  • PEdALED Kyoto Shorts Review

Logan’s Thoughts: Overall I’m really impressed with the Kyoto. They have a very elegant Japanese aesthetic and sensibility, fit perfectly, and are extremely comfortable. I love the simplicity and carried them on a recent 10-day trip as spare pair that I wore around camp and off the bike. I’ve also ridden in them and they work equally well on the bike. They are nicely tailored for movement and have kind of a hybrid athletic-comfort fit. If I had one complaint it’s that they didn’t put the front zippered pocket on the right. Being right-handed, that’s my go-to location to store my phone for the occasional map lookup. That said, left-handers will love it. All in all, they’re very minimal, and might not have enough fabric or features if you’re looking for a more robust and durable outdoor short. But if you’re heading into warm weather and looking for something light and simple, they might just be a perfect fit.

  • Material: 100% Polyester
  • Size Range: XS-XXL
  • Place of Manufacture: Italy
  • Price: €130
  • Manufacturer’s Details: pedaled.com

Velocio Trail Shorts

Updated in 2020 with a revised fit and closure system, the Velocio Trail Shorts ultralight weight riding short that are close fitting, yet baggy enough for mountain biking and all things trail-related. They feature a four-way stretch fabric, tailored fit, and a low-profile waist band with an integrated adjustment strap. While there are no standard front pockets, they do have two mesh lined hip pockets that keep contents out of the way while pedaling. The Velocio Trail Shorts have a DWR finish, slide-locking Cobrax fly buttons, and are available in both men’s and women’s sizing.

Velocio Trail Shorts
  • Velocio Trail Shorts Review
  • Velocio Trail Shorts Review
  • Velocio Trail Shorts
  • Velocio Trail Shorts
  • Velocio Trail Shorts

Miles’ Thoughts: I’ve actually been testing the Velocio Trail Shorts on and off for well over a year now. I had the original design, before the 2020 update, and I can say that the changes have been worthwhile. The original adjustable webbing waist strap was too thin and the buckle simply didn’t stay in place. They’ve updated the webbing to something much more burly and it’s solved that issue. They are lightweight, have a reasonably slim fit, and are comfortable for warm weather riding. The fabric is incredibly stretchy and very thin, likely the stretchiest shorts I’ve owned, but they still seem to be holding up just fine. They sit a little longer than I’m used to, more of a cross-country baggy, but don’t bunch up or get in the way while riding. They fit quite tight around my crotch and bum, which I found a little uncomfortable, although this might work for other body types just fine. The reflective details and locking fly buttons are nice touches, and it’s great to see Velocio offering the Trail Shorts in men’s and women’s, in a wide range of sizes.

  • Velocio Trail Short
  • Velocio Trail Short
  • Material: 79% polyamide, 21% elastane
  • Size Range: XS-XXXL (men’s), XXS-XXL (women’s)
  • Size Tested: Large
  • Place of Manufacture: Albania
  • Price: $159 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Velocio.cc

Showers Pass Gravel Shorts

The new Showers Pass Gravel Shorts are likely the most technical shorts in the roundup. Updated for summer 2020, the Gravel Shorts are described as Showers Pass’ most versatile and lightest shorts ever. They are constructed from a 4-way stretch Nylon-Spandex blend, feature a clean internal waist cinch system, silicone grips on the elastic waistband, as well as gusseted crotch. It appears the women’s Cross Country Shorts are pretty comparable, mostly in fit and aesthetics, but the Gravel Shorts have six pockets, two of which are zippered thigh pockets. They use a two button closure and have a neat stretch panel on the back panel for extra mobility while riding—a feature that’s mostly reserved for higher-end mountain bike shorts.

Showers Pass Gravel Shorts
  • Showers Pass Gravel Shorts Review
  • Showers Pass Gravel Shorts Review
  • Showers Pass Gravel Shorts
  • Showers Pass Gravel Shorts
  • Showers Pass Gravel Shorts

Miles’ Thoughts: Although I prefer a more subdued, less technical look when it comes to cycling shorts, the Showers Pass Gravel Shorts do provide an impressive array of features that will be appreciated by any type of rider. The 10” inseam feels right, sitting a few inches above the knee while riding, and the silicone waistband grips did a great job at keeping the shorts where they belong. For those not a fan of the Smoke Blue colourway pictured, they are also available in Dark Shadow and Sand—or Smoke Blue and Dark Shadow in the Women’s Cross Country Shorts. They’re reasonably affordable at $89 USD, and I’ve had good luck with Showers Pass products in the past, so I expect these will continue to hold up well. Although the short inseam and fitted design may be better suited to less technical riding, I’ve had them out on several longer trail rides and have appreciated just how well they move with my body. I found the waist size to be on the smaller size, which rendered the adjustable waistband useless. I’d suggest trying a size up.

Showers Pass Gravel Shorts Review
  • Material: 91% nylon, 9% spandex
  • Size Range: 28-40
  • Size Tested: 34
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Price: $89 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: ShowersPass.com

Bontrager Adventure Cycling Shorts

Launched in 2020 as part of Bontrager’s Adventure apparel line, the Bontrager Adventure Shorts are designed to be a versatile option for off-road adventures. They are constructed from a two-way stretch woven polyamide, have a gusseted crotch, and have two zippered pockets for small items. The fabric is treated with Schoeller Ecorepel Bio, which is a PFC-free water and mud repellent obtained entirely from renewable primary products, while also being Bluesign approved itself. The Adventure Cycling Shorts are fitted, but don’t limit motion and are roomy enough for mountain biking. They are also available in men’s and women’s sizing, in sizes x-small to xx-large, in grey or pacific (dark blue).

Bontrager Adventure Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Cycling Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Cycling Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Shorts

Miles’ Thoughts: I was eager to get a closer look at Bontrager’s new Adventure Apparel line when it was announced. I’ve been using both the new Adventure Cycling Shorts and Adventure Wool Blend Henley for several months now, and have been quite happy with them so far. The Adventure Shorts aren’t too baggy or tight, have plenty of stretch, and lightweight enough to be comfortable on hot days in the sun. Although it’s a nice touch, the rollable reflective leg band seems like an afterthought, and I feel it could have been blended into the shorts a little better. The standard sewn-on button fly is simple and works, but could definitely see it wearing out eventually. The entire short has plenty of stretch to it, even throughout the waistband, which required me to wear a belt while riding.

  • Bontrager Adventure Shorts
  • Bontrager Adventure Shorts
  • Material: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane
  • Size Range: XS-XXL (men’s / women’s)
  • Size Tested: Medium
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Price: $99 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: TrekBikes.com

Our Favorites

Miles’ thoughts: If I had to pick a favourite from the shorts I’ve tested, it would be a toss up between the Chrome Folsom shorts and Overland Elemental. Proper fit is a big deal for me, as are aesthetics, and both of these shorts are top notch in those departments. On a daily basis, I wear the Chrome Folsom shorts more often than any others, but for longer bikepacking trips this summer I’ve been turning to the Overland Elemental shorts because of they shed light rain nicely and dry quickly. Although I didn’t include them here, I’m also still secretly hoping Ornot offers their Mission Shorts with a longer inseam option, as I was pretty impressed with them earlier this summer. Stay tuned for more information on what I wear under these shorts. Spoiler alert: it’s not padded.

Logan’s thoughts: While I liked both the pairs of shorts I tried in this roundup, I wouldn’t consider either of them to be my favorite bikepacking shorts. I really like the Kyoto shorts from PEdALED for their simplicity, but prefer their Jary and consider it one of my two go-to cycling/bikepacking shorts. I recently rode with them for 1,400 miles worth of scouting with zero complaints. The other is the Kitsbow Haskell, which is a little bit shorter and heavier, but comes in a size 33 and is extraordinarily rugged. Unfortunately, I think they’ve since changed the design…

Do you have a go-to pair of shorts for bikepacking? Let us know in the comments below!

FILED IN (CATEGORIES & TAGS)

22 Comments