Joe and Ben have been riding all summer to figure out which in their pick of the best trail riding shorts performed the best.

A good pair of trail riding shorts needs to be comfy enough to pedal all day and tough enough for dragging through brambles, and the occasional crash or uplift day. They are always a balance between light weight, cooler materials that are better for pedalling and heavier, more durable materials that can take more abuse.

Luckily the fabrics on offer these days strike a good balance of both whilst also having features like DWR water repellent coatings, and stretchy capabilities.

Photos by Dave Price.

RaceFace Stage shorts

Key features:

  • Lightweight & breathable material
  • Internally adjustable waist with belt loops
  • 4 zippered pockets
  • Seamless crotch panel
  • £89.95 RRP
  • RaceFace.com

Buy online at Tredz for £59.99.

The Stage shorts have been some of our favourite go-to shorts this summer. Being fairly lightweight and breathable they are perfect on a hot day. The fit is fairly slim, but still has room to stash some things in the pockets, move freely on the bike and fit over knee pads. For £90 without a liner these are very expensive shorts, but they are versatile and despite their light weight they are tough enough for some uplift duties as well.

After hundreds of kilometres this summer they are still in very good condition and should last a long time. The only downside was the pocket zip pull loops falling off as they just hook round the metal tab, and disappeared down the drain the first time they went in the wash.

We like:

  • Comfy fit, not too baggy.
  • Fairly casual look

Could do better:

  • Pocket zip pulls fell off

Endura MT500 Burner Short II

Key features:

  • 4-way stretch fabric, with durable seat panel
  • High stretch crotch and rear panels
  • Zipped fly with ratchet waist adjustor and velcro waist adjustors
  • Zipped hand pockets
  • Clickfast™ liner compatible
  • 3D molded outer knee protection
  • £79.99 RRP
  • Endurasport.com

Buy online at Chain Reaction Cycles for £75.99.

The MT500 burner shorts stand out from the rest in their dark green with flouro green logos, but fortunately they are also available in black for those who like a more understated look. As you would expect from Endura they have a solid, quality feel to them and are designed to last in harsh UK riding conditions. They borrow features from the Atherton’s race kit and boast of DH toughness with trail lightness. The flap free fit combined with the 4 way stretch fabric result in a top quality pair of shorts for all round riding duties.

We love:

  • Top quality feel
  • Very comfortable

Could do better:

  • The green colour scheme may not be for everyone

Leatt DBX 3.0 shorts

Key features:

  • Light weight 4-way stretch fabric
  • 4 colours available
  • Pre-curved and tailored fit
  • Water resistant bum
  • £79.99 RRP
  • Leatt.com

Buy online at Chain Reaction Cycles for £63.99.

The DBX 3.0 are Leatt’s lightest weight shorts, designed for general trail riding and warm weather use. Despite their light weight they still feel solid and proved to be very durable after a couple of lay downs in them. Highlights include the articulated knee that looks and feels funny when you are standing in a car park, but make sense when you are sat on your bike, hugging the top of your knee pad and avoiding the dreaded tw*t gap.

Merida Big.Trailtea

The water resistant back panel was also effective for occasional puddles or damp summer rides. Overall they are a decent pair of shorts that are comfy on a long ride and tough enough for some occasional racing or uplift.

We love:

  • Slim cut and articulated knee
  • Dry bum

Could do better:

  • Leatt logo is a bit over the top

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Shorts

Key features:

  • Bluesign certified environmentally friendly fabric.
  • Woven open mesh front for ventilation
  • Available with or without liner
  • Snap button with velcro fastener
  • £80.00 RRP
  • TroyLee Designs.com

Buy online at Tredz for £80.00.

According to Troy Lee Designs, the Skyline range is their top selling kit, blending trail comfort, all day functionality and a classic fit. The rear features a stretch panel that works with the waist fasteners to keep your shorts from slipping down. The Skylines are some of the coolest shorts on test, and when you pick up some speed you can really feel the air flow through the material, despite the lack of specific ventilation holes or panels.

The pockets are well positioned too, and are comfy with a phone in your pocket on shorter blasts. Whilst they are a bit of a summer specialist, the Skylines are a top pair of riding shorts that look and feel great.

We love:

  • The reflective TLD “V-Sign” logo design
  • Useable pockets
  • Light weight fabric

Could do better:

  • Not much

Specialized Enduro Pro short

Key features:

  • VaporRize fabric is stretchy, durable and water repellant
  • SWAT access zip works with SWAT bib shorts
  • 3D Mountain chamois included
  • £110.oo RRP
  • Specialized.com

Buy online at CycleStore for £88.00.

The Enduro Pro short is a really well thought out and executed piece if kit, but it comes with a premium price tag to match. The standout feature is the material. It is light and stretchy and on hot summer rides it keeps you as cool as any shorts on this test. You would never realise that it is actually pretty water resistant and even after plenty of use and washes it still beads water and keeps you dry in light spray or showers.

The cut is similar to the Troy Lee Skylines, with enough space to move around and no excess material to flap about. The outside leg features a long zip that lets you access the storage pockets on Specialiazed’s SWAT bib shorts (available separately), however I didn’t realise this and put my phone right through the hole and dropped it on the floor! Other than that they are super comfy and are proving very durable.

We love:

  • Fit and stretchy material
  • Water proofing
  • Comfy liner is included

Could Do Better:

  • I dropped my phone…

Winner

For outright performance the best shorts on test are the Specialized Enduro Pro. The VaporRize material is what makes them so versatile, separating them from the rest of the competition. They are the most expensive by quite some way though, so if spending over £100 on shorts is a bit much then we would go for the Troy Lee Designs Skyline which is a load cheaper and almost as good as the big money shorts from Specialized.

Value

None of the shorts on test are truly a ‘value’ set of shorts and are all at the premium end of the market, however it has to be the Skylines from Troy Lee Designs. They look and feel great, and can be picked up on sale at the moment for way less than the £80 price tag.

Looking for a top to go with the tail? Check out our short sleeve jersey grouptest here.