The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Women’s MTB Shorts

The perfect pair of women’s MTB shorts need to be up for the challenge of ripping through berms, squeezing through rock chutes and skimming past tight trees – all the while feeling comfortable and allowing full range of movement on a whim. 

However, the sad fact of the matter is, women’s mountain bike shorts are somewhat lacking. Not one pair I have found are measured the same, creating a huge issue for online shopping. Most are designed either far too tight, too short, too baggy or non-adjustable, and don’t get me started on the pockets! 

Let’s just say, shopping for women’s MTB shorts may just be the hardest thing I have had to do in regards to mountain biking! 

But times are changing and recently I have noticed a much larger focus on women’s riding apparel. There are an increasing number of options available to accommodate riders that are searching for stylish and fitted shorts as well as those wanting practical and loose! 

So stay positive ladies!

In this ultimate guide for women’s mountain bike shorts, we will run through the different factors and decisions you need to be aware of before choosing the best pair for you, followed by a detailed review of 10 of the top ranking MTB shorts on the market.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase of a product we recommend through one of our links, we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you! This helps to support our blog and enables us to continue providing you with helpful tips and exciting adventures, so thank you 🙂

Mountain biking through green tree ferns on my 29 inch wheel Canyon Strive

What To Look For In A Pair Of Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts

There are a few key components that can help determine which pair of mountain bike shorts are going to be the winners for you. Not only is the material and length important, but so is the pockets and where they’re situated.

A whole lot of detail goes into styling mountain bike shorts to perform the best while also looking and feeling good. And of course, this is subjective to each and every one of us. Therefore, gaining a little knowledge on what factors can be customizable in each pair of shorts will greatly help you find the perfect pair. 


The style of mountain bike shorts for women has changed drastically in the last decade. The idea that women want their MTB shorts to be skin tight and skimpy has thankfully been scrapped. I mean, what good will that do when you’re sliding along the dirt?!

However, while the focus is on ‘baggies’ as they call the longer and loose fitting shorts, there are still styles out there for those looking for a more fitted pair. And which you choose depends highly on your style of riding as well as what you feel comfortable wearing. 

Personally, my riding style is enduro so the factors that are of most importance when choosing MTB shorts is non-restricted movement with the most coverage and durability possible. Consequently, ‘baggies’ are my choice as they offer full range of motion and coverage to my knee pads.

If your riding style is cross country or trail then a pair of light, mid-thigh shorts that are highly breathable could be better suited. Not to mention much more comfortable for the climbs!

Riding a rock slab in the TLD open face MTB Helmet at St Helens MTB Trails


Mountain bike shorts are generally constructed from a composite of either polyester or nylon partnered with elastane. A high percentage of nylon or polyester will provide a tougher and extra durable material to save you from gravel rash, whereas elastane provides the comfort and flexibility in the form of stretch. A typical mixture for gravity shorts is 90-95% durable and 5-10% stretch. 

MTB shorts boasting of two or four-way fabric are becoming increasingly popular due to their unmatched characteristics of comfort. These ratings basically signify the dimensional plane in which the material is capable of being stretched. 4-way fabric being the best with abilities of stretching both lengthways and crossways.

Other words you may come across are ripstop and DWR finish. Ripstop simply refers to fabric (usually nylon) that has been woven using reinforcing techniques that make them more resistant to tear. DWR stands for durable water repellent and is a coating added to the fabric to make it water resistant.  

Ripstop is important if you’re an enduro or downhill rider where crashing is unfortunately more common and rips in your clothing are unavoidable. DWR finish is an added bonus if you often ride in wet and muddy conditions, it won’t keep you completely dry but it will prolong the inevitable!

Sending a rock drop in Ourimbah Mountain bike park


Pockets are of absolute highest importance to me. I generally only carry a hydration backpack when embarking on long adventure rides or remote trails.

When riding without a backpack I need a place for my phone, keys, money, multitool and maybe a snack. That’s a lot of pockets! But if the pockets are deep and situated well, it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying much at all. 

The most important factors to check with pockets are placement, size and security. If the pockets are located at the hips, it could be super uncomfortable to stash your phone there when bending at the waist 90% of the time – unless they’re deep enough to allow the items to sit on your thigh. Lastly, pockets without zippers is just a recipe for disaster. I have found far too many lost possessions on the trails as a result.

Adjustable Waist

This feature on a pair of mountain bike shorts may just be the most crucial. None of us are built exactly the same and this is especially true for women. Our bodies are all unique and finding a pair of shorts that fit each shape perfectly is almost impossible. This is why having an adjustable waist, where you can tighten the shorts to fit comfortably without falling down is of utmost importance! 

The adjustability style varies between MTB shorts, the most common being velcro on the outer waist. Other styles you may find are buttons, buckles or ratcheting straps. Performance wise, neither system consistently works better than another, however I have found buttons to be my favourite.

The beautiful berms on the top of the downhill track at Ourimbah MTB Park

Inseam Length

The length of the shorts are measured by the inseam – the inside length of the shorts from the crotch. They can range between 9 and 14.5 inches. Generally, baggies won’t be shorter than 12 inch and if you want to be sure they will fall below your knee, it’s best to go for 14.5 inch.

For trail riders, between 9 and 12 inch is a good length for maximum breathability while still providing some protection from falls. Choosing the correct inseam length is a personal decision, as it comes down to your height, your style of riding and what you find comfortable.

Liners / Knicks

Liners or knicks are a padded base layer that you wear under your shorts to cushion your butt and help with chafing. Some mountain bike shorts come with a pair included, yet I have found that most don’t anymore. 

Wearing liners underneath your mountain bike shorts is beneficial if you spend time in the saddle, and even though I ride mostly enduro I always wear a pair for extra comfort. You can buy these separately from most mountain bike stores.

Note: Liners or knicks are not the same as lycra / spandex bike shorts. They are generally made of a much thinner material and if worn on their own, provide very limited protection. 

jumping a rock gap in St Helens MTB Trails wearing women's mountain bike shorts

Best Mountain Bike Shorts For Women

Now that you’re armed with all the information to make an informed decision, it’s time to take a look at the women’s mountain bike shorts that are dominating the market. As we live in Australia, these will all be ones that are available here along with America, Canada and Great Britain.

For your reference, I am 168 cm, 65 kg with narrow hips and an athletic build. My style of mountain bike shorts that I like to wear are baggies that don’t restrict movement and fall below my knee. Some of the positives and negatives for each pair of mountain bike shorts that I’ve reviewed are subjective to my preferences and can be interpreted however you like depending on your preferences and body shape.

SHREDLY Women’s MTB Long Shorts

SHREDLY are a women’s specific brand that just know how to get it right! Their MTB Long Shorts are their newest pair that offers an extra 3 inches of length compared to their counterpart, the MTB Short.

But the best part is, they offer two types of fits – a curvy option and a regular option to suit all body types. Plus, their waistband is part snap closure and part elasticised to ensure a perfect fit. The shorts fall just below the knee on most people and have two front pockets, one zippered one and another side pocket with an easy access snap closure.

While I haven’t tried a pair of SHREDLY MTB shorts on, I do have a pair of their pants which I absolutely adore. The fabric is stretchy and the pants are form-fitting yet lose enough for full range of movement. Not to mention, all their gear come in a wide range of funky designs or block colours to suit every rider. The only downside is that they are a little pricey, however, if you purchase through our link you will receive a 10% discount on any items.

Get 10% off any purchase

Price: $160 AUD
Size: XS – XL
Inseam Length: Below the knee
Liner: No
Material: Recycled Poly/Spandex with four-way stretch
Waist Adjustment: Partial elasticised waist
Pockets: Two front pockets, one zippered thigh pocket and one side pocket with a snap closure
Colours: 6 unique prints, burnt orange, pine green, wine red, black
Recommended body shape: Athletic, slim (curvy option available)
Best For: All mountain

SHREDLY women's mtb shorts


  • Recycled material
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • A great fit for many body types


  • Expensive
  • Sizing can be a little snug
  • Can’t be purchased from an Australian store

Specialized Women’s Trail Short

The women’s trail shorts from Specialized are lightweight and offer plenty of stretch for comfort. While I’ve never worn a pair of their women’s specific shorts, I do own their men’s demo pants which are some of the most comfortable I have had the pleasure of wearing. Both these shorts and the demo pants have the same fabric so I can only assume the comfort level is the same.

Their 11.5 inch inseam and slim fit design makes these shorts much more suited to trail riding or cross country rather than enduro or downhill. With the shorter style, you can most likely expect a gap between them and your knee pads which is not ideal for gravity riding. The shorts do have an option that comes with a liner attached, however the reviews have stated that the sizes between both don’t match up.

Price: $85 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L
Inseam Length: 11.5 inches
Liner: Yes, option for with or without. $140 with liner
Material: 100% polyester
Waist Adjustment: Hidden buckle and strap
Pockets: One zippered hip pocket and one open hip pocket
Colours: Black with liner, Cast Battleship (blue) without liner
Recommended body shape: Petite, slim
Best For: All mountain


  • Comfortable and stretchy material
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable


  • Tight fitting
  • Sizing runs small and inaccurate
  • Pocket placement not ideal for carrying a phone

Tineli Women’s MTB Trail Shorts

Tineli is a brand from New Zealand that specialises in road riding, mountain biking and triathlon apparel. I have recently purchased a pair of their MTB trail shorts and love them! They are comfortable, have a wide enough leg to accommodate for an athletic build and the pockets are positioned perfectly at the back of your thigh to keep your phone safe and out of the way.

Much to my happiness, I have yet to test them out in a crash so I can’t comment on their durability but the feel of them suggest they will hold up well. I am 168cm tall, wear a medium and the shorts come down to the middle of my knee. 

Maybe the coolest feature on these shorts, other than the ‘set and forget’ button waist adjustment that sits on the inside of the waist, is the lens cloth tied into one of the side pockets… genius!

If you’re in Tasmania, pop in to visit the rad owners of the Derby Bike Shop who sell these shorts among some other epic apparel. 

Price: $99.95 AUD
Size: 128, 140, 152, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL (I haven’t quite figured out their sizing and why there are a few with numbers)
Inseam Length: 13.5 inches
Liner: No
Material: 100% polyester
Waist Adjustment: Yes, inside with buttons
Pockets: Two side thigh zippered pockets
Colours: Black
Recommended body shape: Athletic, narrow build
Best For: All mountain and enduro

Tineli Women's MTB Trail Shorts


  • Great pockets
  • Waist adjustment is out of the way and works well
  • Loose fitting


  • Fit may be too loose for some
  • May be a little short for tall women

Dharco Women’s Gravity Shorts

Dharco has taken the mountain bike scene by storm with their unreal designs and unmatched durability of their jerseys – which we have crash tested too many times! 

In the last few years, Dharco has introduced mountain bike shorts and pants to their brand and we couldn’t be happier. Using BlueSign approved fabric, they have produced gravity style shorts that are durable yet moisture wicking and sit just below the knee. 

The only negative I can say about these shorts is the pocket placement doesn’t allow you to carry a phone while riding and the fit is a little snug for those of us with athletic thighs. But the fun designs sure make up for this!

Price: $129.95 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
Inseam Length: Not specific, but falls below the knee
Liner: No
Material: 95% nylon, 5% elastane
Waist Adjustment: Velcro outer adjustment
Pockets: Two hip pockets
Colours: Black, Scarlett, Forest, Leopard, Savannah, Clay, Camo
Recommended body shape: Tall, slim, medium builds
Best For: Enduro

Dharco women's gravity mtb shorts


  • Long inseam covers knee pads
  • Durable material
  • Bluesign approved fabric


  • Pockets in awkward position that don’t work well for a phone
  • Tight fit around the legs
  • Sizes fit small

Norman MTB Recycled Enduro Shorts

Norman MTB are the new kids on the block who began their journey in the Snowy Mountains in NSW, Australia. Their range of mountain bike gear has a huge focus on sustainability and style.

Their Recycled Enduro Shorts are made predominantly from recycled polyester and are fit with a high waist and designed to support the contours of the female body . These are my newest pair of mountain bike shorts and while they are tighter than I would usually buy, they’re so damn comfortable.

The shorts sit just above my knee and fit nicely with my knee pads, though they do ride up a touch while pedalling. There is a large pocket at the lower back that fits a large phone perfectly and another side pocket with a sturdy zip for your valuables.

Price: $140 AUD
Size: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16
Inseam Length: Not specific, but falls just above the knee
Liner: No
Material: 92% Repreve Recycled Polyester, 8% Spandex
Waist Adjustment: None
Pockets: Deep waist pocket at rear and left waterproof zippered pocket at front hip
Colours: Black
Recommended body shape: Curvy and athletic
Best For: Enduro and Trail


  • Recycled material
  • Back pocket is perfect for a large phone
  • High waist is super comfortable
  • Lightweight and breathable – great for riding in summer


  • Hip pocket doesn’t fit phone comfortably
  • A little tighter than I would usually wear
  • No waist adjustment

POC Women’s Essential MTB Short

The POC Essential MTB Short is an enduro or downhill rider’s dream. They’re durable and long with a structured pre-bent knee to avoid the shorts getting tight when you’re in the riding position. And a raised back provides better coverage, helping to avoid some of the scrapes from a stack. 

With a DWR finish, these shorts will aid in keeping you as dry as possible in light rain and damp conditions. Unfortunately, these top features come with a slightly higher price tag but if you want a thick and durable pair of shorts to last, it may be worth the extra cash! 

The only downside I can find in the POC women’s essential MTB shorts is the pocket location – where a phone doesn’t fit comfortably – and while being super stretchy, they’re slightly fitted for those of us with athletic legs and narrow hips.

Price: $150 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: Not specific, but falls below the knee
Liner: No
Material: Nylon stretch fabric with DWR finish
Waist Adjustment: Velcro outer adjustment
Pockets: Two zippered hip pockets, One rear zippered card pocket
Colours: Black
Recommended body shape: Tall, curvy and athletic
Best For: Enduro and downhill

POC Women's Essential MTB Shorts


  • Durable material
  • DWR finish
  • Long length
  • Pre-bent knee style ready for riding position


  • Hip pocket doesn’t fit phone comfortably
  • Getting expensive

Troy Lee Designs Mischief Women’s MTB Shorts

TLD have come up with some seriously interesting designs for women’s MTB shorts in the past and I am happy to announce that this line is simple, stylish and practical… finally! 

The Mischief mountain bike shorts come either with or without a liner and have been cut in a performance oriented race fit. With a 12 inch inseam, they will sit at or just below the knee to provide good protection and minimum gap between your knee pads.

Maybe my favourite feature on these shorts is the rear phone specific pocket on the back thigh, along with two additional zippered pockets at the front. However, these shorts are one of the most expensive summer mountain bike shorts on this list and without finding many reviews, I can’t be sure the extra cash is worth it. 

Price: $200 AUD – liner included | $150 AUD – no liner (clearance sale)
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: 12 inches
Liner: Yes
Material: 4-way stretch woven, Bluesign approved
Waist Adjustment: Velcro outer adjustment
Pockets: 2 front thigh zippered pockets, one rear thigh zippered pocket.
Colours: Black, Blue (no liner)
Recommended body shape: Slim, athletic and petite
Best For: All mountain, enduro and downhill

Troy Lee Designs Mischief Women's MTB Shorts


  • BlueSign approved
  • Durable 
  • Well positioned pockets
  • Liner included 


  • Expensive
  • Sizes run small
  • May be too short for tall women

Mons Royale Women’s Virage MTB Shorts

Mons Royale may well be one of the first mountain bike clothing brands that have begun to use recycled polyester to make their shorts. Along with this huge plus, Mons Royale mixes recycled polyester with merino wool to create a pair of shorts that are durable with temperature regulating and anti-odour properties. 

The Virage shorts are a regular fit with one zippered pocket at the rear thigh for a phone. Mons Royale have introduced a complimentary matching belt instead of the traditional waist adjustments which I am not so sure about yet. Their reasoning for this belt is to produce a pair of shorts that are stylish for on and off the bike…

While these shorts have an amazing reputation for being highly durable and comfortable, they do have a high price tag. However, this may be justified to help save the planet.

Price: $180 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: 13 inches
Liner: No
Material: 81% Recycled Polyester 14% Merino Wool 5% Elastane
Waist Adjustment: Belt included
Pockets: Zippered rear side pocket
Colours: Black, Dark denim
Recommended body shape: Athletic and curvy builds
Best For: All mountain and enduro

Mons Royale Women’s Virage MTB Shorts


  • Recycled polyester
  • Comfortable fit
  • Durable yet breathable material


  • Expensive
  • A belt instead of a pull tab waist adjustment is not for everyone
  • Only one pocket

Mons Royale Women’s Momentum 2.0 MTB Shorts

The Mons Royale Women’s Momentum 2.0 MTB Shorts are the ultimate pair for winter riding. With a cosy merino wool lining, these will keep your temperature regulated throughout a winter ride while the durable micro-grid outer will keep you protected from the elements and unfortunate falls.

With a long inseam of 14.5 inches, these offer maximum protection and almost no chance of a gap between your shorts and knee pads. However, with added warmth and protection you are looking at quite a high price tag. A source has told me these are the best shorts she’s worn, but you will be sacrificing a secure pocket for your phone.

Price: $210 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: 14.5 inches
Liner: No
Material: 52% Polyester 39% Merino Wool (18.9Mic) 9% Elastane
Waist Adjustment: Velco outer adjustment
Pockets: Two open hip pockets, one zippered small hip pocket
Colours: Black, Dark Denim
Recommended body shape: Athletic and curvy builds
Best For: Enduro and downhill

Mons Royale Women’s Momentum 2.0 MTB Shorts


  • Warm for winter
  • Durable material
  • Long and comfortable fit


  • Expensive
  • No secure pocket for a phone

100 Percent Airmatic Women’s MTB Shorts

The Airmatic women’s mountain bike shorts by 100 Percent are described as a pair of shorts with a minimalist style and practical features. This statement is proven with three zippered pockets – two smaller ones for keys and cards and a larger one on the front thigh to fit a phone. 

The shorts are figure hugging and one review has suggested to size up if you’d rather your shorts loose fitting. The waistline of the Airmatic shorts can be adjusted by a metal hook and webbing loops, however it seems if you use the last loop to make the shorts as tight as possible, the fly cover gapes. 

But as you would expect of a brand with a long history with motocross before jumping on the mountain biking bandwagon, these shorts offer great durability without sacrificing breathability or movement.

Price: $130 AUD
Size: S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: Not specified – falls at the knee
Liner: No
Material: Polyester / elastane blend with a DWR finish
Waist Adjustment: Outer hook and loops style
Pockets: 3 zippered pockets
Colours: Black, Seafoam (pale blue)
Recommended body shape: Slim and petite
Best For: All mountain and enduro

100 Percent Airmatic Women’s MTB Shorts


  • Three zippered pockets, one large enough for a phone
  • Durable material with stretch
  • DWR finish


  • Waist adjustment can gape at tightest fit
  • Tight for athletic build
  • Seams in crotch area

Leatt All Mountain 2.0 Women’s MTB Shorts

The Leatt All Mountain 2.0 MTB shorts are designed for trail and enduro style riding, offering great movement and breathability with their four way stretch material. Apparently, the material has a dirt, water and stain-resistant coating which I would be super interested to test myself. 

Reviews for these shorts state they are comfortable, fit just above the knee and allow a roomy fit for athletic builds while not being too loose for slim builds. With two zippered pockets at the hip that promise to fit a phone comfortably and velcro waist adjusters, the only fault I can find without testing these myself is that they may be a little too short.

Price: $150 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Inseam Length: Not specified but falls at the top of the knees
Liner: No
Material: 4-way stretch with dirt, water and stain-resistant coating
Waist Adjustment: Outer velcro adjustments
Pockets: 2 zippered deep hip pockets
Colours: Black, Dusk (pink / purple)
Recommended body shape: Athletic and curvy builds
Best For: Trail and enduro

Leatt All Mountain 2.0 MTB Shorts


  • Lightweight and durable
  • True to size
  • Good fit for most


  • Getting expensive
  • Hip pockets might be annoying with bigger items
  • A little short for enduro

Fox Racing Women’s Defend MTB Shorts

I am a little hesitant to add Fox Racing shorts to the list because I have personally had a few issues with sizing and malfunctions, however, the Defend MTB Shorts have a great name in the downhill scene and offer one of the longest coverage for riders. 

These downhill inspired shorts are equipped with two zippered hip pockets along with plenty of ventilation for a long day of flying down the trails. The material is highly durable with a TruMotion 4-way stretch poly blend and will likely fall below the knee on most. 

With only a limited ratcheting buckle for waist adjustments, finding the right size can be difficult as the jump from medium to large is huge.

Price: $150 AUD
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Inseam Length: 14.5
Liner: No
Material: TruMotion 4-way stretch 94% polyester / 6% elastane
Waist Adjustment: Ratcheting buckle
Pockets: 2 zippered hip pockets
Colours: Black, Teal
Recommended body shape: Tall, curvy and athletic builds
Best For: Enduro and downhill

Fox Racing Women’s Defend MTB Shorts


  • Highly durable
  • Long length is great for taller women and extra coverage


  • Huge gap between sizes
  • Waist adjustment is lacking

I sincerely hope this post helps you to find the perfect pair of mountain bike shorts for your style. If you have any questions on the products above or have another pair that should be added to the list, please let me know in the comments below.

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