Clothes to get you going

This summer, we were sent tons of clothes to test out on the trails both at home and on the road. Some of them fit better than others, so here are a few winners from the piles.

SHREDLY

MTB Short: The Dilley

$98

There’s a lot to like about these shorts (which also come in MTB Long, for those who like some knee coverage). First, I love the Dilley pattern. It’s nice to have a pair of shorts that are vibrant and fun to wear without being flowery or overly feminine. Next, the thigh vents that really help keep the air flowing during these stifling summer days. The pockets — 2 front pockets and a cargo pocket — are ample for carrying the necessities I want within easy reach: spf lip balm, phone or wallet in the cargo pocket (I did sadly lose my sunglasses when I tried to ride with both my phone and sunglasses in that pocket, but that’s user error), dog treats if I’m riding with my pup. These shorts have belt loops as well as an internal adjustment system: an elastic that connects to a button on either side that can be tightened as you stretch the pants out during a ride, or for riders who have a smaller waist but size up for another part of their lower body.

The pants have nice snaps and a zipper closure, as well as a velcro. This velcro is, dare I say it, too strong. I have two pairs of these shorts, because they are super comfortable and made in America by a woman-owned and run business, and on both pairs I need to be very careful in the wash to secure the velcro first, otherwise the insides of the shorts, especially the pockets, gets stuck and ultimately frayed, including some loose threads (which honestly happens with just about any athletic short I wear, because I don’t know how to do laundry). This “problem” is solved with the Curvy short, reviewed below.

MTB Curvy: The Maria

$105

When I first tried on these shorts, I wasn’t a huge fan, but any negativity I potentially felt dissipated as soon as I took them for my first ride. I have an incredibly short torso — 5’5″ with a 32″ inseam — and felt like these shorts cut me off in a very awkward spot on my love handles. Strictly as a point of vanity, I wasn’t that charmed by the false illusion of rolls. This was also in the earliest part of the season, though, so my judgment probably could have been better suited on my lack of fitness rather than projected onto a garment.

These shorts have the same basic cut as the MTB Short, but the top is more like yoga pants. They look a bit like maternity shorts, but don’t let that turn you off. I know lots of moms who have worn their maternity clothes well after pregnancy because those clothes were designed with such support and comfort not considered in regular garment design. Anyway, riding in these shorts, the fabric is breathable, there is no digging into my gut, no button to pop loose or string to get untied or snap to dig into your waist uncomfortably under your fanny pack clip.

This shorts design is a fantastic idea that was well executed, and I’m so happy someone finally solved a problem I didn’t know I had; I’m not at all surprised it was Shredly who developed it.

Biker Tank: Coral

$48

This is one of my favorite shirts. Who knew a muscle tee could feel so good to wear? This soft, lightweight fabric is so breezy and comfortable, I find myself grabbing for this shirt even when I’m just hanging around the house or going out for a walk. As it’s cut like a muscle tee, it’s designed to show off your sports bra under your arms, so keep that in mind when you put it on. That said, it’s a flattering fit without any over-accentuation or darting: just a nice, comfortable tank. The coral color feels like the answer to the problem of wanting to wear safety orange but hating safety orange. It’s vibrant and visible, but softened to a nonblinding coral. Riding home on the road at dusk, this shirt is added visibility with incredible breathability from both the fabric and the cut, giving a much-deserved cool-down after a hard ride on the trails.

It doesn’t have any jersey pockets, but the shorts have two front pockets and a cargo pocket, and most likely you are wearing a backpack or fanny pack anyway, and have a tool roll strapped to your bike. Live a little! What do you really need to take with you anyway?

FLYLOW

Carter Short: Nortic

$90

These stylish, inconspicuous shorts are my go-to for when I want to get a ride in before a meeting or head right to the trailhead afterward without changing. They are a soft steel blue color that is probably the closest thing I own to business casual these days, and the hem hits my knee line at a very reasonable point — not too high or low.

For riding features, These have really nice, wide velcro adjustment straps on the waist to keep these sinched up and not sliding off my butt. The hip pockets are nice and deep; they go to the side a bit for easy access and assistance in keeping things from shooting out or pinching in the hip flexor area as you pedal. The side pocket isn’t really a good size for carrying the gargantuan phones being made today, and maybe that’s not the best place to keep a phone anyway if you don’t want to break it on a rock or tree. With its zipper closure, it’s the perfect spot to hide a snack or secure some beer and pizza money for post-ride libations.

Hawkins Shirt: Açai/Spice

$65

This shirt is a perfect shirt to throw on for those cooler early mornings or chilly evenings in the summer when full sleeves are too much but you want a bit more coverage. It’s also great for those secret trails you don’t tell the tourists about, where the pricker vines and thorny berry bushes grow into the trail at arms-height. The fabric is lightweight and loose-fitting, reminiscent of a favorite old t-shirt that’s been worn to near-oblivion, but is still holding up strong with no threadbare spots. Just that soft, flowy feel of a t-shirt you love. There are little slits on the sides to help keep it from bunching up. The tail hangs down low to cover your butt because, I dunno, that’s how the kids wear things these days? It adds to the coziness, anyway.

WILD RYE

The Kaweah: Constellation

$95

When I first put these shorts on, I really liked the length, but noticed immediately how snug they were in my thighs for how much extra fabric there was around the waist. There are no internal adjustment straps, just belt loops. If you have a more muscley build like I do, I might recommend sizing up and wearing a belt so you don’t feel restriction on your muscley bits.

That said, once I went riding, I didn’t feel any restriction at all. The fabric is very forgiving to movement, and seemed to stretch quite a bit with my pedal strokes, never being uncomfortable from too much compression or feeling restricted in my ability to move around for climbing, turning, or whatever other things make my body contour into weird and unnatural positions.

It’s been excessively hot and humid here in Pittsburgh. It’s hard to say if these shorts felt hotter than the others because of their fabric or because they sat more close to my skin than the others, keeping airflow to a minimum. Still, when I leaned my forearms on my thighs during a snack break, they left puddles. And when I peeled them off after my ride, they felt wet inside.

A big feature I appreciated was the side pocket that fit a modern phone. You know, basically a tablet. And the zipper worked great with one gloved hand, making it easy to pull out my phone for a second to take a photo or check an incoming message when I’m riding during work hours. I think that once the suffocating humidity and oppressive heat cut down a bit in a month, these will be much higher on my list of shorts to grab from the drawer.