When riding through the UK's often challenging conditions, staying dry is imperative to having a great time out on the bike rain or shine. The best waterproof MTB shorts for mountain biking are ideal for exactly that, as they keep the important bits dry while remaining cool should it be a wet and warm day. Here are the best waterproof MTB shorts we've tested.
If you already know what makes a pair of the best MTB shorts great, you'll have a solid idea of what makes a pair of waterproof shorts excellent. They share many of the same technologies and features but they offer waterproofing qualities such as waterproof membranes, DWR (durable water-repellent) coatings, taped seams, and taped zips.
As always, a good pair of waterproof MTB shorts has to fit properly, so be sure to check out the manufacturer's size guide with waterproof shorts especially, as they need to be long enough to fend off the dreaded knee pad gap. This is even more important as keeping mud away from the area covered by the shorts will stop uncomfortable rubbing and water ingress.
Also, look for the waterproofing/breathability rating often depicted as 10k/10k or similar. The higher the numbers the more waterproof and breathable the shorts' fabric is, the lower the number, the less so.
Best waterproof MTB shorts
The nutmeg colourway won't be to everyone's taste but the performance of the Endura MT500 waterproof shorts II is sure to please. They're a bit of an investment because they get a lot of the same features that you'll see on the brand's excellent MT500 Waterproof Jacket II, it's money very well spent.
Those features come in the form of Endura's own ExoShell40DR three-layer fabric that's complete with a more environmentally friendly PFC-free DWR coating. The seat area is reinforced to add a bit of longevity. Everything on these shorts is water resistant, including the hand pockets, belt loops, and the zip and popper closure.
We found these shorts to feel super light and that they did a great job of keeping the worst weather at bay. Moisture wicking from the inside was effective too.
If you're a fan of Endura kit, check out our Endura MT500 Waterproof Shorts II review.
Another entry from Endura is the MT500 Spray Short II but instead of being an all-out waterproofing powerhouse, the Spray Short dials things back a little, offering just enough protection to fend off light rain and spray, whilst being great for year-round wear.
Although we found the fit on these shorts to be a little smaller than expected, performance is excellent as is comfort, thanks to the stretchy fabric. Even though these are designed to be worn throughout the year, they feature taped seams at the rear which adds useful spray protection. The hems at the knees are also shaped to extend slightly further over the knee to offer even more weather resistance.
The versatility of these shorts shone through so if you're after a great pair of shorts that'll happily see you through every season of the year, head over to our Endura MT500 Spray Shorts II review to learn a little more.
The Alpinestars Outrider WR Waterproof Base shorts epitomise British conditions. They're not fully waterproof but they come with just the right mix of features to keep things dry while encouraging more breathability than a waterproof.
They get their weather resistance thanks to a seamless and laminated panel that runs from the rear to the crotch which offers full waterproofing in this area but there's a four-way stretch material at the front, just like any non-waterproof shorts. In our test, these shorts proved to be lightweight and unobtrusive, and the leg length was long enough too.
If you're a UK rider and want a pair of shorts that remain breathable while keeping water away in the places where it's important, check out our full Alpinestars Outrider WR Waterproof Base shorts review.
Cube's Blackline Rain Shorts are not cheap but they prove to be high performers with an adjustable elastic waistband and importantly they are durable and waterproof too. The only place we can fault the German conglomerate’s wet weather short is that we’d like another pocket in addition to the single left-handed inclusion and, at £121, they’re not cheap - especially for their minimalistic design.
They’re in line with other brands such as Endura, Altura, and Madison (reviews of their versions coming soon) but just don’t fit with Cube’s normal ethos of high spec, high value.
To find out more, here's the Cube Blackline Rain shorts review.
They may sit at the very priciest end of the scale but from the first try, 7Mesh's Revo Waterproof shorts impressed.
They're kitted with all of the features you'll expect, including a 70d Nylon Plain Weave with a Tricot Knit backer which helped them remain rustle-free when pedalled in. The cut is also shaped to stop water from finding its way in with longer knees. There are belt loops and hip adjusters and the shorts are kitted with plenty of pockets.
When riding, the shorts' breathability was clear and they've proven to be super capable, keeping water and wind at bay. They're expensive, but if you ride winter-in, winter-out they're a seriously good choice.
If you're happy to spend to get the best, check out our 7Mesh Revo Waterproof shorts review.
Polaris Bikewear's AM500 TX Repel shorts are a solid pair of bottoms that'll offer good performance throughout the year but what makes them sorted for wet weather riding is their impressive DWR-treated nylon build. This is paired with a four-way stretch fabric that's used around the yoke to add some useful stretch. The AM500s also come with all of the adjustments you'll need.
Above everything, these shorts are superbly comfortable and suit year-round riding perfectly, although the DWR coating alone won't keep you protected during the heaviest downpours.
Check out our Polaris AM500 TX Repel shorts review to find out more
Are the best waterproof MTB shorts worth it?
A big question is whether waterproof shorts are worth the investment, especially when you get even more protection from the best MTB pants. This solely depends on where you ride and whether or not you're dead set on riding through all weather.
The key factor that all waterproof MTB shorts carry is that they offer improved airflow over trousers so they can be worn on those days when it's too warm for trousers, but wet enough to require some kind of protection. Some shorts in this guide will be semi-waterproof too, with breathable front panels but protected rears so any spray flung off the rear wheel won't seep into the fabric.
If you're simply looking to stay dry, waterproof MTB shorts are a great bet.
What do you wear for wet mountain biking?
Waterproof shorts are something all riders should wear when it's really wet outside but for an effective wet-weather getup, you'll need a fully waterproof wardrobe. That'll include waterproof shoes or socks, and one of the best mountain bike jackets. It's also wise to look into waterproof gloves.
With a complete arsenal of waterproof clothing, you'll be set to stay warm and dry in even the worst conditions. However, if ultimate waterproofing is what you want, check out monosuits and onesies for unbridled weather protection.
Why do MTB riders wear baggy shorts?
Baggy mountain bike shorts serve to form and function. Where mountain bikers like to separate themselves from roadies by wearing baggier clothing, baggy shorts offer more space for knee pads to fit underneath and they often come littered with pockets which are ideal for storing spares, tools, and snacks.
However, not all mountain bikers wear baggy shorts as cross-country riders opt for lycra. Even though the speeds they travel don't pose much drag, some aero gains can be had and the lack of excess fabric will stop any clothing from being snagged while tussling for position. When racing, XC riders have pits, where repairs and refuelling can be made whereas out in the wilderness, the extra carrying capacity is essential.