Uber durable winter softshell pants that look great, fit well and make winter that bit more bearable.
Mar 13 2018
Phone pouch is unecessary
You want full leg covering for cold and mostly dry days
Making winter better for me since Autumn, the softshell Shelter Pants from ION are a light, flexible, fitted yet roomy mountain bike trouser. They are uber durable, made for taking on the winter slop and keeping you that bit warmer and drier.
After taking to winter mountain bike trousers like a duck to water in the Madison DTE's offering I realised I needed another pair for those cold, crisp, not overly wet days. Enter the ION Softshell Shelter Pants, a flexible pair of trousers with a tough rear panel and an all over DWR coating, these are my ‘go to’ protection from the wind chill factor.
The Shelter pants are designed to be a durable pair of bike trousers and these tick that box with ease. Made from a four-way stretch fabric with a more robust and non-stretchy rear panel, there are triple stitched seams where it matters on the inner thigh to make sure they are tough enough for the winter slop.
There are a couple of vents on the legs for when things get steamy – not that they will that often, the fabric used here both keeps out the wind and is super breathable at the same time. The vents are mesh lined with an added retention strap meaning they don’t gape open unnecessarily, a great idea.
The DWR coating works well, although I did find ingress of water where the fabric rubbed on the knee pads quite quickly, but with friction here forcing water through this is to be expected with any fabric.
The trousers feature two zip pockets at the hip, one of which contains a protective neoprene phone pouch, which is hard to get the phone into and therefore just constitutes excessive bulk to what are elsewhere slim fitting trousers. Further down the leg there are zips to allow you to take the trousers more easily and the bottom 3 inches or so of the leg is made from the same durable material found on the rear.
As with other ION kit I have reviewed (Scrub Jersey and Scrub Bikeshorts) the Shelter Pants have a great fit, fitting to the hips nicely whilst still being roomy enough at the thighs. ION use their tried and tested hip adjuster system which lies flat on the hips and doesn’t snag my jersey. There is a large easy to fasten popper at the waistband coupled with a short zippered fly. The trousers feature articulated knees which give enough space for mid-sized knee pad (I mostly wore Race Face Indy pads) but anything much bigger might be a bit of a squeeze.
The ION Shelter pants are a trouser that offers great freedom of movement plus protection from the elements on those slightly drier days. They fend off trail splash and light rain with ease and prevent the ingress of dirt and mud into your under layers meaning you stay more comfortable for longer. They are comfortable and quiet to pedal in, the fit and cut make these unnoticeable to wear, a great feat. Riding in temperatures between 0 to 10 degrees, I have been happy pedalling all day in the Shelter Pants, I’ll actually be sad when the warmer weather approaches and I have to stow them away for next year.
At £130, they are a tad on the expensive side but ION have got the market cornered here, whether they meant to or not. You’ll struggle to find another pair of women’s softshell bike trousers let alone a well fitting and comfortable example such as these. If you can afford to add a pair to your riding wardrobe, I would advise you do – they will take the place of your winter shorts and you’ll be forever grateful.
Previously Editor here at off-road.cc, Rachael is happiest on two wheels. Partial to a race or two Rachael also likes getting out into the hills with a big bunch of mates. In the past Rachael has written for publications such as, Enduro Mountain Bike Magazine, Mountain Biking UK, Bike Radar, New Zealand Mountain Biker and was also the online editor for Spoke magazine in New Zealand too. For as long as she's been riding, she has been equally happy getting stuck into a kit review as she is creating stories or doing the site admin. When she's not busy with all the above she's roasting coffee or coaching mountain biking in the Forest of Dean.