The softshell Shelter women’s pants from ION are stretchy and light with a durable rear panel and DWR coating, they are best for cold, dry days or for days when the rain or trail spray is light. 2019 see them get a more fitted cut and are now available in cool new colourways.
The Shelter pants are made from a four-way stretch fabric with a more robust and non-stretchy rear panel, they are certainly comfy, although I found the sizing this year to be a little smaller when I wore them back to back with last years version. There are vents on the upper thigh, but I hardly employed these, the material is breathable and not that thick, meaning you won’t overheat in normal UK winter riding conditions. If you do use them, the vents are mesh lined with an added retention strap meaning they don’t gape open.
The DWR coating works well for short showers and the material dries quickly, although when it rains properly the water gets in fairly quickly, first at places where friction forces water though at the kneepads and hip area.
The trousers feature two zip pockets at the hip, one of which contains a protective neoprene phone pouch. I own an iPhone 8 Plus and it doesn’t fit, I’ve heard from other riders that an iPhone 6 or similar will fit and that it stops the phone moving around and getting wet from sweat on a ride. If you don’t use it though, it just adds bulk to the leg of an already fitted trouser, I have also heard of other riders unpicking the stitching and removing it.
As with previous ION kit I have tested, the hip adjuster system on the Shelter pants lies flat on the hips, is secure and and doesn’t snag my jersey. There is a large easy to fasten popper at the waistband coupled with a short zip fly. Despite the snug fit on my legs I still needed to employ the waist adjusters to get the correct fit on the tested size of 36 (S), for reference I’m a dress size 10.
The trousers provide enough space for a mid size knee pad such as my Race Face Indy guards but anything much bigger might restrict movement. Further down the leg there are zips to allow you to take the trousers on and off with shoes on and the bottom, tapered three inches or so of the leg is made from the same durable material found on the rear to protect from mud and scuffing during riding and walking.
The women’s shelter trousers have gone up £5 in price since last year at £135 but they are worth the money due to the freedom of movement, protection from mud and the elements and a bit more warmth in the winter months. There is little else on the market to rival them at this time and it’s hard to beat the feeling of removing trousers at the end of the ride to be left with clean legs and kneepads!
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