- Superb comfort and warmth
- Waterproof rear
- Over-the-knee length
- Rubber tabs on waist adjusters
- Material gets heavy when soaking
It’s a pleasure to hit the trails on a cold winter’s day wearing Madison’s Zena DWR shorts (DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent). You can splash through muddy puddles with abandon, confident that your bum won’t get wet, while your thighs – and knees – are kept cosy and dry too. The Zena DWR is part of Madison’s women’s range, and the men’s version is the Zenith DWR, with the same spec and price.
So what makes these shorts so good? First off, they’re supremely comfy, allowing total freedom of movement – you could do the splits in them! And there’s plenty of room to wear bulky knee pads if you want. They are a relaxed fit and the women’s shorts come up big, so definitely size down if you’re between sizes. Second, the well-thought-out design and attention to detail is obvious and, lastly, they’re solidly constructed from three different fabrics for the best performance on the trail.
The waterproof rear panels (one each side, so there’s only one seam) extend all the way to the waistband and around to the inner thigh, to protect you from trail spray. They are made from Madison’s hardwearing three-layer M:TEC fabric, as used in the Madison DTE waterproof shorts. The front panels are a durable and stretchy softshell material with a DWR coating so splashes or light rain beads and rolls off, while the articulated knees are made from a tough, abrasion-resistant ripstop nylon that is also stretchy (10% spandex) and DWR finished. This all adds up to a quality pair of shorts that you can throw in the washing machine and which are fairly quick drying, considering their robust materials. If you’re caught out and they get soaking wet, they do feel quite heavy though.
As for features, the Zenas have usefully long (a whopping 14in) mesh-lined leg vents with two-way zips, so you can open them from the top if you want. The zip pulls are nice and long with a big easy-grab tag on the end, so no problem if you’re wearing thick gloves or have frozen fingers. The vents even have a storm flap to stop draughts as well as a zip guard (hood of material) at the bottom to prevent the mesh catching in the zip. For storage, there are two zipped hand pockets plus a smaller zipped phone pocket on the hip, all described as water resistant, but be aware that persistent rain will get in. Surprisingly, the phone pocket is way too small to fit my medium-sized smartphone, but it does fit in the other pockets.
These shorts do up with a chunky and durable-feeling fly zip and pop studs, while silicone print inside the rear waistband helps keep them securely in place – I had no issue with them slipping down at the back. The hanging loop at the waist is useful too. There are Velcro waist adjusters to dial the fit, which work fine except for the unnecessary rubber tabs that snag your jersey – the same niggle I had with the Madison DTE shorts.
The Zenas are designed for “heavy use and abuse” and so far they’ve stood up very well to the rigours of muddy British trails then being hosed down and washed, although I haven’t crashed in them yet to test their robustness. I think their bombproof construction (quality fabrics and lots of triple stitching) and great cut and comfort make them worth the £80 price tag – yes, it’s a lot of money, but you can pay that, or more, just for regular trail shorts if you want – because it’s no fun being cold and wet and these should last you several winter seasons. The Zenas also come in a bright pink/black, while the Zeniths are available in black, blue, olive and brown camo.
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