The Rapha Men's Trail Shorts come as part of the brand's recently released off-road clothing range. As expected from the high-end clothing brand, they're an excellent but pricey pair of shorts that are sorted with all of the features you'll ever need. However, the brand has very just missed the mark as the shorts fit is a little off.
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The Rapha Men's Trail Shorts come built a little differently from the women's model that Jessica has tested. Namely, the men's model comes constructed with a variable width belt and cinch system along with two zipped hand pockets and two zipped side pockets. It's pockets galore as there are even dividers within the side pockets, making for even more storage options. However, Rapha calls these divided sections' integrated phone sleeves'. There's also a string of belt loops if riding with a belt is your thing.
The Men's Trail Short does, however, share some goodies with the women's, like the knee pad friendly fit and the super handy repair kit that's been made from off-cuts. Of course, it's not just great to see Rapha making use of otherwise discarded materials, but the repair kit only adds longevity to the shorts. I've not yet had the pleasure of putting the repair kit in action, though.
Moving onto the fit, this is where the Trail Shorts fall short (no pun intended). Usually, I happily fit a medium, and that's mostly the case, but they fit a little snug around the waist. Though, on the bike, it's hardly noticeable.
It's when putting them on that you'll have to breathe in a little. The closure mechanism is somewhat similar to what you got on your old school trousers; you have to pull the waistband tighter to lock the clasp in place.
My only real gripe is that they're rather short, unlike the women's model, strangely enough. On the bike, they sit just above the knee, which makes their pad-friendly cut a little cumbersome as they bunch up at the top of my pads. When pedalling, I've unfortunately had to suffer the dreaded thigh gap, which is great for airflow but not so much for the cool factor.
Fit niggles aside, thanks to the fabric used, the Rapha Trail Shorts feel super light, and they're impressively comfy. They're unrestrictive, and they still feel pretty nice when the pockets are loaded.
But, of course, they come at quite a price, and with that, there's plenty of competition, making them somewhat tricky to justify unless you're a pre-existing Rapha devotee
First off, there are the Endura Singletrack Lite shorts at £70, a full £40 off the Rapha Trail Shorts. The Singletrack Lites fit better and also come with a light and breezy build, but they're not as generously shod with pockets.
There's also Royal Racing's whole range of shorts, which is £20 to £80 cheaper. Although we've not tested any of the 2021 range yet, I quite liked and still regularly use the Heritage shorts. They fit great and, again, are made of great, lightweight fabric, but they're missing pockets compared to the Rapha Trail Shorts.
Apart from the fit, the Rapha Men's Trail Shorts are a seriously good pair of shorts thanks to the brilliantly light and comfy fabric, and the mighty array of pockets they're equipped with. If you're a bikepacker, graveller, or just like to ride without a pack they're near-on perfect.