12-inch inseam; removable liner; women's-specific fit
Lightweight and breathable; easy-to-cinch waistband; removable liner; cute enough to wear around town
Run small; material doesn't offer a lot of protection from branches, or the ground
Patagonia debuted its mountain bike apparel line in 2016, and since then it has been improving on its initial offerings. I can attest – I wasn’t a fan in the beginning and thought that maybe the ‘Gucc should have stuck with its hallmark sports of climbing, skiing, and trail running. But here we are in the brave new world of 2020, and Patagonia’s mountain biking apparel now holds its own alongside the brand’s other products for big mountain pursuits.
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There are currently six pairs of shorts in the women’s line: three pairs of over shorts and three pairs of liner shorts. I’ve been bumping down the trails and bumming around town in the Women’s Dirt Craft Shorts this summer, and I couldn’t feel more comfortable, be shredding harder, or look cuter.
Dirt Craft finish
The Women’s Dirt Craft Shorts are really two shorts in one: The over shorts are made of a stretchy, breathable, and sturdy nylon/spandex weave, and the removable liner shorts have near-transparent mesh panels for ventilation. I really liked the fabric on the over shorts because of how lightweight and stretchy it is. For those reasons, it might not be very protective in an area with lots of grabby branches or high fall potential, but for general summer trail riding, it’s great.
The liner shorts attach to the over shorts with snap loops that are also compatible with Patagonia’s other liner offerings. I’ll first comment on that set-up: As someone who doesn’t usually like to wear a liner while mountain biking, I appreciate that the liner is removable. Also, if I am going to wear a liner while mountain biking, I want it to be minimal, and this one is. The chamois is low-profile but protective. My only gripe is that it tends to roll up and ride up on my thighs a bit; perhaps a bit of tackiness or a silicon leg gripper at the hem would address this problem.
Dirt Craft fit
It happens to the best of us, even with the best of brands: I found myself in-between sizes in the Dirt Crafts. Although there is a little give in the shorts, there wasn’t enough for me to squeeze into my normal size, so I went up. The next size up was more than sufficient (ie. there was quite a difference between the two), and gave the shorts a surfer board short fit. They are actually quite cute to wear after riding. They’re also great aprés-ride shorts because they have a zipper and regular pockets so don’t scream ‘I have actually been riding for the past four hours and didn’t feel like changing so don’t come too close.’
Dirt Craft features
Like I said, the Dirt Craft Women’s Shorts have two drop-in front pockets for a traditional aesthetic and one very handy secure zipper pocket at the left hip (it fits my oversized old school iPhone 6S just fine). The pocket shifts contents to the back, a trend that is becoming awesomely ubiquitous in MTB shorts.
For cinching the waist, Patagonia utilizes an external hook-and-webbing waist adjustment system, and although I wasn’t a fan at first (don’t like little metal doo-dads pushing against my body), the hooks are so small that they were never an issue. Usually, with an adjustment system like this, I find one comfortable position and stick with it, but as the season goes on and my weight fluctuates a bit, I appreciate the ability to make micro-adjustments.
Dirt Craft function
The Dirt Craft Women’s Shorts are so versatile, cute, and well-made that they can be a go-to for almost any ride. I think they shine on long, adventurous trail rides (my M.O.) because of how light and breathable they are. Dawn patrol, dusk patrol, all-day epics — I’d honestly wear them anywhere but on a ride where I knew I was going to be marching through a lot of downed trees or grabby branches (for fear of ripping them or getting poked). The shorts are long enough and wide enough at the opening that they work with knee pads, but for the bike park, I’d probably opt for a thicker pair of shorts anyway.
I enjoyed testing a product from Patagonia that isn’t part of its tried-and-true line up of gear and was veritably impressed. In general, Patagonia excels at its craft — of making bomber gear for outdoor adventures — now, it’s right up there with the best in the Dirt Craft.