When it comes to a road cyclist’s wardrobe, there are countless options for the colder months: Gore fabrics, knickers, full tights, and about a hundred different thicknesses in long-sleeve jerseys. For the mountain biker today, layering options are much more limited, unless you’re willing to wear your road kit on singletrack.
Baggy short options are now numerous. Cuts have gotten slimmer and are more cross-country friendly — Cannondale’s Marco Fontana wins short tracks in baggies — but the options on chilly days are limited. Almost every brand of custom clothing is producing its own version of the Castelli Gabba jacket or a waterproof jersey, but those advanced fabrics haven’t found their way to many mountain bike pieces.
Thankfully, Gore Bike Wear is in the business of building cycling clothing with its technical fabrics like Gore Windstopper, and we have to give them a tip of the hat for the Alp-X Pro Windstopper Soft Shell shorts.
The Alp-X Pro Windstopper shorts use a very slimmed-down cut and leg opening, but riders can still wear them with thin knee pads, like the Specialized Atlas. There are no pockets on the Alp-X Pros save for one small zippered pocket on the rear of the short just below the waistband, but it can’t fit much more than a cell phone, and that’s if it doesn’t have a protective case. Speaking of the Alp-X Pro’s waistband, it’s best in class. There are no buttons or Velcro, and it has a snug fit with a slightly sticky inner material that won’t slide down when climbing, like nearly every other pair of baggy shorts.
The Alp-X Pros are not cheap at $160, but they’re more advanced than other shorts we’ve used. Sure, Specialized makes a weatherproof short, but its Deflect H2O Comp Mountain Short doesn’t breathe. The Alp-X can be worn in temperatures as warm as the 60s, and with the right knickers under them, they make for a great insulator piece on colder days.
The Alp-X Pros do not include a liner, and while that may be a drawback for some, we’d prefer to use our own bib shorts than pay extra for a pair of shorts we’d just throw away.
Gore does offer a less expensive version of the Alp-X Pro in the Alp-X Windstopper Soft Shell shorts. The Alp-X shorts use a less-advanced Gore Windstopper fabric that supposedly does not breathe quite as well as the Alp-X Pro shorts. The Alp-X also uses a traditional button closure and two, more traditional zippered pockets.
In the grand scheme of the baggie short market, the Alp-X Pros sit somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum, though we think they perform well above their weight class. They’re not for the hot days of summer, but on rainy days, the highly water-resistant Gore Windstopper material is a fantastic shell. This past winter and spring, we haven’t been able to wash our pair fast enough.
Suggested retail price: $160
We like: Most comfortable waistband of any baggy short, advanced material, slim cut.
We don’t like: Could use a more traditional pocket, or two.
The scoop: The best short for trail riding in the cold, wet months.