The Showers Pass Cross Country shorts are currently my favorite MTB shorts on and off the bike. So when Steph at Showers Pass reached out to see if I’d be interested in trying the new Gravel specific shorts, the answer was an enthusiastic “yes.”
Features & Specs
- Quick-dry lightweight, breathable 4-way stretch Nylon-Spandex blend fabric
- Waist specific sizing with the addition of an internal waist cinch system
- Silicone grip on elastic waistband
- 6 pockets
- 2 zippered thigh pockets can also act as vents
- Right rear pocket features a hidden zippered pocket
- Seamless gusseted crotch for on the bike comfort
- Locker loop for convenient hanging
- Athletic trim fit / Men’s 10” inseam
The new Gravel Short utilizes the same nylon-spandex blend fabric (with 4-way stretch) that provides an ideal pairing of comfort and durability as the XC shorts. Like the XC shorts, there are pockets — and there are six of them this time.
On the bike
The gravel short is a great all around short that performs very well in the a cycling overshort category. The fit, quality, materials and construction and feature set makes it another personal favorite and go-to short for XC riding.
The four-way stretch material is a middleweight fabric that suggests durability but isn’t too heavy. It stays on too – the double snap and clip fastener keeps it in place in combination with the internal waist band backing.
I hate shorts that lack pockets or just have one — seriously WTF.
I never really get why a designer could create a pair of shorts without them… do manufacturers assume we always walk around with a backpack or waist pack attached just to carry our shit?
Having worked in the cycling industry, the last time I saw this in an internationally known brand, the answer was simple – the design team didn’t actually ride bikes. And the owner, while claiming to “ride”.. well, let’s just say he didn’t ride very often.
A piece of apparel intended for a bike-centric lifestyle, needs freaking pockets… anyway, /rant over, back to the gravel short. In the SP Gravel short, the pockets are well placed and don’t feel bunchy regardless of riding position. While I wish pocket bags were a tad big deeper, they feature an ample amount of depth, which is crucial unless they’re secured with a zipper. The rear pocket there is a bit of security for stowing your stuff in the form of a hidden internal zipper which makes it a great multi-sport short for hikes and water activities.
There are also two zipper pockets that double as vents but can stowe items; I carry a waist pack so haven’t really utilized them.
The waist adjusters on the Gravel short are located on the inside of the short, unlike the XC short, which features hook and loop adjusters on the outside of the waistband. There are also belt loops for those that like using them, which can be nice for non-riding applications.
In another departure from the XC short, there is a single rear pocket on the right side. That placement works great for me I always carry a folding knife on me in my right rear pocket as part of my EDC. So many MTB shorts lack rear pockets, which doesn’t make comfortable wearing them in the backcountry.
In addition, the rear pocket features a hidden internal zipper pocket for securing important items. I haven’t used it often, but it is ideal for stowing a key while stand up paddleboarding or swimming.
Fit & Sizing
I’m more of a size 31 these days selecting my jeans in 30″ or 32″ depending on the fit and amount of stretch.
Showers Pass was kind enough to supply both sizes for me to try out. It turned out that for XC and gravel rides, my preference was for the 30″, as I needed to utilize the waist adjusters for the 32″. Since we wear waist packs trail riding, a more relaxed fit on the hips could result in the waist pack pushing the shorts down a bit.
If I was on a more intense trail ride where I would wear pads, the 32″ was a better match. With the short inseam, selecting a knee pad with a lot of thigh coverage was key. Even then, the gravel short isn’t ideal for pairing with knee pads due to the unfashionable thigh gap in a low pedaling position. That said, it is intended as a gravel short and not meant to be paired with knee pads anyway. It’s best for rides where less material, the shorter inseam, and the resulting breeze is appreciated. It’s ideal for commuting, riding XC, or gravel and become the go-to choice for these applications.
The fashionable 10″ inseam is significantly shorter than a typical MTB short but in line with current trends for men’s shorts. Obviously it’s not aimed at mountain bikers with the gravel designation, but the most noticeable change from the XC MTB model is the inseam length, with much of the construction and fit fairly similar. On the bike, the shorter inseam means less material to push out of the way while pedaling, as well as offering a bit more of a breeze on those warm summer rides.
For rides with knee pads, I’ll continue to defer to the Showers Pass XC Short with its longer inseam length, which is a better choice for pairing with knee protection.
Check out the Gravel Short and the rest of the Showers Pass shorts here.
Disclosure: we’re pleased to say we consider the folks at Showers Pass friends, and often collaborate with the team, collaborating with cycling photography.
Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-shirt
We do love our matching kits, so Showers Pass sent the new Apex Merino Tech T-shirt to accompany the Gravel Short.
Features & Specs
- Merino Wool blend provides antimicrobial protection
- Flatlocked raglan sleeves reduce chafing
- Flatlock stitching on side panels with no traditional side seams reduce chafe points
- 87% Merino Wool 13% Nylon blend
- Relaxed fit with longer back length for on the bike coverage
- Reflective label
- Advanced wicking and quick-dry properties
- UPF 40 sun protection
- Lightweight 150 gsm performance fabric
On the trail
The Apex Merino Tech Tee is a solid addition to any cycling or activewear wardrobe. The wool blend is comfortable with the benefit of also providing odor prevention and increased durability.
This is key, as Merino wool has some amazing qualities, but durability isn’t generally one of them. A woven blend, pairing merino wool with nylon fiber content helps a lot with durability. So many of my favorite wool pieces get retired early due to holes getting worn in or shrinkage and the blended material goes a long way towards extending the life of these pieces. (its also comfortable against the skin with zero itch factor)
I have the 2019 edition as well as this latest iteration and this is my favorite to date. I like the basic solid color which adds a pop of color for riding photos (hey, in the Insta era, that is important right?) without being too plain or obnoxious. The basic tee also works admirably for other activities in addition to cycling.
Quick tip: It’s worth noting that the material is fairly light, and the way it hangs can be unflattering without a base layer, as it will show off all one’s attributes or flaws. If you’re headed riding and feeling bloated, a sleeveless base layer goes a long way toward being more photo-friendly.
The Apex tech tee lists for $74.00. Learn more and shop the Showers Pass MTB Summer Collection at ShowersPass.com