I made the switch to baggy mountain bike shorts a long time ago and haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, spandex and lycra are super practical for all types of cycling, but baggy shorts just seem more mountain-bikey. Yet, I’ve tested plenty of baggy mountain bike shorts that are just so baggy — and hot — that make me reconsider the whole thing entirely.
I’ve been wearing two pairs of baggy mountain bike shorts from Pactimo for many months now — the Terrain and Apex — and both strike a nice balance between being baggy — but not too baggy — for mountain biking.
The Apex shorts are made from a lightweight fabric that is best described as silk-like. Both shorts I tested use materials that have sort of a suit-pant feel to them, but in a comfortable, sporty way. The material is 4-way stretch so the fitted, contoured shorts move easily on the bike.
With two pockets in the front, a zippered pocket in the rear, and another zippered pocket on the right leg, there’s plenty of room for storage. For me, the shorts fall just above my knee in a standing position, and obviously hike up a bit more when I pedal. The size mediums I tested officially have a 13-inch inseam for comparison purposes. A tall, rear waist panel does its best to cover your biker’s crack if you’re not into wearing bib shorts (still, you should.)
For me the most important feature on any pair of mountain bike shorts is the waist band. The band has to be comfortable first and foremost, but beyond that it needs to be adjustable to keep the shorts from sagging on sweaty rides. Pactimo uses an internal elastic waist band with button holes that can be cinched up as tight as you like for an optimal fit. Up front there are two offset snaps and a zipper, and all the hardware seems to be top quality.
MSRP: $95 USD. Available at Pactimo.com
At first glance, the Pactimo Terrain shorts don’t appear to be much different than the Apex shorts, at least in terms of the fit and styling. However, the Terrain shorts are made from a much thicker, burlier material that should hold up well to the abrasion associated with rough riding. With a 14-inch inseam on the size medium shorts (tested), these shorts are technically longer than the Apex shorts and therefore perhaps better suited to pairing with knee pads, though in practice the difference in length isn’t noticeable.
For riders looking for extra coverage and protection, the Terrain shorts add a leg closure system to button up any gaps, at least around the knee. Like the Apex shorts, these feature a tall rear waist and a rear zippered pocket. The two front hand pockets are zippered and mesh-lined, which allows them to serve as small ventilation ports on particularly steamy days. There’s also an open pocket on the left rear.
Pactimo uses the same internal, adjustable elastic waist band and high-quality buttons and zippers on both pair fo shirts. Here, the two snap buttons at the waist are aligned vertically instead of offset.
MSRP: $100 USD. Available at Pactimo.com
Truthfully, both of these shorts have become my go-to pairs for mountain biking in most conditions. The fit, for me anyway, is spot-on and the style is completely neutral which is a plus for an introverted mountain biker like myself. On cooler (but not quite cold) days this winter and spring I’ve actually used both pairs of shorts for run-commuting home from the office, and they are great. Most of the mountain bike shorts I own are far too bulky for running, but I’ve found the fitted and shaped Pactimo baggies aren’t chafe-inducing for either activity.
The materials and hardware have held up great over nearly a year of constant wear, despite regularly riding some scraggy, scruffy mountain bike trails.
Neither of these shorts includes a chamois liner, which will need to be purchased separately.
For sizing purposes, I’m 6’3″ and about 170lbs. My waist size falls between a medium (32″ waist) and a large (34″ waist) on the Pactimo sizing chart, but I found both shorts offer plenty of adjustment to make the mediums fit well.
The Pactimo style of baggy shorts may not be for everyone, but for those who are (or were) fans of mountain biking in lycra, both the Terrain and Apex are a good choice.
Check out our mountain bike shorts buyers guide and our picks for the best mountain bike shorts.