Review: Alpinestars Pathfinder Shorts

With a basic design and smart features, the Alpinestars Pathfinder shorts are a no-nonsense bit of riding kit. They retail for $115, which includes a removable liner (chamois), and are available in black (tested), grey, red, or blue.

This is what the Pathfinder shorts look like when you're not wearing them (photo: Alpinestars)
This is what the Pathfinder shorts look like when you’re not wearing them (photo: Alpinestars)

Construction

While they look simple, a lot of thought went into the design of these shorts. The Pathfinder shorts are extremely light thanks to the fabric and the judicious use of zippers, snaps, and velcro. They feature a multi-panel construction with a stretchy rip-stop fabric. The seat area has no seams, to prevent uncomfortable chafing.

The waistband is adjustable via two velcro tabs located on either hip. Two metal snaps close the waistband above the front zipper. There are two hand pockets that go down pretty deep, which is a very nice touch. Many shorts have shallow pockets that will empty their contents onto the trail as soon as you start pedaling. Why even include pockets if they’re essentially useless? So you have somewhere to put your hands when you’re not riding? Thankfully, this isn’t an issue on the Pathfinders.

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There is also a zippered pocket on the right leg that runs from about mid-thigh down to your knee. There’s a lot of room in there, but it’s best to only stash light items in it. Anything slightly heavy, such as a multitool or a phone, will swing around and bang into your knee. I did find, however, that it fits a folded topo map perfectly. This came in super handy during a solo ride in Bend, OR, where I had no idea where I was going. Instead of having to take off my pack to grab the map at every trail junction, I just unzipped the pocket. The map was light enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable while pedaling.

Fit

I thought that since Alpinestars is an Italian company, their sizes may run a tad on the small size, but this was not the case. If anything, the size 36″ shorts were a touch large, and I likely could have worn the 34″. The shorts are the perfect length (for me), hitting just below the knee. I also like the slimmer cut of the legs. They aren’t overly baggy, instead relying on their stretchy material to provide comfort.

Long, but not too long; hitting just below my knee
Long, but not too long; hitting just below my knee

Riding

The included chamois, was unfortunately, like most included chamois–not super awesome. It fit well and was comfortable for short spins, but the pad wasn’t enough for really long days in the saddle. More often than not, I wear the Pathfinders over another pair of bib shorts. This does mean I have to occasionally stop to pull the shorts up, but it’s not a deal breaker.

As mentioned above, the length works great for me, and they are comfortable for all-day pedal fests. In fact, their length combined with the slim, snag-free cut, stretchy fit, and light weight makes them the most comfortable short I’ve ever had. Add in that they dry quickly, and they’re the perfect hot weather short. The things that make them such great riding shorts also work well for hiking, and I’ve used them extensively for that application as well.

Uphill, downhill, all day, the Pathfinders are extremely comfortable
Uphill, downhill, all day, the Pathfinders are extremely comfortable

On the topic of durability, the Pathfinders have been stellar. I’ve had my fair share of crashes while wearing the shorts this summer, from OTB affairs to slide-outs. Even though the material is light and thin, it’s proven to be rugged. There is some slight wear starting to show in the seat area, but nothing unexpected. Fit and finish is also top-notch–the stitching is still tight, no seams are coming undone, and the zippers are still zipping.

Final Thoughts

With a retail of $115 the Pathfinders aren’t cheap, but they are on par with premium shorts from other brands. However, it would be nice if they were also offered without the liner, as that would save a few bucks.

This was my first experience with Alpinestars gear, and I can see why they’ve been in business for over 50 years. The Pathfinder shorts were functional, good looking, and durable. Even after a summer of heavy rotation and a few falls, they still look sharp. Although they were designed for riding (and excel there), they’re perfect for hiking, a day at the lake, or an evening at the pub.

Thanks to Alpinestars for providing the Pathfinder shorts for review.

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