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Best mountain bike shorts | 18 top-rated MTB baggy shorts for men and women

Our pick of the best mountain bike shorts in 2022

Best mountain bike shorts 2022

These are the best mountain bike shorts in 2022 for men and women, as ridden, reviewed and rated by our team of expert testers.

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The following shorts range from the ‘almost stand up on their own’ protective styles for downhill riding to lightweight go-faster models for cross-country action – and some in between.

The list also covers a wide price range, with options available for those who are new to the sport and looking at what to wear mountain biking to premium options for seasoned riders.

Best mountain bike shorts in 2022, as rated by our expert reviewers

Endura SingleTrack Short II

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Endura’s SingleTrack II shorts have been part of the Endura line-up for many years now.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Colours: Black, ‘Forest Green’, ‘Mustard’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £65 / $95 / AU$130 / €80 as tested

The SingleTrack II shorts have been part of Endura’s line-up for a number of years. The latest iteration comes with a host of top, well-considered features: good length, knee articulation for pads, waist adjusters and deep zipper pockets.

There is a handy zipped ventilation slot on each thigh and an extra zipper pocket for valuables.

The nylon fabric is soft to the touch and the cut is unrestrictive and comfortable, while a harder-wearing fabric used on the seat of the shorts improves durability. The seat pad is also a darker colour – a nice touch considering that saddles often leave marks.

Rapha Women’s Trail Shorts

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Trail Shorts’ bluesign-certified material is very comfortable and enables unrestricted pedalling.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Sizes: XXS-XL
  • Colours: Black/light grey; blue/light grey; purple/light grey; blue green/’Egg Shell’
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £110 / $150 / AU$190 / €135

Rapha has truly hit the nail on the head with the Women’s Trail Shorts. The bluesign-certified material is very comfortable and allows unrestricted pedalling. A wide, elasticated back panel offers a fantastic fit, even if you have a much narrower waist than hips, and the shorts are cut high around the back, too, to keep you covered in the riding position.

The legs are tapered, have hems shaped to accommodate knee pads and a long 15in inseam. Instead of poppers, the shorts fasten with a short zip and sliding clasp, which is very secure.

A large zipped pocket sits on the outside of each thigh, facing rearwards. These aren’t only easy to access on the move, but also have an inner divider that keeps your phone perfectly in place.

The shorts haven’t shown signs of wear in testing, but in any case, they’re supplied with adhesive repair patches (repurposed from fabric leftovers) so you can fix them up – or other kit – if you end up getting a bit too rowdy on the trails.

Other than the price, which is at the higher end of the spectrum, there is nothing to fault with these shorts.

Assos Trail Cargo Shorts and Bib Liner

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Trail Cargos aren’t cheap, but they really deliver on a promise of all-day, hard-riding comfort.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL & TIR
  • Colours: Black, grey
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £235 / $270 / AU$482 / €270 as tested

These Assos Trail Shorts come with a bib liner, and the shorts and the bibs have been designed to work together, but they can also be worn separately.

A more common sighting with the best bib shorts for road cycling, the bibs help these shorts achieve their amazing comfort and once you try them, it’s unlikely you’ll want to give them up.

The outer shorts have a minimal design that sits perfectly on the bike. There is gripper tape at the waist to hold the no-fly design in place against the liner beneath, and the reflective detailing on the back is a great touch.

These shorts are pricey, but if you put in a lot of miles they will quickly prove a wise investment. And if you prefer things baggy, they come in a wider leg size too.

Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Shorts II

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Somewhere between a baggy trail short and waterproof, the MT500 Spray Short II from Endura is the ideal solution to changeable weather and trail conditions.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Pockets: Two zipped pockets
  • Colours: Black, ‘Cocoa Red’
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £80 / $120 / €100 as tested

Endura’s MT500 Spray Shorts II are ideal for riding in wet, changeable conditions and the transitional seasons, thanks to the waterproof panels on the rear of the shorts and the DWR-treated fabric.

The fit of these women’s mountain bike shorts is great. The contoured hem at the front works well with knee pads and the shorts sit comfortably around the waist, with the Velcro tabs providing plenty of adjustment.

The branding on the shorts is pretty loud, which might be a drawback for some, but when the weather’s bad and staying dry is the priority, the Spray Shorts II are hard to beat.

Mission Workshop The Traverse Shorts

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Traverse shorts have a spot-on fit, even with chunky knee pads.
Steve Behr
  • Sizes: 28-38in
  • Pockets: Side cargo pockets
  • Colours: Black, charcoal, ‘Sutro Camo’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £140 / $165 / AU$185 / €160 as tested

Mission Workshop’s The Traverse Shorts deliver a fantastic fit that has enough room to accommodate knee pads.

The shorts are made from a four-way stretch material that is said to be military-spec with a DWR treatment. When riding, this material feels robust but not stiff, and its lightweight feel means you don’t feel stuffy on hot days.

The workmanship behind these shorts is evident, with the adjustable waistband and double popper giving a secure fit and screaming quality.

The rear pocket is in a slightly odd place and it’s questionable whether it would hold large items well, but besides this, these shorts will have you riding in comfort for longer and more able to focus on the trail.

Rocday Roc Lite Shorts

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Of the two pairs of shorts in this Polish brand’s line-up, the Rocday Roc Lites are – as you would expect – the lighter of the two options.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Pockets: Two hip pockets
  • Colours: Black, brown, dark red, green
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £80 / €96 as tested

The Rocday Roc Lite Shorts are the ideal length and weight for a trail short, with a stretchy feel and a neat cut that comes in just above the knee.

The shorts have a great-quality feel and attention to detail. Mesh sewn into the knee helps the shorts slide across your knee pads and the two deep pockets have Lycra sides to stop your belongings from falling out.

Despite the material being weighty, the shorts are comfortable in the riding position, mainly thanks to the lumbar panel, which also provides good coverage on the lower back.

The close cut might not be suitable for everyone, but these shorts are so comfortable they can even double up as off-bike apparel.

7Mesh Slab Shorts

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The best pair of shorts you never felt like you were wearing.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Pockets: Zippered storage
  • Colours: ‘Grateful Red’, ‘Super Blue’, black, ‘Charcoal’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £100 / $130 / €120 as tested

Made in a simple, yet elegant, pull-on style with ultrasonic seams throughout and a single minimal thigh pocket, the Slabs are created for high-speed comfort.

First, we have to praise those seams, which bond the panels that give shape to the shorts so well that they’re almost invisible. Smooth on the inside, they feel like the ultimate in friction-free, lightweight design.

Stretch panels in the side waist allow the shorts to be pulled up easily, and there’s an elastic belt to tune the fit.  The quality of the construction and the slim cut mean they don’t flap and there’s no excess material to snag.

The back is high, and the superb tailoring means the Slabs follow your shape and movement while riding. Ally that with the stretch in the DWR-finished material and the result is the best pair of mountain bike shorts you never felt like you were wearing.

Endura SingleTrack Lite Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The waistband is sturdily constructed, nice and high at the back, with internal gripper print.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Pockets: Zipped hand pockets and rear security pocket
  • Colours: Black, ‘Azure Blue’, ‘Forest Green’, ‘Tangerine’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £70 / U$100 / AU$130 / €80 as tested

Straight off the shelf, the SingleTrack Lites feel both light and durable, thanks to their lightweight, four-way stretch nylon fabric, which has a DWR finish.

Perforated sections run almost the length of the legs, on both sides, for maximum breathability.

Endura offers these shorts in both long and short leg options. We tested the long version and found that the length was good and the legs didn’t ride up.

Sizing is quite generous too, so if you fall between sizes we’d recommend going smaller – although we sized up and were able to adjust the waist enough using the Velcro tabs, which pull in from the small of the back.

The waistband is constructed sturdily, nice and high at the back, with an internal gripper print.

A handy detail that underlines Endura’s long experience in creating MTB kit is the extra-long zip pull on the single back pocket. The Singletrack Lites give you a lot for their reasonable price tag.

Fox Women’s Ranger Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The baggies are supplied with liner shorts, which feature a dual-density chamois.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Pockets: Zipped
  • Colours: Black, purple, dark green, khaki, grey
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £75 / $90 / AU$100 / €85 as tested

The women’s Ranger Shorts from Fox Racing are good value for money, thanks to the inclusion of a comfortable, dual-density liner, which is also removable.

The shell is made from an incredibly stretchy fabric with a DWR treatment to help shed water and dirt. It comes in a variety of colours and has a minimal, baggy look.

The cut of the shorts has a 12in inseam, providing room for knee pads, but they do ride low on the hips rather than the waist.

A robust metal popper closes the shorts, but waist adjustment via sliders and straps is a bit fiddly.

There are plenty of pockets that are well-placed for on- and off-bike use.

Overall, these mountain bike shorts are hard to fault, just make sure you get the right size.

Nukeproof Outland Women’s Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The DWR fabric treatment works well, causing puddle splashes to bead off the outer surface.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: Black, blue
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £50 / $65 / AU$80 / €58

Offering a comfortable fit, a good selection of pockets and low-key branding at a very reasonable price, the Outland shorts from UK brand Nukeproof are excellent value.

The 13.5in inseam works well with knee pads for average-height riders. Elasticated Velcro tabs on the inside of the waistband help you dial in the fit, while the material is looser around the thighs for good freedom of movement.

A zipped fly runs to the top of the waistband, covered by an asymmetric flap secured with two strong poppers.

There are two mesh-lined, jeans-style pockets on the hips, which are perfect for stowing a pair of the best mountain bike gloves, as well as a larger zipped pocket on the right thigh.

While this holds a smartphone securely and doesn’t impinge on pedalling, if it were rear-facing rather than front-facing, it would be much easier to unzip while riding.

The DWR fabric treatment works well, causing puddle splashes to bead off the outer surface of the shorts.

Our main concern is how durable the Outland shorts are, because our sample started to show a considerable amount of wear in the saddle area after just a few weeks of testing.

POC Essential MTB Women’s Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The fit is relaxed, which we found perfect for manoeuvring freely around the bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colours: ‘Light Basalt Blue’; ‘Uranium Black’; ‘Axinite Brown’
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £85 / $100 / AU$150 / €100

Despite being called Essential, these shorts from Swedish brand POC are certainly no basic option – they boast the same great quality and attention to detail that the company has become renowned for.

With a 14in inseam and pre-shaped knee panels, these are longer shorts that give great coverage when worn with pads.

Up top, a high-fitting, shaped lower-back panel keeps you covered when bent forwards in the saddle.

The fit is relaxed, which we found perfect for manoeuvring freely around the bike. As on most of the best mountain bike shorts, there’s Velcro waist adjustment, and the YKK zip runs right to the top of the waistband, where it’s covered by an asymmetric flap with two poppers.

The comfortable, lightweight and stretchy DWR-coated nylon fabric shows no sign of wear, even after some decent use.

There’s a small zipped card pocket on the rear waist, plus two zipped hip pockets, which are a good size and work well off the bike.

We weren’t impressed with the hip pockets when riding – their location means that larger contents, such as a phone, get in the way of pedalling. A zipped outer thigh pocket would be better.

Gore C5 Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Gore C5 Shorts are great for long days and clocking up the miles.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XXXL
  • Pockets: Two zipped hip pockets
  • Colours: Black, ‘Nordic Blue’, ‘Orbit Blue’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £90 as tested

The C5 Shorts are made from a light, stretch fabric and are aimed more at the cross-country market than heavy trail riding, but they fulfil this role with the class you can expect from Gore.

Velcro adjusters at the waist and elastic on the waistband create a secure fit, and a double popper and fly provide the closure.

They have a few good, but fairly shallow, zipped pockets on the hip and one pocket on the right leg.

The cut doesn’t provide quite enough room for knee pads, but the close fit, paired with the lightweight fabric, is perfect for long days in the saddle and clocking up the miles.

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The waist curves high at the back and the fit can be refined using the tiny micro-adjusters at the side.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: 28-40in
  • Pockets: Small, hidden, secure zip pocket
  • Colours: Black, ‘Forge Grey’, ‘Superior Blue’
  • Fit: Men’s, but women’s version also available
  • Price: £90 / $99 / €100 as tested

With their minimal style, these super-lightweight shorts are designed for warm-weather rides.

Thanks to a combination of shaping through the body and a high degree of stretch in the DWR-coated fabric, they don’t feel in the slightest bit restrictive – the material moves with you.

An adjustable waist and sonic-welded seams add to this feeling of freedom, as well as the sleek appearance. The waist curves high at the back and the fit can be refined using the tiny micro-adjusters at the side, although the cut is so slim it seems unlikely you’d need them. A rarity these days, the zip fly fastens with a good old-fashioned button.

The legs are on the shorter side, so if you prefer more coverage this may not be the style for you, but the Dirt Roamers are so cool and comfortable for hard summer riding that we’d urge you to consider making an exception and get your knees out.

Patagonia also makes a women’s version, the Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Shorts.

Race Face Indy Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Versatility, performance and comfort make the Indy shorts an attractive option.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Pockets: Zippered front thigh
  • Colours: Black, ‘Concrete’, ‘Dijon’, navy, dark red, grey, ‘Scorch’
  • Price: £80 / $110 / AU$160 / €107 as tested

The Race Face Indys are constructed from a heavyweight fabric that feels built to suck up a lot of punishment. They’re also touted as enduro mountain bike shorts, and live up to this claim.

The double perforation lines up the inner and back thighs to help regulate temperature, and the fit is very good with an extra-high panel at the back (which includes a small zipped pocket) and gripper print inside the waist, to ensure your skin stays covered.

Dropped over the knee, the long legs will suit riders who prefer more coverage, and they stay in place when pedalling with no tendency to creep up – the inner-leg ‘slip panel’ feature really works. The front pockets are sized generously.

Unusually, the zip fly is left exposed except for the wrap-over tab at the top.

The Indys are a versatile pair of shorts that deliver excellent comfort and performance across a range of conditions.

Scott Trail Tuned Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The absence of Velcro is refreshing; instead, the waistband is elasticated and has a clever fold-over fly with single hook fastening.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Pockets: Two zipped side
  • Colours: ‘Atlantic Blue’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £140 / €150 as tested

The Scott Trail Tuned Shorts come with a removable liner and have a high price as a result. This liner is exceptionally comfy with a great-quality pad.

The outer shorts are equally good. Made from hardwearing, yet lightweight Cordura with a PFC-free DWR finish to repel water and dirt, the fabric rides very light and has a lot of stretch to complement the fairly close cut.

Leg length is generous, and perforations down the inner thigh aid cooling. The absence of Velcro is refreshing. Instead, the waistband is elasticated and has a clever fold-over fly with a single hook fastening that slots into any one of five loops, making for a variable and extremely comfortable fit.

Add two zipped front pockets with usefully long zip pulls and the close attention to functional detail, as well as a great fit, make the Scott shorts stand out.

Specialized Demo Pro Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The deep micro-fleece lined waistband on the Specialized Demo Pro Shorts adds hugely to the comfort levels.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: 30-36in
  • Pockets: Two zipped thigh pockets, one zipped rear centre
  • Colours: Black, ‘Cast Blue’
  • Fit: Men’s
  • Price: £90 / $105 / €100 as tested

With a 16in inseam, the Specialized Demo Pro Shorts are some of the longest mountain bike shorts around, providing cover for knee pads.

This makes the shorts well suited to downhill riders, but the light, stretchy fabric also means they’re good for pedalling and mixed duties.

The fabric retains good ventilation and a wide perforation band around the groin area helps stop sweat building up.

The small details make these shorts; a micro-fleece liner around the waist keeps things super-comfortable and a small pocket at the base of the back is ideal for a credit card. Branding is minimal too, making them ideal for those of us who don’t want to stand out on the trails.

Sweet Protection Hunter Slashed Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
These feel like shorts that’ll become a go-to for summer, but have the versatility to be worn into autumn thanks to their thicker fabric.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Pockets: Two side, one thigh
  • Colours: Black, ‘Forest Green’
  • Price: £70 / $80 / €80 as tested

Pared-back styling combines with a tightly woven, durable-feeling fabric on these well-fitting shorts from Sweet Protection.

The soft material is rugged but not heavy, with just enough stretch to aid movement where you need it, making them very comfortable to ride in.

If you prefer a longer leg length, go for Sweet Protection’s original Hunter shorts, but because the legs don’t ride up, they actually seem longer than the measurements suggest.

An adjustable elastic belt runs inside the waistband to dial in the fit, and because it’s elastic, it doesn’t dig in when tightened.

The back waist sits good and high, remaining firmly in place when riding, and you have two handwarmer pockets, plus one zipped thigh pocket.

These shorts feel more expensive than their price tag and they’ll become a go-to in the summer and cooler months.

Troy Lee Designs Mischief Women’s Shorts

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Mischief shorts balance performance and fit.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Pockets: Three, zipped
  • Colours: Black, ‘Cheetah Black’
  • Fit: Women’s
  • Price: £100 / $109 / €125 as tested

The Mischief shorts from Troy Lee Designs are a good example of how women’s mountain biking kit has come a long way in recent years, with a great balance of performance and fit.

Available as a shell only or with a liner, the shorts are made from a bluesign-approved four-way stretch fabric that is designed to move with you and feels comfortable when pedalling.

The inseam extends just below the knee and covers pads easily. This, paired with the casual fit, three pockets and waist adjusters, helps make them great all-rounders, for everything from bike parks to enduro races.

The only thing stopping these mountain bike shorts from getting a full five stars is the price, but a premium price isn’t a surprise from a premium brand such as TLD.


Also consider…

These men’s and women’s mountain bike shorts scored fewer than four out of five stars in our testing, but are still worth considering.


Buyer’s guide to mountain bike shorts

Mountain bike shorts are baggy, but that doesn’t stop them from being highly technical garments.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media

The best mountain bike shorts are designed specifically to meet the demands of riding off-road. However, mountain biking is a broad category, bringing together a wide variety of types and styles of riding and, as a result, there are a wide variety of shorts available too.

Mountain bike shorts vary from protective garments that come well over the knee to lightweight shorts that have a relatively short inseam. Some have liners with pads, while others are just shells.

Many mountain bike shorts are styled baggy, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t technical items, and will often still help shed rain and wick away sweat.

This guide will take you through the key things to keep in mind when looking for a pair of shorts and many of their features. We have put together a glossary too, explaining some of the more technical terms you might come across.

Fit and fabric

When it comes to mountain bike shorts, fit and fabric are the two guiding principles that will help you find a set of shorts suited to you and your needs.

Fit

Waist adjusters on mountain bike shorts help tune the fit.
Steve Behr

Regardless of how many features your shorts have, if they don’t fit correctly they’ll never be worth the outlay. This is why we recommend always trying shorts on.

The waistband is the foundation of any mountain bike shorts’ construction because unlike the best cycling shorts for road bikes, mountain bike shorts don’t tend to rely on bib straps to hold the shorts up.

The best examples often look very low on the front when laid flat. This is because they are designed not to cut into your waist when you’re on the bike, but are high enough at the back not to fall down when you’re riding.

Velcro adjustment tabs on the waist are a common way to tune the fit. Look for elasticated versions of these tabs because they will help the shorts move with you and keep you comfortable as a result.

Some shorts now have elasticated ‘grown-on-waists’, which work just as well as traditional fly and popper closure designs.

More traditional, and less obviously cycling-specific, short designs, often have belt loops too.

Fabric

Are you an enduro racer or do you ride a cross-country bike? Do you like to ride fast and clock up the miles or is downhill more your thing?

Fabric will often determine what type of riding a pair of shorts is most suitable for because it provides protection and comfort.

If you’re into gravity riding, look for shorts with more heavy-duty fabrics and abrasion-resistant materials that will cope with spills.

If cross-country is more your thing – or you’re just less likely to be heading downhill at warp speeds – then lightweight and stretchy fabrics are advisable because they’ll help the shorts move with you and not be cumbersome to pedal in.

Enduro riders will need something in between, and it is good to look for robust fabrics that have ventilation to balance protection on descents without overheating on uphill sections.

Details to look for in mountain bike shorts

High-backed waist

When a pair of shorts is laid flat, the rear of the waist should be clearly visible above the front to ensure it’ll sit high enough to keep your backside covered while you’re riding.

Perforations

Perforations help improve airflow.
Alex Evans

Placed strategically through the shorts, these little holes in the material aid airflow and are especially useful in summer, when you want to maintain coverage but not overheat.

Elastic adjustment

Shorts that have stretchy fabric incorporated into the waist adjustment enable you to get a good balance between comfort and fit that isn’t restrictive across the stomach.

Long zip pulls

Often overlooked but essential if you always ride with full-finger mountain bike gloves or for days when the chill has reached your fingers.

Pockets

Good pocket placement is key.
Alex Evans

Shorts come with all types and sizes of pocket, or none, so decide what you need. Do you use a hydration pack with storage, or are you reliant on your shorts to carry what you need? Do you like to carry your smartphone close to hand or do you just need a small zipped pocket for a key and card?

Liner

Some mountain bike shorts are just the exterior shell, and others come with liners that improve comfort. If serious distance is your aim, go for the best you can afford – buying separately if necessary. It’s essential that a liner sits snugly against your body to avoid chaffing.

DWR coating

The Traverse Shorts have an impressive DWR coating.
Alex Evans

DWR (durable water repellency) coatings on fabrics will help you stay drier for longer, and it’s a good shout to look out for shorts with this feature if you’re riding anywhere wet or muddy. Over time, the DWR coating may need renewing because the effectiveness of the DWR may decrease over time due to use and going through the washing machine.

Mountain bike shorts glossary

Ultrasonic seams

Also known as welded seams, this process fuses seams together rather than stitching them. It reduces weight and bulk, helps maintain stretch from one panel to another and removes the potential of chafing from stitched seams.

Rise

The length from the front of the waist to the crotch seam. Too high a rise and there’ll be excess fabric at the front of the shorts, which will potentially catch on the nose of your saddle.

Grown-on waist

Rather than a separate waistband, a grown-on waist has no band. Instead, the fabric is cut and shaped to the body of the shorts. This removes bulk and increases comfort because there’s no band to dig into your stomach.

Dropped knee

Dropped knees will help cover knee pads more than other shorts.
Steve Behr

A construction method with the leg cut higher behind the knee and dropping down lower at the front. This maintains protection over the knee while reducing bulk behind it for better pedalling comfort. It also prevents a gap if you’re wearing knee pads.

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Gripper

A raised silicone or sticky print, usually applied to the rear of the waist to stop baggy shorts from slipping down over the smooth surface of a liner short. This means you don’t need a liner with dedicated fastenings for a particular pair of shorts.