With clothing it's often immediately apparent if the fit is going to work. There's just something either right or wrong straight away. The first time I pulled Alpinestars' Pathfinder shorts on, I knew things were good. However, it wasn't until I'd been on a bunch of rides that I knew how good.
The Italian company Alpinestars comes from the world of motorcycle and Formula 1 racing — producing some of the finest racing boots and kit for those extremely high-end markets — and they've been in the cycling world since the '90s. And in the last few years Alpinestars has pushed their way back to the front again.
The Pathfinders fit and fabric weight hit right in the middle of the spectrum. Alpinestars says these shorts have an "advanced stretch rip-stop poly-fabric for maximized performance and comfort." I'd say the material is light, has a slight amount of stretch, and handles mountain bike riding exceptionally well. Seated or standing and throwing MTB shapes, the Pathfinders move as they should and have yet to get hung up anywhere.
The double snap waist closure did its job without hassle and the dual hook and loop waist adjusters held tight and laid flat, which is nice if you've ever fought with a loop or ring on an adjustment strap that wouldn't stay vertical.
The Pathfinders' sizing comes in 2-inch increments from 28–40, and it's nice to see actual sizes instead of the ordinary Small, Medium, etc. There are thigh vents for a bit of ventilation, but their placement towards the back side of the thighs limits airflow. I'd prefer to see them rotated towards the front of the shorts, or better yet placed front and rear to allow the breeze to flow through.
The seamless seat zone provided easy movement on the saddle with zero pressure points when firmly seated. The rear upper panel (yoke) is stretchy to keep everything properly covered even when I was humped over the bars.
The wide waist band is made with a soft mesh material for super comfortable short-to-skin contact points. The leg length hit right at knee height and worked well with knee pads — no MTB gaper gap (exposed skin between the bottom of shorts and top of knee pad) present here.
I really appreciate the look of the Pathfinders as well. They don't scream "hey I'm a mountain bike bro!" yet the bright colors work well with the loud shades currently common in off-road gear.
Durability has been fine so far. The trails I ride can be very overgrown with trees and vegetation and I've yet to snag the material or rip any holes in them. And the Royal Blue color I have on test has done a nice job of resisting stains and not looking shabby even without washing. Simply put, the Pathfinders have quickly risen to the top of my riding shorts drawer.
Liner shorts let down
As I found out early this season, not all MTB baggy liner shorts have to suck. Unfortunately, Alpinestars hasn't gotten the memo yet. The included chamois liner shorts sadly fall into the stereotypical liner category. The double-density EVO foam chamois looks ready for riding action, but in use sits much too far forward to be comfortable, or actually useable in my experience. The chamois placement is so odd I actually thought I had put them on backwards.
On a positive note, they're easily removable so the Pathfinders can be worn with a chamois that actual works. It's a real shame, as the Pathfinder outer shorts (as you can likely tell) are amazing.
The only other oddity on these otherwise brilliant shorts is the front hand-pocket placement. The openings are placed on the front of the shorts, rather than the sides.
I often use the front pockets on riding shorts because I prefer to start rides, as well as climb, without gloves on. No matter how many rides I do, I have yet to reach into the front pockets on my first try — I just keep missing.
Alpinestars Pathfinder shorts pricing
$114.99, AU $159.95, UK pricing not available