Finding the right kit so you can battle it out in the depths of winter through savage weather conditions can be tricky, but Fox’s Defend 2-in-1 Winter Shorts claim to have the answer by combining waterproof shorts, full-length Lycra leggings, an in-built chamois and knee protection into one garment.
Trousers can be too hot and heavy for riding, and shorts let water and mud splash up your thighs and aren’t especially warm. Going full tadpole with just Lycra leggings is a solid choice, but an unlikely option if you’re a thoroughbred mountain biker at heart.
Mixing shorts with leggings can be a winner too, but it’s always tricky deciding whether to put your kneepads over or under the leggings and then there’s the ensuing struggle to get dressed.
So, I went out in the sloppy, rainy and cold depths of winter to find out if this rather innovative 2-in-1 design from Fox is worth the asking price.
Fox Defend Thermo 2-in-1 Winter Short details
The over shorts are quite short, which might not suit everyone’s tastes. Andy Lloyd
Simple in concept and execution, Fox has combined waterproof shorts and full-length Lycra leggings with an in-built chamois and knee protection. The idea is that the thermal leggings keep you warm while the waterproof shell shorts keep you dry.
The shorts have 10,000mm waterproof and 30,000gm breathability ratings but the leggings aren’t waterproof and don’t have a DWR coating.
The shorts and leggings are stitched together around the entirety of the waist and down the inside of the thighs in two long strips, where there’s a gap in waterproof protection.
The waterproof shorts don’t wrap entirely around your legs, making them better at brushing off puddles splashes rather than full-on deluges. Andy Lloyd
The waistband is elasticated but not adjustable and doesn’t rise up at the back. The two side pockets and rear waist pocket are all sealed with zips, and the in-built chamois is contoured with more protection over the sit bones.
The in-built internal knee pad pockets are compatible with Fox’s F3 and D3O knee inserts.
Fox Defend Thermo 2-in-1 Winter Short performance
Getting the 2-in1 shorts on can be a bit of a rigmarole, especially if you’ve decided to get dressed in the middle of a busy trail centre car park because – as any self-respecting cyclist should know – you don’t wear underwear with a chamois.
Sliding your legs down the tight Lycra leggings while trying to avoid snagging your toes on the knee pad pockets is an art that’s virtually impossible to master with any kind of grace. Once the free-to-view Full Monty show has finished, the fit is pleasantly snug, however.
I found the waist band to be a little too slack to stop mud from flying down the back of the shorts. Andy Lloyd
The elasticated waistband is tight enough to hug the hips yet not constrict, but, on the trail, I’d like the waistband to be tighter.
With the added weight of water and mud and the constant motion of pedalling, I did have to pull them up multiple times to stop them from feeling too low. Mud and water also flew off the back wheel and down the shorts.
The stretchy leggings provide a tight fit around both thighs and calves, with only a small amount of adjustment needed to get the knee inserts to sit and stay put in the correct position.
The lack of movement in the knee pads instilled confidence, performing as well as a dedicated pair of protectors. This is impressive considering there are no fastening straps, which helps to make them very comfortable.
The in-built knee pads didn’t move during pedalling or rough descents, seriously impressing me. Andy Lloyd
The shell shorts aren’t especially generous in fit, instead they hug the legging’s shape. The stitching that keeps them in place over the leggings means that, depending on your leg’s size and length, the over shorts tend to have small rucks or gentle folds in their fabric. No amount of repositioning or pulling them taught permanently solved this issue.
The shorts shrugged off splashes from puddles and light rain showers well. Under severe deluges they didn’t cope as well and, after a particularly soggy and muddy ride, water seeped through the saddle contact area, wetting my derriere thoroughly.
The rear pocket is big enough for a smaller smartphone but it’s probably best suited to keys or less valuable items. Andy Lloyd
And because of the split in waterproof material on the insides of the thighs, where the shorts are stitched to the leggings, mud and water from splashes or rain can penetrate through to your skin way too easily – especially when you’re riding standing. However, even when soaking wet, the leggings kept my legs warm.
Despite its slightly bulky looks, the chamois provided impressive levels of comfort even after multiple wet, gruelling hours in the saddle. The shorts’ pockets are functional but not cavernous and car keys fit comfortably, but a mobile phone is a bit of push if you want to take full advantage of their flexibility.
There are two thigh pockets that are bigger than the rear one. Andy Lloyd
Fox Defend Thermo 2-in-1 Winter Short bottom line
I was impressed with the stability of the shorts’ integrated knee pads, general comfort and ability to keep me warm even when wet.
Their waterproof credentials are a little overplayed however and expect a wet bum and thighs if it’s really soggy thanks to the gap in waterproof material.
I think the shorts are best suited to cold days in the saddle with some puddles rather than conditions preferred by ducks or otters, but with a few small tweaks they could work for both.