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Madison DTE Men’s 3-Layer shorts review

Madison’s waterproof shorts pack in numerous features at a competitive price

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £90.00 RRP
Madison DTE Men’s 3-Layer short for mountain bikers

Our review

Very good waterproofing at a decent price, but the overly baggy legs detract from their performance
Pros: Highly waterproof fabric; good high-backed cut
Cons: Pocket size is limited; cut is too generous
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UK brand Madison is known for making decent-value kit, built with more features than its price often suggests.

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This pair of DTE Men’s 3-Layer shorts is no exception to the rule.

The shorts have a high back, highly waterproof material and user-friendly features to ensure a comfortable fit.

However the cut and size of the pockets were negatives during testing.

Madison DTE Men’s 3-Layer shorts details and specification

The ratchet system fine-tunes the fit around the waist.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Madison uses a triple-layer fabric with a claimed 20k waterproofing rating – 10k is the standard for waterproof clothing, so doubling that is a very good start.

The material also has a 20k breathability rating – how effective it is at reducing the sweatiness of the material. While the shorts also have two very large vents, it’s good to see some attention has been paid to the material used.

The material has a little stretch. Madison has given the shorts a detailed cut, too, shorter at the back but longer over the knee, to ensure thighs and knee pads stay a little drier.

The knee is also articulated – its cut is such that it favours a little bend – mimicking that of your knee when pedalling.

While most seams are double-stitched (and taped), the main seam through the middle of the seat is triple stitched, in order to improve durability in this high-wear area.

The waistband is deep, with elastic inserts at either side to boost comfort. It’s brought together by a ratchet-style closure and a zipped fly. Silicone grippers prevent the shorts slipping down.

The shorts have a pair of pockets, secured with weatherproof zips.

Madison DTE Men’s 3-Layer shorts performance

Over-the-knee coverage is excellent with these shorts.
Russell Burton / Our Media

When it comes to the cut, I found the shorts to be a mixed bag.

The rear of the waist is noticeably higher than many other waterproof mountain bike shorts on the market, and as such, offers excellent splash protection for the small of your back.

The silicone grippers do a good job, paired with the ratchet closure and side stretch inserts – I found the shorts stayed up well, and were comfortable on long rides.

I also found that if I tucked my jersey into the shorts, it tended not to pull out from the waistband – something I appreciated.

The ratchet closure offers good control over the waistband’s tightness and doesn’t dig in. I’m not sure it greatly improves performance over a more typical popper closure and adjustable waist straps, but it doesn’t detract from performance, either.

I liked the length at the knee, too. The legs easily covered my knees and knee pads, so in heavy rain I felt appreciably drier with these shorts on.

Elastic inserts at the waist aid fit and comfort on these high-backed shorts.
Russell Burton / Our Media

At the back of the knee, though, I found the shorts a little too long, with the fabric sliding up next to my skin. When wet, this felt damp and clingy.

I also found thatthe volume of material around the thigh was too high for my tastes – these are pretty baggy shorts.

This means there’s more material flapping in the wind, and when it does get damp inside (via sweat, or spray), they feel clammier than they otherwise might.

I’d also like slightly deeper pockets. My large-ish phone was a little cramped in there, though the position of the pockets over the thigh is good.

The pocket zips have medium-sized tags, which are fine to use with mountain bike gloves. However, I found there was some water ingress through the weatherproof zips.

How do the Madison DTE 3-Layer shorts compare to the Scott Trail Storm WP shorts?

Scott’s Trail Storm WP shorts impressed in testing with a comfortable material and decent cut.
Russell Burton / Our Media

On paper, the Madison shorts have a more waterproof, and more breathable, fabric than the Scott shorts. However, on the trail I feel you’d be hard pressed to notice this too much.

The fabric of the Scott shorts is a touch stretchier, and feels nicer next to the skin, though.

I preferred the slimmer cut of the Scott shorts, but liked the higher back of the Madison shorts.

Madison DTE 3-Layer shorts bottom line

While they’re well-located, I’d have preferred deeper pockets.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Madison’s shorts offer good value, with a price that’s favourable to many of its competitors, while still packing in numerous nice design touches – from the articulated knees to the triple stitching.

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For my tastes, though, the cut was just too big around the thighs, the main reason these shorts don’t score higher.

Product Specifications


Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, GBP £90.00
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Madison


Features br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colours: Slate Grey; Phantom Black
Gender br_gender, 11, 0, Gender, Men's