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Mission Workshop The Traverse mountain bike shorts review

Outstanding quality, fit and design that's well worth the cost over other offerings

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £140
Man wears Mission Workshop The Traverse shorts with one hand in right hand pocket

Our review

A US-made, top quality product with a lifetime guarantee that merits its price tag
Pros: Fantastic fit, flared hems to accommodate knee pads, lightweight material
Cons: Not totally convinced the rear-facing pockets are ideal for bigger items

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2009 with the sole purpose of making well-designed and exceptionally tough wearing kit with a focus on bags and technically-made lifestyle clothes and accessories.

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Mission Workshop is so confident in its products that it offers an unlimited guarantee on defects or failures that arise from bad workmanship or faulty materials. It claims it’ll repair or replace the product free of charge and cover the postage costs back to you.

Obviously, this doesn’t extend to natural wear and tear, but it shows a real belief in the quality of the workmanship and materials that go into its products.

Mission Workshop The Traverse specifications and details

The belt clasp is smart and the Mission Workshop logo is a nice touch
Alex Evans

The Traverse shorts’ headline feature is that they’re designed for movement, and that’s just as well, because when you’re riding your bike nothing beats making shapes and getting rowdy behind the bars.

Manufactured in the US, the four-way stretch material is 85 percent nylon and 16 percent elastane, and is claimed to be quick drying and sweat-wicking. Not only that, the material is classed as military-spec with DWR properties.

The shorts have a contoured waist belt that rises high around the small of the back, sinking lower around the front, in line with the hip bones. There’s a single, aluminium clasp that’s attached to the in-built belt which allows the shorts’ fit to be adjusted.

There are two poppers above the zip to close the shorts securely and two pockets, one on each leg. The pockets are on the rear of the thigh, though, on both sides, approximately half way down the leg.

The legs’ hems are knee pad friendly thanks to a small cutaway at the bottom of the outside seam. The crotch and backside seams are internally-taped, too.

  • Sizes (*tested): 28, 29, 30, 31, 32*, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
  • Weight: 221g (size 32, large)
  • Features: Side cargo pockets, custom aluminium hardware, Prym poppers, YKK zippers, integrated waist belt, gusseted inseam
  • Price: £140 / $165 / AU$185 / €160

Mission Workshop The Traverse performance

The high rear waistband helps to stop muck and dirt entering your nether regions
Steve Behr

The quality of the workmanship behind the shorts becomes instantly apparent when they’re slipped on. It puts them right up there with the best mountain bike shorts. Although the material feels robust, it isn’t hard or stiff to touch and the shorts instantly sit well.

The lightweight feel means that on hotter days they don’t make your legs feel stifled or any sweatier than lighter models of shorts, even when you’re getting close to max effort for prolonged periods.

The fabric is stretchy enough to flex and shift with your movements but not so thin and malleable that it’s likely to get snagged on something or rip. The DWR coating — when new at least — made water bead and run off the shorts’ surface.

When placed under a running tap the impact area of the water did penetrate the shorts’ material, but the run off did not, and this only occured after 20 seconds had elapsed. Except for that one spot where the water was running directly onto the shorts, they remained dry with the water still beading effectively elsewhere.

The DWR coating working hard to repel water sitting on the shorts’ surface
Alex Evans

In a rain shower, water hitting the shorts isn’t as focussed as placing them under a tap, so it’s impressive to see they lasted 20 seconds before a small amount seeped through to the inside. They didn’t absorb the water, though, and the material wasn’t soaking wet, instead they remained light as if dry. This is good news for those of us that live in wetter climes.

The hem opening slipped perfectly over even the chunkiest of knee pads (such as the Scott Grenade) — a feature that I appreciated a lot. This stops the shorts bunching up above your knee pads regardless of whether you’re climbing seated or standing, or descending.

The belt loop is easy to adjust and doesn’t come undone or get snagged like Velcro solutions
Steve Behr

Adjusting the waistband is a breeze thanks to the single clip that’s located on the right hip. I found this feature to be much better than Velcro adjusters — the strap doesn’t get inadvertently attached to other bits of clothing and won’t accidentally come undone or slowly loosen over time.

The double poppers and fly zip scream quality, too. They give the impression the shorts aren’t going to fall down, spontaneously open or get damaged over time. With the raised waist at the back, roost and debris getting thrown from your back wheel is less likely to enter your undercrackers, aiding comfort and helping you last for longer in the saddle.

The hems have a cutaway allowing them to fit over even very bulky knee pads
Alex Evans

The rear pocket placement left me scratching my head a bit, though, and I didn’t find the pocket’s placement suitable for heavier objects, such as multi-tools or telephones. These items caused the shorts to pull tight across the front of my thighs.

Arguably, though, heavier items should probably be kept in bags or alternative storage solutions on the bike or in bib shorts, and the pockets were fine for lighter items such as keys and cereal bars.

What do all of these things allow you to do on the trail over a cheaper pair of shorts? In my experience, the levels of comfort these shorts offer and the few times you need to readjust them on the ride, coupled with the water repellency and their weight, mean you can ride for longer, using less energy and focussing more on the trail.

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With that in mind, these are now my most preferred riding shorts and, even after a lot of abuse and time on the trail, they’re still showing no signs of damage or wear.