Are Mountain Bike Shorts Padded, and Are They Any Good?

Before you hop on your mountain bike and head out on the trails, it’s necessary to have apparel that is specific for this purpose. 

If you don’t dress properly, you’re not going to enjoy your ride.

In this article, we’ll help you understand why padded mountain bike shorts are best, as well as explain some of the other things to look for when shopping for these shorts.  

Are Mountain Bike Shorts Padded?

The short answer is it depends on which ones you are purchasing. Here is the quick answer of what to look for to make sure you purchase the right set.

First off, mountain bike shorts usually come in two pieces the MTB short itself and the liner. The liner is what provides the padding for the mountain bike shorts.

Mountain Bike Shorts
Mountain Bike Actual Shorts
Mountain Bike Shorts Padding
Mountain Bike Shorts Padding/Liner

Typically mountain bike shorts are either sold with or without a liner (chamois).

If they are sold without a liner then the MTB shorts won’t come with padding. This is something to watch out for as some shorts can seem like a really good deal, but often it is because they exclude the chamois.

Is Padding Important in Mountain Bike Shorts?  

In order to ensure that your ride is comfortable and enjoyable, it’s a good idea to purchase mountain bike shorts that are padded.  

Though most of the shorts on the market have a liner, you’ll want to make sure they are well-padded. Some of them have a thin, single layer of padding, while others have a thicker layer.  

The padding is known as the chamois because chamois goat leather is the primary material used when making liners for bike shorts. This pad is important in mountain bike shorts because it provides a cushion between your body and the bike saddle.  

When you have a decent pad, you can ride for long periods of time with no discomfort.  

When shopping for mountain bike shorts, make sure the pad has enough cushion and just a few seams. Of course, if you can’t find a pad that is thick enough for you, try using chamois cream to regulate friction.  

Do You Really Need Padding in Mountain Bike Shorts?  

While it’s true that you can ride without padded mountain bike shorts, the ride will be much more enjoyable with the padding.  

In addition to the padding, they are typically made from nylon fabric that will offer you protection against branches as you fly down the mountain trails and abrasions in case of a crash. A simple pair of lycra shorts can’t provide you with this level of protection.  

Check out here for more on whether MTB shorts are worth it.

Other Factors to Look for in Mountain Bike Shorts  

In addition to padding, there are some other factors to consider when shopping for mountain bike shorts. We’ll take a closer look at these below:  


If you want to ensure that you are comfortable when riding your mountain bike, you’ll want to make sure that the shorts are made of quality material.

The season/time of year will also have an effect on the type of material to choose.  

If you plan to ride your mountain bike for racing or time trialing, you’ll want a pair of shorts with good aerodynamics. This will help conserve your energy while riding.  

For riding in warm weather, you’ll want shorts that are breathable and comfortable. You will also want to make sure they wick away sweat/moisture to keep you cool and dry.  

You may also want to make sure the material can withstand harsh conditions and has been treated with water repellant to keep you dry.  


Before you purchase a pair of mountain bike shorts, you need to find out how durable they are. They should last for at least one riding season. If not, then you don’t need to spend your money on them.  

Additionally, make sure you can put them in your washing machine and not have to worry about them losing color. The shorts that are thick and are made from abrasion-resistant material are typically the most durable.  


Though color is not a critical feature when it comes to choosing your mountain bike shorts, it’s a good idea to choose one that you like. Most brands offer shorts in a variety of colors, but black tends to be the most popular because it doesn’t show dirt, as other colors will.  

Light-colored shorts are not always the best option because when they get wet, people will be able to see what you’re wearing (or not wearing) underneath.  

Riding Style  

Your riding style is one of the major determining factors when choosing shorts. After all, you want to be comfortable. If you typically engage in things like cross-country or rail trail mountain biking, you’ll want to choose shorts that have a gel chamois and fit comfortably.  

More extreme riding will suit a thicker more protective and durable short.

Size and Fit  

This really should go without saying, but the size and fit do matter. Check the size chart when purchasing bike shorts. You’ll also want to check reviews to find out if they are true-to-size or run larger or smaller than the actual size.  

You want to make sure that the shorts won’t be too baggy or too tight. You will also want to check the inseam. Experts say that the best inseam ranges between 8” and 9.5”.  

Most people prefer ¾ length shorts because of the knee protection and additional warmth they offer for your legs. Whatever you do, make sure that you double-check the fit, so you don’t end up with the wrong size.  

Additional Features  

When choosing mountain bike shorts, in addition to the features listed above, there are some other things you might want to consider. Of course, you want to make sure that these features will add value to your ride – if not, keep things nice and simple.  


Deep pockets are a good thing to have for stashing your personal items on your ride. You will find that most shorts do have two to six pockets, but not all of them are very deep.  

Of course, if you have a good hydration pack, you won’t need pockets in your shorts.  

Adjustable Waist  

Another thing to consider is whether or not the shorts have an adjustable waist. This will help you snug the waist to make it more comfortable.  

UV Protection  

The final feature you will want to check for is UV protection. After all, you want to make sure that your skin is protected against sun damage, especially if you plan to be taking long rides.

If you still want to know more, check out our full buyer’s guide.  

Wrap Up  

Most mountain bike enthusiasts will agree that riding isn’t enjoyable if you’re not fully protected. Therefore, you want to make sure that you get a quality pair of padded mountain bike shorts.  

Additionally, you will want to consider some of the other features that make a good pair of shorts. This will help you ensure that you are always comfortable and enjoy your rides, no matter where you go.