No matter how comfy your saddle is, the best women’s padded underwear for cycling is pretty much essential for all but the shortest rides if you want to enjoy your time in the saddle. Happily, nowadays there’s a huge choice of undergarments designed specifically for the female cyclist, ranging from padded liner shorts to wear under your baggies to comparatively skimpy underwear for quick commutes.
Here we review six different pairs, aimed at different types of riders from committed to casual and made from differing fabrics to cater to a range of temperatures. VeloVixen Padded Cycling Knickers came out as our top pick, and the Endura Women's Engineered Padded Boxers are our recommended budget buy.
Of course, you’ll need to wear something suitable over your padded underwear so check out our best women’s mountain bike shorts guide. Also, your seat clearly has a huge effect on your comfort so find the right one for you in our best women’s MTB saddles round-up.
The best women's padded underwear
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The quick list
Best women's padded underwear overall
Cool and comfortable for long rides with a great pad and fantastic fit, they're super stylish too.
Best value women's padded underwear
Warm, snug, and supportive, Endura's boxers are a great value, cooler weather choice.
Best for winter
Best women's padded underwear for winter
Made from breathable, pure merino wool, Vulpine's shorts have a great chamois and are perfect for cold days.
Best for short rides
Best women's padded underwear for short rides
Lightweight in a super-cool mesh fabric, Altura's knickers are ideal for your everyday commute.
Best for comfort
Best women's padded underwear for comfort
Top quality shorts with a super comfortable chamois and mesh inserts for breathability.
Best eco materials
Best eco material women's padded underwear
Made from recycled polyester, POC's boxers are breathable, quick-drying, and comfortable.
1. Best overall
VeloVixen’s Padded Cycling Knickers have become my go-to riding underwear through the warmer months, thanks to their great pad and the underwear design making them feel nice and cool as there is no excess material. The fit is great too, cut high at the back and below the belly button at the front, and the material feels supportive while being soft against the skin. All this and they look good too, with a flattering cut, and a choice of colorful patterns and cool designs, such as these in Wheelie Black, making them deserving of our Editor’s Choice.
Designed for “commuting, leisurely rides, spin classes, touring and holidays”, their high quality, female-specific Italian chamois pad means in testing I’ve found them ideal for three- to four-hour mountain bike rides. The one-piece pad isn’t too bulky either if you wanted to wear them under casual clothes too. They are true to size (I’m Medium) and well made, still looking nearly new after multiple washes.
2. Best value
Endura has hit the sweet spot with its very keenly priced Women's Engineered Padded Boxers. At a great price, they definitely merit our ‘Best Value’ award, thanks to their fit, fabric, and great chamois. They are unique in those tested here because of their quality-feeling seamless knitted construction, with ribbed sections at the sides for extra stretch.
The material is quite thick and holds you snugly while still having plenty of stretch, and it has an antibacterial finish. The Boxers feel very comfortable to ride in and I find them better suited to cooler weather due to the fabric’s warmth, although it does have wicking properties. The knitted waistband is superbly comfy and high cut at the rear to keep your kidneys warm.
They feature Endura’s 300-Series antibacterial pad, which is slightly thicker than the Gore pad but very similar in construction, with a panel under each sit bone and one at the front. Likewise, the covering fabric also extends beyond the pad at the front and about 1 inch down the inseam. It feels plush but not bulky, thanks to its multi-panel design.
The broad hems stay in place, with no roll-up at all despite no gripper – but perhaps longer legs would be more in keeping with their warmer fabric for winter wear. Like the Gores, sizing is generous so go down one if between sizes (mine are Small).
3. Best for winter
If you prefer natural fabrics to synthetic, then these Vulpine Women’s Merino Padded Boy Shorts are a good option. Made from pure merino wool in a fine knit, they feel great next to the skin and benefit from wool’s properties of being very breathable and low odor. Perfect on cold days, being superfine merino they feel comfortable in warmer weather too.
They use a low-profile Elastic Interface female-specific chamois pad, which is thicker than VeloVixen’s and thinner than Gore’s and Endura’s. The quality Italian pad comprises of three sections so it ‘folds’ around your sit bones.
The design is a low-rise boxer short, with a wide, soft elasticated waistband which gives a fairly snug fit. The sizing is about right but size up if between sizes (I’m a Medium, compared to Small with Endura and Gore underwear). There is a silicone gripper on just the outer side sections of the leg hem, but in testing I found the inner hems rolled up – maybe silicone all round would prevent this.
4. Best for short rides
The cheapest here at $22 / £22, Altura’s Tempo Women's Cycling Knicker is minimal in size and weight, made from a lightweight mesh fabric with a simple and thin one-piece foam pad, cut like a ‘normal’ set of women’s underwear, with a ruche at the back of the waist as a nod to design.
They feature bonded, rather than stitched, hems at both the waist and legs, which helps make them very discreet under clothes, reducing VPL. Altura says they're ideal for “wearing under everyday clothes on the commute, family days out on the bike, or under leggings for those grueling spin classes at the gym”. They certainly have a ‘barely there’ feel and I found them great for a quick lap of my local trails in hot weather, although they’re clearly not intended for sustained periods of seated pedaling. The fit is true to size (I’m a 12).
5. Best for comfort
The closest to a traditional lycra liner short in this mini test, Gore’s lengthily-named C3 Women Liner Short Tights+ are constructed to the very high quality you’d expect from Gore, as befits their $80 / £50 price tag (although they’re currently on offer at $48 / £35). They are made from lycra panels front and rear, with broad mesh panels at the sides for improved breathability. The front panel feels nicely supportive and is fairly low cut, with the lycra extending to the waistband for added comfort, while the rest of the waistband is a wide, soft elastic. The rear is cut high so it covers your lower back when you’re leaning forward over the bars.
Gore’s Active chamois is the second-thickest tested here, after Endura’s, and it is divided into sections with channels between so that it articulates and conforms to your shape. The soft material covering the pad extends nearly 2in beyond the padding at the front and sides, to prevent any chafing from seams. The chamois, fabric, and cut combine to create a liner I could ride all day in.
Size down rather than up if you’re unsure (mine are Small). My only niggle is if you’re blessed with bigger thighs, the fairly narrow elastic hems, while comfortable, can dig in a little to create a slight bulge above. Also when on, the inseam is a good 6 inches, longer than the 4.1in listed.
6. Best eco materials
If you are looking for an environmentally friendly short liner, POC’s W’s Re-Cycle Boxers, which are made using recycled polyester, are a great option. The soft fabric is breathable and quick drying, which is designed to keep you cool and dry on a hot day out on the trails. They tick all the right boxes for comfort too, with a wide elastic waistband keeping the boxers in place, and a large chamois pad for cushioning support.
The Re-Cycle Boxers come in sizes XS and XL in black with the POC logo along the waistband. They look good and are designed for the ultimate comfort, but they are definitely at the top end of the price spectrum for padded underwear.
How to choose the best padded underwear for you
How much should I spend on padded liner shorts?
It really depends on your budget and your needs. If you want to be in the saddle for several hours at a time, try and go for the best quality you can afford. Prices start at around $20 / £20 and can go up to around $80/£80 or more. Generally, you do get what you pay for, but you can certainly get a decent pair that are comfortable for long rides somewhere in the middle of that price range – our Editor’s Choice – the VeloVixen Padding Cycling Knickers are a great option. Look out for offers too – you can currently pick up both the Vulpine and the Gore shorts at a really decent discount.
What is a chamois pad?
Sometimes called a chamois, the pad is the part that cushions your nether regions, and your sit bones too, when you’re sitting on the saddle. These vary hugely in design, size, and thickness – the most basic are a single uniform pad, while premium pads consist of different-density shaped sections.
What leg length should I go for?
Gone are the days when all padded liners were thigh-length, now you can buy cycling underwear in relatively skimpy pants through to above-knee shorts. There is a decent choice of women’s underwear now in boxer/boy short length as well as regular midi underwear, which work well under thin baggies in the warmer months. For coziness in winter, longer legs do the job. Just check the leg hems to make sure they don’t roll up or dig into your thighs.
What about fabric?
Obviously, this depends on your personal preference, type of riding, and the weather. Here we’ve included thin mesh underwear for short, hot rides up to rib-knit and Merino boy shorts to keep you snug in winter. As long as the fabric has some stretch, is breathable and the seams are well placed so as not to dig in, then the underwear should be comfortable.