There is a style of MTB short I find myself wearing a lot, clean of line with not too many pockets. Easy but not baggy through the seat, slim through the leg but allowing for unrestricted pedal action, and long enough to just drop over the front of the knee. Simplicity is harder to get right; technical detail is everything, as is cut and fabrication.
Gore delivered all of these in the cool weather Fernflow Pant that I found myself living and not just riding in earlier this year, so I was interested to see if it managed to translate all of that into a short, which is never just as easier as, well, making them shorter.
Design and specification
The Gore Fernflow short is made with a rugged tear and scuff-resistant CORDURA® shell that incorporates a high-stretch nylon/elastane back yoke. The back panel features taped seams and a water-resistant treatment for protection against spray and mud. It has an adjustable waist, zip fly and secure snap button and hook fastening. The deep front pockets have zip fastenings and there is one small secure pocket secreted in the waistband. The slim cut is high at the back and has a front hem length that drops slightly longer to cover the knee.
Firstly, that all-important fit, and the Fernflow is spot on. The waist adjustment pulls from the back to the front, which makes the high back feel secure and, because the panel fastening is generously wide, you can dial the angle to exactly suit. There’s plenty of room through the backside, but the legs are slim and long enough to hit just below the knee.
The Fernflow will work with any liner, but I’ve mostly been pairing them with the Fernflow Bib Liner. Full disclosure, it makes for a spendy addition but it is supremely light and comfortable, highly breathable and features a huge back pocket that is designed at the perfect height to complement the functionality of the outer shorts.
The shorts themselves live up to the expectations set by the big brother Fernflow pants. The CORDURA® seems to shrug off any signs of wear. Despite subjecting them to a summer’s worth of ground-in Salisbury Plain chalk they are washing up good as new. I have been putting in some long rides and they are never not comfortable. Light enough on the (very few) 25°C days but not too light for the more usually 18-19°C, they really do deliver that elusive barely-there feel.
Although I’ve found the combination of cut and stretch provides the perfect amount of ease on even the most technical of terrain, I’ve been reaching for these shorts as often for gravel riding as the trail. The cut is sleek enough for long miles of steady pedal action and it’s even possible to stow a lightweight jacket in the mesh pocket in the back of the matching bib shorts, if you’re wearing that combo.
An easy fit combined with a highly specified fabric combination and well-considered design details makes the Fernflow a lightweight, rugged and comfortable style. It is an outstanding trail short in its own right, but when paired with the bib liner of the same name it is exceptionally versatile and has an increased functionality that makes it perfect for gravel riding too.
Tech specs: Gorewear Fernflow Shorts
- Price: $130 / £129.99 / €129.95
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Colors: Black, Orbit Blue, Utility Green