Gorewear Fernflow Shorts review – lightweight yet rugged style for the trail

Additional spray protection and robust fabric technology combine to deliver extended comfort and durability

Man wearing Gore Wear Fernflow Shorts with grassy backdrop
(Image: © Russell Burton)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A great short that’s high on comfort and as at home on gravel as it is on the trail.


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    High quality

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    Looks cool


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    Honestly – it’s hard to fault

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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.

Rear view of man wearing Gore Fernflow shorts

A high back panel incorporates a high-stretch nylon/elastane back yoke (Image credit: Russell Burton)

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.

Man adjusting waistband of Gore Fernflow shorts

The secure waist adjustment pulls from the back to the front (Image credit: Russell Burton)


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.

Man wearing Gore Fernflow shorts with grassy backdrop

The legs are slim and long enough to hit just below the knee (Image credit: Russell Burton)

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.

Man wearing Gore Fernflow shorts with hand in pocket

The front zipped hand pockets are ideal for keys and cash (Image credit: Russell Burton)


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
Russell Burton
Freelance tester

Russell has been heavily involved in mountain biking for decades. He originally started out designing and building trail center routes, but soon moved specializing in MTB photography and product testing. Over the years, he's shot and written for just about every British MTB mag and website in existence, including MBUK, What Mountain Bike, Bikeradar.com and most recently Bikeperfect.com. While Russ has ridden MTB bikes of all kinds, he mostly enjoys big days out on his e-MTB or gravel bike these days.