Leatt Impact Shorts 3DF 4.0 review – pedal-friendly and highly breathable protective shorts

Perfect for riders who want a good level of hip and thigh protection without sacrificing comfort

Side on shot of Leatt Impact Shorts 3DF 4.0
(Image: © Georgina Hinton)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A good level of impact protection that blends high levels of comfort with superior moisture wicking properties.


  • +

    Really Comfortable

  • +

    Good level of protection

  • +

    Super breathable

  • +

    Pedal friendly

  • +

    Plush chamois


  • -

    Mesh construction is not the sturdiest

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We\'ll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

I’ve amassed a lot of Instagram-worthy bruises and injuries from MTB over the years to warrant wearing good protection. Knee pads and MTB helmets are a given for gravity riding but padded protective shorts are also a lifesaver – well, skin saver. It seems cool at the time to show off the war wounds for Insta, but the next day, waking up welded to bedsheets with congealed blood isn’t fun.

There are plenty of options out there, ranging from full-on battle gear to lightweight minimal protection. The Leatt Impact 3DF Shorts aim to get the right level of protection, comfort, and breathability.  With a super-comfy dual-density chamois and 3DF impact foam protection at the hip and thigh padding these look the part if you’re after more lightweight pedal-friendly protection.

Photo from behind showing the mesh material off the Leatt Impact Shorts

The mesh material provides tons of airflow (Image credit: Georgina Hinton)

Design and specifications

Constructed from compression Moisturecool wicking material, these shorts use three different grades of fabric. The front of the crotch and back panel use a fine weave material, while the rest of the body of the short uses super fine and large size ventilation mesh, and everything is held together with flatlock stitching for comfort. The chamois uses dual density – medium and high foam which is super plush. A wide elasticated waistband and silicone print inside the hem at the leg keep them in place.

Close up of leg hem on Leatt Impact Shorts

The elasticated leg bands do a good job of keeping the shorts in place – especially over knee pads – but have started to get a bit baggy (Image credit: Georgina Hinton)

There is no coccyx protection to these shorts, instead opting for a large 3DF ventilated pad to the hip and foam padding for the thigh. 3DF is similar to D30 protection. In its normal state, it’s soft and malleable and molds to your body shape, but in a crash, it hardens up to absorb the energy of the impact. The shorts get level 1 CE Certification – which in simple terms means they provide a standard level of protection which translates to lightweight and flexible.


Wearing good protection when gravity riding meant I’ve walked away from botched landings, bad line choices and big crashes in the past, but I learnt the hard way.

The lightweight construction is light and airy, and they really breathe well. I’ve ridden long local loops in them and hit the gnarly stuff lap after lap and I’ve not finished soaked through with sweat. The chamois is plush and comfortable and it holds up to a long time in the saddle. They work well with knee pads and the wide waistband gives a secure fit. The crotch area is quite ample though, but that could just be me…

Close up of the large hip pad showing holes for airflow on Leatt Impact Shorts

The large 3DF pad is punctured with large holes to further aid moisture wicking and airflow (Image credit: Georgina Hinton)

Slipping them on and off a few times I felt that I needed to be careful of the fine mesh material and over time I can see that being the weak point in these shorts. After a few rides, the elasticated leg hem has started to loosen up a little too.

The large 3DF hip pad molded comfortably to my hips and although I’ve not had any big crashes to see how the 3DF performs, I’ve gone down a few times on slippery root push-ups and been thankful I’m wearing them. But all said and done they really do offer up a great balance of pedaling comfort, breathability, and protection.

Close up photo showing the Moisturecool Chamois pad

The chamois pad is thick and really comfortable, more so than some dedicated padded undershorts I've tried (Image credit: James Blackwell)


Very comfortable for pedaling in and super breathable. They offer a good level of protection to the hips and thighs, so should take the sting out of your next crash. If you’re after full-on protection you could opt for the 5.0 version which adds coccyx and upper hip protection.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
The lowdown: Leatt Impact Shorts 3DF 4.0
ProtectionGood level of hip and thigh protection★★★★
PerformanceGreat to pedal in, breathe well★★★★★
ComfortFit and forget comfort levels★★★★
Value for moneyOn par with other brands★★★★


  • Price: $152 / £119.99 / €129
  • Protection: CE Approved EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 352g (size S tested)
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
James Blackwell
Freelance writer

James, aka Jimmer, is a two-wheeled fanatic who spent 20 years working on MBUK. Over that time he got to ride some amazing places, ride with the world's top pros and of course, test a lot of bikes and kit. Having ridden and tested everything from XC to DH, he now calls the trail/downcountry stable his happy place. Although a self-confessed race-a-phobe, it hasn’t stopped him racing XC, DH, Enduro, Marathon and the notorious Megavalanche.