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Scott Gravel Underwear +++ Shorts review: carry cargo under your baggies

Is that all your ride spares in your pockets or are you just pleased to see me?

Scott Gravel Underwear +++ Shorts
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Comfortable, well-priced cargo bibs that work under baggy shorts or on their own.

For

  • - Lots of useful pockets
  • - Good pad for the price
  • - Cool under shorts
  • - Work as outer shorts on warm days

Against

  • - Beware the baggy leg pocket
  • - No women’s option
Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Scott’s brand new Gravel Underwear +++ shorts are designed to add a useful range of pockets under your baggy gravel/MTB clothing. They’re discrete enough to work alone on hot days, though, and the +++ pad is really good for the price. They’re really up there among the best mountain bike shorts.

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Scott Gravel Underwear +++ shorts

Pockets all around, even in places you’d think you can’t reach (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Scott Gravel Underwear +++ shorts

You’ll be amazed what you can pack away (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Scott Gravel Underwear +++ shorts

You can cycle in them, or leap around on platforms collecting stars (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design

Thanks to the rise of gravel and longer-distance road riding, cargo shorts have gone from freak show to must-have status. Most brands have gone with shorts that are designed to be worn as standalone bibs, but Scott has followed category originators Specialized and designed its cargo shorts as “Gravel Underwear”. That means the lower legs and the whole bib section are a perforated DRYOxcell mesh for fast wicking and ventilation. They’re not see-through, though, and the front and back of the shorts are solid DUROxpand, four-way stretch material with a discreet logo on the right cheek and left leg. 

The outer leg panels include a zipped, mesh pocket that’s big enough for a plus-sized phone and an open-topped pocket. Four more pockets wrap from hip-to-hip, including a specific long-and-thin pump pocket and there’s a short “tunnel” pocket across the belly too. 

In terms of comfort the shorts get Scott’s +++, single-piece, 3D-moulded and perforated pad with a front extension for draft proofing and “drip tray” duties.

Scott Gravel Underwear +++ shorts

Rear pockets ideal for sticking your long, tubular things (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

As usual we took off the “underwear” tag without reading it and thanks to unseasonably hot weather I actually wore the shorts without baggies over the top at first. The solid panels meant I wasn’t arrested for public exposure and the logos meant it didn’t look too weird either. While I wouldn’t trust the open-topped pocket with anything valuable or heavy, the scooped-top makes grabbing snacks easy. The zipped right pocket offers a more secure, large volume stash but as always how much you can load onto your thigh depends on personal irritation levels too.

The bib pockets are really useful, though, particularly the flank pair which you can reach round to without excessive contortions that’ll cramp your shoulders. While there’s no specific support features you can carry a decent amount in them without the cargo sliding them down over your butt. Knowing my pump wasn’t going to flop over diagonally before making a leap for the ground meant less “back pat” checks after rough descents too. Even the belly pocket came in handy for warming up energy bars/liner gloves or as a litter bin if I had something in both leg pockets. 

Obviously wearing the shorts under other clothes adds a literal extra level of complication getting to the pockets, but it also adds security too. Depending on pocket contents (big, flat plastic packets are never going to help) they still shift sweat well, so skin dryness levels are decent. They dry quick overnight too, which is a big bonus when backpacking. 

I’ve been using two pairs of shorts with the +++ pad over the last few months and neither has given me any issues even on long, sat-down-in-the-saddle gravel days or more physical, rougher MTB rides. Considering the same pad in a pair of basic short undershorts costs £58.99, these pocketed bibs are a really good price.

Verdict

I’ve spent several months using Scott’s Gravel +++ shorts both in their intended ‘Underwear’ role and as standalone cargo bibs and they’ve been great. Pad and perspiration performance has been consistently better than average for a mid-price cargo short. They give more storage options/volume than a lot of other shorts I’ve tried without getting baggy or bouncy either. The less secure, open top thigh pocket is balanced by the zipped one on the other leg too and I even found an occasional use for the marsupial pocket. 

They’re well-priced, so if you’re looking for a set of cargo shorts to underpin your fashionably pocketless shorts and shirt, or double up capacity of a conventional race jersey ,these come well recommended. Given how inclusive gravel biking is, a women’s pad version would be a nice addition, though.

Scott Gravel Underwear +++ shorts

Just don’t think about where it’s been (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Tech Specs: Scott Gravel Underwear +++ Shorts

  • Price: Not currently available in the US / £72.99 (UK)
  • Material: DRYOxcell quick dry knit fabric, DUROxpand 4-way stretch knit fabric
  • Weight: 155g
  • Sizes: S-XXL

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg