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.
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.
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.
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.
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