The summer is upon us, and except for the odd day here and there, the riding pants have been swapped for shorts. For the past few months of warmer weather, I’ve been donning the Backcountry Slickrock 9” shorts when I’m out on my mountain bike. The verdict? They’re a pretty solid pick for hot laps if you don’t mind giving your thighs some sunshine.
Backcountry Slickrock 9″ Bike Shorts Features:
- Lightweight trail short built for staying cool on daily rides
- Stretchy fabric doesn’t limit our range of motion on techy sections
- 9in inseam is perfect for trail-to-town adventures
- DWR treatment helps fend off the water, mud, and dirt
- Trim fit ensures that annoying saddle snags are a thing of the past
- Integrated belt allows us to dial in a personalized, secure fit
- 50+ UPF rating provides protection from the sun’s harmful rays
- MSRP: $99
Made for Backcountry Heat
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now – activewear needs to be mobile and breathable. Welp. Good news. The Backcountry Slickrocks are just that. The main driver for mobility in the Slickrocks is their tremendously stretchy fabric. I’m not the most flexible person in the world, but I move around a lot when I ride, and these shorts never held me back. Moreso, I never felt resistance from them at all, even when stretching to warm up. And with all that movement, they stayed put nicely on the waist, never creeping up. I’d wager that we can thank the silicon-beaded waist for that.
On the breathability front, the fabric performs well. It’s not the most breathable fabric I’ve worn, but they’re short shorts, and they have perforated sections for ventilation, so any lack in natural fabric breathability is easily made up for. I’ve ridden on 90 degree days without sweltering in them, and that says something. They’re desert worthy, for sure.
Fit-wise, the Slickrocks are a boon. They sit close to the leg, which really has reduced saddle snags for me compared to my other MTB shorts. And they fit comfortably. Especially worth a note are the welded seams at the thigh hem. Without stitches, there’s nothing to chafe your leg as you pedal. Also worth mentioning is the adjustable waist buckle. It’s easy to clip and provides a nice fine-tune to the fit. The snap button for the waist is a bit dinky, so it’s good to have the waist buckle as an additional layer of security.
Pockets. They’re good, but I just wish there were more of them. The front pockets are on the smaller side (not unlike the shorts themselves), but can carry even the largest of modern phones. The pockets sit close to the leg and use the fabrics stretchiness to compress their load, reducing jostling. I kept various things in the pockets on long downhill days and never got bothered by things bouncing around, something that I generally have little tolerance for. Again though, I want more pockets. Rear pockets would’ve been a great addition to these shorts.
While the Slickrock’s namesake trail is a blend of reds, yellows, and browns, Backcountry’s palette for the 9” shorts is much more varied. Their lineup lets you pick your poison between the multi-purpose classics of black or grey, or deviate a bit with an ochre color, a dark green, or a visually shocking chartreuse. Given the choice, I went bolder than usual and chose the one that nearly set my teeth on edge: Lime Punch. If ever there’s a time for fun, out-there clothing colors, it’s in outdoor activity.
Sadly, I came to regret my electric color choice. I can’t speak for the other color options out there, but my Lime Punch Slickrocks were a bit on the sheer side. My underwear color choices became general knowledge to all who shared the trail. Se la vie. Another downside of the Lime Punch was a stark contrast with mud, which never fully washed out of the saddle area. Two muddy rides were each shortly followed by a spraydown, stain remover, a cold wash cycle, hang-drying, and a repeat (I’ve stained a few things, so I do have my method somewhat dialed). It just didn’t completely work, leaving a ghostly saddle stain from its muddy past. I’m sure the other colors don’t run into these problems quite so much though, since they’re darker and lower contrast.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 165 pounds with a 31” waist. I tested a size Small, and found them to be a little snug, but overall comfortable.
- Super stretchy material
- Good breathability
- Welded seams at the thigh keep things comfortable
- Adjustable waist buckle helps with fit
- Pockets hold loads securely without jostling
- Waist snap button is a little dinky
- I miss rear pockets
- Lime Punch color shows both stains and underwear
The Bottom Line: Backcountry Slickrock 9″ Bike Shorts
Should I say that these slick shorts rock? Their mobility and breathability certainly do, and I can’t say a bad thing about their hem, adjustable waist buckle, or front pockets. I wish that they had rear pockets though, and perhaps consider choosing a darker color than I did for the sake of stains and transparency. Even with those little gripes, I’m still stoked to wear my pair.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com