As for the padding issue, my feeling is that you should get to a point where you don't really care if you have much crotch padding or not. During the winter, for instance, I ride in tights, which don't have padding. That's a bit of a transition each fall, but not a huge one. Getting the saddle height right, using a good-quality saddle, and then getting used to it, all those things make padding to a certain extent superfluous. When touring or mountain biking I ride with Performance-brand baggies and they have a pretty good pad liner. The problem there is that pedaling a loaded touring bike prevents you from standing on the pedals (balance reasons) so the sit, sit, sit part gets wearisome. When mountain biking I find it much less of a problem, as I'm out of the saddle a lot, and sometimes completely off the bike for an unplanned rest.
Zoic's Vigor shorts ($50) are very good. A little light on the padding, but from a performance standpoint that's fine, as padding can absorb moisture. They always could be paired with padded undershorts, such as Andiamo's Coolmax Padded Briefs ($22).
Remember, keep those cheeks together!
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.