Women's gear, up first
Women's gear, up first
Let’s concede that making a great-fitting women’s chamois is tricky. That’s why many companies have shrugged it off, choosing instead to use a generic, unisex pad that’s really shaped for men. It’s the most cost-effective option. Yet women typically benefit from a broader cushion in back paired with a narrower nose. It’s challenging to fit all bodies with one design, but a few brands have dedicated themselves to offering good women’s-specific solutions.
Best For: Being seen
The high-contrast black-and-white pattern is flattering and practical for road rides when you want motorists to notice you. But don’t write this off as fluff gear. The fabric is compressive and slick, so it feels almost frictionless against the saddle, and the chamois hits that elusive goal of low-bulk protection. It’s the culmination of a year of design work—plus a $50,000 investment in machinery—but the result is a USA-made pad that eliminates tenderness after a three-hour ride.
Best For: The hottest days
Trapped sweat is the bane of the baggies-wearing crowd, who need the abrasion resistance of an overshort and the padding of a dedicated chamois. Enter the Yogacham, which Shredly founder and dedicated mountain biker Ashley Rankin spent more than five years refining. The shorts and pad are both perforated for maximum sweat mitigation. Plus, the wide, relaxed waistband feels as unrestrictive as my yoga pants—hence the name—so it’s almost as good as a bib at allowing free, unconstrained movement.
Best For: Eliminating muffin tops
Low-cut bottoms won’t pinch your gut, but they can create an unsightly roll of skin above the waistband. The women behind Wild Rye—a female-founded company of hardcore mountain bikers—know about that firsthand. The company’s latest shorts keep the same high-waist cut that made the original version popular but use a slippery, low-friction fabric that slides beautifully beneath a pair of baggies. The 0–12 size range (instead of the standard S/M/L) lets you get an exact fit. And the pad is a top-shelf number imported from Italy, where so many of the best cycling things are made.
Best For: Hassle-free peeing
It’s great to see more companies offering women’s bibs that give wearers a functional way to pee (without first stripping off their shirts). But my favorite so far is this zero-effort option, which omits stiff zippers or clips and has just enough elasticity in the suspenders to let you yank them down when you need to. The design is perfect simplicity, and the pad is primo: the nose is perforated for moisture management, and laminated stitch-free seams make it ultra-smooth.
Best For: Hucking
I figured these crash-ready bottoms wouldn’t have a great chamois because they’re designed for downhill and trail riders who don’t spend a ton of time sitting on the saddle. But to my surprise, the pad kept me plenty comfortable through 60-to-90-minute lunch-hour XC rides. The impact protection is so subtle that I barely registered the bulk. They’re a smart, functional choice anytime you’re riding technical terrain.