Review: Sombrio Highline Shorts

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By Sanny

Sombrio have been completely off of my radar for the last couple of years which is a bit of a strange admission – one of my favourite and longest lasting pairs of shorts is from Sombrio. Despite several years of hard use and abuse, my old shorts continue to show their mettle with nary a loose thread to speak of. They have endured some fairly atrocious winter rides, and while the colour has faded, they still come back for more. Looking through my cupboard of riding kit, I can’t think of any other piece of kit that has survived as long, shoes included. As such, Sombrio’s latest ‘Highline’ lightweight shorts carry with them a heavy burden of expectation. Do Sombrio still lead the way in durable and well-fitting riding shorts? Only one way to find out…

Sombrio Highline shorts singletrack magazine

The Highline shorts are marketed as a lightweight riding short capable of tackling multi day rides as well as all day epics. Constructed from a 90/10 mix of polyester and elastane, the shorts feel incredibly soft to the touch while the inherent stretch in them means at no time do they feel in any way constrictive. Despite being a skinny malink, my previous experience with Sombrio shorts taught me to size up and go for a large. For my 32 inch waist, the fit is spot on with very little in the way of saggy bottom flapping fabric to catch on the nose of my saddle when dropping off the back of the bike on steep descents. Around the waist are two plastic backed Velcro straps which can be used to cinch the waist down for a close fit; simple but effective. The zippered fly features a Velcro and double popper studded closure which has proven to be an excellent piece of design that stops your flies undoing when hunched over the bars. It’s a small detail but having previously worn a set of shorts where the popper kept popping, it can be mildly infuriating!

Sombrio Highline shorts singletrack magazine

Signalling the shorts’ lightweight and milder clime intentions, there is a series of small holes in the lower leg at the front which appear to be designed to promote air flow. I can’t say how effective the design is as I never noticed them working but then perhaps that is the point? There are no hand pockets, but there are zippered mid-thigh pockets cut at an angle which are perfectly sized for a phone, money or credit card. A neat touch is the inclusion of an elasticated clip for a lift pass. At the back, there is one of those (to my mind, singularly useless) zipper pockets at the base of your spine. It’s pointless, but it’s not a deal breaker and I imagine there are riders who like that sort of thing.

Sombrio Highline shorts singletrack magazine

All of the stitching is at least double stitched while the crotch and back area are triple stitched for extra strength. While there is the odd piece of loose thread where I have caught the shorts on something, none of the threads have pulled through and don’t look likely to either.

So how do they compare to my old shorts then? In terms of fit, I think they have the upper hand. The hem extends down to just below the knee while the shorts are sufficiently baggy to work well with knee guards. The stretch in the fabric helps ensure a comfortable fit at all times while the lighter weight fabric means that they pack down small for multi day adventures. They are also noticeably faster drying. While all this may be at the expense of ultimate longevity, it’s a price worth paying as far as I am concerned. Having worn them on several horrid days, I can attest to the fact that they are decently windproof. They aren’t waterproof but they’re not supposed to be.

Sombrio Highline shorts singletrack magazine

So is there anything I don’t like? Purely as a matter of personal preference, I would have designed in zipped hand pockets and a single thigh pocket arrangement. That aside, I think they are a terrific three season short. They have so far proven to be comfortable, light, durable and fast drying. They also look smart too, eschewing fluro Enduro trendiness for a subtle mid blue that doesn’t look out of place off the bike. If they last half as long as my old pair of shorts, I will be delighted.

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Review Info

Product:Highline Shorts
Tested:by Sanny for 2 months

David Gould

Singletrack Contributor

By day, Sanny plies his trade as a Chartered Accountant and Non-Executive Director. By night, however, give him a map and the merest whisper of a trail "that might go" and he'll be off faster than a rat up a drainpipe on some damn fool mission to discover new places to ride. Rarely without his trusty Nikon D5600, he likes nothing better than being in the big mountains, an inappropriately heavy bike on his back, taking pics and soaking up the scenery. He also likes to ride his bike there too although rumours that he is currently working on his next book, "Walks with my bike", are untrue (mostly).

Fat biking, gravel riding, bikepacking, road biking, e biking, big mountain adventures - as long as two wheels are involved, you'll find him with a grin on his face as he dives off the side of a mountain, down a narrow lane or into deep undergrowth in search of hidden trails and new adventures.

His favourite food is ham and mushroom pizza and he is on a mission to ride all of the Munros, mostly as it allows him to indulge in eating more pizza.

He has no five year plan, is a big fan of the writing of Charlie Connelly and reckons that Kermode and Mayo's Film Review Podcast is quite possibly the finest bit of broadcasting around.

Comments (0)

    Just to update the review.

    I’ve ridden these for another couple of months, almost to the exclusion of other shorts, and they continue to look like new. All of the stitching is in perfect condition and the shorts wash well with no noticeable fading. With the mild winter, they have proven to be the best short for the job at the moment.

    Given all of this, it’s fair to say that I would now happily give them a ST Recommended Award.

    Hope this is of interest to those of you considering buying a pair.



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