By Sharon Anderson
I always thought that rain shorts were the sort of kit you never knew you needed until you actually owned a pair. This year though, the trails seem to have been more wet than dry (actually more river than trail in a lot of cases), and constant spray from the back wheel is enough to get down you as well as get you down, they became a necessity not be without. These two pairs are best worn as an outer shell – either over shorts and a padded liner, or long tights when the temperature plummets. Both were small and lightweight enough to tuck into a pack if the weather looked changeable, and easy enough to slip on mid-ride without keeping others waiting too long.
Though choice is still fairly limited, a number of manufacturers have now added technical waterproof shorts for women to their range and if this Autumn/Winter season is anything to go by, I think demand will only increase. I know that I wouldn’t have been out there as much this winter without them!
So to compare…..
The Vaude shorts are an eco-product with serious credential. They are guaranteed to be made from sustainable materials with resource conserving manufacturing, and the “bluesign” approved fabric (with its Ceplex Active coating) remained completely waterproof and windproof throughout the testing period. The Scott’s DRYOsphere 3L fabric also proved to be solidly waterproof and in torrential horizontal rain in the Cairngorms earlier this year they were an absolute winner!
The Vaude shorts are constructed with stretch inserts in the sides and back to enhance freedom of movement without the need for a baggy fit. The Scott fabric, however, has a softer and more comfortable feel – and the fact that the actual fabric has stretch negates the need for additional panelling. The fit of the Scott shorts is described as “Athletic”. In my view they are the best fitting waterproof shorts I have worn; easy, but not voluminous. Both pairs were generous enough in leg length to cover most baggies, but I did find the crotch in the Vaude shorts fell slightly too low for me, which hampered movement when pedalling.
Waist band adjustment in both shorts is achieved with the cunning use of elastic and a draw cord. Both pairs were “medium”, but the Scott pair was more generous on the waist prior to adjustment. The more expsncive Scotts have (surprise surprise) a more sophisticated draw cord, and an easy grab tab made them much simpler to adjust without taking off my gloves. I like the fact that the elasticated waist panels are limited to the side sections in the Scott shorts and the back section is smooth and flat, which allows your pack to rest comfortably. The waistband of the Vaude shorts is almost entirely elasticated, but it doesn’t have much give, making the shorts harder to get on in a hurry. They do however have the useful addition of a rubberised gripper strip inside the back, ensuring that they stay up and don’t part company with what is tucked into them, avoiding a draft gap.
Though the Scott shorts are slightly wider in the leg prior to adjustment (useful for fitting over knee pads), both pairs have Velcro strips on the bottom hems and can be pulled in to reduce potential flap and to keep mud and dirt out. The tab and Velcro are more heavy duty on the Vaude shorts and have remained neat with use, whereas the Scott tabs have gone a bit curly and don’t always lie flat.
The success of any waterproof shorts has to come down to durability. I’m not sure that the fabric has been invented that can withstand season after season of gritty saddle sessions and yet remain completely waterproof, but these shorts are holding up well. Both have some reinforcement; Scott limits it to a small area under the crotch, while Vaude has gone for a full-on 3 layer reinforced saddle area. This has resisted abrasion well and seems to give the Vaudes more potential for long-term durability – though only time will tell on this one.
I see waterproof shorts as things to be pulled out of the pack when the weather is against you, so I am not sure that pockets are particularly necessary. The Vaude minimalist shorts have dispensed with detail such as this, but instead have provided a really useful little stash bag which keeps them tidily stored in your pack until needed. But if you ride without a pack or you want to keep a card/pass /key handy, you might find the fully waterproof thigh pocket on the Scott shorts a practical (and stylish!) addition.
Vaude Women’s Spray Shorts – A less expensive option, environmentally proud, durable and unpretentious. Great for multi-day touring and for all year round bad weather back up, but you need to check that the fit suits.
Scott MTN DRYO plus Rain Shorts – My favourites in test, superbly light and packable (though a stash bag would be useful!) with a comfortable soft feel and a perfect fit. They’re pricey but I think they’re a good investment – you’ll be unstoppable against the worst weather!
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|Spray, MTN DRYO plus
|by Sharon Anderson for