Reviewed: Kitsbow Soft Shell A/M Shorts
A year in the Aston Martin of cycling shorts
By Seb Kemp
Kitsbow Soft Shell A/M Shorts
• RiRi slider snap hardware stays secure
• Quilted waistband
• Available in nine sizes (both odd and even) for a more precise fit
• Reversed pocket design keeps essentials secure and immediately accessible
• Finished seams to eliminate potential chafe points and add durability
• Schoeller-dryskin fabric is weather resistant and durable, while also being comfortable lightweight.
• Trail matched natural color offerings, subtle branding
Let’s start out with my reaction when I slid these shorts over my hips and thighs for the first time: WOW! The fit and cut of the shorts is exceptional. The leg is cut to shield the front of the knee and not bunch behind it. They also fit perfectly over modest sized knee pads like Troy Lee 5400 or POC VPD 2.0 knee guards, never collecting at the top of the pad or snagging under flexion. More so, the waist band is cut low at the front and high at the back which prevents them from clumping around the stomach and the lower back covered when slouched over the bike for hours.
It is worthwhile mentioning that Kitsbow shorts come in one inch increments from 28-38”, meaning that if you take the time to get the right size then they will fit phenomenally well. Most brands only do shorts in two-inch increments or in broad sweeping small, medium, and large sizes. Kitsbow fit and work because they feel tailored.
However, after twelve months I have noticed that throughout the season my waist measurement does fluctuate enough that there are times when the shorts hang perfectly and other times when I’m occasionally pulling them up throughout the ride. Also, on very long, muddy rides the shorts do now tend to pull down a little under the extra weight of muck.
Kitsbow now produce another line of A/M shorts with adjustable waistband which no doubt remedies this issue.
The Schoeller-dryskin fabric that the A/M shorts are made with is incredible. It is a soft-shell fabric that does stretch and the lightly brushed backing moves moisture away from skin, keeping the rider dry and body temperature evenly regulated. The shorts kept me relatively warm and dry on the hellish wintery days, but still felt light enough to wear all through summer.
The fabric also repels dirt and grime excellently. I’ve worn these for many, many rides consecutively without washing them and they still looked smart even when a wash is overdue.
The short’s fabric, even after twelve months of use, throughout all four seasons of the Pacific Northwest, is proving to be incredibly durable and looks almost as good as the day I first slipped them on. After numerous tumbles and bushwhacking adventures I’ve only managed to hook a thread on the front panel once. A slight blemish on an otherwise immaculate looking piece of attire.
It’s refreshing to wear something that, visually speaking, works on many levels. I could walk into a club ride with mature riders and be taken seriously, and then walk into a shop with a young kid at the counter and be respected. Kitsbow’s style is a little different to what we usually get served by clothing companies, I suppose you could call it smart casual.
The muted and mature appearance of Kitsbow is sure to appeal to some. There is a time and a place for the moto-garb-Celtic-tattoo-patchwork-blanket style, but not for everyone all of the time.
I know many riders don’t think fashion has a place in mountain biking (which might explain the abundance of awful looking outfits that are marketed to us) but that doesn’t have to mean that there is no room for a little bit of suave sophistication. Kitsbow might not be for everyone, but I’m willing to bet there are more than a few folks tired of the status quo in mountain bike threads.
The phone pockets on either side of the outer-thigh are without doubt the best phone pockets I’ve ever experienced on a cycle short. They are cleverly located and very nicely shaped to snuggly hold phones and wallets on the side of the thigh. Once you put your phone in there you forget you have one concealed. That is until that perfect on-trail Instagram moment pops up and you can very easily locate and remove your camera-phone. You won’t be stuffing these pockets full of stuff but a trail tool, a wallet and a phone will suffice. The rest will have to be stowed elsewhere.
I suppose we must address the question that sharp eyed readers are probably asking. Yes, Kitsbow gear is expensive. It’s a heck of a lot of money for a pair of shorts. Sure, you could buy several pairs of shorts for the cost of one pair of Kitsbow shorts, but I do think one pair of Kitsbow are worth several pairs of shorts and will probably outlast them all anyway.
Bottom line, if you can afford Kitsbow’s prices then consider buying some. It’s not necessary to own Kitsbow items, and no one is holding a gun to your head to buy their wares. Sure, riding in board shorts or Dickies work too, and Kitsbow gear won’t magically make you a better rider, make your rides more fun, or do your taxes for you, but if you have the means to even consider them and are fed up looking like a children’s TV presenter, then Kitsbow is worth a look.
After twelve months wearing Kitsbow’s shorts and jacket I feel that the jacket and shorts are some of the best items of cycle specific clothing I have ever worn. It isn’t just nicer than most, it is considerably better than anything that is available. The fabrics are superior, the cut is without comparison, and the attention to detail is phenomenal. It all feels like it was custom tailored, they are just that good.