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The top 11 best women’s cycling shorts with gel padding

In this article I’m going to give you my thoughts on the best women’s cycling shorts with gel padding. But first let me explain a bit how today’s chamois actually work and clear up any misconceptions about gel padding in relation to cycling shorts.

First of all, cycling shorts don’t actually use gel pads to create pressure relief. Rather, they contain multiple layers of various thicknesses and densities to spread out pressure across a larger area. According to your personal riding preference, short rides or long distance touring, and preference, you might opt for more padding.

In general more padding helps, but it’s the overall fit of the cycling short and quality of the chamois that really determines the comfort of the short. And nothing can prevent saddle soreness from riding with an incorrect position on the bike.

So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the best women’s cycling shorts with gel padding, or rather padded chamois.

Pearl Izumi Women’s Expedition Short

Pearl Izumi Women's Expedition Short
Pearl Izumi Women's Expedition Short

The Pearl Izumi Women’s Expedition Short are affordable cycling shorts with plenty of storage and an understated design.

The short features a women specific dual-density Women’s ELITE Escape 1:1 chamois. It’s top layer can move independantly from it’s foam layer, which reducing friction and chafing. It means that these shorts are perfect for your average dry ride and will proof to be comfortable for a number of hours in the saddle.

The short is made from compression fabric and has 2 large thigh pockets alongside a smaller back pocket. This means you can store larger objects, like your phone, as well as smaller ones like multiple energy bars or small tools. The compression fabric ensures a snug, yet comfortable and flattering fit.

Furthermore, the short has a wide and comfortable waist band and silicone printed hems to keep them in place.

For anything but ultra-distance riding, these shorts are a fantastic option, that doesn’t hurt your wallet too much, offers good storage options, look the part, and are durable as well.

Pearl Izumi Women’s INTERVAL Bib Short

Pearl Izumi Women's INTERVAL Bib Short
Pearl Izumi Women's INTERVAL Bib Short

The Pearl Izumi Women’s INTERVAL Bib Short are high-quality cycling bibs offering a wealth of comfort for long rides.

The shorts has the dual-layer ELITE Escape 1:1 chamois, which sits one level below their pro offerings. It means there are dual layers with different densities to spread load away from the sit bones.

Attached front and back they can move independant from each other, offering flexiblity while riding while at the same time reducing friction.

The Elite chamois does not have an added soft top layer for the longest of rides. But the pad does offer tapered edges sealed seamlessly where it connects to the bib.

The INTERVAL bib short is made from ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabric, which is a cool name to describe a material that transfers heat and adds added sun reflectiveness.

It also features the drop tail technology, a horizontal cut at the lower back to enable a quick bathroom stop without the need to take of your cycling jersey and undo the straps. The cut is wide enough to uncover that part of the body you wish to uncover when nature calls.

The hems are laser cut and seamless, so the short doesn’t pinch your thighs, but do stay in place thanks to the silicone gripper.

Giordana Women’s Fusion Bib Short

Giordana Women's Fusion Bib Short
Giordana Women's Fusion Bib Short

The Giordana Women’s Fusion Bib Short offers their thicker 3-layer 13 m. Cirro-W chamois.

The rest of the shorts offer a lot of the same characteristics. The same overall shape with clipless straps ending in a comfortable large back panel, with tall laser cut hems that grip comfortably. It’s a high-waist short to provide appropriate coverage and support for a flattering figure.

The chamois has an Aloe Vera infused layer that prevents bacteria build-up and offers cooling factors, is sewn atop a tick 8mm. layer of memory foam. This open waffle-textured layer offers excellent moisture-wicking and ventilation properties, preventing it from becoming a damp, attention-grabbing patch on longer rides.

A bit less performance oriented for the casual rider, these shorts will still amaze should when staying many hours in the saddle.

Castelli Endurance W Bibshort

Castelli Endurance W Bibshort
Castelli Endurance W Bibshort

Targeting towards ultimate comfort, the Castelli Endurance W Bibshort offers the most protection on longer rides.

It has the Progetto X2 Air Donna chamois, where a soft skin-layer sits atop a perforated foam layer. This multi-stretch comfort layer is totally seamless, offers different densities to provide the most damping where needed, and has padded inserts. What all this technology does is provide a carefree fit with loads of comfort for arduous multi-hour rides.

The Italian brand always offers flattering designs, and it’s no different with this short. They forgo the droptail design with the horizontal slit other brands incorporate for bathroom stops, and instead opt for extra elastic straps that can be easily pulled down.

The Endurance Evolution compression fabric sits snugly without hampering movement and even with the all-black color, does a good job of keeping you cool and evaporating sweat.

I’ve been a favorite of this brand for years and this affordable short does nothing to change that point of view. Providing great value-for-money in a short that offers the best in the area of comfort for epic rides.

Castelli Free Aero Race 4 W Short

Castelli Free Aero Race 4 W Short
Castelli Free Aero Race 4 W Short

The Castelli Free Aero Race 4 W Short is probably one of the best cycling shorts out there.

Featuring their high-end Progetto X2 Air Donna chamois, you’re ensured of a comfortable ride. The chamois featured additional inserts for female-specific pressure areas, underneath a soft skin layer, and a multi-density foam layer.

The short has a very lightweight construction with dimpled thigh panels for female cyclists ambitious enough to care about minimal aerodynamic gains. Flatlock stitching ensures a seamless feel and large GIRO4 leg grippers with vertical silicone strips keep the short in the correct place without pinching.

On of the best strapless cycling shorts your money can buy.

Castelli Prima Bibshort

Castelli Prima Bibshort
Castelli Prima Bibshort

The Castelli Prima Bibshort is a fantastic affordable option that still manages to look great from the Italian giant.

It’s almost an insult to call these cycling bibs entry-level, since they still feature the amazingly comfortable KISS Air2 Donna chamois. It’s an anatomically shaped dual-density layer, which provides the right kind of support in areas where more pressure is applied. This layer sits underneath an incredible soft skin layer. All layer are seamlessly integrated and Castelli always manages to never make their shorts feel or look bulky.

Furthermore the cycling shorts are made from Pro Dry Soft Lycra, which ensures maximum breathability and moisture-wicking characteristics on long and hot days in the saddle. Mesh straps and a back panel finished with reflective elements at the back of the legs finish the design.

A truly fantastic cycling bib for female cyclists who’re looking for a solid combination of quality and affordability.

Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort

Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort
Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort

The Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort offers a slim feel while still offering enough protection to keep you in the saddle comfortably for many hours.

The KISS Air2 Donna chamois is a multi-layered pad with differently gender-specific densities offering moisture-wicking and ventilation aspects in its durable microfiber.

The popularity of Castelli lies in the fact that they offer excellent quality in affordable packages. The Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort is a great example of this, with a premium-looking short offering the right amount of comfort.

The drop tail straps are extremely elastic, making it easy to pull down the shorts for bathroom stops. And the elegantly striped legs end in firm leg grippers that keep them in place without making you look like something you can buy at your local butcher shop.

The straps can be worn in a standard straight fashion or crossed both front and back to suit your personal preference. And the cooling Endurance Evolution compression fabric is available in a number of gorgeous colors other than your standard black.

Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort

Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort
Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort

The Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort is a more traditional bib short from the Italian brand, which also caters to the gravel community by offering bibs with pockets.

It’s meant for race-day with a tight compression fabric but still holds their impressively comfortable 18 mm. Total Comfort W chamois. Such a pad does make a difference when traversing less than ideal road conditions for longer periods.

The entire back panel and front straps are created from mesh fabric, with a large side section connecting front and back. Together with the fabric you get a pair of shorts that stay in place, look flattering and feel comfortable.

There are 3 pockets. One located at the left leg and two in the back, measuring 10 x 13 cm each, with the one on the leg being 16 x 11 cm. With today’s huge phones, especially when sleeved, you might still opt to place them somewhere else. But they perform adequately for energy bars.

The shorts are beautifully crafted and fit your average built perfectly, but as far as cargo shorts go, there’s room for improvement.

Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts

Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts
Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts

The Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts is another gravel-oriented cargo short that takes its name from the popular Kansas gravel event.

It holds the C1 chamois reserved for their premium lineup. It’s an impressive 16 mm thick pad made from recycled polyamide that has 4-way stretch to it, with a varying density. Craft is big into sustainability and they have a proprietary way of creating their chamois in such a way it reduces waste material.

The straps cross at the back and have a front panel that sits very high on the waist. There are both stretch and zippered pockets. The stretch pockets sit at the legs, with the zippered pockets at the back. Obviously zippered pockets take greater care of what you put into them, but can be a nuisance when trying to open and close while riding.

Craft Adv Endurance Lumen Bib Shorts

Craft Adv Endurance Lumen Bib Shorts
Craft Adv Endurance Lumen Bib Shorts

The Craft Adv Endurance Lumen Bib Shorts are more than excellent shorts for a very reasonable price.

Beautifully designed, they offer a form-fitting mesh back panel that wraps around your body into a high waist, ensuring a great look with comfortable straps at the front.

The C2 pad has three layers of various densities made in a way that reduces waste. The thickest parts sits at the sit bones offering necessary damping qualities.

The shorts themselves are made from recycled polyamide, so you know Craft is big into sustainability. The brand is know for creating very durable products.

A great product for female road cyclist who can appreciate high-quality comfortable bib shorts for a decent enough price.

Craft Essense Bib Shorts

Craft Essense Bib Shorts
Craft Essense Bib Shorts

The Craft Essense Bib Shorts are a great allround choice for budget-minded female cyclists.

One of Craft’s most affordable cycling bibs feature their C3 chamois, which still provides ample levels of comfort with a hollow-fiber pad.

Craft displays a high degree of corporate responsibility, with this short being created with recycled polyamide. So if that’s something you value and look for in a product, Craft is definitely worth choosing.

The cycling bib has a wide center front strap, which ends in a large back panel. It’s up to you whether or not you like such a configuration.

Highly affordable and with sustainability in mind, the Craft Essense Bib Shorts is a great choice for the recreative female rider.

Specifications women’s cycling shorts with gel padding

NamePriceChamoisStrapsMaterialHemsPocketsDisciplineBuy at AmazonBuy at Ebay
Pearl Izumi Women’s Expedition Short100 USDdual-density Women’s ELITE Escape 1:1noneELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabriclaser-cut w. silicone gripper2 thigh pockets, 1 back pocketroad, gravellink
Pearl Izumi Women’s INTERVAL Bib Short150 USDdual-density Women’s ELITE Escape 1:1clipped straps w. drop tailELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabriclaser-cut w. silicone grippernoneroadlinklink
Giordana Women’s Fusion Bib Short130 USD3-layer 13 mm. Cirro-Wseamless straps w. mesh back panelLycratall laser-cutnoneroadlinklink
Castelli Endurance W Bibshort160 USDProgetto X2 Air Donnadrop tail bib strapsEndurance Evolution compression fabricGIRO3 leg grippernoneroadlinklink
Castelli Free Aero Race 4 W Short126 USDProgetto X2 Air DonnanoneForza fabricGIRO4 leg grippernoneroadlink
Castelli Prima Bibshort110 USDKISS Air2 Donnaback bib panelPro Dry Soft LycraGIRO3 leg grippernoneroadlinklink
Castelli Velocissima 3 Bibshort140 USDKISS Air2 Donnadrop tail bib strapsEndurance Evolution compression fabricraw-cut w. siliconenoneroadlinklink
Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort195 USD18 mm. Total Comfort Wmesh straps w. mesh back panelCompression fabricelastic woven1 mesh cargo pocket on left leg and 2 mesh pockets on backroad, gravellinklink
Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts160 euros16 mm. C1mesh strapsLycra Sport Energyelastic woven w. siliconeStretch pockets at legs, zip back pocketgravel, MTBlinklink
Craft Adv Endurance Lumen Bib Shorts120 euros12 mm. 3-layer C2mesh straps w. mesh back panelrecycled polyamideelastic woven w. siliconenoneroadlinklink
Craft Essense Bib Shorts90 eurosC3center strap w. back panelLycra Sport Energyelastic woven w. siliconenoneroadlink