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The top 5 best women’s gravel bike shorts

In this article I’m going to provide my top picks for the best women’s gravel bike shorts.

Of course any cycling shorts will do their job when gravel riding, though shorts specifically meant for this discipline does pack a couple of added advantages.

For one, gravel riders prefer to spread out the load of what they want to lug around. And stuffing everything in the back pockets of your cycling jersey can have the adverse effect of this piece of clothing moving around when riding in harsh road conditions. That’s why gravel bike shorts offer various pockets, either on the legs or at the lower back.

Furthermore, gravel bike shorts are made from more durable materials and may feature abrasion-resistant panels in the case of a crash, which is more likely due to surface irregularities.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the overview of the best women’s gravel bike shorts.

Pearl Izumi Women's Expedition Short

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

The Pearl Izumi Women’s Expedition Shorts 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. Its top layer can move independently from its foam layer, which reduces friction and chafing. It means that these shorts are perfect for your average dry ride and will prove 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 waistband 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, looks the part, and are durable as well.

Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort

Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort
Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort

The Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort are gorgeous cycling bibs meant for long distance gravel or endurance riders.

It features Castelli’s top-of-the-line Progetto X2 Air Donna chamois made for comfort for ambitious cyclists. Female specific pressure points are more supported with an added layer of perforated padding, besides a skin layer, and dual density foam layer. This means a further reduction of saddle soreness when riding for many hours.

It also features drop tail bib straps, which can be pulled down further to facilitate bathroom stops without removing your cycling jersey.

These straps are attached to bibs made from compression fabric and having strengthened side panels made from Dyneema® Composite Fabric, which is stronger, lighter, and more abrasion resistant than comparable nylon fabrics. So should you ever fall with this fairly expensive piece of cycling apparel, chances of you actually tearing them are significantly reduced.

Both legs also hold two large pockets for you to stow away stuff for easy access while riding.

If you take your riding seriously and you want a beautifully designed cargo bib, the Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort should be at the top of your list.

Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort

Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort
Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort

The Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort is an elegantly designed cycling bib with 4 pockets. You’ve got one on each leg and two in the rear.

In line with cargo bibs being more gravel oriented, the side panels are made from two instead of a single layer. The pockets are conveniently oriented and can hold just about everything you’d want to stuff into them.

The moderately priced bib doesn’t look or feel bulky, and is classically shaped, with dual straps ending in a rear back panel.

The chamois is Castelli’s KISS Air2 Donna, which means a soft skin layer is seamlessly welded to a female oriented dual-density layer, with an anatomical shape.

The Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort provides a great all-round package in terms of price, comfort, and style.

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 build 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.

Specifications women's gravel bike shorts

Buy at Amazon
Pearl Izumi Women’s Expedition Short
100 USD
dual-density Women’s ELITE Escape 1:1®
ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool® fabric
laser-cut w. silicone gripper
2 thigh pockets, 1 back pocket
Castelli Free Unlimited W Bibshort
230 USD
Progetto X2 Air Donna
drop tail bib straps
Forza 2 compression fabric
raw cut w.o. silicone
2 leg pockets
Castelli Unlimited W Bibshort
150 USD
KISS Air2 Donna
back bib panel
raw-cut w. silicone
2 mesh rear pockets, 2 side pockets
Sportful Supergiara W Bibshort
195 USD
18 mm. Total Comfort W
mesh straps w. mesh back panel
Compression fabric
elastic woven
1 mesh cargo pocket on left leg and 2 mesh pockets on back
Craft Adv Unbound Bib Shorts
160 euros
16 mm. C1
mesh straps
Lycra® Sport Energy
elastic woven w. silicone
Stretch pockets at legs, zip back pocket

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