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I'm looking for a pair of shorts for my commute to work. I live in a country where it rains a lot so I know I'm going to get wet so rather than getting water proof gear I'd prefer to get some quick drying stuff. It's a short commute, I don't use chamois at the moment so it's not something I need to have.

What should I look out for if I'm looking at mtb style or baggy shorts that dry quick? Has anyone any recommendations?

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    How far is short? – Holloway Sep 8 '15 at 13:49
  • Roughly 8km one way. – Peck3277 Sep 8 '15 at 13:51
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    Even quick dry shorts are going to take a while if you get them soaking wet. If you have place to change that would be more comfortable than wearing bike shorts all day long. – paparazzo Sep 8 '15 at 15:35
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    I am voting to leave open. It's seeking general / generic equipment advice, and has attracted a couple of good answers in that vein. – andy256 Sep 8 '15 at 23:19
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    For about 20 years I cycled in "lined jogging shorts". (Have since, in my old age, switched to regular spandex shorts with "chamois".) They were lightweight synthetic material with a lightweight "liner" (serving as underwear). The liner was modestly absorbent, the outer shell not at all. Nowadays the jogging shorts they make aren't so "short" anymore, so they would almost pass as regular shorts (though I don't know what the linings are like these days & whether they'd be suitable for cycling). – Daniel R Hicks Sep 9 '15 at 2:18
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While in your question you say you don't use a chamois, I'm going to give some general recommendations for others looking to find quick dry shorts or pants. Since specific recommendations go out of date, I'm not linking to any particular brand or model of shorts...

Almost every pair of mountain biking shorts I have owned would be what I would consider "quick drying". Baggy mountain bike shorts usually have two main components, the inner padded liner, and the outer shell. Here is what I would look for:

  • Removable liner - If the shorts get so wet that the inner liner is soaked through the outer shell is going to take a long time to dry, and you are going to be uncomfortable. With a removable liner you can swap out to your normal underwear when you get to your destination.

  • Nylon/Polyester shell - For the shell to be quick drying you are going to have to manage the trade off of fabric weight and durability. A lighter but rip-stop type fabric provides a good mix of quick drying and durability against rips and abrasions. Watch for stretchy panels or cotton fabric pockets as these will stay damp much longer.

An option if you need to wear pants is to buy pants from the same kind of nylon material and wear standard or liner-specific bike shorts underneath them. Most major outdoor manufactures like North Face, Ex Oficio, Patagonia, Columbia, etc, make pants and short from quick drying nylon. There are many online bike clothing suppliers like REI, BikeNashbar and Performance Bike that have house brand baggy shorts that would work as well.

A key thing to avoid if you are really worried about comfort and drying time is pants/shorts with the liner sewn in. With those, if the liner gets soaked you are stuck. If the shell or pants have a removable liner, you can always take the separate pieces off and wring them out to speed drying if they are really wet.

Finally, if it's a short enough ride, or your backside is ok with it, just use regular nylon pants or shorts like above with your normal underwear. I usually only worry about using padded bike shorts if my ride is going to be longer than 6 mi / 10 km. or so. And make sure your bike has fenders. Those make a HUGE difference in how wet you get in the rain.

  • And, I would add, if they are very wet when you take the shorts off, roll them tightly in a towel (a microfibre one works best) and squeeze the towel (even stand on it). This will get most of the water out. Take the shorts out of the towel and hang them to complete the drying process. – andy256 Sep 8 '15 at 23:15
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What I would do is get a pair of convertible rain pants with zip off leg lowers. They will do a good job of keeping the cold water out. Might lead to a lot of sweat though depending on the temps but can be used for rainy seasons year round. Showers Pass, North Face, and other companies make these styles. I prefer ones that give an above the knee cut rather than below the knee cut for more airflow and less sweating if you ride in warmer temps.

I've had good luck personally with my dwr treated Endura Urban short, though they do wet out eventually, but help a bit over traditional shorts. Being from the somewhat rainy U.K., Endura makes waterproof (MT500 Waterproof shorts) and water resistant shorts (Endura Spray Baggy shorts) as well which may fit your needs better.

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8 km is about my daily commute one way, and it is known to rain here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States from time to time.

I wear my work clothes when I ride, but my commute isn't very strenuous. One very modest hill in the morning to work, and a bit more challenging hill in the afternoon from work.

I'll usually wear shorts until late October or early November, and working in IT I can get by with fairly casual attire. For the rain, I have rainpants. As others have said, even the best quick drying shorts are going to take a while to dry if they are wet. If it's only misting outside, I don't put on the rainpants. A little light moisture on the surface of even cotton blend shorts will dry fast.

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Rather than sitting around in wet kit, you should get changed (in the toilets if necessary), even assuming that wet cycling gear fits your dress code.

Gym/football type shorts will dry during the day if you have somewhere to spread them out (under your desk for example). They're also cheap. Look for fairly thin synthetic fabric. As @andy256 says in a comment, rolling them in a towel will help as well. I've got some lined MTB shorts that are quite nice for riding in but inevitably stay wet longer -- they're quick drying fabric but 2 layers of it. Don't forget whatever you're wearing underneath -- take spares (and socks). I recommend looking out for ones with pockets.

It's not a long ride, you don't need cycling-specific stuff. In warm weather I've found that riding in rain-proof gear you can get almost as wet as without it from sweat plus the rain that sneaks in. Obviously when it gets cold riding in a single layer of wet stuff isn't a good idea.

I found gym shorts absolutely fine for 15km each way every day even in the wet, so long as it's warm enough. But then I've also ridden 25km each way in hiking gear with no trouble -- I must be lucky with my saddle fit. On a road/touring bike the saddle may be less forgiving of seams and fit than on my hybrid.

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Get shorts and underwear that are made of polyester, spandex, rayon, etc. No cotton. Obviously the thinner the better.

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