Not all baggies are created equal, and that’s especially true for 7mesh’s unique Slab shorts, as I found out.
This isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed Squamish based cycling apparel brand 7mesh, having been impressed by their bib shorts, Ashlu merino jersey, packable waterproof Oro jacket, and most recently their mesh Foundation bib shorts, which are designed to be worn under baggy shorts like these. It’s a first for us trying their baggy shorts though, with these loose fitting baggies just one model of four options in their trail shorts for men and women.
Alongside the Glidepath shorts, the Slab are designed for ‘all-round overshorts for mountain biking, with room for knee pads’, whereas the other two models are focussed on mixing trail and tarmac (the shorter Farside shorts) and more harsh weather (Revo shorts).
Although the Slab shorts (£99.99 €120 $130) are enduro-focussed, I used these on test for a number of different disciplines, from a multi-day bikepack across the Black Mountain in Wales to trail centre mountain biking and short gravel rides.
Design and features
Let’s take a closer look at the shorts to start. The first thing you’ll notice is the waistband, or lack of it, in a traditional sense. Usually when it comes to baggy shorts, a range of fits means that you’ll see adjustable tabs either internally or externally, which might be velcro or poppers, and sometimes belt loops for extra security. Here, the waistband is a sleek, single piece of stretchy fabric, shaped to the female form.
Adjustability comes in the form of an external thin 2cm webbing strap on the front, secured with an adjustable black plastic buckle.
The main fabric of the shorts is just as minimalist and sleek; welded seams just like you’d expect from high-end bikepacking bags fuse the leg panels and gusset, as well as secure the hem at the end of the long leg pieces. The fabric is a super stretchy nylon, polyester and elastane blend, featuring 4-way stretch and coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent).
You’ll find a single pocket, subtly placed halfway down the right thigh. The zip is fused to the fabric, rather than sewn, just like the pocket itself, which measures 9x20cm internally. This is more than enough for even a large smart phone or other accessories you’d like to stow close to hand.
Aesthetically, the Slab shorts are a deep slate colour, almost black, and are also available in a lighter ‘pebble grey’. Just like the rest of the minimal design, you’ll find the 7mesh logo just once, on the front of the right thigh in reflective print.
On the ride
The fit is again, the most striking part of the 7mesh Slab shorts. The best part, perhaps the lack of discomfort around the waist band. Baggy shorts designers have toyed with different ideas for decades to make a short that’s secure and adjustable but comfortable, moving adjustability away from internal fixings to avoid irritation on the skin, trying integrated belts, or adding loops so you can add your own. I’ve never tried a system that’s as comfy, yet still as adjustable as this before.
Avoiding zips that can break or poppers than can spontaneously unpop during an effort (not a glamorous moment, I can tell you), the only downside of this system is the slightly fiddly buckle, where you’ll have to rethread the webbing if you pull it out completely. That’s me being really picky, though. Overall, I’m sold on this waist design.
That’s not where it stop though, as the way that the panels of the shorts have been considered are also brilliant. Besides the welded seams avoiding irritation, there’s also a seam-free gusset, avoiding any potential chafe. I tried out these shorts alongside the mesh Foundation Bib Short, which paired brilliantly for more support on rides with more pedalling. I found that the fit around my backside was pretty generous when off the bike, although I’m sure this is to accommodate the riding position on the bike.
The shorts are undeniably long, which I know won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Personally, I really like that, as here I have a pair of baggies that I can be just as happy in riding on gravel roads for days as I can team up with kneepads and hit the trails on my mountain bike. With a size women’s large on my 5ft4″ frame, they come just above the knee to the centre of the kneecap, depending on where I wear them on my hips. I teamed them up with a 7mesh Sight Shirt (£45 €50 $60), a synthetic crew neck riding tee, which although was perfectly fine, wasn’t much to write home about, unlike these Slab shorts.
The DWR treatment is a nice touch, preventing splashes from puddles and stream crossings from soaking in. You’ll need to consider different clothing if you’re heading into a storm though, or bear getting very wet, as we found out the hard way!
For hot days, these shorts were perfect, super lightweight and breathable. Finally, from an aesthetic perspective, I love how minimal they, and the branding is, with the small 7mesh logo almost unnoticeable. Sure, I enjoy bright colours and patterns elsewhere in my clothing and on the bike, but these are the perfect blank slate to set them off against!
For a pair of baggy shorts that are versatile, suitable for both drop bar use and something more rowdy where kneepads are concerned, I’ve been really impressed by the lightweight and supremely comfortable 7mesh Slab shorts. The £99.99 €120 $130 price tag is a little more than I’d personally choose to spend on baggy shorts ordinarily, although given that they’re useful for several kinds of riding I could be persuaded to spend that bit extra on these. Designed around enduro mountain biking, they are long in the leg compared to some, so bear that in mind if you typically prefer shorter baggy shorts.
If you’re looking for a pair of baggies that you almost can’t feel you’re wearing, the 7mesh Slab are certainly worth consideration.
Last modified: 9th October 2020