These are pants – but they're not just any pants. These are luxuriously comfortable, silkily soft Gore Base Layer Lady Shorty+ padded cycle pants... All right, enough of that. Suffice to say they're a quality, if rather pricey, pair of cushioned kecks for women who prefer the discreetness of padded underwear to the overtness of Lycra shorts. They're ideal for commuting and short to medium length leisure rides.
Their snug girl-boxer cut means you can wear them underneath close-fitting shorts or trousers without the dreaded VPL. Under most clothing there is no hint of a nappy lurking beneath, although, while the pad profile is fairly slim, it's still big enough to show through if you're wearing body-hugging bottoms, and if these are made from thin material as well, then you can see the pants' vertical seams up each cheek.
Gore says the Contest women's triple-density seat insert is specifically designed to provide maximum protection and give support on the main pressure points when riding in a more upright, recreational bike position, with your bodyweight shifted backwards. It claims it's good for rides of up to two hours and I'd endorse this – the generous padding under the sit bones makes it feel like you're perched on a sofa on short jaunts, and it keeps on cushioning during longer stints in the saddle. If you do need to move forwards onto the nose to tackle a steep incline, the chamois makes this much more comfy.
As you'd expect from Gore, the Shorty+ is well constructed with obvious attention to detail, which all goes towards its comfort and performance. The inch-wide elastic waistband is super-stretchy and brushed on the inside, making it feel nice and soft against the skin. It's cut to sit below the belly button at the front, which I prefer to a high waist, and rises up at the back of the waist to prevent draughts (and risk of builder's bum) when you're leant forward on the bike.
Despite no fewer than 13 separate panels, I was never aware of any of the seams. The microfibre material is a fine mesh, a bit like 60 denier tights, but with lots of give. It's soft to the touch and breathability is good. The legs were a little longer than I expected from the photo on Gore's website, with a 4in inseam, which I liked – long enough to not roll up like shorter legs can.
I would happily wear these year round, but for a fiver more Gore has a Windstopper version specifically for cold weather riding. They're virtually identical except that the front panel is constructed from Gore's Windstopper fabric. Both models are also available in grey and black, and in six sizes from XS to XXL. Because they're so stretchy I'd advise going down rather than up if you're unsure of size.
Quality padded 'boy short' style underwear ideal for more recreational outings
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Base Layer Lady Shorty+
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Gore says: "This shorty with the high-quality stretch seat padding offers a comfortable ride over short and medium distances."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
91% POLYPROPYLENE, 9% ELASTANE
CONTEST WOMEN seat insert
Soft elastic waistband, brushed on the inside
Thin and soft fabric
If between sizes, size down as they're very stretchy.
About what you'd expect for good quality padded briefs, though you can get cheaper.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 30.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – provided plenty of comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfy cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are a solid 8, very good, though near the top end on price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax