Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Short - Review

Oct 7, 2016
by Vernon Felton  
Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts

Ah, there's nothing like getting an hour into a ride and discovering that the rain has turned your Gucci-grade shorts into a very expensive wet diaper. Only a couple more hours of pedaling around in what feels like a soiled pair of Depends. Yay. Since my home is generally enveloped in a constant state of drizzle, I'm a fan of proper winterized gear. Bontrager's Evoke Stormshell shorts caught my eye because they're constructed of a three-layer waterproof-yet-breatheable material (Profila Stormshell) that you don't see on a whole lot of other shorts. Does it work? Does it hold up to loads of riding in the muck? Can I ride for hours in the rain without suffering the dread "monkey butt"? These were the questions that needed answering.

Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Short Details

• Sizes: XS, SM, M, L, XL, XXL
• Intended use: crap-weather riding
• Profila Stormshell waterproof fabric
• Velcro waist adjusters t
• Non-slip silicone waist print
• Two zippered hand pockets, one zippered hip pocket
• MSRP: $150 USD

Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts
Velcro tabs help you fine tune the fit and account for mid-Winter beer consumption.
Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts
Admittedly, a creepy photo, but the point that I'm trying to convey is that the shorts stay up, courtesy of two snaps and a Velcro closure.

The Basics

The thing you immediately notice about the Evokes is that they are relatively lightweight for a pair of waterproof shorts. Yes, they are burlier and heavier than anything you'll ever want to wear during the height of summer, but a lot of waterproof fabric has a heavy, unyielding feel that isn't a joy to pedal around in for hours. The Evokes are a departure in that respect. Bontrager offers the short in a huge range of sizes, so you shouldn't find yourself needing to do much in the way of adjusting the fit. That said, the shorts are also equipped with Velcro tabs on the outer waistband, which makes it easy to account for mid-Winter sloth and weight gain. Bontrager also adds a bit of silicone printing on the inside of the waistband to keep the shorts from slipping down mid-ride.

Some shorts are shy on pocket real estate, but Bontrager equipped the Evoke with three fair-sized pockets. All of them have zippers and the zippers of the sealed variety. If you lose your phone or wallet, that's all on you, buddy. The pockets are made of mesh, so you'll want to store car keys somewhere else.

Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts
If you lose your multi-tool, it's not Bontrager's fault. The Evoke features three zippered/weather sealed pockets.
Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts
If you have a thing about water spraying up your shorts, you can minimize the phobia with these handy Velcro adjusters.

On Trail

The Stormshell fabric is more akin to a heavy duty soft-shell material. It's more pliable and a good deal more comfortable than what I'm used to in a winter short. Bontrager claims that the fabric is both waterproof and breathable. I can't honestly say much about breathability here - when I'm riding hard, my junk always feels like its off trekking by itself in depths of the Amazon rainforest. That said, the Evoke's felt no, er, stuffier in the crotch area than a typical pair of summer shorts while riding in winter conditions. The upside is that, unlike a pair of summer shorts, the Evoke keeps your legs and back half much drier than they'd be if you were pedaling about in a lightweight, summer short.

In short, after having spent much of last winter and all of a wet spring in these shorts, I can say that, yes, they keep you dry. Water beads nicely off the outers, and thanks to taped seams, water doesn't work its way into the short either, your chamois stays much drier and there's no chapping of your back flaps. Most waterproof shorts are sort of...loud. The swish-swish-swish sound of the fabric is fairly muted with the Evokes, but, yeah, it's still noticeable on those long fire road climbs when your puttering about in the pain cave and more likely to observe subtle things like the sound your shorts make. Once I hit the singletrack, I never noticed it.

I had no problem with the fit. The Evokes are of the "semi fitted" species--in that twilight zone between form fitting and dirt-jump baggy. The overall fit is comfortable. As for a chamois, you're on your own. Something I have no problem with (these are really winter over shorts), but if you are looking at the price tag and expecting a chamois in the bargain, it's worth noting. The inseam is fairly generous--long enough that I wasn't stuck with gaper gap when running knee pads, which is kind of all I care about when it comes to inseam length.

Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Shorts

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWater-proof, winter shorts aren't famous for being comfortable. In that respect, the Bontrager Evoke Stormshell shorts defy convention. They're never going to feel like the silken pajama, lightweight summer shorts in your dresser drawer, but they also don't feel like the garden-variety, cardboard-stiff winter shorts. Yeah, they work. These shorts are not cheap, but high-tech fabric and solid execution always exact their price. If you ride in the rain, they're a solid choice. - Vernon Felton


  • + 46
 A note on the side, I'm not sure the "dirt jump baggy" applies anymore... Last time I checked a DJ or slopestyle video, they were all in suuuper extra tight jeans
  • - 18
flag cuban-b (Oct 7, 2016 at 12:06) (Below Threshold)
 That observation seems very shortsighted.
  • + 4
 Felt like a "Didn't read the article. Just came to bitch about the price!" Comment wasn't left high enough in the comments so I leaving one
  • + 17
 You can get a box of water tight diapers for $30. Keeps moisture in and out.
  • - 9
flag Wesley-Swipes (Oct 7, 2016 at 14:07) (Below Threshold)
 If that's what you're into more power to you. I think I might sit that out.
  • + 17

Don't be a party pooper, Wesley wipes
  • + 16
 You had me at black.
  • + 47
 And then lost me at $150
  • + 5
 Ok Vernon, you are a literary master. I wish I didn't have the image from your statement:

"when I'm riding hard, my junk always feels like its off trekking by itself in depths of the Amazon rainforest"

Thanks for making my Thanksgiving weekend uncomfortable.
  • + 2
 I have been selling Oneal products. .. they have a model with basically all the same features and you can zipper them into a full length pant leg for cold weather. Super tough fabric too. One my favorite pairs of riding shorts enough though technically they're motoX
  • + 4
 What are the name of the Oneal shorts you're referring to?
  • + 4

I can get ya a pair if you want.

I really like them... using them for bike summer and winter -- use them for snow sports too... I dont have a motorcycle or motoX bike but, if I did, I'd wear em for that too
  • + 0

Curious, the Apocalypse pant that you provided a link to, there is no information as to them being totally waterproof, as does the Bontrager Short.

Are they 100% waterproof? If so, why no info on such?
  • - 4
flag atrokz (Oct 8, 2016 at 7:42) (Below Threshold)
 @johnnygolucky: the bontrager shorts arenr actually waterproof. Thats a huge misnomer. They are water resistant but once the dwr layer wears off they wont resist shit. It isnt goretex or the like. You can apply a dwr coating to those pants and enjoy the same benefits.
  • + 7

So you're saying that the "Profila Stormshell Waterproof Fabric" isn't waterproof? And that the writer who wrote "I spent the winter and spring riding and indeed they are waterproof" is actually lying?
  • + 1
 I couldn't find tons of info on these but ordered a pair last weekend after getting stuck outside in the muck on a wetter than predicted day. I'm glad to see a good review of them.
I don't like the feeling of a soaked chamois but other than that part most summer shorts dry quickly enough in the heat that it doesn't bother me but in the 60 degree temps I was miserable by the time I was done. $150 seems pricey but for waterproof shorts it's not horrible if they actually last and are comfortable. Basically buying two pairs of Endura's or similar but hopefully staying dry.
  • + 4
 I just chuck some stans milk on my shorts, job done
  • + 2
 just bought a pair, for 100 GBP off triton cycles... sick to death of a cold wet arse when out in winter night riding. Hope they are up to it... time will tell..
  • + 1
 Those are very nice. My favourite memory was sitting in a creek after a long day riding, and damaging my wallet, and wrecking my cell phone, so those are practically perfect.
  • + 1
 I own the Scott Grenade Pro Knee Guards. Worth every penny. As for the shorts....Not so sure.
  • + 1
 What about for those of us with rain in the summer and dry winters. Are these too hot for summer riding?
  • + 2
 Winter shorts?
Yeah there called pants.
  • + 2
 Any comparison to race face agent shorts?
  • + 1
 Might as well be gator skin
  • - 1
Nema, Quicksilver, and UnderArmor shorts ..comfy, dry really quick, and hold up to abuse well.....$35-40...all day long.
  • + 0
 If they came w zip off pants legs that would be everything I wanted in new Shorts
  • + 1
 They do look pretty sweet though. Although my wallet disagrees.
  • + 1
 Love my evoke stormshells! Keeps me dry when it's too wet outside
  • + 0
 Seams like a good product. Bit pricey for people short on cash.
  • - 2
 Right?! Almost 200$ for shorts and they are calling other shorts Gucci?
  • - 1
 Have to agree on the seems like a good product, as well.
  • - 2

Totally agree. I can justify dropping that price on bike parts and tires, but on shorts? Still riding in cheap shorts from department stores with no complaints.
  • + 4
 These shorts have great features, so I wouldn't sell these shorts short.
  • + 3
 @JacobSpera: It's cause you don't live in the Pacific Northwest. Waterproof shorts make riding here a 10-12 month activity. A few years ago I dropped the $$ on a great waterproof riding jacket, waterproof shorts, and winter waterproof riding shoes. It makes riding in the cold and the rain much more fun.
  • - 1
 @jerlatham: you guys up north do get slammed with weather.
  • + 3
 And really, $150 for a decent set of shorts is a pretty good deal if you compare that to technical ski gear. It's amazing how cheap mountain bikers are when it comes to gear considering what we spend on bikes...

Most of my decent shorts have lasted me 4-5 years, if not more. On that timescale, and if you ride a lot in shitty weather, $150 is a great deal to stay warm and keep getting out there.

Heck, I'm seriously considering dropping $270 on a set of 7mesh shorts right now.
  • + 1
 @delusional: I just saw a pair of the 7mesh in the shop the other day. They are the nicest bad weather shorts I've ever seen! When the Endura waterproofs that I have die, the 7mesh will be at the top of the list!
  • - 2
 i don't mind the swish sound my cordura shorts make. Vernon can let us know how the Evoke fabric lholds up to deadwood snags.
  • - 2
 150...? Haha, thanks but no thanks.
  • - 2
 There's a seria comment negger on the loose lol

Nice shorts though.
  • + 2
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