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
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.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.Pinkbike's Take:
|Water-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|