Mission Workshop lands a home run with the Traverse XC shorts…
Words: Toni Walbridge
Photos: Misti Walbridge
There are no shortage of mountain biking shorts on the market these days. Your favorite well stocked LBS or online retailer will no doubt have an overwhelming number of brands and styles to choose from. Finding a pair that stand out, are constructed to last, and in a shape that actually works for riding a bike, is not so easy. Mission Workshop really impressed me with their incredibly well designed Meridian Alpine jacket so I expected good things out of these shorts. They did not disappoint.
There are two versions of the Traverse short, the original all-mountain short and the “XC” version we’ve reviewed here. They are cut to fall to the top of the knee with just a little extra fabric around the thigh to keep them on the loose (but not actually baggy) side of the fit spectrum. They are constructed of water repellent, moisture wicking, 4-way stretch fabric. These shorts are both minimalist and feature rich at the same time. You could throw these shorts on for anything from an XC race to full on Enduro rallying and they prefect for a post-ride swim or beer (or both!). I’d choose something a little more heavy-duty for regular bike park riding but these shorts cover the rest of the riding spectrum.
The Traverse falls just over the top of my IXS Flow Evo+ knee pads perfectly without hanging up. I was stoked to find a trim pair of shorts for long days in the saddle that fit over pads and are long enough to avoid the dreaded gaper gap. After a nasty crash on an XC ride landed me in emergency surgery a few years back, I don’t often ride without knee pads these days. If you want to see what can happen when you kiss a sharp rock at speed with no pads, click here (warning graphic!). Now you understand why I’m making such a big deal of how well these shorts work with pads. I’m standing at the top of a 2800′ vertical climb on a warm day below and feeling pretty happy to have a light weight kit with all the protection I need. Winning!
The closure system consists of 2 Prym snaps and a YKK zipper on the front. Cheap snaps that come undone while riding piss me off. The Traverse XC shorts never pissed me off. Though it’s the waist adjustment system that’s arguably more interesting. Mission Workshop reckons the Traverse runs a bit small (this is true for the original and the XC) so I ordered a 33 instead of my usual size 32. Turns out they actually seem to run pretty true to size at the waist. Adjustment is handled via an integrated waist belt that wraps all the way around, wider at your low back for max grip and narrow at the sides and front to avoid binding. A simple metal slip lock buckle at the right side lets you crank down the waist as much as needed. This is one of the better waist adjustment systems I’ve had the pleasure of using. No janky velcro to wear out, no plastic, comfortable, stays put, and looks like it will last forever. Moar Winning!
Pockets on the Traverse XC consist of one on each side, positioned mid thigh and slightly rearward. Both are the same size, YKK zippered, and big enough to swallow any normal sized phone without being so big that stuff flops around all over the place. Nothing pisses me off like shit bouncing all over the place in my shorts but then I’m always loading them up so I can skip the pack. The Traverse XC have plenty of room for everything I really need to carry with easy access and hold it all in place. Even Moar Winning!
What’s not to like? I’d complain that I’d like a little more girth in the legs to better cover bulkier pads, but that’s the domain of the Traverse all-mountain shorts. My outgoing Dainese Trailskin 2 pads were just slightly bulkier and the shorts did hang up on them so keep that in mind. If you’re the same waist size as me with long femurs, you might get some pad gap in the Traverse XC but then you could opt for the original version that’s a little longer in the inseam. I suppose the price at $160 will be a turn off for some. Considering they are made in the USA of nothing but top shelf materials, carry a lifetime guarantee, and are among the most comfortable and best performing warm weather shorts I’ve ridden in, I think the cost is justified if you have the means. I feel like these are a good example of you get what you pay for. After 3 months of wearing them a couple times a week on average, they still look new. I’ve raced in them, crashed in them, covered them in mud, and generally abused them and I don’t find so much as a loose stitch anywhere on them. Quite simply, if these shorts fit you, there’s pretty much zero chance you’ll be disappointed. Mission Workshop has knocked it out of the park with the Traverse XC.