People with different body types tend to have different opinions on the same clothes. The principle is especially true when it comes to activewear — who could forget the butt-scrunching leggings that polarized a nation? Needless to say, when I decided to review a pair of Outdoor Voices’ Instagram-famous bike shorts, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. You, dear reader, deserve perspectives ranging from petite to tall to curvy and everything in between. Today, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Below, 11 InStyle shopping writers review their preferred shorts from Outdoor Voices. Some have been wearing them for the duration of the pandemic, while others tested theirs for the very first time this month. Their words capture the good, the bad, and the ugly of the experience. Each blurb is supplemented with the wearer’s height and shorts size for context, plus a selfie because we’re feeling generous.
Of course, not every body type under the sun is featured in this roundup, but we did our best to include a diverse range of viewpoints. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about wearing the internet’s favorite workout shorts IRL.
A few weeks ago, I slipped on these eccentric shorts for the first time and was immediately impressed by their comfort level. I had some minor camel toe happening, but nothing about them felt restrictive, which was a breath of fresh air for someone so used to bike shorts that feel like shapewear. They proceeded to take me through the most intense HIIT workout of my life without any rolling, bunching, or inner thigh chafing. Though it was a humid 90 degrees that day, their fairly thick material remained surprisingly moisture-wicking and breathable. Since then, I’ve worn them as often as I can, and I’m the best-dressed person everywhere I go.
I wore these shorts lounging around the house and under a dress on a hot NYC day. If you’re looking for a thicker pair of biker shorts that are super comfy, you’ll probably love this option. They kept me dry and I even forgot I was wearing them at one point — I could actually go to sleep in them if I wanted to. Since they’re a little thicker I chose to size up, and they fit perfectly. My least favorite part about them is that there’s a drawstring on the inside of the waistband that bunches up, so you can see the outline. If I got them again, I probably wouldn’t choose white, just because they’re a bit see-through with darker underwear, and seams are a lot more noticeable.
I wore the Flex shorts for an outdoor comedy show I was in, and they felt great! Thick enough to stand up to my thighs rubbing together and with more durable fabric than cheaper pairs, but not anaconda-squeezing-me-to-death compressive. I was sweating buckets through the night, and didn’t detect any dampness until I took them off. Con-wise, I wish they offered extended sizing across all styles, not just a select few. I wanted to try the very cute, colorblocked Warmup 5″ Short, but it wasn’t in the cards.
Upon first wearing these biker shorts, I was a little apprehensive that they might be too tight. Their thicker weight offered little stretch, and though I probably would’ve been slightly more comfortable in a larger size — especially for lazy at-home wear — I actually appreciated the extra secureness and compression that they offered for exercise. I’m big on long outdoor walks and at no point during my usual route did they cut into me or ride up. I was able to store just enough in the center waistband pocket for a morning stroll in the park. They’re long enough to prevent inner thigh chafing and irritation, but short enough to candidly wear under a skirt. I would’ve personally preferred a more seamless silhouette for versatility. These look like the type of shorts you’d actually wear on a bike — not at all like a sleek Kardashian-inspired pair you’d wear with a sheer bodysuit and clear heels.
I wore these biker shorts to my first visit back to a fitness studio I frequented before the pandemic called The Fhitting Room. It’s a high-intensity interval workout with a lot of moving around, and the shorts stayed put the entire time. They’re thicker than other biker shorts I’ve tried, so there was no need to worry about them appearing see-through while I was squatting and bending over for kettlebell swings. Even the hem remained in place rather than rolling up throughout the variety of exercises. And despite how much I sweat during the class, the shorts didn’t show it in the slightest.
I’m the person that wears jeans even in the sweltering heat, so I wasn’t sure I was into the whole bike shorts trend. But when a pair from Outdoor Voices arrived on my doorstep just days before quarantine, I figured I’d give them a shot — and I’m so happy I did! The Move Free shorts are so smooth against my skin and the fabric keeps me nice and cool during workouts. I love that they have a thick waistband that doesn’t feel restrictive like some other leggings I own. Mine have a 3.5-inch seam, which feels a tad on the shorter side for me, so I mostly wear them at home. I will say, they roll up on my legs a bit during more intense workouts, like HIIT, but I don’t think there’s a short in the world that doesn’t.
I’m the type of person where if I don’t do rigorous activity, then my biker shorts aren’t dirty and I’ll wear them again without washing. Usually they stretch out and lose their shape after day two, but not the Flow 7″ Shorts from Outdoor Voices — they stayed as good as new! On the last day I really put them to the test by doing a Peloton cycling class and thankfully, the high waistband didn’t roll over. The fabric is incredibly soft, stretchy, and is flattering to my figure, so I think I’ve found my new favorite biker shorts.
OV’s TechSweat leggings were my first-ever purchase from the brand, so I decided on trying its shorts in the same material since the flexible fabric holds a special place in my heart. After wearing them to bed and then to a heated vinyasa yoga class the next day, I can confirm they’re just as breathable as they are comfortable. That said, compared to my other bike shorts, the 3.5″ inseam felt really short, and it was a bit of a shock to adjust from the lack of holds-you-in-compression my usual bike shorts offer. All in all, I really loved the way they felt and will be keeping them in my rotation.