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August 5, 2010

GoLite Mesa Trail Shorts Review

An administrative reminder before today’s post: you’ve got one more day to leave a monkey-themed comment on my Monkey Shake post for a chance to win a free six-pack of shake mix. So far the volume of entries isn’t overwhelming, but the quality is pretty impressive – so bring your A game to the comments box. Yes, that’s a challenge.

As for today’s review, let’s begin with a question. How do you like your trail shorts: long or longer? No matter what your answer, GoLite has the ideal shorts for your preference in its Mesa Trail line, available in either 7” or 9” inseam lengths. (If your answer to the question was “none of the above”, they also have a 5” inseam version, but that’s a situation that taller guys – like, um, me - might find a little too revealing for their comfort.)

I’ve been testing both the 7” and 9” versions for a couple of months now, and I’m really happy with both of them, but for slightly different reasons. I’ll start with the 9” version, which was something of a pleasant surprise for me.

GoLite 9" Mesa Trail shorts

Although I tend to like my shorts a bit long, at first glance the 9” Mesa Trails felt a bit excessive, like I could pair them with a backwards ball cap to audition for a rap video. Another oddity was the liner, which goes a few inches down the thigh like a pair of boxer briefs instead of a traditional brief fit. I started by wearing them only for short distance runs, but soon found they were quite comfortable for longer distances as well.

The external panels are made of DriMove Lite fabric, which is quite thin and provides very effective moisture transfer and ventilation, and the internal brief features GoLite’s awesome Minerale, a microporous fabric derived from natural fibers that has outstanding moisture-wicking and odor control properties. The longer liner does a great job of preventing skin contact (thereby decreasing friction and chafing) in the upper thigh area, and is thin enough that it doesn’t feel bulky, with just enough compression to stay in place fairly well over a run of 2-3 hours.

Despite the dimensions of these shorts, they are fairly lightweight at 146g – just marginally heavier than the 7” version – and surprisingly comfortable. Between the increased thigh coverage and the extended brief liner, they ride slightly warmer than traditional running shorts, but not nearly as much as you'd think. I suspect I’ll be wearing these even more as the weather turns cooler in the fall, serving a similar purpose (from a warmth standpoint, not necessarily muscle performance) as a good pair of compression shorts.

Other nice features on the 9” shorts include a brushed comfort waistband, external waist drawstring, and a zippered hip pocket that’s big enough for a cell phone or mp3. The longer styling of these also makes them well-suited for hiking or for lounging around post-workout if you don’t have time to change into regular clothes.

Contrary to my first impressions of the 9” short, I knew right away that I’d like the 7” Mesa Trail shorts. The inseam length is right in my wheelhouse, the styling is fairly sharp, and the fit is super comfortable as soon as you slip them on. GoLite calls these the “ultimate training short”, and they’ve become my favorite shorts for long outings this summer, including the night I paced Gretchen at the TRT 100.

GoLite 7" Mesa Trail shorts

The 7” shorts have a classic brief liner with the same Minerale fabric as the 9” model, with the same DriMove external panels and brushed comfort waistband. They add two front pockets along with the zippered rear pocket, and have an internal drawstring. Overall weight is 140g, and these shorts ride very light and comfortably, even with my longest-distance runs.

This summer, the 7" Mesa Trails have steadily become my favorite everyday shorts, and I’ve found them durable enough to handle the longest days and nights I've thrown at them. More recently, I spent the past few weeks trying to find something to nitpick about these, but I honestly can’t think of anything. Sometimes the gear is just that good.

GoLite’s 9” Mesa Trail shorts retail for $45 from the GoLite website, and the 7” version sells for $40.

*Products provided by GoLite
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at info@runningandrambling.com.


Stacy 8/6/10, 8:17 AM  

I had mixed results with the previous generation GoLite shorts. I liked nearly everything about them, but the shell material was kind of static-y/clingy. Sounds like that issue -- assuming it wasn't just me -- is long gone. Thanks for the knowledge!

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