Review: Sweaty Betty Padded Touring Pants
Women’s padded cycling pants are somewhat divisive. I’ve seen grown women take to Twitter to loudly complain that they’re stupid, telling anyone who’ll listen that they’re perfectly happy riding to the shops without padding. Either that or they don’t see what’s wrong with wearing cycling shorts as an outer layer.
But here’s the thing – cyclists come in all guises, and I’d say you should wear what you damn well please, whether it’s what makes you comfortable, what makes you feel pretty, or something that makes you feel fast and powerful. So if you’re happy with your regular underwear on a bike, that’s fine, and good for you.
Some women like a little padding to keep them comfortable in the saddle but still want to wear their regular clothing rather than dressing up to go cycling, so that’s where padded cycling pants like these come in. I’ve actually tried some before, but goddam they were awful – so ugly and nappy like that they reminded me of hospital knickers or something.
Mercifully, Sweaty Betty’s Touring Padded Cycling pants are nothing like that. They’re a flattering shape that comes up high at the back for full coverage and are cut low on the legs, which looks cute. Unfortunately I did find the leg holes a little bit on the tight side on my Size Smalls, but if I were to go up a size then the pants would be too big in other areas as this pair are a good fit around the torso and bottom. Maybe they’d work better if they were cut more like ‘boy shorts.’ Or maybe you just need legs like twiglets.
The fabric is soft, stretchy, cool and quick drying, and a mesh panel at the rear helps breathability in the small of the back. The pad itself is thinner than you’d find in most ‘proper’ cycling shorts, but I think that suits the design and intent of these pants. It’s more than adequate for for light riding on short commutes or at spinning class and as the pad is bonded to the fabric rather than sewn, there are seams that might chafe. I found they became more comfortable after a couple of washes, as they seemed to soften up a bit.
The verdict? A good choice for a little extra comfort when you’re in your civvies, just double check the sizing.