If the Slab shorts from 7Mesh don’t look like much, that’s because they aren’t. At just 131 grams, these are some of the lightest, barely-there-feeling shorts I’ve ever worn, but they’ve still held up remarkably over the past season of riding.
The Slab’s simplistic feel is complemented by their minimalistic look, and matches the high-quality, low-profile design we’ve come to expect from the Squamish-based apparel brand. The silhouette has just one zippered side pocket, a basic locking waist adjuster, an integrated elastic waistband and a small reflective logo. The short’s taped seams compound their clean aesthetic. Finally, a 12.5-inch inseam means the length falls smack in the middle of my kneecaps (I’m 5-foot-7 for reference), so they are actually compatible with kneepads, unlike many women’s shorts that say they are, but aren’t really long enough if you’re on the tall side, causing an uncomfortable gap and a trip back to the Internet to re-start the search for the right pair of shorts. The Slab’s fit is slightly tapered, though, so they require a low-profile pad without much bulk so they don’t bunch up where the bottom of the short meets the pad.
With a fabric mix of 50 percent Nylon, 37 percent Polyester and 13% Elastane with DWR (though I haven’t worn them in the rain to see how the coating holds up, given I live somewhere with only a handful of wet days a year), 7Mesh played up the stretchiness factor, which compels the shorts to conform to your body as you move around the bike. With that, the fit slants more toward body-huggy than baggy, but not in a too-tight way. The lack of a traditional zipper and button style closure—just pull ‘em on and clasp the buckle—is a nice touch, and the waistband rests comfortably at my belly button.
There are no vents, no phone sleeves, no added sun protection, no belt loops and no real storage, but I haven’t missed any of that—months of riding the Slab have made me reconsider what I really need in a pair of shorts. It turns out, not much at all. The single pocket is big enough for a phone, if I’m just out for a quick one-hour lap and I don’t want to take a pack, and for longer rides, I tend to pair these with 7Mesh’s Foundation bib, which has two large rear storage pockets. The bib is another favorite, scoring big points in my personal long-running women’s bib-off for its airy, mesh fabric (the transparent mesh is definitely NSF Travis’ style of climbing), the cleverly named Pull2P design that allows for nature breaks without stripping down, and super-comfortable criss-cross straps and chamois. Both the shorts and the bib comes in five sizes—XS through XL—commendable but certainly not to level of commitment to a broad spectrum of size ranges women’s apparel brands like Machines For Freedom, Shredly and Wild Rye have made. Most of my riding is two- or three-hour jaunts from my house on trails I know well. If I was, say, an enduro racer, I might want something burlier to hold up to potential high-speed crashes, although, if that does happen while you’re wearing these, 7Mesh has a 30-day crash replacement policy, and also handles repairs in-house for a small fee.
At $130, the Slab Short is not a steal, but they do fall in line with trail shorts from other high-end apparel brands. You may not get multiple pockets, fancy four-way stretch fabric or a range of colors and patterns to choose from, but in the end, for me, simple really is better.
Photos: Anthony Smith