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Gear Review: Oakley Ballistic 3.7 shorts
By Rob Manning

Baggy Love

Pricey, but one of the best baggies on the market.

When you hear the name Oakley, you instantly think of glasses and goggles, but there is a lot more than that to the Oakley lineup. Surfing, Mountain Biking and winter sports are just a few of the market segments that Oakley claims, and they do it in style and comfort.

Iíve spent the past few months with my butt firmly planted in Oakleyís Ballistic 3.7 baggy shorts, and I have to say theyíve impressed me enough to move them up to the top of my pile of shorts. Oakley has spent a lot of time researching and polling riders as to their likes and dislikes when it comes to riding gear and it definitely shows. On paper, the 3.7s feature a removable mesh liner with a multi-thickness stretch chamois. There are a couple of huge zippered cargo pockets and some nifty zippered, mesh backed vents to keep things cool in the heat of the summer. Closure is handled by double snaps, an adjustable internal elastic waist band and a stretch fly. Rubberized strips inside the waistband of the shorts keep them where they need to be when youíre moving around and the 13Ē inseam is just enough to cover the knees and offer a little bit more protection than your average shorts.

So they look good on paper, the real question is how well do they wear? The short answer is ďawesome.Ē This is one of the few pair of shorts that Iíve owned that was made by a company that ďgets itĒ and knows what horrors baggy shorts can face. The chamois is comfortable and supportive, but not overly thick or bulky and that makes a big deal when it comes to long days in the saddle. I also had zero problems with the liner sliding down as I sweated or moved around, which is something I canít say for most shorts. The liner is removable and fastened into the outer shell by way of buttons: not snaps, but actual buttons that you would expect to see on a button down shirt. This is the first time Iíve seen this and I have to say itís one of the highlights of these shorts. No longer do you have to worry about ripping little snaps out of the liner or shell, and these actually hold the two pieces together comfortably (and adjustably as well). Imagine that! And of course, an additional plus is that should you rip one of those buttons off, you can always just sew another one on.

Movement in the shorts was very comfortable and unrestricted. I did find that the length of the shorts was just enough so that it would bunch up over knee/shin armor, but Iíve never seen any shorts (with the exception of downhilling gear) that didnít do that, so I canít really fault the length. I was, in fact, very pleased with the length, especially when I wasnít wearing armor. That extra couple of inches on the legs has saved my flesh from countless thorn bushes and other trail detritus.

In terms of fashion, there are two colors to choose from: khaki and black. Opinions were mixed between which of the two looked better, but as always, personal opinion about color varies widely from rider to rider. Iím not obsessed enough to match my shorts to my bike, so color isnít really an issue. Each color looks cool on the trail and they each function just as well as the other. When you sum it up, Oakley has done their homework and produced an excellent product. The only complaint I have is the price. $120 is a little steep for a single pair of shorts, but you really do get what you pay for, and in this case, itís certainly worth it.

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