Sweet Protection has been growing their biking apparel offerings for several years now, and this year they made some major updates to their Trail-oriented “Hunter” apparel lineup. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the all-new Hunter Shorts and Hunter Mid Gloves, so how do they compare to the many other offerings in their respective classes? Let’s check out the Hunter Shorts first:
Sweet Protection Hunter Shorts
Reviewer: 5’9” 160 lbs
Size Tested: Medium
- Two-way stretch panels
- Adjustable waist
- Articulated knees specifically designed for knee pads
- Thigh vent zip, with stretch mesh
- 2 Hip pockets, 2 Cargo pockets
Inseam: 16” / 40.6 cm
Test Locations: Montana; Colorado; British Columbia
Test Duration: ~20 days
I spent some time in Sweet Protection’s Hunter Enduro Shorts a couple years ago and liked them for shorter Trail rides or for more DH-oriented days, but I found them a bit too warm and long for normal Trail rides. Now that Sweet Protection has revised their short lineup, I’ve been riding in the “regular” Hunter Shorts. So are these new Hunter Shorts still best reserved for shorter, more downhill-oriented rides, or can they work as all-around shorts for a bit of everything?
Features and Construction
Like most of the Sweet Protection products I’ve used, the Hunter Shorts come in at a slightly higher price ($130) than many other similar options, but the Hunter Shorts have the quality to help back up that price. The Hunter Shorts seem like they’re constructed quite well, and the materials have that somewhat-difficult-to-describe feeling of quality. There’s a certain weight and stretchiness to the fabric that hits the perfect combination of (1) comfort — they’re not so stiff that they don’t pedal well, (2) fit — stiff enough to hang nicely and not bunch up, and (3) durability — heavy enough to take a beating without feeling like starched canvas.
The material on the Hunter shorts is DWR coated, so it repels water fairly well. I generally find that those coatings tend to last for about 20 washings before they begin to lose their effectiveness, and the Hunter Short’s DWR seems pretty average in this regard. But you can always re-apply a DWR coating to at least regain some of the water repellency.
The venting on the Hunter Shorts is accomplished by two zippered, mesh openings on the front of the shorts. These vents are pretty average for Trail-oriented shorts, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be blown away by the airflow they offer, but they do help a bit when it comes to breathability.
The Hunter Shorts have four pockets — two normal pockets on the hips, and two diagonal cargo pockets next to the vents. The cargo pockets are pretty handy and carry a phone or a bit of food nicely. I find the hip pockets to be too far forward, and anything I put in there kinda gets in the way of my pedaling movement — I wish the hip pockets were swung further around to the side.
Like many shorts these days, the Hunter Shorts’ waist can be adjusted via some velcro attached to an elastic on the waistband. Sweet Protection didn’t reinvent the wheel here, but the Hunter Shorts’ waist adjustment system is well executed and works nicely.
The Hunter Shorts don’t include a liner, although Sweet Protection does offer the Crossfire Bib and the Roller Short chamois. I haven’t tried either of those, so no comment there.
I’d say the Hunter Shorts fit true to size. At 5’9” 160 lbs, I always wear a Medium for shirts, pants, and shorts, and the size Medium Hunter Shorts fit me well with the shorts’ waist adjustment in the middle of its range. For reference, I usually wear a size 32” waist pant.
Lengthwise, the Hunter shorts have a 16” inseam, which falls just below my knee cap. The Hunter Shorts are articulated at the knee, which makes them hang a bit better while pedaling. With knee pads, the Hunter Shorts contour over the pad nicely while standing, but the articulated portion tends to get a little bunchy while pedaling with knee pads. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but the Hunter Shorts don’t work with knee pads quite as well as the Hunter Enduro shorts that are about 1” longer.
For being such seemingly simple things, there are a lot of shorts in my closet that have something that’s just not quite right. Their fit is weird, the material is cheap, the zippers are junk, or they have some other flaw that makes me hate them. And that’s not even getting into shorts that have some dumb color scheme that embarrasses me in front the Enduro-groms at the trailhead.
While I still have some minor gripes about the Sweet Protection Hunter shorts (particularly, the hip pockets), they’re in the top tier of my favorite shorts and I find myself reaching for them more often than any other short I own. The Hunter Shorts are built well, they ride well, and they look normal, which is pretty much all I can ask for out of a pair of shorts.
Sweet Protection Hunter Mid Gloves
Reviewer: 5’9”, 160 lbs
Size Tested: Medium
- Touch Screen compatible index finger and thumb
- Pre-curved fit
- Perforated fingers
- Silicone grip zones
- Terry cloth
Test Locations: Montana, Colorado, North Carolina
Test Duration: ~30 days
Sweet Protection’s Hunter Mid Gloves come in as a more “Trail”-oriented offering — they’re not padded, not particularly bulky, and they’re simple without feeling cheap. The palms are thin without feeling fragile, and they don’t have any extra material or seams to create pressure points or hot spots.
Features and Construction
The Hunter Mid Gloves get the sort of features that are somewhat standard these days; touch-screen-compatible finger and thumb, and some grippy silicone in the shifter / dropper post and brake-lever zones on the fingers.
The Hunter Mid’s cuff is elastic, and there’s no velcro anywhere on the glove. And the Hunter Mid’s cuff is the one spot where I have a minor critique — it’s a bit tight on my hands, although it did stretch out slightly after I’d used the gloves for a while.
The Hunter Mid’s breathability is at the good end of the spectrum for a full-fingered glove like this. The Hunter Mid doesn’t have mesh panels or anything elaborate like some of the super airy gloves on the market, but I don’t mind the breathability of the Hunter Mid, even in hot weather.
Fit and Sizing
The Hunter Mid Gloves fit slightly on the smaller side of average. In most gloves, I’m somewhere between a size Medium (9) and a size Large (10). I went with the size Medium Hunter Mid gloves, and I wished I’d gone with a size Large — the Medium is just a bit too tight overall. So if you think you’re between sizes, I’d recommend sizing up.
Regardless of sizing, the Hunter Mid’s cuff is fairly short, and this helps the glove feel a bit cooler than gloves with bigger, bulkier cuffs. The Hunter Mid’s fingers are also cut with a pre-shaped curve to them, which can feel a little funny off the bike, but feels great when they’re wrapped around a grip.
The Sweet Protection Hunter Mid gloves are pretty straightforward and somewhat minimalist, but they’re also very well made and comfortable. I’ve had plenty of gloves start to fall apart on me within a week or two, but the Hunter Mid Gloves are holding up nicely, even after wearing them for around 30 days of use, a number of crashes, and a bit of trailwork.
If you’re looking for some padded-out, bulky gloves for punching trees, the Hunter Mid gloves are not them. But for a solid, fairly breathable, comfortable glove for normal Trail riding, I’ve been fairly impressed with the Hunter Mid. And maybe more importantly, I think the quality of the Hunter Mid’s construction is higher than its price point would suggest.