Haglofs Ardent Shorts
By Colin Dennis
Haglofs Ardent Shorts are super-tough, comfortable and beautifully constructed All-Mountain Shorts that’ll stretch your wallet for sure, but provide you with acres of unrestricted movement and protection from the elements – no matter how gnarly the trails get.
Never Heard of Haglofs? Well, Haglofs are a Swedish outdoor clothing company that’s been kitting out hardy mountaineering types since Victor Haglof stitched together his first rucksack back in 1914; and like Abba is to pop music, Saab is to fighter jets and sturdy cars, Haglofs are a seriously big player in the Scandinavian outdoor market – but unlike Abba, they know a thing or two about clothing and dress sense.
Mountain biking in Scandinavia is big business and they’re ardently passionate about their sport; let’s face it, they’ve got the hills and the space. Scandinavia is pretty uncompromising when it comes to terrain, weather and trails; and like I said, it’s full of mountains – big, unforgiving mountains, plus there are the seemingly endless tracts of forestry and wild, open plateaus, all which are capable of reducing you to tears, both in their stark beauty and their toughness. There’s also the underlying fact that with hardly a soul living in the hinterland you need kit and equipment that isn’t going to let you down.
This brings us to Haglofs foray into mountain biking apparel and the wonderfully constructed Ardent Shorts. The first thing you have to understand is that Haglofs don’t do anything by halves, not necessarily over engineered or anything, but the thought process, design, materials, and most definitely the construction quality, are as good as you will find anywhere – which is reflected in the price.
What materials are involved?
Haglofs use their proprietary FlexAble fabric throughout the construction of the Ardent Shorts, but then they back-up the seat and inside leg areas with laminated Soft Shell panels for further protection from the mud and grit.
As mentioned earlier, the Ardent Shorts are super stretchy thanks’ to the FlexAble fabric used so there is no pull against your legs when pedalling hard, this makes them extremely comfortable when riding; especially as these shorts are over-shorts and so a normal pair of lycra or liner shorts are required for practical purposes and padding.
Plenty of neat features are included with the Ardent Shorts: the flat, high rear element of the waistband offers a degree of added comfort and security to you back; which is really nice, and it certainly aids the shorts to remain where they should be – around your waist – and not hanging halfway down your backside.
Velcro side pull tabs add further adjustment and security while the fly zip is backed up by a wind baffle. Although the Ardent Shorts aren’t waterproof, they are given a full Durable Water Repellent coating (DWR) and in conjunction with a tight fabric weave, they really do offer a great deal of protection from the elements; and with several wet weekends on Exmoor behind them they’ve become a welcome addition to my ever-increasing armoury of all-mountain clothing.
Weighing in at well under 1lb (370g) for a size L the Ardent Shorts aren’t much to carry and when rolled up tight, don’t take up much room in your weekend bag either. They dry extremely quickly too, which is great should the need arise to rinse them out overnight in either barn, Bothy or B&B.
One of the nicest features on the Ardent Shorts is the meshed zippered vents that run all the way across both thighs; this was a real boon when climbing and helped keep the legs from burning out too soon – to be honest I found it quite refreshing having the wind whistle through your shorts when the temperature’s up regardless of whether you’re riding up or down the hill.
The two-way zips on the vents never faltered in any situation, their action was reassuringly smooth for a stress-free operation; just what you need when the sweat is running down your back and dripping off your nose.
So what were they like in action then?
In a word (or two) very comfortable; probably the most comfortable over-shorts I’ve ever worn. Even when dropping way back off the saddle there’s endless amounts of give in them.You really can push yourself to the limits without wondering if your kit is going to restrict you’re ability. Bags of confidence too, they are such a good fit around the waist, especially at the back where the deep waistband feels like a mini back support – which it’s not, of course.
A further bye-product of the high waistband is that it helps keep the lower back warm and prevents your base layer from riding up too much – neat!
The two bellowed zippered thigh pockets opened and closed smoothly enough and look to be able to hold plenty of loose change and other valuable items – like jelly babies. I tend not to carry anything more than paper spending notes (waterproofed of course) in side pockets though; things rattle and feel cumbersome to me in external pockets and therefore I tend to stash everything away into my backpack where it won’t annoy me.
The pre-shaped knees of the Ardent Shorts are knee-pad friendly, where again the stretchy FlexAble fabric proved to be tough but unobtrusive when fitting around knee-pads.
Endless amounts of river and stream crossings, steep climbs and rocky descents on two very wet weekend visits to Exmoor (Flora’s Ride and Horner Woods in general are still the best playground) were the perfect test ground for the Ardent Shorts where they came up trumps every time.
One little point that might be explored though is that when riding normal cross-country routes (pads not required etc.) I felt that the hems could be tucked away, a Velcro tab on each hem would have been handy just to slim the knee area down a notch or two; but this never hindered my riding in anyway – just an observation really, and it might make the Ardent Shorts more appealing to cross-country riders.
Tough as old boots, super-stylish, quick drying, and incredibly comfortable and supportive; build quality cannot be faulted – also available in black.
Some kind of Velcro adjustment combined with a soft-dart insert would be useful to stop the hems billowing when not using knee-pads.
£125 without a liner – eek!
UK office: 01539 822595
What the Manufacturers say
The Ardent shorts are made of a hardwearing material with laminated Soft Shell rear panels for weather and mud protection and S – shaped construction for better articulation when biking.
FlexAble™ fabric provides the optimum balance of wind and water resistance together with excellent breathability
Laminated Soft Shell rear panels for weather and mud protection
DWR treated surfaces
Gusseted crotch offset side and inner leg seams for a chafe-free comfortable fit
Comfortable flat waist band with integrated Velcro waist adjustment
Zippered fly with rear wind baffle and hook plus closure
Raised rear elasticated waist panels
2 long length leg zips for ventilation
2 bellowed zippered thigh pockets
Pre-bent knees with space for knee protection pads if needed
2 bellowed zippered thigh pockets
Reflective detailing front and rear