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Editing note: It’s now been over a year with wearing the shorts every day. Except, not always for the full day. Through the winter, I did put on pants a few times, I skied almost 20 days, and I’ve started to experiment with other undergarment arrangements as I am becoming more of a serious cyclist. Everything below holds true, but I’m not enough of a weirdo to actually try to extend a pure streak here.
I woke up today and realized that I’ve worn no base layer other than Birddogs shorts for the last six months. No underwear, no swimsuits, no other types of lined shorts. I haven’t worn pants a single time. Now, the pants thing is mostly due to the fact that I’ve been working from home for quite a long time now and that I generally hate wearing pants. But, just Birddogs? While somewhat unintentional, my dedication now merits a blog post.
First of all, just to squash the “no pants” thing. I hate wearing pants and, even back in March 2020, it was pretty warm, so I never felt like I needed them. As time goes on, restaurants start opening, and I head into the winter months, there is no chance that Birddogs will continue to get 100% waist time. The next question is, inevitably, how many pairs of Birddogs do I own? Probably about 8. I can cycle them through the week quite easily.
Usually posts like this “I did X for Y months” are about conquering something or integrating a routine that could be considered a true accomplishment. This title is mostly a caricature of such posts. All I did was put on a pair of shorts that are objectively more comfortable than what 95% of other people are wearing. Easy choice. It’s almost braggadocious.
I’ll use this article to provide specifics about what I use the shorts for and my neurotic evaluation of their functionality.
I’m into endurance sports. In an average week, I spend between 2-3 hours running outdoors and 2-3 hours cycling indoors. When it comes to lifting weights, I perform disjointed circuits throughout the day. Between all of these main activies, I spent a large portion of the day with an elevated heartrate and performing activities that benefit from athleticwear.
Depending on where I am and what the amenities are like, I swim and hit a driving range once or twice per week. In the winter, I try to ski for about 12 days. I do not hike; I trail run.
I spend a minimum of 9 hours each day sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen. On average, this number is closer to 12 hours.
I am lanky, 151lb at 6’0″ with a 29″ waist. I would describe my legs and posterior as very lean. My physique contains a lot of sharp angles, I’m in that rare class of athlete where my body can probably be described as a “fighter jet” without that being an objective compliment.
My clothing rotation can be abnormal. Because the majority of my active time is spent lifting weights or riding on an indoor bike in front of a powerful fan, clothing that wicks moisture properly often gets reused. Unless I’m drenched with sweat, I get a lot of wear out of shirts and surprising mileage out of dri-fit shocks and athletic shorts. Often times, “getting ready” to go out means scrubbing my body of dried sweat and dead skin, since the fan and high-tech clothing greatly speed evaporation.
Cycling / Rowing Machine / *The Gym*
These first two activities are basically the same when it comes to evaluating apparel. You’re performing slightly unnatural but powerful movements that are quite rhythmic, probably on an uncomfortable seat at the gym. For people like me, your posterior can be so thin that spending too much time sitting on seats on these machines causes numbness. What are you gonna do, bring a gel pad with you to the gym?
I’ve found the Birddogs’ thickness, compared to generic running shorts, to really help with this. For example, in flimsy Nike running shorts, I’d be numb after 20 minutes. With Birddogs, I would start to feel numb after twice that amount of time.
Chances are that if you’re going to the gym to use a few cardio machines, you’re going to throw in a few other activities. Good news–the shorts hold up well for gym activities. The comfortable length and supple thickness are preferable to many other shorts. One thing that bothers me with flimsier running shorts is that, if you have a thin waist and lean upper-quads, your package really sticks out especially when you are lying on a bench. Having the weightier mesh helps mitigate this.
The downside to this weight is that the shorts are weighty enough that they will rub the hair off your legs. This is something that happens gradually over time and probably occurs with most alternatives aside from actual biker shorts or tissue-paper-thin running shorts.
The ventilation is okay. Some pairs of shorts have liners that don’t extend down your legs. You could make the argument that this is pointless, it’s more-or-less wasted material. I find that this does make ventilation slightly better, compared to the end of a liner getting caught where your leg attaches to your hips. But if you’re in a bike seat where the liner begins to recede based on the pitch of your legs, it really does lock in moisture. Nobody ever said that these were a replacement for biker shorts.
Running / Hiking
Can you run in these shorts? Yes!
Have I run hundreds of miles in these shorts? Yes!
Are they the best-in-class running shorts? Not really. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Where the shorts’ quality and toughness puts them in elite company as gym apparel and casual wear, they don’t compare to fit-for-purpose split running shorts. Birddogs are a one-pair-quiver. You really can do anything. Most running shorts I’m comparing them to weight half as much and, if you have a slight build, make your junk stick out awkwardly. So using wearing them to spin class or Whole Foods or your buddy’s house would be bizarre. Wearing them near a playground or an elementary school would be criminal.
With the thicker outer material and liner, Birddogs don’t vent well. They’re swampy. After a run, I’m usually dying to peel them off. Granted, there is no “perfect” pair of shorts in this regard, and these get the job done. On occasion, when I run, I find myself wishing I was a little less constricted.
Swimming / Getting Wet
These are phenomenal for vacations to places where there’s water. Wear em on the plane then leave them on when you take a dip in the jacuzzi. Then wear them on the plane back. Maybe.
Birddogs are acceptable for casual aquatic wear, but they have a flaw. They take forever to dry. My old Nike shorts which I wore until they disintegrated could be totally dry by the end of my run if I hopped in a watering hole halfway. This was possible because the outer layer was flimsy and the liner wasn’t the brief style of Birddogs. Less fabric, way less drying time.
Birddogs are rendered waterlogged for a fair amount of time after getting wet.
When it comes to swimming, they cause a lot of drag, and though I have swum laps in them, there are many better choices.
Listen, I don’t know anything about golf. I show up to the driving range and whack balls until it’s time to go home. When I wear these shorts, I hit 15 yards farther with each stroke. They just feel versatile while remaining appropriate. I’m not trying to go to even the basic driving ranges around Scranton, PA wearing true running shorts.
Adding to their robustness, Birddogs are acceptable to use as a skiing base layer on warmer days. Their thickness helps with insulation but you can also remain somewhat vented compared to layering a bunch of thermal-wear made for old men.
Casual / Functional
Here’s where Birddogs are the “category killer,” so to speak. Face it, the majority of this target market spends a ton of time in computer chairs and running menial errands. These shorts are just so damn comfortable, better than any of the comfort-forward underwear that retailers are pedaling now. The liner is extremely soft and plush.
The styling is commendable and the colorways–the more neutral ones, at least–go well with pretty much anything. I pair the shorts almost exclusively with Lululemon shirts and there is rarely a bad match.
What about the pockets? You’ve got two normal side pockets that are a little on the small side. If you’ve got a fat wallet, it’s not really going to work. There’s a versatile zipper pocket that easily holds keys and energy gel. In 2020 it’s likely that many people have gravitated toward athletic shorts with pockets. What are you supposed to do with your mask while you’re running?
If you’re going to spend $60 on shorts, they should be durable. This isn’t a top price point, but it’s enough to make you stop and think, for sure. Anything vaguely athletic is going to be going through somewhere between 1 and 3 wash cycles per week, and it had better hold up.
All of my Birddogs shorts have held up. No stretch or disfigurement in the waistband, very little discoloration (any is likely from chlorine), no loose threads. They’re great shorts. Of course, as time goes on, the liners have become looser, but minimally. I have no complaints about the durability of these shorts.
When running on tight, technical trails, more flimsy shorts do tend to get snagged and ripped by different types of bushes and weeds. These are thick enough that I’ve never had that problem.
Further, I recently purchased my first pair of Birddogs pants! Compared to the Lululemon ABC pants, I’m noticing less sag (the main knock on the ABC pants), but it’ll be months before I have a more objective opinion.
Birddogs shorts are best-in-class all-around athletic shorts. They check all the boxes and are available at a price point that makes it viable to stock a drawer full of them. I take them for granted now, but the difference in comfort and function is striking. I don’t think everyone should have 7 pairs of them. But if you’re “athletic” in 2020, you should have an opinion on these shorts by now. It’s almost silly that I still have to explain it to people.