Best cargo bib shorts 2024: extra carrying capacity for your rides

The best cargo bib shorts will let you stash more items without needing to load up your bike

Male cyclist wearing one of the best cargo bib shorts
(Image credit: Future)

The best cargo bib shorts allow you to carry extra kit on your rides, freeing up your jersey pockets for yet more stuff and potentially letting you ditch your saddle bag

Although designed originally for bikepacking, where you want as much stowage capacity as possible (take a look at our list of everything you need to go bikepacking to see what we mean), cargo bib shorts have taken off with many road riders who just want to be able to take all the food they need as well as a jacket, repair kit and other essentials for a long road ride or in variable conditions.

To that end, look for plenty of pockets. Even if you find you're not using them on many rides, you can never have too much carrying capacity.

Cargo bib shorts are often based on the best cycling shorts, so saddle comfort and quality fit shouldn't have to be sacrificed. 

Here is our pick of the best cargo bib shorts for men and women, while towards the end of this page, you can find our buyer's guide for what to look for in your cargo bib shorts.

The quick list

Best cargo bib shorts as reviewed by Cycling Weekly

Best cargo bib shorts for ultimate all-day comfort

Male cyclist wearing the Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 Bib Shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts

(Image credit: Future)

1. Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 Bib Shorts

Best cargo bib shorts for ultimate all-day comfort

Specifications

Colors: Black
Sizes: XS-XLG (M)
Pockets: 4 (2 leg pockets, 2 rear waist pockets)

Reasons to buy

+
Supreme comfort
+
Extra protection for narrow trails
+
Soft but durable fabrics

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium performance comes at a high cost
-
Only in black

Assos has a reputation for producing high-quality kit with a keen attention to detail and the Kiespanzer - which literally translates as 'gravel tank' - bib shorts are yet another instance of this.

Firstly, the Kiespanzer shorts are supremely comfortable over long distances on rough terrain, thanks in large part to the generously cushioned chamois, which helped mute the vibrations on rocky terrain.

The materials of the lower section of the shorts stood up excellently to close encounters with overgrown bushes and various stints sitting on rocks and gravel while bikepacking. The mesh of the side pockets has a bit more of a tendency to get caught on twigs and branches, but I haven't had any problems with pulled threads.

The pockets themselves are great, with plenty of stretch from the mesh material making it easy to load them up with really quite bulky items: sun cream, bike lights, more chocolate bars than I care to mention - all were easily accommodated. I never make much use of pockets which sit over my lower back as I prefer to use jersey pockets for easier accessibility, but the Kiespanzer bib shorts do offer extra storage there too.

Finally, the leg length is a little shorter than what many brands have recently moved to. Personally, I much prefer the feel and look of this length of short - and it means they're easier to pair with a set of over shorts without sticking out the bottom, adding to their versatility. The only downside with these shorts is the same as for most of Assos' kit and that is the high cost - although they are in line with other premium cycling clothing brands.

Best cargo bib shorts in alternative colorways

Male cyclist wearing the 7mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts

(Image credit: Future)

2. 7mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Shorts

Best cargo bib shorts in alternative colorways

Specifications

Colors: Black, Thyme, Midnight Blue, Peat
Sizes: XS-XXL (M), XS-XL (F) for the WK3 model
Pockets: 5 (2 leg pockets, 3 rear waist pockets)

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of subtle shades to choose from!
+
Wide cargo pockets on the legs

Reasons to avoid

-
Leg length longer than most

For the most part, I really got on well with the 7mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Shorts. The chamois isn't quite as padded as the Assos Kiespanzer, but was still highly comfortable on rides over six hours in duration - and the slightly lower profile gives a more compact feel for harder and faster riding.

The pockets were particularly roomy and had a huge amount of stretch - for serial stuffers, these are a great option. On the lower back, there are three pockets rather than the more usual two. This helps with the organisation but does mean that there is less room in each of them. Still, pairing these shorts with standard cycling jerseys, I didn't feel the need to use them.

The one area which let down the shorts for me was the leg length, which is notably long. If you're quite tall and slim, they could be an excellent option for you. But for me, they sat a little bit lower than I would have preferred - something to bear in mind if your hips are quite slim for your height.

Best cargo bib shorts with a zipped pocket

Male cyclist wearing the MAAP Alt_Road Cargo Bib Shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts

(Image credit: Future)

3. MAAP Alt_Road Cargo Bib Shorts

Best cargo bib shorts with a zipped pocket

Specifications

Colors: Black, Coffee, Gumwall
Sizes: XS-XXL (M), XXS-XL (F)
Pockets: 4 (2 leg pockets - one of these zipped, 2 rear waist pockets)

Reasons to buy

+
Zipped pocket for valuables
+
Robust, high quality fabrics used

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as much carrying capacity

Similar to the 7mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Shorts, MAAP's Alt_Road Cargo Bib Shorts come with a dense and reasonably low-profile chamois. It's still highly comfortable over long distances - though for supreme comfort, the Assos Kiespanzer is the one to go for  - but it feels less bulky and is great for harder and faster riding.

The construction of the pockets is quite different here. Whereas most brands use some form of mesh - which is very stretchy, although easier to snag on foliage - MAAP has gone for a more Lyrca-y feeling fabric which doesn't have those perforations. It means you can't carry quite as much, but what you do carry is held a bit more securely.

On the other side, there's a vertical zip for stowing away something like a card or set of keys. There's not much space in this pocket or much stretch, so larger and more bulky items can't really be carried here. It's a good idea in principle - I do like the security of a zippered pocket - but it does limit the amount you can carry with these shorts. Essentially, it's horses for courses.  

 

Best cargo bib shorts for protection

Male cyclist wearing the Castelli Free Unlimited Bib Shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts

(Image credit: Future)

4. Castelli Free Unlimited Bib Shorts

Best cargo bib shorts for protection

Specifications

Colors: Black
Sizes: XS-3XL (M), XS-XL (F)
Pockets: 4 (2 leg pockets, 2 rear waist pockets)

Reasons to buy

+
Robust yet lightweight side panels for protection
+
Comfy raw cut finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much stretch in the bib straps

So many of the features of Castelli's Free Unlimited Bib Shorts are excellent. I really liked the side panels, which are made from a Dyneema fabric for greater protection in the event of a crash. I didn't crash while I had these shorts on test, but from bitter experience, side panels are generally in the heaviest line of fire - so reinforcement there is always appreciated.  

The chamois is a bit thicker than either the MAAP Alt_Road or the 7mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Shorts, but not quite as cloud-like as the Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2. I found it excellent for long rides on rough terrain - but if I was pushed, I would tend to either go for the Assos for ultimate comfort or the 7mesh/MAAP for a slightly lower profile. That is splitting hairs, though.

Similar to the MAAP Alt_Road shorts, Castelli has gone for a more closely woven fabric for the pockets. This has rather more stretch than on the Alt_Roads though, and allows for a greater carrying capacity. 

The only downside for me was that the bib straps have very little stretch to them and did cut in a little bit. It wasn't much, but stretchier bib straps are more comfortable. If you have quite narrow hips in relation to your height, these shorts might not suit you so well. But if you have a stockier build, then the lack of stretch in the straps may well go unnoticed. 

Best cargo bib shorts for those on budget

Male cyclist wearing the Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts for cycling

(Image credit: Joe Baker)
Best cargo bib shorts for those on budget

Specifications

Colors: Black
Sizes: XS - XXXL (M)
Pockets: 4 (2 leg pockets, 2 rear waist pockets)

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable chamois
+
Very comfortable short fabric
+
Pockets sit comfortably
+
Takes the weight out of jersey pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
No women's version at this price point

Rapha takes its already well-regarded Core bib shorts and adds four pockets, allowing you to carry much of your standard riding kit without recourse to jersey pockets. Between the two leg pockets and the two on the rear, we managed to squeeze in a large phone in a riding case, a pump and keys, without noticing any sagging.

The standard Rapha Core bib shorts are a quality, comfortable option with a good seat pad, plenty of stretch to the fabric and a good fit. Adding the cargo carrying capacity makes the Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts a great option for bikepacking or gravel rides, but they're also a first-rate choice for longer road rides, letting you carry more food, a jacket and more without needing a saddle bag or bar bag.

Read more: Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts full review

Best bibs for all-round practicality and warmth

Male cyclist wearing the Le Col Sport Cargo Thermal bib shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts for cycling

(Image credit: Adam Jones)
Best bibs for all-round practicality and warmth on chilly days

Specifications

Colors: Navy/Saffron, Black/Black
Sizes: XS – 3XL (M), XS – XL (W)
Pockets: 2 leg pockets

Reasons to buy

+
Thermal qualities work well in the winter
+
Higher waistline provides more protection 
+
Quality seat pad
+
Secure, easy access pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Price may be prohibitive

The Le Col Sport Thermal Cargo bib shorts are made of a fleece-backed, wind-resistant fabric and their raised waistline also adds extra insulation for cooler rides. That's topped off with extra carrying capacity from two mesh leg pockets that hold items in place well. 

There's a quality seat pad with three layers including a gel insert for that we found comfortable on longer rides, while the fabric has plenty of stretch so that it's easy to pair up with leg warmers for additional warmth.

There are plenty of size options, from XS to 3XL and black or navy colorways, but availability is for men only.

Read more: Le Col Sport Thermal Cargo Bib Shorts full review

Best value cargo bib shorts for crash protection

Male cyclist wearing the Endura GV500 Reiver Bib Shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts for cycling

(Image credit: Future)
Best value cargo bib shorts for crash protection

Specifications

Colors: Black, Olive Green
Sizes: S – XXL (M), XS – XL (W)
Pockets:

Reasons to buy

+
Double layer side fabric for increased crash protection
+
Comfortable seat pad 
+
Non-bunching straps

Reasons to avoid

-
Stitched pocket dividers reduce the usable size

Endura's Reiver gravel range includes bib shorts and a jersey. The shorts come with a double layer of fabric on the outer leg to add a little extra protection in the event of a crash. The rear pockets are built quite high up the back, so you get some extra lumbar protection too.

There is a total of four pockets, but three of these are stitched up the centreline, which reduced the size of items that we could fit into them, although it does help to keep them organised. Gel grippers on the outside rear of the shorts help to keep your jersey in place.

Endura fits its 600 Series II seat pad and the bib straps are designed not to bunch, making for plenty of ride comfort. The Reiver shorts are available for men and women in sizes from XS to XL and in black, with the men getting an XXL option and olive green color as well.

Compared to the Rapha Core and Specialized options, they're a little expensive, although they undercut the Le Col cargo bib shorts on price.

Read more: Endura GV500 Reiver Bib Shorts full review

Best cargo bib shorts for pockets

Male cyclist wearing the Specialized RBX Adventure shorts which are among the best cargo bib shorts for cycling

(Image credit: Future)
Best cargo bib shorts for range of pocket options

Specifications

Colors: Black, Doppio
Sizes: S – XXL (M), XS – XL (W)
Pockets: 7 pockets

Reasons to buy

+
Seven pockets including a zipped one
+
Quality Elastic Interface seatpad
+
Robust fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Short, non-stretchy straps

The SWAT in these shorts' name stands for Storage, Water, Air, Tools - Specialized adds SWAT to some of its bikes as well. There are a total of seven pockets: two on the thighs, two on the lower back and two on the sides, one with an internal zipped pocket.

Aside from the pockets, there's a quality Elastic Interface branded seat pad and a fabric that's a little more substantial than many. We felt that the straps were a little too short for the size though and they bunched and were uncomfortable when standing, which is more of an issue in shorts designed for the adventure rider than a racer. 

The standard shorts are now renamed ADV and there's also an olive green Specialized/Fjällräven option available in sizes S to XXL. Women's ADV shorts are available in XS to XL.

Read more: Specialized RBX Adventure Bib Short W/ SWAT full review

Buyer's guide to cargo bib shorts

What makes the best cargo bib shorts is in many respects the same as what you would look for in the best cycling shorts for more general road riding, just with extra carrying capacity, so it's worth reading the buyer's guide at the end of that post as well as here. 

But there are other things to consider when looking for the best cargo bib shorts, as we'll explain.

How many pockets do I need?

The minimum that most of the best cargo bib shorts provide is a large patch pocket on each thigh, which can essentially double your carrying capacity over even the best cycling jerseys. Many cargo bib shorts go beyond that and offer pockets in the rear of the bibs and maybe also on the sides.  

You may not find that you use all that pocket space, particularly if you wear a jersey with rear pockets, when the overlap with loaded pockets in cargo bib shorts can be uncomfortable. 

On the other hand, you can never have too much carrying capacity and if you prefer a pocketless top in the more casual gravel bike clothing idiom, you will probably be glad of the extra rear pockets. Bikepacking usually involves stashing stuff anywhere you can.

Do I need bibs?

With the extra carrying capacity of cargo bib shorts, you could end up with a significant amount of additional weight in your shorts. That means that it's even more important to have good support to avoid the shorts sagging or working their way down with repeated sitting and standing as you ride. 

So a decent set of bibs is an important feature. You want them to provide enough support to keep everything in place as you ride - not just your extras in the pockets, but also the seat pad.

What should I put where?

Thigh pockets provide plenty of room for a phone. But if you have a fall or bash against a branch as you ride, it's usually your thigh that takes a lot of the impact, so a phone might be vulnerable. It is likely to get wet if you ride in the rain or even on wet roads or trails.

A waterproof phone case can help, but we'd be inclined to keep our phone in a rear pocket where it's better protected. That opens up the thigh pockets for a waterproof cycling jacket or other spare clothing like a gilet or arm warmers. They're also a great place to keep on-bike food where it's handy and to stash used