Discussions around riding with a chamois, let alone bibs can certainly lead to funny jabs and name calling but there is no denying that with the advent of packable, utilitarian bibs, more riders are seeing the benefits of both tool and testicle storage. Wanting to throw their name in the ring of utilitaint bibs, Voler have developed their Stow Bib Liner, which boasts quality tailoring, construction and is made in the USA - something not many clothing brands can claim.
Voler’s Stow Bib Liner is a solid option for mountain bikers looking at an alternative to carrying some sort of pack, especially on shorter rides or if your load-out is minimal. The Stow Bib liner has two sturdy, integrated hidden pockets to store a bottle and other trail essentials. Voler went for a tailored fit thanks to their in-house production capabilities and experience in producing high end cycling gear.
Voler uses ultra-smooth overlock stitching, to keep the breathable, compressive mesh highline fabric panels and PowerBand leg bands together. The Overlock Stitching helps ensure that there won’t be any snags or unwanted chafing during long ride days. The PowerBand Legbands are seamless, form-fitting leg grippers that lack silicone, which means they’ll remain comfortable all day long. They extend to the mid-thigh to hide under baggies but still offer enough length to keep them from creeping up. Voler’s use of the Orion triple-density chamois is capable of supporting 6+ hours in the saddle for those all-day adventurers.
I personally have been on the chamois program for as long as I’ve been riding, but others have only recently joined the supportive-side after seeing how comfortable and practical stow-bibs can be. From a chamois and short perspective, Voler has a great product in their pads. They have a variety of shorts with thin pads or super thick pads that will keep any butt happy. The material is light, breathable and rides nicely under baggies.
Storage on the Voler Stows is not quite as good as other shorts we’ve reviewed. Most of the bibs we’ve ridden have three pockets on the back as well as leg pockets, which we admittedly almost never use. Nevertheless, they’re nice to have in case you want to put a gel packet, thin multi-tool or trash in there. Only having two pockets instead of three wasn’t a huge deal breaker for us, but we’d always pick 3 when we have the option. Because of the placement of these pockets being a bit more central in the back, they also felt a little harder to get to compared to the outside pockets on bibs from Bontrager or Specialized. They may sit a tiny bit higher as well, but it’s tough to get a clear measurement as each rider’s torso length is different. Likewise, shoulder mobility may not be an issue for some, but for an old creeky bastard like me, my shoulders definitely felt like these pockets were a bit higher and harder to get too.
As far as pocket retention and performance goes, Voler certainly something going! The pockets are deep, stretch quite a bit and never let anything bounce out. Whether it was a water bottle, jacket, snacks or loose tools, I could ride hard knowing that my carry-on luggage would be safely stowed. Again, Voler’s history and experience in garment manufacturing is very evident in many elements of their gear.
Voler’s Stow Bib Liner is certainly worth considering if you’re looking at a mountain biking bib that carries your essentials. The downsides to the bibs are offset by upsides that battle products from other brands on the market. We wish there were more pockets, even though we fully admit most of the time we only fill 66% of the pockets in our other bibs. We also wish the pockets were a little easier to access as they feel a bit higher than some shorts. On the other hand, Voler’s American Made expertise and top-tier chamois and manufacturing have us loving these shorts on long days in the saddle. The chamois is comfortable and supportive and the seamless, silicone-free leg grippers are comfortable while the breathable fabric also holds up to the rigors of mountain biking quite well. If you don’t need a bib full of pockets and think two is enough to hold your bottle and a thin jacket or some tools, then we’d suggest you give these a check. We certainly plan on continuing to use these on days where we’re not loading up tons or even when we’re carrying a pack instead of stuffing pockets because the comfort is a definite high point.