By Lynne Fitzsimmons
These wool shorts are made for men or women. I tested women’s versions in size medium.
The Smartwool Ewetopia shorts were tested against the Joneswares ‘Performance’ Cycling shorts, The Smartwool Ewetopia shorts are much stretchier than Joneswares Performance. The Smartwool fabric contains 55% synthetic material vs. 8% for Joneswares. The difference is noticed in vertical stretch. The Smartwool shorts stay up when I bend over; the Joneswares shorts don’t. The Joneswares waistband is wider but has less aggressive elastic. When wearing Joneswares I had to tighten the drawstring or make sure to wear a long jersey.
The Joneswares fabric is a relatively heavyweight knit, even heavier than my wool jerseys. The Smartwool fabric is loopy on the inside and smooth on the outside (easy to wear tights over). Smartwool uses 12-panel construction. Joneswares uses 2 panels.
Both shorts I tested have a sufficiently long inseam, about 9-10 inches (14.5-16 cm). Joneswares offers a choice of 3 inseam lengths.
Joneswares uses traditional gripper elastic at the leg openings while Smartwool uses silicon. Smartwool fits a little looser at the openings. Both shorts are equally comfortable in overall fit and neither fabric is irritating to skin.
The Joneswares fabric contains twice as much wool (92% vs. 45%). I wore each pair of shorts in below-freezing temperatures and noticed no difference in how warm they felt. I wore the Joneswares shorts under tights on an all-day rainy ride and wasn’t uncomfortably wet or cold.
These shorts use a variation of the Elastic Interface Technology Cytech chamois.
The Joneswares chamois is the unisex model without padding down the middle. While not having quite the differentiated padding thickness of, say, the Shebeest Century Stretch chamois (another EIT chamois), it is still quite comfortable. My longest ride in the Joneswares shorts was 12 hours and I had no discomfort. All rides in these shorts were on a Brooks leather saddle with the Selle Anatomica cutout.
Smartwool uses a women’s-specific chamois with a Merino wool face. This chamois does not have sufficiently differentiated padding thickness down the middle. It irritated me front and center, and because of its thickness I couldn’t shift around enough to make discomfort stop. After 2 long rides on the Brooks saddle, I changed to a Terry Butterfly. The differing saddle fits made a big improvement in shorts comfort.
It’s my practice to wash cycling clothes in warm water, gentle cycle, with an extra rinse and a fast spin. Then everything except the machine-dryable wool items that do not have elastic is hung to dry.
The Joneswaresshorts have been worn 29 hours, washed twice and hung to dry. They show no wear.
Both shorts are quite acceptable. My preferred pair would be a combination: The Smartwool Ewetopia for their stretchy fit, with the Joneswares chamois for its comfort.