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iXS Asper Backcountry Short (discontinued)

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
iXS Asper Backcountry Short - black
 iXS Asper Backcountry Short  iXS Asper Backcountry Short  iXS Asper Backcountry Short  iXS Asper Backcountry Short
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Tested: iXS Backcountry Riding Apparel

Rating: Vital Review

by Lee Trumpore

Still a relatively new name in North America, iXS has been making some of the best knee pads and protection on the market for several years. More recently they have also turned their attention to an ever expanding line of casual clothing and riding gear. Their Backcountry line is positioned in the middle (between Trail and DH Race) and aimed squarely at the trail riding enthusiast or Enduro racer. Key features include durable yet breathable fabrics, light weight, and comfort on any ride regardless of the conditions.


iXS OSS Backcountry Jersey Highlights

  • Regular fit
  • Mesh inserts
  • Breathable
  • Humidity transporting
  • Quick dry
  • Integrated lens wipe
  • Multi security stitched seams for strength
  • MP3 zip pocket with ear phone guides
  • MSRP $59

iXS Regent Backcountry Jacket Highlights

  • Crossover / casual jacket
  • Mesh-lined
  • Humidity transporting
  • Breathable
  • Water-repellant
  • Wind resistant
  • 2 zip pockets
  • MSRP $129

iXS Asper Backcountry Short Highlights

  • regular fit
  • stretch inserts
  • zip AirVent system
  • waist band fasteners
  • mesh-lined
  • breathable
  • humidity transporting
  • multi security stitch seams
  • 2 zippered hand pockets and 2 side pockets
  • MSRP $119

Initial Impressions

Attention to design and detail is immediately apparent on the Backcountry line, and clearly iXS has done their homework in regard to what ‘all-mountain/Enduro’ means rather than simply rebranding an existing DH product with a different name. For the short, the material chosen is a middle ground between heavy, protective DH shorts and ultra-light weight XC oriented shorts. The fit was instantly comfortable (if not a bit big in the waist) and it felt robust enough to handle a couple crashes or off track run-ins with the underbrush without getting shredded. I have some lightweight all-mountain shorts by a few other manufacturers that are almost paper thin and these have always left me feeling a bit exposed in terms of protection. In addition to the well thought out choice of materials, construction across the line is top-notch, with attention to small details apparent on the jersey, jacket, and short.


The slightly muted color scheme also works well for more casual activities, especially in respect to the jacket. If I had one complaint at this point it’s that the size medium short seemed just a touch big in the waist compared to the fit of the other pieces. Or maybe I’m just a touch too skinny.


On The Trail

Spring time weather in Taiwan is a mixed bag of warm, wet, cold, windy, and just plain hot and humid often all within the span of a few hours. Add a bit of elevation to the mix and it even snows. Both the jersey and short were breathable but not to the point of being cold which made them an obvious choice for days when I knew riding conditions would be a bit more variable. I had initial concerns that the slimmer fit of the jersey and lack of a zipper would be a bit too insulating but I never found myself wishing for anything lighter.


On all 3 pieces the cut is on the slimmer side of baggy and should accommodate most body types well. I particularly liked the short for being just long enough to reach my knees without fully covering them. It may seem like a small point but a few hours of pedaling with fabric constantly rubbing back and forth can get annoying.

I didn’t use the Regent jacket nearly as often as the short and jersey, not because there was anything wrong with it but more because its crossover design lent itself more to being a pre-ride/early ride warm up jacket. I found myself wearing it at higher elevations then packing it away for most of the ride as things warmed up. For the occasional passing storm I found it to be both warm and water resistant to a point, but on any truly rainy ride I would opt for something more waterproof.

Aside from fabric and fit, what really sets the Backcountry gear apart is iXS’s attention to small details. The short has a robust velcro waist adjustment that maintains its grip even after numerous washings, and just in case that’s not enough there are belt loops. This latter feature seems less popular these days as short designs become lighter and more minimal, but for those of us that are often between sizes (me, it always seems) it can be a real deal breaker.


I’ve complained in the past that the pockets on some shorts seem to be an afterthought, with no attention paid to what riders actually store in those pockets and what they feel like when riding. Kudos to iXS for taking the time to get it right. I had no problem riding with a iPhone, keys, and a wallet without constantly being slapped on the leg to remind me they were there. Anyone who rides with music will appreciate the integrated mp3 pocket and headphone guide, while the integrated lens cloth also does a fine job keeping camera lenses clean. Sometimes that feature alone was reason enough for me to grab the iXS OSS out of a pile of similarly brightly colored polyester jerseys in my closet.

Things That Could Be Improved

While I really like the cut of the short, I do feel like the waist is sized a bit on the large side. The addition of adjustable straps and belt loops made this less of an issue than it might otherwise have been.

The concept of a functional/casual crossover jacket is good in theory (and a great idea when packing for trips with limited space) but it could have been executed a little better. The fabric itself does a nice job repelling light rain and moisture, however the cloth cuffs at the sleeves and waist do an equally efficient job of soaking it up. Don’t get me wrong, it is still an excellent jacket to ride in but living somewhere with higher than average rainfall means it falls a bit more in the casual category for me. If rain isn’t a particular issue for you then by all means disregard this critique, but if it is consider upgrading to something like the iXS Sinister jacket instead.


In all cases I wish there were more color options besides black and red.

Long Term Durability

As my go-to choice for the past few months I have had no issues with premature wear or failure of the jersey, short, or jacket. The colors are still vibrant after repeated wash cycles and the velcro closures are still as secure as they were on day one. While some materials tend to harbor stains after several rides in the mud, the Backcountry fabric is fairly close-knit and keeps dirt from penetrating too deeply. Even the backside of the short looks no worse for wear despite several days riding in pretty abysmal conditions. Two months hardly makes a riding season, but so far I have no reason to believe durability will be an issue with any of the Backcountry apparel.

What’s The Bottom Line?

If you are looking for riding gear that’s considerably lighter than traditional rip-stop cordura moto shorts, or less baggy than a moto jersey without going full XC then the iXS Backcountry line deserves your attention. Through the use of appropriately cut fabrics, attention to detail, and high functionality iXS has designed a gear line that truly seeks to meet the specialized needs of all-mountain trail riders and Enduro racers, or to use a more dated term ‘mountain bikers.’

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About The Reviewer

Lee Trumpore has been riding bikes for more than 20 years on just about every material and technology the bike industry has come up with. In more than a decade of professional DH racing, testing prototype components and suspension setups was common. He has a smooth, light style on the bike even while holding it wide open. An East Coast native, his favorite trails are fast and flowing technical descents with as many corners as possible and just enough moisture to keep things interesting. Nowadays, rather than racing the clock, he'd rather enjoy a rad descent after a hard pedal to the top. A closet nerd with a Master's degree in education policy Lee currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan where he splits his time teaching mathematics to the next generation of computer geniuses and behind the lens as a photo mercenary for Vital MTB and other industry clients.


Product iXS Asper Backcountry Short
Riding Type Trail, Freeride / Bike Park
Rider Unisex
Shorts Type Shorts with Liner
Material Regular Fit, Stretch Inserts, Waist Band Fasteners, Mesh-Lined, Breathable, Humidity Transporting
Pockets 2 Zippered Hand Pockets and 2 Side Pockets
Vents Zip AirVent system
Size S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors Black or Red
Price $119
More Info

For more info, visit the iXS website.
For US purchasing, head over to The Gravity Cartel.

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