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Man in best hiking shorts

Best Hiking Shorts for Men and Women in 2019

Even the most lightweight hiking pants can’t compete with the airiness and comfort provided by shorts when out on the trail during the height of summer. As well as offering greater flexibility and less restriction, the best hiking shorts should also be quick drying, breathable, lightweight and durable. A few handy features like zippered pockets, a soft waistband and a water resistant coating sure won’t go amiss, either. And if they happen to look great then all the better. Ideally, the best hiking shorts are the ones you put on for that first spring BBQ and don’t take them off until the leaves start to drop in the autumn, regardless of whether you’re on the trail or not.

Of course, there are certain types of hikes that require you to wear pants instead of shorts, regardless of the temperature. Long pants or leggings provide protection from the sun, foliage, insects and rocky terrain. But for the rest of the time, opting for the airiness and non-restrictive comfort of shorts is the preference of many summer hikers.

In this article, you’ll find our top choice of hiking shorts for both men and women. Plus a guide on what to look for when choosing a pair of the best hiking shorts in 2019.

Summary of the best hiking shorts in 2019

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ProductWho forFeaturesCost
Patagonia Happy Hike ShortsWomenOdour control and moisture wicking fabric$$
REI Active Pursuits ShortsWomenBuilt-in liner$$
Title Nine Indestructible Hiking ShortsWomenHighly durable$$
KUHL Spire ShortsWomenLots of pockets$$
Mountain Hardwear Dynama Bermuda ShortsWomenLightweight and water repellent fabric$
PrAna Stretch Zion ShortsMenVentilated gusset$$
Goruck Simple ShortsMenHighly durable$$$
Outdoor Research Ferrosi ShortMenLightweight and quick drying$$
Spray Way Compass ShortsMen3 zippered pockets$$
Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsMenLots of pockets$
Coalatree Trailhead ShortsMenHighly water-repellent$$

Best hiking shorts for women

Patagonia Happy Hike Shorts

Patagonia Happy Hike Shorts

Eco-conscious: These shorts are made from Bluesign approved fabrics and the waistband uses recycled polyester

The Happy Hike Shorts from Patagonia are lightweight hiking shorts that are also suitable for multiple activities. Made with odour control and moisture wicking fabric, these Patagonia shorts are ideal for hot weather adventures. Plus, the 4-inch inseam makes these shorts comfortable enough for hiking but still stylish to wear in an everyday setting. The spandex/polyester waistband and hidden drawcord give you plenty of adjustability, and the quick-drying four-way stretch fabric with a water repellent finish makes the Patagonia hiking shorts suitable for climbing, water sports, or wet weather hikes. Other features we like are the front and back pockets, one of which is zippered.

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Versatile usage
  • Multiple pockets
  • Quality materials

Cons

  • Sizes run small

Find the latest price on:
Patagonia | REI


REI Active Pursuits Shorts

REI Active Pursuits Shorts

Slightly longer than the Patagonia hiking shorts, the Active Pursuits Shorts from REI are designed for both running and hiking. They are made from a four-way stretch polyester fabric with a built-in breathable and moisture wicking liner. The wide waistband and drawcord provide a comfortable fit while the flat seams help to prevent chafing. Although there are no external pockets these shorts are built with a hidden internal pocket, large enough for a key or card. They also provide UPF 50 sun protection.

Pros

  • Sun protection
  • Comfortable fit
  • Internal pocket

Cons

  • No external pockets

Find the latest price at:
REI


Title Nine Indestructible Hiking Shorts

Title Nine Indestructible Hiking Shorts

Eco-conscious: Material is Bluesign approved and the liner is made from recycled polyester

If you prefer a longer short then Title Nine Indestructible Hiking Shorts offer an 8-inch inseam. These shorts are made from a durable blend of polyester and nylon fabric which offers sufficient stretch for comfortable hiking. While the fixed waistband may not be as comfortable as spandex, the outer belt loops and interior drawstring allow you to customise the fit. These shorts also come with plenty of pocket space and a choice of four colours.

Pros

  • Roomy pockets
  • Adjustable waist
  • Durable and soft fabric
  • Longer length

Cons

  • Less stretch than other models

Find the latest price at:
Title Nine


KUHL Spire Shorts

KUHL Spire Shorts

The Spire Shorts from Kuhl may not be the most body flattering item on our list but they’re our top choice for practicality. They come with a total of six pockets; two back, two front, and two side, four of which are zippered. They also offer a generous 10-inch inseam for extra protection from sun and brush, plus an adjustable interior drawcord. In terms of durability, the Kuhl Spire Shorts are stitched with an extra-tough nylon thread while the lightweight stretch fabric is both sturdy and flexible.

Pros

  • UPF 50 protection
  • Many pockets
  • Extra-strong design

Cons

  • Not the most flattering cut
  • Fabric tends to loosen with use

Find the latest price at:
REI


Mountain Hardwear Dynama Bermuda Shorts

Mountain Hardwear Dynama Bermuda Shorts

The Dynama Bermuda Shorts from Mountain Hardwear are the best travel shorts we’ve found for female hikers. Weighing in at only 5 oz you’ll hardly feel the weight of these shorts in your backpack. Meanwhile, the elastane/nylon material offers plenty of stretch without losing its shape. Their longer length makes them suitable for city use as well as wilderness hiking. These shorts have a water repellent finish and are fitted with leg vents for extra ventilation. Plus, with two open front pockets and a zippered side and back pocket, you have somewhere secure to keep your keys and wallet whilst hiking.

Pros

  • Lightweight material
  • Water repellent
  • Good ventilation
  • Comfortable fit

Cons

  • Limited colour choice

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Used gear banner


Best hiking shorts for men

prAna Stretch Zion Shorts

PrAna Stretch Zion Shorts

The Stretch Zion Shorts are a practical combination of durability and comfort. They’re made from an abrasion-resistant and water-repellent nylon/spandex blend which provides plenty of stretch. The fabric is resistant to stains and users confirm that the shorts hold their shape even after multiple washes. In terms of breathability, the ventilated gusset helps you keep cool whilst hiking and additionally allows for free movement. Other useful features include the zippered cargo pocket and a built-in adjustable belt. Overall, we’d say that the PrAna hiking shorts are among the best hiking shorts for hot weather and tropical hikes.

Pros

  • Long-lasting materials
  • Comfortable fit
  • Ventilated gusset
  • Zippered pocket

Cons

  • Built in belt tends to loosen

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Goruck Challenge Shorts

Goruck Simple Shorts

These Simple Shorts from Goruck are one of the most expensive items on our list, however, they’re certainly a well-made piece of kit. They are built with durable Toughdry fabric with quality stitching throughout. If you do manage to pull a thread then the Simple Shorts are covered by the SCARS lifetime guarantee. The fabric is impressively fast drying and provides enough movability for anything from hiking to climbing or rappelling. Another clever feature is the horizontal front pockets which keep your belongings from falling out. These shorts are also fitted with two back pockets and come in a range of 5 colours.

Pros

  • Well made
  • Horizontal pockets
  • Durable material
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Sizes run small

Find the latest price at:
Goruck


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short
OR Shorts details

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short

If you’re looking for an all-around hiking short then the Ferrosi Shorts from Outdoor Research are our top choice. These super stretch hiking shorts are lightweight and quick drying but also as stylish as they are comfortable. The stretchy 90D woven ripstop and gusseted crotch provides excellent movability while the wide waistband is lined with a softer fabric. Although the waistline is fixed, the shorts are fitted with 6 belt loops so you can customise the fit. The fabric is breathable and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. Meanwhile, the mesh-lined pockets allow extra ventilation. Our only gripe with these shorts is the usefulness of the pockets. You’ll only find one small side zippered pocket, large enough for a key or card, while the front and back pockets are open.

For more information read our full review of the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts.

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Stylish design
  • Breathable and quick drying
  • Available in multiple colours

Cons

  • Most pockets are not secure

Find the latest price at:
Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry


Spray way Compass Shorts
Close ups of shorts

Spray Way Compass Shorts

Newly improved for 2019, the Compass Shorts from UK company Spray Way, are a superb option if you’re after lightweight trail shorts. With TecWeave Stretch nylon fabric that has a water resistant coating, these above-the-knee shorts also dry extremely quickly, making them ideal for summer hiking in changeable conditions. They also feature a partially elasticated waist with belt loops for the perfect fit, and three zippered pockets: two hand pockets and one cargo pocket. To further add to the airy, lightweight feel of the Compass Shorts, the insides of the pockets are mostly made of mesh but with a reinforced bottom for extra durability — a thoughtful feature. Additionally, the inside of the waistband has a wonderfully soft and moisture-wicking finish that feels highly comfortable underneath a backpack. We also love how smart these not-so-outdoorsy-looking trail shorts are, making them an excellent everyday short, too.

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Smart looking
  • Very lightweight
  • Quick drying
  • UV rating: UPF 50+

Cons

  • Lacks a gusseted crotch

Find the latest price at:
Spray Way


Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Made from durable rip-stop nylon with moisture-wicking performance and UPF 50+ sun protection, the Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts from Columbia are one of the best trail shorts for men. The gusseted crotch is combined with elasticated sides which allows for easy movement and a comfortable fit. It also comes with an integrated belt. You’ll have no problem carrying your kit either. These Columbia hiking shorts offer back, side, and front pockets, one of which is zippered. The Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts are available in a range of four low-key colours.

Pros

  • Durable and quick-drying fabric
  • Omni-wick technology
  • Multiple pockets

Cons

  • Sizes tend to run small

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Coaltree Trailhead Shorts

Coalatree Trailhead Shorts

Eco-conscious: These shorts are made from Bluesign approved and recycled materials.

The Trailhead Shorts from Coalatree offer a shorter and looser fit for male hikers and climbers. The 8.5-inch inseam falls around the mid-thigh while a simple elasticated waist with drawcord provides a secure fit. These shorts are made from a tear-resistant and anti-microbial 4-way stretch fabric which is also water-repellent and breathable. Despite all these practical features the Trailhead Shorts weigh just 7.8 oz and pack away into the right zippered pocket making them ideal for backpacking.

Pros

  • Large pockets
  • Compact pack size
  • Durable and anti-microbial
  • Made from sustainable materials

Cons

  • Higher price tag

Find the latest price at:
Coalatree


What to look for in a great pair of hiking shorts

Comfortable fit

When you’re looking for the best hiking shorts, comfort comes above anything else. Overly tight shorts will restrict your leg movement, chafe, and cause a lot of discomfort in sensitive areas. On the other hand, you don’t want to be constantly hitching up a baggy pair of shorts.

For the most comfortable fit, we look for hiking shorts with features such as an elasticated or adjustable waistband, belt loops, and stretchy fabric. In terms of design, mid-rise shorts tend to sit better under a backpack than low-rise and a wide waistband is less prone to riding up/down.

The best hiking shorts will feature a gusseted crotch – a diamond shaped fabric insert between the four seams – which allows for greater movement. For extra comfort on the skin, you can also look out for hiking shorts with an internal liner or lined waistband.

Length

Ultimately the ideal length depends on your height and personal preference. However, you’ll want to choose a pair of shorts which are long enough to keep your thighs from rubbing against each other whilst walking.

The inseam measurement — inner leg measurement from the crotch — on women’s hiking shorts tends to range between 4 and 10 inches while men’s hiking shorts are typically between 8 and 12 inches.

Material

A hard-wearing and abrasion resistant material is an absolute must for all hiking outerwear. Rip-stop nylon or polyester are among the most durable fabrics for outdoor gear. Both are lightweight and quick to dry. However, nylon is the least breathable of the two. For better movability, these fabrics are usually woven with a stretchy material such as spandex or Lycra.

Breathability

If you’re looking for a pair of hiking shorts this season then you’ll probably be expecting some warm weather. That means you should be ready for sweat. We recommend choosing materials which are breathable and / or constructed with moisture wicking technology. This helps to prevent moisture from building up and soaking through your clothing.

Other features which aid breathability include mesh lined pockets and leg vents.

Style and pockets

In my opinion, you can never have too many pockets. Even the simplest hiking shorts should have at least front hand warmer pockets. Cargo style shorts usually come with front, back, and side pockets, however, this does lead to a bulkier short. If you prefer a streamlined style them you might opt for a running style short with fewer pockets.

We like hiking shorts with deep pockets which are large enough to hold your smartphone or wallet without digging into your leg. A small security pocket will also come in handy. Hiking shorts with zipper pockets or Velcro flaps are more secure than those with drop-in pockets.

Extra features

Other useful features you can look out for include:

  • Fabrics with UPF 30 or above sun protection, particularly if you hike in areas which are exposed to harsh sunlight.
  • DWR (durable water repellent) coating can come in handy for keeping your underwear dry and pocket contents dry showery day or on trails with water crossings.
  • Anti-microbial technology helps to prevent sweaty odours from building up. Ideal for multi-day hikes and backpacking.

Zip-off legs

If you like to hike in all seasons but only have space/budget for one item of clothing then you might want to take a look at hiking pants with zip-off legs rather than a standalone pair of shorts. Read our guide to hiking pants for some full-length options that zip off into shorts.

hiking pants gear guide


Just because practicality is the most important feature of hiking shorts, doesn’t mean you can’t opt for a pair that looks great too. The best hiking shorts should look as good as they perform so that you can bust them out with pride, whether you’re on the trail or not.

Happy short wearing, happy hikers!

About the author

author-beth

Originally from the UK and currently based in Turkey, Beth Carter is a full-time adventurer, former scout, and vegan traveller. When she’s not hiking long-distance trails with an oversized pack on her shoulders, you’ll probably find her peddling up and down scenic roads, or pitching a tent in a far-off mountain range. On the odd occasion, you might even see her sitting at a keyboard, coffee at the ready, typing about her latest outdoor pursuit.

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