Updated on June 17, 2021

When you’re out in the wilderness, comfort tends to be one of the most important aspects of your day. The clothes you wear while hiking have the ability to determine your level of comfort significantly. Are they heavy? Can you move quickly in them? Are they water resistant and lightweight? These are only some of the questions you should ask when buying clothes for hiking. And if the weather’s hot and muggy, like it is in the Adirondacks in the summertime, then shorts matter most. But we know that the best hiking shorts can be hard to find.

Hiking shorts can vary in so many different ways — fabric, style, length and weight, just to name a few. So before you buy your next pair, read through our list of the ten best hiking shorts to find a pair that best suits your needs.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out the Best Hiking Shorts for Women

 

Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Shorts

  1. Patagonia Quandary
  2. REI Sahara Cargos
  3. Patagonia Nine Trails
  4. Outdoor Research Ferrosi
  5. Arc’teryx Palisade
  6. Columbia Silver Ridge
  7. Patagonia Baggies
  8. Arc’teryx Stowe
  9. ExOfficio Camino
  10. Marmot Arch Rock

 

Comparison Table - The Best Shorts for Hiking

PictureNameStyleFabricPocketsPriceRating
Patagonia QuandarysPatagonia QuandaryCargoNylon, Spandex5$$5.0
REI Sahara CargosREI Sahara CargosCargoBluesign® Nylon6$4.8
Patagonia Nine TrailsPatagonia Nine TrailsAthleticRecycled polyester, Spandex3$4.6
Outdoor Research FerrosiOutdoor Research FerrosiCargoNylon, Spandex5$$4.5
ArcArc’teryx PalisadeFlat FrontNylon, Elastane5$$$4.4
Columbia Silver RidgeCargoNylon6$$4.3
Patagonia BaggiesAthleticNylon3$$4.7
ArcArc’teryx StoweAthleticCotton, Nylon, Elastane5$$$4.5
ExOfficio CaminoExOfficio CaminoCargoNylon6$$4.1
Marmot Arch RockMarmot Arch RockFlat FrontNylon, Elastane5$4.7
PictureNameStyleFabricPocketsPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Hiking Shorts

Patagonia Quandary

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Spandex
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Stretch-woven fabric is tough-wearing and stretchy
  • DWR finish repels light showers
  • Gusseted crotch maximizes range of motion
  • UPF 50+
  • Zippered thigh pocket
Patagonia Quandarys

TOP OVERALL HIKING SHORTS

These traditional style hiking shorts offer thoughtful design additions that assist in making for the best pair of all-around shorts currently on the market.

With a strong dedication to performance and sustainability, Patagonia tops the list again with their Quandary series shorts. Made with durable recycled nylon and integrated spandex that provides for just the right mount of stretch, these shorts are equally suitable to wear on day hikes as they are on long backpacking trips. Patagonia beefed up these shorts with a quality DWR treatment and a 50+ UPF rating, ensuring you stay comfortable all day long.

What I like most about these shorts are the integrated elastic drawstrings that allow for a comfortably snug fit — no belt required.

REI Sahara Cargos

Specs
  • Fabric: Bluesign® Nylon
  • Pockets: 6
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Durable water repellent (DWR) finish
  • UPF 50+
  • Loaded with pockets for essentials, including secure zip closures on the back
  • Elastic across the back waistband improves comfort and fit
REI Sahara Cargos

BEST FOR: HIKERS ON A BUDGET

Ready for your next hot weather hiking adventure, the Sahara Cargo are surprisingly versatile for their affordable price.

Weighing in at less than 6 ounces, these shorts sport highly breathable materials. Despite the lightweight material, REI’s DWR application ensures these compare in longterm quality to the more expensive options out there. A multitude of large pockets helps boost these shorts above other low cost models, specifically six spacious pockets in total.

What I like most about these shorts is the semi elastic waist band that helps accommodate varying waist sizes.

Patagonia Nine Trails

Specs
  • Fabric: Recycled polyester, Spandex
  • Pockets: 3
  • Style: Athletic
Features
  • Synthetic fabric wicks moisture to keep you cool
  • Stretchy material moves with you
  • Lining fights odor and reduces chafing
  • Fabric is bluesign approved
Patagonia Nine Trails

BEST FOR: TRAIL RUNNING

If you like to move fast and you’re looking for a pair of shorts that serve to pretty much emulate your body in motion, look no further.

These lightweight polyester shorts excel at removing moisture and ventilating heat while remaining comfortable in all temperatures. Three zippered mesh pockets are a welcome addition for stashing snacks and a phone while running or a fast-paced day of hiking. A snug fit is essential for any pair of running shorts and the comfortable elastic waist band with integrated draw strings ensures these shorts won’t fall down mid run.

What I like most about these shorts is the integrated liner that makes for an added degree of comfort and stability.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Spandex
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Durable, lightweight, and stretchy short for days on trail
  • Tough nylon fabric has plenty of stretch and resists abuse
  • Multiple pockets stash daily essentials
Outdoor Research Ferrosi

BEST FOR: ULTRALIGHT HIKING

Designed to serve as an all-around performance pair of shorts, the Ferrosi series combines style and functionality.

Although these are not the lightest shorts on our list, they beat out there competitors by being more versatile — off and on trail. The thin, highly breathable material is perfect for hot weather hiking and wicking moisture, but does tend to soak through when wet. Thoughtful additions of a soft waist liner, drawstring, and gusseted crotch helps keep these shorts comfortable all day long, with the bonus of an improved range of motion.

What I like most about these shorts is the small zippered pocket feature, ideal for keeping keys secure when you’re out on the trail.

Arc’teryx Palisade

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Elastane
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Flat Front
Features
  • Nylon blend offers quick-drying, breathable performance
  • Articulated patterning and gusseted crotch provide mobility
  • Pockets keep snacks, maps, and tools safe and sound
  • Integrated belt provides a versatile, secure fit
Arc

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

If you’re looking for the best pair of shorts for wearing from town to trailhead, consider these.

Designed with hikers in mind, these shorts integrate all the right features without sacrificing style. Thanks to an articulated pattern and gusseted crotch, these slim-fit shorts offer an unobstructed range of motion. Combine that with five zippered pockets, a felt lined waist liner, and an integrated belt and you make for a pair of shorts suitable for a wide range of activities. Arc’teryx’s patented TerraTex material combines the perfect balance of quick drying, lightweight, and stretchy material, serving for a comfortable fit all day long.

What I like about most these shorts is that the front hip pockets are fully attached, meaning they don’t flop around when you’re running or carrying something in your pocket.

Columbia Silver Ridge

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Pockets: 6
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Integrated Belt
  • Side Cargo Pockets
  • UPF 50+ Rating (sun protection factor)

BEST FOR: CASUAL HIKING

Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts are great multi-purpose hiking shorts. Built with an integrated belt to hold your shorts tight to your body, these lightweight shorts are equipped with 6 pockets that you can pack full with your essentials. Furthermore, with a strong UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, rating, you can wear these shorts out on the mountain or on the beach without worrying about burning your pasty white thighs. The specialized design and gusseted, or enlarged, crotch area will you give you the comfort you need no matter where you go.

Patagonia Baggies

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Pockets: 3
  • Style: Athletic
Features
  • Quick-Drying Fabric
  • Self Draining Mesh Pockets
  • Rear Snap Pockets

BEST FOR: WATERSPORTS

Patagonia baggie shorts are best for either watersports or trail runners. Built with extremely light recycled nylon, these shorts will let you fly around without any drag. Rear snap pockets can hold a wallet or phone while you’re on the trail. Self draining mesh material in these shorts means you can wear them in the water and emerge without extra water weight. If you plan on having a lightweight pair of shorts for running or swimming, Patagonia baggie shorts are a great pair to pack along for the trip.

Arc’teryx Stowe

Specs
  • Fabric: Cotton, Nylon, Elastane
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Athletic
Features
  • Front Button Fly & Button Closure
  • Belt Loops
  • Hand, Thigh and Rear Pockets
Arc

BEST FOR: TRAVEL HIKING

With a sleek, long-legged design, the Arc’teryx Stowe short is best for travel hiking and urban wear. The combination of cotton, nylon and elastane blend together for a breathable, quick-drying, and durable combination that allows for easy movement no matter where you are. Perhaps most appealing are the large thigh pockets with zipper closures. Store anything you need without worrying about it falling out in these secure pockets. We recommend these shorts for occasional day hikers and extended travellers.

ExOfficio Camino

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Pockets: 6
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Abrasion Resistant Nylon
  • Odor Resistant Coating
  • Zip-Close Cargo Pockets
ExOfficio Camino

BEST FOR: LIGHT HIKERS

The ExOfficio Men’s Camino Shorts come with everything you want and more in a pair of shorts. With a specialized odor resistant coating and unique technology to promote cooling, these shorts will keep you feeling fast, light and fresh no matter where you are. Zip-close pockets make it easy to store away your phone and other essentials, but try not to pack away too much with the ExOfficio shorts. The less you’re carrying, the faster and more relaxed you’ll feel while moving through the mountains.

Marmot Arch Rock

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Elastane
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Flat Front
Features
  • Durable Water Resistant (DWR) Finish
  • Zipper Secure Side Pocket
  • Interior Waistband
Marmot Arch Rock

BEST FOR: LIGHT HIKING

Stretchy yet breathable, the Marmot Men’s Arch Rock Short is perfect for light hiking anywhere. A water resistant finish means you can hike through a bit of rain without getting totally drenched and the zipper secure side pocket will keep your valuables dry, too. Most notably, the interior waistband design protects your belt from catching on any limbs or trees and adds to the streamlined design. Undoubtedly, the Arch Rock Short is a great short to own for any backpacking or hiking trip you’ve got planned.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING HIKING SHORTS

Picking out the right clothes is always a strenuous task and when you add in a wilderness element, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing. Take a look through these top considerations while buying hiking shorts, and if you want more information read through these handy tips about what to wear while hiking.

 

USE

You should first clarify your wilderness goals. Do you hope to run, hike, or simply relax around a watering hole? Do you carry extra accessories or are you a minimalist? Questions like these will help you hone in which short is best for you and more importantly, which material. Each short has its use: an athletic style is more aerated so it’s good for warm weather, whereas a cargo style may be better for carrying more supplies in slightly cooler environments. Whatever it may be, match up your intended use with the shorts’ material and design.

 

DESIGN

Ask yourself what feels more comfortable: an internal webbing belt, or an external removable belt? Long shorts or short shorts? Cargo style with a lot of pockets or athletic style with a lot of flow? Comfort will go a long way in the mountains and the design of your short will affect that greatly. If there’s mesh, make sure you’re okay with that, and if not, find a short that better suits your needs. The best hiking shorts are not the best overall, but rather the best for you.

 

FABRIC

While which short design you choose is closely linked to your adventurous intentions, the short fabric is even more important to consider before heading out. If you expect a lot of rain, you’ll want a water-wicking cargo short, whereas if you intend to hike in warmer, drier climates, you may want an elastane or polyester based short. We suggest trying out different fabrics at home or with friends before deciding which is best for your next hiking adventure. The right fabric will make all the difference.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

ELASTANE / SPANDEX

Elastane is a synthetic fiber known for its incredible elasticity. Spandex is a type of elastane fiber and both are often found in athletic clothing.

NYLON

Nylon is a plastic material characterized by it’s versatile nature. Resistant to heat and cold, nylon is a lightweight, strong material often used in swimsuits, ropes, and clothing.

ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION FACTOR (UPF)

This acronym stands for ultraviolet protection factor. It won’t affect your experience too much, but a strong protection (50+) may be a good idea if you’re trekking into sunny environments. Learn more about UPF ratings for hiking clothing.

INSEAM

This is the seam from the crotch to the bottom of the leg. If it’s ventilated, tiny holes will allow air to better pass through the short and keep you cool.

WEBBING

Webbing is a strong material woven together in a flat strip or tube. Often found as part of a slackline or tire, webbing is often used as a stretchy belt in shorts and other outdoor apparel.

 

READ MORE

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About The Author

While at the University of Virginia, Nate studied Spanish literature and contemporary philosophy and started for its Division 1 lacrosse team. At 20 years old, he began writing about his experiences attempting the world’s most insane adventures. From backcountry skiing in Patagonia to living in a Brazilian favela and high-altitude ice climbing in the Himalaya, Nate sheds light on parts and cultures of the world that remain widely unknown. He’s been featured on the top-rated travel podcast Extra Pack of Peanuts and has published work in a variety of outdoor publications. Currently Nate works as a freelance writer and explorer and competes for the Israeli National lacrosse team at tournaments around the world. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Nepali and proficient in French and Arabic. This past Spring, Nate became the first ever foreigner to porter in the Himalaya.

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