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

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Shorts

  1. Columbia Silver Ridge
  2. Coleman Men’s
  3. Patagonia Baggies
  4. Time to Run Pace
  5. Arc’teryx Stowe
  6. The North Face Paramount Trail
  7. ExOfficio Camino
  8. Marmot Arch Rock
  9. Mountain Hardwear Chockstone
  10. prAna Stretch Zion

 

Comparison Table - The Best Shorts for Hiking

PictureNameStyleFabricPocketsPriceRating
Columbia Silver RidgeCargoNylon6$$4.3
Coleman Men’sFlat FrontNylon6$4.1
Patagonia BaggiesAthleticNylon3$$4.7
Time to Run PaceAthleticPolyester, Spandex1$4.4
Arc’teryx StoweAthleticCotton, Nylon, Elastane5$$$4.5
The North Face Paramount TrailCargoNylon5$$4.1
ExOfficio CaminoCargoNylon6$$4.1
Marmot Arch RockFlat FrontNylon, Elastane5$4.7
Mountain Hardwear ChockstoneAthleticNylon, Elastane3$$4.2
prAna Stretch ZionCargoNylon, Spandex5$$4.8
PictureNameStyleFabricPocketsPriceRating

MULTI-DAY HIKING PACKING LIST

Don't forget important gear at home!


Print out this free hiking packing list to prepare for your next adventure.


* You will get weekly emails with practical hiking advice that complement the information contained in the packing list. You can always opt out of these emails.

 

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

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.

Coleman Men’s

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Pockets: 6
  • Style: Flat Front
Features
  • Touch Fasten Pockets (snap closed)
  • Rear Patch Pockets
  • Elastic Waistband

BEST FOR: COOLER HIKES

With side pockets and rear patch pockets, Coleman’s Hiking Shorts are great for any backcountry expedition. The integrated elastic waistband is adjustable on the fly and there’s even a designated cell phone pocket so you can keep your phone handy while hiking. These shorts are light and aerated and best for hikes around a lake or to a waterfall. The quick-drying nylon fabric will keep you dry, but if you tend to sweat a lot, we recommend wearing loose fitting shorts.

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.

Time to Run Pace

Specs
  • Fabric: Polyester, Spandex
  • Pockets: 1
  • Style: Athletic
Features
  • Internal Pocket (to keep valuables safe)
  • Drawstring Waist
  • Quick-Drying Fabric

BEST FOR: RUNNERS

Time to Run’s Pace Shorts are especially designed for the fast moving, lightweight hiker and runner. Built with polyester and spandex to shed water while hugging your body, these shorts fall like a feather across your body as you move along the trail. You can take them out trail running, working out, and road running as well. Their inner pocket means you can hold onto your car keys too as you go for a run.

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

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.

The North Face Paramount Trail

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Zip-Close Cargo Pockets
  • Webbed Belt (for easy adjustment)
  • Coin Pocket

BEST FOR: TRAIL HIKING

The North Face Paramount Trail Shorts are small, lightweight and comfortable. Zip-closed cargo pockets on both sides and rear pockets allow you to store your phone, wallet and other essentials during your hike. Furthermore, the webbed belt will keep your pants up no matter how much stuff you’re carrying while a strong UPF rating ensures comfortability during and after hiking in the sun. Whether it’s on the mountain or around town with friends, you can’t go wrong with these comfortable cargo shorts.

ExOfficio Camino

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

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

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.

Mountain Hardwear Chockstone

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Elastane
  • Pockets: 3
  • Style: Athletic
Features
  • Removable Belt
  • UPF 50 (for superior sun protection)
  • Zippered Pockets

BEST FOR: ALL HIKING

With a combination of nylon and elastane, Mountain Hardwear chockstone shorts are a tight fitting hiking short fit for all trekkers. A performance stretch design and removable belt fit these shorts to the contours of your body, while two zip-closed side pockets will keep your valuables tight to your body. Without rear pockets, these shorts are best for the more minimalist hiker planning to move fast. The tight design means your shorts won’t catch on any trees or shrubbery as you run through the forest.

prAna Stretch Zion

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon, Spandex
  • Pockets: 5
  • Style: Cargo
Features
  • Ventilated Inseam (for added breathability)
  • Adjustable Waistband
  • Mesh Pocketing

BEST FOR: ALL HIKING

The PrAna Stretch Zion Shorts are perhaps one of the most universal pairs of shorts out there. Built with a cargo appearance and an athletic feel, you can wear these shorts out on the trail or at home at a barbeque. Surplus pockets and an adjustable belt allow for comfortable hiking while the abrasion resistant material will protect your shorts from any unwanted damage.

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

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

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Hiking Shorts for Women | Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet

Hiking Sandals | Hiking Hats

Trail Running Shoes for Hiking | Socks for Hiking

Convertible Hiking Pants

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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