The Best Hiking Shorts Fully Reviewed
When you think about everything hiking entails, you’d be forgiven for thinking that pants are a requirement. After all, sliding down craggy rock faces, wading through cold mountain streams, getting devoured by nature’s flying monstrosities are not things most people want to do, especially not without the proper protection. However, there are plenty of scenarios where wearing shorts on a hike truly is the best course of action. Shorts are typically worn primarily for ventilation reasons, especially when hiking in dry, hot environments that are not so great even the most breathable pair of outdoor pants. These usually have even less moving parts than pants have, making them very minimal and reliable, provided you choose the right pair. This guide will help you with your selection so you can enjoy your adventures in optimum comfort.
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Robust DWR coating
Lots of pockets
10 Best Hiking Shorts
1. Marmot Arch Rock
Could be more secure pockets
These hiking shorts, brought to us by Marmot, are heavy duty and made for the traveler in your life, and are our first pick for the best men's option. Designed with style and functionality, these shorts are lightweight and secure your gear with an option of pockets and also are water resistant as Marmot knows you will be playing in some water while outdoors. Overall a great pair of shorts for the price, which we highly recommend.Read more
The nylon material is soft against the skin, and the Mid-Rise elasticized waistband provides a flattering fit. Slightly relaxed fit allows for freedom of movement without bunching up. These are excellent shorts for outdoor activities, even more than just hiking.
Most of the airflow you will be receiving from these shorts is through the bottom of the leg as well as the elastic waistband. Overall shorts provide great natural air flow and these are no exception. They will keep you cool and comfortable on your next hike. These are really great if you want to try to stay dry hiking all day.
This pair of Marmot Arch Rock hiking shorts are made with the ability to stretch nicely and is paired with articulated knees that improves your range of motion. Some great features for this pair of hiking shorts are the two back pockets and the two hand pockets to keep your personal items in safely and even a single zippered leg pocket. They almost resemble a pair of chino shorts, which could be also worn on casual occasions.
These shorts from Marmot are made from elastane and nylon and are designed with quality in mind. A company like Marmot looks to provide quality and durability to their customers and these shorts are no exception. If you look to purchase these shorts, they will last you many years to come.
2. Hiauspor Hiking Shorts
Quick dry and comfortable
More color options needed
This Hiauspor Hiking Shorts is a great pair of lightweight and quick-dry hiking shorts to help you in humid and hot weather. These shorts come with zippered pockets to hold all of your personal belongings and keep your items safe. They also come with an elastic waist and velcro to help give you the best fit for all-day wear.Read more
These shorts are known for their comfortable fit and are great for outdoor activities including running, hiking, cycling, biking, camping, mountaineering, and even fishing. They also come with an adjustable waist in order to make sure they fit your body and keep you comfortable wearing them all day long.
These Hiauspor Hiking Shorts have great airflow due to their quick drying feature so that you can keep from sweating in hot and humid climates in these shorts. The material also helps to ensure their ventilation as they are made of cationic yarn-dyed fabric.
These have an elastic waist that is great for making sure they fit you comfortably and even have a velcro part for your waist. This pair of hiking shorts feature a zippered pair of pockets that can hold anything personal you are needing securely.
The velcro straps to help these shorts fit you better and to ensure they do not become loose. They are water repellent to help with sweat or hot conditions as well as adventures where you will be near water including fishing, white water rafting, or even hiking. They come with decently sized pockets and have 4 large spacious pockets to help keep all of your perfect items including zippers to make sure nothing falls out of them.
3. Tru-Spec 24/7 Ripstop
Robust DWR coating
Lots of pockets
Long inseam can fit awkwardly on shorter people
Originally intended for law enforcement personnel, the Tru-Spec 24/7 Ripstop Tactical Shorts are built tough and designed to last. The overall construction is high-quality, from the DWR-coated ripstop nylon to the durable YKK zippers. These shorts come with a staggering eight pockets, so there will be a place for everything. These are a polish up of the basic BDU cargo short.Read more
Being made of polyester and cotton instead of nylon, these shorts are quite comfortable, feeling more like a canvas material. The waistband is elasticized for a good 2” of extra room. Caring for these shorts is easy; they’re machine washable and dryable and don’t require ironing. The waistband features a slider design to eliminate the need for elastic or pull tabs for security without compromising on comfort.
Being that these are considered tactical shorts, the airflow is average at best. The material itself is quite lightweight, but the DWR coating may impact ventilation some. Still, these provide great airflow and will keep you cool and dry.
The Polyester Cotton Rip-Stop shorts feature a slider waistband that eliminates you needing elastic or side tabs to make sure your shorts stay fit and comfortable while wearing them. They have 2-cargo pockets that have hook and loop closures with side gussets. Another great feature is the expandable back pockets that even have hook and loop closures. The stretchy waist eliminates the need for adjustable waistband tabs.
The zippers on the fly and pockets are made by YKK, the leader in the zipper industry. The zippers are sturdy and well-made, and won’t jam or get stuck even after exposure to sand or water. The DWR coating provides robust water resistance; water beads on the surface instead of soaking in and will dry very quickly in the event of submersion. Will resist shrinking in the dryer. Though fairly lightweight, these shorts are extremely durable, with ripstop nylon material that won’t easily spread rips.
4. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
Lightweight and breathable to the max
Not as durable as many other options
The Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts deliver some handy features, to be sure, but nothing about these pants particularly stands out as a killer value. That’s not to say that these aren’t a quality pair of shorts for hiking and backpacking; they are. Unfortunately, though, there isn’t anything here that makes these shorts a more attractive option than many of the leading options above. For instance, the shorts feature all-velcro fastenings for all of the pockets, which is something we generally don’t love.
Zippers are usually more effective and resilient, as velcro tends to fail over time and under periods of heavy use. There are two front pockets, two cargo pockets on each side, and two back pockets, which is pretty standard fare for the most part. There is a belt system with a plastic buckle for adjusting the tightness of the fit, but many reviews have noted that these pants tend to run slim, and as such, this feature isn’t entirely needed. Still, it’s nice to have, even if the execution could have been a little more eloquent.Read more
The 100% nylon in use again can’t compete with comfier options available elsewhere, and it shows with these durable shorts. The cut is a bit thin, and many reviewers have mentioned that this restricts movement on steep inclines. Many have advised buyers to size up when purchasing, and we agree with this advice. One good thing about these pants is that they come in 11 different sizes, allowing for a wide range of body shapes to find a pair that fits properly.
These pants are among the lightest that we’ve reviewed in this list, and based on feedback from around the community, this is both the pairs biggest strength and biggest weakness, simultaneously. On the one hand, these pants are able to breathe better than most of the other products in this guide. The lightweight construction really lends itself to warmer environments, and these pants easily outdid most of the competition in this regard. In the end, you’ll need to decide if the breathability is enough to justify the slightly disappointing feature set and durability that also comes with these shorts. For many in the summer climate, though, the answer might just be a yes.
This pair of breathable Shorts features Omin-Shade UPF 50 protection which helps with maximum defense against the sun. To help pull moisture away to keep you cool they feature an Omni-Wick technology that keeps you dry during warm summer days spent outside. Another great feature these shorts have is side pockets with hook and loop closure to keep your personal items in.
The thin nylon material used in these shorts comes to a head here. These shorts are certainly not fragile, and there are plenty of similar products that are even flimsier. Having said that, we really do not recommend these for activities that might involve any scraping or poking of rocks, trees or brush against you. The material also seems to become wrinkled quickly according to some reviewers, which can be a real annoyance when traveling for extended periods of time without ready access to luxuries such as an iron.
5. Columbia Permit II
SPF 30 material
Two inseam options
Sporting ten pockets, SPF 30 material, a utility loop, and come in a wide range of sizes (including two inseam lengths), the Permit II shorts for men is another quality pair from this brand on our list that will do it all, and at an affordable price.Read more
Available in 6” and 10” inseam lengths, and waistbands sizes from 30”-44”, they will fit a wide range of body types, including shorter people or those who simply want a shorter inseam than most men’s shorts offer.
Patented Omni-wick moisture management pulls moisture away from your legs, allowing them to remain cool and dry in even the most humid climates. While they do not have a DWR or similar coating, the fabric is made to dry quickly in the event it does get wet.
Their Permit II hiking shorts are made from 100% sun-protective nylon to keep the shorts breathable and comfortable while you are fishing or hiking. Some great features for these shorts include multifunctional pockets and a utility loop to keep your things handy.
The 100% nylon material is strong and resists tearing, yet the shorts themselves are very lightweight and comfortable. No DWR coating means these will get wet, but the shorts will not dry quickly. The seat may start to pill over time in the high friction areas.
6. Gerry Stretch River Short
SPF 30 protection
For something on the lower end of the price spectrum without compromising durability or features, the Gerry Stretch River Shorts are comfortable and agile, without breaking the bank. These are great for first-timers or the budget-conscious who won't accept anything but the best.Read more
The waist is designed to allow some wiggle room in regards to fit and is also made to move with you. A gusseted crotch means less bunching up. The pocket material is stretchy, so you can fit items like your wallet in them without it making the fit feel tight or awkward.
The leg openings are loose to allow for airflow and ventilation. The rayon and nylon shell is light and provides ideal breathability, especially in the warmer or humid summer climate. While there is no DWR coating, they do wick away moisture and dry quickly to keep you cool.
This pair of Gerry Stretch River Hiking Shorts features 2 back slit pockets to keep all of your personal items in securely and provides you with high protection from the sun with UPF 30+ and stretches well to help you with flexibility. These are a great pair of versatile shorts for men that are suitable for multiple uses.
Sewn with a combination of the serger and double line stitching, this method gives the shorts their stylish appearance while ensuring they won't rip- or even worse, splitting in the seat. They are also stain-resistant, so they should clean up well.
7. Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
Versatile convertible pants
Great fit and comfort
High-quality zipper pockets
Convertible pants are not for everyone
The Prana Stretch Zion is one of the highest-praised convertible pants around. While this list focuses on shorts, and we recognize that convertible options aren’t for everyone, we felt that these pants worked so well as hybrid shorts, we had to share them here. The cuffed seam does a fantastic job of hiding the high-quality zipper, so if you want to, these can be worn as shorts virtually all of the time. When temps get cooler, though, adding some extra warmth is as simple as sliding the extensions on and zipping them up. The pants feature multiple pockets, even in shorts mode, so you’ll never find yourself without adequate storage options. (We found that these pockets were large enough to fit all sorts of gadgets and essentials.)
They come with a handy tightening waist strap, which we found to be welcome and easy-to-use. Three color choices are on offer; dark khaki (pictured above), charcoal, and mud. We highly recommend these for those who want options in changing climates. Although they are marketed as hiking pants, they are great for overnight treks, even in the summer when the temperature drops as the sun goes down. You can easily transform the pants into Zion shorts.Read more
These are the most comfortable pants in this guide, full stop. In fact, the comfort of these pants is a large part of why we awarded them our top pick; they really are that great. If there was one element that we found slightly annoying, it’d have to be the seam along the zipper line. While the zipper itself (thankfully) doesn’t touch you, the seam creates a bulge that tends to rub against the thigh/knee area during extended usage. This is by no means annoying enough to be a deal-breaker, but we found it to be enough of a bother to mention. Other than that relatively minor complaint, though, these pants feel absolutely great to wear, with or without the extensions. One thing to keep in mind, is that you'll want to get the sizing right in order to not end up with the leg zippers right on the knee cap. It wouldn't be too comfortable kneeling down with that in between your knee and the hard ground.
This pair of Convertible Pants are made from a stretch material to help you with flexibility and are water resistant. That flexibility also makes it a little easier to remove the bottoms in warmer climates. Some great features for this pair of shorts are its quick-drying nylon material and having zip-off legs for any type of weather condition or situation. The only inconvenience that we can think of, is that you might have to take your boots off to remove the zip-off legs.
These pants really impressed with the breathability throughout. There are a number of “breathing holes” in the crotch area that does a fair amount to keep things cool, but ultimately, this material is still heavy enough to get toasty on a particularly warm summer day. Luckily, it’s during these moments that you can simply convert the pants to shorts, giving you the best of both worlds in virtually any situation. There are certainly more breathable options out there, but overall we felt that the Stretch Zions offered decent ventilation in a variety of situations. If you get too hot, simply zip the bottoms off. This could turn into an essential piece of clothing for those over-nighters.
The heavy-duty construction really stands on its own, and we found no serious issues with the longevity of the pants during our research. That being said, it’s worth mentioning that some reviewers have noted a few stitching issues, particularly after prolonged periods of heavy use. Some have even noted stitching issues or loose threads being present out of the box, but these cases seem to be few and far between.
8. CQR Tactical Shorts
Lots of pockets
Easy to care for
Originally designed for law enforcement officers, the CQR Men’s Tactical Shorts offer military-grade performance in a package that's both affordable and ideal for outdoor activity, or even just going about your day. The beauty is in the details, and it's the little things that make these shorts one of the best.Read more
Comfort isn’t typically the first thing one thinks about when they hear “tactical shorts,” but these are wonderfully comfortable and serve well for all-day wear. The elastic waist allows for comfort and a better fit, though sizes do run a little on the large side. The pockets are moderately deep, and won’t feel awkward when sitting or crouching if you have something in them.
While the leg openings provide some airflow, the polyester material is quite thick, and as such doesn’t ventilate as well as other shorts on this list, especially in environments.
This pair of CQR Cargo Shorts are made from Cotton 64% Nylon 30% Spandex 6%, which makes them relatively quick-drying shorts. They come with several pockets to keep all of your personal items safe and dry in. While we aren't exactly looking at tactical situations here, many of the same properties go into good clothing for the trails.
Made of ripstop polyester and cotton, these are made to last. They're fade, shrink, and wrinkle resistant as well, so caring for them is easy no matter where you are. Duratex (a material functionally similar to Teflon) will resist water and staining, though this coating may start to come off after a few washes.
9. Prana Tess
Light, durable cotton
Front and back patch pockets
Good choice for hot days
Can be tight around the thighs
Nylon is typically the desired material for a pair of hiking shorts, but a cotton is an often-overlooked option that still gets the job done. Prana realized this and made their extremely light Tess shorts with that in mind. While the woven organic cotton isn't water-resistant, they are fairly quick-drying shorts, be lightweight, and flex with you rather than against you. They almost resemble chino shorts in design. Put simply, these are very lightweight breathable shorts.Read more
These 97% cotton hiking shorts are woven to flex with you without binding or tightness. The length is stylish and flattering without being too short. The hem can be rolled up or left down, making work well in almost any outfit. In short, these are a breathable comfortable pair of shorts. These are a great all-around pair of summer shorts.
The woven cotton material provides breathability, as does the lined pockets. The legs are fitted which somewhat limits airflow, but based on our findings this is typically offset by how breathable they are.
This pair of prAna Women's Tess Shorts features four pockets and you can also roll or down the hem. These shorts are made from organic stretch woven canvas to keep you comfortable and able to move around nicely.
No DWR or similar protection, but the light fabric will dry quickly once wet. While not as durable as nylon, the cotton material resists abrasions and light tearing, and care is easy- they're machine washable. It's suggested to wash them in cold water and dry on low, as some users have reported that the dye can fade quickly in some color variants.
10. Mountain Khakis Teton Twill Shorts
Tough and rugged
Hidden side-seam pocket
The Mountain Khakis Teton shorts are great for "casual" hikers or those who want to keep things stylish. While they're heavy, they can stand up to a beating on the trail. These shorts would be for those who prefer running shoes or sneakers over hiking boots when out and about. These shorts will stand up to the terrain but will keep you casual and non-technical.Read more
Because these shorts are cotton, you know they're soft. You'll feel comfortable during your hike so long as it's not too hot. Because cotton doesn't wick away moisture, you might feel hotter and stickier than you might like. For short, cool hikes these would be perfect.
While these are definitely not the most breathable on the list, they are still a great option for casual hikers. They are rated as a top pair of hiking shorts because of their casual appearance and durability. If you're going on long, hot hikes, these probably won't be the shorts for you. But if you are heading out on the trails, and then out to dinner, definitely your go-to shorts.
This pair of Mountain Khakis Teton Twill Shorts features 5 large pockets to keep all of your personal items in securely, with welt back pockets and a coconut button closure. They are very comfortable and a great fit with triple-stitched seams.
Because the Mountain Khakis are made from 100% cotton canvas they are pretty heavy but are very tough. They will stand up to dirty and difficult hikes while still leaving you feeling comfortable.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to taking to the trails, having comfortable shorts has some obvious advantages. We look closely at what consumers have to say about a product’s comfort level when determining our scores because we feel that comfort is one of the most common factors that weigh into the perception a customer might have about a product. In fact, it might even be the top consideration for many. Think about it this way: if you aren’t comfortable with a piece of clothing, how likely will you be to enjoy many of the features of that product? Staying comfortable in your gear is an essential part of the hiking and general outdoors experience, so it stands to reason that it’d be a major factor in our review. If you're thinking "I'll just throw on a pair of old athletic shorts", you might want to think twice. A typical pair of athletic shorts lack the durability of shorts that are specifically intended for rugged use. Put simply, the clothing you pick needs to function and feel good.
Think about warm weather. Breathable material is especially key for hiking shorts, this isn’t quite as much of an issue, but breathability remains a factor for thousands of readers in warmer climates. We all know how arduous it can be to deal with overheating issues on the trail, so having a breathable, comfortable pair quick-drying shorts with can do a tremendous amount for our comfortability and endurance.
Since shorts are inherently more breathable than many of the other product types we review here, we didn’t place a huge amount of weight on this factor. All the same, this remains a vital piece of the puzzle when formulating our reviews. If you're going to be walking all day, on and off paths, this is probably a good criterion to think about for all of the clothing you bring along. One thing to consider is things that can take away from the breathability, such as some types of durable water-resistant coating.
If you're wondering why a pair of workout shorts or just a basic pair of gym shorts won't necessarily cut it, think about the functionality that you will most likely need on the trail. When looking at the features for a particular pair of hiking shorts, we’re really trying to drill down exactly what features might separate a certain product from the “pack.” Features that give the shorts a unique identity that readers will find genuinely useful and be enriching for their daily lives.
We look for things like pocket size and amount, security features such as hidden pockets, straps, drawstring closures, and more in order to determine how functional and useful the shorts will be to hikers. We’ve found that our readers love to know how products work in action, not just from a review standpoint, so we always try and frame the feature set in a way that illustrates the real-world benefits of the product in question. One thing that isn't exactly a feature with the shorts, but does make it better for the customer, is free shipping. When you're shopping around, look for that option. Just make sure the features include whatever you need. Don't forget just enough storage space.
When it comes to hiking shorts, having products that last is essential to most folks. After all, this isn’t the cheapest hobby in the world, and many of us are just a little addicted to having the latest gear at our disposal at all times. That means that the price of admission for many outdoor addicts is quite high, especially when you factor in the wide variety of gear that most of us own. (and love!) Because of this, we place special emphasis on the quality of construction for all of our various clothes, hiking shorts not least of all. With shorts specifically, we take a look at things like seam and pocket construction, overall materials being used, and things like DWR coating and other weatherproofing functionalities. For these reasons and many more, regular old athletic shorts probably won't do.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When looking to invest in a pair of hiking shorts, look for a pair that can wick away sweat. While hiking you will likely build up sweat and do not want it soaking your shorts or chaffing. Breathability is also critical a great pair of hiking shorts, as this will help prevent sweating in the first place.
Other Factors to Consider
There are many other small factors that go into reviewing hiking shorts. We like to look at sizing and style options, as these are two areas we’ve found that readers care quite about. We also like to look for products that have some sort of following online, either in outdoor enthusiast circles and forums like Reddit or on online marketplace sites. These conversations sparked by fans around the world give us incredible insight into “real-world” customer experiences with the products we review, and we feel it’s only right to include these experiences into our decision-making process with our various reviews. Let's face it, most of like to look good in our clothing.
Our picks are just what we felt met the needs and criteria we were looking for. There are a ton of other brands out there, some well known and some not as much. Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Fjallraven, and the list goes on and on.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: If I plan on hiking colder temperatures, do I really need ventilation?
Yes, it’s still a good idea to find pants that will breathe well even when the weather is cold. You’ll be prone to sweating whenever you’re active, and sweat in the cold can make you feel even colder.
q: Should I purchase shorts for all seasons, or purchase all-season pants?
That is really up to you. It is nice to get one pair of pants that can do it all, and that can also save you money. However, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t like the feel of convertible pants and that’s fine.
q: If I am shopping on a budget, do I need to worry about getting shorts that aren’t as durable?
Not necessarily. We have plenty of products on our list that are affordable as well as durable, such as the Gerry Stretch River Hiking Shorts.
Another way to save a little is to find a webshop that offers free shipping. Or better yet, put them on your next gift list for Christmas.
q: Is it better to buy shorts with a DWR coating on them?
If you plan to be hiking when it might be wet outside, getting something with some kind of water resistance is a good idea, even if it isn’t DWR. Teflon is also a great choice for a water-resistant coating.
q: Do I need to worry about sun protection and wind protection in my shorts?
That depends on the weather you are likely to encounter and when you plan to hike, but for the most part, we recommend getting something with the added levels of protection to keep you safe.
q: Do lightweight shorts tend to be less durable?
Sometimes, but not always. That really depends on the material and manufacturer. Nylon is typically one of the most durable types of material in shorts, and in most cases is still quite lightweight, whereas cotton is lightweight, but may not be as durable as nylon.