Best Hiking Shorts for Men in 2020

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When the temperature rises, it’s time to swap the pants for a pair of shorts. They are a great option for summer and hot weather hiking and we recommend that you have a pair of shorts at your disposal the next time you hit the trail. Shorts have the edge over their competitors (zip-offs, pants) because of their lightness and excellent breathability. We know that the process of finding the best hiking shorts can be tedious and slow. That’s why we wrote this guide – to help you find the right hiking shorts for your needs. In this post, we compare 15 best models for men of 2020. As usual, we review all sorts of hiking shorts – for large and tight budgets as well as for different styles of travel, and various specific uses.

In the buying advice section, we focused our analysis on those metrics that matter the most. These include fabrics, breathability, functionality, weight, style, prices, etc. This section covers practically everything you need to know about how to choose the best hiking shorts for your next adventure. If interested in knowing more about women’s hiking shorts, we recommend you to check out our article on the topic.

For more of our top gear recommendations for warm conditions, check out the Best Zip-Off Trousers for Hiking and Backpacking.

Best hiking shorts main
Wearing shorts on the trail can be awesome when the temperature soars

Quick answer: BEST HIKING SHORTS FOR MEN 2020

1. Prana Stretch Zion                                                                        View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

2. Patagonia Quandary                                                                    View on Patagonia       View on Backcountry

3. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts                                  View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

4. KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts                                              View on KUHL

5. Arc’teryx Palisade Shorts                                                         View on Amazon

6. Patagonia Nine Trails                                                                  View on Patagonia       View on Backcountry

7. KUHL Renegade Shorts                                                             View on KUHL

8. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts                                       View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

9. Fjallraven Abisko Shorts                                                           View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

10. The North Face Paramount Active Shorts                  View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

11. Marmot Arch Rock Shorts                                                    View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

12. Helly Hansen Brono Shorts                                                  View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

13. Prana Brion Shorts                                                                    View on Amazon              View on CampSaver

14. Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch Shorts                        View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

15. Mountain Hardwear AP Shorts                                         View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

 

 

Best overall

#1 Prana Stretch Zion Shorts

Prana Stretch Zion Shorts

Weight: 258 g (9.1 oz)

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 10, 12

Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% spandex

Notable features:

  • Ventilated inseam gusset for better ventilation in hot weather
  • Mesh-lined pockets for added breathability
  • UPF 50+ quick-dry and abrasion-resistant Stretch ‘Zion’ fabric

Pros:

  • All around amazing shorts: high-quality, lightweight and stretchy – suitable for various activities
  • Great airflow due to the lightweight fabric and breathability-related features such as mesh-lined pockets and ventilated inseam gusset (four small holes or air vents in the crotch); dry quickly
  • Rugged: abrasion-resistant fabric and durable seam-stitching
  • Fit well (those lucky enough can wear them without a belt), flex and move well and are super comfortable

Cons:

  • The fabric tends to pill
  • The left side leg pocket looks strange as if it doesn’t belong there

Best for: All hiking

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

Best lightweight

#2 Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Weight: 204 g (7.2 oz) for inseam 10

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 8, 10, 12

Materials: 95% Nylon (65% recycled), 5% spandex

Notable features:

  • Bluesign approved fabric offering 50+ UPF sun protection is DWR treated
  • Curved waistband help keep shorts in place during movement thanks to the contoured fit
  • Gusseted crotch for a full range of motion

Pros:

  • Lightweight and very packable hiking shorts for men that provide comfort for all kinds of outdoor activities requiring moderate intensity
  • Clean design, well-constructed, well-made; look and feel good; dries fast and works well in warm weather
  • Great comfort and mobility thanks to the stretch material and crotch gusset
  • Six pockets (including two zippered pockets – right thigh and left back) offer plenty of storage space for essentials and necessities

Cons:

  • Stain easily (the DWR treatment make it easy to wash and clean)
  • A bit narrow at the thighs; too skinny and tight shorts; suitable for slimmer people
  • Limited color pallet

Best for: All things summer

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | Backcountry

 

Best budget buy

#3 Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Weight: 295 g (10.4 oz)

Price (MSRP): $45 (can be found for $30-$35 on sale)

Inseam (inches): 10, 12

Materials: Main body (Omni-Shade): 100% nylon Silver Ridge ripstop; Mesh panels (Omni-Wick): 57% recycled polyester/43% polyester mesh

Notable features:

  • Omni-Wick pulls moisture off the body, whereas Omni-Shade with UPF 50 provides sun protection
  • Gusseted crotch facilitates freedom of movement for increased comfort
  • Integrated quick clip webbing belt and side elastic waistband for a secure and comfortable fit

Pros:

  • Reliable shorts made with durable ripstop fabric; practical design for good movement
  • Ultra-wicking fabric with UPF 50 breathes well and dries fast for cool and comfortable experience in hot and humid weather (NOTE: the shorts can be used all year round)
  • Multi-pocket silhouette – lots of pockets (six); 3 of the thigh and back pockets have hook-and-loop closure and one has zip closure for safe and convenient storage of phones, papers, keys, wallets, etc.
  • Great for backpacking, canoeing, work as well as casual hanging out

Cons:

  • Poor stitching/thread on the rear pockets
  • The lining of the back pockets is not very durable (mesh material), which can be dangerous for anything you carry there (e.g. wallet or keys)

Best for: Hot summer weather

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw

 

Best cargo shorts

#4 KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts

KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $79

Inseam (inches): 12

Materials: DURALUX: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex

Notable features:

  • Eight pockets (2 front mesh chino style, 2 back with velcro closure, 2 side mesh with zipper closure, 1 3D cell phone, 1 stealth cell phone)
  • 2-way stretch fabric with UPF 50 sun protection; water-resistant finish
  • Microchamois-lined waistband for comfort

Pros:

  • Stylish design; smooth and comfortable material that dries fast
  • Eight functional pockets to hold everything (even iPhone); there are also pockets inside other pockets to ensure the safety of your important items
  • Wonderful features: water-resistant fabric with UPF 50+, good stretch, chamois-lined waist, gusseted crotch, plenty of pockets
  • Tough and durable fabric; excellent quality; construction that’s built to last and retains its shape

Cons:

  • The 12-inch inseam is a bit longer than the traditional 10-inch inseam shorts
  • Run smaller in size than usual
  • Cargo pockets have horizontal zippers, which is a bit inconvenient for those used to vertical zippers

Best for: All kinds of outdoor adventures

Find the latest price:

KUHL

 

Best features

#5 Arc’teryx Palisade Shorts

Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

Weight: 225 g (7.9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $129

Inseam (inches): 10

Materials: TerraTex – 94% nylon, 6% elastane

Notable features:

  • Articulated patterning and gusseted crotch for unrestricted mobility and comfort
  • Adjustable integrated webbing belt with metal buckle for fine-tuning the fit
  • Several functional zippered pockets (five in total: two zippered cargo pockets with drain holes,
    rear pocket with zipping, and two mesh-lined zippered hand pockets

Pros:

  • These shorts are a combination of great features and look
  • Excellent moisture-wicking and air permeability abilities thanks to the lightweight, cool, breathable, and quick-drying TerraTex material
  • Built for dynamic activities in various environments; soft chamois-lined waistband wicks moisture and prevents chafing
  • Plenty of secure storage space separated between five zippered pockets; easy to access pockets placed on easy-to-use positions

Cons:

  • Very short crotch zipper
  • Expensive, not for budget-conscious shoppers
  • Limited sizing (6 sizes) and color pallet (4 colors)

Best for: Technical hikes

Find the latest price:

Amazon

 

Best for trail running

#6 Patagonia Nine Trails

Patagonia Nine Trails

Weight: 181 g (6.4 oz)

Price (MSRP): $65

Inseam (inches): 8

Materials: 91% polyester 75D recycled, 9% spandex

Notable features:

  • Durable fabric treated with a DWR finish
  • Supportive, lightweight and moisture-wicking boxer-brief liner with antimicrobial treatment provides chafe-free comfort
  • Three zippered pockets for keeping wallet, keys, phone, etc. safe and secure

Pros:

  • Light, breathable, and quick-drying material makes these shorts suitable for summer
  • High quality and extremely comfortable; no chafing thanks to the liner
  • Water-repellent fabric with DWR finish for bad weather
  • Reflective logo for better visibility in low light (during night runs and hikes)

Cons:

  • Tend to ride down in the back (tying up the drawstrings might help)
  • Pockets are good but keep them lightly filled as it isn’t that comfortable to hold bigger stuff there

Best for: Trail running/distance hiking

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | Backcountry

 

Best of the rest

#7 KUHL Renegade Shorts

KUHL Renegade Shorts

Weight: 272 g (9.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $75

Inseam (inches): 8, 10, 12

Materials: DURALUX: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex

Notable features:

  • Durable 2-way stretch softshell fabric with DWR finish and UPF 50+
  • Microchamois-lined Free Ryde waistband is soft for unmatched comfort
  • Flexible (crotch gusset), fabric with good stretch, these shorts move with the user

Pros:

  • Smart design: KUHL found the right balance between elegant look and functional features; lots of combinations of fit and appearance (8 colors, 3 inseams, 11 waist sizes)
  • Comfortable and durable enough for repeated heavy use – suitable for a variety of pursuits: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking
  • Many functional pockets (eight in total) provide plenty of room for stuff
  • Fast-drying material that breathes well and moves with you; 50 UPF+ rating for sun protection; DWR finish for protection from drizzle and rain

Cons:

  • Bulky feel – not the best option for lightweighters and minimalist backpackers
  • Most pockets are mesh-lined (good for breathability, bad for durability of pockets)
  • Front hand pockets are a bit shallow

Best for: Rough day hikes

Find the latest price:

KUHL

 

#8 Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

Weight: 207 g (7.3 oz)

Price (MSRP): $70

Inseam (inches): 8, 10, 12

Materials: 86% nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop, 14% spandex

Notable features:

  • Brushed tricot-lined waistband
  • Gusseted crotch facilitates user mobility
  • DWR treated fabric with UPF 50+ rating

Pros:

  • Lightweight construction that breathes well and dries fast – excellent for hot environments and conditions
  • Thin, soft, stretchy, and comfortable softshell fabric
  • Good flex; the unrestricted range of motion allow for any kind of movements/to move freely
  • Comfy design and a good fit (not too baggy/loose or tight)

Cons:

  • Only one zippered pocket (thigh); a zippered back pocket will do better for keeping wallets and other valuable possessions secure
  • The material tends to pill

Best for: Hot/warm weather

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

#9 Fjallraven Abisko Shorts

Fjallraven Abisko Shorts

Weight: 316 g (11.1 oz) for size 48

Price (MSRP): $125

Inseam (inches): N/A

Materials: G-1000 Original: 65% polyester, 35% cotton; 63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane

Notable features:

  • The G-1000 Original fabric is treated with Greenland Wax for added weather protection
  • The crotch is gusseted with a tough poly-cotton blend
  • Five pockets including two thigh (with snap closure) and two front hand pockets (zippered) plus one phone pocket

Pros:

  • Top-notch construction and quality material (good craftmanship)
  • Tough and durable G-1000 fabric can withstand many backcountry trips
  • Great set of pockets – deep enough for storing whatever’s necessary for your trip
  • Weather-resistant fabric provides some protection from wind and water

Cons:

  • Despite the presence of five pockets, this model does not have any back pockets
  • A bit heavier than most models reviewed here and more limited breathability
  • You should spend some time to learn how to re-apply and remove the wax to adapt your shorts to the conditions

Best for: Long trips in varied conditions

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

#10 The North Face Paramount Active Shorts

the North Face Paramount Active Shorts

Weight: 204 g (7.2 oz) on average

Price (MSRP): $55

Inseam (inches): 9, 11

Materials: 90% Polyester, 10% spandex

Notable features:

  • With FlashDry-XD technology for better moisture management
  • Durable water-repellent finish
  • Elastic waist with drawstring for a more confident, individual fit

Pros:

  • Dry, cool and comfortable experience due to the thin material and FlashDry-XD technology
  • Suitable for high aerobic activities because of: thin, moisture-wicking, and breathable fabric that dries quickly; mesh-lined pockets
  • Very comfortable with a crotch gusset for ease of movement; good stretch make them suitable for various outdoor activities that require flexibility and mobility
  • Simple, basic design with no unnecessary features

Cons:

  • Pockets are too small and shallow
  • No belt loops (you have to rely solely on the elastic waist)

Best for: Ultralighters and minimalists

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

#11 Marmot Arch Rock Shorts

Marmot Arch Rock Shorts

Weight: 330 g (11.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $60

Inseam (inches): 11

Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% elastane

Notable features:

  • Fabric with good stretch and an inseam gusset for increased mobility and range of motion
  • DriClime wicking interior waistband for added comfort
  • Bluesign approved fabric is more environment-friendly and sustainable

Pros:

  • Engineered for active people; easy to wear thanks to the design, material, and construction
  • Abrasion-resistant nylon fabric is durable, breathable, wicks moisture away, and dries quickly
  • The fabric has UPF 50+ rating to block sun and DWR finish to shed light moisture
  • (Five) functional pockets are deep enough and work well for their intended use: two front hand, two back, and one zippered thigh pocket

Cons:

  • Fabric marks and stains easy
  • A bit baggy
  • Limited options – only four colors

Best for: Light hiking in summer conditions

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw

 

#12 Helly Hansen Brono Shorts

Helly Hansen Brono Shorts

Weight: 310 g (10.9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $80

Inseam (inches): 10

Materials: 89% Polyester, 11% elastane

Notable features:

  • Two zippered pockets (one thigh and one back pocket) and two front hand pockets
  • Gusseted crotch for freedom of movement
  • DWR-treated softshell fabric

Pros:

  • Perfect go-to shorts – comfy; excellent cut and fit; look and feel awesome
  • Soft, flexible, with a good stretch, DWR-treated softshell fabric allowing comfortable movement during variable conditions
  • Versatile – for all sorts of activities: hiking, work, everyday use; suitable for different conditions and environments
  • High quality; well-designed and well-made construction

Cons:

  • Limited sizing – only 5 options (S, M, L, XL, XXL)
  • A bit baggy

Best for: Changing weather conditions

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw

 

#13 Prana Brion Shorts

Prana Brion Shorts

Weight: 255 g (9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 9, 11

Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% spandex

Notable features:

  • Abrasion-resistant performance fabric with DWR finish and UPF 50+
  • 5-pocket styling (mesh-lined pockets for increased airflow)
  • Reinforced rivet details

Pros:

  • Incredibly comfortable: stretch material, gusseted crotch
  • Streamlined design and great style, functional but without superfluous features
  • Versatile: perfect for hiking, walking around town, fishing, mountain biking, office, everyday use, etc.
  • Rugged: abrasion-resistant fabric, durable seam-stitching, sturdy zipper, and reinforced button

Cons:

  • 5 pockets but not a lot of storage space, especially for multi-day backpacking trips
  • Hook-and-loop closure on back pockets is not the best option (we prefer zippers for back pockets)
  • The fabric tends to pill

Best for: Day hikes in the summer

Find the latest price:

Amazon | CampSaver | Moosejaw

 

#14 Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch

Weight: 196 g (6.9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $50

Inseam (inches): 8, 10

Materials: 95% Nylon, 5% elastane

Notable features:

  • Omni-Shield advanced repellency; Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
  • Interior waistband reduces chaffing on the hips
  • Gusseted crotch adds mobility

Pros:

  • Classic look and style; simple design; great fit and comfort
  • Breathe very well, dry fast – great for summer and hot weather
  • Lightweight construction with simple features
  • Solid wind, water, and sun protection thanks to the Omni-Shield and Omni-Shade technologies

Cons:

  • Waist adjustability is lacking, requires a belt
  • Velcro closure on the back pockets isn’t very convenient and looks cheap
  • Fabric is not stretchy enough for long backpacking trips

Best for: Casual (day) hiking

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

#15 Mountain Hardwear AP Shorts

Mountain Hardwear AP Shorts

Weight: 204 g (7.2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $70

Inseam (inches): 9, 11

Materials: 75% Cotton, 23% nylon, and 2% elastane

Notable features:

  • Roll waistband for comfort
  • Mesh-lined pockets for added breathability in hot weather
  • Zippered back pockets to keep items in place

Pros:

  • Good-for-anything – from rock climbing and bouldering to backpacking to casual wear in town
  • Good construction, soft but rugged fabric
  • Form-fitting, fabric with stretch, good range of motion; comfortable in heat, they dry quickly
  • Beautiful colors

Cons:

  • Front cell pocket is a bit too small for a modern smartphone + it doesn’t have a zip closure
  • Not very functional (especially for heavier objects) thigh hidden velcro pocket

Best for: Hot weather

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

 

 

Table 1: Best hiking shorts for men – comparison table

PRODUCTDESCRIPTIONPROSCONS
Prana Stretch Zion Shorts
Prana Stretch Zion

#1 Best overall



Weight -> 258 g (9.1 oz)
Price -> $69
Material -> 97% Nylon, 3% spandex
Inseam -> 10, 12


-> All around amazing shorts: high-quality, lightweight and stretchy
-> Great airflow; dries quickly
-> Rugged: abrasion-resistant fabric and durable seam-stitching
-> Fit well, flex and move well and are super comfortable


-> The fabric tends to pill
-> The left side leg pocket looks a kind of strange

Patagonia Quandary Shorts
Patagonia Quandary

#2 Best lightweight



Weight -> 204 g (7.2 oz)
Price -> $69
Material -> 95% Nylon (65% recycled), 5% spandex
Inseam -> 8, 10, 12


-> Lightweight and very packable; provide comfort for all kinds of outdoor activities
-> Clean design, well-constructed, well-made; look and feel good; dries fast and works well in warm weather
-> Great comfort and mobility
-> Six pockets offer plenty of storage space for essentials and necessities


-> Stain easily
-> A bit narrow at the thighs; too skinny and tight shorts
-> Limited color pallet

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo

#3 Best budget buy



Weight -> 295 g (10.4 oz)
Price -> $45
Material -> Main body (Omni-Shade): 100% nylon Silver Ridge ripstop; Mesh panels (Omni-Wick): 57% recycled polyester/43% polyester mesh
Inseam -> 10, 12


-> Durable and reliable shorts with practical design
-> Ultra-wicking fabric with UPF 50 breathes well and dries fast
-> Multi-pocket silhouette - lots of pockets (six)
-> Great for backpacking, canoeing, work as well as casual hanging out


-> Poor stitching/thread on the rear pockets
-> The lining of the back pockets is not very durable (mesh material)

KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts
KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts

#4 Best cargo shorts



Weight -> N/A
Price -> $79
Material -> DURALUX: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex
Inseam -> 12


-> Stylish design; smooth and comfortable material that dries fast
-> Eight functional pockets to hold everything (even iPhone)
-> Wonderful features
-> Tough and durable fabric


-> The 12-inch inseam is a bit long
-> Run smaller in size than usual
-> Cargo pockets have horizontal zippers

Arcteryx Palisade Shorts
Arc'teryx Palisade

#5 Best features



Weight -> 225 g (7.9 oz)
Price -> $129
Material -> 94% Nylon, 6% elastane
Inseam -> 10


-> A combination of great features and look
-> Excellent moisture-wicking and air permeability abilities
-> Built for dynamic activities in various environments
-> Plenty of secure storage space separated between five zippered pockets


-> Very short crotch zipper
-> Not for budget-conscious shoppers
-> Limited sizing and color pallet

Patagonia Nine Trails
Patagonia Nine Trails

#6 Best for trail running



Weight -> 181 g (6.4 oz)
Price -> $65
Material -> 91% polyester 75D recycled, 9% spandex
Inseam -> 8


-> Light, breathable, and quick-drying material for summer
-> High quality and extremely comfortable
-> Water-repellent fabric with DWR finish for bad weather
-> Reflective logo for better visibility during night runs and hikes


-> Tend to ride down in the back (tying up the drawstrings might help)
-> Pockets are good but keep them lightly filled as it isn't that comfortable to hold bigger stuff there

KUHL Renegade Shorts
KUHL Renegade Shorts

#7



Weight -> 272 g (9.6 oz)
Price -> $75
Material -> DURALUX: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex
Inseam -> 8, 10, 12


-> Smart design: KUHL found the right balance between elegant look and functional features
-> Sturdy and comfortable
-> Eight functional provide plenty of room for stuff
-> Fast-drying material that breathes well and moves with the wearer


-> Bulky feel
-> Most pockets are mesh-lined (good for breathability, bad for durability of pockets)
-> Front hand pockets are a bit shallow

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts
Outdoor Research Ferrosi

#8



Weight -> 207 g (7.3 oz)
Price -> $70
Material -> 86% nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop, 14% spandex
Inseam -> 8, 10, 12


-> Lightweight construction that breathes well and dries fast
-> Thin, soft, stretchy, and comfortable softshell fabric
-> Good flex; the unrestricted range of motion allow for any kind of movements/to move freely
-> Comfy design and a good fit


-> Only one zippered pocket (thigh)
-> The material tends to pill

Fjallraven Abisko Shorts
Fjallraven Abisko Shorts

#9



Weight -> 316 g (11.1 oz) for size 48
Price -> $125
Material -> G-1000 Original: 65% polyester, 35% cotton; 63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
Inseam -> 11.5


-> Top-notch construction and quality material
-> Tough and durable G-1000 fabric can withstand many backcountry trips
-> Great set of pockets
-> Weather-resistant fabric for protection from wind and water


-> No back pockets
-> A bit heavier than most models reviewed here and more limited breathability
-> You should spend time to learn how to re-apply and remove the wax to adapt your shorts to the conditions

the North Face Paramount Active Shorts
The North Face Paramount Active

#10



Weight -> 204 g (7.2 oz)
Price -> $55
Material -> 90% Polyester, 10% spandex
Inseam -> 9, 11


-> Dry, cool and comfortable experience
-> Suitable for high aerobic activities
-> Very comfortable; good stretch, flexibility, and mobility
-> Simple, basic design with no unnecessary features


-> Pockets are too small and shallow
-> No belt loops

Marmot Arch Rock Shorts
Marmot Arch Rock

#11



Weight -> 330 g (11.6 oz)
Price -> $60
Material -> 94% Nylon, 6% elastane
Inseam -> 11


-> Engineered for active people
-> Abrasion-resistant nylon fabric is durable, breathable, wicks moisture away, and dries quickly
-> The fabric has UPF 50+ and DWR finish
-> (Five) functional pockets are deep enough and work well for their intended use


-> Fabric marks and stains easy
-> A bit baggy
-> Limited options - only four colors

Helly Hansen Brono Shorts
Helly Hansen Brono

#12



Weight -> 310 g (10.9 oz)
Price -> $80
Material -> 89% Polyester, 11% elastane
Inseam -> 10


-> Perfect go-to shorts - comfy; excellent cut and fit; look and feel great
-> Soft, flexible, with a good stretch, DWR-treated softshell
-> Versatile - for all sorts of activities, conditions, and environments
-> High quality; well-designed and well-made


-> Limited sizing - only 5 options
-> A bit baggy

Prana Brion Shorts
Prana Brion

#13



Weight -> 255 g (9 oz)
Price -> $69
Material -> 97% Nylon, 3% spandex
Inseam -> 9, 11


-> Incredibly comfortable
-> Streamlined design and great style
-> Versatile
-> Rugged materials and features


-> 5 pockets but not a lot of storage space
-> Zipper is a better option than a hook-and-loop closure on back pockets
-> The fabric tends to pill

Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch
Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch

#14



Weight -> 196 g (6.9 oz)
Price -> $50
Material -> 95% Nylon, 5% elastane
Inseam -> 8, 10


-> Classic look and style; great fit and comfort
-> Great for summer
-> Lightweight construction with simple features
-> Solid wind, water, and sun protection


-> Waist adjustability is lacking, requires a belt
-> Velcro closure on the back pockets isn't very convenient and looks cheap
-> The fabric is not very stretchy

Mountain Hardwear AP Shorts
Mountain Hardwear AP

#15



Weight -> 204 g (7.2 oz)
Price -> $70
Material -> 75% Cotton, 23% nylon, and 2% elastane
Inseam -> 9, 11


-> Good-for-anything
-> Good construction, soft but rugged fabric
-> Form-fitting, fabric with stretch, good range of motion
-> Beautiful colors


-> Front cell pocket is too small for a modern smartphone
-> Not very functional thigh hidden velcro pocket

 

Hiking shorts for men buying advice or what to consider

Fabrics

A wide range of materials is used for making hiking shorts (nylon, polyester, elastane, cotton, etc.). Synthetic fibers dominate. It’s logical because they have many characteristics and properties that make them suitable for making hiking clothing for different environments and all kinds of weather.

Lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying constructions intended to keep the wearer cool and dry are perfect for summer backpacking trips. DWR-treated fabrics are preferred for changing weather and when rain is highly probable. Abrasion-resistant and hard-wearing fabrics (it’s common practice for manufacturers to use ripstop nylon and polyester) are a must for more rugged backcountry travels. The fabric also plays an important role in the fit, functionality, and ease of movement that a pair of shorts provides. For example, elastane or spandex fiber (sometimes under the trade name Lycra or something) is preferred due to the stretch it gives to the final product.

A nylon-spandex blend is the most common material for hiking shorts. Such a blend can be very durable, abrasion-resistant, and stretchy enough to allow for better mobility in a variety of sports and activities including those that require dynamic movement. More than half of the designs (9 in total) we review in this post including the top-ranked Prana Stretch Zion Shorts and Patagonia Quandary Shorts are strictly nylon-spandex whereas three other models are strictly polyester-spandex blends (we discuss the different polyester and cotton blends in more detail in our post Cotton vs Polyester). The last three models (Mountain Hardwear AP, Fjallraven Abisko Shorts, and Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo) are different combinations of two or three of the following fibers: nylon, polyester, elastane, and cotton.

Weight

Another important factor that deserves proper consideration is the weight of the shorts. We’ve reviewed shorts weighing from 181 g (6.4 oz) to 330 g (11.6 oz). In our post about the best hot weather pants, we outlined four main factors that can affect the weight of pants directly – material (nylon and polyester are lightweight); fabric thickness and weave (fine weaves and thin fabrics are lighter); lining and its thickness (heavy linings weigh more); and pant design and features (clean and simple design presumably means lighter garment, fewer and lighter features add less weight). These are perfectly valid for shorts as well. There are two differences that need to be mentioned, though. Difference 1: shorts are lighter than pants. Difference 2: the differences between the weight of lightweight and heavyweight shorts are smaller than the differences between lightweight pants and heavyweights.

Both bar charts below (Graph 1 and Graph 2) show the weight of 14 of the models in our review. One of them shows the weight of different hiking shorts in grams, whereas the other one shows the weight in ounces, hence the content of Graph 1 and Graph 2 is equivalent. Seven or half of all models weigh between 181 g (6.9 oz) for Patagonia Nine Trails and 225 g (7.9) for Arc’teryx Palisade. The other seven models range from 255 g (9 oz) for Prana Brion to 330 g (11.6 oz) for the heaviest Marmot Arch Rock.

The best lightweight shorts Patagonia Quandary are third among the lightest models in this review (204 g or 7.2 oz). They are just 23 g or less than an ounce heavier than the Patagonia Nine Trails – simple shorts for trail running with a streamlined design and few features. However, the Quandary shorts have three more pockets that provide much more storage space for keeping essentials secure. The best overall hiking shorts Prana Stretch Zion are in the middle of this list with their 258 g (9.1 oz). This fact shouldn’t surprise anyone because Prana tried to strike a balance between weight and features.

Graph 1: Weight comparison between men’s hiking shorts designs (in grams)

Men's hiking shorts weight comparison

The heaviest model Marmot Arch Rock and the other two designs that weigh just above 300 g (10.6 oz) – Fjallraven Abisko and Helly Hansen Brono are solid, top-notch constructions designed to excel in various conditions and environments. It’s understandable that two Scandinavian companies like Fjallraven from Sweden and Helly Hansen from Norway rely on making heavier but also durable and well-made shorts suitable for a range of climates. The extremely varied geography in Scandinavia is no doubt one of the reasons for this.

Graph 2: Weight comparison between men’s hiking shorts designs (in ounces) 

Men's hiking shorts weight comparison ounce

Length

The ideal length of a pair of men’s hiking shorts depends on the height of the user, his personal preference, expected weather conditions, and the abundance of lush vegetation. Each of these factors can play a significant role in the user’s perception of comfort. Traditionally, the inseam (which is the length from the crotch to the lower edge of the shorts) of men’s shorts for hiking is in the 8-12 inch range. Common short lengths are 8″, 9″, 10″, 11″, and 12″. Generally, shorter inseam length (like 8″, 9″) permits increased mobility and range of motion (keep in mind that too short can lead to thigh chafing). Longer inseam lengths (like 11″, 12″) allow for placing more and deeper pockets. That’s why many cargo hiking shorts typically come at one of these two lengths. We prefer low and mid-rise shorts (8″-10″) for most conditions and environments but certainly, there are some great 12-inch designs such as the KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts.

Breathability

Many outdoorsmen prefer to wear shorts because of the better ventilation they provide compared to pants. Of course, this is mainly due to the idiosyncrasies of shorts design (primarily the shorter inseam length; the presence of mesh-lined pockets adds to the air permeability of the garment) as their inherent breathability allows more air to pass through them. However, other things contribute substantially to the venting abilities of a pair of shorts too – material, fabric weight, and weave density. This way, (unwaxed) lightweight designs with a shorter inseam and looser weave are strong candidates for warm weather hiking because of the increased airflow – a key for having a cool, dry, and comfortable experience during moderate to high-intensity activities.

We’d recommend Prana Stretch Zion for anyone who’s craving for extra breathability on or off the trail. The airy fabric and additional ventilation features such as mesh-lined pockets and venting holes on the crotch ensure the much-needed airflow. Patagonia Quandary and Nine Trails, and the North Face Paramount Active are three other models that can offer a comparatively high airflow.

Functionality and comfort

These two should go hand in hand. Functionality (depends on the fabric, fit, features, mobility, etc.) without enough comfort is meaningless just as comfort without enough practical features can be highly problematic in the backcountry. Your priority should be to find shorts with the right combination of comfort and useful features.

Hikers wearing shorts walking through forest
No matter how they look, hiking shorts should be operational enough for their intended use

Photo by Ben Maxwell

Fit and mobility

Comfort matters because comfortable shorts are actually the shorts that are going to be used by the majority of outdoor enthusiasts (excluding a small number of people). Note that while the perceived comfort is strictly individual, there are still elements that could improve it.

Good fit, ease of movement, and comfort are essential for all sorts of activities where mobility is important. Actually, these three are interconnected. Which brings us to the next thing responsible for functionality:

Features

Technical features are an important part of the overall functionality of a pair of shorts. Take Arc’teryx Palisade – our top choice in this category. Arc’teryx designed it in such a way that it’s suitable for dynamic activities in various environments. The sleek lines, the great set of zippered pockets, integrated belt, crotch gusset, add to the functionality of these premium hiking shorts.

Here are some of the most common features of hiking shorts and how they enhance the performance:

Pockets

Different models have a different number of pockets ranging from two to eight or more. Normally, cargo shorts have more and deeper pockets (KUHL Renegade Cargo have eight; Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo have six). If you don’t need that many pockets, we recommend shorts with a simpler design like the Nine Trails. While the number of pockets is important a few more factors play a crucial role in making them functional – their depth, placement, and construction. Deeper pockets are a better option to keep things secure. Pockets that are too shallow cannot hold bigger and bulkier objects like smartphones, maps or wallets. The configuration of pockets is no less important than their number, capacity or durability. Smartly placed pockets help immensely to keep things organized. Also, avoid unusual pocket designs that swapped functionality and ease of use for visual appearance.

We prefer zippered pockets that are deep enough for secure storage and easy access to everything that might be of good use on the trail. Hook-and-loop and button closures have the same function as zippers and work in a similar way but we don’t like them that much.

Waist fastening

A better-fitting waist is very important for a secure and comfortable fit as it helps keep the shorts in place during movement. Traditionally, hiking shorts utilize zippers, buttons, snaps, belts, traditional belt loops, elastic waistbands, and other types of waist tightening mechanisms. Athletic shorts usually have low profile drawstrings. Each of these waist fastenings has its pros and cons.

DWR treatments

Fabric treated with a DWR coating is intended to keep the wearer better protected against drizzle and rain. This extra layer of protection is welcome in changing weather as it helps keep shorts and pocket contents dry. In addition, DWR-coated fabrics are famous for being more resistant to stains. The downside is clear – the so important for hot-weather activities air permeability is reduced.

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) fabric

Generally, all kinds of clothes stop rays of sunlight but the UPF rating ensures better protection from the sun. That’s why many great models have a UPF rating of 30 or more (all designs with a UPF rating here have a UPF of 50 or more, i.e. they provide better protection from the sun). Direct sunlight can be a real nuisance, especially at high elevations where you are exposed to more UV radiation.

Versatility and style

Typically, a seasoned hiker can distinguish between many different types of shorts (suitable) for hiking. However, in this section, we’ll mention just a few of the most common styles on the market:

Classic hiking shorts

Most models of hiking shorts belong in this group. Classic designs look reasonably well (at least to most confirmed hikers we know) and most importantly, they have all the essential elements to function well. Take, for instance, Patagonia Quandary. These shorts look and feel well. And in addition to the great style, they do well whatever the circumstances. Due to the lightweight, breathable, and comfortable fabric as well as the useful feature set they have, the Quandary shorts are our favorite for summer activities. We appreciate the versatility of these all-around shorts. Versatility is among the most important qualities of classic designs. Versatility is inextricably linked to functionality and covers other activities like climbing, running, working, traveling, and casual walking in town. Versatile shorts can be used in a variety of environments and activities from easy day hikes to longer backpacking trips in the woods that can take weeks or more.

Hiking shorts styles comparison
Three styles of hiking shorts, comparison (from left to right): classic, cargo, running shorts

Cargo shorts

They usually have a bit longer inseam (at least 10″, more often 11″ or 12″), look bulkier, and include tons of pockets that are readily accessible and usable for storing essentials and other necessary items. These pockets don’t have purely decorative functions like some or most of the pockets of lots of models intended for casual wear. Actually, two of the top 4 models here are cargo shorts – #3 and #4 – Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts and KUHL Renegade Cargo Shorts respectively. The latter are sturdy shorts with a stylish but practical design with eight functional pockets to hold everything from keys, wallets, and ID cards to maps and papers.

Running shorts

Lightweight, with few unnecessary features (if any at all), and designed for speed, running shorts are quite popular among hikers and trail runners of all ages and backgrounds. Running shorts have many advantages other than their low weight. They are usually made from thin but tough materials that breathe well and dry quickly. The inseam is shorter and helps them move with the user. Often, running shorts have a thin and breathable mesh interior liners with odor control technology. The function of this inner liner is to provide moisture management and prevent chafing. The downside of running shorts is that they have only a couple of pockets where you could keep not many things. Some find this annoying but this is a minor problem for those who don’t need an abundance of pockets.

Shorts with minimalist design

Similar to the running shorts but designed with hiking in mind (typically, they have a longer inseam), shorts with minimalist design have a neat, basic design with a good stretch that provides enough mobility for anything from hiking to climbing to travel Designed to keep the wearer feel cool and fresh. Minimal hiking shorts are a boon to ultralighters and all those who love hiking on rough terrain.

Price

Some people consider pricing a not-so-important factor but we can’t ignore the fact that for many outdoor enthusiasts price is a huge factor in their purchasing decisions.

Hiking shorts prices vary a lot. Price-quality ratios too. Note that cheaper does not necessarily mean crap and expensive does not always translate into higher quality. Certainly, it’s logical but we wanted to say it because there’s a tendency for some “experts” to extol the merits of outdoor clothing and gear often solely on the basis of the price tag.

The cheapest pair of shorts Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo is also the best budget option. The MSRP of these shorts is $45 but they can be found for as little as $30-$35 on a sale. For this price, the Silver Ridge Cargo shorts offer excellent value. It’s a combination of practical design and useful features like multiple pockets, integrated webbing belt, durable nylon ripstop fabric with UPF 50+, and Omni-Wick mesh panels. The Omni-Shade and Omni-Wick technologies provide superior sun protection and cooling during hot weather pursuits. Moreover, they work well in mountain environments where changing weather is more of a rule than an exception.

The prices of  Patagonia Quandary and Patagonia Nine Trails are also below average (you can find them in the bottom half of the graph) but they offer well above the average experience. Apparently, the user-centered approach is not unfamiliar to Patagonia because these reasonably priced models have enough quality to challenge much more expensive products in this category.

Graph 3: Men’s hiking shorts price comparison (US dollars)

Hiking shorts for men price - comparison

Conclusion

Making a well-informed choice is not that easy when there are so many options. And the market for men’s hiking shorts is not short of different fabrics, useful and not-so-useful features, technical details, and various designs with their advantages and their drawbacks.

This guide discussed some of the best models to help you find a great pair of shorts for your next hiking adventure. We’re confident that, now, after reading this post, you have all the information to make a great choice. Happy trails.

 

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