Best Hiking Shorts for Women in 2023

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This guide features a review of the top 15 women’s hiking shorts of 2023. We’ve focused on providing concise summaries of each contender, highlighting their main features and characteristics. To help you easily compare and contrast the options, we’ve also included a hiking shorts comparison table, detailing the most important pros and cons of each pair of shorts on our list. In the buying advice section, we cover everything you need to know about selecting hiking shorts for your outdoor adventures.

There are many good hiking shorts models available, and honestly, the process of finding the best one can be both tiring and tedious. That’s why we wrote this guide – to assist you with this task. By reading this article, you will gain an understanding of the different hiking short designs available on the market. And you will be in a good position to find the right option for your needs.

Best women's hiking shorts main

Photo by Laura Chouette


1. Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda                     View on Amazon              View on REI

2. Patagonia Quandary Shorts                                                    View on Patagonia       View on REI

3. KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts                                                  View on KUHL                        View on REI

4. Columbia Sandy River Cargo                                                  View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

5. Arc’teryx Gamma 9″ Shorts                                                     View on Amazon

6. Prana Halle Shorts II                                                                    View on Amazon              View on REI

7. KUHL Trekr Shorts                                                                       View on KUHL

8. REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda Shorts                                     View on REI

9. The North Face Class V Shorts                                              View on Amazon              View on REI

10. Prana Kanab Shorts                                                                   View on Amazon              View on REI

11. KUHL Splash 11″ Shorts                                                         View on KUHL

12. Patagonia Baggies 5″                                                                View on Patagonia        View on REI

13. REI Co-op Trailmade Shorts                                                 View on REI

14. Helly Hansen Maridalen                                                         View on Amazon              View on Helly Hansen

15. Outdoor Research Ferrosi 5″                                               View on Amazon              View on REI



Best overall hiking shorts

#1 Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda Shorts

Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda Shorts

Weight: 116 g (4.1 oz)

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 9

Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% elastane

Notable features:

  • Lightweight stretch fabric with UPF 50 shields against harsh UV rays; PFC-free DWR coating for protection against light rain
  • Flat and wide low-profile stretch waistband ensures you get the right fit
  • Anti-odor properties


  • The plain weave stretch nylon fabric is exceptionally soft and comfortable, and the low-profile stretch waistband only enhances the overall comfort.
  • Great set of functional pockets to hold everything you may need at hand. The four pockets include two deep side hand pockets, one back reverse entry pocket, and one zippered thigh pocket (located at the left thigh).
  • The material is lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying, making it ideal for breathability in summer and hot weather.
  • MHW patch logo at the right rear pocket seam for increased visibility during night hikes.


  • Regular use of these shorts may lead to some pilling on the fabric after some time.
  • These are available in only earthy and dull colors, which may not suit those who prefer more vibrant and colorful options.

Best for: Hot weather hiking

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Best lightweight shorts

#2 Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Weight: 142 g (5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $65 (5″), $69 (7″)

Inseam (inches): 5, 7

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

Notable features:

  • Bluesign-approved nylon fabric with 40+ UPF (sun protection) and DWR finish (drizzle and rain protection)
  • Crotch gusset for mobility
  • Waistband with hidden drawcord to fine-tune the fit


  • These hiking shorts for women are super lightweight and packable, making them a great option for summer and hot weather hikes. They keep the wearer cool and dry quickly.
  • Perfect length and fit; the design and fabric allow for greater mobility without chafing.
  • Clean streamlined design that provides comfort for all kinds of outdoor activities requiring moderate intensity.
  • The pockets are deep and spacious enough to hold a smartphone, wallet, and any other essentials, which is quite impressive.


  • These shorts may not be ideal for high-intensity activities as they are not very effective at wicking moisture.
  • Limited colors.

Best for: All things summer

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | REI | Backcountry


Best cargo shorts

#3 KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts

KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts

Weight: 241 g (8.5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $89

Inseam (inches): 10

Materials: FREEFLEX: 100% Polyester (50% polyester, 50% new polyester)

Notable features:

  • Maximum (UPF 50+) sun protection
  • The premium KÜHL fit of these shorts ensures that they stretch with a rebound to maintain their form
  • Wide pull-on waistband with external drawcord


  • Plenty of pockets (six including two front, two back, and two cargo pockets with snap closures) offer enough storage space to keep your stuff secure.
  • Have a comfortable feel and fit, and the combination of a 10-inch inseam and high-quality material allows for a full range of motion without any discomfort or riding up between the legs.
  • The FREEFLEX fabric is lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying, providing a comfortable experience on and off the trail during hot summer days.
  • Made of fairly durable material and have sturdy construction, ensuring they hold up well.


  • The fit in the sides is a bit loose.
  • These shorts are available only in a 10-inch length, so if you prefer shorter shorts or a different style, the KUHL Freeflex shorts might be a better option for you.

Best for: Warm-weather hikes

Find the latest price:



Best budget buy

#4 Columbia Sandy River Cargo Shorts

Columbia Sandy River Cargo Shorts

Weight: 117 g (4.13 oz)

Price (MSRP): $50 (can be found for $25-$35 on sale)

Inseam (inches): 6

Materials: 100% Nylon Perfecta Plus II

Notable features:

  • Nylon fabric with Omni-Shade UPF 30 technology for sun protection
  • Stretch waistband (adjustable webbing clip belt included)
  • Several (four) mesh-lined multi-functional pockets


  • Can’t beat the quality for this price; elastic waist and adjustable belt for individual fit (NO drawstring!). The good news is that they will still fit as your body changes size or two.
  • Come with four pockets, including two hand pockets and two cargo pockets that may be slightly smaller but still big enough to hold small items. However, they may not fit a smartphone.
  • Made from a thin and lightweight nylon fabric that is moisture-wicking and quick-drying, ensuring excellent breathability for a cool and comfortable experience on hot sunny days.
  • Offer a simple yet durable construction, with only the necessary features for comfortable and active wear during the summer.


  • The fit is a bit odd so you might have difficulty having the right size.
  • The plastic button isn’t that durable.
  • No back pockets and the two cargo pockets are quite small, making it difficult to hold larger items.

Best for: Hot summer days

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry


Best technical features

#5 Arc’teryx Gamma 9″ Shorts

Arcteryx Gamma 9" Shorts

Weight: 210 g (7.4 oz)

Price (MSRP): $130

Inseam (inches): 9

Materials: Fortius DW 2.0: 88% Nylon, 12% elastane

Notable features:

  • Bluesign-approved Fortius DW 2.0 is durable, has good stretch, and provides next-to-skin comfort
  • Adjustable integrated webbing belt with metal buckle for fine-tuning the fit
  • Articulated patterning and gusseted crotch for unrestricted mobility and comfort


  • Functional but also stylish, perfect for dynamic activities. They come with three zippered pockets – two hand pockets and one thigh pocket, offering sufficient storage space for essentials.
  • Great flexibility and unrestricted mobility: can be used for hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and other activities that require being active.
  • This model has excellent moisture-wicking and air permeability abilities thanks to the lightweight, cool, breathable, and quick-drying Fortius DW 2.0 fabric.
  • The fabric is supple and durable, with abrasion-resistant properties, and requires minimal maintenance.


  • Expensive (but definitely worth the investment for those who can afford them).
  • Tend to make noise when you walk due to the material.
  • Snug fit – can be uncomfortable for some body types or in hot weather.

Best for: Wilderness trekking

Find the latest price:



Best casual shorts

#6 Prana Halle Shorts II

Prana Halle shorts II

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 5, 7

Materials: 95% Nylon (recycled), 5% elastane

Notable features:

  • Bluesign stretch performance variegated ReZion ripstop fabric made with recycled nylon
  • Five functional pockets including deeper front pockets and back patch pockets with snap closures
  • Vents at each side seam hem


  • Versatile enough to be worn for various activities such as hiking, biking, traveling, yoga, work, or even for daily wear. They have a classic look and can be worn in different conditions and environments, making them a great all-around choice.
  • Great craftsmanship: high-quality materials and construction that is both well-designed and free of unnecessary features.
  • The Halle shorts offer exceptional comfort with their lightweight and soft fabric, providing a good fit and nice stretch that allows for unrestricted movement, making them the perfect option for active wear.
  • Good for summer activities as they have a UPF 50+ rating and provide enough ventilation thanks to mesh-lined pockets, thin and breathable fabric, and middle-of-the-road inseam.


  • Five-pocket styling but there’s no zippered pocket among them.
  • Tend to run larger than expected, so we recommend checking the size chart before placing your order.
  • Wearing shorts with buttoned back pockets can feel a bit strange, especially when sitting down.

Best for: Versatility

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Best of the rest

#7 KUHL Trekr Shorts

KUHL Trekr Shorts

Weight: 241 g (8.5 oz) for 11″

Price (MSRP): $70 (5.5″), $75 (8″), $79 (11″)

Inseam (inches): 5.5, 8, 11

Materials: REKOIL: 57% Polyester, 43% nylon

Notable features:

  • Premium fit with rebound stretch
  • Internal drawcord for fast and secure adjustment of the fit without the need to wear a belt
  • Two hidden zippered pockets on the side of each thigh


  • Breathable, stretchy material dries quickly for ease of movement on and off the trail.
  • Made with top-notch quality materials that are both soft against the skin and durable.
  • Classy streamlined look and good functionality – great for all your outdoor activities in 3 seasons.
  • The shorts come with six convenient pockets that are deep and useful for holding a lot of stuff.


  • To improve the design, deeper pockets and side pockets that open horizontally instead of vertically could be more practical.
  • The snap closure at the waist may not be secure enough and could accidentally come undone.

Best for: Day hikes

Find the latest price:



#8 REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda Shorts

REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda Shorts

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $60

Inseam (inches): 9

Materials: 96% Nylon (recycled), 4% spandex

Notable features:

  • Bluesign-approved stretch nylon fabric DWR finish to repel light moisture and dirt
  • Partially elastic waistband plus a drawstring for an adjustable fit
  • UPF 50+ provides extra sun protection


  • The stretchy fabric allows for unrestricted mobility, yet it holds up well during rigorous activities.
  • Cool and comfortable thanks to the thin, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying fabric with UPF 50+ rating for superior protection against harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Have four pockets, but they are strategically placed in convenient spots and spacious enough to store your essentials. Additionally, there is a zippered back pocket for secure storage of valuable items.
  • The shorts are easy to take care of as they wash and dry quickly.


  • The new Sahara shorts design runs smaller compared to the previous one.
  • No front pocket to safely store your phone (the only zippered pocket is in the back).

Best for: All things summer

Find the latest price:



#9 The North Face Class V Shorts

The North Face Class v Shorts

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $60

Inseam (inches): 4

Materials: 94% Nylon (recycled), 6% elastane

Notable features:

  • Fabric with FlashDry™-XD technology wicks moisture and speeds drying; non-PFC DWR finish
  • Elasticated waistband with an internal drawcord is stretchy and comfortable
  • Elastic key loop and embroidered logo


  • Nice combination of style and functionality: great fit (waist, legs) and appropriate length for daily wear, camping or hiking. Additionally, these women’s shorts are easy to match with other clothes.
  • Comfortable – allow free movement and do not ride up.
  • Provide excellent moisture management. The FlashDry™-XD fabric technology accelerates evaporation and keeps the user dry, cool, and comfortable during high aerobic activities.
  • The construction is robust thanks to the abrasion and snag-resistant fabric.


  • A single back pocket (though it is a zippered pocket).
  • We don’t find the drawcord of these shorts to be very appealing.
  • The fit is a bit baggy.

Best for: Casual wear

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


#10 Prana Kanab Shorts

Prana Kanab Women's Shorts

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $69

Inseam (inches): 5

Materials: 62% Cotton (organic), 36% nylon, 2% elastane

Notable features:

  • Knit waistband for stability and comfort
  • Deep patch front pockets and back pockets with envelope flap closure can hold all the essentials you may need for the day
  • Brush holder loop at each side


  • Versatile/All-around shorts: hiking, climbing or casual wear in town.
  • Great quality and fit thanks to the perfect length, high-quality sturdy materials, streamlined construction, sturdy 4-way stretch fabric, and soft knit waist. These hiking shorts provide flattering comfort.
  • Look amazing – the variegated color palette has colors for every taste.
  • Organic cotton is a more sustainable choice.


  • Tight fitting, not all will like this. Moreover, it would be nicer if there was adjustability (button, drawstring, etc.) to get an adjustable fit.
  • The back pockets sit a tad too low.
  • Fairly breathable but there are definitely more breathable designs on this list.

Best for: Versatility

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


#11 KUHL Splash 11″ Shorts

KUHL Splash 11 inch Shorts

Weight: 250 (8.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $65

Inseam (inches): 11

Materials: 68% Cotton, 29% nylon, 3% spandex

Notable features:

  • Six pockets including two snap back pockets and two snap thigh pockets
  • Free Ryde waist contours to the wearer’s body
  • UPF 50 fabric


  • A combination of soft yet sturdy material, solid construction, superb comfort, and stylish look.
  • Versatile: the elegant look and good length make these shorts perfect for activewear as well as casual, work, and travel.
  • A great color palette featuring seven beautiful colors including… camo.
  • Easy care (as there’s no shrinking or wrinkling of the material), wash, and wear. The fabric dries quickly.


  • Slim fit – run small for those with larger thighs so check the size guide and choose accordingly.
  • Not a very stretchy material.

Best for: Casual walking

Find the latest price:



#12 Patagonia Baggies Shorts 5″

Patagonia Baggies 5 inch Women's Shorts

Weight: 142 g (5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $59

Inseam (inches): 5

Materials: 100% Nylon (recycled)

Notable features:

  • Durable (bluesign-approved) nylon fabric with a DWR finish
  • Mesh-lined pockets for added ventilation and air circulation
  • Brushed-elastic waistband with drawcord for individual fit


  • Lightweight and quick-drying minimalist construction. Dipping in water is not a problem as your shorts will get dry soon.
  • Versatile and comfortable for all-day wear, these can easily become your go-to shorts for a variety of activities such as hiking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, etc.
  • These hiking shorts are not easy to stain but they’re easy to clean. Thanks to the DWR finish, water and potential soilings bead on the surface of the fabric.
  • Tough and durable nylon material that holds well during rugged trails.


  • The unlined waistband can get uncomfortable.
  • The fit is hit or miss: you’ll either like them a lot or … hate them. Curvy women are especially likely to have problems with the fit.
  • Sizing is inconsistent with what you may be used to. Offer less leg room, which restricts the range of motion a bit.

Best for: Warm weather hiking

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | REI | Backcountry


#13 REI Co-op Trailmade Shorts

REI Co-op Trailmade Shorts

Weight: N/A

Price (MSRP): $45

Inseam (inches): 5

Materials: 96% Nylon, 4% spandex

Notable features:

  • Six functional pockets
  • Elastic waistband and bungee adjustment improve comfort and fit
  • Bluesign-approved materials; two-way stretch fabric with UPF 50+ rating for protection against harmful ultraviolet rays


  • Excellent set of pockets that are deep enough and are actually usable including two drop-in hand pockets at the front, two mesh-lined rear drop-in pockets, and two envelope thigh pockets.
  • Very comfortable and don’t ride up in the inner thigh when walking.
  • Lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying fabric that’s fairly durable and has enough stretch for hiking and backpacking.
  • Simple, streamlined design that ensures a nice fit.


  • Functional but not the best materials.
  • The drawcord works but isn’t very comfortable when sitting as it may cut into your stomach.
  • Look a bit baggy in the thigh area.

Best for: Lightweight activities in hot weather

Find the latest price:



#14 Helly Hansen Maridalen Shorts

Helly Hansen Maridalen Women's Shorts

Weight: 250 g (8.82 oz)

Price (MSRP): $80

Inseam (inches): 5

Materials: 92% Polyamide, 8% elastane

Notable features:

  • Two cargo pockets
  • Quick-dry 2-way stretch bluesign-approved fabric with UPF 40 is more environmentally friendly and provides sun protection
  • Classic belt loops


  • Reliable construction: the durable stretch ripstop nylon material allows the shorts to move with the wearer during various dynamic outdoor activities.
  • The fabric is breathable and quick-drying working well in summer. The UPF 40 rating adds to the sun protection abilities of these shorts.
  • Multiple-pocket design (six pockets in total: two front hand pockets, two pleated back pockets with button closure, two cargo pockets – one zippered and one buttoned pocket) provides plenty of storage space for essentials and valuables.
  • Fit close without being tight or restrictive.


  • The three buttoned pockets, including the two back pockets, have a stylish appearance, but they are not very practical. Buttoned back pockets can be challenging to use because of the closure mechanism.
  • Fit a bit on the large side, especially around the waist. Thus check the size chart to get the right fit.

Best for: All things summer

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Helly Hansen


#15 Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts 5″

Outdoor Research Ferrosi 5-inch Shorts

Weight: 188 g (6.65 oz)

Price (MSRP): $79

Inseam (inches): 5

Materials: 86% nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop (46% recycled), 14% spandex

Notable features:

  • Bluesign-approved, DWR-treated fabric with UPF 50+ rating
  • Elasticated waist with a faux fly and an integrated web belt
  • Improved, movement-mirroring stretch


  • Lightweight women’s shorts that breathe well and dry easily. Excellent choice for hot and dry/humid weather.
  • Stylish but practical design: good flex, nice features (roomy pockets, comfy waistband), don’t ride up, no rubbing.
  • The soft, stretchy, and comfortable softshell fabric is perfect for hiking, biking, workouts, travel or whatever.
  • Great colors: seven beautiful color options.


  • The integrated belt doesn’t do its job well.
  • The trim fit may not be suitable for everyone as they hug tightly around the thighs.

Best for: Hot/warm weather

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Outdoor Research



Table 1: Best hiking shorts for women – comparison table

Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda Women's Shorts
Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda

#1 Best overall

Weight -> 116 g (4.1 oz)
Price -> $69
Material -> 94% Nylon, 6% elastane
Inseam -> 9

-> Outstanding comfort
-> Great set of (four) functional pockets
-> Lightweight and breathable fabric - great for summer activities
-> MHW patch logo for increased visibility during night hikes

-> The fabric tends to pill after some time
-> Lack of more vibrant colors

Patagonia Quandary Women's Shorts
Patagonia Quandary

#2 Best lightweight

Weight -> 142 g (5 oz)
Price -> $65 (5"), $69 (7")
Material -> 95% Nylon (65% recycled), 5% spandex
Inseam -> 5, 7

-> Super lightweight and very packable
-> Perfect length and fit; no chafing
-> Clean streamlined design works well for all kinds of outdoor activities requiring moderate intensity
-> Deep functional pockets

-> Not suitable for high-intensity activities
-> Limited colors

KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts
KUHL Freeflex Cargo

#3 Best cargo shorts

Weight -> 241 g (8.5 oz)
Price -> $89
Material -> FREEFLEX: 100% Polyester (50% polyester, 50% new polyester)
Inseam -> 10

-> Plenty of pockets offering enough storage space to keep your stuff secure
-> Nice feel and fit
-> The lightweight FREEFLEX material is ideal for hot days on and off the trail
-> Sturdy construction with fairly robust material

-> The fit is a bit loose in the sides
-> Come in 10-inch length only

Columbia Sandy River Cargo Shorts
Columbia Sandy River Cargo

#4 Best budget buy

Weight -> 117 g (4.13 oz)
Price -> $50
Material -> 100% Nylon Perfecta Plus II
Inseam -> 6

-> Can't beat the quality for this price
-> Handy and useful pockets
-> The material is perfect for hot sunny days
-> Simple yet durable construction without superfluous features

-> The fit is a bit odd
-> The plastic button isn't very durable
-> No back pockets; not enough deep pockets

Arcteryx Gamma 9" Women's Shorts
Arc'teryx Gamma 9"

#5 Best technical features

Weight -> 210 g (7.4 oz)
Price -> $130
Material -> Fortius DW 2.0: 88% Nylon, 12% elastane
Inseam -> 9

-> Nice combination of style and functionality
-> Great flexibility and unrestricted mobility
-> Excellent moisture-wicking and air permeability abilities
-> Supple, yet abrasion-resistant and durable fabric

-> Expensive
-> Make noise when you walk
-> Snug fit

Prana Halle II Shorts
Prana Halle II

#6 Best casual shorts

Weight -> N/A
Price -> $69
Material -> 95% Nylon (recycled), 5% elastane
Inseam -> 5, 7

-> Versatile: suitable for various activities in a range of conditions and environments
-> Well-designed and well-made
-> Outstanding comfort and unrestricted movement
-> Great for summer activities

-> No zippered pockets
-> Run a bit bigger than expected
-> Buttoned back pockets aren't the best solution

KUHL Trekr Shorts Women's
KUHL Trekr


Weight -> 241 g (8.5 oz)
Price -> $70 (5.5"), $75 (8"), $79 (11")
Material -> REKOIL: 57% Polyester, 43% nylon
Inseam -> 5.5, 8, 11

-> Soft, smooth, stretchy, and breathable material
-> Top-notch quality
-> Classy streamlined look and good functionality
-> Pockets are useful and can hold a lot of stuff

-> The pockets could be deeper
-> Snap closure at the waist can come undone easily

REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda Shorts
REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda


Weight -> N/A
Price -> $60
Material -> 96% Nylon (recycled), 4% spandex
Inseam -> 9

-> Great flexibility and unrestricted mobility
-> Cool and comfortable
-> Pockets are big enough and thoughtfully located exactly where you need them
-> Easy care

-> Run smaller than the previous Sahara shorts design
-> The only zippered pocket is in the back

The North Face Class V Womens shorts
The North Face Class V


Weight -> N/A
Price -> $ 60
Material -> 94% Nylon (recycled), 6% elastane
Inseam -> 4

-> Nice combination of style and functionality
-> Comfortable, allow free movement; do not ride up
-> Excellent moisture management
-> Robust construction

-> A single back pocket
-> The drawcord isn't very appealing
-> A bit baggy

Prana Kanab shorts
Prana Kanab


Weight -> N/A
Price -> $69
Material -> 62% Cotton (organic), 36% nylon, 2% elastane
Inseam -> 5

-> All-around shorts
-> Great quality and fit
-> Varieted color palette with nice colors for every taste
-> Nature-friendly materials

-> Tight fitting
-> The back pockets sit a bit lower than usual
-> Need to be even more breathable for hot weather

KUHL Splash 11 inch Shorts
KUHL Splash 11"


Weight -> 250 (8.8 oz)
Price -> $65
Material -> 68% Cotton, 29% nylon, 3% spandex
Inseam -> 11

-> A combination of soft yet sturdy material, solid construction, superb comfort, and stylish look
-> Versatile: perfect for activewear as well as casual
-> Great color palette
-> Easy care, wash, and wear

-> Slim fit
-> Not a very stretchy material

Patagonia Baggies 5 inch Shorts Women
Patagonia Baggies 5"


Weight -> 142 g (5 oz)
Price -> $59
Material -> 100% Nylon (recycled)
Inseam -> 5

-> Lightweight and quick-drying minimalist construction
-> Versatile and comfortable for all-day wear
-> Not easy to stain yet easy to clean thanks to the DWR finish
-> Tough and durable nylon material holds well during rugged trails

-> Unlined waistband can get uncomfortable
-> The fit is hit or miss
-> Different sizing than previous years

REI Co-op Trailmade Womens Shorts
REI Co-op Trailmade


Weight -> N/A
Price -> $45
Material -> 96% Nylon, 4% spandex
Inseam -> 5

-> Six deep enough pockets that are actually usable
-> Don't ride up in the inner thigh when walking
-> Lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying, stretchy fabric
-> Simple, streamlined design; nice fit.

-> Not very high-quality materials
-> The drawcord may cut into your stomach while sitting
-> Look a bit baggy in the thigh area

Helly Hansen Maridalen women shorts
Helly Hansen Maridalen


Weight -> 250 g (8.82 oz)
Price -> $80
Material -> 92% Polyamide (nylon), 8% elastane
Inseam -> 5

-> Reliable construction that moves with the wearer
-> Breathable and quick-drying UPF 40+ fabric works well in summer
-> Multiple-pocket design provides plenty of storage space
-> Good fit without being tight or restrictive

-> Buttoned pockets are not very functional
-> Fit a bit on the large side, especially around the waist

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts 5 inch
Outdoor Research Ferrosi 5"


Weight -> 188 g (6.65 oz)
Price -> $79
Material -> 86% nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop (46% recycled), 14% spandex
Inseam -> 5

-> Excellent for hot and dry/humid weather
-> Good flex and nice features
-> Soft, stretchy, and comfortable softshell fabric
-> seven great color options

-> The integrated belt doesn't do its job well
-> Fit snug on the thighs, which won't work for everyone


Hiking shorts for women buying advice or what to consider


When choosing hiking shorts, it’s important to look for a good fit that allows for breathability, lightweight feel, and quick-drying material to avoid restricting movement and stay comfortable on the trail. This is why many shorts are made using a combination of fibers, often including nylon and polyester, along with elastane, spandex, or Lycra for added stretch. These synthetic materials provide the necessary properties for versatile use, from casual wear to rugged backcountry travel, while also allowing for comfortable and unrestricted movement.

Nylon-spandex and polyester-spandex blends can be very sturdy, abrasion-resistant, and stretchy enough to allow for ease of movement in a variety of sports and activities that require dynamic movement. In this review, over half of the models (9 out of the total) follow a similar fabric construction, with three of the top 5 hiking shorts for women sharing this characteristic (excluding the all-polyester KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts and the all-nylon Columbia Sandy River Cargo Shorts). These models are typically composed of either nylon-spandex, polyester-spandex, or nylon-polyester-spandex blends, all of which offer a combination of durability, stretch, and comfort suitable for different hiking activities. Two other models are 100% nylon, one is 100% polyester, while the remaining models use polyester-nylon (KUHL Trekr Shorts) and cotton-nylon-spandex (The North Face Class V Shorts and KUHL Splash 11″ Shorts) blends.


In most cases, it’s preferable to choose lightweight shorts. After all, nobody wants to wear heavy shorts in hot summer weather, no matter how functional or comfortable they might be. The weight of a pair of shorts is influenced by various factors, such as the materials used (weave and thickness), the presence or absence of lining, its thickness, the number and type of features included, and the overall design. If you’re looking for lightweight shorts for summer hikes, choose ones with thin materials and short, simple designs without unnecessary features. On the other hand, rugged and functional shorts suitable for three seasons tend to weigh more.

The weight of ten models from our review is shown in both bar charts below (Graph 1 and Graph 2). Graph 1 displays the weight of women’s hiking shorts in grams, while Graph 2 shows the weight in ounces. The rest of the information in the two charts is identical. We’ve reviewed shorts weighing from 116 g (4.1 oz) to 250 g (8.8 oz). Our top pick, the MH Dynama/2 Bermuda, is the lightest design at just 116 g. Another super lightweight model is the Columbia Sandy River Cargo, which is negligibly heavier than the Dynama/2 at only about 1 g more.

Graph 1: Weight comparison between women’s hiking shorts designs (in grams)Women's hiking shorts weight comparison

The Patagonia Quandary, are the best lightweight model in this review, weighing in at 142 g or 5 oz, making them the third-lightest option. They weigh the same as the Patagonia Baggies 5″, which is a minimalist short with a simple design and few features. However, the Quandary shorts are a more versatile choice for hiking and backpacking because they offer better protection from the sun and water, thanks to their UPF 50+ fabric coated with a DWR finish, and they have more pockets to keep essentials secure.

Out of all the models, four of them weigh very similar, ranging between 241 g (8.5 oz) for the KUHL Trekr and KUHL Freeflex Cargo, up to 250 g (8.8 oz) for the heaviest Helly Hansen Maridalen and KUHL Splash 11″. Interestingly, two of the four heaviest models are KUHL shorts with an 11-inch inseam. Despite their weight, both the Trekr and Splash 11″ boast solid constructions, stylish looks, and excellent functionality.

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

Women's hiking shorts weight comparison ounce


While the common length of men’s hiking shorts inseam varies between 8″ and 12″, women’s hiking shorts traditionally have a wider range of inseam lengths, typically ranging from 4″ to 11″.

Different people have different preferences when it comes to the length of hiking shorts, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. The preferred length of a pair of shorts is determined by factors such as the user’s height, personal preference, and the weather and vegetation in the area. For example, if the weather is rainy or if there is lush vegetation, longer shorts or pants may be more appropriate. However, we generally recommend low and mid-rise shorts (5″-7″) as they are suitable for most conditions and environments.


Staying cool and dry is crucial for summer sports and activities. That’s why shorts are a popular choice for women during the hot weather. The superior air permeability, or breathability, of the shorts, along with their ability to allow air to pass through them, known as ventilation, are the main reasons why. When shorts lack proper ventilation, it can cause discomfort and even negatively affect performance.

The venting abilities of a pair of shorts depend primarily on the short design, materials, and features. Here’s what would be beneficial for added ventilation and air circulation:

  • Shorter inseam, streamlined design, and baggy look.
  • A thin porous material, low fabric weight, and looser weave density.
  • Mesh-lined pockets, venting holes on the crotch, and the non-use of DWR coatings.

The top-performing hiking shorts for women that provide a significantly high level of airflow are the Patagonia Baggies 5″, Columbia Sandy River Cargo, and REI Co-op Sahara Bermuda. These three models are made of lightweight, thin nylon fabric with mesh-lined pockets that allow air and moisture to pass through freely. While the MH Dynama/2 Bermuda falls slightly behind, they are still a great option with excellent air permeability.

Functionality and comfort

To ensure unrestricted mobility while walking, squatting, or sitting down, hiking shorts should be functional and comfortable. They should not impede movement when going up or down steep or gentle slopes. A great pair of hiking shorts combines a comfortable fit, useful features, and all-day comfort, whether you’re navigating technical terrain or taking a casual stroll in the city.

Fit and mobility

The first ingredient of both functionality and comfort is the right fit. A good fit isn’t too tight or too loose, it feels just right without the need to adjust the shorts in any way after the first couple of miles. Shorts that would need constant adjustments and readjustments won’t be too comfortable to wear even if they provide a great range of motion.


Having high-tech features is an essential component of the overall functionality of a pair of shorts. While technical features alone may not guarantee comfort, having shorts with a few good features tailored to dynamic activities in various environments can be a great starting point. Incorporating features like stretchy materials, durable construction, and ample pocket space can enhance performance in different ways, leading to positive changes in perceived comfort. For instance, the Arc’teryx Gamma 9″ hiking shorts are renowned for their excellent technical features.


Pockets serve different functions, primarily to provide storage space and easy access to personal belongings and valuables. Their design should help the user keep things organized and secure. Adequate storage space solves half of the problem, while the configuration of pockets solves the other half. Deep pockets are preferable for securely storing smartphones, wallets, maps, and other larger items. Buttons, zippers, and hook-and-loop closures help keep items safe, regardless of the pocket depth.

In addition to providing storage space, pockets can also serve secondary functions such as increasing airflow (by using mesh-lined pockets) or as hand-warmer pockets (usually side pockets).

It’s worth noting that women’s hiking shorts usually have fewer pockets than men’s shorts (due to the difference in inseam length). For example, women’s shorts may have two or three pockets, as seen in models like the Patagonia Baggies, while others like the KUHL Trekr and Helly Hansen Maridalen offer six or more pockets.

Waist fastening

Women’s shorts can make use of different ways of waist fastening. Using integrated and regular belts, internal and external drawstrings, and elastic waistbands are popular ways to get secure adjustment/snug fit at the waist.

Crotch gussets

Gusseted constructions protect and strengthen seams and give an exceptional fit for enhanced mobility in dynamic pursuits. They make squatting, bending, climbing, stretching, and all kinds of movement much easier and safer. To put it simply, the threat of tearing a hole in your shorts is diminished. Good pair of shorts with a gusseted crotch is the Patagonia Quandary.

DWR treatments

Factor number one for water resistance is the water-repellent finish (durable water repellent or DWR) that protects from water but does not drastically reduce the breathability of the fabric. An especially useful feature in changing weather, fabric treated with a DWR coating helps keep shorts and pocket contents dry. Keep in mind that the more resistant the shorts, the less breathable they are. Thus shorts that aren’t treated with a DWR such as the KUHL Trekr work better in hot weather.

Durable water repellents not only add water resistance but also make the fabric less susceptible to dirt and stains. This makes the shorts easier to clean and maintain.

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) fabric

Clothing provides better protection against harmful ultraviolet rays than sunscreen, and garments with a higher UPF rating offer even greater sun protection – UPF 50+ is the highest rating. The majority of the models we’ve reviewed have a rating ranging from UPF 30 for simpler, more affordable constructions like the Columbia Sandy River Cargo, to UPF 50+ for more advanced designs such as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi 5″ and KUHL Freeflex Cargo.


Multi-functional shorts will stay fully operational during different activities in a variety of environments and conditions. Such shorts combine a good look and sufficient utility and go well with different types of footwear. While athletic designs with a baggy look may be ideal for the backcountry, they may not be the most suitable for urban wear. For instance, the Columbia Sandy River Cargo shorts are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, but they may not be visually appealing for city wear. On the other hand, the Helly Hansen Maridalen shorts combine trendy design and style with the functionality and comfort required for multi-sport activities.

Hikers wearing shorts in summer
Shorter inseams and streamlined designs do not look very appealing yet they work well in the backcountry

Photo by Ben Maxwell


Pricing may not directly affect the performance of shorts but it is still a huge factor in many people’s purchasing decisions. Actually, the connection between price and quality is well-known as the price often (but not always!) have informational value for the quality of the product. The relationship between price and quality is crucial not only for outdoor enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their investment but also for those willing to pay a fair price and expecting to get their money’s worth.

At $50 MSRP, the Columbia Sandy River Cargo is the second cheapest pair of shorts we reviewed, and also our top budget pick. These shorts offer excellent value for money, with a practical design, durable fabric, and useful features for active summer wear. They can often be found on sale for around $25-$30, making them an even more affordable option.

The average price of the hiking shorts is approximately $71.5, which is not unexpected considering that two-thirds of all pairs are priced between $60 and $80. At $130, the most expensive pair is Arc’teryx Gamma 9″, costing almost three times as much as the cheapest pair, REI Co-op Trailmade ($45). While the best overall pair, MH Dynama/2 Bermuda ($69), and the best lightweight pair, Patagonia Quandary ($69), are priced in the mid-range, they provide an exceptional experience that far exceeds the average. The Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 are versatile shorts crafted with the user in mind. These all-around adventure shorts are incredibly comfortable and work well in a wide range of activities. Patagonia Quandary is a reasonably priced model with a clean streamlined design and bluesign-approved UPF 40+ fabric with DWR finish for better sun and water protection.

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

Hiking shorts for women price - comparison



The market for women’s hiking shorts is not short of different options, which means that making a well-informed choice is not an easy thing to do. The focus of your research should be on those metrics that matter the most: comfort and mobility, materials, prices (especially price-quality ratios), breathability, and ability to dry fast. Styles, features, and technical details aren’t an essential priority in most cases but they can be of considerable importance under certain circumstances.

We consider the Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda as the best all-around pair of shorts for women, striking a good balance between functionality and comfort. For those seeking lightweight shorts, our top choice is the Patagonia Quandary, while the Columbia Sandy River Cargo is an excellent budget-friendly option. If you’re looking for a cargo design, we recommend the KUHL Freeflex Cargo, and the Arc’teryx Gamma 9″ offers great technical features. Finally, if comfort is your priority, the Prana Halle II is an excellent casual option that you won’t regret.

This guide has covered some of the top models to help you find a great pair of ladies’ hiking shorts for your next outdoor excursion. We’re confident that after reading this post, you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Happy trails!


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