When it comes to hiking gear, wearing the right clothing and dressing accordingly for your hiking environment is extremely important. The weather and uncomfortable clothing can take away the enjoyment of exploring the great outdoors. In the summer, it’s necessary to swap out the winter hiking pants with shorts to stay cool and comfortable. It can be hard to find the best hiking shorts when so many companies produce hiking apparel – you’re bound to get a mixed bag of the good, bad, and exceptional products.
The purpose of this article is to ensure that you find a pair of shorts that will fit your needs and ones you feel confident wearing. Not only that, we want to ensure confidence in trustworthy brands and to know which ones aren’t worth it. We found many different brands but explored each characteristic when choosing which product met our standard and which ones fell short.
The first of three key components we demand it to be deemed admissible is ventilation. Unlike pants which are designed to maintain heat and warmth, shorts are proposed for the opposite. Shorts allow you to relieve any excess body warmth and allow the surrounding elements to help keep you at a cool and comfortable temperature as you huff and puff up the mountain. Exercise and hiking come with the inevitable quality of human sweat that can truly sabotage you if not managed correctly. Considering this, we place good ventilation as a necessity.
Along with hiking at the right temperature, being comfortable and unrestricted in your movement is just as important. Being comfortable means having the full range of motion that a good pair of hiking shorts can give you. Being able to successfully stretch your legs or even scale that upcoming boulder depends on you being able to access the coordination your body gives you. Great hiking shorts allow you to be able to use your body’s full potential without the fabric holding you back.
The third and final component we take into consideration is weight. Wearing heavy clothing can bring you down and contribute to both overall comfortability and reasonable body temperature. Hiking shorts should weigh a maximum of ten ounces and any more than that can negatively impact your experience. With keeping all these things in mind, here are the top 9 best hiking shorts we think are the best on the market.
The Top 9 Best Hiking Shorts
1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo
The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo shorts are comfortable and more rugged hiking short that is tough against its environment. The shorts are made of entire nylon except for the crotch area which replaced the nylon with mesh panels of polyester to ensure the shorts don’t restrict mobility and still have a strong ventilation system.
Like the Columbia featherweight shorts, these also have Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade technologies integrated into the fabric to protect the wearer from harmful sun rays. One of the characteristics of these shorts that set them apart is while being durable and still lightweight, is that they have 6 pockets.
Having two more pockets than the average hiking short gives the user more options for packability. Something that might not seem like an extremely useful implementation, but makes a huge difference when thru-hiking or hiking with limited backpacking space. On top of the extra pockets, The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo shorts come with an additional elastic waist and come with an adjustable belt. If looking for durable shorts with some unique extra features, these are definitely the shorts for you.
Sample Customer Review…This ripstop nylon material is treated to wick away perspiration. You will stay incredibly dry and cool in the heat wearing these. It is important to be aware that these are sold in 2 different lengths. A taller man should choose the longer length. These lightweight shorts wouldn’t be your choice to wear mountain climbing but are great for a peaceful hike or pick-up summer sports or, especially, a hot day spent in an amusement park. These would also be great for water rides or boating because they dry in a New York Minute. The side zippered pocket is plenty big enough to hold your wallet AND phone securely so you can move through crowds with confidence.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
2. The prAna Stretch Zion
These shorts work as an exceptional hybrid made for equal use hiking or any other causal activity. The Brion uses the renowned Stretch Zion fabric which is very durable, is water-resistant, and has worked as a great ventilation system. The stretchy aspect of the material really helps the user move and extend like it’s supposed to, giving you complete mobility.
It has four pockets with polyester mesh materials used for the interior with button and zipper seal. They also are a great style middle ground if you aren’t a fan of the shorter or longer hiking shorts. If you need new casual shorts and hiking shorts, buying this product helps you kill two birds with one stone.
Sample Customer Review…These are great shorts! Lightweight and stretchy. No tightness in the crotch when moving around. Woot woot! The cargo pocket fits a Passport just right, even with a small cover on it. The front pockets are nice and deep. One of the back pockets has a flat to protect it. Love not needing a belt. The fit seems to be right on. Highly recommend it for travel, hiking, or even everyday use!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
3. Columbia’s Silver Ridge Stretch Shorts
These lightweight shorts wrap around your legs in a tighter than average way without limiting the range of motion and chafing while also keeping you cool.
Being 88% nylon and 12% elastane, the material is gentle around your legs while also being able to stretch and extend, not preventing you from moving how you need to. The shorts also come with two deep side pockets and one zippered security pocket for more valuable items.
While extending your normal short packability capacity, they are also waterproof and include Columbia’s Omni-Shade technology, which blocks harmful UVA and UVB sun rays while still having a strong ventilation system to keep you cool. Columbia is known for its high-quality clothing and this newest addition to their hiking attire selection is nothing different. When wearing these shorts, you know that you’re getting one of the best products made for hikers.
Sample Customer Review… These are excellent shorts. They fit well–about what you’d expect in the waist (they don’t run large like many often do) and are a good length (10″ inseam) coming down above the knees, but neither too long nor too short. They are comfortable and practical with deep front pockets, a zippered side pocket on the right side (perfect for a cell phone or wallet), and two back pockets that close with velcro. The nylon texture is nice and the mesh pockets are as well and the overall product gives the impression of being well-made and durable. These are very nice shorts.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
4. Columbia Men’s Barracuda Killer Hiking Shorts
These lightweight shorts are ideal for those who are on the move and for men who are active. These quick-drying shorts are comfortable and provide UV sun protection. There are two side pockets and three back pockets to store smaller items which provides plenty of storage. Each pocket has zippers for extra protection. There is no elastic belt but there is a button closure and they are designed to be a classic fit and allow for easy movement.
Sample Customer Review… Love these shorts. I live in a very hot and humid climate and these are nice and light and perfect for the summer months. I also like to wear them if I am working outside and likely to get wet as they dry off really quickly. They do not need ironing and are smart enough to wear to a restaurant. Good all-around shorts. They worked really well for me so have since bought a second pair and may even go back for more.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
5. Coleman Men’s Cargo Hiking Shorts
These Coleman Cargo Hiking Shorts include side and rear patch pockets as well as an integrated elastic waistband, which offers you extra pockets to store your keys, wallet, phone, or anything else you might carry with you while hiking. Each pocket is expandable and has velcro flaps as well as zippers for extra protection.
The elastic waistband has a quick-release buckle and is easy to remove. They are tear-resistant, comfortable, and quick-drying for those who prefer to hike near a lake or waterfall. The UPF 50+ fabric blocks heat from the sun and provides sufficient protection. If you enjoy hiking in comfortable shorts, you don’t want to miss out on Coleman!
Sample Customer Review… I also particularly like the long leg pockets with side zipper right-leg inner pocket access – ideal for flat wallets or cell phones. The rear pockets, which I like to keep unused and tight and unused flat to by glutes have a nice velcro flap hold down. Gives it a nice trim-fit look and no pocket or flap material flapping in the breeze. They look great in social venues and look more upscale than look like rugged hiker shorts only seen on the trails. Yet they are quite durable and easy to clean if one spills an adult beverage condensate on them or slings some mud on them while walking real trails.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
6. PrAna Mojo Shorts
Originally designed for yoga, they were being taken by climbers who saw value in their lightweight, drying, stretchy, and comfortable aspects. What’s unique about these shorts is how they can practically be used for anything from a makeshift bathing suit to hiking or sleeping in.
The 100% polyester material makes them extremely soft and comfortable to wear, along with coming with a full elastic waistband that creates shorts that are always going to fit. Unlike many shorts of this nature, they have great packability with having three deep pockets. Although we have some versatile shorts throughout our article, I believe it’s safe to say these take the cake when it comes to universal use.
Sample Customer Review… These shorts were exactly what I wanted. They feature a comfortable waistband and the length is perfect. I bought these as running shorts and they have served that purpose exactly. The back pocket with Velcro works perfectly for holding my keys and seems pretty secure. If you want a pair of shorts that are responsibly made, high quality, and function well you cannot go wrong with the prAna Mojo Shorts.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
7. Columbia Men’s Smith Creek Cargo Shorts
Columbia Men’s Smith Creek Cargo Shorts, made our list because even though they are specifically made for hiking, they can easily be used for running in general. These 100% polyester shorts hug your legs in a comfortable and secure way that moves when you move. Also equipped with a waterproof finish, great ventilation for overall airflow, and Columbia’s signature Omni-Shade sun protection technology.
The truly special aspect of these shorts lies in the inner liner that repels sweat and helps keep you and your shorts dry even when hiking in the hottest of temperatures. We would consider these some of the best hiking shorts, but also great for running and if you want the best of both worlds, it doesn’t get closer than this.
8. ExOfficio Mens Sol Cool Camino
The ExOfficio Men’s Sol Cool Camino offers distinct features that make it a must-have in this article. One of the biggest aspects of the shorts is packability. They come with two security zip pockets, internal cell phone pouch inside the right leg zip pocket. While being secure, the shorts are also waterproof, odor-resistant, stain-resistant, and extremely light.
Along with keeping your valuables safe and not having to worry about them getting dirty quickly, they also have integrated great ventilation technology into the fabric. Using their signature Icefil technology they are guaranteed to keep you cool and comfortable in hot climates.
The material originates from birch bark and is interwoven into every inch of the fabric interjecting a cooling sensation whenever it comes into contact with sweat. Secure packability, element proof, and automatic cooling system make these shorts a great investment for any hiking or backpacking adventure.
9. Mountain Hardware Chockstone Hike Shark Shorts
Mountain Hardware is a top-tier brand for any backpacking and hiking gear and these shorts do not fall short of their reputation. They are a soft, durable, and comfortable pair that is guaranteed to keep you going during your climb. Made 88% nylon and 12% elastane the quality material is soft against your skin and like many other products on this list is waterproof and protects you from harmful sun rays.
The Mountain Hardware shorts come equipped with four deep pockets sealed with zippers to ensure secure packaging capabilities. All this on top of weighing just above 5 oz, makes these a great choice that will without a doubt leave you happy with the purchase.
All 9 pairs of shorts listed in this article are great purchases that are guaranteed to meet your hiking shorts needs, whatever they might be. With all being of high quality, it’s up to you to decide which ones really fit into your hiking endeavors. Whether you value space and packability or staying cool on those hot summer days, I promise you there is a pair of hiking shorts here that will work for you indefinitely. I hope this article has been informative and helped you find the best hiking shorts for you. Cheers to your next hiking adventure!
Written by Will Chambers & Dajahnique Nixon
Written by Will Chambers; Contributor: Dajahnique Nixon