Best Lightweight Hiking Shorts for Thru-Hiking

9 Best Lightweight Hiking Shorts for Thru-Hiking

When you’re out and about, comfort is one of the most important aspects to carry on your day. The best lightweight hiking shorts for thru-hiking comes with the following features: lightweight, waterproof, durable, length, style, and fabric. These are only some of the questions you should ask when buying clothes for hiking. Hiking shorts come in many varieties because of these features. Before you decide to buy a pair, you should find out whether or not you’ve found the most optimal pick.

They should provide you greater flexibility and freedom by being breathable and durable. On top of that, small features such as zippered pockets, a soft waistband, and water-resistant coating can go a long way to improve your hiking experience. In addition, if they happen to look great and to work well for you then all the better.

Ideally, the best hiking shorts are the ones you don’t notice any discomfort and regularly use on a daily basis. Hiking shorts are the best for the summer, celebrating with friends or family during a barbeque outside a nice terrain. 

Top 9 Best Lightweight Hiking Shorts for Thru-Hiking

ImageProduct Details 
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hiking ShortsOutdoor Research Ferrosi Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 5 out of 5
  • Brand: Outdoor Research

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prAna Stretch Zion Hiking ShortsprAna Stretch Zion Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.9 out of 5
  • Brand: prAna

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prAna Brion Hiking ShortsprAna Brion Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand:prAna

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prAna Olivia Hiking ShortsprAna Olivia Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: prAna

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The North Face Aphrodite Hiking ShortsThe North Face Aphrodite Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: The North Face

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Columbia Silver Ridge Hiking ShortsColumbia Silver Ridge Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.6 out of 5
  • Brand: Columbia

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BALEAF Men's Hiking ShortsBALEAF Men's Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.5 out of 5
  • Brand: BALEAF

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Columbia Sandy River Hiking ShortsColumbia Sandy River Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.3 out of 5
  • Brand: Columbia

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BALEAF Women's Hiking ShortsBALEAF Women's Hiking Shorts

  • Customer Ratings: 4.3 out of 5
  • Brand: BALEAF

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1. Columbia Sandy River Hiking Shorts

The Columbia Women’s Sandy River shorts are a popular pick for lightweight hiking shorts. They are the classic, do-it-all protection for your legs when you are on the go during a hike, commute, and spending time with friends. They utilize stretch nylon and spandex, allowing you to move in a very comfortable and flexible way.

The stretchy waist, casual shorts for women to use for hikes, camping, beaches, or your home. These comfy shorts are all about the pockets and the fabric, containing two front-hand pockets and two back-hand pockets with a drop-down zipper pocket on the thigh area.

No one can have too many pockets, especially during an eventful hike. The women’s version only has four pockets, as well as one back pocket with a zipper for storage. The 100% nylon fabric provides the best experience with material for quick-dry, providing a combination of the UPF and efficient fabric work to provide you the best and comfortable protection. Rest assured, these inexpensive and high-quality shorts will provide you the best bang out of your buck.

Pros
  • Ultralightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Zipper in back pocket
  • Can double as bathing suit
Cons
  • Front pockets aren’t deep

Sample customer review… I have an old pair of Columbia shorts, probably 15 years old, that I love for running and hiking. Thought I should replace them, looked around at various stores and could not find anything comparable. I finally checked on amazon and ordered two pairs of shorts prior to a big hot spell and the only thing comfortable were these shorts.

Now I use them for gardening, chores, walking the dog, lounging, and of course hikes and running. They dry easily when I sweat in them. Easy to launder (wash and dry) or when I travel I can hand wash them and let them drip dry. I love these shorts. After I ordered them I found something similar at a discount store but they didn’t fit right and were irregular; and the same price. Yes, I love these shorts!

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2. prAna Stretch Zion Hiking Shorts

The prAna Zion Shorts allows you to obtain movement alongside the breeze outside. The high-quality, iconic hiking shorts for men to experience comfort. Stretch Zion is an abrasion-resistant fabric that can handle rough rocky faces, gravel, and branches.

The 97% nylon and 3% Spandex ensure abrasion-resistance and durability while the spandex allows the stretchiness for the fabric. You won’t have to worry about movement restrictions and rips. In addition, the fabric also dries incredibly well because of the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. 

These shorts have five pockets to provide the best portability for your needs. At the front and the back of the shorts, there are two pockets alongside a hook-and-loop closure cargo pocket. This provides some storage for your phone or keys. On the left side of the shorts, there is a large pocket that is covered with a flap to ensure no items fall out and a zipper pocket underneath it. The pockets are mesh, giving you a ventilated area to prevent you from overheating.

There is also an adjustable waistband system to make sure your shorts stay in place. There are men’s and women’s for these shorts. Men’s version of these shorts has two inseam options:10″ (25.4cm) and 12″ (30.5cm). On the other hand, the women’s has a 5″ (12.7) inseam.

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Integrated Waste Belt
  • Crotch vent
Cons
  • Hard to access pockets
  • Restricted water resistance

Sample customer review… These are my favorite shorts. I own shorts from The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, ExOfficio, and Dockers. The Prana Zion shorts stretch when I need them to. They have small vent holes in the crotch for comfort. The pockets are deep enough to be useful and the built-in belt has no equal.

There are also belt loops if you want to wear a belt to carry additional equipment (radio, cell phone, flashlight, etc). They are made with synthetic material so they wash easily and dry fast- no wrinkles. They are lightweight and pack well. These shorts are as close to perfection as you can get. You can go rock climbing or fishing in them, or wear them to the company picnic. I purchased the 10″ length because the 12″ length rubs on my knee caps which I find annoying.

There are 5 pockets. two front, two rear (one secured with flap), and one on the left leg that is secured. There are much cheaper shorts in this category, but none are as versatile and comfortable as the Prana Zion.

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3. Columbia Silver Ridge Hiking Shorts

The Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts are popular cargo shorts that many hikers enjoy. They are one of the best hiking shorts and moderately priced to use for backpacking, camping, and hiking. They provide substantial comfort and flexibility with their key features and materials.

They have several neutral colors, carrying five pockets with a good amount of space to carry your key belongings. The fabric uses Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade technology to effectively block out UV rays (UPF 50) and allows breathability.

These hiking shorts are mostly nylon with mesh panels to provide ventilation and easier movement. They come in several neutral colors, carrying only five pockets that each have a substantial amount of space to hold a good number of small objects. They are made with synthetic quick-drying material with an addition of a belt.

There are six pockets: two hand pockets, two side pockets, and two back pockets. The left side has a zipper, allowing users to keep their valuables safe. The shorts come in with an elastic waist as well as a hook and loop closure as an added bonus. With these many features, you will not have to worry while on the hike or on the beach.

Pros
  • Great water resistance
  • Affordable
Cons
  • feels cheap
  • Can’t adjust waste
  • Fabric doesn’t stretch

Sample customer review… So far so good! I am a big guy… 6′ 3″, 270 lb. I am a handyman and need shorts that can twist, stretch, and bend with all of my movements. II have always worn athletic shorts because normal cargo shorts are too restricting for the movement I do, like crawling through attics (yes, my 270 lb. body actually squeezes into attics LOL).

My first impression of these shorts is that they will give me the movement I need, keep me cool on hot days, dry quickly when sweating, and give me the pockets I need for my phone, wallet, and random tools. The real test will be during the next few months when I test the durability of the seems. If I don’t edit this review by mid-2016, just assume that they held up and I am happy with the product! Last, shipping was quick and painless, the product arrived as expected.

The size was perfect. I wear a 42″ waist. I ordered the 42″ size and they fit perfectly and the belt tightens them snug around my waist. I ordered both the 12″ length and the 10″ length to see which one I preferred. I prefer the 10″ for more movement, but either would work. 10″ still goes to the middle of my knee when standing up.

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4. prAna Brion Hiking Shorts

The prAna Brion Shorts are an excellent choice for hiking and daily use whenever you want. They use high-quality Stretch Zion fabric to make the hiking shorts extremely tough, stretchy, and durable. The shorts also include spandex, providing a comfortable texture for long-lasting use.

On top of that, they are water-resistant, so it’s easy to relax your mind during the rainy weather. It also has a button, a zipper closure, and belt loops in three different ranges of inseam for men and women.

The shorts also come in with the following pockets: three front-hand pockets and two back-hand pockets. The front-hand and back-hand pockets come with mesh interiors, providing breathability for your hot summer days. If your shorts get wet, it will dry quickly because of the lightweight material being under 10 ounces. It is especially important to note that they are slim and durable, making them fashionable enough for daily use.

Pros
  • Attractive
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • small number of pockets
  • no water resistance

Sample customer review…I started with the stretch zion convertibles and loved the fit and feel. The zion fabric sheds water and dries quickly, plus has good stretch for excellent ease of movement. I followed those up with the Brion pants for that same comfort with a more stylish (think no cargo pockets) look.

Naturally progressed even further to the brion shorts. I didn’t pay attention to the inseam measurement (9″) and they were a bit shorter than expected. I am 5’10” and they are a few inches above my knee. I have come to love the length, however. They look decidedly more “adult” than the baggier stretch zion cargos.

I still prefer the Zions for a long hike, as the brions are a bit more restricted in leg movement. But the brions are perfect for crossovers between active pursuits and going out on the town. They are great for impromptu swims.

They don’t get too heavy when wet and dry super fast in the sun. If you keep an eye out for sales, you can snag a pair for around $50 instead of the $65 list price. The dark khaki color is darker in person than the pics provided. Charcoal is just the right shade of gray, not too dark or too light. I’ll buy it again.

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5. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hiking Shorts

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts are one of the most popular shorts for many hikers and outgoers. These hiking shorts are super light, making them great for mountaineering on a really hot summer day. It prevents abrasion from occurring when you accidentally scrape your thigh. The shorts are made of thin and stretchy nylon and elastane fabric.

The fabric is woven tightly to apply as much durability, sun protection of UPF 50, and abrasion resistance. The 90D nylon construction is woven with spandex, giving the shorts ample durability and stretch. It is an added bonus that they are also wind-resistant and water-resistant, allowing you to feel as comfortable as possible.

As for the pockets, they have two front-hand pockets and back-hand pockets. There is also a zippered side pocket for important belongings. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts also have belt loops, a button, and a zipper fly to provide a low-profile waist while climbing up the mountains. Another important factor is that the shorts come in eight different colors and two different inseam lengths (8” and 10”).

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Great fit
  • Breathable
  • Flexible
Cons
  • A little short

Sample customer review… I wanted another pair of these shorts. The first pair I purchased in a local outdoor specialty store and loved them, but they were really expensive. Found the exact same shorts (I wanted a different color from what I had) on Amazon for a LOT less than I paid for my first pair.

They fit great. They’re high quality (I love all my Outdoor Research clothing – and I have several pieces) and the shipping was very quick. Had them on the second day after ordering (I’m a Prime member). Highly recommend.

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6. prAna Olivia Hiking Shorts

PrAna’s Olivia shorts are designed for stylish usage and comfort with their high-quality and built-in “Stretch Zion” fabric, providing users a flexible usage for all active outdoor purposes and activities. These hiking shorts are quick to dry and abrasion-resistant, making this a great choice for long outdoors and hikes.

The UPF 50 fabric protects your skin from harmful Ultraviolet A and B. The DWR finish of the shorts provides water-resistant protection, so there’s no worry about getting too wet.

The Olivia shorts can survive a lot of scrapes while being lightweight in 5.86 ounces and well fit. The fabric is mostly nylon and partially spandex with DWR treatment applied. They come in different inseam options: men have 10 inches (25.4 cm) and women have 5 inches (12.7 cm). Thanks to the various inseam options, men can have two hand pockets on each thigh.

There are also large hand pockets and two rear pockets for more storage and larger belongings. The bonus is that these shorts are stylish to mix-and-match so they’re a great lifestyle option for the outdoor adventurer.

Pros
  • Attractive and Stylish
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • High Quality
Cons
  • They run small
  • No zippered pockets

Sample customer review… I love these shorts, Super light, stretchy and the inseam is long enough to be conservative but not frumpy looking. The only issue I had was that different colors fit differently. I first got the camo in a size 6 and went back for the coal color, but the closest size they had was an 8.

I decided to get them anyway because I love the material so much, and I don’t mind if my hiking shorts are a bit loose. Well the coal color in 8 is almost exactly the same size as the camo in 6 (for reference I have a 28″ waist & 38″ hips.) The 8s are maybe a 1/4″ bigger in the waist. Certainly not a whole size bigger. So I ended up with two pairs of shorts that perfectly anyway. LOL.

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7. The North Face Aphrodite Hiking Shorts

The North Face Aphrodite shorts are uniquely made for women, providing substantial measurements and comfort for the target market. These shorts are especially great for casual walking, hiking, exercising, and stretching.

The shorts come with a FlashDry-XD fabric, allowing the shorts to dry faster and to move perspiration away from the skin. It is mostly nylon and partially spandex. It is also extremely durable; users can use a resilient stretch with no problem. T

hese hiking shorts have a large elastic waistband so users can adjust the tightness. The fabric lets users slip on and off quickly with no hassle. The shorts have a 3.5-inch inseam, so they offer some protection but not against abrasion.

There are two vertical hand pockets for easy access to warm your hands or to store smaller items. Alongside the vertical hand pockets, the small stealth cargo pocket is for storing keys or much simpler items. The shorts weigh about 4.8 ounces so it is easily a great activewear.

Pros
  • Fashionable
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Short inseam
  • Lacks water resistance

Sample customer review… I love the waistband. I’m an XL and this doesn’t give me a muffin top and the longer length means it doesn’t ride up when I walk. The light colors will show sweat if you’re drenched (hard workout), but the dark colors don’t show sweat.

They don’t shrink too much but over time if you dry them on high heat in the dryer repetitively they’ll shrink a little. They can get little tiny fabrics balls on them if they rub against something for a long time (a backpack) but I was able to get them off with tape pretty easily. I love these so much I bought 4 pairs in different colors. They are my go-to shorts.

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8. BALEAF Men’s Hiking Shorts

Are you looking for an inexpensive option for shorts with great durability and comfort? The men’s and women’s BALEAF hiking shorts are highly rated and popular amongst all ages. The hiking shorts are made out of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, making them flexible and durable for long usage.

The liner is built-in with mesh briefs to provide extra security and comfort. There’s also a drawstring to provide tightness and a secure fit. There are pockets, 2 side ones and 1 rear side.

The weight of these shorts is about 5.6 ounces with an inseam of 3 inches, 5 inches, and 7 inches. BALEAF running shorts also use a quick-dry fabric to make you feel as dry as possible from sweating. There is also a huge multitude of colors, making customization for your fashion needs. Most importantly, they are lightweight and include a back pocket with a zipper.

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Nice pockets
Cons
  • Big liner

Sample customer review… Let me start this by saying I’m an avid outdoorsman, and my primary activity is distance running. That said I own running shorts from all the major brands. These shorts from Baleaf meet, if not exceed the performance of those more expensive brands in practically every area.

Details: True to size, the liner offers ample support but isn’t too tight or too scratchy (perfect material), they wick well, they stretch, and they have a back zipper pocket! Believe me, I’ve done the research and spent the money. Buy these shorts now and save some of that hard-earned dough! They are every bit as good as the more spendy brands making them a superb value.

Heck, you could buy about 3-4 of these for the price of one of the more mainstream brands. I’ll end by saying one more positive thing. They do have side pockets too which makes them good for tennis, the beach, or any outdoor activity where you need the extra storage. These shorts are a no-brainer. They have held up well and I plan on buying a couple more pairs in different colors.

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9. BALEAF Women’s Hiking Shorts

Baleaf Women’s Long-Running Short helps you bring comfort in your life while on the go or on a casual hike. The fabric is mainly made out of 90% polyester and 10% spandex. The waistband is about three inches long with a four-way stretch to provide the best comfort for your stomach.

The hiking shorts are about 7 inches long to provide unrestricted freedom during all activities. It comes along with mesh briefs to provide a breathable experience when you are running. The back zipper pocket of the shorts provides a secure placement for your ID card, keys, money, or gels. As an added bonus, it is great for everyday use whenever you want.

Pros
  • Zipper pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Dry too quickly

Sample customer review… Very comfy and lightweight. I am a 12-14 in pants but I ordered an XL because I like my comfy shorts to really be comfy. They are a bit baggy in the leg but perfect in the waist and seat. A Large would have been a little bit squeezy I think.

Pockets are nice and deep though a little lower than I am used to a pocket sitting. The waistband is wide and stretchy with an adjustable pull. They are also a smidge long on me but I am 5’2” so that’s hardly a surprise. I just like the waist up a bit higher which is still perfectly comfortable and they’re good. The built-in pantry is really nice and sized just right. I chose these because I have a pair of lightweight Naviskin capris which I love.

They are not flattering but they are oh so comfy, super lightweight, and fast-drying. I was looking for a similar fabric in a short and these are it – and these Baleaf are more flattering. Would also be great for anyone whose thighs rub together when walking or running not only because of the length but also because there is just about no friction with this fabric. I recommend! Would buy it again.

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Conclusion

Have you made your final decision(s)? This list is to provide you the best options to enhance not only your hiking experience but your overall lifestyle. Shorts are essential to protect our legs and to provide comfort in our travels. It has the best helpful features to make sure you won’t feel disappointed during your travels. They help leave your worries behind as you wear your handy shorts out in the rough terrain, at the beach, or during your commute to the city.

The best lightweight hiking shorts for thru-hiking are brought to you by our best selections! Life is not complete without the best of the best!

Written by Tammy Mui

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