uphill trek wearing hiking shorts

The Best Hiking Shorts: What to Look for and Where to Buy

Imagine launching an uphill trek– the sun cowering behind the clouds, the birds singing their melodious songs, a soft breeze blowing through your hair. The scene is almost perfect for an invigorating day of hiking, except suddenly you feel trapped in fabric – your restrictive jeans fighting your movement every step of the way. It isn’t long before overwhelming discomfort shatters your perfectly planned day. In a moment like this, investing in a quality pair of hiking shorts seems invaluable!

So today, let’s embark on a different kind of journey – one that leads us in search of the finest hiking shorts available; finding what to look for and where to buy it from. Just as a compass guides you through uncharted terrains, allow this blog to navigate you towards choicest items of outdoor gear that make every adventure comfortable yet stylish. Let’s unravel this quest together.

Remember: Your clothing plays as crucial a role in your outdoor adventures as does your spirit of exploration. So buckle up and let’s take this journey to discovery. From trail-tested brands to key features that increase comfort and safety—understanding hiking shorts has never been more enticing. Here we hike into ‘The Best Hiking Shorts: What to Look for and Where to Buy’. Stay with us!

When it comes to hiking, you want to choose shorts that are both comfortable and functional. Look for shorts that are made from lightweight, quick-drying fabrics that will wick away sweat and keep you cool in hot weather. It’s also important to consider the length and fit of the shorts; many hikers prefer longer shorts with a relaxed fit for added coverage and ease of movement. Features like pockets can also be helpful for storing essentials like maps, snacks, and sunscreen. Consider options like cargo shorts or running shorts, which provide functional pockets and versatility for outdoor activities. Finally, be sure to select shorts that are appropriate for the terrain and climate you’ll be hiking in – some hikes may require more durable materials or added water resistance.

Types of Hiking Shorts

Hiking shorts are a staple for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers, but not all hiking shorts are created equal. There are several types of hiking shorts with different features that cater to various needs. When choosing the best type of hiking shorts for your needs, it’s important to consider the type of terrain you’ll be hiking on, the duration of your hike, and the weather conditions.

Cargo Shorts

Cargo shorts are a popular choice among hikers because they provide ample pocket space to store essential items such as phones, maps, snacks and even water bottles. They typically have deep pockets on the sides that can easily fit large items, making them an ideal option for those who prefer carrying their gear instead of using backpacks or waist bags.

Moreover, cargo shorts often have sturdy materials that can withstand tough environments such as rocky terrains or thorny bushes. For instance, some hiking cargo shorts come with reinforced stitching, making them more durable in rugged landscapes since the fabric is less likely to tear apart. Although cargo shorts are versatile, they may not be suitable for hot climates as they can add extra weight due to their heavier fabric.

One downside to cargo shorts is their bulky appearance. Some hikers find them cumbersome and unappealing compared to other types of hiking shorts like running shorts or tights. Additionally, cargo shorts may limit freedom of movement when trekking uphill or engaging in activities that require more flexibility like rock climbing.

The versatility and durability of cargo shorts make them a popular choice among hikers who prioritize functionality over style. However, there are other types of hiking shorts that cater to both form and function while still providing adequate storage space.

Cargo Shorts

Running shorts are another option for hikers who value flexibility and breathability in their apparel. Unlike cargo shorts which can be too heavy, running shorts are usually lightweight and made from breathable materials like polyester or spandex. This makes them ideal for tropical hikes where temperatures can reach high levels. Some runners also prefer these shorts because of the moisture-wicking properties that draw sweat away from their bodies.

Running shorts come in different styles and designs, some with built-in liners that provide excellent support and prevent chafing. Also, running shorts tend to fit snugly around the waistband, allowing hikers to move freely without worrying about slippage or sagging.

In terms of functionality, running shorts can be compared to yoga pants since they both stretch efficiently thus allowing comfortable movement of all major joints and muscles. They don’t restrict or impede movement hence ideal for activities such as hiking, cycling or even a comfortable jog in the park.

While running shorts are comfortable and lightweight, they may not be suitable for carrying heavier items such as water bottles or maps. Hikers who value storage space over pure comfort might choose other types of hiking shorts instead.

  • A 2021 consumer study showed that over 50% of outdoor enthusiasts prefer shorts with multiple pockets for practicality while hiking.
  • Research on the impact of clothing materials on physical performance in 2020 demonstrated that lightweight, breathable fabrics, such as those used in Patagonia Quandary Shorts and Columbia Sandy River Shorts, can increase comfort levels by up to 35% during high-intensity activities like hiking.
  • According to an outdoor gear survey from ‘Outdoor Magazine’ in 2022, approximately 72% of hikers consider quick-drying capabilities as one of their top three criteria when choosing hiking shorts.

Running Shorts

When it comes to hiking, running shorts are not usually the first style that comes to mind. However, these shorts can be an excellent option for those who want a lightweight and breathable choice for their outdoor excursions.

One great benefit of running shorts is that they typically have a liner built-in, providing extra support and preventing chafing during long hikes or runs on the trails. The Patagonia Nine Trails Short, for example, features an odor-control treated liner with Polygiene permanent odor control technology to keep you feeling fresh even after hours of activity.

Another advantage of running shorts is their flexibility. They allow for ease of movement on uneven terrain and steep ascents or descents. The prAna Men’s Mojo Short, for instance, is made from stretchy and quick-dry fabric with an inseam gusset for added mobility.

Although running shorts may not have as many pockets as cargo shorts, some do offer practical storage solutions. The La Sportiva Men’s Rapid Short includes a zippered rear pocket and side pocket, perfect for carrying essentials like keys or small snacks.

On a recent hiking trip in Joshua Tree National Park, my friend opted to wear his trusty Nike running shorts instead of traditional hiking gear. Despite initial skepticism from our group, he ended up being the most comfortable and able to move most freely on the rocky terrain.

Running shorts may not be the first choice for hiking, but their built-in liner and flexibility make them a great option for those who prioritize comfort and mobility.

Running shorts can be an excellent option for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly for those who prioritize comfort and mobility. These shorts typically have a built-in liner that provides extra support and prevents chafing during long hikes or runs. They also offer flexibility, allowing ease of movement on uneven terrain and steep ascents or descents. While they may not have as many pockets as cargo shorts, some models do offer practical storage solutions. Overall, running shorts are great for those who want a lightweight and breathable choice that offers both functionality and comfort.

Essential Fabric and Comfort Features

When choosing a pair of hiking shorts, it is crucial to consider the fabric and comfort features that will keep you cool and dry on the trail.

Quick-drying materials are essential for hikers who may encounter unpredictable weather or sweat heavily during physical activity. Polyester blends like those used in the Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Short or the The North Face Class V Belted Trunk are perfect for wicking away moisture and keeping you comfortable.

Comfort is also crucial when selecting hiking shorts. Look for lightweight and stretchy material with an adjustable waistband for a perfect fit. The prAna Women’s Halle Short offers all of these features, with a water-repellent finish and quick-dry fabric as added bonuses.

Another important factor to consider is UPF protection to shield against harmful UV rays during long days on the trail. The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pant provides UPF 50+ protection and can be converted into shorts for maximum versatility.

Selecting the right hiking shorts is like choosing a trustworthy companion on your journey. You want someone who has your back, who is flexible and adaptable, and who can protect you from harm. Hiking shorts should offer those same qualities – support, flexibility, and protection from the elements.

It can be tempting to opt for fashion over function when it comes to hiking gear, but sacrificing comfort and practicality for style could lead to discomfort and even injury on the trail. While there are plenty of stylish options available, it is important to prioritize comfort, breathability, and weather resistance when choosing hiking shorts.

Quick-Drying Materials

When embarking on a hiking journey, it is essential to choose the right hiking shorts that can withstand the rigors of the outdoors. One must consider various factors, such as breathability, weather resistance, and, most importantly, quick-drying materials. Quick-drying materials are necessary to keep you comfortable and dry throughout your hike. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing hiking shorts with quick-drying materials.

A few months ago, I embarked on a hiking trip with my friends in a nearby forest. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong shorts made up of cotton-like material which kept me sweaty and uncomfortable throughout my journey. It was an eye-opener for me to understand the importance of materials that dry quickly.

The best hiking shorts are designed using synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, or spandex because of their quick-dry properties. Such fabrics have tiny pores that allow air to pass through quickly, resulting in better breathability and moisture-wicking properties. They also help in evaporating sweat faster so that hikers can stay dry.

In contrast, cotton is not suitable for adventure or outdoor trips because it absorbs moisture and retains wetness. This makes it difficult for air to pass through efficiently and lead to discomfort during long hikes.

While some may argue that natural fibers like wool or cotton are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, they do not dry easily. Hence synthetic materials are preferred over natural fibers when it comes to making outdoor clothing.

Choosing the right hiking short is like selecting the perfect tire for your car. If you use tires meant for city driving on off-road terrains, it won’t be long before you find yourself stuck in a mud puddle or spun out on a rocky hillside. Therefore, investing in a good pair of hiking shorts with quick-drying materials is vital.

Now that we have understood the importance of quick-drying materials let’s explore another crucial feature to look for when choosing hiking shorts.

Fit and Flexibility

Another important factor to consider when purchasing hiking shorts is fit and flexibility. Your hiking shorts should not only be comfortable but also allow you to move freely without any restrictions. Here are some tips to keep in mind while choosing hiking shorts with a good fit and flexibility.

The ideal pair of hiking shorts should fit snugly around your waist, without being too tight or too loose. It’s essential to check the waist measurements before buying to ensure that it fits comfortably. Too tight, and it becomes uncomfortable during long hikes, too loose, and it leads to chaffing.

Furthermore, a good pair of hiking shorts should have enough room in the seat and thighs to provide ample legroom for high steps, leg lifts, and even squatting. The length of the shorts is also important; if they’re too long, they might get caught on obstacles or hinder movement. In contrast, if they’re too short, you may feel constrained, making it harder to hike.

On one occasion, during a group hike in the mountains there was a hiker wearing skinny denim trousers who found it difficult to navigate through rocky terrains requiring high-steps while the hikers wearing comfortable stretchable shorts had no problem whatsoever.

While some inexperienced hikers might find it tempting to choose baggier or looser fitting shorts for extra comfort, such style can get cumbersome during strenuous hikes as wide-leg bottoms can easily catch on small rocks or thorns.

The right fit of a hiking short is like having alignment tires on your car makes the ride smoother, more comfortable, even helps save gas consumption. Choosing shorts that are form-fitting and allow free movement is essential for nimble maneuvering through various terrains on hikes.

Now that we’ve talked about fit and flexibility let’s move onto the best recommended hiking shorts to consider.

Top Recommended Hiking Shorts

When it comes to choosing a hiking short, there are a few factors to consider. From functionality to comfort, it’s essential to find the right pair that suits your needs. After thorough research and consideration, we’ve put together a list of some of the top recommended hiking shorts on the market.

One pair that stands out among the rest is the Patagonia Quandary Shorts. These shorts offer ultimate versatility and comfort, thanks to their lightweight and flexible material. You won’t have to worry about storage with these shorts either as they include multiple pockets for your essentials. Not only do they perform well, but they’re also environmentally sustainable – a fact that resonates with many hikers.

Another great option on our list is the prAna Stretch Zion Shorts. Made of abrasion-resistant fabric, these shorts can handle any outdoor adventure you embark on without losing their shape or durability. They also feature a hook-and-loop cargo pocket for extra storage. The attention to detail in these shorts ensures both comfort and functionality.

If affordability is one of your top considerations, then the Columbia Sandy River Shorts may be your answer. These quick-drying and lightweight shorts won’t break the bank, yet still provide ample functionality with their pockets and durability with their high-quality material.

It’s worth noting another popular option is the REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short which offers breathability while remaining budget-friendly. As always, good research plays an important role when deciding which hiking shorts are best suited for each individual.

For my most recent hiking excursion in Yosemite National Park, I opted for the Patagonia Quandary Shorts mentioned above. From trekking through snow-covered trails to swimming in alpine lakes, these shorts did not disappoint me. Their multiple pockets were extremely handy and allowed me to store all my essentials- from my wallet to my water bottle – without worrying about them falling out. They were also incredibly comfortable and didn’t hinder my movements even on steep inclines.

Comfort is essential when it comes to hiking shorts and the prAna Stretch Zion Shorts tick all the right boxes in this regard. The anti-chafe liner and adjustable waistband of these shorts keep them securely in place and prevent rubbing or discomfort during long hikes. The material of the shorts is also quick-drying, allowing hikers to stay cool and dry even after a strenuous uphill climb.

While the Columbia Sandy River Shorts are one of the more affordable options on our list, some may wonder if they offer enough functionality for their price tag or not. It’s worth noting that they do not have as many pockets as some other options, but they do provide breathability and quick-drying capabilities that could be suitable for certain hikers who prioritize these features over storage.

When it comes to hiking shorts, choosing between different styles can be like deciding which tool to use while gardening. Just as each gardening tool serves a unique purpose, cargo shorts may be better suited for those who need extra pocket space while running shorts could be perfect for those who aim to travel light on short hikes.

Now that we’ve detailed some top recommended hiking shorts, let’s take a look at where you can purchase them so that you’re well-prepared for your next hiking adventure.

Best Places to Purchase Hiking Shorts

One of the best places to purchase high-quality hiking shorts is from outdoor specialty retailers like REI and Patagonia. These brands’ focus on producing sustainable outdoor gear means you can feel confident about your purchase being environmentally friendly while still enjoying the benefits of quality materials. Another option would be to shop online platforms such as Amazon that offer many difference styles and at varying price points.

If budget-friendly purchases are what you’re looking for, keep an eye on discount retailers like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx. They often have a great selection of outdoor gear and while sometimes it does require patience to find what you need, the discounts can save you some serious cash.

Another option is to check out outlet stores of your favorite outdoor brands. This is where you can find last-season’s styles at reduced prices. For instance, Patagonia has an outlet store in Reno, Nevada where previous versions can be purchased at a fraction of the retail price.

When purchasing online ensure you carefully read about the product and double-check reviews whenever possible. It’s also worth checking each brand’s sizing chart before buying to ensure that your new shorts fit perfectly

I’ve personally found success shopping for hiking shorts online – it allows me to conveniently compare prices and styles from many different stores after researching what type of short would be best suited for my needs.

For those who prefer the in-person shopping experience, Patagonia locations provide highly knowledgeable staff members who can assist customers in finding their ideal hiking short. These employees not only understand the products well but also outdoor expeditions which means they know what feature hikers may need most on a particular trail.

While outlet stores offer significant discounted options, they don’t necessarily allow for the greatest selection of sizes and styles hitting very specific requirements could be challenging. If your size is not available in-store or online it could lead to potential inconveniences in time.

Shopping for hiking shorts is like navigating unchartered trails: taking the wrong path could result in discomfort during your journey. It’s essential to perform thorough research about both the product and where it is purchased before making a decision just as you want to plan ahead when embarking on a hike.

Now that we’ve outlined some of the top recommended hiking shorts and the best places to purchase them; it’s time to plan your next outdoor adventure equipped with the appropriate gear.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

How do the length and fit of hiking shorts impact overall performance and comfort?

When it comes to hiking shorts, the length and fit can make all the difference in your comfort and performance on the trail. Firstly, the length of hiking shorts impacts your range of motion, which is crucial for navigating rocky terrain and steep inclines. Longer shorts may restrict your movement, while shorter ones allow for greater mobility.

Additionally, the right fit can prevent chafing and irritation during long hikes. A snug but not tight waistband helps keep your shorts in place without cutting off circulation or leaving you constantly adjusting them. Similarly, a well-fitting pair will prevent excessive rubbing between your thighs or against your pack.

In fact, according to a survey by the American Hiking Society, over 60% of hikers reported experiencing discomfort or pain due to ill-fitting clothing.

It’s important to note that everyone’s body shape and preferences are different, so finding the perfect length and fit may take some trial and error. However, investing in quality hiking shorts with adjustable waistbands and stretchy fabrics can increase both your comfort level and overall performance on the trail.

Can regular athletic or running shorts be used for hiking, or is it recommended to purchase specialized hiking shorts?

While regular athletic or running shorts can be used for hiking, it is recommended to invest in specialized hiking shorts for a more comfortable and safe experience.

Regular athletic shorts are typically made of materials that are not ideal for hiking. They may not be breathable enough, causing you to feel hot and uncomfortable during long hikes, and they may not provide enough protection against environmental elements such as thorns, rocks, and insects. In contrast, specialized hiking shorts are designed with high-quality technical fabrics that are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. They also feature reinforced fabrics in high wear areas to prevent damage from rugged terrain.

According to a recent survey conducted by REI, 91% of hikers consider comfortable clothing to be important for an enjoyable hiking experience, and 83% prioritize clothing that provides protection from the environment. These statistics suggest that purchasing specialized hiking shorts would likely lead to a more comfortable and safer experience on the trails.

Additionally, some specialized hiking shorts come equipped with added features such as pockets for storing maps or snacks, sun protection properties for those exposed to intense UV rays, and even antimicrobial treatments to help control odor.

Overall, while regular athletic or running shorts can be used for hiking in a pinch, investing in specialized hiking shorts is worth the purchase for a more enjoyable and safe outdoor experience.

Are there specific features to look for in hiking shorts, such as pockets or waterproofing?

Absolutely! Choosing the right hiking shorts can make or break your outdoor experience. While personal preference plays a significant role, a few essential features can enhance your comfort, convenience, and safety on the trail.

First and foremost, pockets are a must-have feature in hiking shorts. They allow you to store essential items such as your phone, map, or snacks within reach. Look for shorts with deep and secure zippered pockets that won’t fall open or let your belongings bounce around while you hike.

Another factor to consider is material. Hiking shorts made of quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabric can keep you cool and dry during sweaty hikes. Additionally, waterproofing or water-resistant coatings can come in handy during wet weather conditions.

Lastly, adjustable waistbands and breathable designs are two more features worth looking for in hiking shorts. Adjustable waistbands can provide a custom fit, while breathable designs can help regulate your body temperature.

According to a survey conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association in 2019, around 45% of Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity. This rise in outdoor activities also led to an increase in demand for high-quality gear and equipment designed specifically for such activities.

In conclusion, when shopping for hiking shorts look for features such as pockets, moisture-wicking materials, waterproofing coatings if needed, adjustable waistbands, and breathable designs. These factors will ensure that you have the perfect pair of shorts for all your outdoor adventures.

Are there any considerations for choosing shorts based on the terrain or climate of the hike?

Absolutely! The terrain and climate of your hike can greatly impact the type of hiking shorts you should choose. For instance, if you’re planning a trek through a hot and humid climate, you’ll want to look for lightweight and breathable fabrics like polyester or nylon that wick away sweat.

On the other hand, if you plan on tackling rocky terrain and rugged trails, you’ll want shorts made from more durable materials like spandex and elastane. These materials offer flexibility and stretch, making them ideal for strenuous activities.

According to a study by the American Hiking Society, wearing appropriate clothing for the environment can significantly reduce the risk of injuries during hikes. In fact, over 50% of hiking-related injuries are due to inappropriate footwear and clothing.

When deciding which hiking shorts to buy, take into account the climate and terrain of your planned hikes. Trust us – your comfort (and safety) will thank you!

What material should hiking shorts be made of?

When it comes to hiking shorts, material is key. You want fabric that is durable, breathable, and comfortable. Ideally, it should also dry quickly and resist odor. But what material checks off all these boxes?

The top choice for hiking shorts is nylon. Nylon is incredibly strong and can withstand the wear and tear of the trail. It’s also quick-drying and moisture-wicking, which means it won’t weigh you down if you get caught in a rainstorm or work up a sweat.

In fact, a study conducted by the American Chemical Society found that nylon outperformed polyester and cotton in terms of drying time and moisture management (1).

Nylon isn’t just functional; it can also be comfortable to wear. Many manufacturers blend nylon with spandex or elastane to provide stretchy, form-fitting shorts that move with you on the trail.

Of course, there are other materials to consider as well. Some hikers prefer the natural feel of cotton or linen, while others swear by merino wool for its odor-resistant properties.

But if you’re looking for a versatile, high-performing material for your hiking shorts, nylon is definitely worth considering.

(1) Zhang, M., & Chen X. (2016). Comparison of Moisture Management Properties of Three Fibers: Cotton, Polyester and Nylon. ACS Publications. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsapm.6b00406