Written by 9:00 pm Travel Gear

Best Hiking Shorts

A person facing the meadow, standig with one hand on his waist, wearing a militar-printed cargo short.

When in the great outdoors, comfort is essential, especially when it comes to a long day of hiking. There’s a few questions you should ask yourself when choosing clothes for hiking: are they lightweight? Can you move around freely in them? Are they water resistant? In the case of choosing hiking shorts, all of these questions still remain as important. However, finding a pair of good hiking shorts can often be a task in itself.

If you’re looking for the best hiking shorts available, you’re in the right place! Below, we’ve searched for top quality hiking shorts that are going to tick all the boxes. And, because hiking shorts can differ significantly, it’s a good idea to know the differences between the types. Read on to find the best hiking shorts available and choose the best pair that are going to suit your hiking needs.

Types of Hiking Shorts

There are various types of hiking shorts available to buy so it’s a good idea to know the differences between each. After all, you wouldn’t want to end up with a pair of climbing, heavy-weight shorts when you’re only going for a walk, right? We’ve outlined the types of hiking shorts that you can buy below.

Backpacking Shorts

Backpacking shorts are designed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear though waterproof at the same time. Because backpackers are moving around often they need to be comfortable and durable. Cargo shorts are an excellent choice for any backpacker as they won’t get damaged easily if you’re walking for long periods. If you’re looking for a short that are made of fabric that dries quickly, be sure to review the shorts material and look out for materials such as polyester or nylon.

Day Hiking Shorts

Hiking shorts are designed to provide you with ultimate freedom for moving around and they are made to be breathable too. If you’re debating whether to get shorts for your next hike, they can be far more suitable than a pair of pants. Many day hiking shorts are made to have cargo pockets for carrying smaller gear such as a compass or a folded map. Don’t choose day hiking shorts that are made of cotton, rather go for fabrics such as nylon and polyester which are abrasion-resistant.

Running Shorts

If you’re thinking about wearing shorts designed for running on your next hike, be sure to check the weather forecast first! A pair of shorts that are made of lightweight synthetic material are ideal for hotter days. However, if you’re going to be hiking in cooler conditions, they can certainly cause problems. They’re often shorter than cargo shorts which can leave some people feeling a little exposed, though for many it’s not an issue.

Top 12 Best Hiking Shorts

Now that we’ve introduced you to the various types of hiking shorts, it’s time to take a look at the top 15 products that we have picked. All of the hiking shorts below have been selected based on their quality, practicality for hiking, and design. You’ll find 15 excellent hiking shorts to choose from in this guide, all you have to do is choose which are the best for you!

1. The North Face Paramount Trail Shorts

Image of an unknown man standingin half body image only, focusing on the coffee-colored shorts he is wearing, with two side pockets in zipper closure seen.

Type:  Trail shorts  | Pockets: 4 |  Fabric:  Nylon, Polyester

First on our list, we have amazing shorts that are highly suitable for hiking from the reputable brand North Face. The Paramount trail shorts are designed with hiking in mind and they are made in the U.S. Both lightweight and extremely comfortable, these shorts are an excellent choice for when you have hours of walking on the agenda.

They come with cargo pockets on either side which can be zipped securely closed, allowing you to keep smaller bits of gear safe when on the move. In addition to the side pockets, the shorts also have a webbed belt to ensure that your shorts are kept up at all times, no matter how fast you’re moving.

These shorts are a particularly good choice as they also boast sun protection with a strong UPF rating too. No matter the location of your next hike, the Paramount trail shorts are a solid choice that will satisfy!

Pro's:
  • Pockets on either side with zippers
  • Lightweight and comfy
  • Feature a webbed belt
Cons:
  • Quite big sizes (length)

2. Gerry Stretch River Hiking Short

Photo of an unidentified man wearing a navy blue cargo shorts with two side pockets, one hand inside it.

Type: Hiking short  | Pockets: 4   Fabric:  Nylon

Next on our list are these shorts from the outdoor brand Gerry, the stretch River shorts are ideal for any type of hike. Designed to be versatile for all types of activities and equally stylish, these shorts are a top choice amongst hikers.

Made of a stretchy fabric, these shorts will fit you like a glove and won’t ever slip down, making them a solid contender for the comfort factor. The fabric used offers fast drying while being lightweight enough to move around with absolute ease, even when climbing a mountain face!

This pair of hiking shorts are a great choice when it comes to hiking apparel and they come at an affordable price too. They’ll soon become your favorite pair of outdoor shorts, no matter whether you’re hiking or going for a leisurely stroll.

Pro's:
  • Quick-drying fabric
  • Appear very stylish
  • Very flexible to move in
Cons:
  • Have zippered pockets which some may not like

3. Arc’teryx Creston Short

Image of a hiking short in dark moss green color, button and two side pockets are seen.

Type: Trekking and hiking | Pockets: 5 |  Fabric:  Synthetic and Nylon

Arc’teryx have brought about perhaps the best pair of hiking shorts available on the market with the Creston shorts. These hiking shorts boast a super soft lined waist belt and a built-in belt so you won’t have to worry about comfort. The pockets aren’t cargo style but they still offer plenty of space to store your essentials when hiking. Renowned for being lightweight, these shorts are highly air permeable too allowing moisture to escape.

There’s no chance of overheating when wearing the Creston shorts and they look stylish enough to wear on other occasions too. Made of a comfortable synthetic material, these quick-drying shorts are one of the best models for hiking from Arc’teryx.

We love these shorts as they are ideal for both hiking and trekking, and they come with a handy snap closure so you’ll never need to fiddle around putting them on.

Pro's:
  • Air permeable design to prevent sweating
  • Lightweight and easy to move in
  • Have a soft lined waist belt
Cons:
  • Only available in a single color

4. PrAna Women’s Olivia Short

A close-up photo of above the knee hiking shorts for women in gray color.

Type:  Multi-purpose | Pockets: 4 |  Fabric:  PrAna Stretch Zion

 

An exclusive product in our list of the best hiking shorts, the PrAna stretch zion short are designed for women specifically. Made using stretch zion performance fabric, the shorts are moisture wicking meaning they are quick drying and they have an easy to close button fly.

With a mid-waist relaxed fit, these hiking shorts are a solid choice for a woman who wants to not feel restricted when walking. Composed of nylon and spandex, you won’t find a pair of stretch zion shorts that are more comfortable than this pair of prAna stretch zion short.

These hiking shorts aren’t limited to just hiking, in fact, they’re fashionable enough to wear when out and about everyday. With these shorts, you’ll be well-equipped for just about any occasion be it sports of everyday tasks.

Pro's:
  • Stylish with a relaxed fit
  • Easy to close button
  • Suitable for all typse of activities
Cons:
  • Short shorts so may not be ideal for more intense activities

5. The North Face Women’s Aphrodite Short

This is an image of an unidentified woman standing, wearing a hiking short, above the knee, in light brown color, belt lace tied into a ribbon.

Type: Multi-purpose  | Pockets: 3 |  Fabric: Nylon and Spandex

 

Another pair of hiking shorts for women, The North Face Aphrodite shorts are a highly popular option among female hikers and it’s easy to see why! With the brand’s motto ‘made to last’ in mind, this pair of hiking shorts are also made to be highly comfortable for walking.

Made of both spandex and nylon, the shorts are as lightweight as you’d expect and they feature a drawstring closure so you’ll never feel restricted when moving around. The FlashDry-XD fabric is quick drying as the name insinuates, helping to keep perspiration away from the skin at all times. These hiking shorts are ideal for warmer climates and though they don’t offer sun protection, they are great at keeping you cool.

If you’re looking for some solid women’s hiking shorts that don’t compromise on all the features you need, this North Face pair could be ideal.

Pro's:
  • Feature FlashDry-XD fabric that is high quality
  • Super comfy with a drawstring closure
  • They look stylish and are versatile
Cons:
  • Only come with a single zippered pocket

6. PrAna Mojo Loose Fit Athletic Shorts

Image of a comfortable hiking shorts in black color, with garterized waist.

Type: Sports  | Pockets: 3 |  Fabric: Recycled polyester

 

Another fantastic pair of shorts from PrAna, are theses hiking shorts for men that are designed to be losely fitted and ideal for any type of athletic activity. Made from recycled microfiber, these shorts are fast drying and offer 50+ UPF protection too making them highly suitable for hiking in the sun.

The plush elastic waistband sits comfortably on the waist while the mesh lined front hand pockets are ideal for storing smaller items. In addition to the front pockets, the shorts also feature a back pocket complete with a velcro closure for easy access. These shorts are one of the best options available if you’re planning a big walk in the sun. They’ll keep you dry and protect you from harmful sun rays at the same time.

Outside of being suitable for hiking, these shorts are versatile enough to use for other activities including yoga too. You won’t be disappointed with both the fit and comfort of these hiking shorts which make them a winner all round.

Pro's:
  • Versatile enough for activities such as yoga
  • Have an elastic waistband for extra comfort
  • Quick-drying fabric
Cons:
  • Not very durable for activities such as rockclimbing

7. Columbia Women’s Sandy River Cargo Shorts

An image of a woman wearing a brown above the knee shorts, her hands holding the both ends of a black belt.

Type:  Cargo  | Pockets: 3 |  Fabric: Nylon

 

Another excellent hiking shorts option for women, the Columbia Sandy River cargo shorts are both practical and comfortable. Composed of 100% soft nylon, the shorts are breathable and soft on the skin making them suitable for all types of weather conditions. Featuring advanced UPF technology, these shorts protect against harmful UV rays and utilise quick drying fabric at the same time.

The one-zip closure on the shorts makes them easy to put on and take off, and you won’t have to worry about them coming undone. When on the move, security is one of the most important things you’ll be wanting, these Columbia hiking shorts guarantee absolute security. The large cargo pockets are great for storing all sorts of things from your mobile phone to your wallet thanks to their generous depth.

All in all, this pair of shorts is one of the best options if you’re a women seeking something top-quality to wear when on a long hike.

Pro's:
  • Great for sunny environments due to UPF fabric
  • Breathable and soft on the skin
  • Feature large pockets
Cons:
  • Quite short shorts which some may not like

8. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

This is a close-up image of a cargo shorts with a black belt included in dark brown color.

Type: Cargo | Pockets: 6 |  Fabric:  Nylon

 

A fantastic option if you’re seeking a lightweight pair of shorts for hiking are these Columbia silver ridge shorts. Made of 100% nylon, they are both breathable and practical for moving about for extended periods of time. You won’t have to worry about overheating in these shorts which make them highly suitable for hiking and walking. With an easy button closure and belt loops, these hiking pants will stay up at all times allowing you to walk with confidence.

Using Columbia’s signature UPF fabric, these shorts provide protection against harmful UV rays and are highly durable at the same time. The addition of roomy hand pockets allow you to store items for both security and convenience and they come with a partially adjustable waist too. Designed to provide a classic fit for any man wearing them, these among the best hiking shorts for any active person.

Not only do these shorts provide ultimate practicality but they carry the stylish Columbia silver ridge look too. When wearing these shorts you’ll feel ready for just about any outdoor adventure.

Pro's:
  • Come with 6 pockets including high-security side pockets
  • Look stylish and are comfortable
  • Breathable with UPF fabric
Cons:
  • Not as durable as some other shorts

9. PrAna Stretch Zion Short

Image of a cargo short for men, probably knee-length, in gray color, button and side pockets seen.

Type:   Multi-purpose | Pockets: 6 |  Fabric:  PrAna stretch zion

 

PrAna has already made an appearance in our guide among the best brands for hiking pants, but this PrAna stretch zion short is certainly one of the best. Designed for men, but also suitable for women, these hiking shorts are composed of stretch zion fabric for a lightweight and flexible fit. However, this PrAna stretch zion short also stands the test of rugged environments and is durable enough for just about any sort of weather conditions too.

These PrAna shorts are both water resistant (in case you get wet) and offer a UPF of 50+ making them ideal for hotter climates. Whether you’re climbing a crag in the daytime and heading for beers with pals afterwards, these versatile shorts are a winner all round.

As far as practicality go they offer complete coverage for just about any hiking experience and they have all the extras such as large side pockets too.

Pro's:
  • Versatile for everyday activities and hiking
  • Feature plenty of pockets
  • Made of PrAna stretch zion fabric which is breathable and protective
Cons:
  • Available at a slightly higher price than others

10. Coleman Ripstop Nylon Cargo Shorts

This is a photo of a guy standing, wearing a blue knee-length cargo short with black belt,

 

Type:  Cargo  | Pockets: 8 |  Fabric: Nylon

 

The next pair of best hiking shorts in our list are the Coleman Outdoor nylon shorts which are perfect for any hike in a summer climate. Featuring Ripstop fabric, the cargo short are extra durable so you can walk without a problem, no matter the environment you find yourself in. With a partial elastic waistband, the shorts offer a comfortable and secure fit with a removable integrated belt.

Both the upper front pocket and back pockets are made with a mesh lining, allowing them to drain quickly in wet conditions. In addition, they are made practical and easy to access with velcro fastenings giving you a total of 8 pockets with these hiking pants.

If you’re looking for a sturdy pair of shorts for your next trail, the Coleman Ripstop nylon could be for you. An ideal option for anybody seeking lightweight hiking gear that has a durable edge.

Pro's:
  • Feature 8 pockets
  • Have a removable belt for better fitting
  • The fabric (Ripstop) is quick drying and super comfy
Cons:
  • Not suitable for colder conditions

11. PrAna Brion Short

Image of a cream-colored shorts laid-out on a white background.

Type: Multi-purpose  | Pockets: 5 |  Fabric: PrAna stretch zion

 

We have another fantastic pair of pants for hiking from PrAna, and while they’re branded for men they are certainly suitable for women too. Available in a wide range of colors and featuring spacious pockets for security of your valuable items, these shorts offer a classic look that is timeless. Made of a spandex and nylon composition, the shorts are designed with comfort in mind though they are abrasion resistant too.

They feature 5 pockets in total and have a fixed waist with belt loops so you can adjust the fit to suit your body shape. With moisture wicking properties, this hiking short will keep you sweat-free and cool on warmer days. For a totally versatile design, the PrAna Brion Shorts tick all of the boxes are one of the best options on the market.

Whether you’re planning to go rock climbing for the day, or you have a 7-hour trail ahead, look no further than these excellent quality shorts.

Pro's:
  • Versatile and stylish PrAna stretch zion short
  • Has 5 pockets for storing your essentials
  • Durable fabric that is comfy to wear
Cons:
  • Not the most lightweight option for hiking

12. Mountain Hardwear Runout Men Shorts

Photo of a cargo shorts in dark moss green shade, blackbelt attached to the belt loops.

Type: Multi-purpose  | Pockets: 4 |  Fabric:  Cotton canvas

 

Our final pair of shorts for outdoor activities, are the Mountain Hardwear Runout short which are among the best for hiking too. Offering the wearer maximum comfort for walking as well as style when outdoors, these shorts are made of a soft canvas material which is durable at the same time. You’ll also benefit from protection from the sun when wearing the shorts on a trail and they come with enough pockets to keep your essentials safe at all times.

Unlike other shorts, these ones do not look typical of an outdoor short, instead they boast a versatile design. They come with an integrated belt which can be adjusted to meet your size and they offer UPF50 protection too. If you’re seeking durable pants for any type of outdoor activities, this short could be the perfect option for you.

Available in an attractive blue color, you’ll feel comfy and well-equipped for anything from trail running to tidying up the back garden.

Pro's:
  • Made of cotton canvas for both durability and comfort
  • Offers the wearer UPF50 protection for warmer conditions
  • Are a stylish option and come with a built-in belt
Cons:
  • Only available in a single color

Considerations When Choosing the Best Hiking Shorts

Is this your first time buying shorts for hiking? If so, you’re probably in need of some guidance when it comes to knowing what you should be looking out for. There are many different models of short for trails, walks, and outdoor activities as you’ve probably found out from the wonderful selection above! Therefore, finding the perfect short for your own needs can be a little bit of a task in itself.

Below, we’ve put together all the considerations that you should keep in mind when selecting shorts for your hiking trip. From the materials used to the number of pockets shorts have, it’s all important stuff to review.

Materials

Let’s begin with the materials that shorts should be made of specifically for hiking activities. You’ll be wanting a pair that ensure you’re not hot and sweaty in warm conditions, right? If this is the case, look out for nylon and other lightweight materials. You should also review whether or not the shorts are moisture-wicking, as this means they’re really good at drying out rather than soaking up sweat or dampness caused other ways.

Another important thing to note when it comes to the material that the shorts are composed of, is the weight. Heavier materials are going to end up soaking up rain and won’t dry out as easy, they can also cause you to sweat excessively under the sun. Think about what is more important to you for the day – do you need shorts that are lightweight and water-resistant or a durable pair for an activity such as rock climbing?

Fit

The fit of your new pants is going to be really important, as typically hikes last for hours, you won’t want to wear a pair that are ill-fitting. Most shorts in this category come with an elasticated waistband or an integrated belt which can be particularly useful. You won’t need to worry about them being too tight or perhaps worse, too loose!

Always be sure to review how the hiking short fits, you will find this information when you come to purchase them. We’ve included some details about how each pair fits above so that you can choose what works for you.

Style

There are lots of styles of short from the classic cargo short to board shorts, therefore, think about practicality VS style. While it may be tempting to go for a lovely pair of green denim shorts, they likely won’t serve much of a purpose when on a hike. Instead, try to strike a balance between finding a pair of shorts that are going to provide style and practicality at the same time.

In the list above, you’ll find plenty of styles to meet this need including options for both men and women. In fact, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Number of Pockets

How many pockets do you require when on a hike? Of course, you won’t be taking EVERYTHING you usually would, but you’ll still need room to pack the essentials and access them with ease. We advise choosing a hiking short that offers a minimum of 4 pockets, this should account for 2 front pockets and 2 back pockets.

It’s also a good idea to choose shorts where the pockets are secure. Both buttons and zippers will provide peace of mind for carrying valuable items such as your cell phone in your short pocket. In the case of the cargo short design, you will have more pockets than standard which some people find particularly useful, especially if they have other outdoor activities planned as well as a hike.

Purpose

Are you looking for a pair of shorts for everyday adventuring or do you want to equip yourself well for a particular challenge ahead? It’s always sensible to think about how often you’ll be wearing the shorts and where you’ll be wearing them of course!

We’ve included plenty of versatile shorts in the list above that are suitable for all sorts of outdoor activities from rock climbing to walking the dog. All you have to do is get to the bottom of the questions above to settle on a short that suits the purpose that you have in mind.

FAQs

Still have some questions about the best short for a hike? We’ve gathered all the common questions surrounding this type of outdoor gear so that you won’t have to search high and low for them yourself!

Can You Wear Shorts While Hiking?

Shorts can be worn when hiking, especially if you are hiking during the summer months. However, you should not wear a cargo short or other type of short if you are walking in colder conditions. Shorts can be a sensible options when it comes to the pants department for walking as they allow you to move freely and can be great for keeping you sweat-free and dry too.

What Should I Wear on a Long Hike?

On a long hike, comfort is your main concern and there are plenty of hiking gear recommendations to take advantage of – including our short reviews above. First and foremost, think about your footwear and what is going to work for the particular terrain that you are hiking on. Sneakers can be adequate enough for less harsh terrain such as grass, however, for rockier surfaces, you’ll need to invest in a good pair of hiking boots.

For trail running, shorts are going to be your best bet as there are lots of lightweight and comfortable options which are also moisture-wicking. This means you won’t overheat and you’ll be able to perform at the best of your ability. In addition to this, you’ll need to think about whether you will require a warm jacket (if you’re hiking during the evening), even in summer weather conditions. A fleece and lightweight waterproof jacket will suffice though if you’re walking in a cold climate you will need gear that is going to keep you warm.

Are Compression Shorts Good for Hiking?

Some people choose to wear a compression short for hiking and claim they are the best option due to their lightweight and water repellant design. However, we would always recommend choosing shorts that have been designed specifically for hiking activities. You may find that you are highly uncomfortable if you choose everyday shorts or shorts that are intended for the gym.

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