Best Hiking Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts

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This is a gear review of the best hiking shorts for 2024.

A good pair of backpacking shorts should be lightweight and durable. They should also allow for flexible movement, whilst helping you to regulate your body temperature.

The problem is, there are so many hiking shorts available that it can be difficult to know which ones to buy.

I’ve been using and testing hiking shorts for more than 20 years in some of the toughest conditions including thru-hiking in deserts and in the jungles of the tropics. As a result, I know what to look for in a good pair of shorts.

When the weather is cooler, a good pair of Convertible Hiking Pants or high quality Hiking Pants are good alternatives to hiking shorts and prefered by some people. Others like to wear a pair of baselayers under there shorts when the weather cools down.

Here are the best shorts for hiking in 2024.   

Best Shorts for Hiking 2024

The Best Shorts for Hiking in 2024 are:

Best Men’s Hiking Shorts 2024 – Overall

Prana Stretch Zion Shorts II

Prana Stretch Zion Short II

> Lightweight and durable
> Abrasion resistant
> Wicking Moisture
> Built in belt
> Made with recycled material
> Waistband is not stretch

The Prana Stretch Zion II Men’s Hiking Shorts are the latest upgrade of the popular Zion shorts. The fabric is made with recycled nylon material and is slightly lighter than the previous model. And I love the built in belt which makes it very adjustable.

It is made from 95% Recycled Nylon and 5% Elastane which provides lightweight durability and flexibility. The material is abrasion resistant so is well-suited to being worn on challenging trails.

These quick-drying shorts benefit from wicking technology to keep your skin dry as you walk, as well as UPF 50 sun protection to keep your skin safe from the sun. 

The Prana Stretch Zion II Men’s Hiking Shorts are designed to fall just above the knee for a comfortable fit, with a ventilated inseam gusseted crotch for improved airflow in hot and humid weather. It also has useful mesh-lined pockets on the front and back and a dual-entry cargo pocket.

The material is designed to be wrinkle resistant which is ideal for traveling when you need to fold them up to be packed away. 

These shorts come in a choice of 8 colors so you will easily be able to coordinate your hiking outfit.

Overall, the Prana Stretch Zion II Shorts are the Best Men’s hiking shorts of 2024.

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Best Sustainable Hiking Shorts

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Patagonia Quandary Hiking Shorts

> Made from materials that are recycled
> UPF 50 sun protection
> Choice of lengths
> Only 3 color choices

The Patagonia Quandary shorts are versatile and comfortable. They are made from a blend of recycled nylon and spandex which results in a stretchy and flexible pair of hiking shorts. 

These shorts benefit from UPF 50 sun protection. They come in a choice of two lengths and 3 colors, so you can find the pair that is most suited to your needs.

The Patagonia Quandary shorts are quick-drying and are nice and lightweight. They would be ideal for hiking in warm weather conditions but might not be suitable for a full day in intense humidity. 

Overall, the Patagonia Quandary shorts are great and one of the best shorts for backpacking in 2024. They come as Men’s Hiking Shorts and Women’s Hiking Shorts.

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Best quick dry Shorts for Backpacking

Patagonia Baggies Shorts

> Made from materials that are recycled
> Quick drying
> Loose fit
> Large choice of colors and lengths
> Not so good at wicking moisture

These practical, multi-functional shorts are perfect for hiking and other activities. They are made from recycled nylon which dries very quickly, making them ideal for wearing in and out of the water. They are also Fair Trade sewn. 

These shorts are loose-fitting with good freedom of movement and a stretchy waistband. This all adds up to a comfortable fit. They come in a choice of two lengths and 8 different colors, including some funky patterns. You can really express your style when you wear hiking shorts. 

They are comfortable enough to wear for various forms of exercise including long distance thru-hiking and hot weather hiking.

Overall, these pants are popular and one of the best hiking shorts for men who are thru-hiking.

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Best Lightweight Stretchy Shorts

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short

> Stretchy and durable
> Ripstop technology
> Machine washable
> Not so good at wicking moisture

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts are softshell shorts that are made from a blend of 86% nylon and 14% spandex which results in a stretchy and durable fabric. The nylon spandex blend uses woven ripstop technology which prevents tearing and damage, making these shorts even more robust. They are machine washable and quick drying so looking after these shorts is easy.

The waistband of these shorts is lined with brushed tricot for additional comfort, and the metal button hole will make them last longer. The material is also abrasion resistant so they are suitable to be worn on challenging and rocky hiking trails. 

These shorts benefit from UPF 50 sun protection, as well as being water resistant. The gusset crotch improves ventilation to keep you comfortable. There is a range of pockets for your personal items including a zippered pocket on the thigh and hand pockets for keeping important items safe and secure. 

You can choose from 9 different colors, so you are certain to find one that matches your style. These shorts are durable and perfect for a combination of hiking and climbing. 

Overall, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts are another great pair of hiking shorts for backpacking and hiking trips.

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Best Lightweight Hiking Shorts

Patagonia Nine Trails Short

Patagonia Nine Tails Shorts

> Versatile
> Lightweight and flexible
> Breathable fabric
> Not so good at wicking moisture

Technically these shorts made by Patagonia Nine Trails were designed for running, not hiking, but they can be used for either activity.

The Patagonia Nine Trails are incredibly lightweight and are made from a blend of 91% recycled polyester and 9% elastane. This makes them flexible and breathable for ultimate comfort. They are also Fair Trade sewn. 

These shorts come in a choice of three colors- black, gray, or blue. They have a stretchy waistband with tie cords, and zip pockets on the side for convenient storage of personal items. There is also an additional zip pocket on the back of the shorts. 

These shorts are great for fast-paced hikers. They probably aren’t durable enough for rock climbing as well as hiking, as they could tear easily. 

Overall, the Patagonia Nine Trails are one of the best ultralight hiking shorts for thru hiking in 2024.

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Best Cargo Hiking Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts

> Comfortable waistband
> Integrated Belt included
> Multiple storage pockets
> Not as stretchy as most of the other long cargo shorts in this review

The Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts are made from 100% nylon. They have a durable hook and loop closure. The waistband is partially elastic for comfort and there is an integrated belt included to ensure you get a nice snug fit.

The shorts have multiple pockets for you to store personal items, including two front pockets, two back pockets, and two cargo pockets. 

These shorts benefit from moisture-wicking technology to keep you dry. They also have Omni-Shade technology which blocks out harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

The material and the seams are designed to be anti-chafing for ultimate comfort. The gusseted crotch allows for greater ventilation and improved flexibility. 

You can choose from two different lengths and five different colors of camouflage patterns. These shorts are the perfect all-rounder.

They are a good compromise between lightweight and durable and have the necessary features for being suited to warm and humid environments. With a comfortable waistband and plenty of pockets, you will find them very convenient. 

Overall, they are one of the best cargo hiking shorts.

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Best Budget Shorts for Thru Hiking

REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts

REI Co-op Active Pursuits

> A percentage of the material is recycled
> Versatile
> Moisture wicking
> Not as durable as other shorts

The REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts are made from a blend of recycled polyester and spandex for a durable yet flexible garment. They are designed for hiking, running, gym activities, and any kind of fitness. 

These shorts benefit from moisture-wicking technology which will keep your sweat away from your skin. The quick-drying mesh lining improves ventilation and breathability. These shorts offer UPF 50 sun protection to keep your skin safe in the sun. 

The waistband is stretchy for comfort, with a drawstring so you can get a tighter fit if needed. The flat seam design prevents the shorts from chafing against your skin. One of the pockets has a zipper section for extra security for those important or valuable items.

These shorts have a loose-fit style with a 7-inch inseam. You can choose from 7 different colors so you can match the shorts to your other hiking or gym gear. 

I thru-hiked most of the Pacific Crest Trail using these shorts and in my experience, they are very good value for money and best suited to someone wanting a budget pair of shorts that are comfortable.

These shorts are great for a day of hiking in warm and humid conditions, and you will certainly find them to be comfortable and practical.

Overall, the REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts are one of the best budget hiking shorts for thru hiking in 2024.

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Best Budget Hiking Shorts

REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short

REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short

> Lightweight
> Quick drying
> Water repellent
> Not moisture wicking

The REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo Shorts are made from lightweight nylon. They are quick drying and water repellent which makes them perfect for various weather conditions. They also have UPF 50 sun protection. 

The elastic waistband ensures comfort, as does the gusset crotch which improves ventilation and flexibility. There are plenty of useful pockets for convenient access to personal items. 

The inseam of these cargo shorts is 10 inches long. You can choose from two colors- asphalt or army green. They are good for challenging hikes that involve some wading or wet conditions.

Overall, the REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo Shorts are a good pair of shorts that would work well on the trails or as casual wear.

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Best Backpacking Gear – Overall

Kuhl Renegade Hiking Shorts

Kuhl Renegade Hiking Shorts

> Comfortable
> Durable
> Best pockets including a phone pocket and a zippered pocket
> They look stylish
> No integrated belt
> no stretch waist

The Kuhl Renegade Shorts are a very nice pair of backpacking shorts. The Kuhl Renegade Convertible Hiking Shorts are my favorite Convertible Hiking Pants. So it is fitting that the stand alone shorts are also on the list.

They are super comfortable with only a small amount of stretch which is enough for most situations. One of the best features of these shorts is the durable material which will withstand almost anything you can throw at it on the trail. Add to that the plethora of pockets, including a smartphone pocket and zippered side pockets.

There are belt loops on the shorts but no integrated belt and no stretch waist. This means there is little room for error when it comes to ensuring you are wearing the correct size. If you plan on thru hiking or spending several weeks trekking then these may not be the best option unless you add a lightweight belt.

Overall, the Kuhl Renegade Shorts are a good option for a durable pair of backpacking pants with lots of pockets.

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Reviewing Lightweight Hiking Shorts while thru hiking the PCT in Washington
Testing the REI Co-Op Active Shorts on the PCT, they are nice Lightweight Hiking Shorts

More Hiking Shorts

There are many other great hiking shorts worth considering, the best of which is the Arc’teryx Palisade. But it appears they are now difficult to get so I left them off the list. If they become available again they will be added.

The Macpac Trekker Shorts and Macpac Boulder Shorts are among the best hiking shorts in Australia and New Zealand but are not available anywhere else. They will be added to the list soon, when I have finished testing and reviewing them.

The Soffe Dri Running Short is made with the same soft and lightweight fabric as the Columbia Silver Ridge but not as long. They are missing pockets though. I’m in the process of reviewing them and will update soon.

Buyers Guide

Now that you have a better understanding of the best hiking shorts that are available, it is time to decide which product is going to meet your needs. This is not an easy task as there is still a lot of choices. There are a few things to consider before making your choice. 


The first thing to think about is what climate and conditions you are going to be hiking in. If you are going to be hiking and climbing on rough, rocky trails then you want something durable. You might want to look out for some abrasion resistant shorts.

Quick drying hiking shorts while thru hiking Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand
Quick-drying hiking shorts

Drying Time

If you are going to be hiking near water, possibly doing some wading, then having quick dry material is essential. If the conditions are hot and humid, then moisture-wicking technology is important and you would also benefit from some mesh lining or ventilation of some kind.

A gusset crotch is a great feature that improves airflow and breathability of the shorts. 


Another thing to consider is what activities you will be doing in your shorts. You might want to use these shorts for running or gym activities as well as hiking and trekking, which means they will need to be versatile.

Running shorts tend to be more lightweight than classic hiking shorts, and might not be as durable. However, they prioritize sweat-wicking and breathability which can certainly be beneficial whilst hiking. 

When it comes to the different features of the shorts, you will need to decide what your priorities are. Some of the more durable shorts are less lightweight and flexible.


Most hiking shorts tend to have fewer pockets than the best hiking pants. They often have an elastic waist, integrated belts or at least belt loops. Most have mesh-lined pockets for your hands and some are zippered pockets. Not all hiking shorts have rear pockets nor do they all have a zippered thigh pocket on the thigh.

You need to choose the product that will best suit your individual needs. 


Another thing to consider is the material that the shorts are made from. If you are conscious of your impact on the environment, then you might want to choose a product made from recycled materials.

Some companies offer a blend of recycled and non-recycled materials, as a compromise between performance and social responsibility. You can also check if the shorts are Fair Trade. 

You will notice that all of the shorts we have included on this list are made from synthetic rather than natural materials and fibers. Some outdoor clothing benefits from being made with natural materials, but we find the shorts that perform the best are made from synthetic materials.

The main benefits of garments made from synthetic materials are that they are easy to care for, durable, and designed for purpose so have some excellent features. 


Some of the cheapest hiking shorts for backpacking can be purchased for just over $10. Don’t expect them to be super durable or use top-tier materials but in many cases, they are the best option. If you can spend a little more you can get a decent quality [pair of shorts that will last a very long time.


Overall the Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking in 2024 are:

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a waistband comfortable?

Having a comfortable waistband on your shorts is very important if you want to spend hours on the hiking trails. Elastic waistbands are really comfortable because they flex and move with you and are not restrictive.
Partially elastic waistbands are good because they provide a snug fit whilst leaving room to move and breathe and won’t dig in. If the waistband isn’t elastic then it could potentially chafe or put pressure on your abdomen. To avoid this, go for a waistband that is lined with a soft, brushed material to provide additional comfort. 

Why do my hiking shorts need to have pockets?

If you carry a rucksack when you go hiking then you might be wondering why you need additional pockets on your hiking shorts. Having extra pockets that are easy to access can be useful, as it reduces the number of times you need to stop and take your rucksack on and off.
There may be certain smaller items, like your phone, a folded map, a compass, a snack, or even sunscreen, that you want to be able to access at all times. Stopping to take your rucksack on and offer is cumbersome and will slow you down.
It is also good to keep certain items on your person, like a phone and perhaps your car keys, in case something happens to your bag on the hike. Zip pockets are ideal as they keep your important personal items more safe. 

Do I need moisture wicking shorts?

It is important to wear moisture wicking clothing when you are hiking. It helps to draw sweat away from your body to allow it to evaporate. This will prevent you from getting a rash or a skin infection and will help you to regulate your body temperature. It will also help to prevent unpleasant body odor. 

Best Shorts for Backpacking
Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking

BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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Photo of author
About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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