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Best Hiking Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts

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This is a gear review of the best hiking shorts for 2023.

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.

Here are the best shorts for hiking in 2023.   

Best Shorts for Hiking 2023

The Best Shorts for Hiking in 2023 are:

Best Hiking Shorts 2023 – Overall

Prana Stretch Zion Shorts II

Prana Stretch Zion Short II

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

The Prana Stretch Zion shorts II 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.

It is made from 95% Recycled Nylon and 5% Elastane which provides lightweight durability and flexibility. The material is abrasion resistant so are 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 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 travelling 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, these are the best hiking shorts for 2023.

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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 are most suited to your needs.

These 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 2023. 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 a stretchy waistband for 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 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 are 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, these 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 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 2023.

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Best Cargo Hiking Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts

> Comfortable waistband
> 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 a 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

REI Co-op Active Pursuits

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

These 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. 

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, these are one of the best budget hiking shorts for thru hiking in 2023.

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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

These 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 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, they are a good pair of shorts that would work well on the trails or as casual wear.

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Lightweight Hiking Pants while thru hiking the PCT in Washington
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 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.

Kuhl Renegade Shorts are yet to be added to the list and may be added after testing.

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 choice. 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 which 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 about 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 fibres. Some outdoor clothing benefit 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. 


Overall the Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking in 2023 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

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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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