Home » Hiking » Hiking Gear » Best Hiking Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts

Updated:
Best Hiking Shorts

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sharing is caring!

This is a gear review of the best hiking shorts for 2021.

A good pair of hiking shorts for backpacking 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. Too much choice can be overwhelming, and it is tricky to distinguish the top quality products from the ones that will leave you disappointed.

I have made this process easier for you by putting together an informative list of the best hiking shorts. Keep reading to discover more and to find your next pair of lightweight hiking shorts.   

Best Hiking Shorts 2021

The Best Hiking Shorts for 2021 are:


Best Hiking Shorts – Overall 2021

Prana Stretch Zion Shorts

Pros:
> Lightweight and durable
> Abrasion resistant
> Moisture wicking
Cons:
> Waistband is not stretchy

The Prana stretch Zion shorts are made from 97% Nylon and 3% spandex 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 moisture 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 gusset for improved airflow. It also has useful mesh 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 7 colors so you will easily be able to coordinate your hiking outfit.

Overall, these are the best hiking shorts on the market.

Compare Prices:


Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Pros:
> Made from recycled materials
> UPF 50 sun protection
> Choice of lengths
Cons:
> 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 warmer weather conditions but might not be suitable for a full day in intense humidity. 

Overall, these hiking shorts are great and one of the best shorts for backpacking in 2021.

Compare Prices:


Patagonia Baggies

Pros:
> Made from recycled materials
> Quick drying
> Loose fit
> Large choice of colors and lengths
Cons:
> Not moisture wicking

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 with these shorts. 

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

Overall, these pants are popular and one of the best hiking pants for thru hiking.

Compare Prices:


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short

Pros:
> Stretchy and durable
> Ripstop technology
> Machine washable
Cons:
> Not moisture wicking

These softshell shorts are made from a blend of 86% nylon and 14% spandex which results in a stretchy and durable fabric. The woven ripstop technology 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 side zip pocket 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 pants for backpacking and hiking trips.

Compare Prices:


Patagonia Nine Trails Short

Pros:
> Versatile
> Lightweight and flexible
> Breathable material
Cons:
> Not moisture wicking

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

They 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, these are one of the best ultralight hiking pants for thru hiking on the market in 2021.

Compare Prices:


Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts

Pros:
> Comfortable waistband
> Belt included
> Multiple storage pockets
Cons:
> 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 gusset crotch allows for greater ventilation and improved flexibility. 

You can choose from two different lengths and five different colors of camouflage pattern. 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. 

Compare Prices:


REI Co-op Active Pursuits

Pros:
> Made from recycled materials
> Versatile
> Moisture wicking
Cons:
> 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 backpacking in 2021.

Compare Prices:

REI

REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short

Pros:
> Lightweight
> Quick drying
> Water repellent
Cons:
> 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.

Compare Prices:

REI

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.


Lightweight Hiking Pants
Lightweight Hiking Pants

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. 

Durability

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.

Drying Time

Quick drying hiking pants
Quick drying hiking pants

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. 

Design

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.

Pockets

The lightweight shorts tend to have fewer pockets, but they often have elastic waistbands which are very comfortable. You need to choose the product that will best suit your individual needs. 

Material

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 hiking clothes 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. 

Conclusion

Overall the Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking in 2021 are:


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. 

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking

Sharing is caring!

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 Sydney, Australia.

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.