If you’re planning on hitting the trail during the summer, you’ll need some thin, light clothing if it looks as though the weather is going to be good. Wearing the right pair of hiking shorts means you can have the freedom to move around as you please, but it also means you won’t overheat.
Hiking shorts may not be the most fashionable clothing item out there, but the right shorts can help to prevent scrapes, while also giving you the right amount of pockets so you can keep your much-needed equipment close at hand.
Without further ado, here are our reviews of the 9 best hiking shorts for men and 9 best hiking shorts for women:
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Hiking Shorts for Men Reviewed
- 1.1 Exterus Outdoor Development Men’s Moisture Wicking Cargo Shorts
- 1.2 Columbia Men’s Barracuda Killer Hike Shorts
- 1.3 Bimini Bay Outfitters Men’s Outback Shorts for Hiking
- 1.4 Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
- 1.5 Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch Hiking Shorts
- 1.6 Coleman Men’s Walking Cargo Shorts
- 1.7 REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Shorts
- 1.8 Patagonia Quandary Hiking Shorts
- 1.9 Prana Stretch Zion Shorts
- 2 Best Hiking Shorts for Women Reviewed
- 2.1 Columbia Women’s Sandy River Cargo Shorts
- 2.2 Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Short
- 2.3 Nonwe Women’s Quick Dry Shorts
- 2.4 Columbia Women’s East Ridge II Shorts
- 2.5 Columbia Saturday Trail II Knee Pant
- 2.6 Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Shorts
- 2.7 Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama Shorts
- 2.8 Andy by Little Donkey Women’s Shorts
- 2.9 Adventurer by Eddie Bauer Women’s Shorts
- 3 Best Hiking Shorts Buying Guide
- 4 Best Hiking Shorts – The Verdict
Best Hiking Shorts for Men Reviewed
Exterus Outdoor Development Men’s Moisture Wicking Cargo Shorts
- Durable, abrasion-resistant hiking shorts for warm weather use
- An adequate number of convenient pockets
- Available in S to XXL sizes
- Could be cheaper
While the Exterus brand may not be as well-known as Patagonia or Columbia, it does appear to be a serious competitor in the outdoor clothing market.
These men’s hiking shorts are made from nylon with Teflon, so they’re extra tough and with a UPF rating of 30+ they help to keep you protected from the sun and hot weather in general.
These hiking shorts are pretty sturdy and they come with a nice selection of pockets, so you can have your phone and compass nearby. Available in sizes from small to xx-large, the Exterus shorts are as rugged as you’d want them to be, but they are also quite pricey. Still, their price is undoubtedly justified by their functional and comfortable design.
Columbia Men’s Barracuda Killer Hike Shorts
- One of the best hiking shorts for those on a budget
- Three back pockets and two side pockets
- Machine-washable & quick-drying
- No integrated belt
Available in 4 different colors and 8 different sizes, the Columbia Men’s Barracuda Killer hiking shorts are worth considering if you’re looking for a cheaper pair of shorts that you can wear on the Camino de Santiago or any other hike.
With a UPF rating of 15 and made from quick-dry fabric, these shorts come with a zip-closed security pocket, so your belongings are kept as safe as possible.
The Columbia shorts do not have a belt or an elasticated waist, but they allow for plenty of movement and are ideal for hiking.
Bimini Bay Outfitters Men’s Outback Shorts for Hiking
- Lots of pockets (some with Velcro closures)
- Machine-washable, 100% cotton fabric
- Equipped with a back elastic waistband
- It may be too tight for some users
Looking like a serious pair of hiking shorts thanks to their 8 pockets (rear tool one included), the Bimini Bay shorts could be exactly what you’re looking for. Made from 100% cotton, the shorts are available in 5 different colors and 6 sizes ranging from 32 to 42.
With a 7 ½ inch inseam and a back elastic waistband, these shorts have wide belt loops allowing you to add any belt and are very comfortable and tough enough for backcountry adventures.
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
- Sports a classic fit for ultimate comfort
- Moisture-wicking fabric keeps the user dry and cool
- Each side pocket features a hook and loop closure
- Wrinkle easily
Here we see Columbia again offering men’s hiking shorts that are ideal for hiking. Made from nylon and the company’s proprietary fabric that features recycled polyester, offering UPF 50 for maximum protection, the Columbia Silver Ridge hiking shorts include the Omni-Wick technology which helps to keep you cool.
Complete with side pockets and a security pocket, Silver Ridge Cargo hiking shorts offer plenty of room to store all of your essential equipment. With a classic fit that helps you stay comfortable on your most active days in the backcountry, these shorts offer freedom of movement and are available in a range of prices depending on the color and size you select.
Personally, I find Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts to be among the best clothes of this type for me.
Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch Hiking Shorts
- UPF of 50
- Zip-off legs
- Partial elastic waist
- Stain-repellent fabric
- Zippered pocket for your most precious belongings
- Partial elastic waist provides extra comfort
- Provide excellent sun protection
- No closures on rear pockets
With a clean, smart finish, the Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch men’s hiking shorts are ideal if you want to be smart and comfortable while you hike. With UPF 50 fabric and made from stain-repellent fabric, these Columbia shorts are available in 9 different colors and many different sizes.
The one-zip security pocket is ideal if you want to keep something close at hand but extra safe, and the partial elastic waist offers an extra level of comfort.
With a classic fit and multiple pockets including zip-off legs, these shorts are ideal for those days when you need to be as cool as possible.
Coleman Men’s Walking Cargo Shorts
- UPF 50+ fabric provides sufficient sun protection
- Comfortable fit & lots of pockets
- Reasonable price
- The cut may be too small for some people
Offering you the chance to stay comfortable and protected when you’re hiking in cold weather, Coleman’s shorts are ideal no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at you.
Tear-resistant and quick-drying, these shorts are available in 4 different colors and are quite reasonably priced. With UPF 50, and rated as blocking as much as 99% of harmful rays, the shorts come with standard cargo pockets and hidden Velcro flaps for extra security.
A secure zippered side pocket and expandable cargo pockets allow you to store as much as you need to in these shorts. Coleman seems to have thought these shorts through, offering you a comfortable fit and all you need from a pair of shorts while you’re hiking.
REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Shorts
- Plenty of pockets for your hiking essentials
- A water-resistant pair of hiking shorts
- Relatively inexpensive
- Not very stylish
As far as I’m concerned, these REI Co-op hiking shorts are particularly good for utilitarian backpackers. They are water-resistant yet surprisingly airy and also offer a lot of space for storage of your backpacking essentials.
These hiking shorts have a gusseted crotch and are made out of surprisingly thin stretch fabric. The fit that they offer is surprisingly thin. They are also super stretchy and quite breathable and lightweight. All of this turns the REI Co-op Sahara hiking shorts into a phenomenal choice for summer hiking.
As I said, there’s a lot of pockets here, with the main ones being large side pockets with “hidden” mesh pockets inside of them. However, unlike the Patagonia Quandary hiking short, which is the next pair I’m going to analyze, these don’t have as many zippered pockets.
Patagonia Quandary Hiking Shorts
- One of the best hiking shorts made by Patagonia
- Stylish, versatile, and water-resistant
- A great option for warm weather hiking
- No integrated belt
Everyone who knows a thing or two about hiking gear knows about Patagonia. The clothes made by this company are held in high regard by backpackers all around the world. For that matter, I decided to take a quick look at one of their hiking shorts, too – Patagonia Quandary.
As I already mentioned, there are a lot of pockets on Patagonia Quandary. Besides the thigh pocket, Patagonia Quandary also features a zippered pocket on the back, a coin pocket, two frontal hand pockets, and two rear pockets.
Patagonia Quandary hiking short offers a slim fit and is exceptionally versatile. These hiking shorts best fit people who need a single pair of shorts they’ll use both at home and for their lightweight hiking adventures.
Prana Stretch Zion Shorts
- Long-lasting and stylish trekking short
- Comfortable & adjustable fit
- Convenient cargo pocket
- Shallow hand pockets
To put it simply, the Prana Stretch Zion Shorts are a functional combo of comfort and durability. While this company certainly isn’t as well-known as, say, Patagonia, they undoubtedly know how to make excellent shorts for thru-hiking.
The Prana Stretch Zion short is made out of spandex and nylon, and, as such, provides its wearer with plenty of stretch. This durable, water-repellant short is resistant to abrasion and stains while also being fully machine-washable.
Prana Stretch Zion short also has a ventilated gusset that ensures good breathability, as well as an integrated belt, two (shallow) hand pockets, and a cargo pocket. In summary, I’d say that Prana Stretch Zion stands as one of the best choices for hot weather trekking escapades.
Best Hiking Shorts for Women Reviewed
Columbia Women’s Sandy River Cargo Shorts
- One of the best hiking shorts for women
- Integrated belt & quick-drying fabric ensure maximum comfort
- Work great as both hiking and trail running shorts
- Not abrasion-resistant
Available in 4 different colors and 5 different sizes, we’re seeing yet more shorts from the Columbia range.
Quick to dry and made from 100% nylon, these shorts are comfortable and come with an adjustable waistband. Offering UPF 30 and a zip-closed security pocket, these shorts do mean serious business.
Sold for a relatively good price and with multi-functional pockets, these shorts are ideal for those hikes on rugged trails. What is more, they can also be used as trail runners.
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Short
- Very comfortable 2-way stretch fabric
- Dries quickly and repels moisture
- 4 pockets in total – two on the front and two on the back
- Slightly too loose
Made from Omni-shield Summiteer Lite nylon and elastane, these trail shorts come with advanced repellency and UPF 50 sun protection, which means you should be a lot more comfortable when out and about.
Available in 4 different colors and made from comfortable fabric, these shorts are reasonably priced and ideal if you want to spend a few days on the trail.
With a mid-rise waist and a mesh pocket bag, these shorts are as useful as they are comfortable.
Nonwe Women’s Quick Dry Shorts
- A Breathable, comfortable, and adjustable short
- Excellent air permeability
- Very affordable
- Not as durable as other shorts on our list
While the Nonwe brand may not be the biggest brand out there, it certainly seems to want to give the larger brands a run for their money. Available in 6 different colors, these knee-length hiking shorts are made from 95% nylon and 5% spandex.
With pockets on each side and quick-drying, the shorts are comfortable enough for the trail. Breathable and very comfortable, the Nonwe shorts have a leg hem cinch which allows you to adjust the size if you need to.
Low price and ideal for hiking as they don’t rub, these hiking shorts may be exactly what you need. If you need shorts that will dry quickly these are the best hiking shorts for women that dry fast.
Columbia Women’s East Ridge II Shorts
- A well-designed durable women’s short
- Comfortable, moisture-wicking fabric
- Convenient cargo pockets
- Could be a bit more stretchy
A little shorter than the previous pair, these Columbia women’s shorts are made from 100% nylon and come with UPF 30 sun protection. Available in 3 different colors, the shorts are reasonably priced and available in many different sizes ranging from 2 to 16.
While the size of these short shorts tends to run small, they are of very good quality and are ideal for the Camino de Santiago.
With nicely finished cargo pockets and with belt loops for extra support, these shorts are well worth a try.
Columbia Saturday Trail II Knee Pant
- A durable, water-repellent women’s short
- Protects against harmful sun rays and bug bites
- Available in 11 colors
Another pair by Columbia. Running past the knee and offering UPF 50 Protection, these are as comfortable as they look. Available in Nordic and Black they come with Omni-shield advanced repellency, meaning you’re less likely to be bitten by any pesky bugs. Columbia makes some of the best hiking shorts.
With a zip-closed pocket and ‘articulated knees’, meaning you can adjust how loose or tight the shorts are around your knees, these are possibly the best in Columbia’s range. Although they are slightly more expensive than some others we have seen, they are nicely styled and very comfortable.
If you’re looking for a pair of shorts that are comfortable and adjustable, you may want to seriously consider opting for this pair.
Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Shorts
- Lightweight, well-designed short for active women
- Quick-drying, stretchy, and breathable
- Available in multiple colors
- Run really small
The next women’s hiking short on my list is made by Outdoor Research and is a great choice for all-around hiking. Made out of spandex and nylon, the Women’s Ferrosi Shorts quick-drying, lightweight, but also very stylish. You can obtain these in 10 different colors, including very vibrant ones such as “Clay” and “Curry”.
Sporting a 7” inseam and an overall weight of just 6.2 oz, these shorts best fit females who need a genuinely light short that won’t hinder their movement in any way. The model is also very breathable and provides its user with a 4-way stretch that allows her to use these for trail running, too.
While not as feature-packed as a short made by Patagonia or Columbia, the Ferrosi short comes with perks such as the internal drawcord waist, zipper & button fly, and belt loops.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama Shorts
- Excellent ventilation – great for hot days in the backcountry
- A lightweight & water-repellent women’s short
- Four pockets in total
- Not close-fitting on the legs
When it comes to outdoor clothing, Mountain Hardwear is as well known as Patagonia. Their Dynama shorts for women are a great example of how capable this company’s designers are – it’s a comfortable, lightweight short that you certainly won’t regret buying.
You will hardly feel the weight of this exquisite short on your body or in your backpack, as it weighs only 5 ounces. Meanwhile, the nylon & elastane construction of this short gives it the necessary stretchiness without causing it to lose its shape. Due to its longer length, the short can be used for both backcountry exploration and city walks.
The only downside is that these shorts tend to run quite loose on the legs. This, however, guarantees extra ventilation and therefore adds comfort during those long days on the trail in hot weather.
Andy by Little Donkey Women’s Shorts
- Provide improved mobility and comfort
- Pockets have zipper closures
- Quick to dry and water-repellent
- Single length option
Well-made and coming at an affordable price, the Little Donkey shorts provide female hikers with an excellent combo of fit and function. Even though it features only a couple of pockets, all of these are equipped with zipper closures. Therefore, you’ll never have to worry about losing your snacks and other trekking essentials.
As they include some spandex in their construction, these shorts are also quite stretchy while staying exceptionally comfortable at the same time. The average inseam length stands somewhere between 8” and 9”. In other words, Little Donkey sits right above the knee.
Just like most other models on the list, these shorts can be obtained in standard earthly tones, but also in a few brighter colors. Quick to dry and very lightweight, they are all you’ll need for trekking in the summer.
Adventurer by Eddie Bauer Women’s Shorts
- Excellent curvy fit, particularly around the thighs and hips
- Comfortable, durable, and stretchy
- Enough pockets for all of your valuables
- No UV protection
These Adventurer Women’s Shorts from Eddie Bauer are undoubtedly among the market’s best clothes of this type. Sporting a design that complements a female’s curves, these shorts maintain a sleek silhouette while staying very comfortable at the same time.
Since they’re equipped with 6 pockets, they also provide the user with enough storage for all of her trekking essentials. The spandex/cotton fabric is both comfortable and stretchy, ensuring good mobility while staying sufficiently durable.
While they certainly don’t feature the tech found on pricier models, the Adventurer shorts are a fantastic choice for both casual and more demanding hikes. They certainly sport all the basic requirements of quality trekking shorts.
Best Hiking Shorts Buying Guide
While it’s true that personal preference is what matters the most when you’re looking to buy a short for your backcountry adventures, there are still a couple of vital factors you need to keep in mind while shopping for one:
When it comes to hiking, you need to make sure your shorts provide optimum comfort. While comfort may not seem as important as the style of the shorts at first glance, it’s essential that the clothes you’re going to be wearing while you’re tackling some tough terrain are perfectly comfortable.
The best hiking shorts should give you enough room to maneuver in but not be too large so that they fall down. Comfort is key on a tough trail so take your time choosing the right pair of shorts, and the same with your hiking shoes, water bottle, hiking socks, and sandals.
Regardless of how hot or cold it may be on the trail, your body will start to sweat. It’s therefore essential that moisture is moved away from the surface of your skin so that the fabric does not become wet. When fabric becomes wet it can become uncomfortable, cold, and heavy. If the day is a hot one, shorts with zero breathability will not allow you to cool down properly.
Shorts that allow your body to breathe will keep you feeling as cool as possible on those hot days in the backcountry, and as warm as possible on chilly days.
Hiking Shorts Features
When it comes to features, the best hiking shorts can offer you more than you think. With advanced repellency and moisture repellency, shorts can protect you in many different ways. Offering a UPF from 30 to 50, some shorts can protect their wearers from the sun’s rays.
Lastly, many shorts come with security pockets that can be zipped up, keeping your precious items a little safer. Think about the features that are important to you, and choose a pair of shorts that meet the criteria.
Durability of Shorts
Any item of clothing that you wear in the backcountry needs to be tough. The more durable your shorts are the longer they will last. Shorts need to be tough enough to withstand scrapes from rocks, from your equipment, and anything else they come up against.
They should also be durable enough to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Try to find shorts that are known for their durability, so they last for at least a summer in the backcountry.
Converting Pants into Shorts
Some hiking pants come with an added feature that allows you to shorten them. This feature offers an additional level of comfort that you may appreciate when the sun is beating down on the trail. While this is not a feature that everyone automatically looks for, it’s certainly one that’s well worth considering.
We never know what the weather is going to be like out on trails like the Pennine Way, Hadrian’s Wall walk, or West Highland Way and it can appear to do exactly what it pleases. Wearing shorts that can be made even shorter when the sun is at its hottest, or longer when it starts to get chilly, is nothing short of convenient and will ensure you’re as comfortable as possible, no matter what the weather’s doing.
Related: Best Leggings for Hiking
Best Hiking Shorts – The Verdict
There are many different hiking shorts available right now, but I believe that the ones listed above are some of the very best around. Helping to protect you from the sun while offering you the chance to keep your precious items safe, these shorts can make your days or weeks on the trail just that little bit better.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.