Best Hiking Shorts for 2017


Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Hiking Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Hiking Shorts

A pair of high-quality shorts is very useful for hiking in warm weather because it typically provides better ventilation, comfort and freedom of movement than regular pants. However, shorts should be used only for hiking on well-groomed and technically undemanding trails where protection against vegetation and terrain (rocks, cliffs etc.) is not required.

In this review we selected the best hiking shorts in order to make your buying decision a little easier. We were especially looking for shorts that provide good durability while being comfortable, lightweight and breathable. Furthermore, all shorts in this selection are moisture-wicking and quick-drying. If you often do technically challenging hikes or think that you might be better off with a pair of long pants, check out our review of the Best Hiking Pants for Men or Best Hiking Pants for Women instead. These reviews also include convertible pants (the lower part of the legs can be zipped off or rolled up and secured with tabs) which are very useful for hiking in changing weather conditions.

1. Buying Hiking Shorts – What is important?

Material:

Hiking shorts should be made of a breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and reasonably durable material. Therefore, hiking shorts are typically made of polyester or nylon. Nylon is more abrasion-resistant (durable) than polyester but polyester, on the other hand, offers slightly better moisture-wicking properties and breathability. Both materials absorb very little moisture and thus dry very fast. Spandex is often added to these relatively non-stretchy materials to enhance elasticity (freedom of movement) and recovery performance. Some shorts feature DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treated fabric so that they repel the water (rain) instead of absorbing it. It is discussable how useful DWR treatments are for shorts, but as they don’t add any additional bulk to the garment there is no reason to avoid DWR-treated shorts. For more information about the qualities of different materials for hiking clothing, check out our Hiking Clothing Guide.

Pockets:

Hiking shorts should have conveniently placed and easy accessible pockets so that you can quickly store and retrieve your hiking accessories. The pockets should also be deep enough (or zippered) to prevent the items from falling out during activities.

Sun Protection (UPF):

Hiking shorts should protect the upper part of your legs against sun’s damaging rays. The level of sun protection in garments is rated by UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and indicates what percentage of UV rays penetrates through the fabric. For example a fabric with the UPF 50 allows 1/50 (2%) of UV radiation through. The UPF rating of a fabric mainly depends on its weave, thickness and fibers (nylon, polyester, cotton etc.). The construction, treatments and condition of a garment also influence the UPF rating. Manufacturers seldom disclose UPF ratings of their garments. For more information about garments and sun protection, check out our article Sun Protective Clothing.  As shorts will only cover the upper part of your legs, don’t forget to apply sun cream to your lower legs before going on a hike.

Weight:

Hiking shorts are typically very light as they are made of relatively thin fabrics. Lightweight garments are recommended for hiking, as they provide better comfort and freedom of movement than heavier garments.

2. The Best Hiking Shorts Review

Best Hiking Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts

  1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
  2. prAna Stretch Zion Shorts
  3. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts
  4. Arcteryx Palisade Shorts
  5. Mountain Hardwear Piero Utility Shorts

Comparison

Feature/Product Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo prAna Stretch Zion Outdoor Research Ferrosi Arcteryx Palisade
Mountain Hardwear Piero Utility
Material100% Nylon 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex (DWR)86% Nylon, 14% Spandex (DWR)94% Nylon, 6% Elastane 95 Nylon, 5% Elastane (DWR)
Pockets6 6 554
Belt Included
YesNoNoYesYes
Inseam10 inches 10 or 12 inches 12 inches 10 inches 10 inches
Average Weight294 g 290 g 227 g230 g 282 g
UPF50n/a50n/a50
Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo shorts are very popular among hikers as they provide great comfort and durability. They are made of nylon but feature mesh panels (made of polyester) in the crotch area for better freedom of movement and ventilation. The fabric utilizes Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade technology and thus efficiently blocks UV radiation (UPF 50) and transports the moisture from the skin to the outside. The shorts have 6 pockets – two hand pockets, two back pockets and two side pockets. The pocket on the left side is zippered and thus perfect for storing valuables. The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo shorts also have an elastic waist and hook and loop closure.  They are available in six different colors and come with a minimalistic belt.

 

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Freedom of movement
  • A zippered pocket
  • UPF rating

Cons:

  • /

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prAna Stretch Zion Shorts

prAna Stretch Zion Shorts

2. prAna Stretch Zion Shorts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

The prAna Stretch Zion shorts provide great freedom of movement and comfort. They are made of a blend of nylon and spandex. Nylon ensures abrasion-resistance and durability while the spandex provides stretch to the fabric so that the shorts don’t restrict your movement. The durability of shorts is additionally increased by sturdy stitches (triple stitching). The fabric is also treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) and thus repels the water rather than absorbing it. The shorts have an elastic waist and six pockets; two hand pockets, two back pockets and two side pockets. The side pockets are on the left side of the shorts and include a large pocket which is covered with a flap (so that stored items don’t fall out) and a smaller zippered pocket which is placed underneath the large pocket. One of the back pockets is also covered with a flap to prevent any items from falling out. The prAna Stretch Zion shorts come in 12 different colors.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Freedom of movement

Cons:

  • UPF not specified

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Video

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

3. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts are super light and thus great for hiking and mountaineering on warm summer days. The shorts are made of a very thin and stretchy softshell fabric (86% nylon, 14% elastane). The fabric is tightly woven and thus provides great durability, abrasion resistance and sun protection (UPF 50). Due to the tightly woven fabric the shorts are also wind- and water-resistant. They have two hand pockets, two back pockets and a zippered side pocket for valuables. Additionally, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts feature belt loops, button and zipper fly and a low-profile-waist which comfortably fits under a climbing harness. The shorts are available in eight different colors.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Stretch

Cons:

  • /

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Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

4. Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

The Arcteryx Palisade shorts are, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts, made of a tightly woven and very thin softshell fabric (TerraTex – 94% nylon, 6% elastane). The fabric efficiently wicks moisture to the outside and dries very fast. As it is tightly woven it also provides great durability and abrasion resistance – and presumably also UV protection, but the exact UPF-rating is not disclosed. The Palisade shorts have five zippered pockets – two hand pockets, two side pockets and a single back pocket. They also feature a hook and loop closure and come with an integrated belt. The waist is lined on the inside for better comfort.  The Arcteryx Palisade shorts are due to their durability and lightness a great option for hikers, mountaineers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. They come in three different colors (black, green and brown).

 

Pros:

  • All pockets are zippered
  • Lightweight
  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Lined waist

Cons:

  • UPF not specified
  • Price

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Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

Arcteryx Palisade Shorts

5. Mountain Hardwear Piero Utility Shorts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

The Mountain Hardwear Piero Utility shorts are another popular choice among hikers and mountaineers as they are light and offer great freedom of movement. The shorts are made of a mix of 95 % nylon and 5% elastane, which dries very fast and offers good breathability along with a UPF-rating of 50. The fabric is also treated with DWR (durable water repellant) and thus the shorts repel the water instead of absorbing it. The waist is lined for better comfort. The Piero Utility shorts have two hand pockets and two back pockets. Unlike the other products in this review, they don’t feature any zippered pockets. The Mountain Hardwear Piero Utility shorts come in two different colors – black and brown.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfort
  • Lined Waist

Cons:

  • No zippered pockets

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