Best Hiking Shorts of 2021

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 provides better ventilation, comfort and freedom of movement than regular pants. However, shorts should be worn 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 to make your buying decision a little easier. We were especially looking for shorts that provide good durability but are 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) which are very useful for hiking in changing weather conditions.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying Hiking Shorts – What is important?

Material:

Hiking shorts should be made of a breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and 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 therefore dry very fast. Spandex is often added to these relatively non-stretchy materials to enhance elasticity (for 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 easily 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 harmful sun 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 of 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 are more comfortable to wear and provide better freedom of movement than heavier garments.

Expert Selections
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hiking Shorts Review

Best Hiking Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts

The Best Hiking Shorts – List

  1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
  2. prAna Stretch Zion Shorts
  3. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts
  4. Arcteryx Lefroy Shorts
  5. Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Comparison

Scroll Horizontally
Feature/Product Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo prAna Stretch Zion Outdoor Research Ferrosi Arcteryx Lefroy
Patagonia Quandary
Material100% Nylon 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex (DWR)86% Nylon, 14% Spandex (DWR)86% Nylon, 14% Spandex95% Nylon, 5% Elastane
Pockets6 6 555
Belt Included
YesNoNoYesNo
Inseam10 or 12 inches 10 or 12 inches 8, 10 or 12 inches 11 inches 10 or 12 inches
Average Weight10 oz.10 oz.8 oz.7.8 oz7 oz.
Average Weight (Metric)294 g 290 g 227 g220 g 204 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 are very comfortable and durable. 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 the Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade technologies 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 side 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.

Women's Version: Available - Columbia Women's Silver Ridge Stretch

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • /
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 are very comfortable to wear. They are made of a blend of nylon and spandex. Nylon fibers ensure abrasion-resistance and durability while spandex fibers add stretch to the fabric so that the shorts don’t restrict your movement. The durability of shorts is additionally increased with sturdy stitches (triple stitching). The fabric is also treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) and thus repels the water rather than absorbing it. This hiking 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 the items from falling out. The prAna Stretch Zion shorts come in 12 different colors.

Women's Version: Available - prAna Women's Halle

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Freedom of movement

Cons:

  • UPF not specified

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 hiking shorts feature belt loops, button/zipper fly and a low-profile-waist which comfortably fits under a climbing harness. The shorts are available in eight different colors and two different inseam lengths (8” and 10”).

Women's Version: Available - Outdoor Research Women's Ferrosi

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Stretch

Cons:

  • /
Arcteryx Lefroy shorts

Arcteryx Lefroy shorts

4. Arcteryx Lefroy Shorts

Suitable for:

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

 

The Arcteryx Lefroy shorts have recently been redesigned so they now feature five pockets – two mesh hand pockets, two rear pockets and one zippered pocket on the thigh for the most valuable essentials. The Arcteryx shorts are made of the brand’s Aequora AirPerm fabric (84% nylon, 16% elastane), which like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts offer quite some stretch for extra comfort and freedom of movement. Freedom of movement is additionally enhanced by the gusseted crotch, and you can adjust the fit with the included belt. The Arcteryx Lefroy is the only pair of shorts on this list which is made in a Fair Trade Certified facility, which means that you can be sure that the workers making the garment have been paid and treated fairly. The Arcteryx shorts are available in a handful of cool colors, but only one inseam length – 11 inches.

Women's Version: Available - Arcteryx Alfroy 7'' Shorts

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Comfortable material
  • Made in fair trade certified facility
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Built-in belt

Cons:

  • Higher price (due to fair certified production)
  • Exact UPF not disclosed

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

5. Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Suitable for:

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

 

The Patagonia Quandary shorts are also very popular for hiking and mountaineering. They are lightweight and provide great freedom of movement. The shorts are made of a mixture of nylon and elastane (95% nylon, 5% elastane) which dries very fast and provides good breathability. A high percentage of nylon fibers is recycled and thus the shorts are also eco-friendly. Since the shorts are made of a tightly woven fabric, they have UPF rating of 50+. The shorts have two hand pockets, two rear pockets and a zippered right-thigh pocket. The Patagonia Quandary shorts come in four different colors – black, brown, beige and green – and three different lenghts – 8, 10 and 12 inch inseam.

Women's Version: Available - Patagonia Women's Quandary Shorts

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfort
  • Lined Waist
  • Pockets
  • UPF rating

Cons:

  • /

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.