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The Best Hiking Shorts

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Buyer's Guide

How to Choose the Best Hiking Shorts: The Ultimate Guide

different colors hiking shorts

Hiking shorts are an absolute must-have for any outdoor enthusiast. For hot weather adventures, they provide comfort and ventilation. A good pair of hiking shorts will serve you well on everything from overnight trips to easy day hikes.

If you're an avid hiker, you've probably discovered that hiking shorts and pants are one of the best pieces of apparel for your hobby. They're lightweight, breathable, and long-lasting, making them ideal for spending time outside.

How, though, do you know what to search for? How can you ensure that your next hiking short purchase is of the highest quality? The truth is that there are numerous aspects to consider while purchasing this type of clothes. But don't be concerned! This is a comprehensive guide to assist you to decide on the best hiking shorts.

What are hiking shorts?

Hiking shorts are available for both men and women, as well as youngsters. To keep things simple, we'll refer to them as hiking shorts and ignore any gender-specific terms.

Before getting into the specifics, let's take a short look at what these pants are intended for.

The classic hiking shorts for men are designed for getting outside, hitting the trails, and generally enjoying the great outdoors. They come in a range of styles and materials such as polyester, cotton, and leather.

Women's hiking shorts, on the other hand, are designed to be comfortable. You can wear them all day without needing to change into thicker pants. These shorts are made of a mesh, cotton, and nylon blend.

When to use hiking shorts

When purchasing hiking shorts, there are several factors to consider, but one of the most important is determining how to select the best hiking shorts for your sport of choice. While your hiking shorts should be excellent for particular activities (whether you're a runner, mountaineer, climber, hiker, climber, camp-out camper, or simply enjoy sweating), there are some scenarios where the best hiking shorts aren't always going to be optimal.

Take, for instance, the daily commute. You could wish to wear these shorts to work, but for outdoor activities that take place outside, such as long-distance trail walks or rock climbing, you should look for other options.

You should also consider the weather.

What are the different types of Hiking Shorts?

Outdoor shorts, as you might expect, come in a wide range of styles and colors. All of the standard styles that most hikers are familiar with are available, including running shorts, simple shorts, khaki shorts, cargo shorts, and even cargo pants. These shorts are available in a variety of styles, making it difficult to decide which ones to buy.

You must also examine the weather conditions in which you will be hiking. Are you going to spend time in the desert? What about the rainforest? On the sand? Hiking shorts, whether simple or fancy, should all be water-resistant so you don't get caught in a deluge.

If you intend to do a lot of trekking in cool weather, choose a lightweight pair of cotton shorts.

What's the difference between Hiking Shorts & Hiking Pants?

hiking shorts vs hiking pants

Before getting into the specifics of hiking shorts vs. hiking pants, it's crucial to understand the distinction between the two. Have a look at the primary distinctions:

Hiking shorts are usually cropped, which allows them to cover more of your leg. If you're wearing hiking shorts and have good posture, they'll do a better job of supporting your back.

Hiking trousers are similar to regular pants, except they often contain a pocket or two for holding small items such as keys or a cell phone. Hiking pants are more robust and likely to last longer because they usually have zippers.

Finding the right length, fit, and thickness of your hiking shorts

To get the most out of your hiking shorts, you must select the appropriate combination of length, fit, and thickness.

Hiking shorts are made to keep you cool throughout the warmest parts of the day. Hiking shorts, on the other hand, don't have to be short; they can easily be made long enough to cover your entire backside.

You can pick between three lengths: ankle-length, short-cut, and short-leg.

Ankle-length is the most typical length, providing just enough length to cover the top of your shoe. As the temperature rises, ankle-length hiking shorts may feel warm and sweaty, so avoid purchasing hiking shorts for long hikes in this type of weather.

Hiking shorts with a shorter cut are another popular length.


Hiking shorts should be composed of a material that is breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and long-lasting. As a result, hiking shorts are usually constructed of polyester or nylon.

Nylon is more abrasion-resistant (durable) than polyester, although polyester has slightly greater moisture-wicking and breathability qualities. Both materials absorb relatively little moisture and so dry quickly. Spandex is frequently added to these generally non-stretchy textiles to improve elasticity (for movement freedom) and recovery performance.

Some shorts are made of DWR (Durable Water Repellant) fabric, which repels rather than absorbs water (rain). It is debatable how helpful DWR treatments are for shorts, but because they add no extra thickness to the garment, there is no reason to avoid DWR-treated shorts.


Hiking shorts should include pockets that are properly positioned and easy to access so that you can quickly store and retrieve your hiking supplies. The pockets should be deep enough (or zippered) to keep objects from spilling out during activities.

Sun Protection (UPF)

Hiking shorts should shield the upper half of your legs from the sun's rays. The sun protection level in clothing is assessed by UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which measures how much UV rays penetrate the fabric.

A cloth with a UPF of 50, for example, allows 1/50 (2%) of UV light through. The UPF rating of cloth is primarily determined by its weave, thickness, and fiber composition (nylon, polyester, cotton, etc.). The UPF rating of a garment is also affected by its structure, treatments, and condition. Manufacturers rarely reveal the UPF ratings of their clothing.

Because shorts only cover the upper half of your legs, apply sunscreen to your lower legs before embarking on a hike.


Hiking shorts are often quite light due to the use of thin fabrics. Lightweight clothing is recommended for hiking since it is more comfortable and allows for more movement than heavier clothing.

Water Resistance

Water-resistance is a rising standard for outdoor apparel, and it is frequently stated in the product description. Fabric with DWR (durable water repellent) or a brand's own version of repellency is something to look for. Columbia's OMNI-SHIELD technology, for example, is designed for both water and stain protection and is frequently used in sporting wear.

It’s nice to watch when the water beads and stays that way for a few minutes before slowly dissolving into the fabric (or, perhaps there is no absorption at all). The beading gives you plenty of time to brush or wipe away spills, light rain, or a splash from a stream crossing. Each product with a DWR treatment will have a unique level of strength, as there are no set criteria for how resistant it must be.

Water resistance can, however, reduce a fabric's capacity to breathe, so there is a trade-off. If all you want is a summer short that you can also go kayaking in, water resistance isn't as important. A short that is ideal for water play in the summer heat is normally one that does not have high resistance because they are designed to get wet and dry rapidly.


This criterion is by far the most subjective and conditional when it comes to trying to wrap our heads around style and multi-sport attributes. While adaptability does not carry the same weight as the other measures, it is only frosting on the cake and is not necessarily a dealbreaker.

The ability to hike across different terrain during the summer is the most significant factor for our practical needs. However, if you have a more fashion-conscious mindset or desire athleticwear that can easily transition between activities and functions, prepare a list of the types of outings you will like to extend the use to. Whether it's the informal benefit of being able to show up to lunch in the same clothes you hiked in, or the more technical benefit of being able to get on a bike and commute home from the trailhead, adaptability is a result of comfort and mobility.

This statistic recognizes the potential for cross-activity, multi-seasonal appeal, and current aesthetics. The more uniquely athletic designs, in our opinion, are not as fashionable to wear about town, but they are often more functional across a wider spectrum of sports. On the other hand, some shorts have a more casual fashion appearance due to color and creative stitching. Even if fashion is a priority, you should assess the pair's functionality in relation to the activity you intend to use it for.

Choosing the best hiking shorts for your specific needs

men in their hiking shorts

One widespread myth regarding hiking shorts is that you must appear like a football player or a gym rat to get them. This is completely false. Hiking shorts are appropriate for people from all walks of life. This is why we've compiled a comprehensive list of the best hiking shorts for a variety of activities.

The following two varieties of hiking shorts are appropriate for folks who prefer to trek in a more casual, relaxed situation. The capris are the first, and the leggings are the second.

Capris are a form of casual hiking shorts that many people are familiar with. They're really comfy and stretchy, which is ideal for folks who are going on a long hike.

Final Thoughts

Hiking shorts are an excellent addition to the wardrobe of any outdoor enthusiast. Choosing the ideal hiking shorts for your needs will enhance your outdoor experience. All you have to do is pay attention to these basic elements.

Now, here are some closing thoughts:

Choose a pair made of the appropriate material for your needs.

If you intend to spend a lot of time in the field, be sure the material is long-lasting. This is especially true if you intend to spend a significant amount of time trekking or climbing.

Check to see if it fits properly.

A tight fit is unsuitable for any type of clothes. You want a pair of shorts that allow for some breathability but not excessively so. Measuring oneself at home is a smart approach to ensure this.



Are shorts OK for hiking?

Hiking shorts will not restrict your movement and will provide you with the greatest range of motion possible while out on the trail. During the summer, shorts are more comfortable than hiking pants. Shorts do not retain heat or moisture, allowing your legs to remain dry and cool during hiking or trekking. This is why short, gentle hikes are appropriate for people with limited mobility.

How long should hiking shorts be?

What should the length of shorts be? There is no definitive answer to this question. Individual shorts length might differ from one individual to another depending on the circumstance. There are some people who prefer shorter shorts, while others who prefer longer shorts (I am not one of these people). Hiking shorts can be as short as your knees or as long as your mid-thigh, depending on your preference for height and length.

When it comes to hiking shorts, there is a delicate line between being too short and being just right. Some hikers wear very short shorts and have no trouble getting dressed in the morning or at night. In a similar vein, I've noticed a lot of males wearing half-shorts. The upper piece is constructed of denim, and the lower portion has been cut off at the waist. They all appear to be in excellent condition and appear to be in terrific shape.

Is there a problem with wearing such apparel when traveling through the wilderness? You may notice that your buttocks are protruding by the time you reach your destination if you are climbing or descending hilly terrain while wearing shorts.

This scenario can make you more prone to parasites and bugs, which can be very uncomfortable to have around. When looking for the best hiking pants, it is crucial to take your height and weight into consideration.

Are leggings or shorts better for hiking?

Trekking in the proper type of leggings is preferable to trekking in the incorrect type of leggings. Their construction includes specific materials such as spandex and polyester.

What are hiking shorts?

A number of characteristics of hiking shorts are similar to those of athletic or leisure shorts. Besides providing extra comfort and storage space for goods when out in the wilderness, these hiking trousers are often made of a quick-drying/moisture-wicking material that helps to reduce chafing while trekking.

In order to reduce chafing and promote movement, gussets are panels that protrude from the crotch of the garment. Most manufacturers offer characteristics such as lightweight structures that allow for free movement and warmth, as well as anti-abrasive elements such as zip vents for ventilation and thicker material to combat abrasive conditions.

What benefits do hiking shorts provide over other shorts?

Hiking shorts contain special pockets that can be used to carry critical goods such as food and a cell phone, in addition to being more comfortable. Last but not least, high-quality hiking shorts are frequently made of fabrics that lessen or completely eliminate friction over prolonged durations of physical activity.

Why should I get waterproof/quick dry hiking pants if I'm just going to be in the woods during the day?

Hiking pants outlast hiking shorts in terms of durability. Unlike lower-quality textiles such as those found in shorts, these pants can endure scratches and abrasions that might otherwise cause harm to them. There are numerous features on these hiking pants that make it easy to transport snacks, phones, and other small goods.

They also have pockets that are both lockable and zippered, which is ideal for keeping your keys safe. Chafe-resistant textiles are frequently used in the construction of high-quality hiking trousers. They can also be worn as rain pants if the situation calls for them.

Are there any safety reasons for me wearing carring something like this on my hike?

Walking in shorts increases your chances of being bitten first when you fall when trekking, which is never a good thing. When hiking, it is critical to take precautions to keep your knees safe. Wearing shoes with built-in gaiters is an excellent idea when hiking because they will help reduce the chance of skin irritations such as poison ivy and other skin irritations.

Can girls wear guys' outdoor shorts?

Yes and no, in equal measure. Some styles are created with men's bodies in mind, and as a result, they can appear absurd on women's bodies (typically with hips that are wider then their shoulders). Women, on the other hand, may prefer the larger size of men's models.

It may be easier for them to find an outdoor short that fits her wider waist in a mens cut because women's waist dimensions are often smaller than those of men. When the men's part of a store is stocked rather than the women's section, ladies frequently find it easier to find outdoor pants in their desired size.

How much do hiking shorts typically cost?

Hiking shorts can be purchased for as little as ten dollars (US) and as much as fifty dollars (US), depending on the fabric, features, manufacturer, and material. A good pair of nylon/spandex hiking pants should cost between $25 and $40 dollars, on average (US). According to the brand and design of the pants, high-quality pants can cost anywhere from 90 to 120 dollars (US).

What companies make hiking shorts? I don't want to spend much money but still like good quality

Walmart carries a wide selection of reasonably priced hiking boots in a casual style. Customers searching for something comfortable to wear around the house frequently praise them for their work. Hiking shorts for outdoor use are available from companies such as Columbia, Haglofs, and North Face.

REI sells a variety of costly casual or "outdoor" convertible pants that can be worn as backpackgies or hiking trousers in addition to their other functions.

What should I look for when purchasing quality hikers?

Fabric type (a nylon/spandex combination would be usual), the quantity of pockets, durability, and other features should all be taken into consideration. You should also think about how the pair will be used in the future.

Wearing them in dense bush or walking over hot rocks will require a more durable fabric, so keep this in mind while making your selection. Some hikers are equipped with knee armor, which may prove handy in the event of an accident on the trail.

How do I keep my hiking shorts clean/wash them?

Hiking shorts can be machine washed to prevent mildew growth. They should, however, be dried outside on a clothesline. Tumble drying garments that dry fast is an excellent technique to save both time and money when washing them.

Outdoor gear should not be washed with chlorine or fabric softener since it may fade. They have the potential to cause material damage as well as premature wear.

What is the best short for summer hiking? What about spring/fall hiking?

A pair of nylon spandex blend hikers are an excellent pair of hiking shoes to wear in the summer. They dry rapidly and have good abrasion resistance. It is possible to achieve a spring/fall look by utilizing a lighter fabric such as wool or polyester.

Despite the fact that they are water-resistant, these textiles will keep your feet comfortable in chilly weather. In part because of its outstanding insulating capabilities, wool is a popular fabric for garments. When wool is applied directly to the skin for an extended period of time, it can be painful.

How do I choose the best hiking short for me?

You should think about what the product is intended to do. If they are going to be utilized in dense undergrowth or in regions where rocks could scratch them, durability is crucial to you. You should select a color and style that you enjoy and that is appropriate for day hiking.

How to size hiking shorts

Hiking shorts should be long enough to cover the hips, not the waist. While standing straight, they must also be at least one inch (2 cm) above the knee to be considered appropriate.

What is the best kind of hiking short

The optimum sort of hiking boot will be determined by your intended use (for example, a casual day hike versus hiking through dense brush), your budget, and your particular aesthetic preferences. The usual hiker is constructed of nylon or spandex, which is lightweight and quick-drying.

It fastens around the waist with a button or a Velcro-style closure, depending on preference. The belt loops on certain types are designed to attach to backpacks or provide additional support, while others are simply decorative. Some have both belt loops and zippers, while others just have one. Many of these feature cargo pockets, which can be used to store additional cash, passports, or memory cards, among other things.

Some people believe that the cargo pockets can become a hindrance when going up rocky terrain. Shoes that you like the look of should be your first choice if money is not a constraint. Although durability should be taken into consideration, the primary issue should be the level of comfort.

How long do hiking shorts last?

Hikers of good quality should last for at least two years if they are properly cared for and maintained. The frequency with which they are washed in accordance with fabric care instructions, as well as the amount of friction and abrasion they receive while in use, determine their longevity.

What are cheap hiking shorts?

The term "cheap pair of hiking shorts" refers to any pair of footwear that costs less than $50.00 USD (or PS30.00 GBP) at the time of purchase, depending on the conversion rate at the time of purchase.

Many of these are regular pairs that can be found at most major outdoor gear retailers, but they may not be the greatest choice if you are seeking for the best hiking shorts on the market.

Do I need to wear long pants on top of my shorts?

This strategy is not recommended due to the fact that it decreases ventilation. It's possible that you'll feel hotter and less comfortable. In addition, you might want to try wearing a pair of zip-off or convertible hiking pants instead of your standard hiking pants. They will provide similar airflow and will allow you to continue to wear them even when the weather grows warmer.

How many pairs of hiking shorts should I own?

For the majority of hikers, one or two pairs of high-quality shoes are sufficient. This is particularly true if the shoes are rapid drying and can be dried in a short period of time. If your job requires you to have more than one pair of shoes, it may not be necessary to purchase a pair of shoes for every occasion. For example, an emergency service officer may be required to maintain a healthy weight while still maintaining at least three pairs of shoes for use in a variety of weather circumstances.

What about winter weather?

The water-resistant/breathable materials used in hiking pants will provide superior insulation to the quick-dry (mostly nylon) material often used in hiking shorts if you are trekking in cold or wet conditions.

A lot of hikers over 50 prefer more durable textiles like Gortex, even if they don't go near water on their adventures. In light of this, it is understandable why serious hikers opt for hiking pants for longer, more rigorous excursions as well as day treks.