Hiking, like any active activity, requires its own specialized wardrobe. Half the fun of getting into the activity is getting your chance to load up on all the various kinds of gear you’ll need to hit the trail. While hiking boots are critical (nothing worse than blisters and sore feet) the actual clothing you’re wearing can be just as much of a difference maker in the overall enjoyment of your hike.
When it comes to hiking shorts, you’ll want to look for the same thing you’d look for in a good pair of exercise shorts: Comfort and durability are absolutely key, as well as something that will wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool as you work up a sweat. But unlike those athletic shorts, you might want to get a longer inseam in order to better protect your skin from not only twigs and branches, but from the sun as well. Furthermore, extra cargo pockets can help hold your phone, trail mix, wallet, or any number of other random things so you can just focus on your surroundings.
Whether it’s for a quick afternoon trek or preparation for Appalachian Trail thru-hike, you shouldn’t be skimp out on making sure you’ve got the best possible shorts available. We’ve got you covered, with nine of the best hiking shorts you can get online.
1. COLUMBIA SILVER RIDGE CARGO SHORT
Columbia’s Silver Ridge cargo short have been the go-to hiking shorts for experienced hikers for quite a while now–and they’ve only gotten better over time as Columbia has continued to improve their features and construction. Their proprietary fabric called Omni-Shade has included SPF protection in the body of the short. In addition to being moisture-wicking (thanks to their extremely durable Omni-Wick material) their interior mesh lining adds not only comfort, but increased ventilation and range of motion. Comfortable, durable, colorful, and affordable, the Silver Ridge should be your first stop for a pair of hiking shorts that’s capable of hitting the trail as hard as you will.
2. WRANGLER CANVAS UTILITY HIKER SHORT
If you’d rather stick with a traditional cotton pair of shorts for hiking over a nylon option, Wrangler’s canvas utility hiking short are a great alternative. Made from 100% cotton for comfort, the relaxed and elastic back waist band ensures that the shorts won’t ride up while you’re hiking. The two side flap cargo pants make it so you’ve got extra storage options, while the deep back pockets will keep your wallet, phone, or whatever else you may slot back there in place. And at $20, it’s a great pair of shorts to get you started on your expeditions.
3. PATAGONIA BAGGIES SHORTS
In recent summers, Patagonia’s beloved baggies have gone from the trail to the be the short of the summer with sites like GQ declaring them as fashionable. With comfortable interior mesh netting and a quick drying exterior (made from a durable water repellent), baggies are begging to be worn at all hours of the day. They don’t have side cargo pockets, so don’t look to them if you’re looking to carry a ton of stuff, but if you’re just in the market for a breezy short that will keep you moving along the trail, this is it. Oh, and they come in about every color imaginable, so feel free to stock up on a few.
4. FJALLRAVEN ABISKO SHORTS
For those who already have a pair of hiking shorts and are looking to invest in a better pair (or for those that are willing to spend more on an initial purchase) Fjallraven’s Abikso shorts have great moisture-wicking and quick drying properties, as well as stretch panels for additional flexibility and long lasting comfort for your walks. We also like the front cargo pockets, which are slightly different in size in order better organize whatever you may carrying in a give moment.
5. ARC’TERYX PALISADE SHORTS
THE LUXURY PICK
Ask any avid hiker–or fashion-conscious rapper–and they’ll quickly tell you that Arc’teryx is the Lexus or BMW of outdoor gear. With thoughtful design consideration and construction, you’re paying more, but for some of the best features and material around. That philosophy is perfectly captured in Palisade short. Made from a tough nylon that’s lightweight and breathable for comfort, the short also has a built-in webbing belt for adjustment. The two side cargo pockets–perhaps the most stylish looking cargo pockets ever–are low profile and slim and further refine an overall sleek look.
7. HELIKON OUTDOOR TACTICAL SHORTS
Perfect for the person that takes the Boy Scout’s “Be Prepared” motto a little too seriously, these cargo shorts from Helikon have more pockets than you can shake a stick of jerky at. Designed in mind as more of a tactical option (with two cargo zipper pockets and two front velcro closed pockets), re-purposing them as pair of hiking shorts is a no-brainier. And with the polycotton ripstop material, they’re stay plenty durable when you (perhaps) overload them with stuff.
8. COLUMBIA MEN’S PFG PERMIT SHORT
BEST FOR SUNNY HIKES
With additional sun resistance built into the fabric of the shorts themselves, the Columbia PFG Permit Short are your best protection (along with sun screen that is!) for those hikes that are just brutally bright. That PFG material is equally good at moisture-wicking, so you wan’t have to make a sacrifice in order to make sure you’ve got an added level of protection for having fun in the sun—all day long.
9. EDDIE BAUER GUIDE PRO SHORTS
BEST FOR TRAVEL
If you’re looking to get a hike in while you’re on the road, the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts should be the first pair of hiking shorts you reach for. Lightweight and inherently packable, they’ll fit right into your carry-on without taking up too much space or weight. The Guide Pro also includes two side cargo pockets for additional storage, as well as other features like water-repellent nylon, sun protection, and two-way stretch (for comfort and flexibility of movement). With plenty of colors and a price point that’s more than palatable, they’re a great option for those are always on the go.