When you embark on a long hike you should be looking forward to it. The gorgeous weather, the tasty lunch you packed, and the view.
There are also things to check first, that the hiking boots are a comfortable fit and you have everything you need in your backpack. You really should not be worrying about your hiking shorts. Not on a day like this.
If you are continually rearranging your hiking shorts you likely won’t be paying much attention to the hike itself. What was once a day you looked forward to, is now one filled with irritation.
Hiking shorts that chafe, that do not fit well, and keep your crotch sweaty are not fit for purpose.
The best hiking shorts for any trail are the ones that look out for you. With the ideal blend of durable, lightweight materials, the suitable amount of pockets, the right color, and the correct fit.
Freedom of movement is the freedom to enjoy whatever the hike has in store. You should be feeling comfortable and looking good, ready for the hike you have been waiting for.
Best Hiking Shorts For Men For Comfort On Any Trail
OUR TOP PICK
If you are one of those hikers who just wants a functional pair of shorts for a casual look then we may have found the pair.
Kuhl’s Silencr Kargo shorts look suitably relaxed yet come with everything you would expect.
Plenty of durability and stretchiness from softshell fabric which does not use an elastic material. Instead, the polyester yarn has a high twist which creates a four-way mechanical stretch.
An ingenious, articulated design also means that the shorts will follow your body as it moves. Staying relatively close and absorbing less moisture for any unexpected moisture.
A gusseted crotch enhances that freedom of movement which was a feature we liked in our testing.
- Advanced Softshell Fabric - Great for durability and stretch with a water repellent finish
- Articulated Design - Will follow your body’s natural movement
- Gusseted Crotch - For enhanced freedom of movement
- Heavy And Bulky - These may not be ideal for a long hike
There is a lot to be said for freedom of movement with a pair of hiking shorts. For a pair that keeps you cool consider Rackay Flare Half Tights.
These have sweat-wicking material as a chafe-proof measure and you should expect a comfortable form-fitting fit.
If you cannot stand shorts that ride up then be assured with thigh cuffs that have been fitted with silicone dots which we liked in our experience of this product.
Aside from keeping you cool and dry, these will also help the environment.
The jersey-knit shorts are made from recycled material and with a single purchase, dozens of plastic bottles can be removed from the ocean.
Great for the planet and your companions too as these have HeiQ Fresh for odor control.
- Sweat Wicking - The material also wicks away moisture to keep you dry and chafe-proof
- Form Fitting - Expect a comfortable fit that clings to your legs from a jersey-knit fabric
- Recycled Materials - As well as being made from recycled materials, with each purchase dozens of plastic bottles are removed from the ocean
- HeiQ Fresh - Odor control which helps eliminate bad odors and bacteria
- Tight Fit - These shorts really do not leave much to the imagination
A high nylon mix in the fabric is usually well worth seeking out. Patagonia’s Quandary Shorts offer 95% nylon with 5% spandex which adds up to great breathability.
However, it is the makeup of that nylon that is most impressive and one feature we liked in our testing.
Patagonia is rightly proud to boast that 65% of that nylon is recycled from various sources including discards from mills and post-industrial waste fiber.
Not only is Patagonia looking to the future with their shorts but also towards more short-term causes. That nylon and spandex mix is also incredibly fast-drying which is good to know for a few sporadic rain showers.
- Stretch Fabric - Comprised of 95% nylon and 5% spandex for added breathability
- Recycled Nylon - These shorts have 65% recycled nylon from post-industrial waste fiber, mill discards, and post-consumer fishing nets
- Fast Drying - The nylon and spandex mix is excellent for fast drying
- Price Tag - Though these shorts hit the spot for a hike, they do need to get some wear in them for the investment
When you are out for a long hike you want to feel like you can move freely. Your shorts should help with that and prAna’s Stretch Zion Shorts certainly do.
With elastic around the waist and spandex in the fabric, you can be comfortable and have great freedom to move.
Nylon is also included in the fabric blend to add durability and abrasion resistance which we liked in our testing.
That durability is also maintained by triple stitching and a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treatment to keep the water out.
There are also six pockets in case you were wondering; two left-sided pockets, two back pockets, and two hand pockets.
Good to know when you are enjoying that freedom that your belongings won’t be falling out either.
- Elastic Waist - For enhanced freedom of movement
- Nylon Spandex Blend - Abrasion-resistant and stretchy
- Triple Stitching - Increased durability from sturdier than usual stitching
- Six Pockets - This might be a couple too many for several hikers
For a pair of shorts that offer wind and water-resistance as well as belt loops, you would be surprised at how lightweight they can be.
Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi Shorts are made from a very stretchy and lightweight softshell fabric comprised of 86% nylon and 14% elastane.
That blend is tightly woven for durability and sun protection of over UPF 50, which is ample protection in summer.
If you truly wanted to stand out, you could opt for colors such as curry or peacock which did well in our testing of this product.
These hiking shorts are ideal for a summer hike when you cannot be completely sure about the weather.
With weather resistance and sun protection from a pair of lightweight shorts, you will still be able to enjoy your hike.
- Truly Lightweight - Thin and stretchy softshell fabric from 86% nylon and 14% elastane
- Weather-Resistant - Tightly woven fabric makes these shorts exceedingly durable as well as wind and water-resistant
- Belt Loops - Ideal if you want your shorts to fit just right
- Eight Different Colors - You may struggle to decide which color to go with
The best hiking shorts are usually made from a mixture of different fabrics that are selected for their various properties.
Most importantly, the material should be breathable to allow for airflow and prevent moisture from building up on your legs.
Not only does that feel disgusting, but it can also encourage bacteria and bad odors. Far from ideal when you are likely to be wearing them for hours.
Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon hit the spot for breathability and fast-drying, as do a combination of the two.
Both materials have their own properties; nylon offers more abrasion resistance whereas polyester is better for moisture-wicking. You can almost guarantee that spandex will be added purely for its stretchy qualities too.
One material you should look to avoid is cotton as this does little, if anything, to help moisture buildup.
Another feature to look out for with the material is a DWR finish. This stands for Durable Water Repellent and is really handy if you are out on a hike and encounter an unexpected rain shower.
This is a really thin layer so do not worry about adding to the bulk of the shorts as it barely adds anything.
The ideal material for your hiking shorts should also be fast-drying, so if you do encounter any moisture, it will not be there for long.
This feature is great if you fancy a swim on a hot day or may opt for wearing them to the beach on another adventure. If you did want to test the material of your hiking shorts, it is probably best done during the summer.
That way you can see how good the ventilation is as well as the moisture-wicking properties.
A pair of hiking shorts that are not comfortable during the best time of the year, probably are not worth wearing as you cannot rely on them.
However, do remember that hiking shorts are ideal for hikes, not climbing or walking through particularly challenging terrain.
For someone who loves the great outdoors, you want a pair of hiking shorts that you know will last.
They may be an investment yet if your shorts rip after a few hikes then you are already facing having to pay out for a new pair.
Clearly, the best hiking shorts should be comfortable but made of durable material that means you can rely on them mile after mile.
If you know a few experienced hikers that have a similar build to yourself then ask them which pairs they have worn for years.
Alternatively, you could opt for a brand that offers a guarantee on their hiking shorts so you could return them if they were not up to the expected standard.
Freedom of movement is one factor that you really need to consider for your hiking shorts.
The shorts should be stretchy for going over rocks or climbing trails but without the danger of ripping apart. No one wants to face the long walk home with a pair of shorts that have come apart.
Consider a material that includes spandex as this will bring a stretchiness to your shorts that help with how comfortable they are.
Even if you are carrying a backpack, you may require a pair of hiking shorts that has a few pockets. Having your cell phone within reach or a granola bar may be a comfort that you cannot be far away from.
It will also save you from the wrath of your companions when you have to halt the hike occasionally and get whatever it is out of your backpack if you can simply unzip a pocket instead.
Some hiking shorts just have a couple of pockets, whereas some have around six and up. Consider what you want to carry in your shorts and how big the pockets need to be.
Having excess pockets with nothing to put in them is pretty pointless and it could add to the bulk of the shorts. A button and zipper fly is also a great addition to have just in case.
You should look good when out on a hike. That could come from a comfortable pair of hiking shorts that you feel good in.
That sense of style could also be enhanced by your favorite color and several brands now opt for a range to suit anybody’s preferences. Finding the right pair of hiking shorts may also mean choosing from up to 12 colors.
You could also go for a pair that are designed like cargo or chino shorts as opposed to a pair that simply feel like they belong on a hike and nowhere else.
The best pair of hiking shorts should also be used when you are not on a trail too and that added versatility can add up.
The length can be really important to the style of hiking shorts. A pair that lands just above the knee could be just right or you may want to cover your knees completely.
The measurements usually come in two-inch increments so try to measure your inside and outside leg first.
For an even more comfortable fit, you could opt for an elastic waist that clings to you. Alternatively, if you know what waist measurement works and you have your own belt, simply find a pair with some belt hooks that you can use.
The best hikes are usually in summer so once you have covered yourself in suncream you want to ensure that your legs are protected too.
That is why most hiking shorts come with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) value to show how much protection they offer for the upper part of your legs.
This is usually around 50 or above. Protecting against harmful UV rays is an excellent consideration and one that should be made clear but occasionally is not disclosed by the manufacturers.
How your hiking shorts protect you is from a combination of the fabric’s weave, the fibers used, and how thick the fabric is.
Your hiking shorts should be thin and lightweight yet still offer this UPF value through various treatments and how the fabric is constructed. If you are unsure about the sun protection offered by your shorts then apply some suncream there too.
Several extras may have little to do with the design of the shorts themselves. Several manufacturers are now using recycled materials in their hiking shorts while not compensating for quality.
This could be a defining factor if you are looking to become more environmentally friendly in your shopping.
You could also look out for a Fair Trade certification that confirms that the workers who made your hiking shorts have been paid and treated fairly. Statements like that are always good to see and provide that extra touch of comfort in your purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use any pair of shorts for hiking?
Short answer; yes. The better, longer answer is; probably not. Finding the best hiking shorts usually means a pair that have been specially designed.
While a lot of shorts will allow freedom of movement simply from not being pants, they may soon chafe as the material is not designed for moisture-wicking.
Another pair of shorts may look good but after a short period of time, you could find yourself rearranging them as they are not meant to be worn for hiking.
However, shorts that you usually wear for cycling tend to use spandex so you may find that these shorts cling to your body and do not get caught on foliage.
What should I wear when hiking in summer?
Certain garments are designed for hiking in summer that will make you really comfortable. A pair of quick-dry boxer briefs are ideal, as are wool hiking shorts.
Your t-shirt should also be quick-dry and maybe supplemented by a normal t-shirt depending on the conditions. To protect yourself from harmful sun rays, wear a pair of sunglasses and opt for a hat with a large brim.
Try to find a lightweight, long-sleeve top that uses breathable material. Not only should you be covered for sun protection, but also from insect bites. You should also pack multiple pairs of your favorite shorts, just in case.
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