Walking and hiking throughout the summertime can be a really great activity to do. You get to experience beautiful scenery, spend time with friends, and enjoy a good workout whilst you’re at it!
Although, walking and hiking during this season can be uncomfortable for one main reason - it’s just too hot! Wearing full hiking gear and carrying a backpack in the heat can be quite overwhelming.
However, there is a solution - hiking shorts! These keep you cool, able to move, and often help protect you from the sun’s dangerous UV rays! To find your perfect pair today, take a look at our ten favorite pairs.
We’ve also created a useful buyers’ guide. This consists of a list of things to know and factors to consider before buying a pair of hiking shorts. We even cover a number of frequently asked questions, take a look below!
OUR TOP PICK
If you’re looking for a technical, well-made pair of hiking shorts from a very reputable company, look no further than the Arc’teryx Sabria. They are a particularly sturdy option that will enable you to comfortably hike for long periods of time.
These shorts are quite long, sitting halfway between the knee and the top of the leg. This long inseam provides extra coverage, which is ideal if you’re going to be walking or scrambling on any tricky terrain.
Despite their longer length, these shorts are actually very flexible. The waist is pull-on, and although it can be a bit tricky to pull them up over the hips, once they’re sat in the right place they fit very comfortably and are sure not budge!
When testing these shorts, we really liked the slim, long-line fit. The synthetic fiber kept us cool but also protected us as we clambered through some tricky spots. Although, they are snug, so we recommend sizing up if you’re in between sizes!
- Long-line - provides extra protection.
- Pull-on waist - flexible but firm.
- Synthetic fiber - breathable and durable.
- Size - you might need to size up as the waistband is quite tight.
The North Face Aphrodite Motion Walking Shorts are ideal if you’re looking for a super lightweight, thin, breathable pair of hiking shorts for the summer. Thanks to their unique design, they are also super versatile.
These shorts are ideal for anyone who enjoys traveling. They are very light and can pack up into their own back pocket, which means that they are very easy to store and carry around with you!
Made from 95% nylon and 5% elastane, they are also a very comfortable and breathable option. The waistband is also adjustable, so you can make them fit perfectly to your shape. These are great for anyone who needs complete freedom of movement!
When we tested these shorts, we really loved how easy they were to wear. They were very easy to pack, very quick to put on, and felt comfortably dry and clean despite being worn all day!
- Pack into their own pocket - makes them very easy to carry around.
- 95% nylon 5% elastane - great stretch and moisture-wicking.
- Adjustable waistband - can make them fit different body shapes.
- Length - they might be too short for some people.
Columbia’s Sandy River Cargo Shorts are a big hit with hikers, and it’s not hard to see why! They are lightweight, have numerous handy features, will keep you dry, they look pretty cool, and they don’t break the bank!
Thanks to Columbia’s advanced technology, their shorts feature their signature UPF 30 fabric for protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays. The fabric is also breathable and quick-drying, ensuring a pleasant experience all day long.
These shorts also have an array of handy features. They have a zip-close security pocket, two side pockets, a partially elastic waistband, and a belt. In turn, these shorts can be adjusted to fit you comfortably, and you can feel at ease carrying valuable items!
We really recommend these shorts. They are incredibly practical and kept us feeling protected and safe whilst hiking. They also come in a range of colors, and make for a simple but cute outfit!
- UPF 30 - protects skin from the fun,
- Breathable, quick-drying fabric - makes for a comfortable and practical pair of shorts.
- Zip-close pocket - ideal for holding high-value items.
- Range of colors - great for fashion-conscious buyers.
- Size - customers often need to buy a size larger than their regular size.
Considering Columbia’s exceptional reputation for manufacturing high-quality, reasonable outdoor gear, it’s not surprising that they feature on this list twice. For those of you who prefer a longer short, the Saturday Trail II Knee Shorts are ideal.
Made from a durable nylon and elastane combination, these hiking shorts are really durable. They are made for the active hiker in mind, with a UPF rating of 50, a good amount of stretch, and a zip-closed security pocket.
In particular, these shorts are perfect for anyone who wants the benefits of wearing shorts without the downsides. Thanks to their length, sitting just below the knee, they will protect your skin from any tricky terrain.
When we tried these trousers, we were especially surprised by their flexibility. You wouldn’t expect such a long, durable short to provide so much wiggle room for jumping and stretching, but they really do!
- UPF 50 - provides great protection from the sun.
- Zip-close pocket - ideal for storing valuables as you hike.
- Longer length - offers extra protection against the environment.
- Flexible - great for more intense hikes and activities.
- Length - longer length might not suit some people.
If you’re fairly new to hiking and are in desperate need of a good but budget-friendly pair of shorts, the Willit Hiking Shorts are perfect for you. They are a great, easy-going, loose-fitting pair of hiking shorts and could compete with some of the best on this list!
Their stretchy, ultra-soft, lightweight fabric works to not only provide extreme comfort all day but is also great for wicking away moisture. Whether you’re actively hiking or taking a break and relaxing, these shorts will remain dry and feel clean.
These have a very comfortable, wide waistband that has a drawcord for adjustment. They are sure to remain in place all day and feel comfortable whilst you engage in any activity. In fact, these are great for hiking, yoga, walking, running, or just daily wear.
When we tried out these shorts, we really liked the versatility of them considering the price. They walk the line between being super practical for hiking and comfortable and stylish enough for everyday wear. We definitely recommend them!
- Moisture-wicking fabric - keeps you dry.
- Adjustable wide waistband - makes them very comfortable and means they shouldn’t move whilst you’re doing vigorous activities.
- Color options - there are multiple different color options to choose from.
- Length - might be too short for some people.
For those of you who are looking to purchase a pair of shorts from a company that has a wonderful, inclusive ethos, take a look at Alder Apparel’s Take A Hike Shorts. Their founders strive to make outdoor clothing available for everyone.
These shorts in particular have been thoroughly designed for outdoor fun. They are constructed from durable, water-wicking fabric that is sure to keep you comfortable and dry all day long.
They also boast 8 pockets, which makes them a super practical choice! They also come with a belt to ensure that you can get the perfect fit, and despite being flexible, they hold their shape incredibly well. As such, they’re a super durable option too!
For us, if it wasn’t for the high price point, these shorts would be unbeatable. They are incredibly comfortable and durable. They are also made from sustainable materials, which is a huge bonus!
- Water-wicking fabric - keeps you dry.
- Belt - means they will stay in place all day.
- 8 pockets - means there is plenty of space to store your belongings.
- Sustainable and inclusive brand - great for conscious buyers.
- Price - these are much less budget-friendly than the others on this list.
This list wouldn’t be complete without an Eddie Bauer product. They make incredibly high-quality and sturdy outdoor gear with the needs of hikers and backpackers at the forefront.
The best thing about these shorts is their size range. They come in regular, petite, tall, plus, and plus-size. This means that there really should be something that works for every shape and sized body!
Made from nylon and spandex, these shorts are very flexible but will also hold their shape well. Thanks to their StormRepel DWR finish and FreeShade UPF 50+ technology, these shorts are also very protective against moisture and the sun.
When we tried out these shorts we really appreciated the accurate sizing and how comfortable they were to wear for a long period of time. However, they were a bit of a pain to wash, as they are considered delicate.
- Large size range - there should be an appropriate size for most people.
- StormRepel DWR finish - provides protection from water.
- FreeShade UPF 50+ - provides good sun protection.
- Nylon and spandex material - makes them very flexible.
- Washing instructions - must be washed in cold water on a delicate setting.
In recent years, Patagonia has become a very trendy brand that specializes in outdoor gear. Although, they definitely don’t fall into the cliche of being ‘all style and no substance’. Their Quandary Shorts are just as practical as they are cool!
In fact, these shorts were constructed specifically with hikers in mind. They have a chino-like style with a slim fit. However, they definitely aren’t restrictive. Their nylon and spandex blend means that they are particularly flexible.
These shorts are also coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that will protect them in less than optimal conditions. They are also sweat-wicking and very breathable, making them ideal for hot summer hikes.
When we tested these shorts, their quality really stood out. They are obviously well-made and rugged and yet are also flexible and comfortable. They also have four decent-sized pockets!
- Good quality construction - very hardy pair of shorts.
- Coated with DWR - means they are water-resistant.
- Breathable and sweat-wicking - will keep you dry and cool as you like.
- Price - less budget-friendly than others on this list.
If you’ve been feeling frustrated by the masculine style of hiking shorts, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Bermuda Shorts. They are flattering and functional!
Sitting a few inches above the knee, these shorts are comfortable. They are designed specifically to flatter women’s bodies and sit comfortably on the hips. They are also very stretchy, which is ideal for challenging walks and hikes.
The fabric is UPF 50, so it filters out dangerous UV rays. It is also water repellent, with a PFC-free DWR finish, and is resistant to bacteria and odor. This means that any light rain is kept at bay and these shorts will remain feeling clean for longer!
When we tried these shorts, we very much appreciated the more feminine style. The familiar shape made us feel comfortable and supported whilst hiking. However, we do think that other more budget-friendly options on this list could be better.
- Feminine shape - means they are comfortable and flattering.
- UPF 50 - provides good protection from the sun.
- PFC-free DWR coating - means they are water-resistant.
- Bacteria and odor resistance - means they feel cleaner for longer.
- Price - other more budget-friendly options may be better.
Now, although clothing that was made specifically for hikers comes with many benefits, that doesn’t mean that you can't wear other workout shorts when hiking. In fact, the Lululemon Align Shorts, a yoga-style short, are just as good of an option!
These shorts feel incredibly soft and weightless when on, which is ideal for long hikes. The Nulu fabric is also sweat-wicking, breathable, and stretchy, with added lycra fiber for stretch and shape retention.
The waistband is high and comes with a pocket that will easily fit a card or key. There are also side drop-in pockets and a back drop-in pocket, so it's super easy to store any valuables!
If we’re being honest, we don’t need convincing at all when it comes to the benefits of yoga shorts. Although, the high waistband on these ones, in particular, was excellent. It didn’t slip down at all during the day, but made for an incredibly comfortable hike!
- High waistband - comfortable and doesn’t budge throughout the day.
- Nulu fabric - keeps you cool and dry, and enables freedom of movement.
- Multiple pockets - great for keeping valuables safe.
- Yoga shorts - not specifically designed for hiking.
Best Walking & Hiking Shorts for Women for Comfort on Any Trail Buyers’ Guide
Buying any kind of hiking gear can be a bit intimidating. There are so many different products available, and each one tends to boast a different material blend and numerous unique benefits.
To make this process a little easier, we’ve put together a handy buyers guide. It consists of everything you need to know and consider before buying a pair of hiking shorts. Check it out below!
When it comes to hiking gear, durability is one of the most important things you need to consider. The last thing you want is to buy a pair of shorts to find that they are completely destroyed after a particularly intense hike.
The best way to know whether a product is durable is to look to the manufacturer.
Are they a tried and tested brand with a lot of reviews? Do your other outdoorsy friends wear this brand a lot? Is this brand mentioned by trusted websites and forums?
If you’re still feeling a bit unsure, we recommend purchasing a pair of hiking shorts that come with some kind of satisfaction guarantee or warranty that lasts for over a year.
This not only shows that the brand has confidence in the durability of their product, but it also means you can return the shorts if you are unhappy with their performance.
Comfort is a very subjective factor. As such, regardless of how a pair of shorts is marketed, it is necessary to really think about whether you personally will be comfortable wearing them.
To do this, consider the following questions:
- Do you prefer baggy or slim-fit workout gear?
- Do you like shorts to be short, knee-length, or ¾ length?
- Are there any materials that you particularly like/don’t like the feel of?
- Are you more comfortable in plain colored clothing or do you prefer patterned clothing?
Asking yourself these questions should narrow down your options and help you find the most comfortable pair of hiking shorts.
However, if you are still in doubt, simply opt for a pair of shorts that come with a good returns policy. That way, you can try them on to see exactly how comfortable they are.
It’s very important that you feel as if you can move well in a pair of hiking shorts. As such, it's necessary that they are stretchy.
This stretch will enable you to scramble over rocks, hop over objects that have obstructed your path, and climb tricky trails.
If you plan on hiking some difficult, steep trails, look out for stretchy materials like Spandex. Although, if you’re unsure, it’s best to order a few pairs and try them on.
If you are going to do this, make sure that the products have a good returns policy.
Breathability is a very necessary characteristic of a pair of hiking shorts. Breathable hiking shorts will wick away moisture and keep you feeling dry and cool throughout your hike.
Generally, most shorts that have been designed specifically for hiking are made from breathable material. However, if you’re in doubt, make sure to avoid all cotton fabrics, and instead choose a pair of shorts made from moisture-wicking materials.
Pockets aren’t necessarily the things that come straight to mind when you’re buying a pair of shorts. However, when it comes to hiking shorts, they are 100% necessary.
In fact, the more pockets the better! The last thing you want is to begin a walk in your new shorts only to find that you have nowhere to keep your belongings.
Although all pockets are great, we recommend that you look out for shorts with zip-close pockets. These are perfect to store valuable belongings as you hike and will provide that extra little bit of security.
Protecting Your Skin
A good pair of hiking shorts will protect your skin against the sun. You can find out how protective they are by looking at the product information on the tag. Generally, you want a UPF of 30+.
However, this is not to say that a good pair of shorts will make up for not using sunscreen. Take this as your reminder that, whenever you are hiking you should always slather yourself in sunscreen. Yes, even if it is cloudy!
Finally, if you’re a fashion-conscious hiker, you’ll want to consider style. Although you might think that all hiking gear is bland, beige, and way too practical to be flattering, we can assure you that is not the case.
In recent years, brands that specialize in outdoor gear have really extended their lines to be more conscious of style.
Their products now come in a variety of different colors and patterns - so don’t settle for anything less than a pair of shorts that make you feel great!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Wear Running Shorts For Hiking?
Yes. Running shorts are breathable, comfortable, and flexible.
However, if you’re planning to walk or hike on rough terrain or in tricky weather conditions, you will probably be better off wearing a long pair of pants made specifically for hiking. These will do more to protect you on your adventure.
Are Biker Shorts Good For Hiking?
They can be.
Biker shorts tend to be very flexible, comfortable, durable, and are able to wick moisture away quickly. As such, they can be used for hiking.
However, if you are planning on hiking on rough terrain, a longer or more protective pair of pants might be more ideal. These will protect your skin from a wide array of environmental conditions.
Can You Wear Leggings For Hiking?
Yes. Specifically, it is fine to wear yoga pants or leggings whilst hiking. As long as they were made for active use, they are comfortable, and durable, sports leggings are completely appropriate for hiking.
Is It Better To Hike In Shorts Or Leggings?
Generally, this comes down to personal preference.
Longer pants tend to be considered the safest option. They can protect you from the sun and also from getting any cuts or scratches when walking on rough terrain.
However, in the summer, people tend to wear shorts whilst hiking. In high heat, wearing shorts is cooler and far more comfortable.
In general, most hikers agree that what you wear depends on the weather and trail conditions. If you plan on hiking on rough terrain in tricky conditions, always opt for long pants.
Are Hiking Shorts Worth It?
In short, yes.
If you’re a keen hiker or plan on becoming one, having the appropriate kit is really important. A good pair of shorts that have been designed specifically for walking and hiking will work to keep you cool, comfortable, and protected as you go.
Saying that, if you are new to hiking and don’t want to commit to purchasing expensive clothing, we recommend wearing any workout gear that you already have.
This could be biking shorts, running shorts, or jogging pants. Just make sure that you won’t overheat or get too cold.
What Should You Not Wear While Hiking?
Here is a list of things you should avoid wearing whilst hiking:
This is because denim absorbs moisture easily. As such, it will absorb rain, water, and sweat rather than wicking moisture away.
2. Bulky Pants
If your clothing is too heavy or loose, this can not only be uncomfortable but also dangerous on a hike.
3. Stiff Fabric
If any of your clothing feels stiff and unforgiving, it’s best to avoid those items whilst you hike. Although toughness is necessary for hiking clothing, you also need flexibility.
This makes the list for similar reasons to denim. Cotton absorbs moisture and also doesn’t dry very fast.
5. Flimsy Shoes
Hiking sandals, boots, or shoes provide a great deal of stability, comfort, and safety whilst on a hike. Other less supportive shoes could cause injury on a hike.
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