5 Best Hiking Shorts For Women and Men

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Women’s and Men’s 5 Best Hiking Shorts

You want the best hiking shorts so you enjoy your summer hikes. When the trails become hot, you need a good pair of lightweight hiking shorts. Choose shorts designed just for hiking.

Make a thoughtful and affordable purchase by investing in a well-made pair of the best hiking shorts. When you select the best hiking shorts, you want to think about the following features:

Best Hiking Shorts
  • Breathability
  • Comfort
    • Stretch
    • Mobility
    • Gussets
    • Weight
  • Fabric
    • Nylon
    • Polyester
    • Spandex
    • Cotton
  • Fit (Length)
  • Closure
  • Sun and Water Protection
  • Weight
  • Price

That’s a LOT to consider! Still, you will be glad you did when you get on the trail.

The Best Hiking Shorts At A Glance

VendorMaterialMSRP
Best Women’s Hiking Shorts:
Columbia – Women’s Sandy River Cargo100% Nylon$50
Columbia – Women’s Saturday Trail Long96% nylon/4% elastane$50
prAna – Women’s Alana Shorts95% Nylon/5% Spandex$65
TNF – Women’s Aphrodite Bermuda74% Nylon/20% Polyester/6% Elastane$45
TNF – Women’s Aphrodite Motion95% Nylon/5% Elastane $40
Best Men’s Hiking Shorts:
Columbia – Men’s Mist Trail100% Polyester$45
Columbia – Men’s Silver Ridge100% Ripstop Nylon$65
Mountain Hardwear – Men’s AP Shorts75.0% Cotton/23.0% Nylon/2.0% Elastane$70
PrAna – Men’s Stretch Zion97% Nylon/5% Spandex$75
TNF – Men’s Paramount 3.096% Nylon/4% Elastane$55

Best Hiking Shorts Give You – Breathability

Some hiking pant’s designs keep heat inside the pants. However, the best hiking shorts provide ventilation that allows you to lose the extra heat from a strenuous hike.

Most hikers agree that you want to avoid overheating during late spring and summer hikes. Overheating slows you down, and makes you nauseated. If you overheat too much, you could even have a deadly heatstroke.

Some synthetic fabrics come with technology that wicks away moisture. If you cannot find or afford moisture-wicking fabrics, natural fabrics also feel breathable when you work up a sweat.

You usually want to avoid cotton when you hike, but cotton feels okay during a hot hike. When you become hot hiking, cotton holds your sweat and helps you cool down.

Comfort – What the Best Hikiing Shorts Offer

Stretch

You also want comfortable hiking shorts. When you take a long hike, you want to wear shorts that stretch. Fabrics with a blend of elastane and spandex offer some stretching capability.

These fabrics keep your hiking pants from feeling too stiff. These fabrics also make your shorts durable so they stand up to wear and tear.

Mobility

Shorts also give you a wider range of motion than pants. When hiking on rough trails, long pants make it difficult for you to stretch your legs completely. This limited movement makes it uncomfortable to hike trails with objects like trees and rocks that you need to step or climb over.

Lightweight hiking shorts let you move your legs freely. Lighter shorts give your body a free range of movement so the material does not make it difficult for you to stretch.

Gussets

A gusset is usually a triangle or diamond shaped piece of material inserted in the place of a seam.

Inseam gussets at the crotch make an excellent comfort feature for men’s and women’s hiking shorts. The gussets allow you to move your legs around more comfortably.

Weight

The best lightweight hiking shorts weigh 10 or fewer ounces.

Best Hiking Short’s Fabrics

The best hiking shorts come in a wide variety of fabrics including:

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Spandex
  • Cotton (Yep, but a cotton blend is better.)

Nylon

Nylon makes a great hiking short choice. Nylon’s benefits include:

Best Hiking Shorts
  • Soft on your skin
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying

Nylon has a soft, pleasant texture that feels good on your skin.

Additionally, unlike cotton, nylon moves sweat away from your body. Nylon moves the sweat to the fabric’s surface.

Your sweat then evaporates from the surface of the fabric. Nylon has the ability to wick effectively. Still, nylon cannot keep up with taking away moisture when you exert yourself on the trail and sweat a lot. Nylon still gets wet.

When nylon gets wet with sweat, it only absorbs small amounts of water. When you slow your pace and take a break, the small amount of water absorption helps dry the fabric quickly.

Nylon repels body oils. So, it absorbs unpleasant smelling body oils caused by sweating.

Nylon also dries faster if you get wet in a sudden rain shower.

Polyester

Shorts makers also use polyester to make the best lightweight backpacking shorts and clothes. Similar to nylon, polyester is a light and breathable fabric.

The fabric also resists water so polyester keeps you drier than nylon when it rains. Polyester offers UV protection so it is often used for outdoor clothes and outerwear.

The material is less durable than nylon and also absorbs body oils. As a result, polyester tears more easily and traps unpleasant body odor.

Spandex

Spandex gives your hiking shorts the ability to spread out. This material has the capability to stretch up to 6 times its initial size! After it stretches, spandex shrinks back to the original size.

Like nylon and polyester, spandex also provides the benefits of breathability, moisture-wicking, and drying quickly. The best women’s and men’s hiking shorts often use spandex with nylon and polyester.

Spandex gives your hiking shorts a little bit of stretch so you have more freedom to move.

Cotton

Best Hiking Shorts

Hikers often say that “Cotton Kills”. Hikers say that because cotton absorbs the water it soaks up.

If you slip and fall into a stream on a cold day while wearing cotton, you might freeze.

On a hot day, cotton has benefits. Since cotton hangs onto the water, it has a cooling effect.

This cooling effect feels good during a hot hike. Still, you might want to look for hiking shorts that include some nylon, polyester, or spandex.

When you hike, you want to avoid these fabrics:

  • Khaki
  • Jean
  • Canvas

The fabrics look great, and they are durable. Still, they make a poor choice for hiking shorts. These materials breathe poorly. Also, they dry slowly when they get wet.

Fit

Does it matter what kind of fit you choose for hiking, a baggy fit or a slim fit?

Yes, fit matters! If you choose very loose shorts, you risk snagging them on branches and other trail growth during your hike.

Also, avoid low rise shorts. Low rise shorts usually leave the area where your backpack waistband sits exposed. As a result, you might have a raw, chafed spot caused by your backpack’s waistband.

High rise shorts make it more comfortable to carry your pack. When you consider the length of your shorts, I recommend 10’ or less.

Also, be sure that you keep the inseam length above your knee. Inseams below your knee, cause you to lose some freedom of movement. Many hikers find below the knee shorts annoying and uncomfortable.

Closure

Best Hiking Shorts

Shorts have a variety of closure systems that include:

  • Zippers – Choose shorts with zippers if you want convenience. However, zippers can break and leave you exposed until you get a new pair of shorts.
  • Buttons – Buttons give you a more durable option, but they can be a hassle to button and unbutton.
  • Stretch waists – Shorts with stretch waists give you a zipper’s accessibility and a button’s strength.
  • Belt – Some shorts have a belt. A belt lets you tighten your short’s waist securely.

Sun and Water Protection

Some women’s and men’s hiking shorts include an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and Durable Water Repellent (DWR). Each of these features gives your shorts more protection from the outdoors. 

UPF rates how well clothes protect you from the harmful rays of the sun. The higher the UPF rating the better protection provided from the sun’s harmful rays.

DWR, a coating added during manufacturing, makes fabrics water resistant. Shorts with a DWR treatment stay drier for longer than untreated shorts.

Price

Does price matter? Yes! A comfortable, durable pair of the best hiking shorts costs between $40 and $75.

Women’s Best Hiking Shorts

Choose from the following best women’s hiking shorts. Each of these hiking shorts makes a good choice for your hiking trip.

Columbia – Women’s Sandy River Cargo Shorts

The Women’s Columbia Sandy River comfort-stretch hiking shorts with cargo pockets make a great hiking choice. The shorts feature UPF 30 and quick-drying material.

Women’s Sandy River Cargo

Features and Benefits – Best Hiking Shorts

  • 100% Nylon
  • Rain repellent
  • Quick dry
  • UPF 30 sun protection
  • Mid-rise cargo pockets
  • Adjustable waist band
  • MSRP $50

Columbia – Women’s Saturday Trail Long

The lightweight Saturday Trail shorts for women come in a comfort stretch fabric. The stretchy fabric feels good as you hike.

The shorts also feature a UPF 50 sun protection. In addition, you will appreciate the shorts water-repellency that helps you stay dry.

Women’s Saturday Trail Long

Features and Benefits

  • 96% nylon/4% elastane
  • Sun UPF 50
  • Water-repellent
  • Comfort stretch
  • Gusseted
  • Zip-close security pocket
  • Mid rise
  • Straight leg
  • Active fit
  • MSRP $50

prAna – Women’s Alana Shorts

The PrAna Women’s Alana Shorts provide you with a high-performance, stretchable pair of the best women’s hiking shorts. The shorts have a relaxed fit that feels good as you hike the trails. For a comfortable hike, wear these durable, water repellant, ripstop shots on your next hike.

Women’s Alana

Features and Benefits – Best Hiking Shorts

  • 95% Nylon/5% Spandex
  • Stretch fabric for comfort and mobility
  • Ripstop for durability
  • Quick-dry
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Front/back welt (reinforced along the pocket border) patch pockets
  • SPF 50+
  • 5″/12.7 cm inseam
  • Mid-rise
  • Standard fit
  • ***Recommend that you purchase one size up from your traditional size***
  • MSRP $65

The North Face – Women’s Aphrodite Bermuda – Best Hiking Shorts

The extremely durable, quick-drying Aphrodite 2.0 hiking shorts take warm-weather hikes to the next level. The wide, knit waistband does not dig in or chafe against heavy packs. Choose 4-inch or 6-inch inseam lengths.

Women’s Aphrodite Bermuda

Features and Benefits

  • 95% Nylon/5% Elastane
  • Quick-drying
  • Breathable
  • Moisture wicking
  • External draw cord
  • Front hand pockets
  • Concealed-zip back pocket
  • 3.6 oz/102 G
  • MSRP $45

The North Face – Women’s Aphrodite Motion

The North Face women’s Aphrodite Motion Short has a lot to offer. The shorts are made from a soft, comfy, four-way stretch fabric. Light rain on the trail, sweaty on a hot day, no worry, since these hiking shorts repel water.

best hiking shorts
Women’s Aphrodite Motion

Features and Benefits – Best Hiking Shorts

  • 95% Nylon/5% Elastane
  • Four-way stretch fabric for better mobility 
  • Sun UPF 50
  • Standard fit
  • Packs into secure-zip back pocket
  • Drop-in hand pockets
  • Standard fit
  • MSRP $40

Men’s Best Hiking Shorts

Choose from the following best men’s hiking shorts. Each of these hiking shorts makes a good choice for your hiking trip.

Columbia – Men’s Mist Trail – Best Hiking Shorts

Spend all-day on the trail with the Mist Trail shorts. Enjoy these shorts made for cool misty mornings to hot sunny afternoons. Be comfortable with Columbia’s fast cooling and wicking tech and UPF 50.

best hiking shorts
Men’s Mist Trail

Features and Benefits

  • 100% Polyester
  • Durable
  • Breathable for long, hot hikes
  • Sun UPF 50
  • Back pocket for storage
  • MSRP $45

Columbia – Men’s Silver Ridge

These multi-feature cargo shorts keep you comfortable. These shorts have an ultra-wicking fabric.

They also have built-in UPF 50. A partial elastic waist gives these shorts an easy fit. The gusset detail lets you have ultimate freedom of movement.

Have a pleasant hike when you wear the Silver Ridge shorts.

Columbia Men's Silver Ridge
Men’s Silver Ridge

Features and Benefits – Best Hiking Shorts

  • 100% Ripstop Nylon
  • UPF 50 Sun Protection
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Classic fit
  • Side-elastic waistband
  • Gusset detail
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Zip-closed security pocket
  • Hand pockets
  • Mesh pocket bags
  • MSRP $45

Mountain Hardwear – Men’s AP Short – Best Hiking Shorts

The men’s AP Short helps keep you comfortable all-day. These shorts offer a combination of craft and character.

They are a comfortable, durable pair of the best men’s hiking shorts made to stretch and enjoy getting away from it all.

Men's Mountain Hardwear AP Short
Men’s AP

Features and Benefits

  • 75.0% Cotton/23.0% Nylon/2.0% Elastane
  • Zip security pockets
  • Front cell pocket
  • 7.2 oz/203 g
  • MSRP $70

prAna – Men’s Stretch Zion

The PrAna Stretch Zion Shorts let you meet your adventure head-on. These best-selling men’s hiking shorts let you master your trails with comfort and ease.

best hiking shorts
Men’s Stretch Zion

Features and Benefits – Best Hiking Shorts

  • 3% Spandex/97% Nylon
  • Stretchable
  • Moisture-wicking fabric
  • Adjustable waistband system
  • Cut just above the knee
  • Ventilated inseam gusset for more comfort
  • Mesh pockets
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Quick-drying
  • Standard fit
  • MSRP $75

The North Face – Men’s Paramount 3.0

Crafted with a slender, straight fit the durable, stretch-woven Paramount 3.0 hiking shorts feature an adjustable belt at the waistband. The shorts also have a water-repellent finish to shed light moisture.

best hiking shorts
Men’s Paramount 3.0

Features and Benefits

  • 96% Nylon/4% Elastane
  • Stretchable for comfort
  • Lightweight (10.5 oz/297 g)
  • 9-inch inseam
  • Straight fit
  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish
  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50
  • Adjustable belt for a better fit
  • Utility zip pocket at right side seam for storage
  • MSRP $55

The Best Hiking Shorts At A Glance

VendorMaterialMSRP
Best Women’s Hiking Shorts:
Columbia – Women’s Sandy River Cargo100% Nylon$50
Columbia – Women’s Saturday Trail Long96% nylon/4% elastane$50
prAna – Women’s Alana Shorts95% Nylon/5% Spandex$65
TNF – Women’s Aphrodite Bermuda74% Nylon/20% Polyester/6% Elastane$45
TNF – Women’s Aphrodite Motion95% Nylon/5% Elastane $40
Best Men’s Hiking Shorts:
Columbia – Men’s Mist Trail100% Polyester$45
Columbia – Men’s Silver Ridge100% Ripstop Nylon$65
Mountain Hardwear – Men’s AP Shorts75.0% Cotton/23.0% Nylon/2.0% Elastane$70
PrAna – Men’s Stretch Zion97% Nylon/5% Spandex$75
TNF – Men’s Paramount 3.096% Nylon/4% Elastane$55

Conclusion

When you hike the trails this spring and summer, you want dedicated hiking shorts! You want the benefits of shorts made just for hiking. When choosing the best men’s and women’s hiking shorts, think about:

  • Breathability
  • Comfort
  • Fabric
  • Water Protection
  • Sun Protection

Choose the best hiking shorts and have a fun, comfortable hike this summer!

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10 Best Men's and Women's Hiking Shorts

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