Freed Knees: The 9 Best Hiking Shorts for Men

Going for a swim or a strolling around the park doesn’t require any special equipment, and whatever shorts you have in your closet are fine. On the flip side, when you’re halfway up a 14er, you can’t have a binding crotch chafing you or find a hole in your pocket where your handheld GPS used to be. Hiking shorts need to be different, better, stronger than you average summer wear. They need to be able to take on a mountain without letting you down. Don’t find out how much suffering the wrong pair of shorts can cause, get the ideal.

Shorts built for the trails¬†are relatively simple garb. They have even fewer moving parts than hiking pants which means far less can go wrong. Since the primary point of wearing shorts is ventilation, you should look for a material that breathes. Ripstop nylon is the most common and most versatile, but certain natural fibers can give you a little more comfort or add extra protection. You should be selecting those that fit you well and have plenty of secure pockets for all your gear. So you don’t need to think too hard, we compiled the 9 best hiking shorts for men.

Time to Run Pace

Time to Run Men’s Pace Shorts

Pro: Supremely breezy where it counts
Con: You’re going to flash a lot of leg

Speed Freak: Technically made for running we found these shorts are ideal for three season backpackers who never know what to expect when they’re on the trail. The lack of pockets necessitate that you have a hiking backpack along for the ride, but when you need maximum ventilation as well as the largest range of motion, you can’t go wrong with the Pace. Equally good for lacing up your marathon running shoes as taking a quick jog along the trail.

Purchase: $16

Mountain Khakis Teton

Mountain Khakis Teton

Pro: Can be worn out to dinner without embarrassment
Con: Very basic pockets

Completely Casual: Those who want a set of heavy shorts meant for the toughest climbs with a little mountaineering on the side should look elsewhere. Casual hikers who prefer trail running shoes to hiking boots or like to do a little light climbing then hit the pub for happy hour will enjoy the casual style, easy look, and non-technical nature of the Teton. As the servant of both fashionistas as well as hikers, you’ll find the twill body is attractive, if not especially durable.

Purchase: $23+

Columbia Silver Ridge

Columbia Silver Ridge

Pro: Belt and elastic provide amble waist adjustment
Con: Pocket seams need reinforced stitching

Live Long, Live Large: Constructed of real ripstop nylon, the Silver Ridges are made with longevity in mind. At a price that is friendly for any budget, you can anticipate these shorts being able to move with you. A partially elastic waist permits them to work at the beginning of the season when you’re still wearing your winter weight, and the end when you’re lean as a timber wolf. With pocket space to spare and zippers to keep everything locked down, the Silver Ridges will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Purchase: $26+

LL Bean Cresta Hiking Shorts

L.L. Bean Cresta Hiking Shorts

Pro: Hold up against extreme wear without being bulky
Con: Pockets need reinforcement and increased storage space

Captain Capri: Made with dual direction vertical stretching capabilities, these are meant to fit a little more snugly, using their natural elasticity to give you an enhanced range of motion without blousing around your legs. The reduced girth is meant for narrower trails through thick brush or those hacked clear with your favorite machete. Technical moisture wicking and quick drying allow for comfort even in the moistest climates.

Purchase: $54+

Patagonia Baggies

Patagonia Baggies

Pro: Protects from both sun and water
Con: Look like a bathing suit

Wet Work:¬†All the shorts on this list are made to combat moisture and dry quickly, so you can’t go too wrong jumping into a mountain lake, but that is where the Baggies eat, sleep, and breathe. The interior mesh liner works like a swimsuit but isn’t so binding that it feels constricting or uncomfortable when you’re out on the trail. Composed of Supplex nylon, these shed water even as the 50+ UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) protects your thighs from sun damage.

Purchase: $49

Outdoor Research Equinox

Outdoor Research Equinox

Pro: Dry out in no time
Con: Waist is not adjustable

Longer Coverage: Cut like board shorts these have a below the knee design that gives you a little more coverage for those hot days when the sun threatens to beat your body to a pulp. Made of Supplex nylon, they breath exceptionally well while adding a little extra coverage to keep the entire top of your legs from burning up. Clean lines, a gusseted crotch, cargo pockets, and a standard snap waist make these as fashionable as they are durable.

Purchase: $50

Mountain Hardwear Matterhorn

Mountain Hardwear Matterhorn

Pro: Side and thigh zippers
Con: Too dense for comfort in extreme heat

Compact and Concise: Better as backpacking shorts than true hiking shorts, the Matterhorn from Mountain Hardware are meant to cut down on weight by giving you weather-resistant pants and warm weather shorts in a single package. The nylon body resists abrasion and is extremely difficult to tear, even after hours or days on the trail. They offer a few zippered pockets, but since the intent is lightness, they’re parsimoniously distributed.

Purchase: $50

ZOIC Ether

ZOIC Ether

Pro: Surprisingly stylish
Con: Can begin to chafe at the 15+ mile mark

Walk or Wheel Your Way: True, these are not hiking shorts in name, but rather made for cyclists. The point of the Ether is to allow you to take your mountain bike as high as you dare and then head for the summit on foot. The polyester and spandex body breathes well enough for exertion during a climb or while pedaling along. An interchangeable padded liner lets you customize these for your fit and purposes, while the looseness in the crotch offers a broad level of movement with no binding either on and off the bike.

Purchase: $72

Triple Aught Design Force 10 AC

Triple Aught Design Force 10 AC

Pro: Bar Tack reinforced
Con: Not true ripstop material

Tech Specs: Not for the average workaday weekend warrior, The Force 10 AC cargo shorts from the San Francisco giants at Triple Aught Design are meant for the serious scaler who’s looking for adventure most divine. Replete with hidden pockets, D-Rings, and loads of storage space in a 100% nylon body treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent), these are as tough and tactical as a pair of shorts get.

Purchase: $75

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