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The 8 Best Men’s Hiking Shorts for Exploring

Best Hiking Shorts 00 Hero
Photo: Triple Aught Design Force 10 RS Cargo Short

Unlike the sidewalks lining the concrete jungles that many of us call home, the trails out in nature are far more unpredictable and less forgiving. As such, navigating these terrains requires clothing that can not only stand up to the rigors and abuses of hiking and backpacking, but can do so without compromising the wearer’s range of movement or mitigating comfort. And while this is admittedly a tall order, there’s fortunately no shortage of reputable outdoor-specific garment brands that have managed to deliver high-quality clothing engineered from the ground up specifically for hiking.

Though hiking boots and daypacks tend to receive most of the attention in this space, a quality pair of hiking shorts can be just as essential. And while there are literally thousands of different pairs from which to choose, there’s a shortlist of models that objectively stand above the rest — and it’s this group of garments that we’ll be highlighting today in this curated list of the best men’s hiking shorts you can buy. On top of counting down our picks for the best pairs on the market, we’ll also be exploring what factors and traits make for a great pair of hiking-specific shorts as well as what areas should be taken into consideration when shopping.

Best Hiking Shorts Breakdown

Trail-Specific Trunks

The Main Factors To Consider When Buying Hiking Shorts

Needing to be able to survive anything one may encounter while out on the trails, hiking shorts tend to be far more durable and robust than your average pair of athletic trunks or khakis. What’s more, shorts that are engineered specifically for trekking duties also tend to sport numerous features designed to cater to the specific needs of hikers. Below, we’ll quickly touch on seven of the most pivotal areas to consider before buying a new pair of hiking shorts.

Materials: Without a shadow of a doubt, the single most important aspect that determines a pair of shorts’ overall quality is the material – or materials — used to construct them. As such, you’ll always want to review the type of construction used to craft a pair of shorts, as this also plays a major role in the model’s pricing, as well. And, while the primary construction is the most important, it’s also worth checking into secondary materials used for components like the liner, waistband, and/or pockets, as well as if the primary construction has been fortified with a weatherproof membrane or any type of treatment (such as a DWR finish).

Construction Technique(s): While the materials used will play an enormous role in determining how rugged and hardwearing a pair of shorts will be, the manner in which those materials are pieced together is also of significant importance. This means keeping an eye out for elements like double or triple-needle stitching, laser-welding, and bar-tack construction. You’ll also want to look for reinforced areas at crucial stress points, as well as overlays in regions like the shorts’ seat and knees.

Zippers & Hardware: A pair of shorts is only as strong as its weakest link, which is why it’s also important to take into account the type of zippers and hardware that are being utilized, as even a pair of ballistic-grade nylon shorts are pretty useless with a broken zipper. This includes elements such as waterproof zippers, D-rings, Duraflex hardware, carabiners, and other items that come preinstalled on the shorts.

Length & Fit: Just like with practically any other kind of shorts, hiking-specific models come in a wide variety of lengths and fits. This area mainly boils down to the wearer’s personal preference, though it’s definitely still worth looking into as this one factor can greatly impact the wearer’s overall experience.

Storage & Attachment Points: While we’d almost always recommend taking a daypack or backpack on your hikes, having the ability to store gear and items on your person is extremely helpful while out on the trails, which is why it’s important to consider a pair of shorts’ storage. This includes the number of pockets and the type of pockets, as well as built-in attachment points for securing additional items. And, because hiking shorts are designed for movement, oftentimes they feature anchored pockets that prevent items from jumping around with each stride.

Supplementary Features: On top of D-rings, carabiners, and other attachment points, some hiking shorts are equipped with numerous additional features that can increase a pair of shorts’ comfort, performance, and/or utility. This includes items like hidden pockets, supplementary adjustment points, and included integrated belts, as well as special properties such as being antimicrobial, quick-drying, moisture-wicking, or offering multi-way stretch.

Style: Though primary material, construction technique, features, and fit should always be the main guiding factors in your search, there’s nothing wrong with letting your aesthetic tastes play a role in your decision-making process. This is especially true as hiking shorts come in a wide variety of styles, from super plain and minimalistic pairs to ultra-tactical models and practically everything in between. What’s more, the vast majority of pairs on the market are also offered in a variety of colors (albeit typically of the earth tone variety.)

Columbia Trail Shorts

  • Really soft and comfortable
  • Lots and lot of color options
  • Two inseam options
  • Wrinkles easily
  • Not necessarily the most durable, but to be expected

Best Budget Shorts: While they may not be as rugged and high-performance as some of the other, pricier models on this list, these Colombia Trail Shorts are an excellent and affordable entry-level pair. On top of an all-cotton construction, these shorts were designed specifically for use on the trail and feature extra-wide belt loops, a classic four-pocket configuration, and a partially elasticized button-closure waist. This pair of shorts is also offered in a whopping 28 different model variants.

Inseam: 8″ or 10″
Shell Fabric: 100% cotton
Abrasion-Resistant?: No

Patagonia Baggies

patagonia Baggies
  • Pockets have draining hole
  • Super lightweight
  • Good color selection
  • 5-inch inseam not for everyone
  • Large thighs beware

Best for Wet Weather: Tipping the scales at just 7.2oz, Patagonia’s Baggies Shorts are a lightweight yet rugged pair of hiking-specific shorts. Produced in a plethora of different color tones, these shorts are crafted from 100% recycled nylon with tricot mesh made of 100% recycled polyester for comfort, while further fortification comes from a DWR finish. Other noteworthy details include an elastic waistband with an internal drawstring, a 5” inseam, a rear pocket with snap closure and flap, and a pair of vertical side pockets to reduce drag in the water, made even better with mesh corners to drain any water that gets inside.

Inseam: 5″
Shell Fabric: 100% recycled nylon
Abrasion-Resistant?: No

prAna Stretch Zion Shorts II

prAna Stretch Zion Shorts II
  • Versatile silhouette
  • Cargo pocket is subtle
  • UPF 50+
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Previous model still feels more durable

Best for Trail-to-City Shorts: Sometimes you just don’t have time to change after a day of hiking, and vice-versa. And while most technical shorts don’t really hold much stylistic purpose outside of the wilderness, the Stretch Zion Shorts from prAna can give you some versatility, with a handful of color options and even a subtle side cargo-style pocket that can be there when you need it and discreet when you don’t. Recently updated with ReZion fabric, which is made of recycled nylon tested against the performance of its predecessor, the shorts give you UPF 50+ sun protection, moisture wicking, and a four-way stretch.

Inseam: 8″
Shell Fabric: 95% recycled nylon, 5% elastane
Abrasion-Resistant?: No

Foehn Jarvis Schoeller Short

Foehn Jarvis Schoeller Short
  • Made with minimal carbon footprint
  • Articulated knees and gusseted crotch
  • Stretchy
  • Belt hanging down can be slightly annoying

Best Eco-Friendly Option: A lot of shorts, and clothing for that matter, are made with recyclable materials, but Foehn’s Jarvis Schoeller Short takes this one step further. Not only is the Bluesign-approved polyester shell made from 37% bio-based fabric but its construction uses 40% less energy, releases 56% fewer greenhouse gasses, and is recyclable at the end of its lifespan. If that weren’t enough, it also uses biodegradable DWR coating. Overall, these trousers offset 100% of their carbon footprint and give to 1% For the Planet with each sale. As for performance, the stretchy fabric is given articulated knees and a gusseted crotch for total comfort on the trails.

Inseam: N/A
Shell Fabric: 100% polyester fabric
Abrasion-Resistant?: No

Fjällräven Keb Shorts

  • Super durable yet breathable
  • Longest inseam on this list
  • Reinforced belt loops
  • Comfortable material
  • Limited color options

Best Overall: Fjällräven’s Keb Pants are widely considered to be one of, if not the very best pair of hiking-specific trousers on the market, so it’s frankly unsurprising that the Keb Shorts are just as impressive. Made from the Swedish brand’s proprietary G-1000 Eco material — an elastane-infused cotton-poly-polyamide blend — these shorts feature two snap and flap-secured cargo pockets, mesh-lined hand pockets, and heavily reinforced belt loops for securing additional gear. Armed with multi-way stretch properties, these shorts are also breathable while still being heavily resistant to water and abrasions. What’s more, the Keb Shorts can be fortified using Fjällräven’s Greenland Wax.

Inseam: 11″
Shell Fabric: G-1000 Eco (65% polyester, 35% cotton)
Abrasion-Resistant?: Yes

Triple Aught Design Force 10 RS Cargo Short

  • Perhaps most durable option here
  • Lots of pocket options, including internal rear pockets
  • Built-in D-rings
  • Uses high-quality YKK zippers
  • Expensive, but worth it

Best for Gear Hauling: Triple Aught Design’s Force 10 RS Cargo Short is an overbuilt and over-engineered pair of hiking shorts that were designed to withstand a lifetime of use. Made in America from a DWR-treated cotton-nylon blend, these shorts feature a relaxed fit, all YKK zippers, a gusseted crotch, bar tack reinforcements, double and triple-needle stitching, a pair of welt pockets, two cargo pockets with hidden dual button closures, a set of rear pockets with the same hidden dual button closure, another set of internal rear pockets, and a 1” belt loop setup with D-rings set above the shorts’ welt pockets. TAD logos and labels round out this wildly capable pair of technical hiking shorts.

Inseam: 10″
Shell Fabric: 52% nylon, 48% cotton
Abrasion-Resistant?: Yes

Best Of The Rest

Too Honorable Not To Mention

The North Face Paramount Trail Shorts

Don’t let the accessible price point on this item make you think these are anything other than a high-quality pair of shorts engineered from the ground (or rather, trail) up specifically for hiking. Made from 100% polyester construction with TNF’s proprietary FlashDry tech and a non-PFC DWR finish, these shorts boast an integrated belted waistband, zipper-secured hand pockets, UPF50 ultra-violet protection, and a TNF heat transfer logo adorning the pair’s right thigh.

Topo Designs Mountain Shorts

Topo Designs Mountain Shorts

We couldn’t leave off these Mountain Shorts from Topo Designs, which feature a traditional construction with a snap closure and zippered fly, a 7-inch inseam, and a T-Lock belt for adjusting on the go. Made from 98% organic cotton and 2% spandex, these are super soft and stretchy for a really relaxed fit. There are only a few color options, but they’re all really versatile, just like these shorts, which can be worn on the trail or around town just the same.

The Best Day Hiking Essentials

Photo: PDW Rapide Field Short GC

Still looking to further build out your hiking kit for the season? Well, our guide to the best day hiking essentials features a handpicked assortment of must-have garments and gear for the trail.