The 12 Best Men’s Hiking Shorts for Exploring in 2022

Mar 15, 2022

Category: Gear

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.

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

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.

Purchase: $30+

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 a ripstop nylon 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.

Purchase: $32+

REI Co-op Sahara Amphib Shorts

Produced in half-a-dozen different color options, the REI Co-op Sahara Amphib Shorts wonderfully lend themselves to hiking duties, primarily thanks to the use of a primary “Amphibious” ripstop nylon-poly blend with ultra-efficient moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties, as well as a DWR finish and UPF 50 sun protection. This pair also features a carabiner waistband loop, an elasticized waistband, deep zipper-secured pockets with mesh linings and drain-holes, a 7” inseam, a functional fly closure, and an integrated web belt with a removable buckle.

Purchase: $50

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Tipping the scales at just 7.2oz, Patagonia’s Quandary Shorts are a lightweight yet rugged pair of hiking-specific shorts. Produced in a trio of different earth tones, these shorts are crafted from a combination of recycled nylon and spandex, affording them multi-way stretch properties, while further fortification comes from a DWR finish and UPF 50 sun protection. Other noteworthy details include a metal button closure with a zippered fly, a 10” inseam, a traditional four-pocket setup supplemented via a coin pocket and a zipper-secured thigh pocket, and a gusseted crotch and a curved waistband that follows the natural shape of the wearer’s hips, together affording a completely unrestricted range of motion.

Purchase: $69

Filson Glines Canyon Short

Made from an ultra-quick-drying 3.5oz nylon-poly mesh construction, Filson’s new Glines Canyon Shorts are a unique swim trunk-hiking short hybrid that has been designed to offer the best of both worlds. Sporting an 8” inseam, these shorts feature a set of quick-draining mesh pockets, a zippered fly, and a single zipper-secured cargo pocket that boasts a draining eyelet and an integrated key clip. An elasticized, swimsuit-style waistband also affords a secure and snug fit, even without a belt — though the short’s five oversized belt loops can also accommodate a wide variety of webs and belts.  

Purchase: $85

L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder Climbing Short

Born out of a collaboration between two of our favorite clothing labels, Todd Snyder and L.L.Bean, this pair represents a special, updated version of TS’s best-selling Camp Cargo Short. Made from a recycled synthetic blend composed of an amalgamation of polyester and Sorona Doubleweave fabric, these shorts also feature cinching, Paracord-adjustable cuffs, a snap-front, zipper-secured waistband, gusseted cargo pockets equipped with bungee cinches, and a pair of front zip pockets supplemented by two snap-secured back pockets. Decorated with a special L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder label with zig-zag stitching, these shorts are produced in three colors, each of which comes paired with a red, black, and gray plaid integrated webbing belt with a snap buckle.

Purchase: $89

Arc’Teryx Lefroy Short 11

Whenever purchasing any hiking or outdoor gear, it’s always well worth your time to check out the Arc’teryx catalog, as the Canadian outdoor brand legitimately makes some of the best garments on the market, with Arc’s shorts being no exception. Crafted at a Fair Trade Certified facility, the Lefroy 11 model is equal parts lightweight and technical, weighing in at only 7.8oz and boasting a breathable, temperature regulating, high-performance, moisture-wicking synthetic fiber construction. A zippered thigh pocket and an integrated web belt complete this impressive package — which is also produced in a trio of color options.

Purchase: $99

Nike ACG Cargo Shorts

Designed and extensively field-tested in the activewear giant’s home state of Oregon, the Nike ACG Cargo Shorts are made from a woven, spandex-infused, multi-way stretch nylon that’s composed of at least 75% recycled material and backed by a DWR finish. These shorts also sport reinforced, double-needle stitched seams throughout and a plethora of regular pockets supplemented via several Velcro and zipper-secured cargo pockets. Alongside coming equipped with a color-matched integrated belt with a quick-release buckle, this pair also features an included anchored ACG carabiner. And, in addition to being sold in four solid color options, Nike also produces print pattern versions of these shorts, including a camo variant.

Purchase: $100

GORUCK Indestructible Challenge Shorts

Made in America, GORUCK’s aptly-named Indestructible Challenge Shorts are a ridiculously hardwearing pair of shorts that can handle just about anything you’d ever encounter while out on the trails. These highly-technical hiking shorts are crafted from ultra-rugged, heavily water- and abrasion-resistant ToughDry fabric and feature a diamond gusset crotch, two-way stretch, an anatomically-correct curved waistband, a 10.5″ inseam, zipper-secured welted cargo pockets with drain holes, and horizontal front pockets that prevent items from falling out as the wearer moves around on the trail. Offered in five color choices, this pair is essentially just a short version of GORUCK’s insanely-durable Challenge Pants — easily one of our all-time favorite pairs of hiking pants.

Purchase: $125

Fjällräven Keb Shorts

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.

Purchase: $140

Triple Aught Design Force 10 RS Cargo Short

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.

Purchase: $160

Vollebak 100 Year Shorts

While the name of this product may seem hyperbolic, we can assure you that’s anything but the case. Vollebak’s 100 Year Shorts are legitimately — and unequivocally — the single most rugged pair of shorts in existence, crafted from a Bluesign-approved, Swiss-made elastane-infused polyamide and aramid material that’s incredibly resistant to tears and abrasions, as well as being largely impervious to fire — all while still remaining comfortable, water-repellent, and breathable. Other noteworthy elements on these shorts include reinforced stitching at all crucial stress points, a dedicated watch pocket equipped with a black nylon Paracord, a dedicated phone pocket, and a custom-engineered waistband that’s made from two separate layers that have been bonded together.

Purchase: $345

The 20 Best Day Hiking Essentials

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.

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