I’m sure you know, guys don’t like thinking about their clothes. When they are on an excursion, they want to reach in their bag and pull out the perfect pair of hiking shorts and just go. The best men’s hiking shorts are just that: a pair of shorts that perfectly works for their busy day ahead on the trail.
In this article we are going to take a very close look at all the characteristics of a great pair of hiking shorts. What makes a great pair of shorts for hiking? Well, there are many factors to consider and every guy is a little bit different in what he likes. One thing most hikers seem to agree on though, no matter what you choose: it better be comfortable all day and in all conditions! As always, this post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to find products I have mentioned. You don’t pay any extra and in some cases I could earn a small commission.
Quick View of Best Hiking Shorts for Men
Here’s a quick look at our list of our favorite men’s hiking shorts. Below this list you will find detailed reviews of each pair of shorts, from this chart you can quick jump to any of those reviews. What are all those hearts about, you ask? Those hearts represent our opinion based on years of playing and working in the great outdoors. It’s our way of representing what we believe to be the strengths and weaknesses of each pair of shorts to give you a way to compare. We only share the shorts we love here so you aren’t going to find any bad reviews. However we work hard to call out any shortcomings and highlight the differences so you can find an amazing pair of shorts that fits your hiking style.
|Click to Jump to |
|Check It Out
|Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo||Our Top Choice for great fit||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Silver Ridge Review||Amazon | Moosejaw|
|Kuhl Renegade||Durability on tough trails||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Renegade Review||REI Co-op | BackCountry|
|North Face Wander||Best Athletic Cut||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Wander Review||Amazon | REI Co-op|
|Little Donkey Andy Cargo||No tug comfort||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Andy Review||Amazon | Moosejaw|
|PrAna Men's Brion||Casual Days||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Brion Review||Amazon | BackCountry|
|Fjallraven Abisko Hiking Shorts||Durability, will last forever||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Fjallraven Review||Amazon | BackCountry|
|Wrangler Authentics Cargo Shorts||Great value||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡|
|Eddie Bauer Guide Pro||Overall quality of trusted brand||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Guide Pro Review||Amazon|
|Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts||Trail running and strenuous hikes||COMFORT 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡|
|Nine Trails Review||REI Co-op|
What to Look for When Buying New Hiking Shorts
My experience hiking has taught me that comfort is one of the most important things when it comes to picking out the best hiking shorts for men. There isn’t anything much worse than being uncomfortable with every step because of restrictive styles that bunch and rub in all the wrong places. Fabrics that hold in moisture leaving you stinky and sweaty are undesirable. This means it’s important to choose well-made, stretchy shorts that easily move with our body. When compiling this list of the best men’s hiking shorts, we looked hard at the comfort factor.
Another important key factor we considered was the durability of the men’s shorts. You definitely don’t want your shorts to tear easily if you get caught by bramble or slide down a pile of rock on your bottom. Even though my husband thinks you can keep wearing them with rips and gaping holes, I make them disappear in the next laundry cycle. Money down the drain, right?
Consider the number and type of pockets you want in your hiking shorts for this coming adventure. After comfort and durability, the number and type of pockets is critical to most men. Some guys like to have many pockets in their shorts, while others would be perfectly content with just two or three.
Also of great interest is the way you plan to utilize your shorts, the style of the shorts. Do they need to do double duty for canoeing? Or maybe fishing? Or maybe multi duty! Brad loved the Columbia Mens Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts on a recent rafting trip because they were super comfortable, dried quickly and even looked great when we popped into a restaurant to grab a bite after our adventure.
Reviewing The Best Men’s Hiking Shorts
At the bottom of this article we take a deep dive into everything you need to know about each of these characteristics. Jump on down if you are ready to discover how to select the best shorts for hiking. In the meantime, here are the reviews of our top choices for hiking shorts for men.
Best Shorts for All Sizes (including big boys) – Columbia Mens Silver Ridge Cargo
Our Review of Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
Made of 100% nylon with signature UPF 50 fabric for protection against harmful UVA and UVA rays, these breathable pants will keep you feeling cool inside while blocking out 98% of UV sunrays. With a partial elastic waist and gusseted crotch this bad boy provides comfort by moving with you on the trail, even when bouldering or climbing a rough terrain.
On top of that the side pockets have super nice hook-and-loop closures for when it’s time to load up on amenities at your next campsite, and the back pocket has a zip closure for when valuable items need keening safe
PROS: These very reasonably priced hiking shorts are perfect for hot weather. Columbia’s trademarked Omni Wick technology ensure the fabric moves moisture away from your skin with quick evaporation. The light weight fabric in the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts feels so comfortable. You’ll love all 6 pockets: 2 front mesh pockets, 2 rear velcro pockets, a left-leg zippered pocket and a right-leg velcro pocket. The side pockets are slim in design so although they will hold a lot of gear, you won’t have that baggy look of traditional cargo pants.
CONS: Very lightweight which is perfect for hot days and packing. However if you are doing a lot of bush-whacking through rough terrain you should take a look at the next recommendation. Tip: A lot of reviewers note they run a little small so if you are between sizes, go up.
Best for a Rough Trail – KUHL Renegade Shorts
Our Review of Kuhl Renegade Shorts
Built with hardwearing fabric and extras like a 3D cellphone pocket, you could call the Kuhl Renegade Shorts for Hiking your go-to for adventures. Loaded with storage, water repellent finish, and quick dry time, these tough hikers are perfect for any adventure that comes your way. The KUHL Duralux fabric outperforms traditional nylon fabric, resulting in a very durable pair of shorts for your adventure.
The pockets definitely make these shorts unique. You’ll get a total of 8 pockets: 2 front hand, 2 back, 2 zippered side, 1 stealth cellphone and 1 3D cellphone. With all those choices I’m sure you’ll find a spot for absolutely everything you want to carry on the trail. I particularly like the security of the zippered side pockets which is where I’d probably carry a phone.
PROS: These shorts are meant to take a lot of abuse on the trail. The Kuhl Renegade are defined as soft shell shorts which means they will protect you like you had a shell on while still breathing. Perfect for rough terrain or a rocky trail. The addition of Spandex means these are super stretchy ensuring a comfortable fit all day. On top of that, the gusseted crotch will stretch with you so no tugging as you climb. The side zippered pocket is large enough for your phone.
CONS: The waist is a traditional fit which means there isn’t a lot of stretch in the waistband. As always that is a personal style preference so it’s something to be aware of. A lot of reviewers commented that these run a little small, so if you are in between sizes order up.
Best Athletic Cut Hiking Shorts – The North Face Men’s Wander Shorts
Our Review of The North Face Men’s Wander Shorts
These are the best hiking shorts for hot weather. The men’s hiking shorts 7 inch inseam are perfect for very hot weather or if you are a guy who prefers to wear as little as possible when hiking. You can escape to your favorite place for a day with the North Face Men’s Wander Shorts. Say farewell to dampness and hello to dry comfort as you explore, run, or just chill out in these shorts. They have a super stretchy waistband that gives you an adjustable fit, so it fits comfortably without being too tight or loose. You’ll be ready for whatever adventure comes your way – because we all know unexpected things happen when you’re adventuring! Have no fear of snags: these amazing shorts will last through any trouble with their durable snag resistant fabric. Thanks to water-resistant fabric designed with 100% Quick-Drying Fabric your shorts can handle anything from mud puddles to dingy rivers while still looking crisp! Plus they feature a zip in side pocket to store you most valuable items
PROS: These lightweight hiking shorts are comfortable while at the same time quite durable. The North Face Wander Shorts are our top choice for super hot weather because they will keep you cool all day. We love the zippered seam pocket, a feature you don’t usually find in an athletic style short.
CONS: We love hiking in athletic style shorts in the summer, but be aware that they aren’t great for tough terrain as there is very little protection covering your legs as you push through branches and thorns.
The Best No Tug Hiking Shorts – Little Donkey Andy Cargo Shorts
Our Review of Little Donkey Andy Cargo Shorts
Take your style to the next level in these men’s shorts with stretch fabric and 6 pockets. The quick drying and breathable fabric provides ultimate comfort for all day wear. Take advantage of the ultra protection from the sun thanks to its UPF 50+ rating. The water repellent finish ensures you’ll stay fresh all day long – even if you’re exploring rivers. With 6 pockets nothing will be dropped in the sand (or mud!) again. Use those 2 front zipper pockets to keep your important items close at hand without risk of them falling out while you’re on-the-go! This lightweight design is equipped with an elastic waistband that can be adjusted by using belt loops. With 4 way stretch, the Little Donkey Andy Stretch Quick Dry Cargo Shorts are ready for whatever comes their way…and they won’t cramp your style either, thanks to all 10 color options
PROS: The 4 way stretch fabric in the Little Donkey Andy Cargos combined with the partial elastic waistband makes these the perfect hiking shorts for the man who finds himself tugging at his shorts all the time. You’ll find these give with your every movement so no more binding. The large variety of secure pockets is a huge win when hiking, especially for keeping your cell phone secure. You’ll stay nice and dry due to the DWR treatment.
CONS: Although these come with an adjustable belt, some men prefer a wider belt that won’t fit through the loops of these shorts.
The Best Shorts for Casual Days – PrAna Men’s Brion Shorts
Our Review of PrAna Brion Shorts
You’ll never want a day hiking to end when you’re in the comfort of soft, stretchy fabric. These prAna shorts are made with there original 4-way Stretch Zion fabric which is quick drying and resists wear from abrasion. The lightweight hiking short has an UPF 50+ protection so you can explore the trails all day long without sun or sweat getting to your skin. You will enjoy these 5 pocket pants that are slim fit yet stylish enough for wearing to dinner! If you like a shorter traditional style the mens hiking shorts 9 inch inseam is also available in the prAna Brion.
PROS: The Men’s Prana Brion shorts are the most versatile, with a traditional shorts look that moves easily between a night hanging out with the guys to a day of hiking and climbing. The quick dry stretchy trademark Zion fabric is super comfortable as you move along the trail. You’ll appreciate the moisture wicking properties that will keep you dry. The riveted pockets add a lot of life to these shorts if you like taking the rough trails.
CONS: These are perfect for a day of casual hiking mixed with sight seeing. You will be comfortable no matter what you are doing! However I’d hesitate on these shorts for a long arduous hike. The lack of gusseting and secure pockets will leave you wishing for more serious shorts.
The Shorts that Will Last Forever – Fjallraven Abisko Hiking Shorts
Our Review of Fjallraven Abisko Hiking Shorts
Fjallraven’s men’s Abisko hiking shorts are made for your next outdoor adventure, with durable fabrics that stand up to all the unexpected wear and tear you’ll encounter on any excursion. The front pockets have a zippered closure to keep everything secure when changing directions or exploring narrow cliff trails along mountain paths. The gusseted crotch helps protect from chaffing when moving quickly without even thinking about it. These are made for trekking with design touches like higher rear coverage and lower front waistband designed to make carrying a pack more comfy.
PROS: Designed with the long trail hiker in mind the Fjallraven Abisko Shorts deliver comfort for hikers. The unusual waist that sits higher in the back than the front is perfect for ensuring your heavy backpack rides smoothly against the small of your back rather than rubbing your waistband for miles.
Although we don’t usually suggest cotton due to high water absorption, this fabric is very different with the infusion of Greenland Wax to repel water. The blend of cotton with polyester results in an incredibly durable pair of shorts that will survive the roughest terrain. The crotch is reinforced with an extra layer of fabric to ensure no rips on the trail. Plus the stretch-ability of polyester will let you move in comfort.
CONS: The price might frighten you at first glance, however this is definitely a case of you get what you pay for. These shorts will practically last forever and are well worth the higher price tag if you like getting dirty on the trail.
Caution: Sizing tends to be displayed in European sizing so make sure you check the charts.
Best Budget Hiking Pants: Wrangler Authentics Cargo Shorts
Our Review of Wrangler Authentics Cargo Shorts
Wrangler Authentics Men’s Flex Waist Cargo Short is designed to look good and feel great for the active man. With a roomy, comfortable stretch waistband you’re more likely to forget you have it on than ever worry about discomfort. Quick-drying nylon makes these shorts perfect for adventures outside in warm weather while moisture wicking action keeps you cool and dry no matter how hard or long you might be going. 2 cargo zip pockets, 2 back pockets, and 2 slash pockets provide plenty of storage space while UPF 30 helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
PROS: We don’t usually think about the Wrangler’s brand, long known for hard wearing jeans, when we are looking for athletic wear. But, wow we were impressed with the value in the Wrangler Authentics Cargo Shorts. These low cost hiking shorts have a partial elastic waistband that will stretch as you move on the trail. The quick drying nylon will keep you comfortable on the sweatiest days. And you’ll love the abundance of pockets.
CONS: These have not been treated to repel water, so if you get caught in a rainstorm they are likely to get pretty damp. Good news is that nylon dries super fast!
The Hiking Shorts That You Can Trust: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro
Our Review of Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Men’s Shorts
Hiking shorts need to be as flexible as you are. Luckily, with these Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Men’s Hiking Shorts it doesn’t matter what the trail throws at you because these they have your back. With FreeShade 50+ UPF sun protection and a water-repellent finish these hiking shorts give you all the room to roam free while letting your skin breathe along the way. You’ll find two secure zip cargo pockets for all of your gear and four easy access pockets for ease of use on the go. Best yet? They’ll never let you down in even harshest conditions.”
PROS: These really hard working shorts are perfect for the trail. The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts uses Flexion Stretch woven technology which ensures two-way stretch. For you that means excellent mobility on the toughest hikes. These shorts are the complete package with a Storm Repel finish so water runs right off, to a UPF rating of 50+ to ensure protection from the sun’s damaging rays. The zippered side pocket is perfect for your phone so you can grab quick pictures. With the moderate price you win big time with these men’s hiking shorts.
CONS: If these just had a gusseted crotch they’d be perfect, however the stretchy fabric allows so much movement that you probably won’t even notice.
The Best Trail Running Shorts: Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
Our Review of Patagonia Nine Trails Men’s Shorts
You don’t have to be a trail runner to find comfort in these shorts. They are perfect for any really hot or strenuous day of hiking. The Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts are made of highly breathable recycled polyester to keep you cool all day. They also have a DWR finish to roll off water.
What makes these shorts exceptional is the design of the boxer-brief liner. It is made of a moisture wicking, lightweight and supportive 100% recycled polyester that will provide you with the comfort to run miles without chafing. With its HeiQ fresh durable odor control feature it’s perfect for an all day adventure in any climate or environment.
PROS: I’m going to be pretty blunt here, these shorts were designed with the man who gets hot and stinky during his day on the trail in mind. Everything about them helps keep you cool and odor free. We love the zippered front pockets because if you are going to be that active you need to secure anything you tuck in.
CONS: Even though the Patagonia Nine Trails are a bit pricy, you’ll find the durability well worth the investment.
Important Features in Men’s Hiking Shorts
We’re going to take a deep dive into the most important features for evaluating men’s shorts for hiking which are:
- Style and Versatility
What are the Comfort Characteristics of The Best Shorts for Hiking?
#1 They Move With You on the Trail
Stretch for ease of movement: The fabric of your hiking shorts should be flexible enough to make it easy for you to stretch and move in ways that are necessary on a hike. Stretchy fabrics like nylon or polyester will give as the wearer moves up trails, while spandex is often added into these materials so they can still provide some elasticity without adding too much weight.
No Binding or Chaffing of the Boy Parts: Critical is that the cut of the shorts doesn’t bind or chaff in the down under parts. Generally men’s hiking shorts are loose fitted in that area and then partnered with great men’s hiking underwear that provides the necessary support. If you are super active, such as climbing and bouldering look for shorts that also have a gusseted crotch construction. That means an extra piece of material has been inserted into the seams to give a little more room to stretch.
Waistbands that Don’t Dig: A flat wide waistband that has some give will feel great on a long hike. Keep in mind that your backpack is going to put most of its weight on your lower back, which is just below that waistband so the flatter and smoother the better.
Belt or No Belt: That is a great question! For the most part it is personal preference. The best belt for hiking will lay very flat against your shorts so it won’t be caught by your pack as it moves up and down your back. That’s why some designers utilize the integrated belt. That means the belt is only exposed on the front of your shorts resulting in no back rub while still giving you the adjust-ability that you crave.
#2 They Keep you Cool and Dry
Let’s get rid of that stinky locker room smell. You just know that smell means something creepy is growing in your shorts. It also means your shorts were damp much of your hike which goes right along with rubbing and chaffing in all the wrong places. (Not that there is a right place for that rash!)
Because they are light weight, nylon and polyester are both fabrics naturally wick away moisture and dry quickly, however polyester definitely has an edge since nylon will absorb some water when soaked. The material for the best hiking shorts will also be woven in a method that allows the fabric to breathe, often including venting in the design.
Men’s hiking shorts also often have a DWR finish. That stands for Durable Water Resistant. DWR coatings are found in all rainwear. For shorts you probably don’t want the same heavy, slick coating you find in a rain jacket. But you do want a nice light coating that causes rain water to just slide down the fabric and never touch your skin. This is most critical in nylon shorts which will absorb some water in a heavy rain.
What to Look for to Find Durable Shorts that Survive the Toughest Trail
There’s a reason people entrust their lives to nylon when flying hot air balloons. It is an incredibly strong fabric. And polyester is abrasion resistant which means it’s not going to snag and tear as you push through brambles or crawl through boulders. These natural characteristics of nylon and polyester allow the use of thinner materials so you have less weight in your pack and cooler shorts on a hot day.
Also look for reinforcement in places where there will be stress on your shorts. For example rivets where pockets meet the seems will strengthen a pair of shorts when you have full pockets. Also a double stitch over the seam around the button or snap will help fabric last longer.
How Many Pockets do you Need in Shorts for Hiking?
And on the subject of pockets… The more the merrier, right? You’ll always want at least one secure pocket, but personally I like more than one pocket with a zipper or snap closure. Somehow I just seem to drop random stuff on the ground every trip. Take a minute to think about what you want easily accessible and make sure you have a pocket for it. For example your phone for quick pictures and a pocket for your map.
Consider Your Unique Style and Activity Level
If you are going to be doing a bit more than hiking, such as canoeing or fishing or even climbing, then take those activities into consideration when selecting shorts. For example:
- Fishing you’ll probably want longer shorts so you have more pockets and a little more protection from hooks on your legs.
- When kayaking you are going to want the lightest shorts possible so they dry quickly if you get dunked. You’ll also want pockets to have a zipper so your keys don’t end up in the bottom of the river.
- If your hike includes some technical climbs or a bit of bouldering, hiking shorts with a gusseted crotch like Kuhl Renegade Men’s Hiking Shorts are a true gift. You’ll be able to stretch and crawl and climb without pulling from your shorts.
What Fabrics are Best for Hiking Shorts in the Hot Weather?
Nylon and Polyester are the best fabrics for summer hiking shorts. Both fabrics are lightweight and stretch which means you will be comfortable on the trail. When blended with small amounts of Spandex you have the perfect shorts for an active day. Durability to withstand the rigors of the trail can also be found in both fabrics.
You’ll find a lot of apparel in department stores that look just like these top hiking shorts. But when you check the fabric content label they have a lot of cotton in the mix. For casual walks and wearing around town, these shorts are perfect. Cotton is a wonderfully soft and breathable fabric. Sadly, cotton doesn’t do well when it gets damp. Cotton loves to hold on to moisture, either from your sweat or from a sudden rain. Think soft absorbent bath towel. But it doesn’t let go of that water easily and you will be hiking in damp, chaffing shorts for the rest of the day.
The other fabric people ask about is merino wool. We love, love, love merino wool for it’s moisture wicking properties. It is the absolute best fabric for articles of clothing that are touching your skin like men’s hiking underwear and t-shirts. However it doesn’t have the durability that you need on your bottom half as you hike through rough terrain so isn’t used often in hiking shorts and pants.
How Long Should Hiking Shorts Be?
The best length for men’s hiking shorts is just above the knees for most guys. That gives you maximum protection from brush along the trail without the fabric snagging on your knee as you move. That said, you should go with the length that is most comfortable for you.
Is it Better to Hike in Pants or Shorts?
The choice of pants or shorts for hiking is primarily condition dependent. You need to consider the obstacles on the trail and the weather conditions before you decide between the two. Obviously cold weather lends itself better to long pants to retain heat while you hike. And long pants would often be the best choice if bushwhacking through rough terrain to protect your legs from scrapes and thorns. Because I’m allergic to poison ivy I often choose long pants if I know the hike is through a heavily wooded area without clear trails. All that said, the great majority of hiking takes place in warm weather and shorts are the way to go for the most comfortable hiking trip.
What about Convertible Hiking Pants vs Hiking Shorts?
Convertible hiking pants are those that have a zipper to remove part of the leg of the pants. And they actually are a really good option for hiking shorts because you get the best of both worlds on a day where temperatures fluctuate a lot. All the features listed above are readily available in the best convertible hiking pants for men.
The downside of convertible hiking pants is that a lot of guys loose that piece of material from the leg, and then only have shorts. And some find the zipper rubbing against their leg annoying so you should double check that the zipper is covered before you head out.
What are the Best Hiking Shorts for Fat Guys
No offense intended, being a big girl myself I know the pain of trying to find a pair of shorts that fit someone bigger than the athletic bodies of my friends. That’s why we were excited to discover that the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts are available up to size 54. (Just between us, that’s one of the factors that moved them to the top of the list).
What are the Best Walking Shorts?
The PrAna Men’s Brion Shorts and the Kuhl Renegade Shorts make great walking shorts as well as perfect hiking shorts. Men tend to select walking shorts that are a little more stylish and a traditional cut so they are appropriately dressed when site seeing or popping into the pub. Other than that there really isn’t much difference between walking and hiking shorts. Walkers want the same comfort as hikers!
Tips to Care for Your New Hiking Shorts
Although modern hiking shorts made of nylon or polyester are extremely durable when outdoors, they will last a lot longer if you take just a little care when laundering. It’s best to wash your shorts in cool water. That will help them retain any SPF or DWR treatments. It will also keep the fabric looking like new longer and avoid shrinkage. Personally I prefer to line dry my hiking shorts as the heat of the drier will also wear down the fabric treatments. Because you have started with quick drying fabrics, they will line dry in a snap. But if you need them quicker feel free to dry on a permanent press or cooler cycle.
The best men’s hiking shorts should be the ones you pull out of the pile even for every day wear because they are so unbelievably comfortable! You really can’t go wrong with any of the choices above for shorts that are perfect for backpacking the trail! Don’t forget to save this to your Pinterest vacation board so you can easily find it again!
This article was first posted August 9, 2020. It was updated on July 8, 2021 to provide the most update information for your ease in shopping.