top of page

The Best Backpacking and Hiking Shorts

When it comes to selecting the best shorts for backpacking, there are several factors to consider. There are many different styles, including pockets, no pockets, liners, no liners, zip pockets, and of course, the major differentiator—fit and length. This category is very similar to shoes in that what works for one person will not work for another. With shorts, it is recommended to try them over a few different trips and distances before a thru-hike because often, the shorts will perform differently in different weather (especially humidity and wind), and it is good to know this before getting caught out on the Pacific Crest Trail in shorts that you don’t like. This list consists mostly of men’s shorts, and we are working on a roundup of the best women’s hiking shorts.

Our Top Picks

  1. Best Lightweight: Janji Transit Tech Short

  2. Great all-around option: Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts

 
Janji Transit Tech Shorts

Pros:

  1. Stretchy and moisture-wicking fabric

  2. Comfortable waistband with an adjustable drawstring allows you to customize the fit.

  3. Multiple pockets, including a zippered pocket on the back

  4. Made with sustainable materials, including recycled polyester and a PFC-free water-repellent finish.

  5. Available in a variety of colors and sizes.


Cons:

  1. The shorts may be a bit expensive compared to other options on the market.

  2. The PFC-free water-repellent finish may not be as effective as other water-resistant finishes.

The Janji Tech Transit Shorts are designed to provide comfort, style, and functionality. These shorts are made with a stretchy and moisture-wicking fabric that helps keep you dry and comfortable. The shorts feature a comfortable waistband with an adjustable drawstring, allowing you to customize the fit to your body. They also have multiple pockets, including a zippered pocket on the back for secure storage of your phone or other small essentials. The Janji Tech Transit Shorts come in a variety of colors and sizes, and they are made with sustainable materials, including recycled polyester and a PFC-free water-repellent finish.


 

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

Pros:

  1. Stretchy material allows for a full range of motion.

  2. Multiple pockets, including a zippered back pocket, for ample storage

  3. Built-in adjustable belt for a customized fit

  4. Treated with a DWR coating that helps repel water and dirt

  5. Durable construction that holds up well during outdoor activities


Cons:

  1. Too breathable to be good in the cold

  2. Sizing may run small for some individuals.

  3. Limited color options

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts are excellent for a variety of outdoor activities. These shorts provide ample airflow and keep the wearer cool and comfortable during high-intensity activities. Additionally, the stretchy material allows for a full range of motion. The shorts also feature a built-in adjustable belt that allows the wearer to customize the fit for optimal comfort and support. Multiple pockets, including a zippered back pocket, provide ample storage for essentials such as a phone, map, or other items. The shorts are treated with a DWR coating that helps repel water and dirt, making them ideal for outdoor activities in unpredictable weather.



 
Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts best backpacking shorts

Pros:

  1. Lightweight and breathable fabric

  2. Built-in liner for added support and moisture-wicking

  3. Variety of pockets, including a zippered pockets for secure storage

  4. Made with environmentally sustainable materials and Fair Trade Certified sewing practices


Cons:

  1. Some people may find the fit to be too tight or too loose, depending on body shape

  2. The liner may not provide enough support for some individuals

  3. The price may be higher than some other options on the market

Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts are popular for backpackers, thru-hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. These shorts are designed with a lightweight and breathable fabric and feature a built-in liner for added support and moisture-wicking capabilities in a variety of environments. The Nine Trails Shorts come in both men’s and women’s styles and feature a variety of pockets, including a zippered pocket on the back to store a few small items. The waistband is comfortable, and the short’s front zippered pockets help keep items secure and are the major differentiator between other options on this list.



 
Janji 7″ AFO-Vent 2-in-1 Multi Shorts  best backpacking shorts

Pros:

  1. Lightweight and breathable

  2. Convenient pocket configuration, with both zippered and open pockets to hold small items like phones, keys, and snacks.

  3. The inner layer is made from a soft, moisture-wicking fabric

  4. The waistband is comfortable and secure, with an adjustable drawstring

  5. The mesh panel on the back of the outer layer provides added ventilation


Cons:

  1. The price is higher than some other options on the market

  2. While the pockets are convenient, some users may find that the weight of items in the pockets pulls down on the shorts and causes them to sag or shift during activity.

The Janji 7″ AFO-Vent 2-in-1 Multi Shorts are versatile and comfortable for backpacking and running. These shorts feature a lightweight, breathable outer layer made from a blend of polyester and spandex, with a mesh panel on the back for added ventilation. The inner layer is made from a soft, moisture-wicking fabric. One of the standout features of these shorts is their convenient pocket configuration. The outer layer has two zippered pockets on the sides, which are large enough to securely hold a phone or other small items. The inner layer has a small key pocket and a larger pocket on the back.


 
Columbia Hike Shorts for hiking and backpacking

Pros:

  1. Lightweight and breathable fabric

  2. Quick-drying

  3. Provides UPF 50 sun protection

  4. Comfortable regular fit with a 7-inch inseam

  5. Multiple pockets for storage of small items

  6. Holds up well after multiple washings

Cons:

  1. Sizing can run a bit small, so it may be necessary to order a size up

  2. Pockets may not be as deep as some customers would like.

The Columbia 7″ Hike Shorts are made of 100% nylon fabric, which is lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. The shorts have a comfortable, regular fit. One notable feature of the Columbia Hike Shorts is the Omni-Shade technology, which provides UPF 50 sun protection. The shorts also have several pockets, including two front pockets, two back pockets, and a side zippered pocket. The shorts also seem to hold up well after multiple washings. The sizing does run a bit small on these.


 
prAna Stretch Zion Shorts II for hiking

Pros:


Great Construction: Made from a stretchy, abrasion-resistant fabric that is quick-drying

  1. The shorts have UPF 50+ sun protection,

  2. The waistband is comfortable and secure, with an adjustable drawstring that allows for a customizable fit.

  3. The shorts have multiple pockets, including two front pockets, two back pockets, and a zippered cargo pocket on the thigh

  4. The shorts are versatile and well-suited to a variety of activities, including hiking, climbing, and travel.

  5. The fabric is both durable and comfortable,

Cons:

  1. The price is higher than some other options on the market, which may make them less accessible to budget-conscious consumers.

  2. The shorts may not be as breathable as some other options on the market

  3. While the pockets are convenient, some users may find that the weight of items in the pockets pulls down on the shorts and causes them to sag or shift during activity.

The Prana Stretch Zion Shorts are made from a stretchy, abrasion-resistant, quick-drying, breathable fabric. They also have UPF 50+ sun protection. The waistband is comfortable and secure, with an adjustable drawstring that allows for a customizable fit. The shorts also have multiple pockets, including two front pockets, two back pockets, and a zippered cargo pocket on the thigh. The pockets are well-placed and large enough to hold small items like phones, keys, and snacks.


 
Men’s All Day Run Shorts by Territory Run Co. hiking shorts

Pros:

  1. Lightweight

  2. Comfortable waistband stays in place and doesn’t ride up.

  3. Built-in liner provides added support and comfort.

  4. Zippered pocket on the back is large enough to hold small essentials and is sweat-resistant.

  5. Made with sustainable materials

  6. Available in a variety of colors and sizes.


Cons:

  1. Some runners may prefer shorts without a built-in liner.

  2. The zippered pocket on the back may not be convenient for all runners, as it could bounce around during the run.

  3. Minimalist design doesn’t do great in the extreme cold

Territory Run Co was started by two friends that love the outdoors, and this passion is reflected in their products. The All Day Run Shorts provide comfort and performance for hikers, runners, and backpackers. They are made with lightweight and breathable fabric and feature a comfortable waistband designed to stay in place and not ride up during your run. They also have a built-in liner for added support and comfort. One of the unique features of these shorts is the zippered pocket on the back, which is large enough to hold a phone, keys, or other small essentials. This pocket is also sweat-resistant, so your belongings stay dry even if you’re sweating during your run.


 
REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Shorts for hiking and backpacking

Pros:

  1. Durable construction with reinforced stitching and abrasion-resistant fabric

  2. Multiple pockets, including cargo pockets and zippered pockets for secure storage

  3. Quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabric

  4. UPF 50+ sun protection


Cons:

  1. Some people may find the cargo pockets to be too bulky or cumbersome

  2. The fit may be a bit loose for some individuals

  3. The fabric wrinkles easily

The REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Shorts are great for their pockets. The cargo short style has places to store just about everything while thru-hiking and backpacking. The fabric also holds up a little better than other options on this list. It is abrasion resistant and likely to last for the entirety of a thru-hike. Quick-drying and the moisture-wicking fabric is a huge plus during the hot and humid weather, and the UPF 50+ sun protection helps shield skin from UV rays. The major downsides are the baggier fit and the style if you are not into cargo shorts.


bottom of page