I know how overwhelming it can be to choose a pair of hiking shorts so I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the best hiking shorts for men. For something as simple as a pair of shorts, there are seemingly endless options and it can be impossible to decide which pair to purchase. As an avid hiker, I’ve tested out my fair share of hiking shorts and I’ve included my honest reviews and opinions below. If you’re in the market for a new pair of hiking shorts, look no further!
My story (why should you take my advice)
Hello! My name is Matt and I’m an avid hiker, backpacker, and all around outdoor adventurer. Since early in 2020, I’ve been traveling around the United States, making a new place my home every few months.
In each new spot, I make it my goal to seek out new adventures and hiking opportunities. This means two things:
- I spend almost all of my weekends hiking or backpacking. Because I spend so much time on the trails, my gear is very important to me.
- I’m selective about what I purchase! Everything I own (along with everything my fiance owns and a disproportionate amount of stuff for my cat, Fitzgerald) has to fit in my mid-sized Subaru Forester. I am particular about what I buy, do tons of research beforehand and have only the essentials for hiking. This means my recommendations are well-thought out and include only truly essential items.
In this article, I will include information on how I choose which hiking shorts to purchase, as well as a list of my favorite (and least favorite) hiking shorts.
P.S: You can read more about us here and check out the top highlights of our Western USA road trip adventures.
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Best Hiking Shorts for Men
- Best shorts for backpacking: Patagonia Nine Trails
- Best shorts for trail to town: Vuori Ripstop Shorts
- Most versatile: Prana Stretch Zion
- Personal favorite: Himali Pursuit
- Most over-hyped: Patagonia Baggies
Before I get into a more detailed review of the shorts listed above, I want to walk through some of the things you should consider when purchasing a pair of hiking shorts.
What to look for when purchasing hiking shorts
When purchasing a pair of hiking shorts, it’s important to know what to look for. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll outline the important considerations when comparing different options.
How you’ll use them
Perhaps the most important thing to consider before purchasing a pair of hiking short is what you’ll be using them for. I’m assuming, if you’re reading this article, you’ll at least be hiking in them. But will you be swimming in them? Backpacking? Wearing them around town?
There are many different types of hiking shorts and it’s important to think about when you’ll be wearing them before making a purchase. For instance, I love my Patagonia Nine Trails shorts for backpacking because they are lightweight and I they dry easily but I probably wouldn’t wear them around town.
Conversely, I also love my Vuori Ripstop shorts but they are definitely on the heavier side, less breathable, but more stylish. They look as good on the trail as they do at a brewery!
Also think about what you prefer for pockets. Hiking shorts with small pockets or pockets that don’t zip drive me crazy!
I’m usually hiking with my phone in my pocket, climbing up and down trails and scrambling over rock. For me, it’s crucial to have zippers on my pockets, if only for the peace of mind in knowing that my phone isn’t going to come tumbling out and shatter.
You can also find tons of hiking shorts with multiple external pockets (picture more of a cargo short style) to keep all your belongings on the trail. I don’t prefer these styles for a few reasons.
First, when I’m hiking, the only thing I have in my pocket is my phone. I keep everything else in my backpack and I don’t like extra bulk in my pockets to rub against my legs. Also, let’s be honest, the cargo short era of style has certainly passed.
All that being said, cargo-style shorts certainly have their benefits and when you’re out on the trail, style should hardly matter. Whatever works for you!
This also falls into the personal preference category, but before you purchase a pair of hiking shorts, make sure you consider what length inseam you prefer. Style has changed over the last few years, shifting away from longer inseams to shorter ones, with more thigh showing.
Personally, I prefer 7 or 8 inch inseams. Longer inseams have definitely gone out of style and I like the additional flexibility and freedom of movement with the shorter inseam. However, 5 inches feels a little too scandalous for me. I don’t think anyone wants to see that much of my pale thighs!
Of course, you need to consider price before purchasing anything, and hiking shorts are no different. The good news is that the range of prices for hiking shorts shouldn’t vary too much.
On the cheaper end, you’re looking at pairs for around $50. On the more expensive side, you may see shorts for up to $100. Most of my preferred options are around $75.
When shopping for outdoor gear (or anything for that matter), I tend to subscribe to the philosophy that you get what you pay for. While higher sticker prices may be a tougher initial blow to your wallet, more expensive items tend to last longer and you end up saving money in the long run.
For hiking shorts in particular, I wear them all the time and saving $25 or $30 is not worth being uncomfortable for a multi-day backpacking trip.
Hiking shorts are made out of all kinds of materials these days and it’s difficult to describe the material of each pair of shorts without feeling them for yourself.
It probably won’t do much help to tell you that the Prana Stretch Zion is made from 95% recycled nylon and 5% elastane, whereas the Patagonia Baggies are made from 4-ply, 4.9 oz. NetPlus postconsumer recycled nylon faille. I mean, who really know the difference between those two things!?
As such, I’d recommend checking out shorts you already have or heading to your local retailer to feel different pairs before purchasing your next pair.
Overview | Best hiking shorts for men
Without further ado, below are five of the best hiking shorts for men. In the sections below, I’ll dive into the pros and cons of each.
- Best mens shorts for backpacking | Patagonia Nine Trails
- Best mens shorts for trail to town | Vuori Ripstop Shorts
- Most versatile hiking shorts for men | Prana Stretch Zion
- My personal favorite hiking shorts | Himali Pursuit
- Most popular hiking shorts for men | Patagonia Baggies
Best mens hiking shorts for backpacking
Patagonia Nine Trails | Quick Stats
- Price | $75
- Pockets | Two zippered side pockets and one zippered rear pocket
- Inseam length | 8 inches
Buy them at REI: Patagonia Nine Trails
- Lightweight, quick-drying, and very breathable make them perfect for long day hikes and backpacking trips
- Zippered side and rear pockets for safe storage
- Athletic fit allows for more freedom of movement
- Built-in liner is less ideal for multi-day trips
- Less stylish – will look out of place outside of any athletic activities
If it weren’t for one small gripe about the built-in liner, these would easily be my go-to shorts for all outdoor activities. So first let’s talk about that liner. To be clear, I don’t hate it. It’s very comfortable and I don’t dislike anything about the liner itself.
However, I’m generally not a fan of liners in my hiking shorts for one big reason – smell. Let’s be real – if you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip or just an adventure-filled trip with multiple hikes, you probably aren’t washing your shorts after each use.
That’s why it’s nice to be able to switch up your underwear each time you wear the shorts to keep you feeling and smelling fresh. With the liner, you don’t have this option.
Besides that small complaint about the liner, I absolutely love the Patagonia Nine Trails. I love the material, fit, multiple zippered pockets, and the elastic waistband and drawstring are super comfortable.
I’ve worn these shorts hiking, swimming, backpacking, and on a bike. If you’re looking for something lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and versatile, I highly recommend the Patagonia Nine Trails.
Best mens hiking shorts for trail to town
Vuori Ripstop | Quick Stats
- Price | $74
- Pockets | Two side pockets, two rear pockets, and a small zippered pocket on the side
- Inseam length | 9 inches
Buy them at REI: Vuori Ripstop Shorts
- The most stylish shorts (in my opinion) on this list
- Ripstop material is durable
- Elastic waistband and drawstring is nice touch
- Lack of zippered pockets
- Ripstop material is heavier and less breathable than others
- Some reviews mention shorts can lose color easily
- Honestly, they may be better on the town than on the trail
The Vuori Ripstop Shorts are another staple of my wardrobe that are definitely the most stylish shorts on this list. In fact, I probably wear them more “on the town” than I do on the trail.
The ripstop material feels strong and durable but is heavier and less breathable than more athletic shorts. It also doesn’t have much stretch making them a bit more restricting.
For example, I wouldn’t run or swim in these shorts. Some reviews noted that the color seemed to fade easily but that hasn’t been my experience.
If you’re trying to pack light, are doing some hiking (but nothing too crazy), but also need a pair of shorts you can wear out, the Vuori Ripstop Shorts are the perfect choice.
Most versatile hiking shorts for men
Prana Stretch Zion | Quick Stats
- Price | $75
- Pockets | Two side pockets, two rear pockets, and a covered pocket on the side
- Inseam length | 8 inches
Buy them at REI: Prana Stretch Zion
- Super versatile, can be worn hiking and around town
- Material is just a touch stretchy, adding comfort and freedom of movement
- Very durable and built to last
- Built in belt is convenient
- Personally, I don’t love the style -they lean more towards cargo shorts in terms of looks
- Waistband has no elasticity so built-in belt is your only option for adjustment and is less comfortable than an elastic waistband
- With the belt already built in, I’m not sure why the belt loops are needed
- Pockets aren’t zippered but have a closure along the top
The Prana Stretch Zion shorts have become very popular among the outdoor crowd and for good reason. These shorts sit somewhere between an old fashioned cargo short and modern hiking short.
The touch of elastane in the material is very nice – allowing for a good amount of stretch. Also, these shorts are definitely built to last with durable construction and material.
My main complaint is that I don’t love the non-elastic waistband and I’m not a huge fan of the look/style. I prefer elastic waistbands, which these shorts don’t have.
They do have a built in belt that is easy to use but if the shorts are a touch loose around your waist, they’ll bunch up when you tighten the belt, which can be annoying.
And if they’re a bit tight around the waist, they can be very restricting. The material is also less breathable than more athletic options and they are definitely not suitable for swimming or running. However, they are rate UPF 50+ for sun protection, which is very nice.
My pick: best hiking shorts for men
Himali Pursuit | Quick Stats
- Price | $75
- Pockets | Two side pockets, both zippered
- Inseam length | 10 inches
Buy them here: Himali Pursuit
- The best combination of everything I want in a hiking short – zippered pockets, elastic waist band with drawstring, flexible, breathable, and stretchy construction
- Lightweight, fast-drying, can be used for hiking, backpacking, swimming, and running
- Bomber construction and built to withstand the toughest activities
- Only two side pockets that are both a bit small (can just barely hold my phone)
- Inseam is a bit longer than I prefer
- Only available in black, which can get hot in the sun
I first heard of Himali, a smaller outdoor apparel brand based in Boulder, CO, while I was climbing Mt. Baker in 2021.
All of the guides on my trip were wearing pants, shirts, and jackets from the brand and raved about the quality. Always interested in the latest gear, I decided to give them a try and I am absolutely in love.
The company is singularly focused on creating the best possible gear for high endurance, high altitude adventures. No frills, no unnecessary details, just simple, effective, and durable outdoor gear. Even better they donate a portion of their proceeds to outdoor-related charities!
With all that out of the way (can you tell I’m a big fan!?), I love the Himali Pursuit shorts. I find them to be very similar to the Patagonia Nine Trails but a bit more durable and with no built-in liner.
I wish the pockets were a little bigger, but again, these shorts are built with simplicity in mind. They definitely aren’t stylish, but are my go-to adventure shorts for almost any outdoor activity.
Most popular hiking shorts for men
Patagonia Baggies| Quick Stats
- Price | $65
- Pockets | Two side pockets, rear snap pocket
- Inseam length | 5 or 7 inches
Buy them at REI here: Patagonia Baggies
- Breathable and airy
- Great for swimming
- Deep pockets to hold the essentials
- Comfy elastic waistband with drawstring
- I may be alone on this, but I don’t like the baggie fit
- Material isn’t super stretchy or flexible
- Mesh liner is uncomfortable and annoying
When I picked up my first pair of Patagonia Baggies, I was super excited. Everyone I talked to and every article I had read raved about them.
I mean, they’ve been a staple of Patagonia’s lineup since the 80’s and they’re super popular. But after just a few hikes I quickly grew disillusioned.
First, I personally don’t like the baggie fit. Maybe it’s because I have skinny legs but I definitely prefer something a bit more fitting. Second, the material is not stretchy and I didn’t find it to be very comfortable.
And finally, I couldn’t stand the built-in mesh brief. I found it to be uncomfortable and mostly just a pain. Clearly, I’m not a huge fan of these shorts but I’ve included them on this list of the best hiking shorts for men because many people swear by them!
The Baggies redeeming quality is that they are great for swimming and getting wet when hiking in the summer, making them quite versatile! The material feels a bit like swim trunks, and they dry out super fast – perfect for a hike that ends at an alpine lake!
Other Useful Resources
Looking for more hiking, backpacking, and camping gear recommendations? Check out the resources below!
- Day Hike Packing List: What Do You Really Need to Pack for a HIke
- Our Complete Road Trip Camping Essentials plus Checklist
- Ultimate Backpacking Gear List + Downloadable Spreadsheet
- Packing List for Road Trips
Questions about picking the best pair of men’s hiking shorts? Or still unsure about any of the shorts on the list? Drop me a comment below!