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Like most outdoor activities, hiking requires its own specialized wardrobe. Though hiking boots are critical (nothing worse than blisters and sore feet), the actual clothing you’re wearing can make just as much of a difference in the overall enjoyment of your hike. Now you might be wondering what exactly should someone wear during an exploration? And the answer is a pair of hiking shorts.
When it comes to hiking shorts, you’ll want to look for the same thing you’d look for in a good pair of exercise shorts. To begin with, comfort and durability are key for any pair of shorts in general. After all, nobody wants to wear uncomfortable shorts, as this can make your intense hike an unpleasant experience. However, there are plenty of other features to consider for hiking shorts for men, which we dive into below.
What To Look For in the Best Hiking Shorts
Material: One of the most important things to look for in a pair of men’s hiking shorts is the materials, specifically, moisture-wicking fabrics. These materials wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool as you work up a sweat. It’s also good for the shorts fabric to be quick-drying, which will come in handy if you find yourself crossing over a lake or stream in the forest.
Inseam: Another notable thing you might want to consider when getting hiking shorts are longer inseams in order to better protect your skin from not only twigs and branches but the sun as well.
Pockets: Whether your hiking shorts come with two pockets or six, anything will be beneficial. But cargo shorts are probably the most practical for a voyage as their extra pockets can help you hold things like your phone, trail mix, wallet or any other random things so you can just focus on your surroundings.
Style: Obviously, your main focus is the great outdoors when you’re hiking, but you can’t walk around and not be happy with your outfit. Moreover, it’s okay to make sure that your shorts are a style that you feel comfortable with. Hiking shorts come in several styles, from tactical cargos to simple shorts that resemble chinos. And while some options may be packed with certain features that can come in handy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to choose them if they don’t align with your personal style.
So whether you’re going for a quick afternoon trek or preparing for the Appalachian Trail hike, make sure you’re prepped with the best men’s hiking shorts. To help you wade out the good options from the bad, we took the liberty to choose a few of our favorite hiking shorts for men you can get online right now.
1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Short
Columbia’s Silver Ridge cargo short has been the go-to hiking short for experienced hikers for quite a while now — and they’ve only gotten better over time as Columbia has continued to improve their features and construction. Their proprietary fabric called Omni-Shade has included SPF protection. In addition to being moisture-wicking (thanks to its extremely durable Omni-Wick material) the interior mesh lining adds not only comfort but also increased ventilation and range of motion. Comfortable, durable, colorful and affordable, the Silver Ridge should be your first stop for a pair of hiking shorts that’s capable of hitting the trail as hard as you will.
2. L.L.Bean Cresta Hiking Shorts
These durable, quick-drying shorts are a great choice for an outdoor adventure. Don’t hesitate to cross that river or log because your shorts will dry faster than you think. The nylon fabric speeds up the evaporation process which will leave you cool and comfortable before you know it. These shorts also have 50 UPF fabric to shield you from harmful UV rays. Stash whatever you need in the bottom pockets that have hooks to keep your smaller items secure.
3. Chubbies The Secret Agents
Ideal for a day of leisure or travel, these Chubbies shorts are lightweight and comfortable, making them great for hiking or casual strolls through the woods. They’re made of four-way stretch fabric for optimal movement and come with a double-layered waistband that prevents them from coming off your hips. The shorts are also designed to eliminate chafing.
4. Wrangler Canvas Utility Hiker Short
If you’d rather stick with a traditional cotton pair of shorts for hiking, Wrangler’s canvas utility hiking short is a great alternative. Made from 100% cotton for comfort, the relaxed and elastic waistband ensures that the shorts won’t ride up while you’re hiking. The two-side flap cargo pants make it so you’ve got extra storage options, while the deep back pockets will keep your wallet, phone or whatever else you may slot back there in place. And at $20, it’s a great pair of shorts to get you started on your expeditions.
5. Fjallraven Abisko Shorts
For those who already have a pair of hiking shorts and are looking to invest in a better pair (or for those that are willing to spend more on an initial purchase), Fjallraven’s Abikso shorts have great moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties, as well as stretch panels for additional flexibility and long-lasting comfort for your walks. We also like the front cargo pockets, which are slightly different in size in order to better organize whatever you may be carrying at any given moment.
6. RedHead Beachcomber Shorts
While these are indeed a pair of beach shorts, they’re just as reliable for an outdoor adventure. Made of 100% cotton canvas, these shorts are as durable as they are stretchy. You can scramble over rocks and hike your way to the top of a waterfall without fear of ripping your shorts. They have plenty of storage space featuring two deep hand pockets, two front cargo pockets, and two back pockets with hook-and-loop closures. Wherever you end up wearing these shorts, you are sure to be comfortable.
7. Jack Wolfskin Activate Tour Short
The last thing you want to happen is to get caught up in a rain shower during your adventurous hike. However, you can avoid a situation like that as long as you dress appropriately. And these Jack Wolfskin Activate Tour Shorts are just what you need to get by. The softshell shorts are made of a water-repellent fabric designed to bead up water droplets and roll off. Not to mention, they have wind-resistant and abrasion-resistant properties too.
8. Helikon Outdoor Tactical Shorts
BEST FOR STORAGE
Perfect for the person that takes the Boy Scout’s “Be Prepared” motto a little too seriously, these men’s hiking shorts from Helikon have more pockets than you can shake a stick of jerky at. Designed in mind as more of a tactical option (with two cargo zipper pockets and two front velcro closed pockets), re-purposing them as pair of hiking shorts is a no-brainer. And with the polycotton ripstop material, they’ll stay plenty durable when you (perhaps) overload them with stuff.
9. World Wide Sportsman Baitcast Shorts
One thing about Bass Pro Shops is that you can always count on them for reliable and durable outdoor gear. And the World Wide Sportsman Baitcast Shorts are no exception. The nylon bottoms are designed with quick-drying technology that disperses moisture to help them dry faster. They have an 8-inch inseam, a comfortable waistband and 10 pockets and a Handy Cordura-lined pliers pocket. You honestly can’t get a better pair of shorts for this affordable price.
10. Columbia PFG Permit III Shorts
BEST FOR SUN PROTECTION
With additional sun resistance built into the fabric of the shorts themselves, the Columbia PFG Permit III Short is your best protection (along with sunscreen that is!) for those hikes that are just brutally bright. That PFG material is equally good at moisture-wicking, so you won’t have to make a sacrifice in order to make sure you’ve got an added level of protection for having fun in the sun all day long.
11. L.L.Bean Tropic-Weight Cargo Shorts
Even though short shorts are deemed to be trendy, these 10-inch cargo shorts are just what you need for hiking. These stylish shorts will keep you cool while out on a hot summer day with their breathable tropical-weight fabric and relaxed fit. They have a natural waist and elastic side panels for added comfort while wearing them. Plus, the shorts will last you for years as they have shrinkage control.
12. Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts
If you’re looking to get a hike in while you’re on the road, the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts should be the first pair of hiking shorts you pack. Lightweight and inherently packable, they’ll fit right into your carry-on without taking up too much space or weight. The Guide Pro also includes two side cargo pockets for additional storage, as well as other features like water-repellent nylon, sun protection, and two-way stretch (for comfort and flexibility of movement). With plenty of colors and a price point that’s more than palatable, they’re a great option for those who are always on the go.
13. Patagonia Lightweight All-Wear Hemp Shorts
When looking for a pair of hiking shorts for men, you want them to be a stylish and useful option that you can see yourself wearing every day. Yes, they need to be functional for a grueling hike up the mountains but casual enough for a chill day too. Luckily, Patagonia incorporated all of those factors into their All-Wear Hemp Shorts. Lightweight and breathable, these shorts will keep you cool even on the hottest summer day. They have a classic chino style with front slanted pockets and welted back pockets.
14. REI Co-op Sahara Amphib Shorts
If you’re looking for a pair of shorts that are water-friendly all the way, then you can’t go wrong with REI’s Sahara Amphib Shorts. They’re constructed of an “Amphibious” nylon/polyester blend that dries quickly and is water repellent. These shorts are snag and tear-resistant, making them quite durable and one of the best options on the list should you find yourself hiking through the rough wilderness. They even feature several handy features like deep hand pockets, a removable belt to customize the fit, and a carabiner loop on the waistband to hold keys or a small towel. And we can’t forget the hiking shorts have UPF 50+ protection against the sun’s UV rays.
15. St. John’s Bay Hiking Cargo Short
BEST FOR BEGINNER HIKERS
Just got invited on a hiking trip last minute and need a pair of shorts ASAP? Go with this option from St. John’s Bay. The cargo shorts are made of lightweight cotton that’ll keep you comfortable on a hot day while trailing through the mountains. They come with a good amount of pockets (two front, two back and two on the side) for storing snacks, keys and other personal items. While they might not have any handy features like SPF or water-resistant properties, these will make the perfect starter pair of hiking shorts for someone new to the journey.