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Best Men’s Hiking Shorts: Your Guide to Picking the Best Shorts for Your Hike

Best Men's Hiking Shorts
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

Hiking shorts aren’t your average summer wear. It’s easy to throw on a pair of athletic shorts to go for a jog or play some basketball, but sadly these shorts will let you down on a hike. They’re simply not made to take on a mountain or a trail.

Nothing is worse than uncomfortable shorts that ride up, get caught on things, and begin to chafe after a mile or two. On top of all that, the feeling of reaching in your pocket only to discover a hole where your things used to be will kill your whole hike. Get the best men’s hiking shorts to make your hike go smoothly.

Hiking shorts

Hiking shorts aren’t anything crazy. In fact they’re very simple in design. Their primary goal is to keep you cool so expect some thin breathable materials. Also consider the comfort of your shorts. Spend some time shopping around and think about an adjustable waistband and maybe a little flexibility. A couple extra pockets couldn’t hurt either.

What to Look For in a Pair?

Material

Hiking shorts can come in a variety of materials. Some feature thin Nylons and others are a heavier cotton. Make sure to consider your climate to determine whether you’re willing to give up some breathability for added durability.

The nylon shorts are often cooler and thinner than their cotton counterparts. Many of these shorts are shorter and resemble running shorts so make sure you’re buying the right pair for you. The nylon won’t ride up and it’s sure to keep from binding and chafing as you conquer the trail ahead.

Nylon is also great for wet situations as they will keep the water off of you and dry out quickly if you take a break to cool off in a body of water. The nylon is undoubtedly more athletic, but keep in mind, these shorts will end up restricted to the trail unlike their counterparts that are acceptable to wear out to a casual dinner.

Man And Woman On a Hike

Cotton shorts will be a little bit thicker and stiffer. These shorts are generally khakis and will look at home at a casual cookout or just relaxing with friends. They often feature significantly more pockets and longer inseams than their nylon competitors. These are definitely for more casual hikers who like to stop by happy hour after they get off the trail. These shorts are good for almost any occasion.

Durability/Stitching

The durability of your hiking shorts should be unmatched by the other shorts in your closet. Look for strong materials and reinforced areas. Very few things are as inconvenient as having a tear in your pocket or in the crotch of your shorts. Potentially loosing important gear or showing off a little more skin that you originally planned on can put a damper on your hike.

Look for quality stitching. Often times reinforced double stitching will drive a higher price, but in most cases the extra money is worth it. Make sure the stitching is consistent and there are no looks threads or stitching that could get caught on brush. If you can’t inspect the shorts in person take some time to read reviews from others who have purchased them.

Double stitching shorts

Also, check the design of your shorts to make sure the belt loops and pockets don’t stick out to a point where they could snag on things and rip. This will also save you a hassle on the trail or on the mountain. Look for a thin profile that still leaves ample room for your legs.

Size/Length

Having shorts that fit you properly is the most important factor when it comes to picking the best hiking shorts for your next time on the trail. Take the time to try on a handful of different shorts by different brands. Every brand will have a different cut and some will fit your body better than others.

Try on different sizes just to see if going a size up or down might be what you need. Put your ego aside and try on those XL’s just to be sure. Having shorts that fit properly will keep them from riding up, binding, and chafing.

You should also consider the length of the inseam. A shorter inseam is usually found on nylon shorts that resemble running short more than a traditional pair of hiking shorts. Having shorter shorts will provide a little extra airflow where it counts.

Man wearing hiking shorts

The drawback is that if your thighs aren’t used to seeing the sun, they’ll burn quickly. You don’t want to end up waddling around for the next few days. It’s also worth noting that shorts are slowly becoming shorter and a 7 inch inseam is very popular as opposed to the 9 inch inseam that has been popular in the past.

Longer shorts do have their positives though. Many people feel more comfortable covering themselves a little bit more. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you know you’ll feel weird showing more thigh than usual, just skip it and stay in your comfort zone. Longer shorts also offer more sun protection and more real estate for additional cargo pockets if you need them.

Pockets

There’s a few different styles of hiking shorts. You have your standard cargo shorts with a couple extra pockets down your thighs, standard flat front shorts with just two side pockets, and shorter shorts that often have no pockets. Each has their pros and cons so it’s important for you to determine which will provide the best hiking experience for you.

Cargo shorts have the most storage out of any style. They’re generally longer shorts and are undoubtedly the heaviest and most uncomfortable option. Cargo shorts also have the widest profile and are prone to getting caught on brush.

Cargo shorts

Many people are willing to overlook those drawbacks for the benefit of a few more large side pockets. Depending on how much you plan to carry and whether or not you’re bringing a backpack you might not even need the extra space.

Flat front shorts are the most stylish option. In many cases these look like your standard khaki shorts. They’re perfect if you plan on wearing them even when you aren’t on the trail. The lack of cargo pockets gives them a narrower and sleeker profile which will look better on you and keep them from getting caught on anything.

These shorts can vary in length from a 9 inch to 4 inch inseam. They’re also not restricted to any specific materials or styles.

The shorts without pockets may sound inconvenient and I won’t deny that pockets are on almost every pair of shorts we buy for good reason. Before you count these out I urge you to try them on. They are very light and give more room for your thighs. They’ll also have a nice slim profile that won’t catch any brush during your hike.

Biker shorts

If you plan on carrying a backpack these shorts can make your hike a much better experience. Most of the shorts with no pockets are shorter nylon shorts and can often end up looking very similar to running shorts.

Other Features

It’s hard to add too much to a pair of shorts, but be on the lookout for washing instructions and added features like mesh linings. A decent number of the shorter nylon shorts also feature a reversible design that will allow you to get a couple wears out of your shorts without anyone noticing.

An elastic waistband can also be found on most shorts, they’ll stay snug, but provide just enough wiggle room to keep you comfortable.

Which are the Best Hiking Shorts?

Keep a lookout for these features and determine whether or not they add value to you and make your hiking experience any better. Now we will show you our favorite products on the market and why are they so good.

Columbia Men’s Half Moon II Short

Weight: .6 PoundsColumbia Men's Half Moon II Short

Colors: Blue, Tan, Brown

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large

Inseam: 6 Inches

Features: Lightweight, Mesh Lining, Elastic Waistband, Cargo Pockets

Best Use: A Hike Near Water

The Columbia Half Moon II Shorts are a perfect combination of lightweight and durable. They come in a variety of colors and sizes ranging from small to XXL. These shorts have a 6 inch inseam, but they’re truly a little bit shorter than that. If you’re shy with showing your thighs I would advise you to look elsewhere.

These shorts also have an elastic waistband and belt loops to make sure the shorts fit exactly as you want them too. The only surprise may be the bagginess through the legs. They flare out a little bit after the waistband. If you’re looking for a slim profile, these aren’t for you.

While these shorts feature a few extra pockets, they aren’t very large and truly don’t add much functionality. Trying to load the small pockets up will cause your shorts to ride up and create chafing on your inner thighs.

The hip pockets are a different story though. They are very deep and feature a slash design that make them easy to reach in to, but the depth of the pockets means your items are never in danger of falling out.

Overall, these shorts will do well on the trail, but are truly made for being around the water. They will dry out quickly and provide protection from the sun. These are good for the hike there and once you’re on the water.

Check the price on Amazon

Singbring Men’s Quick Dry Hiking Shorts

Weight: .4 PoundsSingbring Men's Outdoor Quick Dry Hiking Shorts Zipper Pockets

Colors: Army Green, Black, Gray

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large

Inseam: 7 Inches

Features: Breathable, Quick Dry, Reinforced Stitching, Drawstrings, Elastic Waistband

Best Use: Trail Running, Hiking on a Hot Day

The Singbring Quick Dry Hiking Shorts are a great addition to this list. They are very athletic and will be fitting for everything from biking to running to mountaineering. You can expect these short to keep you cool and dry. They generally run a little bit large and feature a 7 inch in seam that is a little bit on the shorter side of 7 inches.

They are also baggy through the legs despite them appearing fairly tight in the product pictures. These shorts will be comfortable even in the most athletic situations. Don’t expect to wear them to dinner though.

These shorts feature pockets on the hips and the backside of the shorts. All of the pockets feature reinforced stitching and close with zippers to make sure your things stay put. This will be especially helpful if you plan on doing any climbing, biking, or running with them. The pockets are a decent size and have a smooth liner. It will keep them from catching on your legs and creating any chaffing.

These shorts are great for the most athletic hikers, but for casual hikers they might offer more than you need and draw back from the flexibility of being able to wear them in other situations as well. These are a safe pick if you need something comfortable and ready to take on anything you can throw at them.

Check the price on Amazon

Nonwe Men’s Leisure Water Resistant Quick Dry Lightweight Cargo Shorts

Weight: .8 PoundsNonwe Men's Leisure Water Resistant Quick Dry Lighweight Cargo Shorts

Colors: Green, Black, Gray

Sizes: Small (32), Medium, Large, X-Large (40)

Inseam: 9 Inches

Features: Quick Dry, Partially Elastic Waistband, Cargo Pockets

Best Use: Casual Hiking, Grilling Out

The Nonwe Men’s Cargo Shorts are a safe bet for the casual hiker. They’ll do well on the trail, but aren’t out of place when grilling out or going to a casual dinner. These shorts can be worn all day long without anyone batting an eye.

They come in three colors. The green color option is more of a brown than green. Keep that in mind while ordering. These shorts can accommodate waist sizes anywhere between 32 and 40 inches without any issues. They also feature a longer 9 inch inseam for anyone who isn’t comfortable showing too much thigh.

These shorts are a little bit heavier than the others on the list and that can be attributed to the longer inseam and the cargo pockets. The material is also slightly thicker. They’re more comfortable than your standard cargo shorts though.

The shorts have pockets on the hips, back side, and cargo pockets. The cargo pockets can be closed with a zipper and stay fairly tight to the leg of the shorts to keep from getting caught on things. The other pockets are nothing special. They’re deep enough to keep things from falling out and are also easy to get into if you order the right size.

You can expect these shorts to transition well from a hike to happy hour. The average hiker will stay comfortable in them without committing to an athletic style.

Check the price on Amazon

Royal Robbins Men’s Backcountry Shorts

Weight: .6 PoundsRoyal Robbins Men's Backcountry Shorts

Colors: Khaki, Army Green, Light Green, Blue, Light Blue, Gray

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large

Inseam: 6 Inches

Features: Quick Dry, Elastic Waistband, Cargo Pockets, Double Lined Seat, Gusseted Crotch, Belt

Best Use: Mountaineering and Serious Hikes

The Royal Robbins Men’s Backcountry Shorts are everything you could want from some serious hiking shorts. They’re durable, quick dry, lightweight, comfortable, and come in at a great value. You can expect these shorts to stay comfortable and hold up to anything you throw at them. They will never snag and very rarely tear thanks to the 100% Supplex Nylon material.

The imported shorts also feature reinforced stitching and a second layer in the back to make them extremely durable. These shorts also feature a gusseted crotch to release stress from the stitching in the area. They’re sure to be durable enough for anything you throw at them. They will accommodate anyone from a small to XXL and have a 6 inch inseam.

Like many of the other shorts on the list the inseam is on the shorter side of their advertised measurement. These shorts also sit fairly high up on your waist. They feature a fully elastic waistband and come with a quick release web belt.

The pockets are located on both hips, backside, and cargos. The cargo pockets sit more on the front of the thigh than many other shorts, but this helps to keep the profile narrow and to prevent snagging. They should have plenty of space for all of your things.

Overall, these shorts are great for the avid hiker. They’ll stand up to anything and you’ll be comfortable in them all day.

Check the price on Amazon

Falcon Bay Big and Tall Men’s Expandable Waist Cargo Shorts

Weight: .9 PoundsFalcon Bay Big and Tall Men's Expandable Waist Cargo Shorts

Colors: Khaki, Black, Navy, Olive

Sizes: 4X Big, 5X Big, 6X Big, 7X Big, 8X Big

Inseam: 9 Inches

Features: Elastic Waistband, Cargo Pocket, Larger Sizes

Best Use: Casual Hiking and Happy Hour

The Falcon Bay Big and Tall Men’s Cargo Shorts are sure to satisfy the needs of anyone shopping for some larger shorts. They’re lightweight and durable. The elastic waistband will make them extra comfortable. They can accommodate anyone from a 4X to 8X and feature a 9 inch inseam that is a little bit on the longer side.

They fit comfortably as a lower cut. They’re 100% cotton and much more casual than other shorts on the list. They’ll look in their element on the trail or hanging out with friends. The color options are sure to satisfy even the pickiest customers. You can comfortably wear these all day without looking out of place.

They feature pockets on both hips, back side, and two cargo pockets. The pockets on the back and cargo pockets are both Velcro. Some people may see whit as a positive, some as a negative, but that is strictly personal preference. The pockets are a good side, but the hip and back pockets will rub against your legs inside the shorts. For most, the pockets are more than they could need.

These shorts are comfortable, stylish, and come in large sizes. They could be exactly what you’re looking for to stay comfortable in the heat.

Check the price on Amazon

La Sportiva Chironico Short – Men’s

Weight: .9 PoundsLa Sportiva Men's Chironico Rock Climbing Short

Colors: Khaki and Gray

Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

Inseam: 13 Inches

Features: Quick Dry, Gusseted Crotch, Leather Stripe Insert

Best Use: Casual Hikes

The La Sportiva Chironico shorts are the most expensive on our list, but for good reason. These shorts are as well made as they come. They will withstand anything you can throw at them. They’re longer than the rest of the shorts with a 13 inch inseam. The inseam isn’t quite as long as they’re listed, but they will still come to the bottom of your knee and potentially further.

The shorts will accommodate anyone from an XS to XL. They come in khaki and gray, but the gray color is more of a gray-blue. The shorts also have leather inserts on the right front panel above the pocket opening. On top of that, they also have reinforced stitching throughout. The reinforcement is stitched in a different color and gives the shorts a unique style.

They have pockets on both hip and the back. They also have two special pockets that aren’t featured on any other shorts in this list. The first is the change pocket integrated into the right hip pocket. It’s the same small pocket you find on your average jeans. It may not be particularly helpful on the trail, but it is an added bit of functionality.

The second extra pocket is a “toothbrush” pocket on the right leg. The pocket would be perfect for holding a pocketknife on the trail.

Overall, these shorts are good for most scenarios, but their unique styling may sway some.

Check the price on Amazon

Conclusion

This list of hiking shorts should be all you need to pick the right pair for your next time on the trail. The variety of shorts can be daunting to sort through, but once you know what you’re looking for, the catalogs are much easier to navigate.

Cargo hiking shorts

With summer just around the corner, do you have any hiking shorts you would recommend? Do you own any of the shorts on the list? Let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Reagan Grewal

    I needed a new pair of shorts so I decided to go with the Singbring Men’s Quick Dry Hiking Shorts. My biggest complaint about them is just how very loose they are around the bottom of the shorts. They are also really short, and they kind of flair out a little bit, too. Basically, it kind of feels like I have bell bottoms on when I’m wearing these lol

  • Sean Nelson

    I know what you mean Reagan, I’m a tall guy and some shorts are just way too short for me. 🙂
    You need another style based on your physique. I know it’s not rocket science but finding the ideal short can be frustrating. I hope you find one that suits you this time. But in fairness to the Singbring brand, it’s a decent choice and very affordable.

  • Paul Magda

    I bought the Columbia Men’s Half Moon II Shorts off Amazon earlier this year. I like how loose and comfortable they are. They’re also really well designed and keep all of my items really secure (and the items are easy to retrieve) when I am wearing them.

  • Sean Nelson

    Hi Paul and thanks for dropping by. Did you find the shorts’ length just right for you? I love the Columbia brand and I’ve been using their line of products for years. I’m pleased that you have made a great choice today. Enjoy your hiking shorts, they’re very sturdy and will last for years.

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