As much as you want to keep warm and comfortable when hiking in the cold outdoors, you also want to keep as cool hiking during the summer. When you are hiking over summer, special attention should be paid to have light and quick drying clothing – to keep comfortable all day, no matter the terrain.
However, your clothing should also offer protection to a certain point. At least protect yourself from UV rays and bugs. A pair of hiking shorts is a good supplementary clothing for summertime hiking. As much as they are built to be rugged and adaptable for the outdoors, they also offer the laid back and breathable comfortable to help with endurance when hiking.
Listed below are the 10 best hiking shorts in 2021 – each providing a unique outfit option to keep you cool, ventilated and comfortable all day long.
The material your shorts are made of makes a difference. Avoid cotton -- it may wear well in dry weather, but it becomes a wet, squishy and chafe-inducing nightmare if it gets wet.
When shopping for hiking shorts, do the same fit tests you'd use for a pair of pants. Make sure they're comfortable enough to sit down in, bend over in without mooning the world, and that they offer enough range of motion for scrambling over obstacles like rocks and fallen trees.
Hopefully it goes without saying that sun protection isn't much of an option when you're wearing shorts. But sunburnt legs are a "thing," so if you're trekking in hot weather either bring some sunscreen or wear zip-off pants that convert from pants to shorts and back again -- so you can cover up before the sun burns you.
How To Choose A Hiking Shorts – Buying Guide
When choosing the best hiking shorts, the material is an important feature to consider. Material such as nylon, polyester, and polyester and cotton combination are great choices. Because hiking shorts are to be used in the outdoors – in many instances when you are active, you also want them to be a little stretchy to allow for proper fit and freedom of movement. Thus, the fabric blend should also contain a certain level of spandex, normally less than 10%.
Nylon on its own may not be great for the outdoors or for sporting apparel because of its plastic-like sealed nature. However, when combined with good quality material such as polyester, it becomes very reliable at moisture wicking and provides more ventilation. The nylon is also known to be very tough and rugged, thus, making it tear and abrasive resistant.
This quality makes them ideal for high maneuvering and high energy activities such as boulder hopping and rock climbing. This is because in such incidences you are most likely to come across objects that may pull on your clothing.
Related Review: Climbing Shorts
Polyester is even more reliable and great when it comes to moisture-wicking properties. Polyester is also naturally soft thus, making it comfortable on the skin. Cotton on the other end doesn’t do great as material for hiking short because of its poor ventilation and moisture-wicking abilities. However, when combined with polyester and spandex/lycra, it enhances their durability and quality.
The best backpacking shorts come in several styles – it all depends on what you are looking for. The majority come in cargo shorts style – fitted with multiple pockets. Their multiple pocket design allows you to carry multiple items especially for shorter outdoor trips such as maps or GPS for trekking, etc.
Some cargo shorts even come in breakaway design. Thus, you can unzip the section to reveal shorts from full cargo hiking pants. Depending on their material and construction, they are more versatile and are able to cover several types of environments.
Some cargo pants come with belt designs and others don’t. It all depends on your preferences and circumstances – do you want to clip on a 2-way radio? Are you carrying a backpack with a hip belt?
Running shorts also work as great hiking shorts options. This is because they tend to be softer, smoother, lightweight, and more moisture-wicking. They are not fitted with pockets, thus, they work great for individuals who don’t care for pockets.
All and all, the best walking shorts come with pockets. You can stuff anything in them ranging from keys and snack bars to AK-magazines for your hunting trip. Plus, they come in different designs to work in your favor – regular shallow pockets, deep pockets, mesh pockets, zippered or Velcro pockets. And for more adaptability, more secured pockets come fitted with gussets underneath for improved ventilation.
When choosing the best hiking cargo shorts, you want to go for lightweight hiking shorts. Because of the nature of their intended use, they should be lightweight to allow freedom of movement and be well-ventilated to ensure you are comfortable.
Because hiking shorts are used over hot to moderately cool weather, you are most likely to wear them on a sunny day. Thus, some of the best camping shorts for hiking come with UPF protection. This enables them to provide protection from the sun for the lower part of your body.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and it simply denotes the amount of protection the shorts offer in ratings. Thus, UPF 50+ rating means your body is protected from up to 99% UVA and UVB rays. A UPF 30 rating on the other end denotes that the fabric holds some level of protection but not fully.
UPF rating is determined by a number of features including thickness, weave, and fibers of the material. Additionally, a treatment on the fabric and even the condition at which the fabric affects the UPF rating.
Although not many manufacturers share their UPF ratings on the shorts, it is easy to know the rating of your shorts if the manufacturer lists them. You can simply figure out the UPF rating by reading through the product details.
Breathability for your shorts is perhaps one of the most important features. When you are engaged in outdoor activities, especially in a warmer climate, breathability is very important. You want your shorts to be ventilated enough so you are comfortable all day long.
Breathability also enhanced the shorts moisture-wicking ability. Thus, there are able to quickly and efficiently wick away moisture from the skin and the shorts into the outer air. This, in turn, is also healthy and hygienic for you –because a dry environment doesn’t favor microbial growth.
The breathability of the shorts also works hand in hand with quick-drying properties. Thus, even if your shorts are drenched in sweat, they can quickly dry. Quick dryness also gives the shorts water-resistance qualities by repelling/sliding water droplets off the surface of the fabric.
Durability determines if your shorts are the best shorts for hiking. And you can determine this by examining a number of features. Material and construction are perhaps the number one features to examine. You want to get the right fabric which in turn will directly or indirectly denote other features such as breathability.
Hiking shorts treated with UPF protection and DWR coating also boast enhanced quality and durability. Because they are worn outside, the most durable shorts should be tear-resistant, abrasion-free, and at most weatherproof in order to enhance endurance and thus, durability.
However, the care for your shorts affects their durability. If you dot follow the manufacturer’s recommended care practices and engage in harsher tendencies in the outdoors, your shorts are most likely to depreciate a lot faster than someone who doesn’t do that.
Q: Should I Choose Hiking Shorts Or Pants?
It all depends on the needs and the nature of your activities. Cargo style shorts, for example, offer protection on rougher terrains or paths with obstacles such as short trees. But so does hiking pants. Hiking pants work great for rougher terrains and cooler/colder weather whilst hiking shorts work better in warmer weather.
Some hiking pants designed in zipping off details double as both pants and shorts. Thus, you can zip off some layers to turn them into shorts. Furthermore, shorts can also work as a mid layer to pants in colder weather.
Q: How To Wash And Care For Hiking Shorts?
The majority of hiking shorts are machine washable thus; they don't require much effort to wash. However, some shorts for hiking are also to be hand washed. Thus, in this case, use cool water with a mild detergent to wash them. It is also safer to hang dry all hiking shorts or dry flat in areas with ample ventilation. It is safer to avoid hot air when caring for hiking shorts such as dryers or irons to avoid damaging or shrinking the material.
Q: What Level Of Protection Hiking Shorts Offer?
It all depends on the particular pair of shorts. However, the best hiking shorts provide coverage to the lower part of your body (they can even work great as a mid layer for added insulation). Additionally, they normally offer up to UPF50+ (up to 99% protection from sun rays) protection from UVA and UVB rays and may be coated with DWR for water-resistance. The coating basically fends off splashes and light showers.
Globo Surf Overview
The backpacking shorts reviews above outline how they come in very handy as a mid-layer or solely as hiking shoes in the outdoors – whether trekking the nearby trail or shopping at the farmers’ market. The how-to buying guide also provides a clear direction on what to look for when choosing the best hiking shorts. The listed shorts above are a great avenue, to begin with for picking the right option for you.