The 5 Best Hiking Shorts: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

man wearing hiking shorts

Common problems that hikers complain about are chafing from their clothes, not enough pockets, or they are too hot and sweaty. To stay comfortable, dry, and prepared on your next hiking trip we recommend trying out a pair of shorts made especially for the occasion. Here is a list of our picks for the best hiking shorts currently on the market. Keep reading to find out more about hiking shorts in our buying guide.

In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 Picks

Top Pick
Helikon-Tex Men UTK Shorts Black Poly Cotton Ripstop Waist 30 Length 11, Urban Line Urban Tactical Shorts
Runner Up
XKTTAC Men's Quick Dry Hiking Shorts, Lightweight Stretchy Outdoor Camping Travel Shorts with 5 Zipper Pockets (Grey, L(32-34))
Best Budget Pick
BALEAF Women's 10 Inches Quick Dry Stretch Hiking Cargo Shorts with Zippered Pockets UPF 50+ for Camping, Travel Raw Khaki Size S
Helikon-Tex Men UTK Shorts Black Poly Cotton Ripstop Waist 30 Length 11, Urban Line Urban Tactical Shorts
XKTTAC Men's Quick Dry Hiking Shorts, Lightweight Stretchy Outdoor Camping Travel Shorts with 5 Zipper Pockets (Grey, L(32-34))
BALEAF Women's 10 Inches Quick Dry Stretch Hiking Cargo Shorts with Zippered Pockets UPF 50+ for Camping, Travel Raw Khaki Size S
$51.90
Price not available
$31.99
-
Top Pick
Helikon-Tex Men UTK Shorts Black Poly Cotton Ripstop Waist 30 Length 11, Urban Line Urban Tactical Shorts
Helikon-Tex Men UTK Shorts Black Poly Cotton Ripstop Waist 30 Length 11, Urban Line Urban Tactical Shorts
$51.90
Runner Up
XKTTAC Men's Quick Dry Hiking Shorts, Lightweight Stretchy Outdoor Camping Travel Shorts with 5 Zipper Pockets (Grey, L(32-34))
XKTTAC Men's Quick Dry Hiking Shorts, Lightweight Stretchy Outdoor Camping Travel Shorts with 5 Zipper Pockets (Grey, L(32-34))
Price not available
-
Best Budget Pick
BALEAF Women's 10 Inches Quick Dry Stretch Hiking Cargo Shorts with Zippered Pockets UPF 50+ for Camping, Travel Raw Khaki Size S
BALEAF Women's 10 Inches Quick Dry Stretch Hiking Cargo Shorts with Zippered Pockets UPF 50+ for Camping, Travel Raw Khaki Size S
$31.99

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reviews of the 5 Best Hiking Shorts

Our reviews are 100% unbiased so that you can get a clearer picture of the products that are available to you. Check out our list of the best hiking shorts, including our favorite overall pick and the best budget pick and keep reading for the complete hiking shorts buying guide.

1. Helikon-Tex Urban/Outdoor Tactical Shorts

Helikon-Tex Men UTK Shorts Black Poly Cotton Ripstop Waist 30 Length 11, Urban Line Urban Tactical Shorts
  • WIDE SELECTION .- Check out our picture for styles and size chart
  • PATENTED DESIGN .- Unique US and EU patented design
  • OUTSTANDING COMFORT .- Its lightweight and breathable materials provide an increased comfort during prolonged use in a magnitude of different climates
  • VERSATILE LAYOUT .- The cut and pockets layout allow them to stay civilian enough not to disclose the wearers identity, while still allowing to wear full set of tactical equipment Elastic velcro-closed belt allows a measure of adjustment within the size. Large belt loops allow wide belts like EDC, UTL or Cobra
  • GEAR ORGANIZATION .- It has a perfect, pocket arrangement for carrying all your essentials in an organized discrete fashion without losing your tactical advantage; Two mesh front pockets with strengthened edges for gear clips. Two mesh wide back pockets. Two slim back pockets inside back pockets for folding knives, flashlights, pistol magazines. Two mesh thigh cargo pockets with zipper. Two front velcro-closed flapped pockets for smart phone or AR magazine. ACCESSORIES AND BELT NOT INCLUDED

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These are some of the most awesome outdoorsmen shorts we have seen so you know we had to nominate them for our choice for the very best overall pick for hiking shorts. The reasons why these are so amazing is because they are made out of the best cotton polyester blend for comfort and to prevent chafing and they are outfitted with tons of storage compartments.

These shorts come in seventeen different colors so there is sure to be a pair that matches your personal style. The design of these is incredible and has been patented in the US and EU. The materials are very lightweight and allow you to wear a full set of tactical equipment including knives, etc, without it being obvious.

Pros:

  • Tons of storage
  • Hide weapons and valuables easily
  • Lots of pockets
  • Patented design
  • Doesn’t use a zipper so no zipper to get stuck
  • Adjustable size and large belt loops

Cons:

  • These shorts may be too much for the typical hiker who doesn’t need all the extra pocket storage
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. XKTTAC Men’s Outdoor Quick Dry Lightweight Stretchy Shorts for Hiking, Camping, Travel with 6 Pockets

XKTTAC Men's Quick Dry Hiking Shorts, Lightweight Stretchy Outdoor Camping Travel Shorts with 5 Zipper Pockets (Grey, L(32-34))
  • 【6 Pockets & Reflective Design】The hiking shorts has 6 pockets which includs 4 big and deep side zipper pockets, 2 front pockets. The reflective strips help ensure your safety when you hiking in the early morning or late evening. 
  • 【Good Fit】The elastic waistband and adjustable velcro of the shorts would hug your waist better, help this shorts nicely in place.
  • 【Breathable & Stretchy】The breathable fabrics help your shorts keep dry. UPF 50+ protects you from UV ray.
  • 【Lightweight & Durable】These shorts use lightweight and stretchable material which can offer more comfortability of movement to you.
  • 【Multipurpose】The shorts is constructed for most outdoor activities and sports: camping, hiking, climbing, biking, etc. Or you can make them your daily attire.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our runner up for the best hiking shorts are the XKTTAC Men’s Outdoor Quick Dry Stretchy Shorts for Hiking. They have six pockets which is plenty for storing flashlights, pocket knives, and more. One of the best things about these shorts is the amazing style. They come in four different colors and the fit will look amazing on most body types.

There are reflective strips on these outdoors shorts which gives another layer of safety protection for you while hiking at night or later in the day. The fabric is slightly stretchy so that it sits nicely against your skin to prevent chafing, and it’s lightweight enough to prevent you from getting overly hot on your hike.

Pros:

  • Versatile enough to be used anywhere
  • Fashionable enough to be worn anywhere
  • Six pockets
  • Four color choices
  • No zipper
  • Comfortable and lightweight

Cons:

  • More color options would be nice and colors may not be 100% true to photo
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. BALEAF Women’s Hiking Shorts Quick Dry with Zipper Pockets

BALEAF Women's 10 Inches Quick Dry Stretch Hiking Cargo Shorts with Zippered Pockets UPF 50+ for Camping, Travel Raw Khaki Size S
  • Breathable polyester with a hint of stretch offers comfort, performance and quick dry; durable water repellent (DWR) finish causes water to bead up and roll off.
  • UPF 50+ sun protective fabric provides excellent protection against harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • 2 hand pockets; 1 zippered thigh pockets; 2 back pockets
  • Crotch gusset ensures good mobility/allows freedom of movement,and articulated design follows natural movement of body.
  • Best use: hiking, travelling, trekking, walking, running,etc. Note: please allow for 1-2 cm difference due to manual measurements.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For women who are looking for the best pair of hiking shorts we suggest the BALEAF Women’s Hiking Shorts. They have zippered pockets which are handy for keeping your things safe while hiking, as it is common for things to fall out of people’s pockets while hiking never to be seen again. They are made out of a lightweight blend of Nylon that prevents you from getting too sweaty and that will not weigh you down.

You can choose from six neutral colors that are perfect from hiking. The drawstring closure and the baggy fit makes them super comfortable for hiking (prevents major chafing). The shorts even are weather resistant in addition to being UPF+ and very protective for your skin from the sun’s effects.

Pros:

  • Protects your skin from the sun
  • Made for women
  • Zippered pockets
  • Stretchy and comfortable
  • Lightweight/breathable material

Cons:

  • The fit on these shorts is baggy instead of being tight against the skin
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Wrangler Men’s Canvas Utility Hiker Short

Wrangler Authentics Men's Canvas Utility Hiker Short, Lagoon, 38
  • RELAXED FIT. These utility hiker shorts feature an 8-inch inseam and are built to help keep you comfortable through any task. A relaxed fit, cotton fabric and partial elastic waistband keep you moving on the trail.
  • TRAIL STYLE. This hiking short has cargo function and style with extra storage, great for keeping gear close at hand while you're out on the trail. From weekend hikes to backyard BBQs, these shorts are built for versatility and comfort.
  • DURABLE MATERIALS. Made from long-lasting 100% cotton twill, these shorts are built to last while maintaining breathability and comfort.
  • QUICK-ACCESS STORAGE. Equipped with (2) cargo flap pockets, (2) back Velcro pockets and (2) slash pockets for easy-access storage. Great for safely storing your cell phone, tools, wallet and other items in an enclosed pocket.
  • HEAVY-DUTY HARDWARE. Finished with a heavy-duty zipper fly and button closure.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wrangler is famous for their outdoors wear so it is no surprise that they have come out with a lie of high-quality hiking shorts. These come in a variety of colors to choose from and have all of the features we look for in a nice pair of hiking shorts. If you need a pair of shorts that are made for hiking, but are not weighed down with unnecessary pockets, these are definitely for you.

These shorts are made out of 100% cotton which is different from many other hiking shorts on the market which are usually made out of synthetic materials. Cotton is naturally lightweight and breathable so it is a good choice for hiking clothes. The style and fit of these shorts are ideal for outdoors activities such as hiking, sports, festivals, and BBQs.

Pros:

  • 100% cotton
  • Lightweight
  • Closes with buttons
  • You can machine wash and dry
  • Versatile; wear anywhere

Cons:

  • There is less storage pockets than other leading “tactical” style hiking shorts
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Little Donkey Andy Men’s Stretch Quick Dry Cargo Shorts for Hiking, Camping, Travel

Sale
Little Donkey Andy Men's Stretch Quick Dry Cargo Shorts for Hiking, Camping, Travel Grey Size XL
  • Stretch Fabric - Lightweight, 4-Way stretch fabric for enhanced movement and comfort.
  • Qiuck Dry - Water repellent finish dries quickly to stay dry.
  • UPF 50+ protects you from UV ray.
  • Part elastic waistband with belt loops for adjustability.
  • Side zipper pockets; Rear zipped pocket.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We love Little Donkey Andy outdoorswear, which is why the Little Donkey Andy Men’s Stretch Quick Dry Cargo Shorts for Hiking are our best budget pick. For the quality, they come at a surprisingly affordable price. They are made out of a spandex and polyester blend, which is both durable and stretchy: perfect for hiking, camping, and sports.

The material protects your skin from the sun with UPF 50+, preventing skin cancer and sunburn. The material is also very lightweight and allows your skin to breath so you do not become sweaty. It is resistant to water so if you get wet or sweaty the fabric does not hold the moisture and becomes dry quickly.

Pros:

  • Seven color choices
  • Stretchy lightweight fabric
  • Protects from sun damage
  • Resistant to water
  • Has zippered pockets

Cons:

  • Really simple style and not enough pockets
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Buying Guide

In this handy buying guide we will give you an overview of the most important features to consider when shopping for a pair of hiking shorts. Comparing and contrasting the features of the best selling products in our review section can help you make an educated decision on which pair of hiking shorts are the best for you.

What Are the Benefits of a Good Pair of Hiking Shorts

You can throw on any pair of comfortable shorts and go hiking. As long as they don’t cause chafing, you can pretty much hike in any shorts, but should you? Here is a list of the benefits to wearing a nice pair of hiking shorts instead of a normal pair of cargo or sports shorts.

Increased Pocket Space

This is probably one of the most important things to consider about hiking shorts. The pocket size and space is going to be completely different for some hiking shorts because they are made to hold your hiking knife, a map, a compass, or any other tool that you may need while you are hiking.

In addition to having more pockets and larger pockets, the placement of the pockets may be more ideal for hiking, and there could be additions such as loops on the plants for clipping on extra supplies. Having the pockets lined with a moisture resistant fabric is a good idea as well because if you sweat you don’t want the moisture to damage anything in your pockets.

If the pockets on the shorts are not reinforced with zippers then there is a chance that things could fall out and you could lose them on the way. Having zippers on both the front and back pockets of the shorts gives you more options of places to tuck away your belongings safely while on your hike.

Not convinced you need the extra pocket space? Here is a list of things that are recommended that you bring on a hiking trip:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Your phone and wallet
  3. Your car keys
  4. A pocket knife
  5. A compass
  6. A map
  7. Snacks
  8. Flashlight

While you should probably have a backpack with you if you plan on bringing ALL of that, you can easily tuck away most of that list in the best overall and runner up pair of hiking shorts in the review section of our buying guide. High-quality hiking shorts are outfitted with lots of storage pockets, strategically placed for comfort and ease of access.

Better Comfort For Long Hikes

Most people who go on hikes don’t do so just because they want the work out. They could run a treadmill if they wanted cardio. People go on hikes because it is an enjoyable, relaxing, and fun outdoor experience. If you want to really enjoy your experience then you need to be dressed comfortably. Chafed nipples or thighs will put a damper in your all-day hiking plans really quick.

Chafing is the main thing to look out for when it comes to hiking shorts. If the wrong material is worn you could cause a rug-burn like effect on your skin with the constant friction from walking. Soft fabrics and stretchy fabrics are best for physical activity because they prevent chafing from occurring.

How to pick the most comfortable shorts for hiking:

  • Wear the right size

If the shorts are too loose you are at a higher risk of chafing, not to mention you will need a belt to keep them from falling around your waist as you hike. If the shorts are too tight then you will probably experience some of the seams cutting into your skin which is very uncomfortable especially with the friction of a long hike.

  • Pick the right fabric

Cotton and synthetic blends are popular choices for hiking shorts. It is essential that the material of the shorts be comfortable and soft, yet rugged and durable enough to withstand a lot of wear and tear on the hiking trail. Synthetics like Nylon and Polyester may be used because they are weather resistant and also can be blended with cotton or spandex for a more comfortable fit.

Features to Consider When Shopping For the Best Hiking Shorts

So now that we know why you need a good pair of hiking shorts to be comfortable and prepared out on the hiking trail, let’s delve further into the features of hiking shorts that are most important for you to consider while shopping.

Size

When shopping for hiking shorts, especially online, make sure that you pay a lot of attention to sizing charts. The size for hiking shorts could run either smaller or larger than average depending on the country they are manufactured in and the brand. Having the right size shorts is essential to being comfortable on your next hike.

What happens if the shorts are too small?

  • If the shorts are not well fitted and are too tight on your skin, you are not going to be comfortable wearing them for an entire hike. The material and seams will probably cut into your skin and leave indentions, and you’ll sweat more if it is too tight.

What happens if the shorts are too big?

  • Shorts too big? Better get used to chafing. Baggy clothes can move around a lot as you move and it is this friction that causes you to have chafing around your thigh area. Another downside to oversized shorts is that without a belt you may be stuck pulling your pants up every few minutes to keep them from falling down–not fun!

Price

For a really high quality pair of tactical hiking shorts you can expect to pay up to $100 or even more. If you just need something comfortable for going on short hikes and you don’t need all that extra pocket space for knives, compasses, and first aid kits, then you probably get away with spending as little as $30 for a really nice pair of shorts. Here is a list of the factors that will determine the price of the shorts:

  • The size

The more material the shorts require to make, the more money it costs to make them. For a longer pair of shorts or a pair of shorts with more pockets the price will go up due to the materials used.

  • The material

Man made materials are usually less expensive than organic materials. For hiking shorts and outdoors wear there is a standard of weather-resistance that companies try to meet,meaning that it is common for there to be a blend of fibers in the fabric. The quality of the fabric, zippers, and other materials used will drive up the price.

  • The brand

When shopping for clothes for hiking the function should be more important than the brand, but it is true that when shopping with a reputable brand you are likely to get a better deal as well as better customer care/return policies. Another benefit to shopping with best-selling brands first is that you can skip past cheap imitations and get right to the high-quality products that you need and deserve.

In our review section we have included some hiking shorts in different price ranges, so there is a pair for everyone. You do not have to break the bank to outfit yourself with a nice pair of hiking shorts, but the price can go up and up with the quality and construction of the item.

Color

You don’t have to break the bank, you also don’t have to leave your fashion sense behind to wear a nice pair of hiking shorts on your next hiking trip. When shopping for a pair of shorts, don’t forget to think about what color you might want. If you like the way you look in your shorts you will be more likely to remember to wear them, so try to pick out a color that you like and that looks good on you.

When it comes to hiking gear, the color of the shorts may be even more important than just a fashion statement. Darker colors may hold in more heat and cause you to get hot faster. On the other hand white or light colored shorts are not great for hiking because they are prone to getting dirty. Camo, brown, and khaki are great colors for hiking shorts.

Pockets

We have already gone over why pockets are important a little bit, but to reiterate, pockets on hiking shorts allow you to have the storage space you need for carrying hiking supplies such as maps, compasses, and pocket knives. Here is a list of things to consider about the pocket on hiking shorts:

  • How many pockets does it have?

You will want to make sure that there are enough pockets on the shorts for you to carry along all of the things that you want on your person. Belt loops are another place where you could possibly store some things. Four pockets are average for regular shorts, but shorts made especially for hiking usually have a higher number, between six and ten.

  • How do the pockets close?

If the pockets are completely open at the top then you risk having your valuables fall out as you are walking. It is hard to predict whether or not your phone is going to slip out of your pocket without you knowing, leaving you stranded. The best way to keep your things safe is to put them in pockets with zippers. A button can also help to keep things secure in your pockets, and velcro is also sometimes used.

  • Are the pockets lined?

If you are going to carry valuables in your pockets then you should watch out for moisture. While hiking you could get sweaty, or you could even fall in water or get splashed with water. If the pockets of your pants are lined with a weather resistant material, it will keep the moisture from penetrating the pocket and damaging your things. A soft fabric lining is also good for preventing scratches and other damage to your phone, compass, or pocket knife.

FAQs

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about hiking shorts.

What is the difference between hiking shorts and regular cargo shorts?

While hiking shorts and a pair of cargo shorts may look very similar, hiking shorts have been especially made to withstand the elements outdoors and to provide some extra pocket space for knives, compasses, and tools.

What kind of shorts are best for hiking?

The best shorts for hiking need to be made out of a heavy-duty, but soft and lightweight fabric. They also should be outfitted with enough pocket space to store all of your things safely. Pockets with zippers are ideal because they will prevent your things from falling out.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we love the Helikon-Tex Urban/Outdoors Hiking Shorts so much that we have chosen these as our top overall pick for the best hiking shorts. They are super heavy duty and have the storage and resilience for all sorts of outdoor adventures. With all of the pockets, you will never want for more pocket space.

If you want an affordable pair of hiking shorts we really recommend the Little Donkey Andy’s Shorts. They are a great price for the quality and are made with the outdoorsman in mind. They are super comfortable and have just enough pocket space without making them too bulky.