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Best Hiking Shorts – Expert Review (2021) 

This review discusses the best hiking shorts currently on the market. 

When the temperatures start to rise, it’s time to set your knees free.

On trails that don’t require scrambling up and over rocks or making your way through dense foliage, a solid pair of hiking shorts will serve you well.

Below is a list of the top 5 shorts, so you can choose which pair is right for you.

Best Hiking Shorts (Top Picks)

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Top Hiking Shorts (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 13 hiking shorts for this article. Below are the best hiking shorts that made our short list.

  1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo - Best Overall
  2. Little Donkey Andy Stretch Quick Dry - Best For Women
  3. Exeke Outdoor Quick Dry Lightweight - Best Lightweight
  4. Eddie Bauer Adventurer Cargo
  5. Wrangler Authentics Utility Hiker - Best Value

Read our complete buyers guide for hiking shorts.

Best Overall Hiking Shorts

1. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo

5/5 Overall Rating

The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts is the modern cargo short, designed with the outdoors in mind. With 6 pockets, 4 of which have zip or hook and loop closures, you can rest assured your valuables are safely tucked away.

Durable and up to the challenge of the trails, these shorts are made from ripstop nylon. Treated for moisture wicking, whether it’s weather related or sweat, the moisture is kept away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable.

UV Protection is provided by Omni-Shade® technology. Extras, like a crotch gusset ensures maximum mobility and you can choose between two inseam lengths, depending on your own length preferences.

A semi elastic waistband with an integrated belt allows for a good customizable fit.

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Main Features
  • Ripstop nylon outer and Polyester mesh pockets
  • Omni-Wick® treated for superior moisture wicking
  • 2 Inseam length options
  • Side elastic waistband
  • 6 Pockets, 4 of which have secure closures
  • Integrated Belt
What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-drying
  • Crotch gusset for increased mobility
What we dislike
  • Front hand pockets are quite shallow
  • Fabric is quite sheer
Key Takeaway

With a classic fit, these Silver Ridge shorts from Columbia look good and perform well on the trails. Lightweight and comfortable, you can’t go wrong with these.

2. Little Donkey Andy Stretch Quick Dry

5/5 Overall Rating

Reasonably priced and well constructed, these women’s hiking shorts are a great combination of fit and function. While it only has three pockets, all of them have zipper closures, ensuring everything stays put.

With 10% spandex, these shorts are extremely comfortable, with great stretch for improved mobility. Average inseam length is between 8 – 9 inches, so these shorts sit about mid thigh to above the knee. There is however only one inseam length option available.

These Little Donkey Andy hiking shorts are available in traditional earthy tones but also brighter colors, should the mood grab you for something more cheerful. Lightweight, and quick drying, they are perfect for the summer.

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Main Features
  • 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
  • 4-way stretch fabric for exceptional movement and comfort
  • Water repellent treated
  • Semi elasticated waistband with belt loops
  • 3 pockets – all with zip closures
  • Regular fit
What we like
  • Great secure pockets
  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-drying
What we dislike
  • Only one length option
  • Runs small
Key Takeaway

Weighing in at less than 500g, these lightweight shorts feature all the basic requirements of a good pair of hiking shorts. Add to that the comfort factor, and these will quickly become your favorite go-to shorts.

3. Exeke Outdoor Quick Dry Lightweight

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The EXEKE Outdoor hiking shorts is the ultimate in simple pull on shorts. With a fully elasticated waistband and an internal drawstring, there is no fuss around fasteners, zips and belt buckles.

With a loose and comfy fit, the EXEKE hiking short is well constructed and comfortable, offering great freedom and mobility. The polyester and spandex blended fabric lacks any traditional moisture wicking or sun protection treatments, but the fabric is super lightweight, ensuring quick drying time and excellent moisture absorption.

The EXEKE offers a great balance of quality versus price. Available in a range of colors, you can grab a few and rotate them on overnight and multi day hikes. As a plus, they also take up very little space as they fold up rather compact.

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Main Features
  • 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex
  • Elastic waistband
  • 2 hand pockets and 1 zippered pocket
  • Drawstring waist
What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-drying
  • Durable
What we dislike
  • Sizing inconsistencies
Key Takeaway

These shorts are best described as casual and comfortable. Breathable and fast drying, they are a great affordable option for a quick “pull on and go” kind of outdoor adventure.

4. Eddie Bauer Adventurer Cargo

4.5/5 Overall Rating

These stretch cargo shorts from Eddie Bauer is our top choice for women. With a cut that complements a woman’s curves, these shorts are comfortable while still maintaining a sleek silhouette. Eddie Bauer includes a regular or petite option, ensuring that all body types are catered for.

With 6 pockets, you have sufficient storage for all your valuables out on the trail.
The cotton / spandex ripstop fabric is stretchy and comfortable, allowing ease of movement while being durable.

With an average inseam length of 8 inches, these shorts are mid thigh length, offering good modest coverage and freedom of movement.

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Main Features
  • 98% Cotton, 2% spandex blend
  • Machine-washable
  • 6 pockets
  • Curvy Fit
What we like
  • Great curvy fit especially around the hips and thighs
  • Good number of functional pockets
What we dislike
  • No UV protection
  • No moisture wicking
Key Takeaway

The Eddie Bauer Adventurer Shorts might not have all the technology of some other hiking shorts, however the comfort factor scores these shorts high on our list. Whether it’s casual or hiking, these shorts are more than capable of performing to your requirements.

5. Wrangler Authentics Utility Hiker

3.5/5 Overall Rating

Rugged and well constructed, these knee length canvas shorts from Wrangler come in at a very competitive and affordable price range.

With 4 pockets, this classic cargo style short is functional and durable. The cargo pockets are deep enough to be useful, with loop and hook closures to secure your valuables.

A semi-elasticated waistband ensures a comfortable fit, and the integrated belt allows you to adjust the shorts to fit you just right. We like the button closure over a snap fastener, as this seems more robust and secure when moving around.

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Main Features
  • 100% Cotton
  • Fully machine washable
  • Button Closure
  • Relaxed fit
  • 4 pocket with 2 side flap cargo pockets
  • Semi Elasticated waistband
What we like
  • Good length
  • Good usable pockets
  • Great price
  • Comfortable
What we dislike
  • High stress areas on pockets don’t have double stitching for reinforcement
  • Very baggy around crotch area
  • Slow-drying
Key Takeaway

This utility-hiking short from Wrangler does not have all the technological features of moisture wicking or UV protection but at the low price range, it is a great option: durable and comfortable, and more than capable for a hike.

Hiking Shorts - Buyer's Guide (Key Features)

Below are the features you should keep an eye out for when exploring which trekking shorts suits you best. 


When the weather is hot, you want to feel unencumbered. What you’re wearing should be light and breathable, keeping you cool and dry in the heat and not feeling bogged down.


Much like full hiking pants, you want a fabric that is durable, yet lightweight and breathable. Something that’s quick drying is more practical.

The most common fabrics used are nylon and polyester, both are durable and abrasion resistant. With the introduction of spandex, nylon or polyester immediately gains more stretch, which contributes to overall comfort. Blended fabrics tend to offer the best of both worlds.

Cotton is more uncommon, but generally a cheaper alternative. It’s a cool natural fabric but can take longer to dry.

Water Resistance

Look out for treated fabrics that will shrug off water. When treated for improved moisture wicking, not only is moisture prevented from penetrating the fabric, body fluid like sweat is wicked away from the skin. This is very useful under hot and humid conditions. Look out for terms like Durable Water Repellent (DWR).


A pair of shorts may have fewer pockets than a pair of full-length pants, so check that the pockets are deep enough to be functional, with good secure closures to keep your possessions safe. A zipper closure is generally also more durable than a hook and loop closure that may lose its efficacy after time.

UV Protection

While your legs might be exposed to the sun, if the fabric is treated to provide UV Protection, that is always a pro, and you should opt for this whenever possible.


Look at the inseam length of the shorts. It’s very much an individual preference to whether you want a pair of shorts that are just above your knees or mid thigh. Some manufacturers offer extra length options so have a look out for that if you prefer something longer.


Again a personal preference if you like something looser or something more form fitting. A baggy pair of shorts might be the most comfortable, however bear in mind the bulk. Look for construction features like elasticated waistbands that help with fit.

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