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Active Shorts

Top Picks

How we choose: The best active shorts highlighted here were selected based on 58 reviews of 23 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Patagonia Baggies Shorts 5"

user rating: 5 of 5 (5 reviews)

Patagonia's Baggies are my go-to, do it all shorts. They are lightweight, breathable, packable, abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, quick drying nylon shorts. The DWR treated Baggies sport a 5" inseam, two quick drain pockets with mesh in the bottom, and a stretchy elastic waistband with tie. I hike, kayak, wakeboard, play tennis, jog, work out and do just about everything in these shorts! If I had only one pair of shorts, these would be the ones. Patagonia has been making these for years and are made for babies on up to men's and women's.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durable (abrasion-resistant)
  • Lightweight (4.8 oz)
  • Quick draining pockets
  • DWR treated (water-resistant)
  • Nice length (5")
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Come with a lifetime warranty
  • Flattering fit

Reasons to Avoid

  • No zippered pocket
  • Pricey (but worth it)

My Patagonia Baggies have been through it all. I love these shorts! I would literally wear them every day if I could. I bought them primarily for hiking because I had heard so many great things about them. They are perfect for hiking because they have pockets (but they are not big baggy cargo pockets), they resist abrasion and water, they are breathable and comfortable, and they do not chafe. Nowadays, ladies' shorts tend to be rather short (3" inseam), but the 5" inseam in these is the perfect length for me.

Read more: Patagonia Baggies Shorts 5" reviews (5)

Patagonia Strider Pro Short

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Light but protective short that gets out of the way, yet lets you carry tons of stuff.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Light
  • Breathable
  • 5"
  • 5 pockets for ample storage

Reasons to Avoid

  • Durability of pocket area?
  • Bit pricy
  • Waistband bit thick

Fit I will say it up front, I love the Strider Pro shorts. When trail running or hiking up steep hills I love the fit of them. The 5" inseam means they do not pull on your quads when going up steep terrain. They have a split on the side to give you extra freedom of movement while covering you up well enough. For me a 5" inseam is perfect. The waistband is a good elastic, but also has a lace that you can tie in case they would sag on you. I can't speak for everybody of course, but the fit on me is great, and the adjustability makes me think it would fit most people very well..

Read more: Patagonia Strider Pro Short reviews (3)

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Patagonia women's Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts pack a host of straightforward, well thought out features into a simple pair of shorts. The material and seams stretch together, offering an unrestricted range of motion, and the lightweight fabric wicks moisture, repels water, and dries rapidly. They were hands down my favorite shorts to ride in this past season.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Great stretch—including seams!
  • Adjustable waist
  • Zipper pocket
  • DWR coating

Reasons to Avoid

  • Had trouble standing up to thorn bushes—caused pilling

Testing Conditions: I tested the Patagonia women’s Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts as a member of the Trailspace Review Corps. I wore the shorts mountain biking in and around the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire from June through October 2018. I also brought them with me on an October road trip, mountain biking in Bentonville, Arkansas, and around Asheville, North Carolina. Temperatures during testing ranged from about 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.                                                       Out for a spin Fit and Comfort: I’m 5'4" with a fairly curvy lower body (35" hip, 27" waist).

Read more: Patagonia Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts review (1)

Patagonia Dirt Craft Bike Shorts

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Patagonia's Dirt Craft Bike Shorts are a lightweight, breathable mountain bike short for everyday riding on the singletrack. Made with a nylon/spandex outer short for full range of movement and a removable inner padded liner, they're soft, stretchy, don't chafe, and are super comfortable whether climbing or descending. I've worn my Dirt Craft Bike Shorts for two seasons of riding—cross-county, enduro, and lift-assisted—and have found them incredibly comfortable for long days of riding and reasonably durable, though not impenetrable. They're expensive, but they're well-made and essentially you get two shorts, which can be paired up with other bike shorts and liners for versatility.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Nice stretchy material

Reasons to Avoid

  • Small pockets
  • Not impenetrable, mine tore on first big crash

Construction The Patagonia Dirt Craft Bike Short is the most comfortable pair of shorts I have ever worn mountain biking. The outer shorts are made mainly from a stretchy nylon (95%, 65% of which is recycled) with some spandex (5%) and have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish for longevity. The breathable padded liner short (72% polyester, 28% spandex) is separate and has a 3-D engineered Italian chamois for cushion. It's also treated with HeiQ Fresh for odor control. The padded liner is removable, so people like myself who prefer to ride without one can do so.

Read more: Patagonia Dirt Craft Bike Shorts review (1)

Showers Pass Gravel 10" Shorts

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The gravel shorts are made for mountain biking and double as a good pair of hiking shorts. Some cycling-related features and adjustments make these a good choice for biking. The shorts have no padding, so I liked these better with a padded undershort for longer and rougher rides. For hiking and cycling, these shorts are a winner.

Reasons to Buy

  • Cycling-related features
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile - good for hiking too

Reasons to Avoid

  • If you like bike shorts with cushioning, you will need a padded undershort

BASIC INFORMATION The gravel shorts are made for mountain biking. They are made from a 95% nylon/5% spandex fabric that has a nice bit of stretchiness that cyclists will appreciate. They have two big front pockets and one smaller, rear pocket, all with mesh liner material that helps with ventilation. The rear pocket is actually a dual pocket - it’s an open pocket, but within that, there’s a section that’s secured by a zipper.    The shorts have a number of design elements that make them particularly good for their mountain-biking purpose.

Read more: Showers Pass Gravel 10" Shorts review (1)

Patagonia Endless Ride Liner Shorts

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Patagonia Women’s Endless Ride Liner Shorts are a straightforward padded liner designed specifically for mountain biking. My personal litmus test when it comes to outdoor gear is whether or not I notice it when I’m out on the trail. I want my gear to fade into the background so I can focus on riding. This liner passes with flying colors. It stays in place, provides unrestricted movement, and vents moisture—keeping me comfortable while my body gets worked (...scraped, bruised) and enjoys some time to play.

Reasons to Buy

  • Mesh panels for breathability
  • Comfortable yet grippy leg openings
  • Unrestricted movement
  • Durable seat padding

Reasons to Avoid

  • Some chaffing on 40+ mile days

Testing Conditions: I tested the Patagonia women’s Endless Ride Liner Shorts as a member of the Trailspace Review Corps. I primarily wore them mountain biking in and around the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont from June through October 2018. Temperatures during testing ranged from about 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I also wore them on a mountain biking vacation to Bentonville, Arkansas, and Asheville, North Carolina. This was a fall vacation, so temperatures during riding were around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more: Patagonia Endless Ride Liner Shorts review (1)

The North Face Class V Trunk

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

I own four pairs of these shorts. I'm a big fan.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable liner
  • Inexpensive compared to other brands
  • Dries quickly

Reasons to Avoid

  • Seem to smell more than other shorts after heavy use

These shorts fit true to size and have a nice built-in liner. It's nice and comfortable, unlike the liners of shorts from some other brands that I've worn. The shorts rest a couple of inches above the knee, and they are comfortable when moving. They work well in activities ranging from running to swimming. A drawstring helps keep the shorts tight in the water. The shorts dry pretty quickly—maybe 15 minutes in the sun or 30-45 outside of the sun. Also, the liner wicks some sweat away from the body, but it isn't a significant amount. The shorts are pretty thin, so they fit well underneath a pair of pants if you want to wear layers.

Read more: The North Face Class V Trunk review (1)

Patagonia Ultra Shorts

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Typically high quality product from Patagonia. Well conceived and executed for the most part.What I like: super light weight, very comfortable liner fabric, comfortable waistband even under a pack strap, lots of pockets, fabric dries very quickly after getting wet, high-quality construction. You can wear these day after day after day in comfort.What I didn't like quite so much: I wish the inseam length was just a tiny bit longer (maybe 1 more inch?). I wish at least one of the pockets could be reliably sealed (with a zip or something).A comment on the pockets...

Read more: Patagonia Ultra Shorts review (1)

Hind Race Day Short

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

High quality running shorts at an affordable price. Durable and attractive, high visibility tangerine color to be seen in poor lighting conditions. Compare favorably to the bigger name brands that charge considerably more.

Reasons to Buy

  • High visibility Tangerine color.
  • Ultralight fabric that is strong and durable.
  • Precise construction and stitching.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not applicable

Bought at TJMaxx for $12.99. I was looking thru the racks for the usual brands, Nike, Adidas, Avia, New Balance, Asics and so on. These jumped out because of the high visibility Tangerine color. I run in Miami, so running on the sidewalk even is dangerous. I figured I'd give them a try and haven't been disappointed in them as they were a few dollars less than other name brands. These are every bit as good and perhaps even better than a lot of higher priced running shorts. Can't find anything on the internet for information.

Read more: Hind Race Day Short review (1)

More Reviews of Active Shorts

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Other Types of Shorts and Skirts

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Hiking Shorts

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Hiking Skirts

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