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Shorts and Skirts

Types of Shorts and Skirts

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Active Shorts

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Hiking Shorts

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Running Skirts

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Hiking Skirts

Top Picks

How we choose: The best shorts and skirts highlighted here were selected based on 112 reviews of 85 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a short/skirt that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Top Active Short

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)

Top Hiking Short

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Outdoor Research's updated Ferrosi fabric delivers big on comfort, stretch, and durability, but sizing and features should be considered with the Ferrosi Short.

Reasons to Buy

  • Rugged without being heavy
  • Deep front pockets
  • Functional leg pocket (men's only)
  • Excellent stretch
  • Built-in belt
  • Water/Wind resistant

Reasons to Avoid

  • Potential sizing issues
  • No Velcro/snap on men's back pockets
  • No fly or gusseted crotch
  • Not particularly fast drying

Having previously reviewed an older version of the Outdoor Research 10-inch Ferrosi Shorts, that had a strong but not particularly long life, I was excited to try their latest fabric update in the newest 7-inch model they’re offering (see my original Ferrosi Shorts review below). After a season of very frequent California trail use, including moist Redwood forests, High-Sierra backpacking trips, desert overnights, and frequent use near my home next to a national forest, I’d say there’s a whole lot of good with these shorts, but a couple of things to consider if you’re thinking about pulling the trigger.

Read more: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts reviews (3)

Active Short

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)

Active Short

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)

Hiking Short

Mountain Hardwear J Tree Short

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A super comfortable hiking short for hot and dry conditions. Excellent fit and breathability, when you’re just trying to stay cool. A good-looking pair of shorts which transition from trail to town with ease. I wear them most every day during the summer.

Reasons to Buy

  • Exceptional fit
  • Very breathable
  • Sturdy construction
  • Great looking on the trail
  • Great looking post-hike at the winery or brewery (no “cargo” look)

Reasons to Avoid

  • The cotton rip-stop fabric will not keep you warm in damp/wet conditions
  • Might not be stretchy enough for some people

We’ve all had it hammered into us: “Cotton kills on the backcountry.” When it gets wet, it lacks few insulating properties, and can lead to hypothermia. But I would like to propose the idea, that in certain hot and dry conditions, where there is no chance of precipitation, cotton can be just right. I originally bought these because I was looking for a cool pair of casual shorts for wine tasting, hanging out on the patio, you get the idea. But one very warm summer’s day, I had planned a long day hike in the Sierra Foothills near my home, and I decided to give these a try (the decision was also aided by the zipper blowing out on my nylon Arc’teryx shorts).

Read more: Mountain Hardwear J Tree Short review (1)

Active Short

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)

Hiking Short

Patagonia Stand Up Shorts 7"

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Sturdy 7-ounce organic cotton shorts build a nice bridge between casual wear and hiking/outdoorsy pursuits. They have a double fabric seat and generously-sized pockets front and back, metal zipper, belt loops. Highly abrasion-resistant, they last for years. On the downside, the fabric is heavy for people who want a lighter-weight pair of shorts, and they take a long time to dry.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfort
  • Durability

Reasons to Avoid

  • Dry time
  • Weight

INTRODUCTION Patagonia’s Stand Up Shorts have been around for a long time. I bought my first pair in the mid-1980s and have since worn out three pair; I currently have two other pair of these, both several years old. I’m reviewing the most recent pair, which are about a year old, so the specifications are current.  Front view. Note the wide leg openings—if you don’t like that, these aren’t your shorts.  Rear view shows belt loops, double fabric seat, and rear pockets.  BASIC DETAILS The men’s shorts come in waist sizes 28-40 (step up every 2 inches) and have a 7-inch hem; they’re made of organic 7-ounce cotton that is relatively heavy but fairly soft, even after repeated washing.

Read more: Patagonia Stand Up Shorts 7" review (1)

Top Hiking Skirt

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

user rating: 5 of 5 (4 reviews)

The Purple Rain Adventure Skirt has become one of my all-time favorite pieces of clothing for its functionality, versatility, comfort, and durability. What sets it apart from all other hiking skirts are the functional cargo pockets and a stretchy yoga-style waist band. It is the kind of garment you can eat, sleep, bathe, swim and walk thousands of miles in, never once having needed to take it off. This versatility makes it an ideal candidate for long-distance hiking and other endurance activities. It gets my highest honors by being a part of my ultralight equipment for multiple thru-hikes/section-hikes this year. It’s so good, I couldn’t resist buying a second one (even though the first still has many years left in it).

Reasons to Buy

  • Made in the USA by a fellow long-distance hiker
  • Yoga-style waistband = comfort and adaptability
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Facilitates easy movement
  • Multiple pockets perfect for carrying cell phones, maps, snacks, etc.
  • Made of functional, long-lasting materials

Reasons to Avoid

  • Limited colors and combinations
  • On its own, a skirt is not suitable for certain trail conditions

Hiking skirts: a brief background and intro (please scroll down for just the skirt  review): My interest in hiking skirts was first sparked by a Review Corps product I received for testing, the Sierra Designs Silicone Trail Skirt. Despite the skirt being a little too short and large at the waist, I really grew to like it. Here are some of the many benefits of hiking skirts for women (many apply to men too!): Ventilation is supreme. Pair with a set of merino undies for odor-free bliss. Freedom of movement…no restriction around the knees and no annoying swish/swish around the ankles, as commonly experienced in pants.

Read more: Purple Rain Adventure Skirt reviews (4)

Hiking Skirt / Tank/Sleeveless

Purple Rain Adventure Dress

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A Purple Rain Adventure Dress is a nearly perfect hiking garment, especially for hot, muggy, and shaded conditions such as those found on the Appalachian Trail. I wore mine continuously for my AT thru-hike. I prized it for its supreme ventilation, simplicity, functionality, durability, comfort, and quick-drying materials. The side-pockets were perfect for carrying my phone, snacks, toiletries, and a myriad of other things. I never thought I'd find a more comfortable piece of clothing than a Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, but the dress design is my new favorite.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent ventilation and breathability
  • Made of functional, lightweight, quick drying, long-lasting materials
  • Facilitates full-range and easy movement
  • No buttons, waistbands, or zippers to get in the way
  • Designed/made in the USA by a fellow long-distance hiker
  • Multiple pockets for carrying cell phones, maps, snacks, etc.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Tank design allows sun-exposure on the arms and neck
  • Might allow chaffing for some body types
  • Length of bottom hem a little short for my body type
  • Limited production as of this publication, but new dresses of a variety of colors and sizes are in the works

  The most classic of AT scenes atop McAfee Knob The Purple Rain Adventure Dress in Shenandoah National Park My Background & Experience with hiking skirts and dresses: In 2017, I began a series of adventures that would eventually lead to a career, of sorts, in thru-hiking. I started with several section hikes of the Appalachian Trail, as well as a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. These were my first trails wearing a Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, for which I published a review of my very positive experiences at the time.  Southern Terminus of the CDT, in my favorite Purple Rain Adventure Skirt (worn on the PCT, CDT, and AZT)  and a merino T-shirt.

Read more: Purple Rain Adventure Dress reviews (2)

Active Short

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)

More Shorts and Skirts

Trailspace reviewers have shared 112 reviews of 85 different shorts and skirts. Narrow your search and view more specific short/skirt recommendations in these categories:

Active Shorts

Hiking Shorts

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Hiking Skirts

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