What are the best hiking shorts for women? In this article, we share our favorite women’s hiking shorts to tackle the trail. Your comfort and mobility on the trail can have a big impact on your enjoyment.
Our recommendations on the best hiking shorts for women are based on days on end trying out different shorts in the mountains. The goal was to find a selection of shorts that keep us cool and can handle the trail elements like a boss.
A pair of shorts for should be able to handle a warm summer day whether that’s running through a rainstorm, climbing over a boulder, or pushing up a hill. No need for an endless amount of cargo pockets, give us something comfortable that will handle the dirt, sand, water, and rock.
The Best Hiking Shorts For Women
1.) The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 ($40)
- Material: 95% nylon / 5% elastane
- Belt: Yes
- Pros: Comfortable, Cut, Value, Style,
- Cons: Colors, Moisture Management, Short Inseam
These lightweight hiking shorts for women are some of the most comfortable on the trail. A material that feels comfortable, light, flexible, and tough enough makes for shorts that move well with your body. Stitching throughout the hiking shorts feels durable and should hold up to long thru-hikes.
Notable features on The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Shorts are the wide soft waistband, drawstring cord, and multiple pockets including a zippered one. Style is also of great as they carry an outdoor feel yet are casual enough to wear around town or the bar.
They are a low-mid waist cut and have a short inseam which may be too little for certain hikers. It’s also worth noting the fabric tends to hold moisture longer than other shorts on this list. We’d also love to have a few more interesting colors other than beige and heather grey. Overall, we love these shorts and think they’re some of the best on the market.
2.) Topo Designs River Shorts ($79)
- Material: 100% 2-Way Nylon
- Belt: Yes
- Pros: Quick Drying, Mobility, Pockets, Belt, Color Options, Flattering Cut
- Cons: Tough Material is Slightly Coarse, Price
We both own a pair of shorts from Topo Designs and they’re our go-to shorts in the summer. Not only are they lightweight, but they double as a bathing suit if you feel like taking a dip in a lake or need to cross a river. Awesome shorts if you like to canoe, raft, or kayak in addition to hiking. The color options from Topo Designs are great with the “Glacier” blue or “Mustard” yellow.
They are high waisted shorts with a loose fit that feel like you’re not wearing anything but provide enough coverage that you’re not flashing anyone. Material is not super stretchy which allows them to hold their shape and resist wrinkles.
A built-in rope belt also keeps the hiking short secure on your hips and remains comfortable underneath a backpack. A zippered pocket in the back and two deep front pockets also are helpful for stashing quick needs like chapstick, map, or phone. The biggest drawbacks come in regards to the high price tag for shorts and the slightly coarse material.
3.) Coalatree Trailhead Hiking Shorts
- Material: 88% nylon /12% spandex
- Belt: Yes, drawstring
- Pros: Comfort, Versatility, Quick Dry, Mobility
- Cons: Loose Cut, Material May Tire Over Time
These are an awesome pair of hiking shorts for women and one of our top picks. Coalatree creates eco-focused outdoor apparel that we’re learning to love. As far as comfort these are the best on this list and the only drawback is the price. They’re made out of a lightweight material that is a blend of Bluesign Nylon and spandex.
They’re super comfortable and the combination of nylon and spandex allows for them to stretch in any way that you can move. The drawstring makes for an easy adjustment and the spandex does a good job of hugging your hips.
The simple style makes them well suited for casual use and they feel just as comfortable off the trail as they do on the trail. This wide range of use makes them a particular favorite. It also comes with the slight drawback of fewer pockets, loose material, and short inseam.
4.) Columbia Pilsner Peak Cargo Shorts ($55)
- Material: 56% polyester / 44% nylon
- Belt: Yes, drawstring
- Pros: Quick Drying, Super Comfortable, Mobility, Pockets, Drawstring, Cut
- Cons: Drawstring, Style, Polyester Durability,
Columbia’s Pilsner Peak Cargo shorts are lightweight hiking shorts for women that comfortable and provide great value. The material that feels comfortable, light, flexible, and tough similar to The North Face Aphrodite Shorts. However, it includes notable amounts of polyester for a softer feel that is less durable but dries faster.
Notable features on s are the wide soft waistband, drawstring cord, and a plethora of pockets. The style lends more towards outdoor and dated like most products by Columbia. However, that also means you get great value as they’re always competitively priced on top of regular sales.
They are a low-mid waist cut and have a medium inseam which provides plenty of coverage. They come with a built-in drawstring that is durable, but it tends to knot so we prefer belts. Altogether it’s great hiking short for an a reasonable price.
5.) prAna Revenna Shorts ($69)
- Material: 95% nylon / 5% spandex
- Belt: Yes, drawstring
- Pros: Comfort, Style, Stretch, Mobility
- Cons: Drawstring, Wrinkles, Slow to Dry
We love the bottoms by prAna and they make some of our favorite hiking pants for women. The Revenna shorts from the company deliver plenty of comfort and mobility with the classic styled short.
It comes down to comfortable material that’s great at stretching and moving with your body. I think they make tremendous hiking shorts for outdoor professionals or anyone who wants a more professional short. They’re lightweight and flexible without the baggy cut you find in most outdoor shorts.
The biggest complaint is with the drawstring which is located inside the waistband. It’s not very effective at holding the shorts and the location inside the waistband by default makes it difficult to tie. However, it is why the pants have a more classic style.
6.) Outdoor Research Ferossi Hiking Shorts ($70)
- Material: 86% nylon / 14% spandex
- Belt: Yes, drawstring
- Pros: Super Lightweight, Comfort, Mobility, Stretch, Durable
- Cons: Water, Long Cut
Outdoor Research Ferossi Shorts are an awesome pair of lightweight shorts that are super comfortable. They’re durable hiking shorts with awesome stretch and mobility. Fit is great as they deliver pants that a slim cut that’s roomy enough for a nice casual look.
Similar to the Ferossi hiking pants they are an awesome pair of shorts. We love them for the material used in construction as it’s amazingly lightweight but feels close to a softshell with the level of protection. These shorts would be great for climbers that need a bit of protection with shorts that will not inhibit movement or reveal too much.
They don’t feel at home in the water as the River Shorts above, but they do handle water super well. A quick-dry and solid water resistance. The longer cut also means they aren’t quite as free as some of the other shorts here, but you do get the added protection.
7.) Arc’teryx Sabria ($99)
- Material: 87% nylon / 13% elastane
- Belt: No
- Pros: Great Material, Slim Cut, Technical, Pockets, Mobility, Comfort
- Cons: Price, Slim Fit
Rounding out our list are these hiking shorts from Arc’teryx. They’re technically the best shorts on this list, but like most things from Arc’teryx they come with a high price tag. It’s easier to justify the higher price tags on items like rain jackets or down jackets so the shorts are slightly questionable. However, a hundred dollars is not crazy when you really only need one or two staples in your hiking wardrobe.
The minimal design feels casual and technical. We love the slimline pockets with zippers that give the practicality of cargo shorts without the ugly style. It also pushes the pockets off the upper thighs where it can be burdensome to store stuff when you’re hiking up a hill.
The great water resistance and mid thigh cut make them extremely versatile. It’s more a three-season short when you combine with hiking leggings or thermals. The fit is exceptional and once on they feel like a glove. I just wish these shorts were a little more affordable.
What makes the best hiking shorts for women?
There are several key elements that any pair of the best hiking pants for women should check off. We need hiking shorts that can check off just about every box which is why the majority of the pants on this list are technical shorts designed for the outdoors.
Comfort & Mobility
Say whatever you want about hiking shorts, but if they’re not comfortable then they are not great for hiking. A pair of hiking shorts need to be worn comfortably for days on end. They could be the most durable pants in the world, but if they feel like an art canvas I’m probably not going to want to hike for eight hours in them.
We also spend a lot of time moving uphill making big strides, stepping over logs, under logs, over rocks, through the brush, and even scrambling. Movement and mobility are super important when it comes to hiking shorts. If the pants feel restrictive it’s probably one of the biggest negatives.
This follows in line with comfort and mobility, but if a pair of shorts are heavy and restricting than they’ll affect their performance on the trail. It also plays an important role in multi-day hikes if you like to carry a pair of shorts and hiking pants when every ounce in your backpack counts. This is why none of these are those old clunky cargo shorts.
This what keeps pants fresh for multiple wears in warm weather. Cotton is terrible at holding up long term for multiple days without a wash. Since you aren’t guaranteed to be washing your clothes every day, nor should you, we look for pants that have good antimicrobial properties.
These pants are meant for everyday hiking so they should act accordingly. By the time I’m done with a pair of pants, they will have seen everything that can be thrown at them. Great hiking pants for women stand up against, movement, dirt, sand, mud, and still keep me cool.
The material should be durable, wrinkle-resistant, and breathable. Most companies seem to opt for nylon or weird fabric blends. This also plays an important role in the way shorts handle water. When we opt for a pair of shorts it’s summertime and I’m likely going to get wet. That means an ideal pair of hiking shorts should feel comfortable wading through a river, down a stream in a raft, or taking a dip in the lake.
We love the use of pockets, belts, and paneling to allow for great functionality while hiking. It also highlights one of our biggest complaints about some women’s hiking shorts, those dumb little pockets that can even hold a simple pocket knife. We’re spending time on the trail no one cares about the slight line created from a pocket.
While this doesn’t have the biggest impact on performance on the trail you still want a decent looking pair of shorts. It means you aren’t embarrassed by those trail photos or can run around town once you’re done hiking.
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