By and large, most of us prefer to indulge in our wanderlust when the weather is warmer. Hiking in from April through to October can get quite tasty when the wind drops and the sun shines.
A majorly effective way to make summer hikes more pleasant is to wear shorts rather than long trousers. To help give you some direction, we've got this useful buyer's guide that also includes the best walking shorts currently available.
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What to look for in walking shorts
Length: Longer length shorts provide your thighs with a little more protection but may not be as agile for scrambling. Short shorts are less restrictive, but the look isn’t to everybody’s tastes!
Fit: If the waist is elasticated then the fit will be more forgiving. If not it’s more important that the size is spot-on. Also consider whether you prefer baggier, more ventilated legs, or a slimmer, more athletic fit.
Pockets: Do you just need a small pocket in which to keep change for an ice cream, or cavernous pouches for a map and guidebook? Large cargo pockets will add weight to shorts but may provide useful storage.
Stretch: Shorts with a little stretch in the material will generally be more comfortable, particularly for more athletic routes that involve scrambling or clambering. Slimmer fitting shorts will need to offer a good amount of stretch to avoid feeling restrictive.
Fabric: In addition to stretch, the fabric will determine how quick drying, how UV protective and, if they’ve been given a treatment, how repellent to insects the shorts are. Tougher fabric is better suited to rough, rocky routes, whereas lighter materials may offer more comfort for general walking.
The best walking shorts
Fit 5/5 | Features 3/5 | Construction 4/5 | Value 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 3/5
Rab's Momentum shorts are fantastic for myriad outdoor adventures. They're simple and comfortable, featuring a simple elasticated waist, fast-drying and reasonably stretchy fabric, which is very breathable.
They even feature a PFC-free DWR coating for a bit of weather resistance. There are two hand pockets and a zipped one in the rear.
Weight 162g (size 32) | Sizes men's 28-38, women's 8-16 | Material 85% 130gsm Matrix nylon; 15% elastane | Sustainability PFC-free DWR; Rab a Fear Wear Foundation member and certified climate neutral
Jack Wolfskin Activate Track Shorts
Fit 4/5 | Features 3/5 | Construction 4/5 | Value 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 4/5
The Activate Track Shorts are a great pair of lightweight softshell shorts for most circumstances. They're a marginally heavier than the Rab Momentum shorts but you do get excellent wind resistance a bit of moisture resistance too.
Comfort and fit are excellent, and we also applaud the sustainability efforts here.
Weight 180g (women's 36) | Sizes men's 46-58, women's 34-46 | Material 100% Flexshield polyester | Sustainability PFC-free, contains recycled fabric; bluesign approved and Green Button certified
Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
Best for fast hiking and trail running
Fit 4/5 | Features 5/5 | Construction 4/5 | Value 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 4/5
These feature-packed shorts are a joy to wear in warm weather and on hikes where things are set at a speedy pace. These have a waistband that uses a drawcord and a very breathable recycled fabric with odour resistant HeiQ Pure treatment.
Like the Rab Momentum shorts, these also have a DWR coating for light resistance to moisture. All three pockets are zipped so you can safely stow valuable items without fear they'll jiggle out.
Weight 181g | Sizes men's XS-XL, women's XS-XL | Material body 91% recycled polyester, 9% elastane; liner 100% recycled polyester with miDori bioSoft and HeiQ Pure treatments | Sustainability Recycled polyester; Fair Trade Certified sewn and fabric bluesign approved
Arc'teryx Oriel Short 6
Best next-to-skin shorts
Fit 4/5 | Features 3/5 | Construction 5/5 | Value 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 2/5
These are excellent multi-purpose shorts that can cope with everyday use, in addition to walks and climbing. The nylon-elastane fabric has very good resistance to abrasion. They're also very light, breathable, and stretchy.
They even have pockets than are positioned so you can use them if wearing a harness.
Weight 120g | Sizes men's n/a, women's XS-XL | Material nylon and elastane | Sustainability Fair Trade Certified
Craghoppers NosiLife Cargo II Shorts
Best cargo shorts
Fit 4/5 | Features 5/5 | Construction 4/5 | Value 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 2/5
With an integral NosiLife insect repellent and odour-resistant treatment, these shorts are great for travel and trekking. They offer excellent moisture control, easy-wash and quick-dry convenience, and nine pockets, including a zip’n’clip security and mobile phone pocket.
Weight 230g | Sizes men's 30-42, women's n/a | Material main, polyamide; trim, polyester | Sustainability Contains recycled material
Fit 4/5 | Features 4/5 | Construction 5/5 | Value 3/5 | Performance 4/5 | Sustainability 2/5
These durable trekking shorts reinforced with G-1000 fabric boast a waist higher at the back to sit comfortably under a pack and zipped hand pockets (there are five pockets in total) don’t let contents spill out when you sit. The combination of fabrics also offers superb freedom of movement. However, they are considerably heavier than the other options here.
Weight 316g | Sizes men's 44-60, women's 34-48 | Material 63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane; G-1000 65% polyester, 35% cotton | Sustainability PFC-free DWR coating