11 BEST Hiking Shorts for Women in 2024 + Which to Avoid

Best Hiking Shorts for Women

Published on: September 14, 2023

Short on time? Our pick for the best hiking shorts for women is the CRZ YOGA Women’s Lightweight Mid-Rise Hiking Shorts.

Here are the best hiking shorts and walking shorts for women to prep your closet for endless hiking adventures.

My favorite part of going on hikes is taking in the surrounding scenery.

I don’t want to think about achy feet, sweat, or thigh chafing… all of which I unfortunately have experienced on backpacking trips.  

The best cure for those woes is a good pair of hiking shorts. I’m talking about an elastic waist, stretchy fabric, sun protection, zippered pockets, and a wide waistband…the list of features you can look for goes on.

I started by shopping for traditional hiking shorts, like the kind you’ll see in the REI Co-op shop. 

Slowly, I learned that sometimes alternative shorts work just as well, if not better. Alternative shorts are usually more versatile, too. 

They’re great for hiking and other activities like racing, playing sports, or just running errands. 

Let’s look over some of the best hiking shorts so you can pick a pair best suited to your aesthetics and needs. 

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

Best Hiking Shorts for Women

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations

CRZ YOGA Women’s Lightweight Mid-Rise Hiking Shorts

Most Comfortable Hiking Shorts

CRZ YOGA Women's Hiking Shorts

Pockets: 3
Inseam: 4 inches
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 92% Polyamide, 8% Elastane
Water Resistance: Quick dry/Water resistant

We recently found the CRZ YOGA Women’s Lightweight Mid-Rise Hiking Shorts from Amazon. 

After three months of testing them, we love them.

These shorts stand out because they’re so comfortable, smooth, and sleek. 

Plus, the CRZ Yoga shorts hit the sweet spot when it comes to length: not too long, not too short (they have a 4-inch inseam, for reference).  

The ripstop fabric also makes these abrasion-resistant shorts – aka, durable. 

The two main pockets are zippered, so you don’t have to think twice about anything falling out. There’s an additional smaller side pocket that’s open for easier access.

There’s also an open net pocket on the backside, perfect for storing a sun shirt until you need it. I wear one often when hiking because I burn easily and need all the sun protection I can get. 

They come in an array of beautiful, toned-down colors like mountain green and chestnut purple. 

A bonus is that they don’t look strictly like traditional hiking shorts. They’re easy to use for everyday wear. 

Because they’re so comfortable (just look at that wide elastic waistband), you may find yourself wearing them when a hike isn’t on the agenda.

Mimi wearing her CRZ Yoga shorts on a sunset hike in Berkeley.

PROS

  • Affordable 
  • Comfortable
  • Multi-functional
  • Lots of mobility

CONS

  • Relatively small pockets

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Eddie Bauer Women’s Pro Guide Shorts

Best Women’s Hiking Shorts with Pockets

Eddie Bauer Women's Pro Guide Shorts

Pockets: 4
Inseam: 7 inches
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: Nylon, Spandex
Water Resistance: Water-repellent

The Eddie Bauer Women’s Pro Guide Shorts are a well-known hiking short with a traditional hiking short design. 

With a traditional look come traditional features. These durable, water-repellent shorts have a mid-rise waistband and clean stitching. 

The style of Eddi Bauer shorts hugs your body. But they’re made of Eddie Bauer’s Flexion performance stretch fabric. 

Stretch woven fabric ensures the shorts move with you and don’t hinder your mobility.

Plus, their fabric offers sun protection and contains a water-repellent finish. 

Unlike the CRZ Yoga shorts, the mid-rise waistband fastens with a standard button.

The button and belt loops offer a professional look that I like. However, I do find thick elastic waistbands more comfortable.

Lastly, not only do these shorts have thigh pockets, but they have two zipper pockets.

If you prefer that traditional hiking short look, this pair is for you.

PROS

  • Zippered pockets
  • Multiple color options
  • Durable and protective fabric

CONS

  • Traditional hiking short look
  • Waistband could be more comfortable

CHECK PRICE ON:

Columbia Sandy River Cargo Short

Best Budget Hiking Shorts

Columbia Sandy River Cargo Short

Pockets: 4
Inseam: n/a
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 100% Nylon
Water Resistance: Slightly

Cargo shorts get a bad wrap for not being fashionable. But Columbia is challenging that connotation – and succeeding.

The Columbia Sandy River Cargo Short walks the line between your hiking wardrobe and your regular wardrobe. 

As far as cargo shorts go, I find these to be on the more fashionable side of the spectrum. 

They remind me of a pair of paper-bag-style linen shorts I have. 

I’m also fond of the relatively deep pockets. They aren’t zipper pockets, but they are bigger than many other options.  

And when you do need zipper security, there’s a horizontal zippered pocket on either leg.

The shorts come with an elastic waistband and a hip belt. This belt can help adjust the tightness of the waist.

If you like the look of modernized cargo shorts, these are an excellent choice at a budget-friendly price.

PROS

  • Affordable 
  • UV ray protection fabric
  • Elastic waist

CONS

  • Not completely water-resistant

CHECK PRICE ON:

Columbia Women’s Backcast Water Short

Best Quick-Dry Hiking Shorts

Columbia Women's Backcast Water Short

Pockets: 1
Inseam: 5 inches
Waist length: Standard
Materials: 100% Nylon
Water Resistance: Quick drying

The Columbia Women’s Backcast Water Short is like a simplified version of the Sandy River cargo shorts. 

When I look at these shorts, I think, “Easy, breezy.” They’re not too long, super lightweight (made from 100% Nylon), and handle water really well.

These shorts don’t have much pocket space, so they’re best for casual hiking where you don’t need to bring too much or take a hiking backpack.

Because they’re quick drying, they’re great for water sports or to wear with a bathing suit. Grab a pair of these if you’re hiking somewhere that will end in a swim!

PROS

  • UV ray protection fabric
  • Quick drying
  • Simple design

CONS

  • One small pocket with a zipper

CHECK PRICE ON:

Patagonia Fleetwith Skort

Most Stylish Hiking Shorts

Patagonia Fleetwith Skort

Pockets: 3
Inseam: 4 inches
Waist length: Drawcord to customize the fit
Materials: Polyester/Spandex blend
Water Resistance: Slightly

Skorts – the best thing about wearing shorts and a skirt. 

I have a friend who rocks skorts often. Every time I see her in one, I think, “Why don’t I wear skorts more?” 

That’s why I wanted to include the Patagonia Fleetwith Skort in this list. They’re an option for anyone wanting something a bit different from the traditional, athletic hiking shorts look.

This skort has two main pockets to place relatively small items in and a zip pocket within the right front pocket. 

The zip pocket is small, best for things like a car key or driver’s license, which you need to keep absolutely secure. 

My favorite feature of the Patagonia Fleetwith skort is the stretchy waistband. The inner shorts are made of polyester and spandex, making them quite stretchy as well. 

I’m always worried that undershorts like this will ride up. I can’t speak for everyone’s body type, so I read tons of reviews. 

People from small to medium tend to have fewer issues with the shorts riding up – which, in my experience, is true across brands. These have a good reputation and seem to work for most people who wear larger sizes.

Comfortable, stylish, and still offer mobility. Plus, we love to see Patagonia using recycled materials and making this skort with fair trade-certified practices.

PROS

  • Stylish
  • Stretchy
  • Comfortable

CONS

  • Only three color options

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BALEAF Women’s Athletic Long-Running Shorts

Best High-Waisted Hiking Shorts

BALEAF Women's Athletic Long-Running Shorts

Pockets: 3
Inseam: 7 inches
Waist length: High waist
Materials: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex (Waist: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex)
Water Resistance: Quick dry

If you’re seeking a high-waisted hiking short, you probably like to feel a bit more covered. At least, that’s how I am!

The BALEAF Women’s Athletic Long Running Shorts have a high and wide waistband. It’s so important that high-rise shorts have a comfortable waistband and the width really helps with that. 

Combined with a seven-inch inseam, these shorts are a bit longer than others on this list. 

They’re not so long that they become knee-length hiking shorts, but not so short that they’re too revealing. 

These may be some of the best hiking shorts for women over 50 or anyone who prefers a more conservative option.

Length aside, you’ll still find really great hiking short features like quick dry material and a back zipper pocket at a budget-friendly price.

PROS

  • Long shorts
  • Drawstring, comfy, high waistband
  • Stretchy material
  • Quick dry

CONS

  • Only one zippered pocket

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REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts

Best Women’s Hiking Shorts for Hot Weather

REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts

Pockets: 1
Inseam: 4.5 inches
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 86% Recycled polyester, 14% Spandex
Water Resistance: Moisture-wicking, Quick drying

REI co-op is always at the top of my list when I’m shopping for outdoor clothing. 

Check out the REI Co-op Active Pursuits if you want a lightweight hiking short for hot summer hikes.

REI makes these shorts from recycled materials, but that doesn’t stop them from providing UV protection. 

The material is a four-way stretch, which makes them comfortable to wear and allows the shorts to move easily. More movement = more airflow. 

They have a mid-rise waist with a generous elastic waistband and ventilation holes near the (single) zipper pocket.

There’s a four-and-a-half-inch inseam, which is ever-so-slightly shorter than the typical five-inch inseam.

The REI co-op’s goal in creating their own clothing line is to get people outdoors. These shorts will do just that on hot days!

PROS

  • UPF Fabric
  • Recycled Materials
  • Moisture wicking and quick dry
  • Breathable

CONS

  • Only one pocket

PrAna Halle Short II

Most Versatile Hiking Shorts

PrAna Halle Short II

Pockets: 5
Inseam: 5 or 7 inches
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 95% Recycled nylon, 5% Elastane
Water Resistance: Moisture-wicking

We’ve talked about PrAna before, specifically in our best travel pants article, where we discussed their full-length Halle pants. 

Good news: one of my favorite travel pants comes in a shorts style! As you’ll see with the Halle Short II, these are great for the travel-hiking world. 

They have the classic look of women’s Bermuda hiking shorts, with near knee-length hems that are loose around the thigh and dress up or down. 

The design of the shorts features UV ray protective fabric and vents on each hem to increase mobility and breathability.  

The belt loops are helpful for hiking and you can accessorize the shorts with a fashionable belt if you plan to wear these elsewhere!  

If I could change one thing about these shorts, it’d be the button closure of the two rear pockets. I find myself taking breaks on my hikes often. Sitting to rest with these buttons wouldn’t be as appealing as a sleek zippered back pocket.

P.S. If you’re new to PrAna as a brand, you should know they put a lot into their sustainability efforts. This pair of hiking shorts in particular, uses recycled nylon and fair trade manufacturing processes.

PROS

  • UV protection fabric
  • Moisture wicking
  • Pockets
  • Quality material
  • Eco-friendly practices

CONS

  • Button closure for rear pockets
  • A bit less fashionable, but very classic

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On Running Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts for Trail Running

On Running Shorts

Pockets: 1
Inseam: n/a
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 87% Polyamide, 13% Elastane (Inner brief: 65% recycled Polyamide, 35% Elastane)
Water Resistance: n/a

If you’re planning on hiking, there’s a chance you may have a trail run in mind. If that’s the case, choose the On Running Shorts

You may recognize this brand’s name because of its signature On Cloud Sneakers, which are very popular for their quality and performance as a running shoe. 

And hey, even if you aren’t planning on running, On Running shorts have a lot of refreshing features for hikers. 

These ultra-lightweight running shorts have breathable, four-way stretch fabric.

The inner tight is supportive and covers everything you want to be covered. The looser outer material moves freely with each stride.  

I particularly love the beautiful wide waistband. In combination with the simplicity of the shorts’ design, I find they come across as very elegant.

The downside is that there’s only one zippered pocket – not a huge problem for running shorts, but not having enough pockets could be something to consider if you aren’t bringing a hiking fanny pack or backpack to carry your belongings.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Good for running or other sports
  • Roomy fit
  • Simple, modern design

CONS

  • Only one pocket

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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short

Best Hiking Shorts for Plus-Sized Women

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short

Pockets: 4
Inseam: 5 inches (9 inches for plus-sized style)
Waist length: Standard
Materials: 90-Denier stretch-woven ripstop, 86% Nylon (46% recycled), 14% Spandex
Water Resistance: Quick drying

If you’re looking for the best women’s hiking shorts for big thighs or a plus-size waist, a great example is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short.  

They’re made with award-winning Ferrosi fabric. Known as ‘soft shell’ fabric, nylon ripstop fabric is a combination of spandex and denier stretch material.

This kind of material is very protective, so the shorts are abrasion-resistant.  

You can choose between the standard style with a five-inch inseam or their plus size style, which offers a nine-inch inseam. 

Additionally, in terms of fit, OR Ferrosi shorts have a partial hip belt. 

The belt doesn’t go around the entire flat waistband. It’s just there to make minor fit adjustments as needed.

These are marketed as multi-sport adventure shorts, not only hiking. 

Plus, we love to hear that they’re a brand interested in sustainability. 

Make donations and utilize renewable energy resources for clothing production. You can read more about their sustainability efforts on their website.

PROS

  • Regular and plus sizes
  • Quality fabric
  • Eco-friendly brand

CONS

  • Not the most stylish

CHECK STANDARD SIZE OPTIONS ON:

CHECK PLUS SIZE OPTIONS ON:

Smartwool Women’s Hike Short

Best Winter Hiking Shorts

Smartwool Women's Hike Short

Pockets: 5
Inseam: ~3 inches
Waist length: Mid-rise
Materials: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane (Trim: 56% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester)
Water Resistance: Quick dry

Talking about winter shorts might sound counterintuitive. They’re not words that go together often. 

However, dressing for a winter hike can be tricky on sunny California days. If you prefer shorts to pants in a cooler temperature, turn to the Smartwool Women’s Hike Short.

Merino wool is a wonder because it can be helpful in both cool and warm climates. 

The wool regulates your temperature naturally. Wool retains heat in winter but is breathable, keeping you cool in summer.

Letting sweat evaporate helps with managing heat. As the moisture evaporates, it draws heat away in the summer. Meanwhile, wearing moisture-wicking material in winter prevents sweat from chilling on your body. 

While these shorts are lightweight, keep in mind that merino wool isn’t an abrasion-resistant fabric.

Just consider the type of trail you’re heading on before wearing them! An open, unobstructed trail may be better.

Curious about wool? Check out our articles on the best wool shoes and Allbirds Wool Loungers.

PROS

  • Comfortable 
  • Temperature regulating
  • Good in both seasons

CONS

  • Not the most durable on this list

CHECK PRICE ON:

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Shorts

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Shorts
Mimi in her CRZ yoga shorts, posing for a picture on a rock during a hike.
Mimi hiking in her CRZ Yoga shorts and Hoka Clifton 9 sneakers.

Comfort

A relatively long list of factors goes into finding the best hiking shorts. 

For me, mobility and comfort are the top two characteristics of good hiking shorts. When I get dressed for a hike, I think about what I can wear to feel comfortable and free. 

Materials

Along those lines, pay attention to materials. For example, cargo shorts differ from nylon shorts. 

I look for shorts that utilize lightweight and breathable materials. These may be materials like elastane, polyamide, or merino wool. Quick dry or water-repellent shorts are a plus.

Length

The length of your shorts may affect how comfortable you feel. 

There’s a variety of hiking shorts available. Some are on the short and loose side; others are longer and fitted.

Choose shorts that expose the right amount of skin for your personal preference. 

Pockets

Pockets are important to consider based on the length of hike you’re going on or other gear you bring. 

If you’re bringing a backpack, maybe pockets are less important. On the flip side, maybe you prefer ample pocket space in your shorts to carry everything. 

Either way, stowing my phone in my backpack makes it hard to take pictures. I like plenty of pockets for easy access.

Price

Of course, the price will play a part in which hiking shorts you end up choosing. How much you want to spend may impact the quality or style of the shorts you pick. 

Usage

Lastly, consider usage. Do you want a pair of hiking shorts you pull out only when you hit the trail or something you can use for other physical or daily activities? 

FAQs About Hiking Shorts

FAQs About Hiking Shorts: Mimi at the lookout point of a hike along the ocean.
Mimi wearing her hiking shorts and Merrell Moab 3 boots on an ocean-side hike.

What shorts should you wear hiking?

Choose a pair of hiking shorts fitted to your style and hiking habits. 

The shorts you pick for a long hike in the middle of summer may be different than the shorts you’d want for a long hike in the autumn. Then again, depending on where you live, the climate may not change as much throughout the year. 

If you’re shopping for hiking shorts instead of hiking pants, you’re most likely planning an adventure in a relatively warm climate. 

Is it a good idea to hike in shorts?

Yes! If the circumstances of your hike allow for it, shorts offer great comfort and breathability. 

Shorts are also a great item to bring on hikes or backpacking trips. They’re easy to take on and off and don’t use much room if you decide to throw a pair in, just in case.

Should I wear pants or shorts for hiking in the summer?

My first inclination (and probably yours) would be that it’s better to choose shorts to stay caool. That’s what this article focuses on, after all. 

But that’s not to say shorts are always better than hiking pants in the summer. 

Benefits to full-length pants include protection from the sun, bugs, and poky plants. 

I recommend researching the specific hike you’re planning and what you may encounter on the trail. 

Ultimately, choose something you’re comfortable in. And regardless of which style you choose, still keep an eye out for features that are important to you. 

Are khaki shorts good for hiking?

If you’re referencing the color, khaki is fine. But traditional khaki material isn’t always breathable enough for hiking comfortably.

If you’re hiking long distances in a cooler climate, maybe khaki material will work. 

Khaki is comprised of cotton and twill, making it a heavier-duty fabric. You’ll see in the last question why this type of fabric isn’t the best choice for a hiking short. 

Is it better to hike in shorts or leggings?

This is completely a personal preference! Like pants, leggings offer more protection. Because they cover more of your leg, they’re often warmer too. 

Looking for more recommendations? Read my other article on the best hiking leggings.

Can I wear gym shorts for hiking?

You can! Consider the actions that hiking entails. Maybe you already have a pair of gym shorts you love and feel great in. If that’s the case, wear them.

I have gym shorts that are great for hiking and others that are good for weight lifting but chafe when I walk too much in them.

Just remember that gym shorts aren’t made for hiking – so you may be missing out on features like zip pockets and water-resistant material. 

Which hiking shorts should I avoid?

I would avoid a pair of cotton hiking shorts like these. Cotton is just too thick – your shorts will get hot and sweaty. More importantly, cotton will retain that sweat. 

Opting for shortw made of lightweight fabric will serve you much better for your hiking adventures. 

Additionally, avoid anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. For me, that may be a pair of shorts that are too revealing. 

The Patagonia Baggies Shorts are generally considered one of the best lightweight hiking shorts. I only like the flared design with a pair of spandex shorts underneath for privacy. 

I don’t need anyone looking up my shorts if I’m hiking to a climbing spot.

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Hiking Shorts for Women

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Hiking Shorts for Women

There are so many good options when it comes to outdoorsy shorts. But when it comes down to it, the CRZ YOGA Women’s Lightweight Mid-Rise Hiking Shorts are our team favorite. 

We just love that the CRZ Yoga shorts combine so many features we look for in hiking clothes. And they don’t compromise on versatile style. 

They’re lightweight, breathable, a suitable length, durable, comfortable, and cute. 

CRZ Yoga shorts have a clean design like On Running shorts but at a much lower price. We love coming across affordable hiking shorts like these. 

Meanwhile, the traditional style of Eddie Bauer and Outdoor Research shorts are affordable, but they have a clear “for the trail” look and aren’t as versatile as the CRZ shorts.

Having an easily available and budget-friendly pair of shorts that work on the trails, in the gym, and at the grocery store is always a win in my book. 

I hope my guide helped you prepare for your next outdoor adventure and that one of the styles is calling your name. Enjoy, and happy hiking!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monroe Dziersk smiling as she poses high up above the skyline

Monroe Dziersk

Monroe Dziersk is a twenty-something American who has lived in the USA, Italy, and Czechia. A self-proclaimed Europhile, she has a passion for international education, traveling, and becoming a global citizen, having visited more than twenty countries. You can often find her accompanied by a good book and her calico cat.


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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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