Today we’re going to be diving into the wonderful world of hiking shorts. This is the article you never knew you needed, but once you read it, you’ll be glad you did. Hiking shorts are often overlooked in the outdoors community- primarily because they’re not as “sexy” as the latest shell jacket, hiking shoes, or backpacking gear. But they can make all the difference in making your hike an amazing, comfortable adventure or a distracting experience.
Having grown up in Colorado, I’ve been an avid hiker since I was old enough to walk. I’ve scaled more than 33 14,000 mountains across the United States and spend most of my weekends in the outdoors. Needless to say, I’ve gone through more hiking gear than I can count.
In this write-up, we’ll be looking at one of my favorite companies, Arc’teryx. By the end of the article, you’ll know what to look for in a pair of hiking shorts, my top recommendations, and a few alternatives to consider.
Let’s jump in!
Bottom Line Up Front
The bottom line here is that if you’re looking for a solid, all-around Arc’teryx hiking short, look no further than the Gamma Quick Dry Shorts 9”. These shorts are designed to be used in multi-day backpacking trips and have the durability, water resistance, and quick dry capabilities to withstand most adventures. They also look fairly stylish as well and can be worn outside of a hiking context without a problem.
Picks at a Glance
- Aptin Shorts – The absolute softest trail running shorts that will wick moisture and maximize breathability.
- Gamma Rock Shorts 12” – Hiking shorts that are built to be tough. These are abrasion resistant and sync well with rock climbing gear such as harnesses.
- Gamma Quick Dry Shorts 9” – The best all-around hiking shorts. They’ll keep you dry, maximize maneuverability, and hold up on long hikes.
- Norvan Short 7” – These are the best hiking shorts for high-impact activities where you’re sweating, running, or putting in work. They’re the closest Arc’teryx hiking shorts to athletic shorts.
- Eislen Cargo Short – The cargo pants are designed to be used in both urban and outdoor environments. This means they can hold up out in nature but also look stylish on the street.
- Sabrina Short Women’s – These are the most comfortable, lightweight shorts for women.
- Essent High-Rise Short 8″ Women’s – These are the most durable hiking shorts for women. They’re moisture-wicking and resistant to abrasion.
Things to Look for in Hiking Shorts
Let’s start by taking a look at what I normally look for in hiking shorts.
The first thing I look at when inspecting a new pair of hiking shorts is what type of hiking I’m going to be doing, specifically. If I’m going to be doing something more intensive like trail running, I’ll often look for a pair of shorts that’s lighter and less insulated.
However, if I’m looking to do some mountaineering or rock climbing where I’ll most likely be rubbing against sharp rocks, I’ll look for a pair of shorts that’s a bit more durable. Occasionally, I might be looking for something that’s in the middle—for example, a pair of cargo shorts that can be used in both urban and outdoor environments.
The next thing I look for in hiking shorts is the amount of breathability. This is especially important for hot and humid climates, where you don’t want sweat and perspiration to build up.
You’ll want to look specifically at the fabric being used to determine if it’s good for breathability or not. For example, some models of Arc’teryx hiking shorts have a special “four-way” stretch fabric that’s designed to be air permeable.
Abrasion might not be the most important component for everyone, especially if you’re a mindful hiker. But if you’re like me, you’re tripping and falling every two seconds.
Thus abrasion becomes a necessary thing for me to look for, especially if I’m paying a couple of hundred dollars for a pair of shorts. Again, you want to look specifically at the materials being used to determine how abrasive they are. I’ll also take a look at the reviews and see how well they have been holding up for other customers.
Fair Trade isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, but it’s definitely a bonus feature that I’ll consider if I’m trying to decide between a couple of pairs of shorts.
The Fair Trade certification essentially means that it was produced in a facility that’s focused on keeping the health of its workers in mind- i.e., it’s not a sweatshop. The vibes on Fair Trade shorts will definitely transmit into your daily life. Just knowing that the pants were designed with care in mind makes you feel better about your hike.
The final thing I like to look for in a pair of hiking shorts is its style. Again, this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for me, but it does help if they look stylish. Shorts are usually the least looked at the component of an outfit, so I like to keep mine bland in color. I’ll err on the side of black, white, or navy blue pants. Then I’ll use a brightly colored jacket, backpack, or hat as flair.
I do also like to look for what kind of pockets are on the hiking shorts. If at least one of the pockets has a zipper on it, that’s a major bonus for me. When you’re climbing up rocks and doing technical moves, it’s nice to have a place to put your phone or wallet where it’s not going to fall out.
Best Arc’terx Hiking Shorts
Now that you understand what I look for in a pair of hiking shorts let’s take a look at my top-ranked Arc’teryx hiking shorts. These shorts all match my buying criteria in different ways- some are more breathable than others, some tougher, and some simply look better from a style point of view. They are in no particular order.
The first pair of shorts I’d like to highlight is the Aptin Shorts. In short, these hiking shorts are a trail runner’s dream. Designed for maximum maneuverability, they have an easy stride and a gusseted crotch alongside a soft, flexible fabric.
In addition, these shorts are made out of the Fortius™ DW 1.0 double weave fabric, which helps maintain breathability while shedding moisture. My favorite part about these shorts is that they never seem to irritate me, even if they’re rubbing against me hard. The fabric is so soft.
The shorts come in four different colors- Black, Forage (Light Green,) Cinder (White,) and Cloud (Grey.)
- Extremely lightweight and breathable
- Made with the Fortius™ DW 1.0 double weave fabric for maximum maneuverability
- Sprayed with a DWR coat to wick moisture
- Aren’t very abrasion resistant- but this shouldn’t be much of a problem if you’re trail running. Unless you take a lot of breaks to sit on sharp rocks.
The next pair of Axc’teryx hiking shorts I’d like to highlight is the Gamma Rock Shorts 12”. These are technical climbing shorts that are designed with a Fortius softshell. One of my favorite parts about these shorts is that they’re literally designed to be used with climbing gear.
The waistband fits comfortably underneath a harness, and all the pockets have zippers to ensure nothing falls out on the way up. These shorts are also extremely durable- the Gamma brand means they have weather-resistant layers and are abrasion resistant for those tough spots on the ascent. Did I mention these shorts are fairly lightweight as well?
The Gamma Rock Shorts 12” come in four colors- Black, Forage (Light Green,) Cloud (Grey,) and Revel (Orange.)
- Extremely durable against sharp rocks and other textures
- Specifically designed to be used while climbing- they have zippered pockets, and the shorts fit well under a harness
- Stylish design that can be worn in an urban environment without standing out
- The snap button has been reported to wear off fairly quickly.
The third pair of Arc’teryx shorts I’d like to point out is the Gamma Quick Dry Shorts 9”. These shorts are similar to the Gamma Rock Shorts 12”, except instead focus on a more all-around outdoors approach instead of specifically rock climbing and mountaineering. They’re designed with a TerraTex™ nylon material that is wind resistant, water repellent, and quick drying.
This makes all the difference if you’re hiking through a rain storm and want your pants to dry quickly for your adventures the next day. They also can be used as swim trunks in a pinch. To put the cherry on top, these hiking shorts come with 5 zippered pockets- so you can keep all sorts of gear on your and secure.
The Gamma Quick Dry Shorts 9” come in 3 different colors- Canva (Light Brown,) Black, and Black Sapphire (Navy Blue.)
- Made out of quick-drying material, which is perfect for multi-day hikes where you may get a little wet.
- Designed with a TerraTex™ nylon material that’s wind and abrasion resistant
- Come with 5 zippered pockets to store all sorts of gear
- Belts can get in the way if you’re trying to use them to rock climb with a harness
The Norvan Short 7” are probably the most activity-intensive shorts on the Arc’teryx itinerary. These minimalist shorts are essentially athletic shorts designed for trail running, hikes, or intensive bike rides. They’re designed with
The Diem™ fabric, which is a 100% recycled polyester material that is breathable, dries fast, and is extremely comfortable. The shorts also have two back pockets, one of which is zippered. These are my go-to pants for any activity where I know I’m going to be sweating.
As a bonus, the shorts are Fair Trade certified. They come in 3 different colors- Vitality (Blue,) Black Sapphire (Navy Blue,) and Black.
- The specially designed Diem™ fabric helps keep these hiking shorts breathable and extremely comfortable
- Feature FC0 DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, which helps keep these water resistant
- Fair Trade certified and made out of 100% recycled polyester material
- They are and look like athletic shorts. Not exactly designed to look stylish outside of a “workout” context.
The last pair of shorts I want to highlight is the Eislen Cargo Short. These are designed to be “city” hiking shorts. This means they’re specifically designed to work in an urban context and can hold up if you decide to take a dip into the woods. They’re designed with the Fortius™ 1.0 double-weave, which means they’re comfortable, can repel water, and are decently abrasion-resistant.
I would say these are probably the most comfortable shorts on the list- they have velcro on the waistband and several protected pockets for your wallet, phone, and/or keys.
The Eislen Cargo Shorts come in 2 different colors- Midnight Black and Vitality (Blue.)
- Fortius™ 1.0 double-weave material is comfortable, water resistant, and abrasion resistant
- Most comfortable shorts that can be used in an outdoor context if needed
- Several protected pockets for storage of your belongings
- Ironically, these aren’t the most stylish shorts on this list- even though they’re designed to be used in a city context
The Sabrina Shorts are durable and lightweight hiking shorts that are built for maximum maneuverability. They are fitted with the Fortius DW 1.0 fabric, which is an extremely stretchy and comfy material, and make hiking a breeze. Another bonus of these shorts is that they shorts have two high pockets on the thighs.
The Sabrina Shorts only come in one color- black.
- Made with Fortius DW 1.0 fabric for maximum stretch and comfort
- Cool fit on the hot and humid days of hiking
- Built with two high pockets on the thighs to store your phone, wallet, or gear
- If you have larger hips, the fit might not be perfect
The Essent High-Rise Shorts have essentially shortened yoga paints made with top-tier materials. They’re durable and stretchy enough to get you through any adventure- no matter how difficult. Since they’re crafted with nylon braided with elastane, they’re extremely resistant to abrasion. They are also great at moisture wicking and contain two pockets to store your phone and/or wallet in.
- Yoga pants are made out of the toughest materials
- Highly breathable and comfortable for all-day adventures
- Contain two low-profile pockets to store your gear in
- The size runs a bit small, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about purchasing
Alternatives to Consider
Alright! Now let’s dive into a few similar alternatives to consider.
I always have liked the Fjallraven brand for outdoor clothing gear because they seem to be more “fashion conscious” than other brands. Instead of looking like basic outdoor gear, they actually add a bit of style to their design. The Absico Shorts are a great example of this. I love the buttons on the sides of them. In addition, these stylish hiking shorts are designed to hold up when you’re outdoors and are built with a strong and durable stretch fabric.
- Stylish outdoor hiking pants- a rarity in the industry
- Made with G-1000 stretch material, which is a recycled fabric designed to be good for the environment
- Extremely comfortable to wear
- Are on the pricier end for outdoor hiking shorts
The Marmot Juniper Springs 5” Shorts are probably the most fun shorts on this list. Why do hiking shorts always have to be so serious? These pants come with fun designs to choose from, like leaves, trees, or multi-colored patterns. The shorts are made from recycled nylon and are also coated with water-resistant material to help them dry quickly! I love these pants for low-key adventures with friends.
- With funky designs that stand out, you’ll always look stylish in the outdoors
- Made with recycled nylon and waterproof material so they can dry quickly
- On the cheaper end when it comes to high-end hiking short
- Aren’t the most flexible and abrasive- but that’s OK. I use these shorts mainly for outdoor hangouts.
Answer: Yes, I would say that Arc’teryx hiking shorts are worth the fairly high price point. The whole Arc’teryx team is composed of a bunch of outdoors specialists who know the outdoors like the back of their hands. Thus, they put the time and energy into designing gear that’s built to last. Arc’teryx also has a strong reputation in the outdoors community. They are used by professionals around the world.
Answer: Arc’teryx hiking shorts can be purchased online via the Arc’teryx website or with more mainstream retailers like Amazon or REI. I’d recommend checking out and trying on the shorts in person before ordering online, if possible. This will ensure you have the best fit. You can find Arc’teryx in more than 2,400 retail stores in the world, and over 150 of those stores are all Arc’teryx brands.
Answer: Arc’teryx’s warranty policy is fairly straightforward. For outdoor apparel, like hiking shorts, their Practical Product Lifespan covers the general length of the product’s life. This means that if something irregular happens before the product’s lifespan is up, you can apply for a free replacement on their website.
Best Arc’teryx Hiking Shorts: Conclusion
Overall, if you’re looking for your next pair of hiking shorts, the Gamma Quick Dry Shorts 9” would be my best recommendation. They’re an all-around solid pair of shorts that are abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, and quick drying. They also have five pockets to store your gear in and actually look stylish enough to be worn outside of the trail.
However, if you’re looking for a pair of hiking shorts for more lightweight and energy-intensive activities, I’d go with the Norvan Short 7”. These hiking shorts are designed specifically for trail running and have fantastic maneuverability and moisture-wicking capabilities.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with any of the Arc’eryx line of hiking shorts. They’re all made with impeccable quality and will stand the test of time for all your outdoor adventures. I hope this article has been helpful to you.
Have fun out there!
Nicholas is an adventure photographer who’s been traveling North America for the past four years shooting landscapes from Washington all the way down to El Salvador. His passion for photography and the outdoors started in Colorado, where he grew up exploring its vast mountain ranges. Today, he hopes to share his lifelong experience with the outdoors with others and hopes to inspire people to explore more.