The Best Trail Shorts To Wear on a Hike
Active lifestyles are spreading across the globe, and many incorporate outdoor activities on a frequent basis, including hiking.
Hiking is a fantastic fitness activity, even for those who aren’t big on exercise. The opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while you work out is the biggest draw, but it’s also a social activity for many since hiking is a chance to chat and catch up with your friends or family.
Whether you’re tackling tough trails through a mountain range or taking an easy hike around the coast, there are some universal needs your hiking clothes need to meet.
Comfort is paramount, and performance qualities are essential, too. That means quick-drying materials, high functionality, front pockets and side pockets, freedom of movement, ultralight materials, stretchy feel, and breathability.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the best shorts for hiking. Often called trail shorts, these styles are built for tests of endurance, ready to handle the elements and the strain of exercise with utmost quality.
What Is a Trail Short?
The idea of a trail short is one that is rather loosely defined. Trail shorts might mean different things to different people, but the core idea is always the same: trail shorts are designed to handle the challenges of going off the beaten path, whether for running or hiking with a heavy backpack slung over your shoulders.
Trail Shorts Should Keep You Cool
Some of the greatest challenges a trail short needs to overcome are keeping you cool and comfortable. Thermoregulation is vital as you take on a trail, and even the most intense hikes should come with some level of comfort. After all, you don’t need to struggle against the terrain — or against your clothes.
Trail Shorts Need To Have Pockets
Another quality that typically separates trail shorts from traditional workout shorts is the need for pockets — back pockets, cargo pockets, zippered pockets, and more can all be helpful. As you stray from civilization and the conveniences that come with it, you may need to take some things along with you like your phone or some snacks in baggies.
Ultimately, any pair of solid workout shorts can be considered trail running shorts, as long as they meet the standards for long-term performance. Let’s talk about those standards below!
What Should I Look for in a Trail Short?
Certain features are essential for performance and comfort on the trail. Most of these features come down to the fabric used, which is why we’re so proud of our bamboo and organic cotton blend with 5% elastane and 4-way stretch technology.
Let’s look at some of the qualities you’ll find in our fabrics that make them perfect for trail shorts.
Breathable and Lightweight
The most fundamental quality all trail shorts need is a lightweight design combined with a breathable fabric.
The last thing you need while facing a daunting trek is a pair of shorts that weighs you down while you go. However, you also don’t want too many synthetic materials like spandex in your shorts.
Traditional hiking shorts, such as cargo shorts, are almost always clunky and heavy, with excessive zip pockets, drawcords, elastic waistbands, and unnecessary add-ons. This may not have a massive effect during the shortest walks, but any hike of medium distance or longer will be more of a challenge than needed without lightweight shorts.
In tandem with a lightweight build, a breathable fabric does much of the work needed to keep you comfortable while you hike. One of the only things worse than heavy, clunky shorts is a pair that doesn’t let your legs breathe. Always look for the right inseam size to match your regular fit — don’t opt for XXL men’s trail shorts if you’re normally a size 32 waist.
All that trapped heat will quickly increase your sweat rate and can even lead to chafing and further discomfort. Ultimately, this inhibits your body’s thermoregulation and can potentially cause you to overheat on long-distance hikes or while lying in a sleeping bag.
Ensure you choose a material that allows an appropriate amount of airflow. You don’t have to wear mesh to achieve this thanks to modern fabrics like bamboo that naturally allow air to flow in a perfect balance without leaving you totally exposed.
Moisture-wicking material is also vital to your comfort and performance. Chances are, even on an easy hike, you’re going to sweat. With moisture-wicking fabric, your sweat is drawn off your skin and through the fabric, where it is released as vapor into the air from the material’s surface.
Few things can ruin your hike as quickly as being drenched in sweat. Always choose moisture-wicking materials for your trail shorts to stay cool and comfortable.
Since sweat is largely inevitable, it’s imperative that your trail shorts are equipped to handle it.
You might think that any shorts should be capable in this regard since you can always wash a pair once it smells. Unfortunately, synthetic fabrics such as polyester, which are highly common in workout shorts and some trail shorts, actually trap odors over time, even through washes.
For long-term freshness, odor-resistant fabrics are the only way to go. Avoid cheap, traditional synthetic fibers and look to natural materials, such as bamboo and organic cotton.
UPF Sun Protection
Though it may come as a surprise, UV rays from the sun can penetrate your clothes, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen is a must-have for many hikes, but you can also protect your skin from harmful sun radiation with UPF protection clothing.
The Skin Cancer Foundation rates UPF protection 50+ as excellent. You should consider the value of such protection whenever you’re looking at a pair of shorts you might take to the trail.
Your body stays at an appropriate temperature through a process called thermoregulation. When it comes to working out, your clothes can’t do the work of thermoregulation for you, but the right materials can let your body work uninhibited.
Creating high-quality trail shorts to enjoy nature would mean nothing if our clothes weren’t sustainable for nature itself! Environmentally friendly clothing is a crucial part of what we do here at Tasc Performance, which is why we’re proud to use bamboo and organic cotton in many of our favorite styles.
What Can I Wear With My Trail Shorts?
All the essential qualities come together in our shorts. Here are some ways to incorporate them into an outfit for your trail-bound ventures.
T-shirts are the go-to top for a hike during nice weather. Our Recess Fitness T-Shirt or Carrollton Fitness T-Shirt is the way to go, paired with our Recess 8” Tech Shorts or Recess 4” Athletic Shorts. Together, your outfit is fully geared up for an intense workout, but perfectly suited to more calm hikes too.
Athleisure fashion has brought sports bras to the forefront of women’s tops, and it’s no surprise. This style is highly versatile since it can be layered under other clothes or worn on its own, with a variety of bottoms -- leggings, joggers, bike shorts, tennis skirts, and, of course, running shorts or trail shorts.
With our superior fabric and design, our sports bras are more comfortable than ever. Try our ALLways Sports Bra to experience the difference for yourself! With mid-impact support and excellent temperature-regulating capabilities, it’s the ultimate hiking top.
Pullovers and Hoodies
Time on the trail often means time in the elements. Be prepared with our Carrollton Lightweight Hoodie or Recess Hoodie, options that keep you cool while your body works but don’t leave you at the mercy of the elements.
For something a bit cozier in the cooler months, layer up with our Varsity French Terry Hoodie.
Whatever pullover you choose, you can pair it with any of our athletic shorts for a classic athleisure look that leans towards the athletic half of the vibe. Alternatively, a style like our Weekender Short gives more of a casual appearance, without sacrificing any performance capabilities.
Layering up doesn’t have to stop with hoodies and pullovers. Another convenient option for outerwear is a high-quality vest. Our Legendary Fleece Vest features a heavyweight, super-soft fleece that keeps you warm without causing you to overheat.
It’s also easy to zip on and off in case you decide to make a quick wardrobe change while on the trail. Plus, the extra pockets in this top add deeper practicality to your overall outfit.
Now that you know all about the best trail shorts, you’re ready to hit the road and start hiking!
Once you return, keep checking in with us for even more guides and superior styles just like the ones featured today.