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These Airy Hiking Shorts Will Keep You Cool, Dry, and Chafe-Free on Even The Most Treacherous Trails

Well+Good logo Well+Good 7/4/2022 Francesca Krempa

When you're out for a hike, you've got enough to worry about on the trail. Packing enough potable water, wearing the right, supportive shoes, warding off the occasional, angry critter—there's enough to deal with in the Great Outdoors, and sweat should not be one of them. Which is why we've pulled together some of the best hiking shorts you should invest in.

This summer, stay cool and dry (cough cough, chafe-free!) wherever you roam. Whether you're planning on taking a couple hiking treks here and there, or have a whole calendar stacked with rugged outdoor adventures, you deserve to stay comfortable, even when temperatures are climbing, too. Which is why we rounded up the best women's hiking shorts that won't leave you sweaty, no matter how tough the trail gets.

Hiking shorts that won't leave you sweat, at a glance:

How we selected our shorts

By hiking in them, of course! But also a number of different factors, including material, weight, style, and technical specifications: Specifically:

  • Material: The textiles themselves are important and can make a big different in comfort and feel. But other thoughtful features, like water-resistance, stretch, and sun protection, are vital, too.
  • Weight: Most shorts on this list fall between 6-8 ounces, so they're not too heavy but not so lightweight they don't hold up against the elements.
  • Tech Specs: The little details in your shorts, like waistband style, carabiner loops, and of course, pockets.

Now, without further ado, wave goodbye to sweaty thighs and scroll to shop the coolest, driest women's hiking shorts your money can buy.

Sweat-free women's hiking shorts to keep you cool 

Best overall

Outdoor Research, Women's Ferrosi Shorts - 5" — $56.00

Originally $75, now $56

Great for: Afternoon treks and through hikes alike. Climbing, biking, paddling—really anything outside.

Comes in: Sizes XS-XXL, in six different colors and two inseams.

Outdoor Research never fails to deliver fashionable, functional outdoor products that actually live up to the hype. The Women’s Ferrosi 5-inch shorts are no different, and are so good, they landed at the top of our list.

They’re made from the brand’s award-winning Ferrosi fabric, a ridiculously lightweight but durable recycled material that can handle treacherous treks and rough-and-tumble activities without leaving you sweaty. While other fabrics are heavier to stay hardy, these are rugged but featherlight, keeping you cool and comfortable while you move. At just over 6.5 ounces, they’re water-resistant, wind-resistant, quick drying, and built with UPF 50+. Rock ’em in scorching temps and see what we mean—you’ll be as cool as a cucumber.


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Runner up

Outdoor Voices, SolarCool 3" Short — $68.00

Great for: Hiking, trail running, and climbing where you want to feel footloose and fancy-free.

Comes in: XS-XL in green, white, and yellow, and two inseams.

Outdoor Voices’ feather-light shorts are ridiculously comfortable too, which is why they’re our runner up. They’re made in two inseams, but because they’re a bit baggier, we prefer the 3-inch model for recreating.

If breathability is top of mind, you’ll love these shorts. They’re made from the brand’s sweat-and-water-resistant fabric, so even if you do start to glisten, they won’t mind it. As with all OV products, the devil is in the details. Think: a mesh sports liner (that prevents things from *really* getting swampy, a carabiner loop, and a zip pocket. The only reason they didn’t land at number one is because they run a bit baggy, which can be prone to things like snagging and chafing. Our tip? Order a size down.

 

Best on Amazon

Amazon, Santiny Women's Hiking Cargo Short — $30.00

Great for: Day hikers on a budget.

Comes in: Sizes S-3XL, in 18 different colors.

With more than 2,000 reviews, these cargo shorts are the best ones your money can buy on Amazon. Like the others, they’re made from a light, quick-dry fabric you can splash, drip, and swim in when the time rolls around. The Bermuda-style length adds extra protection, too, without weighing you down. As for other specs, there’s a drawstring waist, zippered side pockets, and UPF protection, making them tech-friendly and easy on the wallet.

Like the OV shorts, though, they are roomier, so size down if you prefer a more compressed fit. And note that they’re not the most sustainable—they’re made from a poly/spandex blend that, quite frankly, is tough on the environment. But if you’re on a budget and only have a few hikes planned, they’re a good bet.

Best twill

Topo Designs, Dirt Shorts — $69.00

Great for: Recreators who prefer a thicker, heavier style, but don’t want to sweat.

Comes in: Sizes XS-XL, in six different shades.

Often times, the words “twill” and “hiking shorts” immediately conjure up visions of sweat-drenched body parts—that is not the case with Topo Designs.

Its fan-favorite dirt shorts are made from easy, breezy, beautiful cotton that’s infused with some stretch, giving you ample breathing room while your trekking along. At 7.6 ounces, they are heavier, but that comes in handy when working your way up crags or bushwhacking off trail. And don’t worry about tight flies and buttons making your lady parts sweat—the drawstring ensures you’ve got room to breathe. All in all, they’re an excellent choice for getting down and dirty. Just note—they’re not water-resistant. If you do plan on getting wet, go for the River Short ($79), which is even lighter, minus the twill.

Best pull-on

Prana, Kanab Shorts — $59.00

Great for: Hikers who need to jump, stretch, and scramble, and don’t want to worry about buttons or zippers.

Comes in: XS-XL in black, olive, brown, and blue.

If flexibility is your number one priority, get the Kanab Shorts by Prana. They’re marketed as a climbing short, so you know they’re built to move and provide support without being restrictive. This is especially notable in the knit waistband, which skips and drawstrings, buttons, or zippers for a pull-on style. Other fun features include flap-covered back pockets (to keep your belongings safe) and carabiner loops (for hands-free storage.)

While they’re cool and won’t make you sweaty, they might fall down if you get the wrong size. That pull-on waistband doesn’t give you any wiggle room to adjust need be, and they do run a bit big. We recommend sizing down and—if you’d prefer a more tailored fit—going for the Halle Short II ($52) which sports a button and zip fly instead.

Best for summit (and post-summit) beers

Girlfriend Collective, Stretch Woven Easy Short — $55.00

Great for: Going from trailhead to tapas.

Comes in: Sizes XXS-6XL, in olive, black, and royal blue.

Want a short you can lounge in and hike in? Check out these sweat-wicking shorts from Girlfriend Collective that are equally technical and casual.

On the technical side, they’ve got everything you want in a hiking short, including water-resistance, stretch, and, of course, pockets. But they’re comfy enough to wear as a lounge short, too, or for sipping that post-hike beverage you earned. They’re sustainable, inclusive, and oh-so comfortable to wear, on and off the trail.

Best bike short

Kari Traa, Ane Hiking Shorts — $90.00

Great for: Anyone who prefers a longer length, but doesn’t want to be left stifled and sweaty.

Comes in: Sizes XS—XL, in green and navy.

Those who have hiked in bike shorts know you can’t just hike in any old bike short—not unless you want  one-way ticket to Swampville. Which is why we love these hiking shorts from Kari Traa—they’re a breathable bike short that won’t turn up the heat when (and where) you don’t want it turned up.

These sculpting shorts are all about stretch, from the four-way stretch fabric, down to the gusseted crotch to give you a little extra flex. Made from recycled, OEKO-TEX-certified fabric, they’re breathable and eco-friendly, and most importantly, moisture-wicking. If you do get a little sweaty, silicone grippers on the hems keep the shorts in place, so there’s no sliding or chafing. Layer on the zippered front pockets, and you’ll want to rock them mile after mile.

Just note, they do run small. They’re made with a slim-fit fabric that is a bit tight, so we recommend sizing up a bit.

Most stylish

Free People, Off The Grid Solid Shorts — $68.00

Great for: Day hikers who want to bring some flair to the trail.

Comes in: Sizes XS-L, in olive, white, orange, and berry red.

No need to sacrifice style with these trendy hiking shorts. Designed with a button fly and paper-bag bungee cord waist, they’re the chicer, more fashionable version of Gorpcore. Best part is, they’re so lightweight, with a 1-inch inseam and barely there fabric that’ll turn down the temp as you hike along. Plus, they’re loaded with zippered cargo shorts to keep things like your wallet and keys secure at all times.

Our only complaint? The 1-inch inseam can be a little short. And, if the A-line silhouette isn’t your speed, you might want to take a look at some other Free People options.

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