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Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch Short Review

These simple shorts are inexpensive and practical
Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch Short
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $50 List | $49.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Good water resistance, inexpensive
Cons:  Materials feel cheaper, no waist adjuster, fabric not stretchy
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 7
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch shorts do a little bit of everything. They offer reasonable comfort, simple but practical features, and good weather resistance. They are among the least expensive shorts that we reviewed, and ultimately, with this model, it is all of the details that keep it from a top spot. There is no built-in waist tightening system, and the Velcro closure on the back pockets performs and feels like a feature that would belong on a less expensive pair of shorts. Overall, we have no significant complaints, but the small things do add up.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award   
Price $49.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$45.50 at Backcountry$50 List
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$45 List$54.95 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Good water resistance, inexpensiveLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveLightweight, elastic waist, dry quicklyComfortable, elastic waist, inexpensive
Cons Materials feel cheaper, no waist adjuster, fabric not stretchyNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityUtilitarian appearance, pocket openings a little smallNo rear pockets, no flyLimiting pocket configuration, no belt loops
Bottom Line These simple shorts are inexpensive and practicalA lightweight, breathable pair of shorts that are equally comfortable on a run as they are on a backpacking tripThese thin yet water resistant shorts are a great option for the practical, budget-minded hikerThese athletic, lightweight shorts come with an interior liner and ventilation holes that help you stay coolA fast and light pair of shorts with just a couple of features keeping it from the top
Rating Categories Silver Ridge II Str... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... REI Co-op Active Pu... Paramount Active Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Features (25%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Versatility And Style (20%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Venting And Breathability (10%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Silver Ridge II Str... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... REI Co-op Active Pu... Paramount Active Short
Weight 6.9 oz 6.6 oz 5.9 oz 5.8 oz 6.8 oz
Material 95% nylon, 5% elastane 100% recycled polyester Nylon 86% polyester/14% spandex 90% polyester, 10% elastane
Water Resistance Omni-Shield coating DWR coating DWR finish Not specified DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options) 28 - 42; 8", 10" XS - XXL 30 - 40 S-XL S - XL; 10", 12"
Sun Protection UPF 50 Not specified UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? Pants available No Pants, convertible available Pants, shorts No
Pockets 5 3 5 2 hand, 1 embedded zip 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Elastic, drawstring Button and zip fly
Other Features Regular fit, stain repellancy Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Relaxed fit, integrated belt, gusseted crotch Ventilation holes, interior liner Relaxed fit, included belt

Our Analysis and Test Results

These shorts have all of the basic elements down but are missing a few pieces. It almost feels like they are a first draft of a really promising pair that just never quite got refined all the way.

Performance Comparison


The Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch shorts are fairly consistent across the board, placing them in the middle of the pack.

These decent shorts come in at a fair price.
These decent shorts come in at a fair price.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Comfort and Mobility


They are most comfortable for casual walks. The 95%/5% nylon/elastane blend seems like it would be a stretchy fabric, but the material is one of the most static that we tested. The crotch is gusseted, so that helps alleviate some of the mobility concerns by creating more space, but the difference between this pair and, say, the Patagonia Quandary is noticeable, especially when it comes to high-stepping and scrambling.

The less-stretchy fabric is better for flatter sections of trail...
The less-stretchy fabric is better for flatter sections of trail where there isn't as much opportunity for them to ride up.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

We appreciate the soft, felty interior waistband, as it does reduce chaffing on the hips. However, because of the stiffer quality of the fabric and lack of waist adjustability, there isn't nearly the same control of the fit as with other pairs like the Arc'teryx Palisade or Marmot Limantour. If you are going on a multi-day trip and don't bring a belt, the waist will only get looser.

Features


We like the simplicity of the feature set on these shorts, but wish that the execution was a little more seamless. The two front, two rear, and one right, zippered thigh pocket provide plenty of carrying capacity. However, the Velcro closure on the rear pockets feels cheap and is sometimes tricky to get open with one hand when reaching behind you.

The leg pocket has good volume and easy accessibility.
The leg pocket has good volume and easy accessibility.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

We like that the thigh pocket is sewn fully to the leg of the shorts so that items don't flop around. It is also large enough to hold most smartphones. The metal button closure stays put while hiking, but it similarly feels cheap. If you want full features with high-quality construction, we recommend the Arc'teryx Palisade.

The felt waist liner is a nice touch for reducing rubbing against...
The felt waist liner is a nice touch for reducing rubbing against the hips and lower back.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility and Style


This pair is lightweight and great for casual hikes. We would also consider it for fishing and boating. Because of the waist fit, we don't think it would be an awesome choice for distance hikes-- you'll have to keep pulling them up unless you bring a belt. In terms of style, there is a subtle but still noticeable square pattern on the fabric, like on a lot of ripstop nylon tents and dry bags. The 10" inseam falls just above the knee on most folks.

All things considered, these shorts fit relatively well and look...
All things considered, these shorts fit relatively well and look decent.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

We like the look more than the REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo, but less than the Patagonia Quandary.

The velcro closure on the rear pockets is one of the features that...
The velcro closure on the rear pockets is one of the features that made us feel like these shorts look like a cheaper model.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Weather Resistance and Dry Time


Of all of the test metrics, this is where these shorts perform the best. The fabric has a UPF 50 rating and has a nice tight weave, which, for what it's worth, offers solid wind protection as well.

These shorts have surprisingly solid water resistance, keeping...
These shorts have surprisingly solid water resistance, keeping moisture at the surface so they dry out faster.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Both mist and heavier rain bead nicely on these shorts, and consequently, they dry quickly as well. For this reason, they are also good for water crossings, though it is worth noting that the interior waist liner takes considerably longer to dry than the rest of the shorts.

Ventilation and Breathability


The loose weave mesh that lines each of the pockets has improved airflow over models with a much finer liner. However, like a few other components of these shorts, this material feels cheaper, and we would have concerns on the long run about poking a (bigger) hole through one of the pockets.

The pocket mesh is a loose weave. We are concerned that it is easier...
The pocket mesh is a loose weave. We are concerned that it is easier to rip through than a finer material.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Applications


These shorts perform well on the flats. They are best used for casual day hikes or front country weekend wear. The water-resistance and sun protection rating also makes them a great choice for water-based activities.

Value


Coming in at $50, we think they have more style than the similarly priced REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo, but slightly less functionality. With that in mind, the value here depends on what your priorities are. They are the least expensive shorts that we tested, but if we were committing to buying a pair of hiking shorts anyway, we would rather spend the extra $20 to upgrade to the Patagonia Quandary.

The button and zipper also make us feel like these shorts are...
The button and zipper also make us feel like these shorts are constructed with non-premium components.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


The Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch score decently, but miss out on a couple of key components. The fabric is static compared to many of our award winners, and some of the features look and feel like they would be on an inexpensive pair of shorts. We didn't have any bad experiences with them; they just didn't blow us away.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch