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Patagonia Quandary Short Review

These comfortable, functional shorts really impressed us on our adventures.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $70 List | $69.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, stylish, water resistant
Cons:  A little tight when sitting down, no integrated belt
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Features - 25% 8
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 9
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 8
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Quandary shorts are rockstars of versatility. They are a lightweight, breathable pair of shorts that earn our Editors' Choice award for all-around performance. With an exceptional fabric blend, they have the rare combination of stretch comfort, performance, and style that can take you from trail to town in the same day. Though the feature set isn't perfect, we never felt like we were missing anything that was keeping us from enjoying the adventure. The trim fit is nice for slimmer people, and the fabric is friendlier to the environment, to the wearer, and to the folks who manufacture the garments. If we had to pick one pair of hiking shorts for a summer of activity, it'd be these ones.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $69.00 at REI
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$65.00 at REI
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$118.00 at Amazon
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$49.95 at REI$64.99 at Amazon
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Pros Comfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsZippered pockets, integrated belt, stylish lookGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveVery stretchy fabric, well-positioned pockets, drawstring
Cons A little tight when sitting down, no integrated beltNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityExpensive, not as stretchy as most comfortable models, small flyBaggy fit, utilitarian appearanceMore expensive, baggier feel
Bottom Line These comfortable, functional shorts really impressed us on our adventures.A lightweight, breathable pair of shorts that are equally comfortable on a run as they are on a backpacking trip.These shorts combine a bit of style with the function that accompanies a great feature set.These thin yet water resistant shorts are a great option for the practical, budget-minded hiker.These full-coverage shorts have really practical features for a long day on trail.
Rating Categories Patagonia Quandary Short Patagonia Nine Trails Short Arc'teryx Palisade Short REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short Marmot Limantour Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
Features (25%)
10
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8
10
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8
10
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9
10
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6
10
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8
Versatility And Style (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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6
10
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6
Venting And Breathability (10%)
10
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8
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8
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6
10
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8
10
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7
Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
10
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7
Specs Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine... Arc'teryx Palisade... REI Co-op Sahara... Marmot Limantour...
Weight 7.1 oz 6.6 oz 7.3 oz 7.1 oz 8.9 oz
Material 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% recycled polyester TerraTex nylon blend 94% nylon / 6% spandex 88% Nylon 12% Elastane
Water Resistance DWR coating DWR coating Not specified DWR finish DWR coating
Sizing (waist, length options) 28 - 41; 8", 10", 12" inseams XS - XXL 28 - 38 30 - 40 28 - 40
Sun Protection UPF 50+ Not specified Some, not specified UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? Pants available No Pants available Pants, convertible available Pants available
Pockets 5 (plus right coin) 3 5 5 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Classic fit, curved waistband, gusseted crotch Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Trim fit, integrated belt, gusseted crotch Relaxed fit, integrated belt, gusseted crotch Regular fit, reinforced seat, belt loops
Warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty 60 day return Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

The right shorts are all about balancing practical features with comfortable styling and versatility, and we found this model does it the best out of any that we tested. Our testing showed that they are up to the task of long days, big climbs, and wet weather.

Performance Comparison


The Patagonia Quandary shorts are all-around high scorers and earn our Editors' Choice award for their solid and reliable performance.

Light  comfortable  and versatile  these shorts are all around award winners.
Light, comfortable, and versatile, these shorts are all around award winners.

Comfort and Mobility


The Quandary are among the most comfortable that we tested. The reality is that comfort often competes with style, but this model does the best job of balancing the two. The 94%/6% nylon/elastane fabric blend is stretchy enough that the wearer has free mobility in all typical hiking situations.


The Quandary shorts are a relatively slim fit. We like the cut because it keeps them light and prevents extra fabric from getting snagged on overgrown trails. However, with that comes just a little bit of a sacrifice in comfort. The gusseted crotch mitigates this, providing more space in what would otherwise be a tight fit.

These shorts offer enough stretch that they don't limit mobility and they fit well.
These shorts offer enough stretch that they don't limit mobility and they fit well.

If comfort is a top priority for you as it is for us, we recommend the Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, which come with a super stretchy interior liner. The REI Sahara shorts achieve comfort with a looser, baggier cut, and the Prana Stretch Zion is a model we wouldn't consider tops for hiking but is still super comfortable.

The slender  highly elastic drawstring allows you to tighten the waist for a secure  comfortable fit.
The slender, highly elastic drawstring allows you to tighten the waist for a secure, comfortable fit.

Features


In hiking shorts, basic tends to be better, and the Quandary gets its features just about right. The pair comes with regular belt loops as well as an interior elastic drawstring if you need to fine-tune the fit, but left your belt at home (the drawstring is thin and really stretchy. We could imagine that it would lose its elasticity comparatively quickly, but it does cinch down nice and tightly, so it doesn't come undone or loosen during activity). This model also comes with six pockets; two front handwarmer, two rear (left zip, right open), one thigh (right zip) and a coin pocket (right). The thigh pocket has a (mostly) horizontal opening that is angled just slightly to make it easier to use with one hand.


A subtle but nice component of these shorts is that the front fastener has a super slim profile and is attached to the shorts with a small piece of webbing. This matters when you have the hip belt of a backpack over the waist of these shorts-- there's no rubbing!

Asymmetrical rear pockets are functional. We particularly like the zippered one on the left because it provides peace of mind that items won't fall out.
Asymmetrical rear pockets are functional. We particularly like the zippered one on the left because it provides peace of mind that items won't fall out.

One wishlist improvement that we have for these shorts is that they sew the bottoms of the pockets to the main leg so that when you have something heavier in them, they don't flop around as much when you move.

We found ourselves oddly attached to the slim button closure. Unlike a regular sewn button  it won't fall off of these shorts anytime soon.
We found ourselves oddly attached to the slim button closure. Unlike a regular sewn button, it won't fall off of these shorts anytime soon.

Versatility and Style


We appreciate the versatility of the Quandary shorts, as they are equally at home on day hikes and longer backpacking trips. The pockets offer enough storage for a couple of protein bars, a phone, and car keys, but are light enough that we didn't feel weighed down when we took them out on extended trips.


We could also easily envision them as an option for canoeing and fishing trips. They earn their score here though because at the end of the day, you could roll right into town without necessarily looking like you just came from the trail.

These shorts perform very well  but still look good enough to wear in other settings too.
These shorts perform very well, but still look good enough to wear in other settings too.

Versatility can be hard to come by with hiking shorts, but another excellent option is the Arc'teryx Palisade. Though they aren't as trail-ready as most other models, a couple of others that just look good are the Prana Brion and Prana Stretch Zion.

Water Resistance and Dry Time


There isn't a ton of variability in this metric, but as far as it is important to distinguish contenders from one another, the Quandary is a model that both resists water well and dries faster than most when they do get wet. They come with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish that allows water to bead rather than absorb into the fabric. In our spray test, the water stayed entirely at the surface; in real-world rain, light passing showers were no problem, and it took about ten minutes in moderate rain before we noticed that water was getting through to our skin.


Unsurprisingly, these shorts also dry out faster than most. Since much of the water rolls off as you move, there is less of it that needs to evaporate off of the shorts. In our control testing, they were also near the top of the pack.

Water beaded up easily without absorbing into the fabric during our spray test.
Water beaded up easily without absorbing into the fabric during our spray test.

Venting and Breathability


These shorts are airy. The front pockets are mesh-lined (though the rear pockets are not, and the thigh pocket is at the very bottom). However, these potential ventilation points are less critical on a pair of shorts than, say, on pants. What is essential though, is that they are also lightweight, and the fabric is a good balance of durability and breathability.


Another great lightweight option for warm weather is the Patagonia Nine Trails. The REI Sahara Cargo also scores well in this metric, but they are a longer, looser fitting model.

Best Applications


These shorts are awesome for almost any activity. They are great for day hikes but are also light and comfortable enough to be a good option for longer warm-weather backpacking trips. They are nice spring and summer travel shorts as well. If you are planning a vacation and trying to keep your suitcase light, they easily double as a swimsuit.

These shorts are awesome for day hikes or longer adventures.
These shorts are awesome for day hikes or longer adventures.

Value


At $70, we think that there is fair value in what you pay for. They are a little pricey, but if you are all in on having a rock-solid, versatile pair of hiking shorts, we would opt for these over something $10 or $15 cheaper. Having said that, it does feel like at least a little bit of what you are paying for is the Patagonia brand itself.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Quandary shorts are our Editors' Choice award winner. They stand out in almost every metric, and we think they do the best job of balancing all of the competing factors in a pair of hiking shorts. They do well in a wide variety of warm-weather activities, and we would be happy to take them to the mountains, waterways, canyons, and beaches of our next adventures.

Whether it's a day hike or a backpacking trip  we would gladly grab a pair of these shorts for our next adventure.
Whether it's a day hike or a backpacking trip, we would gladly grab a pair of these shorts for our next adventure.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch