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Prana Brion Short Review

The most non-hiking hiking shorts in this review
Prana Brion Short
Photo: Prana
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Price:  $70 List | $68.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Look good, comfortable
Cons:  Few pockets, no water resistance
Manufacturer:   Prana
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Features - 25% 4
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 7
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Prana Brion is a great-looking comfortable pair of shorts. They perform well in hot, dry climates and on adventures where pocket capacity and security isn't a concern. Outside of that however, they just aren't super practical as far as hiking shorts go. They lack zippered pockets and aren't water-resistant. We like them quite a bit and would keep a pair on hand; however, we would also want one of our award winners like the Patagonia Quandary or Arc'teryx Palisade on hand because their style and features are geared more toward hiking adventures.

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Prana Brion Short
This Product
Prana Brion Short
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $68.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.00 at Backcountry
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$65.00 at Backcountry
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$49.95 at REI$22.50 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
60
82
81
72
69
Star Rating
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Pros Look good, comfortableComfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveGood water resistance, inexpensive
Cons Few pockets, no water resistanceA little tight when sitting down, no integrated beltNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityBaggy fit, utilitarian appearanceMaterials feel cheaper, no waist adjuster, fabric not stretchy
Bottom Line We like these shorts quite a bit; we just wouldn't opt to go hiking in themThese practical shorts kept us comfortable on a variety of adventuresThese shorts are lightweight, comfortable, and versatileA lightweight yet durable pair of shorts that won't break the bankAn inexpensive pair that is best on flat terrain
Rating Categories Prana Brion Short Patagonia Quandary Short Patagonia Nine Trails Short REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short Silver Ridge II Stretch Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
7
8
9
8
7
Features (25%)
4
8
8
6
6
Versatility And Style (20%)
7
9
7
6
7
Venting And Breathability (10%)
7
8
8
8
7
Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)
4
8
7
9
8
Specs Prana Brion Short Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine... REI Co-op Sahara... Silver Ridge II...
Weight 7.9 oz 7.1 oz 6.6 oz 7.1 oz 6.9 oz
Material 97% nylon 3% spandex 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% recycled polyester 94% nylon / 6% spandex 95% nylon, 5% elastane
Water Resistance DWR coating DWR coating DWR coating DWR finish Omni-Shield coating
Sizing (waist, length options) 28 - 42; 9", 11" 28 - 41; 8", 10", 12" inseams XS - XXL 30 - 40 28 - 42; 8", 10"
Sun Protection UPF 50 UPF 50+ Not specified UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? Pants available Pants available No Pants, convertible available Pants available
Pockets 5 5 (plus right coin) 3 5 5
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Standard fit, reinforced rivet details, belt loops Classic fit, curved waistband, gusseted crotch Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Relaxed fit, integrated belt, gusseted crotch Regular fit, stain repellancy
Warranty Limited warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty Limited lifetime warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

These shorts are meant for an active day in the frontcountry and a night out with friends. They certainly stand out from the pack in terms of their style, but we wish they had just a feature or two that appealed to the hiker in us. If this category was something like summer shorts, this pair would run away with the top spot.

Performance Comparison


The Prana Brion is buoyed by its comfort and style, but is missing the water-resistance and features that would put it in contention for a top spot.

Comfort and Mobility


These shorts conform without constricting, as the 97%/3% nylon/spandex blend fabric is surprisingly stretchy. The fit is advertised as standard, but our testing showed us that they have a slimmer fit than many of the other models. Even our lanky testers enjoyed how they fit, and didn't find that our movement was restricted in any significant way while hiking. When sitting down, they do slide up the thigh a bit, but the crotch isn't restrictive. The 9" inseam that we tested will hit most folks just above the knee.

The gusseted crotch (the extra strip of fabric across the middle)...
The gusseted crotch (the extra strip of fabric across the middle) provides extra room on this relatively slim fitting model.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

These shorts earn some points because they are the pair with the waist that stretched out the least after multiple wears and multiple days of hiking. For pairs that are even more comfortable, we recommend the Patagonia Nine Trails and Patagonia Quandary.

Features


As comfortable as they are, these shorts just lack hiking features. They have four traditional pockets; two front, two rear, plus a coin pocket on the right. They include traditional belt loops, a metal button closure, and center gusset to increase space in the crotch and legs.

The Velcro closure of the rear pockets is comparatively annoying to...
The Velcro closure of the rear pockets is comparatively annoying to open and feels cheaper than a zipper.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Despite their simplicity, they do have some durability features like a small strip of webbing to reinforce the button, a large, sturdy zipper, and rivets at the corner of each pocket (like on a pair of jeans). For a feature-rich model, we recommend the Arc'teryx Palisade.

The reinforced button and sturdy fly zipper speak to the quality and...
The reinforced button and sturdy fly zipper speak to the quality and durability of these shorts.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility and Style


These shorts have limited versatility, but they make up for it with style. They are fine for walks and day hikes in dry weather if you are bringing along a pack anyway, or don't need to secure any items in a zippered pocket.

This model feels good and looks good.
This model feels good and looks good.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

On the flip side, these shorts excel in the frontcountry. Even if we weren't outdoors-obsessed, we would get a pair just to wear around. The details on their styling are reminiscent of jorts but are more refined.

The design is simple, but well executed.
The design is simple, but well executed.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Weather Resistance and Dry Time


This is another area where technical performance doesn't appear to be a primary focus. Our testing showed that their water-resistance is minimal; they absorb precipitation almost immediately, making for a heavy slog if you are caught in the rain.

These shorts absorb water immediately.
These shorts absorb water immediately.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Venting and Breathability


The stretch fabric is breathable. With the metal button, rivets, and zipper, this model isn't terribly lightweight, but we didn't get noticeably sweatier in this pair than other comparable models like the Prana Stretch Zion or Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch.

The fine mesh of the front pockets facilitates ventilation and...
The fine mesh of the front pockets facilitates ventilation and prevents rain water from pooling inside them.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The handwarmer pockets are fully mesh-lined (the rear are not).

Best Applications


These shorts are best used on a warm summer night out with friends. They can certainly perform admirably as a day hiking short if you have a pack with you or just don't have that much to carry; however, they excel as a bottom for a casual outdoorsy outfit.

For warm summer days where the sun is shining, these shorts do a...
For warm summer days where the sun is shining, these shorts do a nice job on trail.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Value


Retailing for $70, we think that the price is a little high. Given that they are a pretty straightforward pair of shorts, we would expect them to be priced like a base model that's $10-$15 cheaper. With that in mind, the difference is not enough to make us change our mind about purchasing this pair.

Conclusion


The Prana Brion is an excellent pair of casual wear. They are stretchy and comfortable. They aren't as water-resistant as any of the top contenders and don't have the functional features to put them in the upper tier of this review. However, we do have to admit that we really, really like these shorts. They are hands down the best looking of any model in the category, and we would be happy to have them as part of a wardrobe that includes a pair with a little more utility.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch