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.
Prana Brion Short Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Look good, comfortable
Cons: Few pockets, no water resistance
Compare to Similar Products
Prana Brion Short
|Price||$47.73 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$69.00 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$65.00 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$49.95 at REI||$64.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Look good, comfortable||Comfortable, stylish, water resistant||Lightweight, odor resistant, zippered pockets||Good water resistance, many pockets, inexpensive||Very stretchy fabric, well-positioned pockets, drawstring|
|Cons||Few pockets, no water resistance||A little tight when sitting down, no integrated belt||Not super stylish, liner limits versatility||Baggy fit, utilitarian appearance||More expensive, baggier feel|
|Bottom Line||The most non-hiking hiking shorts in this review.||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 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||Prana Brion Short||Patagonia Quandary Short||Patagonia Nine Trails Short||REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short||Marmot Limantour Short|
|Comfort And Mobility (35%)|
|Versatility And Style (20%)|
|Venting And Breathability (10%)|
|Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)|
|Specs||Prana Brion Short||Patagonia Quandary...||Patagonia Nine...||REI Co-op Sahara...||Marmot Limantour...|
|Weight||7.9 oz||7.1 oz||6.6 oz||7.1 oz||8.9 oz|
|Material||97% nylon 3% spandex||95% nylon 5% spandex||100% recycled polyester||94% nylon / 6% spandex||88% Nylon 12% Elastane|
|Water Resistance||DWR coating||DWR coating||DWR coating||DWR finish||DWR coating|
|Sizing (waist, length options)||28 - 42; 9", 11"||28 - 41; 8", 10", 12" inseams||XS - XXL||30 - 40||28 - 40|
|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||4|
|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, reinforced seat, belt loops|
|Warranty||Limited warranty||Lifetime warranty||Lifetime warranty||Lifetime warranty||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 handwarmer pockets are fully mesh-lined (the rear are not).
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.
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.
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