Prana Brion Short Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Look good, comfortable
Cons: Few pockets, no water resistance
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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