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Prana Stretch Zion II Short Review

A comfortable, feature-filled pair of shorts with a unique array of pockets and an integrated belt
prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review
Credit: Prana
Price:  $75 List
Manufacturer:   Prana
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 10, 2022
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7.0
  • Features - 25% 9.0
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 7.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 5.0
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Prana Stretch Zion II is one of our favorites for its array of features. They are super comfortable with a looser fit and a gusseted crotch. They have an integrated belt and a soft liner on the inside of the waist. The button closure is low-profile so it doesn't rub underneath a backpack hipbelt. This model has somewhat unusual styling but the unique look grew on us over time. Though a couple of the pockets are challenging to access, the stretch fabric is great for big-stepping adventures as well as lounging outside. They are heavier than other models, but we found that their utility makes up for the extra ounces of fabric.
REASONS TO BUY
Very comfortable
Integrated belt
Discrete crotch vents
REASONS TO AVOID
Difficult-to-access pockets
Not super stylish

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very comfortable, integrated belt, discrete crotch ventsComfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveLightweight, elastic waist, dry quickly
Cons Difficult-to-access pockets, not super stylishA little tight when sitting down, no integrated beltNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityUtilitarian appearance, pocket openings a little smallNo rear pockets, no fly
Bottom Line A comfortable, feature-filled pair of shorts with a unique array of pockets and an integrated beltThese comfortable, functional shorts really impressed us on our adventuresA 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 cool
Rating Categories Prana Stretch Zion... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... REI Co-op Active Pu...
Comfort and Mobility (35%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Features (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Versatility and Style (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Venting and Breathability (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Weather Resistance and Dry Time (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Specs Prana Stretch Zion... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... REI Co-op Active Pu...
Weight 9.1 oz 7.1 oz 6.6 oz 5.9 oz 5.8 oz
Material 95% recycled nylon 5% elastane 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% recycled polyester 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex 86% polyester/14% spandex
Water Resistance Not specified DWR coating DWR coating DWR finish Not specified
Sizing (Waist, Length options) W: 28" - 42"
L: 8", 10", 12"
W: 28" - 41"
L: 8", 10", 12"
XS - XXL W: 30" - 44" Size S - XL
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, shorts
Pockets 5 5 (plus right coin) 3 6 2 hand, 1 embedded zip
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Elastic, drawstring
Other Features Standard fit, integrated belt, ventilated gusseted crotch, elastic key loop Classic fit, curved waistband, gusseted crotch Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Relaxed fit, Elastic on back waist, gusseted crotch Ventilation holes, interior liner

Our Analysis and Test Results

The fabric of the Stretch Zion II maintains excellent user mobility, and as far as shorts with cargo pockets go, they look really good. They offer some versatility and style, and their comfort bolsters the Prana Stretch Zion II shorts.

Performance Comparison


prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - the prana stretch zion ii is a comfortable pair of shorts with a...
The Prana Stretch Zion II is a comfortable pair of shorts with a complete set of features.
Credit: Sarah Van Cleve

Comfort and Mobility


The best part of these shorts is how comfortable they are. The 95%/5% nylon/spandex blend has a good amount of stretch. We found that we had plenty of mobility when taking big steps up inclines. Because of their more regular fit, they also don't bunch up nearly as much as slimmer models. The gusseted crotch and 10" inseam ensure the wearer has plenty of mobility. This pair is also unique in that the gusset isn't just a swatch in the middle but a strip of fabric that runs through the legs, creating extra room in the thigh area.


The softer fabric along the interior of the waist reduces chafing while on the move. The integrated belt also makes it possible to adjust the waist, so even though these shorts aren't particularly slim fit, the waist and hips still feel secure, which we found is especially nice if you are also wearing a backpack. In addition, the button closure at the front has a low profile, so it doesn't rub uncomfortably against a hip belt or harness. The fly zipper isn't especially long, but we found it to be sufficient, a surprisingly rare feature in hiking shorts.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - the soft lining of the waist reduces chaffing over the course of a...
The soft lining of the waist reduces chaffing over the course of a long hike.
Credit: Sarah Van Cleve

Features


These shorts come with a strong complement of features. In addition to everything outlined above, there are six pockets; three front, including a coin pocket, two rear, and one on the left leg. We love the depth of the two main front pockets. Even without closures at the top, items still feel secure. There is also a super stealth coin pocket on the right side that is deep and has a zipper closure. We love it for stashing car and house keys on outings when we didn't have a pack. The right rear pocket has a flap closure and the left rear pocket is open.


This cargo pocket has dual zippers, one on the side and one on top, and a flap covering the top zip. We are a little confused by the inclusion of the flap over the cargo pocket — it just makes items slightly more challenging to access without adding any protection. We found it hard to fit our hands in there to retrieve snacks. It can hold a large smartphone, but it's not quite deep enough to zip over the top of it. The side zip access is nice if you sit with your legs up.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - the cargo pocket can carry a smartphone and has two access points on...
The cargo pocket can carry a smartphone and has two access points on the top and side.
Credit: Sarah Van Cleve

Versatility and Style


So long as you stick to dry climates, these shorts are multi-purpose. We like them for day hikes and front country meet-ups if you don't have time to change. They are also nice for outdoor work around the house. They make for great travel shorts because they are comfortable and their standard fit through the legs makes it easier to curl up in an airplane seat. However, their lack of water resistance means they aren't ideal for rainy weather or water sports.


In terms of style, they are somewhere between rugged and casual. These shorts have a lot of visible redundant stitching, which is a little for style and a little for durability. The integrated belt is super practical. However, this model also has traditional belt loops, so it's possible to put a regular belt over the top of the one that is sewn in. The two together can look a little odd, but it is nice to have the flexibility to wear a nicer-looking belt if the occasion calls for it while still retaining the ability to tighten the waist if you forget to put on a regular belt.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - these shorts use redundant stitching across the thigh and a longer...
These shorts use redundant stitching across the thigh and a longer inseam to achieve their casual aesthetic.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance and Dry Time


These shorts are among the poorest performers in this metric. The fabric does not have any water resistance. They absorb precipitation quite quickly. Though their thickness keeps moisture from reaching the skin in light rain, they also take a comparatively long time to dry out after moderate or heavy rain. For this reason, we think they are better suited to sunny days and arid climates.


Like many in the category, these shorts have a UPF 50+ rating, meaning they are highly protective against sun exposure. As for wind resistance, they stand up better than most, owing to their thicker nylon.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - water absorbs quite quickly into these shorts. there is no beading...
Water absorbs quite quickly into these shorts. There is no beading effect.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Venting and Breathability


The Zion II is the only one in this review that incorporates an active ventilation feature. There are four holes on the crotch gusset, which are small enough and discretely placed. If you are sitting down, they are visible, but the openings are small enough that no one could see through them. On the other hand, we aren't sure they offer a lot.


The fabric is notably thicker than other models, and they hold on to moisture longer. That being said, we do sweat less in these shorts than similar competitors. We chalk this up to their looser fit, facilitating airflow throughout the crotch. The stretch fabric does provide additional breathability and the front pockets are mesh-lined, providing some nominal relief.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - the stretch zion ii has four vent holes in the gusset of the crotch...
The Stretch Zion II has four vent holes in the gusset of the crotch to facilitate air flow.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Should You Buy the Prana Stretch Zion II?


The Prana Stretch Zion II shorts are comfortable and the stretch fabric is flexible yet durable. We recommend them for someone who wants an array of pockets and enjoys additional features like an integrated belt and soft interior wait liner. They aren't water resistant, so they are best for arid climates. However, we enjoy their combination of practicality and unique styling. If light weight is a primary consideration, we suggest looking elsewhere, but this is a great option for a reliable pair of hiking shorts.

What Other Hiking Shorts Should You Consider?


If it is important for your shorts to look good, or you just like the Prana brand, we recommend the equally priced Prana Brion. If combined comfort and functionality are what you are after, then the Patagonia Quandary is a high-value option. Also, if a plethora of pockets makes this model appealing, the REI Sahara Cargo is another worth exploring. If you are more into running than hiking, the Patagonia Nine Trails is a top contender with its built-in liner.

prana stretch zion ii short hiking short review - they aren't typical hiking shorts, but we like this pair for...
They aren't typical hiking shorts, but we like this pair for adventures when the weather is drier.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch
 
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