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Prana Stretch Zion Short Review

These shorts try to incorporate the best of casual wear and hiking utility
Prana Stretch Zion Short
Photo: Prana
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Price:  $70 List | $68.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very comfortable, integrated belt, discrete crotch vents
Cons:  Difficult-to-access pockets, limited water resistance
Manufacturer:   Prana
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 6
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Prana Stretch Zion shorts are super comfortable but have somewhat unusual styling. The stretch fabric is great for big-stepping adventures and lounging. The concept behind the features this pair includes is really nice, but we think that their utility could be slightly improved. Their water-resistance is lacking, so they are better for drier climates, and the pocket access is somewhat clunky. Similar to their sibling the Prana Brion, we do like these shorts quite a bit, but for reasons other than what makes for a solid pair of hiking shorts.

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Pros Very comfortable, integrated belt, discrete crotch ventsComfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveGood water resistance, inexpensive
Cons Difficult-to-access pockets, limited 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 A pair with the soul of casual wear and a veneer of practicalityThese 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 Stretch Zion Short Patagonia Quandary Short Patagonia Nine Trails Short REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short Silver Ridge II Stretch Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
8
8
9
8
7
Features (25%)
5
8
8
6
6
Versatility And Style (20%)
7
9
7
6
7
Venting And Breathability (10%)
6
8
8
8
7
Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)
3
8
7
9
8
Specs Prana Stretch Zion... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine... REI Co-op Sahara... Silver Ridge II...
Weight 9.1 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 Wicking finish DWR coating DWR coating DWR finish Omni-Shield coating
Sizing (waist, length options) 28 - 42; 10", 12" 28 - 41; 8", 10", 12" inseams XS - XXL 30 - 40 28 - 42; 8", 10"
Sun Protection Not specified 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, integrated belt, ventilated gusseted crotch 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

On dry days, these shorts perform well. Their fabric maintains excellent user mobility, and as far as shorts with cargo pockets go, they look really good. The pockets and features could be improved a bit, but they are shorts that come with a solid foundation.

Performance Comparison


They offer some versatility and style, but the Prana Stretch Zion shorts are bolstered mostly by their comfort.

These shorts served us well on our adventures, but we think that...
These shorts served us well on our adventures, but we think that there are few things missing to make them real contenders.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Comfort and Mobility


The best part of these shorts is how comfortable they are. The 97%/3% nylon/spandex blend has a moderate amount of stretch, but the gusseted crotch and 10" inseam ensure that the wearer has plenty of mobility.

Made from a thicker fabric than a lot of other models, these shorts...
Made from a thicker fabric than a lot of other models, these shorts still managed to maintain a fair degree of comfort.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

The softer fabric along the interior of the waist reduces chaffing 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.

The soft waist liner saved our hips and back from too much chaffing.
The soft waist liner saved our hips and back from too much chaffing.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Features


The features that these shorts include are conceptually good ones; they just don't quite nail the execution. There are five pockets; two front, two rear, and one on the left leg. This cargo pocket has dual zippers, one on the side and one on top, as well as a flap covering the top zip. This flap only detracts from the accessibility of the pocket without bringing much to the table. We found it hard to fit our hands in there to retrieve snacks. The side zip access is kind of nice if you are sitting with your legs up, but for the most part, it is a little too much. The rear pockets are asymmetrical; the left has no closure, which we don't love for hiking shorts, and the right has a flap, similar to the cargo, which makes it equally tedious to access.

We think that the dual access leg pocket is a little unusual and...
We think that the dual access leg pocket is a little unusual and probably unnecessary.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

We mostly appreciate the integrated belt, though its design creates some style issues, as noted below. The metal button closure stayed secure through every activity we took them on.

The flap closure on the rear pocket makes accessing the pocket more...
The flap closure on the rear pocket makes accessing the pocket more difficult than it needs to be.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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), and outdoor work around the house.

The asymmetrical rear pockets are one way that these shorts try to...
The asymmetrical rear pockets are one way that these shorts try to change up the typical aesthetic.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

In terms of style, they are somewhere between rugged and casual. These shorts have a lot of visible redundant stitching, which we think is largely for style. Given the amount that you can actually adjust the integrated belt, there is a little too much webbing, which just kind of flops around. It looks especially odd if you also wear a separate belt.

All things considered, we think these shorts look pretty good.
All things considered, we think these shorts look pretty good.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Weather Resistance and Dry Time


These shorts are among the poorest performers in this metric. The fabric itself appears to have some nominal amount of water resistance, but similar to the Fjallraven Abisko and Marmot Limantour, if you are moving around, moisture will work its way through the holes of the fabric rather quickly. Because of their thickness, they also take quite a bit longer to dry than their thinner competitors like the Patagonia Quandary.

The fabric absorbs water immediately (bottom).
The fabric absorbs water immediately (bottom).
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Venting and Breathability


The Zion 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 that they aren't evident to others, even when you are sitting down. However, we also aren't totally sure that they offer a whole lot. That being said, we do sweat less in these shorts than some similar competitors. The front pockets are mesh-lined as well.

Holes in the crotch gusset are meant to be a discrete way to...
Holes in the crotch gusset are meant to be a discrete way to facilitate ventilation.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Applications


These shorts excel in warm, dry weather. We would be equally happy to take them on day hikes, do work around the house, or hang out around a campfire in them.

Value


Coming in at $70, they represent good value. Having said that, if it is style that you are primarily after, we would opt for the equally priced Prana Brion. If it's comfort and functionality together, then the also equally-priced Patagonia Quandary are the better value.

Conclusion


The Prana Stretch Zion shorts are very comfortable. The stretch fabric is flexible yet durable. We are disappointed with their water resistance, and the pockets don't wow us, but somehow, these shorts still look pretty good. If we needed a backcountry/front country go-between, these would be toward the top of the list.

They aren't typical hiking shorts, but we'd consider this pair for...
They aren't typical hiking shorts, but we'd consider this pair for adventures in dry weather.
Photo: Piper Van Cleve

Ben Applebaum-Bauch