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REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts Review

These athletic, lightweight shorts come with an interior liner and ventilation holes that help you stay cool
rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $45 List | $44.95 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight, elastic waist, dry quickly
Cons:  No rear pockets, no fly
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 20, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8.0
  • Features - 25% 6.0
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 5.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 8.0
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The REI Active Pursuits is a pair of hiking shorts that are meant to keep you cool. Lightweight and breathable, this pair keeps its features basic. The interior liner provides support on trail runs while remaining stretchy and comfortable. The ventilation points are a thoughtful addition that help dissipate heat. The elastic waist accommodates a range of waist sizes and they dry fast when they get wet. These shorts are meant for those who like to move quickly and don't need a lot of extra features. While we like these shorts, we generally recommend spending a little bit more to get the Patagonia Nine Trails, a much nicer pair of shorts geared toward the same usage.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $45 List
$44.95 at REI
$79 List
$79.00 at Backcountry
$45.50 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$60 List
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$55 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
66
82
81
70
63
Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, elastic waist, dry quicklyComfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveComfortable, elastic waist, inexpensive
Cons No rear pockets, no flyA little tight when sitting down, no integrated beltNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityUtilitarian appearance, pocket openings a little smallLimiting pocket configuration, no belt loops
Bottom Line These athletic, lightweight shorts come with an interior liner and ventilation holes that help you stay coolThese 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 hikerA fast and light pair of shorts with just a couple of features keeping it from the top
Rating Categories REI Co-op Active Pu... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... The North Face Para...
Comfort and Mobility (35%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Features (25%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Versatility and Style (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Venting and Breathability (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Weather Resistance and Dry Time (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Specs REI Co-op Active Pu... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine Trai... REI Co-op Sahara Ca... The North Face Para...
Weight 5.8 oz 7.1 oz 6.6 oz 5.9 oz 6.8 oz
Material 86% polyester/14% spandex 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% recycled polyester 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex 90% polyester, 10% elastane
Water Resistance Not specified DWR coating DWR coating DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (Waist, Length options) Size S - XL W: 28" - 41"
L: 8", 10", 12"
XS - XXL W: 30" - 44" Size: S - XL
L: 10", 12"
Sun Protection UPF 50 UPF 50+ Not specified UPF 50+ UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? Pants, shorts Pants available No Pants, convertible available No
Pockets 2 hand, 1 embedded zip 5 (plus right coin) 3 6 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Elastic, drawstring Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Ventilation holes, interior liner Classic fit, curved waistband, gusseted crotch Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Relaxed fit, Elastic on back waist, gusseted crotch Relaxed fit, included belt

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a 7-inch inseam and lightweight fabric, these shorter shorts will keep you cool. The 86/14% polyester/spandex blend also makes them comfortable.

Performance Comparison


rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - this shorter, lighter pair is great for warm summer days and drying...
This shorter, lighter pair is great for warm summer days and drying quickly after a storm.
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

Comfort & Mobility


These shorts have a lot going for them on the comfort front. Their high proportion of spandex makes them extra stretchy. The elastic waist can also adjust to different sizes, which makes them useful if you are planning to use them on a longer trip where your waist size might fluctuate.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - the thin fabric and short 7" inseam of this model makes these shorts...
The thin fabric and short 7" inseam of this model makes these shorts cool and comfortable.
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

The interior liner is somewhat sheer and even stretchier than the main body of the shorts which helps to maintain both support and mobility. It has a briefs-style design (as opposed to something more like compression shorts) which feels more restrictive to some people, but we ultimately didn't find it distracting.

Features


This model is highlighted by a simple feature set. It has two traditional front handwarmer pockets. In addition, the righthand side has an embedded zippered pocket for keys or other small items that you can't afford to escape mid-activity. We found this pocket to be the best inclusion of all. The elastic waist stays up on its own, but the inclusion of a drawstring as well adds some additional security.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - the right side has a double pocket: a traditional handwarmer pocket...
The right side has a double pocket: a traditional handwarmer pocket on the outside and a zippered inner compartment for keys (or a snack).
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

Notably, this pair does not have any rear pockets. In most cases, when all we needed was our keys, this wasn't an issue. However, we did occasionally find ourselves reaching back for a pocket that wasn't there and wishing that it was.

Versatility & Style


As far as style goes, these are most definitely a pair of outdoor activewear shorts. There's just no way around it. That's not a bad thing if that's what you are going for, but the straight-from-the-workout look is what this pair is bringing to the table. They are great for trail running, day hikes as well as longer backpacking adventures.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - with their stretchy elastic waist, drawstring, and lightweight...
With their stretchy elastic waist, drawstring, and lightweight material, they are great for long-distance hikes or trail runs in the backcountry and could even be used for front-country sports like soccer.
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

Because of the tight cut of the liner, they aren't ideal for activities like yoga or fitness classes that require a lot of stretching. However, their design essentially makes them a bathing suit, so they are a great stand-in for swimming, paddling, or other watersports.

Venting & Breathability


There are a few features we really appreciate that are focused specifically on venting and breathability. The inseam is shorter to begin with, meaning that there is less fabric overall. The interior liner is sheer and very breathable.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - ventilation holes on both hips help disperse heat.
Ventilation holes on both hips help disperse heat.
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

The pockets are mesh-lined and there are even sets of holes at each hip to facilitate ventilation. On top of that, these are among the lightest shorts that we have tested. Taken together, there are a lot of elements that are geared toward good ventilation and increased breathability.

Weather Resistance & Dry Time


Water resistance is not a strength of this pair. In fact, they absorb precipitation immediately. In a heavy storm, they also get rather heavy. However, on the plus side, their thin fabric also dries very quickly.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - they aren't waterproof, or really even water-resistant, but the...
They aren't waterproof, or really even water-resistant, but the interior liner dries much faster than underwear.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

These shorts thrive in warmer, dry weather and allow for really nice air flow on breezy days.

Value


These shorts offer strong value. As one of the least expensive models in this review, they earn a performance mark that exceeds what we would have expected. Though you might need to wash them more frequently (as a consequence of the interior liner), if you prefer more athletic hiking shorts over traditional hiking shorts (with more pockets, features, and thicker fabric), this pair works and keeps costs low.

Conclusion


The REI Co-op Active Pursuits stands up to its name by offering high performance and comfort for trail running and hiking. The shorter length and ventilation points help you stay cool in the heat, and the basic features have enough of what we needed to find a lot of utility with this pair.

rei co-op active pursuits shorts hiking short review - we love how lightweight and breathable these shorts are. they are...
We love how lightweight and breathable these shorts are. They are priced fairly and work well for an athletic crossover short that serves sport and recreational needs.
Credit: Piper Van Cleve

Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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