The North Face Paramount Active shorts have all of the stretch that you need to high step it through a boulder field, and they are very comfortable. They also come at a more affordable price than most of the other models in this review. With that in mind, there are a few features that we wish were just a little better. The pockets are on the shallow side and a little awkward to reach into, and the lack of belt loops reduces the versatility. We have no big complaints, but there are a handful of tiny details that, taken together, leave us needing a little bit more. However, if comfort is as important to you as it is to us, the Paramount Active would make a fine choice.
The North Face Paramount Active Short Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, elastic waist, inexpensive
Cons: Limiting pocket configuration, no belt loops
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These shorts are a great choice if you know your hike will involve some scrambling. They are nice for warm, breezy weather, but they tend to take on more water than many of their counterparts. We brought them along on an extended tour of the Oregon Coast Trail, and we were all-in-all pleased with their performance, save for a few hitches which we discuss more below.
The North Face Paramount Active offers solid comfort and mobility. They are lightweight as well, but their water resistance and feature metrics keep them from contending for a top spot.
Comfort and Mobility
The fabric itself doesn't feel tight or limiting. The 90%/10% polyester/elastane fabric blend offers greater stretch than most other shorts in this review, and it flexes along both vertical and horizontal axes. On the other hand, the 9" inseam is one of the shorter models that we tested. Paired with a slim fit, it is slightly more restrictive than longer, looser models like the REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo.
The back portion of the waistband is elastic. Coupled with an interior drawstring, this model comes with the options of both expanding and shrinking the waist to find just the right fit, which is, in fact, a fairly unique feature (other pairs at most have a drawstring or integrated for tightening). The metal button closure is basic and secure.
The limited features of these shorts match the lightweight functionality. They come with a complement of four pockets; two front, one rear (right), and one zippered thigh (right). Because there is not a lot of material to these shorts overall, we found that the pockets are either shallow, small, or both. The leg pocket is large enough for a few snack bars or a smartphone, but we never felt comfortable keeping anything of value in the other pockets because we were nervous that the items would fall out.
For a full-featured model, we think you should check out the Arc'teryx Palisade, or if you want something almost as light, but with better features, the Patagonia Nine Trails shorts are an awesome option.
Versatility and Style
These shorts are best for fast and light multi-day missions, though they could also be good for day hikes. If you are on an extended backpacking trip, they also double well as a bathing suit if you have some time to dry out before you get back on the move.
Their aesthetic is basic. We think that they are the plainest model that we tested. They neither scream style, but also aren't unattractive, they just…are.
Weather Resistance and Dry Time
These shorts absorb water faster than the Arc'teryx Palisade or REI Co-Op Sahara Cargo. However, their thin fabric dries out quickly as well.
On the flip side, their shorter inseam leaves more of your leg exposed, and wind cut through the fabric more than a burlier pair like the Fjallraven Abisko or Prana Stretch Zion.
Venting and Breathability
The Paramount Active shorts do well for themselves in this metric. Even though they are slim fit, their stretchy, lightweight fabric is breathable. Every pocket is mesh-lined with a medium-weave, facilitating a modest amount of ventilation.
Testing showed that this pair kept us less sweaty longer, and we cooled down quicker.
These shorts are best used on adventures where lightweight is important. Backpackers may prefer them because of the streamlined waist which stays comfortable under a hip belt. They are better in warm, potentially humid weather, when cooling off quickly is crucial.
At $55, these shorts offer reliable value. Because of their reasonable price point, they are a decent, safe choice for those just entering the activewear scene who might not be as keen about dropping $100 on a pair of shorts.
The North Face Paramount Active is a super stretchy, super comfortable pair of hiking shorts. They give off a little bit of an active dad vibe, meaning that we wouldn't consider them the most stylish option, but their practicality almost makes up for it. Though they aren't terribly water resistant, they are lightweight and reasonably priced.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch