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The North Face Paramount Active Short Review

A fast and light pair of shorts with just a couple of features keeping it from the top.
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Price:  $55 List | $26.98 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, elastic waist, inexpensive
Cons:  Limiting pocket configuration, no belt loops
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Versatility and Style - 20% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 10% 8
  • Weather Resistance and Dry Time - 10% 6

Our Verdict

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.


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Price $26.98 at Backcountry
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$34.93 at REI$56.00 at Amazon
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Pros Comfortable, elastic waist, inexpensiveComfortable, stylish, water resistantLightweight, odor resistant, zippered pocketsGood water resistance, many pockets, inexpensiveVery stretchy fabric, well-positioned pockets, drawstring
Cons Limiting pocket configuration, no belt loopsA little tight when sitting down, no integrated beltNot super stylish, liner limits versatilityBaggy fit, utilitarian appearanceMore expensive, baggier feel
Bottom Line A fast and light pair of shorts with just a couple of features keeping it from the top.These comfortable, functional shorts really impressed us on our adventures.A lightweight, breathable pair of shorts that are equally comfortable on a run as they are on a backpacking trip.These thin yet water resistant shorts are a great option for the practical, budget-minded hiker.These full-coverage shorts have really practical features for a long day on trail.
Rating Categories Paramount Active Short Patagonia Quandary Short Patagonia Nine Trails Short REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Short Marmot Limantour Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Features (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
Versatility And Style (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Venting And Breathability (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weather Resistance And Dry Time (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Paramount Active... Patagonia Quandary... Patagonia Nine... REI Co-op Sahara... Marmot Limantour...
Weight 6.8 oz 7.1 oz 6.6 oz 7.1 oz 8.9 oz
Material 90% polyester, 10% elastane 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% recycled polyester 94% nylon / 6% spandex 88% Nylon 12% Elastane
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR coating DWR coating DWR finish DWR coating
Sizing (waist, length options) S - XL; 10", 12" 28 - 41; 8", 10", 12" inseams XS - XXL 30 - 40 28 - 40
Sun Protection UPF 50 UPF 50+ Not specified UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? No Pants available No Pants, convertible available Pants available
Pockets 4 5 (plus right coin) 3 5 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Elastic/Draw string Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Relaxed fit, included belt Classic fit, curved waistband, gusseted crotch Odor control liner, waist drawcord, reflective logo Relaxed fit, integrated belt, gusseted crotch Regular fit, reinforced seat, belt loops
Warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty

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.

Performance Comparison


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.

These shorts are lightweight and breathable for covering miles on warm days.
These shorts are lightweight and breathable for covering miles on warm days.

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 drawstring and elastic waist are both simple but effective components that improve wearer comfort.
The drawstring and elastic waist are both simple but effective components that improve wearer comfort.

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.

Features


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.

The simple button closure is truly representative of the simplicity of these shorts.
The simple button closure is truly representative of the simplicity of these shorts.

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.

There just isn't too much going on with these shorts.
There just isn't too much going on with these shorts.

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.

These shorts have decent water resistance  but they are one of the thinner  lighter pairs that we tested  meaning that they dry quickly.
These shorts have decent water resistance, but they are one of the thinner, lighter pairs that we tested, meaning that they dry quickly.

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.

The medium weave mesh of the front pockets facilitates modest ventilation.
The medium weave mesh of the front pockets facilitates modest ventilation.

Testing showed that this pair kept us less sweaty longer, and we cooled down quicker.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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