Outdoor Research tweaked the Wadi Rum short; details to follow.April 2020
Outdoor Research Wadi Rum Short - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Updates to the Wadi Rum
Since our test cycle, Outdoor Research updated the Wadi Rum, mainly noticed in the pockets. The front zippered stash pocket is gone from the new model, and the pockets (front and back) are on a slant now. The back pockets no longer feature a button and flap closure. The material used on the shorts has stayed very similar, but now there is sun protection of UPF 50+. The before and after are shown below — old model first, followed by the update.
Though we haven't tested the updated short yet, we're linking to it above. Take note that the review from here on refers only to the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Wadi Rum
Fashion meets hiking practicality with the OR Wadi Rum. The name refers to The Valley of the Moon in Jordan, but we find these shorts to be more of a balance between urban and athleticwear. Designed with mild adventure and travel in mind, they are a unique pair with little to complain about.
When compared to our list of essentials and the competition, they are out-performed by some of the more traditional activewear.
Comfort and Mobility
Constructed with a cotton, nylon, and spandex blend, the shorts don't stretch an incredible amount. Thankfully, with only a four-inch inseam, this wasn't as much of a limiting factor as it could have been. We enjoyed the overall comfort, though the fabric resisted movement with our body just enough to detract from their mobility score. Relative to other shorts, they aren't as soft and are a tad on the heavy side as well, weighing in at 7.6 ounces for the pair we tested. The fit of the Wadi Rum is on the slimmer side, especially in the legs, but still true to size. We also appreciate how the material does not bunch up while hiking.
Venting and Breathability
It can be difficult to breathe and vent well when cotton is involved. Thus, these shorts perform fairly average for this metric. The use of nylon and spandex contributes to breathability, but the relative thickness of the fabric does not allow for moisture-wicking advantages. On the flip side, these shorts insulate better on early morning starts and overcast days. If casual hiking is what you're after, these nuances might not be much of a concern.
These shorts were one of our favorites to dress up for a night out, and they fit right in with any fashion short, though the style might a limiting characteristic if you want something to look suited for the outdoors. Activity-wise, they are a decent length for rock climbing, stretching, casual cycling, or use with a foam roller. Despite mobility being slightly restricted, they cover the basic range of activities. Due to their length, they won't fare well in the colder seasons, but this is to be expected.
There is no added water-resistance to these shorts, which means they absorb water easily, but gradually; this means that the water beads first before soaking in, which gives you time to brush the water away. They also take some time to dry - nearly thirty minutes in our test - which is much slower than the more synthetic options.
The Wadi Rum has four deep pockets and one secret stash at the hip. Other features include a gusseted crotch, a plastic button and a zip fly closure, belt loops, and a small metal snap for the rear pockets that are uniquely offset (as in, out of the way of your hands and easily accessed). The stiffer material does have the added abrasion-resistant perk, but there is no added sun protection or quick-drying advantage.
Made in Bangladesh and designed by a highly regarded brand in the outdoor industry, fashion does seem to cost all the more. These shorts are one of the more expensive pairs we tested, though they have a limited lifetime warranty. If you can foot the bill and you value the nontraditional design, you won't be disappointed with their casual athleticism. We do recommend you try the shorts on beforehand or purchase from a retailer that will allow for easy exchanges since they are cut on the slim side.
We like how transferable the Wadi Rum is between activities and wardrobes and would highly recommend these shorts for their multi-functional construction. A potential staple to the wardrobe, they are either average or exceptional, depending on what you prioritize and need. With comfort and mobility being a prized metric, they performed well on their own but are simply outranked by others in the group.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More