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Outdoor Research Wadi Rum - Women's Review

A modern twist to the hiking short, they are both practical and urban friendly
Outdoor Research Wadi Rum - Women's
Photo: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $69 List | $24.13 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, comfortable, versatile
Cons:  No water resistance, not as lightweight
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Sara Aranda ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 21, 2019
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 5

Our Verdict

At first glance, the OR Wadi Rum doesn't stand out as athleticwear. But, they are just as comfortable on the trail as they are in town. Versatility is a high mark for this pair, though we found the cotton-based material to be slightly thicker, stiffer, and more restrictive than the overall top performers. In the end, it's hard to ignore how cute they are. If you're looking for casual hiking shorts, these are great and are best suited for mild summer ventures into the hills. Outdoor Research describes rock climbing as an intended use as well, but with how relatively stiff they are, we feel they are more practical across horizontal planes.

Product Updated

Outdoor Research tweaked the Wadi Rum short; details to follow.

April 2020

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Stylish, comfortable, versatileComfortable, water-resistant, breathable, versatile for general outdoor recreationStylish, comfortable, versatileLightweight, breathable, athletic, low priceAffordable, water resistant, breathable
Cons No water resistance, not as lightweightNot the cheapest, not the most stylishMinimal water resistance, minimal featuresBaggy looking, no hand pocketsUnnecessary belt, small cargo pockets
Bottom Line A modern twist to the hiking short, they are both practical and urban friendlyA versatile and high-performing pair of shorts with subtle styling and deep pocketsStyle and function combine to offer greater versatility, breathability, and high comfortA seeming hybrid between hiking and running shorts, these aerobics-focused shorts offer high comfort but no hand pocketsFunctional and fun, these shorts cover all the basics
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Wa... Mountain Hardwear D... Prana Alana REI Co-op Active Pu... Columbia Sandy Rive...
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Water Resistance (15%)
5.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Features (15%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
2.0
5.0
Specs Outdoor Research Wa... Mountain Hardwear D... Prana Alana REI Co-op Active Pu... Columbia Sandy Rive...
Weight (in oz) 7.6 oz 4.6 oz 6.7 oz 4.9 oz 5.1 oz
Material 68% cotton, 29% Cordura nylon, 3% spandex 94% nylon, 6% elastane 95% recycled nylon, 5% spandex 86% polyester/14% spandex (liner: recycled polyester | rib: 91% polyester, 9% spandex) 100% nylon
Water Resistance Minimal DWR Minimal Minimal Perfecta Plus II quick-dry
Sizing (waist, length options) 2 - 12 XS - XL 0 - 14 XS - XL XS - XL
Sun Protection Yes, UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50 Yes, UPF 30
Pockets 4 4 4 1 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Metal button and zipper fly with internal drawstring Elastic waistband Double metal snap, zip fly Elastic waistband Elastic waistband with plastic snap and zipper fly, optional belt

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

Easily worn with a sweater or a nicer blouse and flip-flops, these...
Easily worn with a sweater or a nicer blouse and flip-flops, these shorts transfer well into more urban environments.
Photo: Sara Aranda

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.

A very cute trail option with adequate mobility, the Wadi Rum is...
A very cute trail option with adequate mobility, the Wadi Rum is above average for versatility.
Photo: Sara Aranda

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.

Versatility


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.

With trendy stitching and a plastic button, these shorts are both...
With trendy stitching and a plastic button, these shorts are both hip and practical.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Water Resistance


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 results of our water resistance test. The OR Wadi Rum absorbed...
The results of our water resistance test. The OR Wadi Rum absorbed water slowly.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Features


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.

A closer look at the stash pocket near the hip for items such as...
A closer look at the stash pocket near the hip for items such as chapstick or a single key.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Value


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.

Even the back pockets provide ample pocket space and the miniature...
Even the back pockets provide ample pocket space and the miniature snaps adds to the feminine look.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Conclusion


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.

Sara Aranda

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