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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.
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Price:  $69 List | $33.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 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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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • 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.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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.

Performance Comparison


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

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

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 hip and practical.
With trendy stitching and a plastic button, these shorts are both hip and practical.

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 water slowly.
The results of our water resistance test. The OR Wadi Rum absorbed water slowly.

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

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

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