Patagonia Nine Trails Short - Women's Review
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Patagonia Nine Trails Short - Women's
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|Pros||Versatile, water resistant, high comfort and mobility||Comfortable, water-resistant, breathable, versatile for general outdoor recreation||Comfortable, versatile, highly water resistant||Lightweight, breathable, athletic, low price||Affordable, water resistant, breathable|
|Cons||Limited features, on the expensive side||Not the cheapest, not the most stylish||Some might not like style, waistband not as comfortable, on the more expensive side||Baggy looking, no hand pockets||Unnecessary belt, small cargo pockets|
|Bottom Line||An ultralight, comfortable, and technical pair of shorts ideal for even long hiking and running endeavors||A versatile and high-performing pair of shorts with subtle styling and deep pockets||A very functional short with high marks in mobility, features, and versatility but some might find issue with the waistband and overall styling||A seeming hybrid between hiking and running shorts, these aerobics-focused shorts offer high comfort but no hand pockets||Functional and fun, these shorts cover all the basics|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Nine Trai...||Mountain Hardwear D...||Outdoor Research Fe...||REI Co-op Active Pu...||Columbia Sandy Rive...|
|Comfort and Mobility (35%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Nine Trai...||Mountain Hardwear D...||Outdoor Research Fe...||REI Co-op Active Pu...||Columbia Sandy Rive...|
|Weight||4.5 oz||4.6 oz||6.5 oz||4.9 oz||5.1 oz|
|Material||91% recycled polyester, 9% spandex [liner: 100% polyester (42% recycled)]||94% nylon, 6% elastane||86% Nylon (46% recycled), 14% spandex 90D Stretch Woven Ripstop||86% polyester/14% spandex (liner: recycled polyester | rib: 91% polyester, 9% spandex)||100% nylon|
|Water Resistance||DWR||DWR||Minimal||Minimal||Perfecta Plus II quick-dry|
|Sizing (waist, length options)||XS - XXL||XS - XL||XS - XXL||XS - XL||XS - XL|
|Sun Protection||No||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 30|
|Waist Strap/Fasten||Elastic wasitband with external drawcord||Elastic waistband||Elastic wasitband with integrated web belt||Elastic waistband||Elastic waistband with plastic snap and zipper fly, optional belt|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Nine Trails shorts are made with FairTrade Certified, Bluesign-approved recycled polyester (91%) and spandex (9%). Designed with running in mind, there is a sewn-in liner (100% polyester — 42% of which is recycled), but these shorts make for an excellent choice for hiking as well. The material overall is thin and ultralight, and the pair has a wrapped, elastic waistband. While the shorts themselves feel true to size, the liner itself might be more tight-fitting for those with curvier bodies. Nonetheless, the minimalist style is a welcome alternative to the thicker, more traditional hiking shorts. These shorts have seen their distance, too, given that our lead tester has trained for ultrarunning in them. Due to their high comfort, mobility, water resistance, and minimalist style, they've earned a Top Pick for Trail Running and Distance Hikes.
Comfort and Mobility
For this metric, we've divided the scoring into four rubrics: all-day wear, high-stepping, fit, and general comfort. For everything except for fit, this model scored at the top of the pack. All-day wear is comfortable and the fabric feels light against the body. We didn't find ourselves constantly adjusting the shorts or fiddling with the waistband beyond the occasional contention with the inner liner. The internal drawstring isn't necessary to hold up the shorts as the wrapped elastic waistband is enough to do the job, but we appreciate the option to tighten everything up. The wrapped waistband is also very comfortable and does not irritate our bellies over time. For mobility, high-stepping is a breeze with the stretch of the fabric and the aid of notches at the side hems. Too, the inseam length of 6 inches is a happy medium between other typically-shorter running apparel and longer hiking apparel, allowing the legs to move without restriction. These factors all yield a high general comfort score.
When it comes to fit, however, some wearers might run into an issue with the sewn-in liner. While the material is stretchy and comfortable on its own, the size of the liner relative to the shorts overall is on the small side. The model itself runs true to size as the waistband and leg opening dimensions suit us well. For our lead tester, however, the liner is surprisingly snug against her butt, and this sentiment has been echoed across various online consumer reviews. Yet, our lead tester has found that the liner nuisance isn't enough to drastically detract from all-day use and the general comfort the shorts provide. Still, for curvier women, sizing these shorts might be a tad trickier than expected.
Venting and Breathability
The notable design feature that contributes to venting with this model is the use of side notches, which, as mentioned above, do help with movement but they also help with airflow. The generous leg openings contribute as well. The material itself is relatively thin, which means less fabric for the trapping of heat. The polyester blend offers fair breathability despite the added DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, likely due to its thinness, and is further aided by the venting features. As in, the material doesn't have to be completely breathable if venting is adequate to offset the water-resistant technology.
The waistband will inevitably be the area with the greatest heat retention simply because of its use of an elastic band, which thickens the amount of fabric and creates less breathability. Elastic bands are just not very airy but we're grateful the band is wrapped in the same lightweight polyester as the rest of the shorts. Having this material buffer helps regulate the build-up of sweat and heat, and even during the summer heat, we felt the waistband to still breathe well.
For this metric, we base scores on three different rubrics: style, cross-activity, and multi-seasonal use. The Nine Trails is notable because of its cross-activity capabilities, earning it this very Top Pick award. The transferability between running, hiking, casual bike commuting, and more is a huge plus in our book. While the inseam length might limit its function some, as compared to longer shorts or even pants, we like how lightweight and easy to wear the shorts are. Style, in our opinion, is also a strength, but we acknowledge that we don't mind the minimalist running design in the context of hiking shorts. At the time of this review, there are a few color options, which contribute to the high style rating.
The pros of being so lightweight and running-oriented come at a cost here with multi-seasonal use, however. With average scoring in this rubric, they are only ideal during the summer or simply for warm weather in general. Our lead tester has, of course, found herself in windy and cold conditions on summits or in the midst of a cold snap during her training. The shorts fare well for brief summit visits or for short runs with ample upper-body layering, but for more extended periods of exposure, these shorts do not come recommended. Warmth is not something these shorts are designed to maintain. Nonetheless, with the individual scores added together, the overall versatility score remains above average.
For water resistance, the fabric is coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), which is becoming more and more common among outdoor apparel. The point is to be resistant, however, and not waterproof. Nonetheless, a high level of resistance is a welcome attribute. During our water test, the Nine Trails beaded the water nicely. After nearly twenty minutes, many of the beads remained and easily rolled off the fabric. There were a few areas where water was beginning to soak in, but not much at all. Even when we purposefully soaked a small section of the shorts, it took some time for the soaking to occur.
When compared to the best of the best, there is a notable difference, but having any reistance at all is still a tremendous perk. Too, the drying time is low given the thinner, synthetic material. Drying time, however, is something we score specifically in the following Features metric.
How we score for this metric can be a little complicated, but overall this pair earned an average rating. We use a weighted scale with the most weight going toward the number and quality of pockets. Following this, in descending order, are durability, drying time, sun protection, and any miscellaneous features like odor control). Notably, this pair yields high marks for durability and drying time. Too, miscellaneous features include the use of HeiQ Pure odor control for the sewn-in liner, the use of side vents, a drawcord, a wrapped elastic waistband, and Bluesign-approved fabrics. Being Bluesign-approved means that the suppliers and manufacturers involved support and utilize resource-saving production practices. In addition, the shorts are FairTrade Certified, which means that they were produced according to rigorous international standards for environmental, economic, and social ethics and principles.
There is no notable sun protection, however, which means that the UPF rating is likely below 15. The lowest score is unfortunately in the category with the most weight for Features, the pockets. Given that the design intention is focused on running, we understand why there are no hand pockets, but in the context of our hiking shorts review, we have to critique accordingly. We do love, on the other hand, that there is a pocket, and a fairly spacious one, too. It is a zippered accessory pocket on the back of the waistband. Larger than most accessory or stash pockets, we've been able to carry gloves or a phone or several snacks. Our lead tester had to get creative at times with larger items, like her phone, but the zipper helps cinch a larger item in place. Given the quality of the pocket and the fact that we can still carry important items (albeit creatively at times), the lack of hand pockets isn't as big of a drawback as one would think.
Should You Buy the Patagonia Nine Trails?
If you're looking for a pair of shorts to do many outdoor activities in that are lightweight and technical, the Nine Trails is an excellent option. From trail running to hiking to simply wanting to wearing something casual, we applaud the comfort, mobility, versatility, and venting attributes. While these shorts aren't traditional hiking shorts by any means, they are a quality pick.
What Other Women's Hiking Shorts Should You Consider?
Another similar trail running or distance option are the REI Active Pursuits shorts, which previously held this Top Pick award. Our lead tester still uses this pair regularly for her training. For something a little more traditional but highly technical, consider the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts.
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