Reviews You Can Rely On

Patagonia Nine Trails Short - Women's Review

An ultralight, comfortable, and technical pair of shorts ideal for even long hiking and running endeavors
patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review
Credit: Patagonia
Price:  $75 List
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Sara Aranda ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2022
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 9.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 8.0
  • Versatility - 15% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7.0
  • Features - 15% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Nine Trails is our Top Pick for Trail Running and Distance Hikes due to it being ultralight, versatile, water resistant, and comfortable no matter the hiking or running distance. Our lead tester has worn this pair often during her ultrarunning training, from summiting Longs Peak in them to simply sharing local trails with loved ones. The zippered accessory pocket at the back of the waistband is a welcome and very useful feature. Too, the combination of inseam length, side venting, and the polyester blend itself provide ample breathability and ventilation. Given that the model is designed more for runners, hikers might not find it as practical as traditional shorts. Plus, the running short style might not be preferred. Nonetheless, the quality of the design and the overall comfort have earned this pair an award-winning top spot in our line-up.
REASONS TO BUY
Versatile
Water resistant
High comfort and mobility
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited features
On the expensive side
Editor's Note: This gear review was updated on November 9, 2022, with a full write-up of the award-winning product.

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Pros Versatile, water resistant, high comfort and mobilityComfortable, water-resistant, breathable, versatile for general outdoor recreationComfortable, versatile, highly water resistantLightweight, breathable, athletic, low priceAffordable, water resistant, breathable
Cons Limited features, on the expensive sideNot the cheapest, not the most stylishSome might not like style, waistband not as comfortable, on the more expensive sideBaggy looking, no hand pocketsUnnecessary belt, small cargo pockets
Bottom Line An ultralight, comfortable, and technical pair of shorts ideal for even long hiking and running endeavorsA versatile and high-performing pair of shorts with subtle styling and deep pocketsA very functional short with high marks in mobility, features, and versatility but some might find issue with the waistband and overall stylingA 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 Patagonia Nine Trai... Mountain Hardwear D... Outdoor Research Fe... REI Co-op Active Pu... Columbia Sandy Rive...
Comfort and Mobility (35%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Venting and Breathability (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Water Resistance (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Features (15%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
5.0
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
Pockets 1 4 4 1 4
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.

Performance Comparison


patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - easy to move in, this pair is excellent for trail running.
Easy to move in, this pair is excellent for trail running.
Credit: Sara Aranda

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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - a closer look at the waistband and drawstring design. the...
A closer look at the waistband and drawstring design. The lightweight material and side notches allow for ample venting and breathability.
Credit: Sara Aranda

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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - no matter the distance or difficulty of the trail, these shorts are...
No matter the distance or difficulty of the trail, these shorts are a high-performing alternative to traditional hiking shorts.
Credit: Sara Aranda

Versatility


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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - a close-up look at how the dwr-coated fabric beads most of the water.
A close-up look at how the DWR-coated fabric beads most of the water.
Credit: Sara Aranda

Water Resistance


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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - the zippered accessory pocket at the back of the waistband is larger...
The zippered accessory pocket at the back of the waistband is larger than most stash pockets and we are easily able to carry snacks and keys.
Credit: Sara Aranda

Features


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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - you do have to get a little creative with carrying a phone, whether...
You do have to get a little creative with carrying a phone, whether vertically or horizontally, but our lead tester found that it works enough to cinch the zipper up against the phone in its vertical position, as long as you're not running wildly downhill!
Credit: Sara Aranda


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.

patagonia nine trails short for women hiking short review - our lead tester, wearing the patagonia nine trails shorts, and her...
Our lead tester, wearing the Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, and her partner on the summit of Longs Peak this past summer.
Credit: Sara Aranda

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.

Sara Aranda
 
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