The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Short Review
Cons: Shorter inseam, no water resistance
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
One of the lightest pairs of shorts in our group, at only 4.4 ounces, The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 is constructed with a nylon, polyester, and elastane blend that stretches exceptionally well. The heathered waistband is easy to pull on and off, and it sits gently against the abdomen for all-day comfort. They're so light we didn't have to think much about them at all during our hikes. Being able to focus on the activity without any wardrobe annoyances is the main reason we like them so much, despite their more youthful inseam length. The earthy tone of the model we tested is also appealing.
Comfort and Mobility
The form-fitting waistband keeps these already high-waisted shorts from riding up on us or from chafing when wearing a pack. The waistband is also stretchy enough to pull over our curvy, athletic hips. Not having a button or zipper fly means that wearing longer shirts or a hip belt is comfortable, but we do wish the drawstring was internal as opposed having to tie it on the outside. Our lead tester prefers not to tie a bow at all to prevent an awkward bulge beneath a t-shirt.
With how light they are, it is easy to forget that these are even hiking shorts. They run true to size and flex with our stride, which is aided by the 3.5-inch inseam for the size XS we reviewed. The ample legroom and soft fabric make for an extraordinary piece of apparel. At the top for this metric, it is tough to want to wear anything else, no matter the terrain or type of outing.
Venting and Breathability
Another great benefit of these shorts is how well they breathe. The moisture-wicking material is airy and light despite their slim fit. After several uses without washing, we also didn't notice any issues with odor. Having a shorter inseam helps mitigate heat retention in the legs, but the waistband does feel hot after a while since it is thicker than the legs. Though, we found the material of the waistband to help absorb and dissipate the sweat.
The thick waistband certainly takes longer to dry than the leg area. Since they are so light and breathable, wearing them in colder temperatures is not recommended. If the weather turns sour or you encounter high winds, these fair-weather shorts won't offer much resistance.
Thanks to the stretchy material, these shorts are pleasant to wear around town, on a run, or during a mountain scramble. The material did not bunch between the legs or feel cumbersome when flexibility or speed was involved. On a casual note, our lead tester enjoys wearing them to her massage appointments because, first and foremost, they're so comfy, but also because of how easy and quick they are to pull on and off. The Aphrodite is all-encompassing, from being casual to stylish to athletic.
At first, we were concerned with the length while climbing or stretching out, but when we asked friends whether or not we were unknowingly exposing ourselves, we were happy to hear the verdict: we weren't. Whew. All the more, the look is cute without detracting from its athletic appeal. Balancing style with function is always tricky and is, of course, subjective. Highly versatile, the only possible drawback we have to be mindful of (since not everyone likes thigh-exposing shorts) is in how short they are. At the time of this publishing, The North Face does offer a 6-inch option, which would significantly improve a few aspects of their performance in this metric. If you find yourself continually bushwacking, longer inseams are undoubtedly preferable.
These shorts do not offer an incredible amount of water resistance. During our test, water absorbs rather quickly. The North Face FlashDry-XD fabric, however, allows for fast drying and breathability, which is appealing for hot, summer hikes when things get muggy or when encountering a stream crossing.
Even if submerged, the shorts will dry in the sun more readily than a cotton-based pair. While this metric is important overall, if you only partake in casual hikes, lacking this resistance shouldn't be a dealbreaker. But if you plan to be thru-hiking or on extended day trips in which inclement weather might be expected, you might want to opt for something with more resistance (like full-length pants even) or be prepared with backup pairs should you become drenched.
Not the most featured pair we recently tested, they do come with three pockets (two of which have mesh), a rib-knit waistband, and an external drawstring. The fabric is also triple-needle stitched for added durability. We noticed a customer comment about the fabric snagging, but we did not find this to be the case during testing, even when scrambling up rough granite. However, over time, we did find some pilling of the material. The two main pockets are deep, and our lead tester can carry her iPhone Plus comfortably. The only note to make is how narrow the main pocket openings are. This keeps items from falling out (which we appreciate) but also isn't as easy to stick our hands into.
Carrying bulkier items did not restrict movement or noticeably tighten the fabric around our legs. With how compact and lightweight they are, there isn't a need for more quirks. Having zero rear pockets is easy to criticize, but when it comes to wearing a backpack, it's hard to argue the practical need for even more storage. In this regard, we appreciate the streamlined fit.
Manufactured in Vietnam, these shorts retail for an affordable price. With how comfortable and well-made they are, we are surprised they don't cost even more (we'll take it). The North Face also offers a lifetime warranty. Such a value is hard to beat.
We highly recommend the Aphrodite 2.0 if you're a fan of the short length (if not, you might opt for the 6-inch version). Earning Editors' Choice, they go beyond the standards for what makes an ideal pair of hiking shorts. With minimalist trends on the rise, it's nice to know that their compact nature doesn't compromise performance. We ultimately like the combination of affordability, style, and the distinctive comfort of this pair. Too, knowing there is an option for a longer inseam makes them that much more versatile across varying customer preferences.
— Sara Aranda