The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Short Review

A highly comfortable, performance-based hiking short.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $40 List | $39.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Trendy, comfortable, lightweight
Cons:  Shorter inseam, no water resistance
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Sara Aranda ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 5, 2019
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 8
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 9
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6
  • Features - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The North Face Aphrodite 2.0's subtlety in style makes them all the more appealing to us. With a shorter inseam than the majority of the models we tested, they are petite but highly athletic, and the fabric moves effortlessly with the body. Our main critique resides with the relative lack of features such as water resistance and an above-average versatility score. While we are a huge fan of these shorts, despite their shorter length, we do offer up various extended length hiking shorts if those are your preference.


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Price $39.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Trendy, comfortable, lightweightComfortable, stretchy, longAffordable, water resistant, breathableLightweight, water resistant, versatileAnti-odor, moisture wicking, quick drying
Cons Shorter inseam, no water resistanceOnly one pocket, not the most flatteringUnnecessary belt, small cargo pocketsRuns big, abrasive waistbandExpensive, runs large, not ideal for incline
Bottom Line A highly comfortable, performance-based hiking short.Boldly athletic, these shorts are lengthy and comfortable.Functional and fun, these shorts cover all the basics.For water sports or hiking, these classic baggies are light and casual.A more conservative pair of shorts that are ideal for flat trails.
Rating Categories Aphrodite 2.0 Short Back Beauty Long Sport Sandy River Cargo Baggies 5" Sol Cool Nomad Short
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Venting And Breathability (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Versatility (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Features (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Specs Aphrodite 2.0 Short Back Beauty Long... Sandy River Cargo Baggies 5" Sol Cool Nomad Short
Weight (in oz) 4.4 oz 5.4 oz 5.1 oz 5.2 oz 4.9 oz
Material 95% nylon, 5% elastane OMNI-SHADE and OMNI-SHIELD 89% polyester/11% elastane Max Lite double weave OMNI SHADE 100% nylon Perfecta Plus II 100% nylon (92% recycled) 100% nylon
Water Resistance None (Flashdry™-XD quick-dry) Omni-Shield repellancy Perfecta Plus II quick-dry DWR coating Sol Cool™ Jade quick-dry
Sizing (waist, length options) XS - XXL, 4" or 6" inseam XS - XL XS - XL XXS,XS, S, M, L, XL 2 - 16
Sun Protection No Yes, UPF 50 Yes, UPF 30 No Yes, UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? No No No No No
Pockets 3 1 4 2 5
Waist Strap/Fasten Elastic waistband with drawstring Elastic waistband Elastic waistband with plastic snap and zipper fly, optional belt Elastic waistband with drawstring Two metal snaps and zipper fly
Other Features Flashdry-XD quick-dry fabric, triple needle stitch for durability, zip stash pocket Elastic, athetic, contoured fit, one stash pocket Zip cargo pocket, quick-dry nylon fabric Fair Trade Certified sewing SILVADUR coating in fabric activates silver ions to reduce odor, zip stash pockets, tricot-lined waistband
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty One Year Good Faith Guarantee One Year Good Faith Guarantee Ironclad Guarantee 1-Year Warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

One of the lightest pairs of shorts in our group, at only 4.4 oz, The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 is constructed with a nylon, polyester, and elastane blend that stretches exceptionally well given how trim they are. The heathered waistband is easy to pull on or take 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 wardrobe annoyance is the main reason we like them so much, despite their more youthful inseam length. The earthy tone of the model is also appealing, though various colors can be purchased. Providing incredible comfort and ease of the movement, the Aphrodite wins the crown.

Performance Comparison


Our lead tester is shown wearing The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 on a casual scramble; this award-winner provides ample leg mobility.
Our lead tester is shown wearing The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 on a casual scramble; this award-winner provides ample leg mobility.

Comfort and Mobility


The form-fitting waistband keeps these already high-waisted shorts from riding up on us or 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. 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. The ample leg room 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.

The stretchy material allowed for more versatility  such as rock climbing.
The stretchy material allowed for more versatility, such as rock climbing.

Venting and Breathability


Another great benefit of these shorts is how well they breathe. The moisture wicking material is airy and light despite their slimming fit. After several uses, we also didn't notice any issues with odor. When wet, the fabric readily dries without concern.


When we became sweaty, the thick waistband is the only place that heat retention was noticed, and it certainly took longer to dry than the leg area. Since they are so light and breathable, wearing them in colder temperatures is not recommended, though we would typically guide you toward a pair of hiking pants.


Versatility


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 actually wore them to a massage appointment because, first and foremost, they're so comfy, but also because of how easy they are to put on and take off. On the athletic note, the Aphrodite 2.0 is by far an unquestionable performance short.


At first, we were concerned with the length while climbing or stretching, but when we asked friends whether or not we were exposing ourselves, we were happy to hear the verdict: we weren't. 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. The North Face does offer a 6-inch option, which would significantly improve a few aspects of their performance in this metric (but we still prefer the shorter version). If you find yourself constantly bushwacking, we'd recommend any of the longer options, like the KUHL Splash.

A closer look at the stretchy  heathered waistband and drawstring closure. This design helps the shorts sit flat against the abdomen.
A closer look at the stretchy, heathered waistband and drawstring closure. This design helps the shorts sit flat against the abdomen.

Water Resistance


These shorts do not offer an incredible amount of water resistance, as liquid absorbs 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, like the OR Wadi Rum. While this metric is important overall, if you only partake in casual hikes, lacking this resistance shouldn't be a dealbreaker. If you find yourself thru-hiking or on extended day trips in which weather might be expected, you'll want to opt for something like the Exofficio Sol Cool Nomad or be prepared with back up pairs should you become drenched.

The results of our water resistance test. These shorts absorb water instantaneously but dry fairly fast.
The results of our water resistance test. These shorts absorb water instantaneously but dry fairly fast.

Features


Not the most featured pair we tested, they come with three pockets (two of which have mesh), a rib-knit waistband, and an external drawstring closure. 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. The two main pockets are deep, and our lead tester was able to carry her iPhone Plus. The only note to make is how narrow the main pocket openings are. This keeps items from falling out but also isn't as easy to stick 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 benefits. 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.

The deep pockets have a narrow opening  which helps keep your items safely inside. You can also see the smaller zip pocket on thigh.
The deep pockets have a narrow opening, which helps keep your items safely inside. You can also see the smaller zip pocket on thigh.

Best Applications


Designed for summer, the brisk nature of these shorts is suited for warm-weather treks; these shorts are no longer practical when temperatures drop below 50-degrees F. From a casual walk to a run, no matter the incline, we feel confident and fully appreciative of the versatility between sports. Not every short we tested would transfer well for long-distance hiking or backpacking, making these a true gem. Without water resistance, make sure to keep an eye on the weather, especially in colder conditions.

Value


Manufactured in Vietnam, these shorts retail for an affordable $40. With how comfortable and well-made they are, we are surprised they don't cost more (we'll take it). The North Face also offers a lifetime warranty. Such a value is hard to beat, but amazingly there's an even cheaper option - the high scoring Best Buy winner Columbia Sandy River Cargo.

They don't look short necessarily  but the 3.5 inseam for the XS we tested is as short as we feel comfortable wearing for hiking and other outdoor activities. The North Face offers a longer inseam option for those wanting more coverage.
They don't look short necessarily, but the 3.5 inseam for the XS we tested is as short as we feel comfortable wearing for hiking and other outdoor activities. The North Face offers a longer inseam option for those wanting more coverage.

Conclusion


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 hiking short. With minimal trends on the rise, it's nice to know that their compact nature doesn't compromise functionality. We ultimately like the combination of affordability, style, and the distinctive comfort of this pair, and knowing there is an option for a longer inseam makes them that much more versatile across varying customer preferences.


Sara Aranda