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

How We Tested Hiking Shorts

By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor
Friday May 15, 2020

We took each pair to the trail and ran them hard and fast. Each model was worn in casual trail walks, day hikes, and while backpacking, racking up over 200 miles of wear.

Comfort and Mobility


To assess comfort and mobility, we rely heavily on hands-on testing. We took each pair out on the trail and wore them in a variety of other related activities like backpacking and running. Space in the crotch and waist fit are key components of comfort, while the amount and direction of fabric stretch is a primary consideration for mobility.

After miles and miles in each pair  we know which ones were in it for the long haul  and which ones bunch up.
After miles and miles in each pair, we know which ones were in it for the long haul, and which ones bunch up.

Features


There are a few elements we consider when assessing this metric for each model: (1)the number of features, (2)how innovative/unique each feature is, and (3) how practical the full complement of features actually proves to be. We count the number and type of pockets and pocket closures, the type and effectiveness of the waist fastening system, fly, zippers, gusseting, and anything else that adds a little extra something to each model.

Even the same feature  like drawstrings  can be subtly different. They can be on the inside or outside of the waist  thick or thin  static or dynamic.
Even the same feature, like drawstrings, can be subtly different. They can be on the inside or outside of the waist, thick or thin, static or dynamic.

Versatility and Style


Versatility is a combination of functionality and aesthetics. We took each pair on a variety of different adventures and terrains to see which ones handled the full spectrum the best. We also take into account how each model looks — and whether we could get away with wearing them in social situations outside of the outdoors.

This model feels good and looks good.
This model feels good and looks good.

Venting and Breathability


This metric ultimately takes into account how effective each pair is at keeping the wearer cool when the mercury rises. In addition to hands-on testing, we consider fabric weight and mesh integration. We hiked uphill and assessed how quickly we began to sweat and how long it took to cool down.

The interior liner is thin and super breathable.
The interior liner is thin and super breathable.

Weather Resistance and Dry Time


We tested water resistance both on the trail and with more controlled experiments. In the field, it rained, our shorts got wet, and, then they dried off; some faster than others. We also sprayed each pair with a spray bottle (20 times), then timed how long it took for each one to dry. We also sprayed each one until water came through the fabric to see which ones were actually the most water-resistant.

Testing the water resistance of the fleet.
Testing the water resistance of the fleet.