Best Hiking Shorts for Women

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Finding the right type of hiking gear can be tough – and expensive if you get it wrong! I’ve put together a list of all of the hiking shorts I’ve tried and what I like (or not) about them. Read on to find the list of best hiking shorts for women!

Kuhl Freeflex Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts for Women Overall

These shorts are newer to my rotation, but are rapidly becoming a favorite. They are the best hiking shorts with zippered pockets I’ve found that ACTUALLY fits your phone. These shorts are also very flattering (unlike shorts with longer inseams, which make me look like a dad). I have the Eucalyptus color and it’s feminine without being too overt. I love the 4″ inseam because that is the perfect length for me – covers everything without having too much material that gets bunched up. They’ve held up well over a lot of wear – I’ve taken them hiking, white water rafting, and camping and worn them multiple days in a row! I highly recommend these shorts and would absolutely get another pair.

The zippered pockets were perfect for putting my sunglasses in so they didn’t get lost

I wish I had sized down a bit as they are kind of loose, but the drawstring waistband allows me to adjust as needed. They are on the more expensive end for shorts on this list, but are long lasting so absolutely worth the price (and over 150 five star reviews can’t be wrong). If shorter shorts aren’t for you, Kuhl also offers the Fleeflex in an 8″ inseam option or a Cargo Short or Skort option. They all come in so many cute colors that you’ll want more than one pair!

Note: this product was gifted, but my opinion is my own

Patagonia Baggies

Best Shorts for Hiking and Water Sports

A crowd favorite! Every time I asked for hiking short recommendations when I first got into hiking, these were the shorts that came up the most. They are made of recycled fishing nets (love that) and they are perfect for days when your hike turns into a dip in the river. They dry super quickly and are great for stand up paddling or kayaking as well.

I got these shorts on consignment at my local outdoor store so they were only $15 for me. These do run at the higher end of the price range, but are long lasting and super comfortable.

Viodia Women’s Hiking Cargo Shorts

Best Value Hiking Shorts for Women

At $30, these shorts are a great purchase without shelling out. I really like the flexible waist that also has a button and a fly. For someone who has much larger hips proportional to my waist, this type of waistband means that my shorts don’t slide around. I love a good pocket and these shorts have pockets that fit my phone as well as zippered pockets on the side! Viodia offers a lot of color options so they can go well with any hiking outfit.

The one drawback to these shorts is that they run a little small (and it looks like a good number of Amazon reviewers agree with me). I am normally a medium, so that’s what I purchased but I think I should have gotten a large. I have large quads and they are just a little too snug over my legs to be comfortable for long periods of time.

Note: this product was gifted, but my opinion is my own

Athleta Run With It Shorts

Best Hiking Shorts for Women in Hot Weather

Athleta’s Run with It Shorts are the best hiking shorts for hot weather. They are super lightweight and moisture-wicking. If you’re a runner as well as a hiker, these shorts are perfect for a trail run! I like the 4.5″ inseam and it doesn’t bunch up between my thighs.

The one drawback is that they do not have a pocket big enough for a phone. I think if they added a phone pocket, I would definitely use them more.

Edit: These shorts may have been discontinued and only have a few left but if you are looking for something similar, check out Athleta’s Mesh Racer Run Shorts!

Outdoor Voices Skirts

Warmup 2.5″ Skirt

Best for Going from Trail to Brewery

Ok, it’s not shorts BUT I love this Warmup 2.5″ skirt from Outdoor Voices. It’s super comfy, has pockets that fit a phone, and is perfect for going from the trail to a post-hike brewery. The built in shorts underneath ensure that everything is covered. This skirt is probably my favorite purchase in 2023 and I now want to get one in every color.

It is a little bit on the shorter side, but the built in shorts underneath make me feel comfortable and covered. This skirt is incredibly flattering while being super comfortable and I highly recommend!

Court Skort 4.5″

Love how cute this skirt is but PLEASE make women’s pockets bigger!

I also really like the Court Skort 4.5″ – the color contrast of the shorts underneath peaking out the side slit is super cute! It’s really easy to move in and looks great on. I had actually bought the two Outdoor Voices skirts at the same time, intending to return one of them, but loved them so much I kept both!

However, the Court Skort loses points for advertising a pocket that fits a phone when it is a really small pocket and I struggle to fit my phone in it. I like it for other active activities where I am not using my phone to navigate or take pictures – like golf!

Whatever Athletic Shorts You Already Own

I am a huge proponent of not spending extra money on gear. If you already own any sort of athletic shorts, wear them for hiking. They might not be perfect, but it means you don’t have to spend any money to get outside. I would just caution to stay away from non-athletic shorts, like jeans or cotton, to reduce chafe.

Backpacking in Moraine in Spring 2023 wearing shorts I purchased in 2011
Want more tips on gear? Check out my post on the ten essentials for day hiking!

FAQ about Hiking Shorts for Women

Is it better to hike in pants or shorts?

Some of my favorite pants for hiking include the Patagonia Traveler’s Pant and REI Co-Op Trailmade pants. I usually base whether I hike in shorts or pants on weather and

What is the best place to buy hiking shorts?

I really like REI, Public Lands, or your local gear store (especially if they have consignment and you can find a pair of shorts for cheaper!) This way, you can try on a lot of different types of shorts and see what is right for you. (Or if you want to support my blog, consider purchasing through one of the links in this article – thanks for your support!)

I also am a huge advocate for getting gear on consignment or for free. Check out my post on getting hiking gear on a budget for tips on how to purchase gear that won’t break the bank!

Are bike shorts good for hiking?

I think this is a personal preference. I personally like shorts better because they feel like they don’t trap sweat as much. For long days in the backcountry, I worry about too much crotch sweat and not having enough airflow. But I know a lot of people who love hiking in bike shorts (also known as short leggings). I would recommend staying away from hiking in true cycling shorts (with the padded bum) and leaving those for cycling only, but short leggings are totally fine.

Can I buy men’s shorts to hike in?

Absolutely! If they fit and are comfortable, buy whatever works best for you. No one is the fashion police when you are hiking so purchase whatever helps you enjoy the outdoors the most!

Updated August 23, 2023

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