Top 5 Women’s Hiking Shorts 2022

We round-up five of this season’s shorts to help you beat the heat

Feature type Review

Read time 10 mins

Published Aug 19, 2022

Photographer Sam Grosvenor

Hannah Mitchell BASE Digital Writer Hannah is a Lake District-based journalist and all-round outdoor lass with a particular fondness for rock faces.

Hiking in a heatwave certainly adds another element of challenge to proceedings! Hitting the trails when the sun is high requires extra planning and safety considerations. Have you got enough water? Are there places to seek shade in the midday sun? Suncream, water, hat, sunnies, shorts? Check.

But not all shorts are created equal.

Below, BASE Digital Writer Hannah Mitchell puts five of 2022’s best women’s shorts for hiking to the test on U.K trails in the height of the season.

What I’m looking for

In these times of heightened living costs, if I’m investing in a piece of kit, I want to get it right.

Picking a pair of shorts might seem pretty straightforward, but there are a few things to consider. For me, comfort is absolutely and always queen. That’s not to say I don’t like my shorts to look good, but movement, stretch and mitigating backpack-induced lower back sweat is more important when I’m out scrambling than being on-trend. If my shorts can tick both those boxes however, brilliant.

Longevity is really, really important to me. I tend to wear my clothes to death, reviving where possible with a patch or stitch, but the longer they can last – the better. I also try to take a relatively minimalist approach to clothing, in that I like it to be multi-functional and to transition between activities too.

And let us never forget: POCKETS. For too long, women have endured pocketless garments in an archaic echo from days of yore when our husbands would carry our belongings for us, or we were trying to maintain a slimmer silhouette, or some other such rubbish. When it comes to pockets, I want lots of them, and I want them to be deep enough to house items of actual use in the outdoors. Women – demand pocket equality!

It’s important to bear in mind for the purpose of these reviews, that each one is subjective to my personal body shape and fit preference, and that women-specific clothing sizes can be, let’s face it, a little bit all over the place. For reference, I tried a U.K size 10 or equivalent size Medium in all of these styles.

The Test

I’m a Lake District-based climber, hiker, rambler and scrambler. All of these shorts were subject to a standard day of hillwalking on bright, British summer days, involving steep uphills and descents on scree, navigating ridges, boulder fields and armpit-deep bracken. If like me, you choose to do the latter in shorts, a word to the wise: Don’t forget your insect repellent.

I deliberately set out to test elements that matter to me such as stretch and breathability, durability against abrasion and snagging, and you bet I stuffed my pockets with snacks, maps and my mobile phone.

When it comes to pockets, I want lots of them, and I want them to be deep enough to house items of actual use in the outdoors. Women – demand pocket equality!

Helly Hansen Tinden Light Shorts

Our verdict:

Easy-breezy, lightweight and loose. The articulated cut and gusset and Ripstop fabric make these a super-mobile, super-durable option for rough scrambles and tough trails.

RRP £85 but can be found for £60 online
Weight 210g
Features 4-Way Stretch Woven nylon Ripstop, articulated cut and gusset, integrated belt

Pros

  • Lightweight and airy
  • Super durable
  • Great mobility

Cons

  • Fabric has a very synthetic feel
  • Sizing comes up a little big

The articulated cut and gusset of the Tinden shorts definitely make for a very comfortable adventure indeed. The fit is loose and light with 4-way stretch and they feel absolutely effortless to wear. The Ripstop fabric is definitely durable and surprisingly breathable for a synthetic, but it has more of a squeaky, silky feel to it when compared to other cotton and cotton blend options in this line-up. It beads nicely in the damp and dries out in minutes.

The integrated belt is a nice touch. Because women’s bodies in particular come in such a wonderfully vast array of shapes, it’s a useful addition in case you fall somewhere in between sizes. That said, I found the sizing to come up a little bigger on me than usual (I tested out a Medium), but that might be more to do with the strange and subjective nature of women’s clothing sizing! If in doubt, I’d suggest trying on before you buy. The Tinden shorts have two hand pockets of decent depth and a concealed zip back pocket which comfortably fits a phone or wallet.

The price point for the Tinden shorts (when not on sale) might be at the higher end of the scale, but they feel as though they could happily see you through a good few years of fast and light adventuring.

Montane Ursa Shorts

Our Verdict:

Breathable, fast-drying GRANITE Lite fabric make these an excellent option for fuss-free hiking, and the classic, tailored cut and turn-up mean they look good for everyday wear too. They do compromise somewhat on mobility though.

RRP £50
WEIGHT 205g
FEATURES GRANITE Lite fabric with DWR, hem turn-up, zipped security pocket

Pros

  • Tailored fit looks as good down the pub as it does on the hills
  • Soft, comfy waistband
  • Fast-drying

Cons

  • Not so stretchy
  • Shallow pockets

Ok, these look great. The semi-tailored fit and have a hem turn-up of the Ursa shorts make them quite a stylish option if that’s your thing, though if you like a high waist these might not be for you as they are more of a mid-rise. The microfleece lined waistband is super soft and comfy with no rub on long hill days and the press stud and button fastening feels secure.

Whilst pockets are plentiful, I found them to be a bit shallow. Owing to the low profile of the hip pockets, a normal-sized phone by today’s standards would almost certainly be in danger of falling out and whilst the rear pockets are deeper, they have no zip closures so don’t feel entirely secure. There is however, an additional zipped security pocket on the right hand side which is big enough for a key or credit card.

Montane’s GRANITE Lite fabric is breathable, fast-drying and stayed cool on a very humid multi-day hike. The downside is a bit less give than some of the other options on the market, so higher steps felt restricted by the lighter stretch. They do feel durable and withstood some serious bum-shuffling off snaggy Lake District rhyolite boulders, however.

Arc’Teryx Konseal 7.5″ Shorts

The fastenings and look might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Konseal short offers a longer length and rugged, durable composition of organic cotton blend with a DWR finish. Suited best to alpine environments, they have decent range of motion and deflect damp well.

RRP £80
Weight 210g
Features FC0-DWR, Gusseted crotch and 4-way stretch, manufactured at a Fair Trade Certified facility

Pros

  • Rugged and ready for alpine adventures
  • Ventilation zips
  • Zipped thigh pocket

Cons

  • Impractical waist fastening
  • Black colour is a touch warm

Looks aren’t everything, but I can’t help but be reminded of school uniform shorts when I put these on, and I don’t find the Konseal shorts to be a flattering cut on me. They don’t have a zip-fly but rather a semi-elastcated waist and a side draw-cord fastening which just seemed to gather and bunch up the fabric around my waist. Once again testament to the bizarre variability of women’s clothes sizes, I found the UK 10 to come up quite large on me.

They are a minimalist style, and a mid-thigh length gives a little more coverage than some of the other shorts in this line-up. The fabric is a soft but rugged-feeling organic cotton blend, again with that PFC-free DWR coating, and whilst they breathe reasonably well, the black made them a little bit warmer on a sunny day than I would have liked, but the zip vents help with that and they are also available in a beige and luscious plum tone too.

Arc’Teryx have designed these shorts for efficient movement and protection in alpine environments, and they do handle well in a multitude of conditions, deflecting damp and withstanding scrapes against rock. They allow for a good range of motion for scrambling and the zipped thigh pocket is a welcome addition for keeping valuables secure and handy without interfering with your range of motion.

The quality of these shorts is high, but for the price I’d definitely suggest you try before you buy!

Berghaus Alta Stretch Shorts

OUR VERDICT

Stylish, soft and lightly stretchy. The Alta short might not be for everyone with its ‘short short’ cut, but Berghaus’ blend of style and substance mean you’ll stay cool, look cool, and summit in absolute comfort.

RRP £50 – now £25 on sale
Weight 174g
Features Two-way stretch, PFC-free water repellent finish, chalkbag loop, removable belt

Pros

  • Light stretch and good mobility
  • Soft microfleece waistband
  • Stylish, minimalist look

Cons

  • The shorter length might not be everyone’s cup of tea
  • Light colour gets grubby easily

Undoubtedly the shortest of the shorts in this line-up, that higher cut wont be to everyone’s taste. Berghaus have been re-invigorating their retro styles with contemporary tech and fabrics of late, and the sceptic in me did wonder if the Alta shorts were more fashion than fell-walking, but I was pleasantly surprised!

I’m a fan of a high-waist, and these tick that box and the waistband has a super-soft microfleece lining which produces zero rub. The belt, has a low-profile buckle that sits well underneath a t-shirt and the integration means it never moves up in between belt loops. The colour is cracking, but after wading through armpit-high bracken and taking a short skid on a scree slope, they’re looking a little on the grubby side (although the latter did prove the fabric’s durability). The Alta shorts do come in black too if that’s more your thing.

Pockets are plentiful and the front ones have a decent amount of depth, which is surprising given the length of the shorts themselves. I can jam my phone in and not worry that it will fall out whilst navigating dodgy descents and there is a zipped pocket on the back which would neatly fit a key or card in. There is a ‘chalkbag loop’ on the rear – I’ve seen a number of brands adding this feature to leg wear, however I’m yet to meet a climber who actually uses them.

The fabric is light, soft and supple and the DWR finish is Bluesign approved, and is breathable, durable and indeed water repellant, passing the British weather test with flying colours. They might not be the most technical of the lot but I’m I’m yet to find fault with the Altas, striking a fair balance between looks and performance with a mid-range price point.

the DWR finish is Bluesign approved, which means it is free from harmful PFCs but still remains breathable, durable and indeed water repellant, passing the British weather test with flying colours

CRAGHOPPERS KIWI PRO III Shorts

A solid, value-for-money option offering incredible stretch, sustainable fabric composition and Craghoppers Lifetime Guarantee.

RRP £40, can be found online for as little as £28
Weight 180g
Features NosiDefence fabric, Wash&Wear, Integrated glasses cloth, approx. 145g recycled materials

Pros

  • Super stretchy
  • Mozzie-proof
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Less breathability than others
  • I needed an additional belt with these

The most outstanding feature of the Kiwi Pro III is without a doubt the stretch – for all you climbers out there, these shorts more than pass the heel hook test.

I don’t think these shorts are necessarily the most flattering fit, though for the stretch and dynamism it’s a compromise I’m totally willing to make. I found the waistband to gape a bit on me, and whilst this is almost certainly down to the wearer’s unique shape, I had to wear a belt in order to keep them up.

The NosiDefence fabric provides a robust barrier against biting insects, but I did find it to be a little less breathable on a steep summer walk than some of the models I tested, and it took a little longer to dry out. The pockets are deep enough for your phone and all three are zipped, which is great if like me, you like to have your phone handy on scrambles in case of a photo op. One even has a handy glasses cloth stitched inside it!

For the price point, I think these are a really great option if comfort and stretch are your top priority, or as an entry-level hiking short.

Ready to hit the trails? Check out our guide to the UK’s bucket list long-distance hikes in partnership with komoot.

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