running shorts while hiking

Running shorts while hiking is a great way to boost the fun factor on a day on the trails, and with the right pair of running shorts you can take advantage of the mobility, ventilation, and comfort that come with a tight fit without having to sacrifice durability or protection. For most hikers, a light-weight, low-profile running short geared for the trail is ideal. You will also want a fabric that can articulate well and move with you, as well as a pocket configuration that is appropriate for your needs. For example, if you will be using your running shorts for hiking as part of a high-intensity training regimen, a fuller-featured design may be appropriate, with a zippered back pocket and jeans-style pockets for carrying essentials such as water and keys. On the other hand, if you are just using the running shorts for a casual jaunt or one-hour trail run, a more slimmer-profile, legging-style design with fewer pockets may be sufficient.

The best running shorts for hiking have a lot in common with a quality pair of khakis or jeans, but they are engineered with dynamic fabrics designed to stretch and move with the body as you run. In addition, the most effective running shorts for hiking have a snug fit without being tight, and they have flatlock seams to reduce friction and prevent chafing. You will also want a fabric that wicks moisture away, is breathable, and dries quickly. For example, cotton and denim are not suitable hiking fabrics, as they don’t breath or dry quickly. Instead, look for a blend of nylon and spandex or another stretchy synthetic fiber.

Many of the running-specific shorts that we recommend for hiking also feature a compression liner and an internal drawstring to keep them from shifting or sagging. For example, the Rab Skyline running shorts have a compression liner that is so effective, it can actually make a waist belt unnecessary; they offer 365-degree storage around the waist, with a zippered back pocket big enough to fit a water bottle and snacks, plus elastic loops for storing trekking poles. The lightweight ‘Matrix’ fabric is also quick-drying and stretchy, so these running shorts for hiking can handle steep ascents and descents with ease.

Other running-specific shorts designed to be worn as hiking pants include the Ultimate Direction Ecotrek and the Salomon XRX. Both of these have a softshell outer that’s lightweight, breathable and water-resistant, so they will keep you cool and comfortable even on hot, humid days. In addition, the XRX shorts have two zipped hip pockets and a pair of zipped hand pockets on the left side for easy access to your trail map or sunscreen.

Another excellent option is Athleta’s Trekkie North short, which is a bit longer than the traditional running short and offers a majority of the technical features that hard-hitting hikers need on the trail. These include a pair of deep front zippered pockets for stowing your keys and phone, and a flexible waistband that is supportive and forgiving for Covid-sufferers. The Trekkie North shorts also use a sustainable, Fair Trade Certified recycled polyester and spandex blend and are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and they are backed by Athleta’s lifetime guarantee.

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