My hiking uniform since moving out West in 1999 has hardly changed in twenty years.
Oh, the specific items might change. The socks wear out, I’ll go through different shoes, I (sadly) had to replace my boonie once in 2011, and eventually, I’ll replace my shirt. But this basic clothing kit stays remarkably consistent. I’ll wear short sleeve button downs for day hikes, and I’ve switched to long pants for most of my backpacking trips. But otherwise, I have no reason to change this utilitarian clothing that has worked so well.
But for day hikes and on-trail backpacking trips, I still prefer the discount store running shorts.
Why a review on running shorts now? Because I’ve seen a spate of “What shorts should I get for hiking?” and I think the conversation gets needlessly complicated.
I advocate running shorts as they are light, dry quickly, and may even have two pockets up front. Just enough for your hiking wallet, a car key, and a phone. My current discount store ones are slightly fancy and have a small zipper pocket, too.
I’ve used so-called hiking shorts, and I tend always to remember why I go back to simple running shorts. Meaning hiking shorts are usually too bulky, take longer to dry, and aren’t as comfortable.
I like mine slightly baggy, just above the knee, and without a liner for ventilation. YMMV.
But Paul, You get what you pay for!
Well, I discussed that trope before. Spend the $55 for running shorts if you want. Maybe they are better for you and your hiking. Perhaps not. I just know the Tar-zhey shorts worked for multi-month and multi-week thru-hikes and I still wore them after. They are black. They dry quickly. They work. They seem to last well enough. But the label is admittedly different…
But Paul, these running shorts aren’t as durable as hiking shorts.
That might also be true. But I also hike in long pants for terrain that gets rough. The last time I stupidly clung to shorts in rough terrain, my legs ended up being all scraped and scratched up. I’ve been committed to long pants ever since for backpacking. The one time I wished I wore shorts instead of pants for backpacking? Early September on The Collegiate Loop – a well-maintained route with mild weather.
But otherwise, the humble discount store running shorts have served me well for day hikes and on-trail backpacks over the years. Inexpensive, found in any store, and effective. I wore them today. And I suspect I’ll wear them again. And for a few years to come.