Once Summer is in full swing, you’d be hard pressed to find us in a full pair of pants unless a formal event requires us to cover up our sun-kissed stems. The extreme heat and immense humidity we experience on the East Coast in these months means shorts whenever possible, as breathable as possible.
Finding a pair of utilitarian shorts for men with equal measures of style and technical features has never been easy (unless you're a diehard Baggies boy, in which case, good on ya), but recently more brands are getting on the Swiss Army Knife shorts train. We're talking multitudes of pockets, breathable and fast drying fabrics, built-in belts, and of course, just all-around GORPy good looks.
The following twelve are the top picks from the Field Mag edit team, gathered from outdoor brands both known and niche, guaranteed to cover a range of activities across subway platforms, backyard BBQs, and backcountry trails.
Leave it to some random Australian surf lifestyle brand to make some of the better looking (and most affordable) do-anything go-anywhere shorts out. These lightweight stretch nylon shorts are quick drying, feature an integrated belt, chamois lined waistband for comfort when going sans-drawers, an interior zippered stash pocket, and Goldilocks length 6" inseam.
Price: $65 SHOP NOW
Brooklyn’s own Pilgrim Surf Supply has an in-house line that’s full of minimal bangers that sort well with the small lineup of brands they stock seasonally. Their climbing short is made from a lightweight cotton with both an elastic waistband and integrated webbing belt. A longer 8” inseam and relaxed fit make for a more utilitarian vibe as do the lower zip cargo pocket and bucket pockets in back, a nod to the great Stand Up Shorts.
Price: $190 SHOP NOW
Seattle-based Kavu is best known for making extremely airy and fun five-panel hats designed for river rafting, trail running, and pretty much any and all activity under the sun. But they also make some sick patchwork shorts, and these are them. Cotton canvas isn't quick dry, but it is burly. The swooping pockets are great for climbing, and the integrated belt helps you strap in when it's adventure time.
Price: $70 SHOP NOW
California surf shop and apparel brand Mollusk took the classic fatigue short and mixed things up by swapping out sateen cotton for a robust ripstop cotton. The 7” inseam should suit just about anyone’s tastes and the combination of an elastic waistband with beltloops let you choose your own adventure. Tortoise pattern buttons on the rear pockets for earn extra style points from us.
Price: $65 SHOP NOW
Made of deadstock fabrics with asymmetric functionalism in mind, these soft, roomy, unisex shorts from Portland, Oregon's own it.Vanishes nearly sold out within minutes of their recent release—a few XLs are left for now, with a full restock coming later this summer. In the meantime, join us in drooling over the bungee and toggle cargo pocket closure, built-in webbing belt, contrast patch pockets, and overall just dope design. (Check out our exclusive interview with it.Vanishes founder and designer Rob Darmour here.)
Price: $160 SHOP NOW
It’s unlikely you’ll ever see someone at your gym, crag, or local boulder spot in a pair of And Wander’s Climbing Short, but don’t let that stop you from being the first. These rare, mesh-lined nylon shorts are made in Japan and cut in a generous, roomy fit with four large pockets, unmissable due to the contrast stitching throughout. This one wins our coveted “most GORP award” out of this lineup. And Wander doesn't miss.
Price: $259 SHOP NOW
The single most packable shorts in our roundup come from American climbing apparel pioneer Gramicci, whose legacy is now carried out by a Japanese design team. These nylon shorts come in an 8” inseam and boast chlorine-safe properties so don’t hesitate taking a dip. Even the pockets are designed to let water pass through them. Available in standard solid colors and some more fun options like patchwork and camo.
Price: $95 SHOP NOW
If you thought 5” Baggies weren’t going to make the list then you were greatly mistaken. This is the measuring stick by which all others are measured–it’s perfect for running, thru-hiking, swimming, and simply just surviving Summer. Seriously deep front pockets and a single snap rear pocket take care of cargo while a drawstring and elastic waistband keeps things simple. The interior mesh lining isn’t for everyone, but we believe every baggy-owner reserves the right to cut them out and wear with the undergarment of their choice.
Price: $55 SHOP NOW
Longtime Field Mag favorite and New York City designed-and-sewn brand Battenwear have put their own spin on things with these nylon Camp Shorts. Inseam lengths change with waist sizes, but a 7” medium is perfect for this short decked out with a whopping six pockets–four that zip, two main snap pockets on the thigh. The elastic waist can stretch up to 2” comfortably and 3” maximum, so you could even size down for a shorter inseam or up for a roomier fit. An integrated webbing belt is present to help fine tune the fit too.
Price: $195 SHOP NOW
Brooklyn's own Adsum can always be relied on for simple sport-influenced pieces like the Site Shorts. The 6.5" inseam shorts are cut from a dense-weave coated taslan to stand up to the rigors of Summer living. Two front slash pockets and one rear pocket are both zippered and mesh-backed for respective security and amphibious wear. For an even lighter wearing short, check out the Effo Short.
Price: $95 SHOP NOW
If you couldn’t tell from the name, Topo’s River Short was made to take to water in addition to being your go-to short for every other activity imaginable, from hiking to biking, kayaking, and camping to sitting on a roof drinking a cold one, etc. A two-way stretch nylon is used on the 6” inseam shorts whose hems are curved for a retro sporty look. The waistband is adjustable by way of both a drawcord and integrated webbing belt. A zippered back pocket secures small valuables while two large front pockets take care of the rest. (Also avaialble in women's.)
Price: $79 SHOP NOW
If you’re not into showing too much thigh, the longer inseam (8.5-10.9” in sizes XS-XL) on Goldwin’s Easy Shorts are a smart choice. The material is a ripstop that blends cotton with a Cordura nylon which makes for a soft hand that’s plenty strong (the Japanese design gods at Goldwin always deliver on premium, purpose-driven fabrics). Front snap pockets ensure small objects won’t eject with activity and rear pockets are accessed at an climbing approved angle, making for a clean contemporary look that Goldwin always delivers.
Price: $160 SHOP NOW