Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
The Trailhead Adventure Shorts first landed at the Climbing office in the spring, when it was just starting to get warm enough for “shorts weather.” We get a lot of apparel sent our way, so it can often be hard for any one item to stand out, especially in the general-outdoor (and not climbing-specific) category. Still, I find myself some six months later consistently wearing and loving these shorts, and would be remiss not to note how great they’ve been for pretty much any use I could come up with, from bouldering, to sport and trad climbing, to gym climbing, to office wear, to being a Saturday soccer dad trying to find somewhere comfortable to sit on the recently watered grass at the park.
First, the fundamentals: The Trailhead Adventure Shorts are 88 percent nylon and 12 percent Spandex, with a DWR treatment. They’re billed as “tear resistant” and “anti-microbial,” and can stuff into one of the deep front pockets (they easily accommodate a plus-sized smartphone or wallet) to pack down if carrying in a backpack. The shorts also have two wrist-deep pockets in the back, one of which seals with a Velcro closure, and four-way stretch fabric.
I first tested them around town, and was psyched on their relaxed, baggy-but-not-too-baggy fit and the shorts’ medium-long length down the thighs, stopping just at knee height. Wide drawstrings let you cinch down the elastic waistband to your preferred fit, and the strings are good and long, too, so you won’t get the dreaded “disappearing drawstring syndrome” in which they vanish into the waistband, never to be seen again. One beef I’ve had with climber-specific pants and shorts is their often-way-too-trim cut; as someone with beefy quads and bowed legs, I’ve had issues with fit in the thighs, even if the waist is appropriately sized—not all climbers have the same body! Which is why these non-climber-specific shorts, to my mind, were actually better. Made for general outdoor use, they have a more versatile fit that does a solid job of accommodating climbers of all shapes and sizes.
The shorts are notably flexible and bendy—I’ve done wicked highsteps in them, vinyasa yoga, and a passel of yardwork and home-improvement stuff, in which you contort into all manner of unseemly positions. Throughout, I’ve never noticed binding. The DWR treatment is a welcome plus, too—as stated earlier, good for sitting on wet grass, and nice during late-summer spates of crag drizzle. The one tradeoff with the coating and having an all-nylon short is that you do get some bustle, which can be distracting when climbing if you forget you’re wearing nylon. And because the shorts are baggier, they won’t fit as sveltely under harness leg loops as climbing-specific shorts do, though on the whole this has been a super-minor issue. (It just takes a little more adjustment to get them situated cleanly under your leg loops.)
And then, there’s durability—in six months of hard wear, I have yet to scuff, tear, or scratch, the Trailhead Adventure Shorts. Even my younger, toddler son trying to drive grass shears into my leg (don’t ask…) didn’t ding the fabric, and neither did a long, hard, sloppy day of bolting on the sometimes-abrasive rock in Colorado’s Flatirons. They’ve held up remarkably well.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting, stretchy, water-resistant, and loose-fitting pair of outdoor-minded shorts for just about any use under the sun, the Trailhead Adventure is your jam. The shorts come in three colors, as well as a women’s version.