I call Albuquerque, New Mexico, home. This Southwestern city sits at 5,300 feet, meaning that while temps don’t get as hot as in, say, Phoenix, the sun beats down with extra intensity due to the higher elevation. I have to wear pants to work, but the minute I get home and during all my weekend adventures, I’m in shorts. Over the years as an Outside editor and now as a contributor, I’ve tested many different pairs. What follows are six of my favorites.
Proof Nomad ($68)
If you want one pair of shorts for beer drinking, rock climbing, bike riding, taxi chasing, stargazing, campfire starting, hammock lounging, whatever…here you go. Thanks to the four-way-stretch material, these Proof Nomad shorts have an incredible range of motion, so they’ll go anywhere and do almost anything. Bonus: The fabric is also stain-resistant.
Patagonia Stretch Wavefarer Walk ($69)
These Wavefarer Walk shorts go great with a T-shirt and flip-flops. But when the party gets rowdy and you end up in the pool, they work equally well as swim trunks. They’re not quite as stretchy as the Nomad, but they dry significantly faster. Plus, each pair of Wavefarer shorts is Fair Trade certified and Bluesign approved, which means the workers are paid fairly and the production is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Myles Apparel Momentum 2.0 ($58)
At first glance, you can’t tell whether these shorts are for trail running, swimming, lounging on your couch, or proving you’re not afraid to wear something that falls a couple inches above the knee. Turns out, they’re for all of the above. Because of the shorter cut and breathable material, these Momentum shorts are great for morning runs or workouts at the gym, but they also have just enough style for wearing to lunch. I live in them at home because they have a ton of built-in spandex, which makes them just as comfy as sweats or yoga pants.
Grayers Newport Garment-Dyed Canvas ($65)
All the shorts listed so far have some kind of technical chops. The Newport shorts, by contrast, are just plain-old nicely tailored cotton shorts that don’t make you look like you get your shopping advice from Outside magazine. Built from a super-soft pin dot cotton, they go well with cold lemonade and a short-sleeve button-down shirt at the weekend barbecue. Bonus: A touch of spandex ensures just enough stretch to allow you to crush a game of kickball.
Faherty Brand All Day ($83)
If the Patagonia Wavefarer shorts go well with a T-shirt, these All Day shorts go well with a polo. They’re made mostly from recycled plastic bottles but look like high-end cotton, so you can wear them with a pair of loafers. But don’t count them out when it comes to adventure. Thanks to the synthetic fabric, these shorts do just fine in the water and dry in minutes. I also dig the built-in drawstring, which eliminates the need for a belt.
Roark Revival Chiller Tourister ($60)
The Chiller Tourister boardshorts are fast-drying and loud as hell, making them most at home in the water or on a surfboard. But match them with a pair of flip-flops and a tank top and you’ll fit right in wherever you go. If you’ve never heard of Roark Revival before, spend a minute browsing the company’s site. The brand is rough around the edges and also a little mysterious, which only makes its gear more appealing.