My hometown of Ashland, Oregon, puts on quite the Fourth of July celebration. The town floods with folks who stand in awe as our Chamber of Commerce–sponsored parade begins with F-15 fighter planes flying overhead. The parade itself is a mix of old-time charm and our little town’s eccentricities (it once prompted a heated debate over whether a woman could ride the route wearing only a hemp G-string and pasties). The fireworks show lights up the night sky, and Lithia Park turns into a long a row of booths with vendors hawking greasy food and face paint.
But Ashland's most eye-catching spectacle by far is my Chubbies ’Mericas Shorts ($35).
They boast the requisite patriotic colors and have some technical chops to boot. It was a few years back, when my wife was tiring of the crowds and said, “I don’t think I can handle downtown this year. Let’s pack up right now and go backpacking.” I was already wearing my ’Mericas in preparation for the party and kept them on while throwing our packs in the car as we set out for Marble Mountain Wilderness. I didn’t know how the cotton shorts would fare on our three-day backpacking trip, but they proved absolutely amazing.
Over 20-ish miles, I had zero thigh chafing despite mentally preparing myself for some pretty gnarly burn since I hadn’t packed a spare pair of athletic shorts. I wasn’t sure whether credit was due to the just-right 5.5-inch inseam (short, but still long enough to remain family friendly) that didn’t inhibit my stride or the super-soft cotton coupled with the just-right amount of stretch. The elastic waist offers plenty of accommodating stretch, and the button-fly closure didn’t rub under the hipbelt of my overloaded (that is, weighed down with booze for celebrating independence on our own) backpack.
Though what surprised me more than the comfort was, given the shorts’ eye-catching color scheme, how many compliments I got from fellow backpackers. The ’Mericas even earned a “hell yeah” from a war veteran hiking the same trail.
Now, I’m no college bro at a frat party, so I haven’t worn the shorts in a while, for which my wife is exceedingly thankful. But with July Fourth almost upon us, I’m relishing the chance to break out the comfy and capable ’Mericas. And maybe it’s time for another last-minute backpacking trip.