Redington Tidelands Short
Redington Tidelands Short

Where can I find great multi-purpose shorts?

I need a comfortable pair of multi-purpose shorts. What do you recommend?

Redington Tidelands Short

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At the risk of sounding Clintonesque, what shorts you want depends on what you mean by “multi purpose.” The shorts I gravitate to are comfortable, minimize certain body parts, hide dirt well, and dry quickly. I also stay away from shorts with anything less than a six-inch inseam.

Horny Toad Birdwalk Shorts

North Face Women's Lotus Cashmere Canvas Shorts Horny Toad Birdwalk Shorts

If you’re looking to bring only one pair of shorts while hiking the Appalachian Trail or fishing for a week in Alaska, try Redington’s Tideland Short ($40; The Tidelands are waterproof khakis designed for fly fishing. They’re breathable, Durable Water Repellent-coated, well-vented, and give great coverage with a ten-inch inseam. If you’re on a thru-hike and shrink a size or two, their adjustable waistband will come in handy. They’ve also got six pockets, two of which have zippers, that allow you to stash everything from a few emergency bills to a box of flies.

If you plan to wear your shorts hiking, gardening, or even for quick bike maintenance, The North Face Women’s Lotus Cashmere Canvas Shorts ($35) are a great choice. I’ve had a pair of these simple pigment-dyed canvas cotton shorts for a few years, and they’re the legless version of my favorite work pants—tough and fun to wear. They hit high on the thigh with comfortable side-entry pockets, and with a low-riding waist and UPF-50 rating, they’re my go-to shorts for hiking and camping. The only downside is that, as cotton, they don’t dry as quickly as synthetic shorts.

If by multi-purpose you mean fun shorts to pull on after a day at the beach or for a run to the grocery store, look no further than Horny Toad’s Birdwalk ($35; They’re 98 percent organic, two percent spandex, and with madras print and an angled back yoke, you’ll feel as good as you look.

—Stephanie Pearson

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