Gear

The Best Travel Shorts for Men in 2024

Posted by
Keith Langston
August 23, 2023
Updated January 15, 2024

Best travel shorts for men
Photo: Keith Langston

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Travel and adventure require clothing items designed a little differently to ensure they remain comfortable and breathable.

Whether you’re on a trail, in a plane, discovering a new city, or exploring a park, travel takes you places…and your clothing should be able to keep up. But what makes good travel apparel? We want things that are comfy, breathable, hopefully a little water-resistant, and when it comes to shorts and pants, we want a good amount of pocket space too.

For shorts especially, this is important. If you’re wearing shorts for travel, it’s likely going to be warm out, so you want to feel comfortable and cool. If the trip isn’t too long, you’re going to want pockets (preferably that zip) so you can keep a few things with you and (hopefully) ditch the backpack or bag.

Here are some of my favorite travel shorts, tried and tested and guaranteed to be perfect for your next adventure – I also recently reviewed the best travel underwear for men if you’re interested in completing the outfit. 

Overview

Best Overall Shorts: Vuori Banks Shorts

Tan Vuori shorts being worn by a guy
Photo: Keith Langston

The rundown: California-based Vuori uses its home state as inspiration, giving almost all of their pieces a “ready for the beach or mountains” functionality, making them perfect for travelers who enjoy a bit of both worlds.

Buy at REI

Pros

  • Quick drying
  • Made with recycled plastic bottles
  • anti-odor
  • zipped back pocket

Cons

  • Thinner material offers less protection if you’re in an environment that’s rocky or with a lot of brush

Vuori’s Banks Shorts are made with a breathable quick-drying material, so you can feel free to hop in the water. The stretchy design also makes them perfect for the hike home.

They also have a causal and athletic look to them, so they’re not just built for adventure, but are also great to wear out to a coffee shop or to walk your dog to the park, giving them tons of re-wear value. From the plane to the beach to breakfast the next morning, these shorts fit the bill for just about any occasion.

Buy at REI

Best Shorts for the Trail: REI Trailmade Shorts

Tan REI shorts being worn by a guy
Photo: Keith Langston

The rundown: REI is the mothership for outdoor lovers, so it’s no surprise that their brand is excellent for travelers, especially ones who are taking on lofty adventures.

Buy at REI

Pros

  • Pockets, pockets, pockets! Five in total!
  • UPF 50+
  • Water-repellant finish
  • Made with sustainable Bluesign materials

Cons

  • Thicker short is great for durability, but makes them a little more constricting
  • Only one of the pockets has a zipper

Falling in a grey area between lightweight and heavy-duty, REI’s Trailmade shorts are certainly lighter than your standard cotton or twill shorts, but the rugged nylon gives them a hefty dose of durability. That durability is great for anyone who wants to go hiking or exploring during their travels. The short’s water-repellent finish is also an excellent touch, especially for anyone who knows they’re visiting a rainy destination or will be spending long periods outdoors.

One thing to note is that the sturdy nylon shorts are a bit restrictive. I wore these during a recent trip to Costa Rica, and while on the trail in 90-degree heat I had moments where I definitely wished I had something a little lighter and stretchier. But for cooler temps when you want to feel snug in your shorts, these are perfect.

Buy at REI

Best For All Kinds of Adventures: Topo Designs Global Shorts

black TOPO shorts being worn by a guy
Photo: Keith Langston

The rundown: In the last decade, Topo has exploded into one of the most popular outdoor brands in the country, best known for their quirky designs and their splashes of bright colors.

Buy at Topo Designs

Pros

  • 4-way stretch
  • Quick-dry material
  • casual look

Cons

  • Thickest short on the list, which, depending on the scenario, could be a pro or con

Topo’s Global Short is like an adventure-ready pair of classic shorts. Visually, it looks like a casual pair of shorts that you could easily wear out to lunch or the store. But thanks to its four-way stretch design and quick-drying material, these shorts are for more than just everyday wear.

The thickness of the material makes them super sturdy and the four-way stretch actually makes them more flexible than the lighter REI pair mentioned previously. If you’re the kind of person who packs ultra-light and only wants to bring one pair of shorts that can work for any and every occasion, this is it.

The shorts also have two zipped back pockets, so you can carry your wallet and keys without worrying that they might slip out or be pickpocketed.

Buy at Topo Designs

Best Lightweight Short: Chubbies Lakesides

dark blue shorts from Chubbies being worn by a guy
Photo: Keith Langston

The rundown: I love these shorts. I wear them on my daily walks along the river. I wear them to the gym. I wear them when I hang out with friends. I wear them everywhere. I basically live in them.

Buy at Chubbies

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • Incredibly stretchy
  • Moisture-wicking

Cons

  • The least protective of any short on the list

I love Chubbies’ Lakesides shorts. I love them. I currently have another pair on the way right now. They are so unbelievably stretchy and comfortable, while still having a great casual look to them. You’d think you were wearing featherlight running shorts made of nothing. But the material holds up and is way more durable than you’d expect based on the feel. It has the look and feel of proper shorts, all while giving you maximum flexibility and comfort.

But, I’ll admit that they’re best when you don’t need much in your pockets since these shorts have the least storage space of any shorts on the list. If you’re going to be wearing a backpack anyways, or are traveling light and won’t be stuffing your pockets from every angle, these will be your new go-to shorts.

Buy at Chubbies

Best Athletic Shorts: Lululemon License to Train Short

Blue lululemon shorts being worn by a guy
Photo: Keith Langston

The rundown: Let’s all just be real here – most people these days live in athleticwear. Hell, the term “athleisure” was literally created because we all love to live our lives in athletic clothing, which makes sense too since athleticwear tends to be comfy, stretchy, and breathable.

Buy at Lululemon

Pros

  • Durable, yet lightweight
  • zipped pickets (a rarity for athletic shorts)
  • Tapered fit makes it look more like a casual short
  • Quick drying and sweat-wicking

Cons

  • Because of their thicker material, they’re not as soft and flexible as other athletic shorts

Anyone who has ever been to Lululemon knows that some of their shorts are…let’s just say “flimsy”. Some feel like they’re made of tissue paper and might tear just from holding them. Luckily, they also make thicker, sturdier shorts, like the Licence to Train collection. With a heavier, abrasion-resistant fabric that’s both moisture-wicking and made from recycled materials, these shorts are perfect for Lulu fans who want something a little more tough.

As an athletic short, they’re way lighter than the more adventure-focused shorts on this list, but they still have a good amount of heft to them. I’ve worn these to the gym, on hikes, and on a plane. They’re super versatile, and thanks to the zipped pockets, I never have to worry about losing anything.

The only real downside to these is that, because of their heartier fabric, they are a little bit more restrictive than some other athletic shorts. But compared to their strengths, that’s nothing more than a slight annoyance.

Buy at Lululemon

Factors to Consider

Remember that your personal choices might differ from mine. While thicker shorts are generally better if you’re going to do some hardcore backcountry activities, you might not like the way they feel. On the flip side, not everyone is into really thin stretchy shorts either.

Hell, some people even like to wear pants throughout the summer. You know yourself better than anyone else, so while this is a great guide to get you started, trust your instincts. You know how you like to travel more than anyone else.

Why Trust Us

You can trust this guide because I own all of these shorts (and that’s actually me in the photos – please, no autographs!) I’ve worn these shorts while journeying through Costa Rica, hiking the Texas Hill Country, on rides at Disneyland, and while traveling in planes and towns across the country on work assignments.

These genuinely are my favorites because they’ve withstood travel activities of all kinds. From hiking the side of a volcano, to riding a roller coaster, sitting on an airplane, playing by the river, and more.

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