Tough and highly featured go–anywhere, take-on-anything shorts for proper outdoor adventures in the warmer months of the year.
Loads of large pockets
Plenty of freedom of movement
Heavier than other shorts on test
Limited colorways for women
Women’s version has fewer pockets
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Swedish brand Fjällräven are well known for the superb quality of their walking trousers and guess what… the sun does shine during those long Scandinavian summers, and their best hiking shorts are every bit as beautifully designed, well considered and well made as their long pants.
These shorts manage to retain a really clean, unfussy look, despite being heavily featured. There are cargo pouches on both thighs; the one on the right leg is broad enough to take a map (and it has a secret subpocket) and the one on the right is specifically sized to cradle a smartphone or GPS device. The front pockets are so deep you can barely get your hands to the bottom of them.
The design is robust, and the rear is reinforced so you can be confident when sitting on or sliding down rougher bits of terrain, fighting your way though undergrowth, or scrambling over rocks to reach a rugged peak.
The women’s version of the Abisko is considerably shorter in the leg, and lacks the cargo pockets, but Fjällräven’s Abisko family does include the Nikka shorts design for women, which is much more similar to the men’s Abisko.
• RRP: $120 (US)/ £100 (UK)
• Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
• Style: Cargo midlength (men's inseam length: 28cm/11in)
• Sizes available: XS-XXXL
• Weight: 316g/11oz (men's); 200g/7 oz (women's)
• Materials: G-1000 (63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane)
• Colors: Uncle blue/black/light olive/dark olive/dusk (men's); Light olive/black/plum (women's)
• Compatibility: Hiking, backpacking, alpine trekking, scrambling
On the trails
I donned these hiking shorts for numerous on-foot expeditions during late spring and early summer, from overnight camping escapades to long day walks in the wilds, and I was never less than massively impressed with their performance.
Although I do use mapping apps on my phone, I still like to take a sheet map with me, and the map pocket on the Abisko shorts is excellent. There’s even a pocket within the main pouch for stashing compass securely.
Besides maps and phones, the pockets are large enough to carry a water bottle and plenty of snacks. In fact, there is so much pocket space in these shorts that you can easily dispense with a daypack altogether if you’re only going on a short walk.
Made from Fjällräven’s tough G-1000 material (which is breathable, durable, water-resistant and has plenty of stretch), the freedom of movement these shorts facilitate is excellent, so you’ll have no problem getting up and over obstacles such as rocks and high stiles.
There are lots of lovely little flourishes that reveal the fact these shorts have been designed for hikers, by hikers – for example, the waist band rises slightly at the back, to avoid drizzle dripping into your undies if you’re wearing a pack and your coat rides up a bit.
The pockets are accessible, even when you have the hip fins of a big backpack pulled tight around your waist, and extra material has been strategically placed on seams and gusset, to alleviate the risk of rubbing. There is a light version of these shorts too.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.