It’s tempting to say that these little shorts are confused about their primary purpose – are they designed for hiking or running? A more generous verdict would be to conclude that they’re versatile enough for both (sometimes at least). They’re perfect for fast-paced trail walking over short distances in the warmer months, and for running all year round.
Allow plenty of freedom of movement
Recycled yarns used
They look like running shorts
Very shallow side pockets
Low levels of protection
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inov-8 Train Lite 9” Short: first impressions
These inov-8 Train Lite 9” Shorts hail from a British brand founded 20 years ago with a firm focus on running footwear and apparel. They’ve long since diversified into other trail pursuits and sports, but they really do find it hard to take anything other than a fleet-footed approach to their gear, which shows in these hiking shorts, which initially seem way to short to be hiking shorts.
• List price: $70 (US) / £55 (UK)
• Style: Short (9-inch)
• Gender specificity: Men’s
• Size & Fit: XS-XL
• Average weight: 152g / 5.4oz
• Materials: Polyester (88%) & elastane (12%)
• Colors: Black / Navy
• Compatibility: Day walking, hiking, fastpacking, trail running
inov-8 hiking boots and walking shoes nearly all feel primarily like running shoes with slightly more support, and the Train Lite 9” shorts are designed in the exact same way: with one very short leg in the running camp and the other in the hiking space.
My first impression upon unwrapping the Train Lites was that I’d been sent some running shorts. They’re secured around the waist by a combination of an elastic hem and a drawcord (no fly), and they have little nine-inch legs with a split at the bottom – just like most running shorts. However, they also feature a couple of hand pockets, and – like almost all hiking shorts – there’s no inner lining.
So, what are they really designed and intended for – running or hiking? The short answer is both. And also everything in-between (such as fastpacking). But just to be sure, I have been hitting the trails wearing the Train Lites, doing a mixture of cantering, galloping, rambling and ambling.
inov-8 Train Lite 9” Short: in the field
In my opinion, having tested a pair of inov-8 Train Lite 9” Shorts over several months in a wide range of conditions and terrain types, they are very versatile in the summer months, lending themselves well to fast-paced trail adventures and also more leisurely strolls in the sun. Be aware, though, that they don’t provide much cover for fending off aggressive flora, such as nettles and brambles.
As already mentioned, they have hand pockets (albeit very shallow ones – don’t entrust your car / house keys or a cash-plump wallet to these puny pouches), as well as a centrally located zipped back pocket for keeping things safe (it will fit a smartphone, at a squeeze).
In slightly colder weather, however – so for most of spring and fall – they don’t offer enough coverage and thermal protection on more pedestrian plods, so to keep yourself warm you’ll need to be fast-walking or running in them.
The flipside of that, though, is that they can be used as all-out running shorts pretty much all year round, although you do need to wear some supportive sport-orientated underwear beneath them.
Made with a large amount of stretchy elastane, and complete with the little leg split, they allow you to leap over logs and scramble across rocks with no problems. They also wick moisture away with aplomb when you work up a sweat, and offer excellent ventilation in the heat, with perforated panels making them extra breathable.
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.