A good-looking, functional and well-made hiking short, which provides lightweight coverage and protection from the elements, while allowing plenty of air to your legs.
No back pocket
Quality of belt not great
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Rab Calient Shorts: first impressions
As the name suggests (Caliente means hot in Spanish), Rab Calient Shorts are at their peak when conditions are warm.
Hailing from respected British outdoor brand Rab, these handsome shorts feature two hand pockets and a thigh pocket, all with zips so you can keep keys, cash and other hiking essentials securely stashed away. The left pocket also acts as a stuff sack.
The waist fastens with a double popper, and the Calient comes with a belt – which is held in place with Velcro (handy when you put them through the washing machine). There are also larger loops, if you’d prefer to wear a more substantial belt. The closest women’s version of these shorts from Rab is the Raid Short. ($75 / £65)
Where we tested these Rab Calient hiking shorts
We tested the Rab’s Calient hiking shorts on various trails over summer, including a couple of coastal adventures on England’s largest island, the Isle of Wight, where the trails led us from the beaches (with their famous dinosaur footprints) up onto the iconic chalk downs.
• RRP: $80 (US) / £50 (UK)
• Style: Lightweight midlength hiking shorts
• Gender specificity: Men’s (closest women’s short is the Rab Raid)
• Size & Fit: Regular; S–XXL; Inside leg (men’s large): 31.5cm/12.5in
• Average weight: 205g / 7.2oz
• Materials: Lightweight Matrix plain weave fabric with DWR (100% nylon)
• Colors: Cumin / Graphene / Pine
• Compatibility: Walking and climbing in warm conditions
Rab Calient Shorts: on the trails
The main material used for the shorts is very lightweight, providing protection from the sun (UPF30+) for most of the upper leg, but allowing plenty of airflow and preventing things getting too sweaty even when you’re hiking hard up steep hillsides and peaks.
Unlike many of the shorts we have tested (see Best hiking shorts), there isn’t really any elasticity in the waist of the Calient, so a belt is typically required. However, the belt that comes integrated into the shorts isn’t fantastic – it’s thin and comes loose quite often – and we ended up removing it altogether and using a more reliable one.
The fit is pretty slim, but they’re comfortable and don’t feel restrictive. If you do get caught out in a shower, the DWR-treated material will repel water up to a point (see What is DWR? Durable water repellency explained), but these shorts dry out quickly anyway, and stay light even after a drenching.
The fact that all three pockets zip shut is a bonus, because you can be assured that anything you choose to carry in them will stay put. Some people might bemoan the absence of a back pocket, but most hikers wouldn’t put much in a rear pocket anyway, so it’s no great omission.
Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. 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 (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).
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