Airy, stretchy, sturdy and flattering with lots of storage, we found these shorts extremely comfortable on mild weather hikes and good in a drizzle too
Stretchy and adjustable
Water repellent and quick drying
Two roomy zipped pockets
Adjustable waist may bunch up a little
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The North Face Stolemberg Alpine Slim Straight shorts: first impressions
There are lots of great hiking shorts for men out there that provide good coverage with lots of room to breathe, but for women? Well, it can be a different story, unless you like skimpy running shorts or skorts, and let's face it, those don't always offer enough protection for rugged hikes. With the Stolemberg Alpine Slim Straight shorts, The North Face has strived to create a rugged hiking short that’s stretchy and breathable and from our point of view, they’ve checked all the boxes.
• List price: $51 / £80
• Gender specification: Women’s
• Weight: 7.4oz / 210g
• Sizes: 6 - 16
• Materials: Polyester, Elastane with DWR
• Colors: Cosmos pink, Asphalt gray
• Best use: Hiking
These polyester shorts are cut to be flattering on but still provide great coverage down to just above the knee. With an adjustable, elasticated waistband and lots of stretch, they’re designed to be comfortable on lots of bodies and give you tons of freedom to roam on steep, scrambly slopes. On warm days, you can breathe well and stay cool in these shorts which are made using breathable, moisture wicking material combined with an airy fit, yet they’ll repel a light drizzle in the weather changes. Two deep zipped pockets are ample for stashing your phone and chapstick. Though the waistband might bunch up a little, we found these shorts great for rugged hikes where you want to bare a little leg.
The North Face Stolemberg Alpine Slim Straight shorts: in the field
I really wanted to hate these shorts when they first arrived but now that I’ve had them up a few mountains, I actually almost love them. I'm just not a shorts person. My legs don’t really feel hot or cold on a hike and also, ticks, ugh. But to be fair, it’s also because most women’s hiking shorts I’ve come across are skimpy and, in my opinion anyway, better for going to the beach than climbing a 14er. These shorts however have accompanied me up a couple of Scottish Munros and as far as I can tell, they’re well up to the task for summer hiking.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I think these fit true to size. I’m a small and typically wear a UK size 8 (US 4) but I actually tested out a size 10 which should have been a little big. If the model on the website is anything to go by, these are intended to be a little tighter than they are on me but left to my own devices, I’m not sure I’d size down. I like the extra roominess and think they’re still flattering a little large, my only beef is that when I tighten the waistband using the adjustable cord, they bunch up which doesn’t look amazing. I’m assuming that this won’t happen if you wear your regular size but it’s hard to say for sure.
They have a straight-leg design with darts at the rear so they fit nicely over my bum whether or not I have my shirt tucked in, and come down to a couple of inches above the knee which I personally think is ideal for more rugged hikes.
Comfort and breathability
Between the light, breathable material, extra room from sizing up and stretchiness, I found these extremely comfortable, especially on warmer hikes where I was glad for the extra ventilation. Nothing catches anywhere and I’ve tons of room to climb and scramble.
Lately, it’s been about as hot as it gets here in Scotland and I just found these nice and airy with no sweatiness whatsoever.
Weather protection and durability
I haven’t worn these in the rain because there hasn’t been any, so in the interests of experimentation I dumped some of the contents of my water bottle on them and also made sure to sit directly on the grass (which is always damp in Scotland) when I was eating my lunch. I was pleased to see the water bead nicely and they do dry extremely quickly once you start walking again.
As for durability, these are a sturdy pair of shorts that can handle sitting on abrasive rock.
Storage and other details
Two zipped hand pockets are ample for anything you might feasibly want to have at hand (I only use them for my phone and I can’t imagine why you’d be wearing shorts and carrying gloves but if you are, they’re big enough).
I didn’t love the adjustable draw cord on the waist because of the weird bunching, but I’ve grown to really appreciate it over a more traditional zip and button. It does the job in keeping the shorts up, but is less bulky than a proper belt (great when I’m using the hip belt on my backpack) and super comfortable.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.