If you enjoy hiking, running, backpacking, or any fast-paced adventure sports, having the right pair of shorts can make all the difference in comfort and performance. Increasingly, men’s athletic shorts designed specifically for dynamic activities come equipped with ingenious zippered stash pockets to securely carry small essentials.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about versatile men’s hiking and running shorts featuring zippered pockets. We’ll explore the key benefits, what to carry, how to choose the best pair for your needs, and review some of the top-rated zipper pocket athletic shorts on the market in 2024.

Benefits of Athletic Shorts With Zipper Pockets

Men's Zipper Pockets Hiking Athletic Running Shorts

Shorts designed for hiking, trail running, backpacking, and other rigorous sportsactivities offer a winning blend of freedom of movement, breathability, and durability. Add in strategically placed zippered pockets, and you gain an ideal carry solution for must-have trail essentials as well:

  • Security – Unlike standard mesh or elastic pockets, zipper enclosures prevent belongings from bouncing out during dynamic motion over rough terrain.
  • Accessibility – Well-designed zip stash pockets place items within quick reach on your lower body, unlike overloaded packs or vests.
  • Organization – Multiple zippered compartments allow better separation and order of gear like keys, snacks, phone, wallet, compass, and more.
  • Weather Protection – Zippers seal out moisture, debris, and dirt far better than open pockets, protecting fragile items like phones.
  • Flexibility – External zipper pockets accommodate extra gear and layers when needed compared to skin-tight run shorts.

When pushing your physical limits on the trail, specialized athletic shorts that integrate weather-resistant zipper pockets enable you to travel as light and fast as possible without sacrificing crucial equipment.

What to Carry in Men’s Zipper Short Pockets

Men’s Zipper Short Pockets

Athletic shorts with secure zippered pockets excel at carrying compact yet vital gear you need recurring access to without breaking stride. Here are some of the top items these pockets can securely stow:


  • Smartphone – Quick access for GPS navigation apps or emergency contacts without needing to wrestle with a backpack.
  • Energy gels/bars – Keep high-calorie fuel easily reachable for periodic energy boosts mid-hike or run.
  • ID/credit card/cash – Stow away some emergency money and identification.
  • Keys – Zip them safely out of the way during high-exertion movement.
  • Sun protection – A ziplock bag with some SPF lip balm, sunscreen, etc. stays pristine.

Trail Tools

  • Compass/maps – Navigation gear stays protected from the elements but rapidly accessible in zip pockets.
  • Headlamp/flashlight – Quickly whip out illumination when traversing dark forest sections or finishing hikes at night.
  • Lighter/fire starter kit – Useful for emergency campfires if forced to unexpectedly overnight due to injury.
  • Satellite communicator/PLB device – Sometimes required safety gear for remote backcountry hikes.
  • Whistle – Compact emergency whistles conveniently attach to zipper pulls for grabbing quickly when needed.

Other Ideas

Other items commonly carried securely and accessibly in athletic short zipper pockets include pepper spray, point-and-shoot camera, bug spray vials, thin gloves during cold months, tinder/kindling, first aid items like Band-Aids, and more. Determine what compact yet vital gear you regularly need at a moment’s notice on the trail.

How to Select the Best Zipper Pocket Hiking Athletic Shorts

When evaluating athletic shorts for hiking, camping, backpacking, and other mobile activities, here are the key factors to consider:

Fabric Composition

Look for shorts made of lightweight synthetic fabric blends that resist moisture, drying quickly. Polyester/spandex blends add stretch for freedom of movement. Nylon contributes durability and dries fast. Mesh paneling further enhances ventilation and cooling.


The waistband should offer a secure but comfortable fit. Some shorts incorporate drawstrings and/or elastic waistbands to dial in the perfect customized fit. Silicone grip strips inside prevent sliding during sweaty hikes or trail runs.

Length & Fit

Tailored athletic shorts for dynamic sports have shorter inseams for better range of motion, usually 5-7 inch in length. Make sure any integrated liner briefs or leg grippers don’t bind or chafe.

Ventilation & Mobility

Getting overheated can ruin a long hike. Prioritize shorts promoting cooling via breathable fabrics and ventilated mesh. Look for ergonomic designs with strategic seams that allow flexible movement in any direction.

Zippered & Standard Pockets

The selling point for this style of athletic shorts, zippered pockets should be durable, weather-resistant, and conveniently placed for rapid access on the go. Elastic or mesh pockets provide additional open storage options.

Top Men’s Zipper Pockets Hiking & Running Shorts

Now let’s showcase and review some of the top-rated men’s zipper pocket athletic shorts ideal for hiking, camping, backpacking, trail running, and related warm weather adventures.

PrAna Stretch Zion Short

PrAna Stretch Zion Short

The venerable PrAna Stretch Zion continues as a staple among hikers and climbers, prized for its durability and freedom of movement. These shorts now feature an added zip stash pocket to more securely carry valuables and trail essentials.

Made from abrasion-resistant 97% nylon/3% spandex material, they offer rare four-way stretch. The versatile Zion design includes a loose fit through hips and thighs with a fitted waist. The 7-inch inseam hits the sweet spot—not too long or short.

The newly added left zip thigh pocket features a weather-resistant reverse coil zipper to protect phone, keys, or a compact camera. Dual standard open hand pockets provide additional storage.

For years of epic hikes and outdoor exploits, the Stretch Zion remains a favorite thanks to the proprietary Zion fabric. It dries quickly and enables extraordinary mobility via durable stretch capabilities in all directions. The added zippered pocket brings enhanced utility.


  • Fabric: 97% nylon/3% spandex Zion stretch material
  • Enhanced mobility and quick-drying performance
  • Gusseted crotch prevents chafing
  • Exterior left thigh reverse coil zippered pocket
  • Two standard open hand pockets
  • Drawcord waist with adjustable webbing belt
  • Multiple inseam lengths (7″ shown)

Mountain Hardwear Dynama Shorts

Ready to impress over countless miles on trails, Mountain Hardwear’s Dynama Shorts blend toughness with easy packability. They make an exceptional choice for hiking, fastpacking, or trail running days.

The Dynama Short utilizes a woven textured nylon that is not only rugged but also features stretch properties. This fabric combo coupled with the relaxed fit through the thigh allows easy high stepping up steep terrain without restriction.

Storage options include a zippered thigh pocket to protect essentials like phone, GPS, or snacks. Zip pocket placement stabilizes the load rather than allowing excess movement during high output. There is also a hidden inner key pocket at the waistband, closed by a snap.

For simplicity and resilience on the trail, Dynama Shorts check the boxes. The fabric withstands abrasion from packs or protruding rocks while also offering enhanced mobility. Strategic zip pockets securely stow must-have items for quick and easy access out on the trail.


  • Material: 88% nylon/12% elastane softshell
  • Stretch woven textured fabric for mobility
  • Zippered thigh stash pocket
  • Inner snap waist key pocket
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Streamlined discreet side waist cinch-cord
  • 5.5” inseam

Brooks Sherpa 5″ Running Shorts

Brooks Sherpa 5" Running Shorts

Serious trail runners demand both durability and featherweight portability from run shorts. Brook answers that call with its flagship Sherpa 5” Running Short.

The Sherpa features a streamlined liner brief with integrated 2” split leg zips for extra ventilation on hot days. The outer short includes two zipped pockets plus an open back pocket to organize phone, keys, gels, and other necessities securely.

Made from lightweight, stretch woven fabric with durable water repellant coating, the shorts resist moisture, dry quickly, and move smoothly over varied terrain.

Runners praise the dialed comfort of the Sherpa Running Shorts. The integrated brief and inner drawcord create a locked-in fit with no chafing, while external pockets confidently carry phone and valuables bounce-free across rugged trails.

For moving fast and light over endless miles of adventure, Brooks’ Sherpa Running Short stands out as a top performer. No excess bulk hinders progress forward while smart storage solutions stash trail essentials securely. Tested tough to keep you going season after season.


  • Material: 4-way stretch woven with DWR
  • Inner 2” split leg zips for adjustable ventilation
  • Zippered front stash pockets
  • Open back pocket
  • Inner brief with adjustable waist drawcord
  • 5” exterior short
  • Reflective logos for visibility

New Balance XC5 Running Shorts

New Balance XC5 Running Shorts

New Balance crafts the XC5 shorts for cross country racers and trail runners seeking functional storage without extra bulk. The lightweight circular knit outer short features two deep zip pockets to securely stow gels, keys, cash, and more during off-road exploits.

The built-in compression liner brief incorporates power mesh panels ventilated zones to prevent overheating, along with anti-chafe flatlock stitch construction. Smooth welded seams everywhere prevent skin irritation from lapping waistbands or chafing hem lines.

The New Balance XC5 running shorts optimize freedom of movement while providing well-designed side zip pockets for trail necessities. All integrated tightly against the body minimizing annoying mid-run bounce. Snag a buttery-smooth technical short ready to cover ultra distances.


  • Material: Lightweight circular knit with mesh liner
  • Enclosed inner brief with anti-chafe flatlock stitching
  • Power mesh vent zones
  • Welded seams eliminate irritation points
  • Twin zippered side waist stash pockets
  • Inner key pocket
  • 5” inseam length


Having quick access to necessities without needing to slow your pace can make all the difference in both comfort and safety during outdoor activities like hiking, running, fastpacking, and climbing. Men’s athletic shorts purpose-designed with durable zippered pockets allow you to travel farther and faster carrying less overall bulk.

Choose wisely based on intended uses, required gear storage, fit preferences, climate, venting needs, and types of terrain encountered. Breathable fabrics that stretch freely yet resist abrasion and moisture allow unhindered movement mile after mile.

Smart zippered shorts with the right features can make your adventures markedly more enjoyable. No longer having to wrest items in and out of overloaded hydration packs means grabbing and stowing gear rapidly on the go. With trail essentials always at the ready via shorts pockets, you can focus energy on covering more satisfying miles out in nature each day spent outside.


"Hello, I'm Alexandra, a seasoned hiker with over a decade of experience exploring the great outdoors. My love for hiking was sparked on the Appalachian Trail, and since then, I've embarked on numerous hiking adventures, from dense forests to towering peaks. I'm dedicated to sharing my knowledge and expertise through HikingCare.com to help hikers of all levels make the most of their outdoor experiences."