Should I Wear Shorts or Pants Backpacking?

By Alice Nichols

When you are backpacking, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether to wear shorts or pants. It depends on a variety of factors, such as the climate and terrain of your destination, the type of activities you plan to do on your trip, and personal preference.


The climate of your destination is a major factor in deciding whether to wear shorts or pants while backpacking. In warm climates, shorts are typically an ideal choice for comfort. They are light and airy and allow for airflow which helps keep you cool during hot days. On the other hand, if you’ll be traveling in cooler climates or at higher elevations, pants may be necessary for warmth.

Additionally, pants can offer more protection from sunburns or insect bites if you’ll be spending time in wooded areas.


The terrain of your destination can also influence what type of clothing is best for backpacking. If you’ll be hoping over rocks or through streams, shorts may provide better mobility and less drag than long pants. If you’ll be trekking through thick brush or encountering prickly vegetation however, longer clothing can protect your legs from irritating cuts and scrapes.


The type of activities you plan on doing during your backpacking trip should also play into your decision about whether to wear shorts or pants. If water sports such as swimming, rafting or canoeing are part of your itinerary then shorts may be the right choice for comfort when wet. However if horseback riding is included then long pants are likely a better option.

Personal Preference

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference when deciding between shorts and pants while backpacking. Whichever option you choose should not only provide comfort but also keep you protected while outdoors.


Whether it’s shorts or pants that should be worn while backpacking depends on a variety of factors such as climate, terrain, activities and personal preference. Ultimately it comes down to what will both provide comfort and keep you protected while outdoors.