Patagonia Quandary Shorts Review

Patagonia Quandary Shorts Overview

When it comes to picking hiking and multi-sport shorts, there’s no shortage of options (or stupid puns to be made) on the market. Luckily, Patagonia has you covered with their popular Quandary Shorts.

The Quandary Shorts feature bluesign-approved (better for the planet) stretch fabric and three inseam lengths to suit most any sporting or black-tie-optional event. Details like a drawstring waist, belt loops, and six functional pockets make the Patagonia Quandary Shorts a go-to pair of trail shorts, and the understated style makes them work equally well for city adventures.

Patagonia Quandary Shorts Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Pockets
  • Durability
  • Dry Time
  • Breathability


With the Patagonia Quandary Shorts, the only quandary you’ll have is finding space in your closet for the full collection of these stretchy, durable adventure shorts.

Read the full Patagonia Men’s Quandary Shorts review below and see where they rank on our guide to the Best Hiking Shorts.

Patagonia Quandary Shorts Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 7.2 oz (204 g) Very lightweight for a pair of durable, stretchy shorts.
Type Cargo Stretch A material that’s tough yet very stretchy.
Material 95% stretch nylon with DWR and quick dry Nylon doesn’t retain stink and breathes well. This fabric has a lot of stretch.
Zippers 2, crotch and pocket Standard zippers for hiking shorts.
Pockets 6 Excellent number of pockets in the men’s version. Women’s has four pockets.
Pocket Placement 2 hand pockets
2 back pockets
Stealth coin pocket
Zippered thigh pocket
Lots of storage.
Waist Belt + Loops, Drawstring Waist The Quandary has standard belt loops and button front, but also has a drawstring waist.
UPF 50+ These will keep your thighs from getting sunburned.
Fit Casual It’s a generally casual fit, leaning slightly towards slim fit. You’ll have plenty of room to move due to the stretch fabric.
Sustainability bluesign approved fabric
Recycled nylon
Fluorinated DWR
Made with sustainable materials and DWR.
Manufacturer Warranty Ironclad Guarantee Patagonia’s warranty is one of the best in the business. Get in touch if anything fails.
Retail Price $69 A high price for sustainable fabric, stretch material, brand name, and warranty.

Gear Review of the Patagonia Quandary Shorts

I have been fortunate enough to find work amid the pandemic on the east side of California’s Sierra Nevada located on the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute, Western Mono/Monache, and Mi-Wuk people. This puts me smack in the middle of some of the most amazing trails and landscapes in the country: a perfect place to test the Patagonia Quandary Shorts. I was stoked to take the Quandary Shorts on a lasso out-and-back of Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes and a separate out-and-back to McGee Pass, as well as several day hikes in the area.


The Patagonia Quandary Shorts had no issues while hiking in the Eastern Sierras.

After a month of scrambling, swimming, butt-scootin’, bushwhacking, and hiking, the Quandary Shorts have barely shown their wear. The stretch fabric didn’t hold me back on demanding Class 2 and 3 terrain, allowing for high knees and far reaches with no problem. The durable face fabric took countless abrasions sliding down rough granite and it only got a hole in the butt when I snagged it on a screw in the front country!


Stretchy shorts will get you to the top.

The Quandary Shorts have become a standard piece in my daily wardrobe because of their comfort and adaptability to most backcountry or city situations.

Comfort – 4 Stars

The Patagonia Quandary Shorts are darn comfy and I found myself wearing them all the time, whether hiking, running errands, or even lounging after a day of heavy exertion (the stink resistant factor is above average for synthetic materials, which I discovered after digging them out of the laundry hamper once…or twice).


Shorts should be comfortable uphill, downhill, in the heat, and over granite. The Patagonia Quandary Shorts proved to be up to the task.

I’m knocking off one star because the drawstring in the waist is very narrow and tends to dig into my skin after some time. It’s also not as comfortable under a backpack hip belt as other shorts I hike in due to that same drawstring. Elastic or a built-in belt system is better for that sort of thing.

Pockets – 4 Stars

The Men’s Quandary Shorts have six pockets to store essential and arguably non-essential items. The back left and thigh pockets have zippers to secure small items while on the go. Overall it’s a great deal of storage on a slim unassuming pair of shorts, and allows you to be a heavy pocket-wearer or leave them empty without much compromise.


The zippered thigh slash pocket is a nice feature.

I’m withholding a star because the back pocket is slightly shorter than my iPhone 11 (not a giant phone) and the front pockets are not tacked to the leg and bunch up when putting the shorts on or taking items out of the pockets.

Durability – 4.5 Stars

I put the Quandary Shorts through some tough stuff scrambling in the alpine, and they still look great. These aren’t burly canvas work shorts so loose screws and heavy bushwhacking will still get the best of them over time, but for a relatively thin, breathable short I have been impressed.


These Patagonia Quandary shorts have been put through the wringer, and that small hole you see (if you have eagle eyes) was front a front-country nail. So, pretty good.

Dry Time – 3.5 Stars

After swimming in an alpine lake, the Quandary Shorts took 65 minutes to be almost completely dry. The waistband was still damp, and I guess it is because of the extra layer of soft fabric inside the waist. This fabric in the waist also retained moisture and stayed damp during hikes.


The Patagonia Quandary definitely aren’t swimming trunks, but they can get wet if necessary. And yes, that alpine lake was cold.

Not the fastest dry time around, and a damp waistband while hiking can lead to chafing and discomfort. If I were to choose, I’d rather swim naked or in my boxers than wait for the Quandary Shorts to fully dry.

Breathability – 4.5 Stars

The Quandary Shorts have average breathability for water-resistant, stretch woven material. I didn’t have sweat issues even on half-day hikes in High Sierra sun, but they may not breathe well enough for high output activities in the hottest conditions.


The Quandary breathe well in all the but the hottest of conditions.


The Quandary Shorts feature Patagonia’s “regular” fit and are true to size for me, a 95%-of-the-time medium. I have thicc thighs and backside, and the fit in these areas are definitely made for a slimmer leg/butt. I never felt restricted or uncomfortable in the Quandary Shorts due to their stretch, but it’s worth noting.


These are the Men’s 8 in. inseam Patagonia Quandary shorts.

The Quandary Shorts come in 8 in., 10 in., and 12 in. inseams to fit different body types and applications.


Here comes the bind (and more puns, I’m afraid): the waist. I am not a fan of the drawstring on the waist of the Quandary Shorts. It’s nice and stretchy and a good length for secure knots, but it’s far too thin to be comfortable for all day wear.


The internal drawstring doesn’t work very well, despite its best intentions.

I don’t hike with a belt because it’s uncomfortable under a backpack hip belt. Unfortunately, the Quandary’s waist band stretches out as you sweat and move, so I was forced to wear the drawstring super tight to keep my pants up. This was not particularly comfortable. Luckily, the fabric mostly returns to original size when dry.

Finally, as I mentioned in the Dry-Time category, the microfiber material on the inside of the waist band does not dry as quickly during high output activities. I didn’t have any problems with chafe, but it may be an issue if you don’t size correctly.

Final Word

With the Patagonia Quandary Shorts, the only quandary you’ll have is finding space in your closet for the full collection of these stretchy, durable adventure shorts.

Where to Buy Patagonia Quandary Shorts

We tested the men’s version of the Quandary Shorts in an 8 in. inseam. They also come in 10 in. and 12 in. lengths.

Patagonia also makes the Quandary Shorts for women in 5 in. and 7 in. inseam lengths. The fabric is exactly the same, but the fit is tailored to women’s physique. The women’s version doesn’t have the thigh zippered slash pocket, but does have four pockets, one of which is zippered on the back.

Compare Patagonia Quandary Short prices below.

Seb Cancino

Seb devotes their energy to hiking, backpacking, camping, and cycling in the mountains and deserts of the western USA. Their favorite trek was a thru-hike of the Big SEKI Loop in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, and they are planning a thru-hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2021. Peek on their Instagram to see where their latest adventures are taking them!

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

2 responses to “Patagonia Quandary Shorts Review

  1. Clintsays:

    Are any of the pockets mesh?


    1. Hey Clint. The pockets are made of nylon fabric on the side that faces your leg and mesh panels on the opposite side for ventilation. They’re durable, though, and you won’t have to worry about them tearing.

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