When it comes to shorts, I’m all about utility. I don’t want separate walking shorts, swimming shorts, going-out-to-eat shorts, and hang out shorts—I want one reliable pair that I can put on and forget about. Apparel companies have started to see things that way as well, introducing more durable shorts that, in many ways, fit a hybrid-esque model. Thankfully, shorts made of quick-drying material with some added flex in the seams that still achieve a stylish look are much easier to find than they were a few years ago.
But how do you know which is the real deal? If I’m going to lay down a pretty penny for a performance-based short, I want to make sure it’s the right fit. I decided to try out HippyTree’s Gravel Hybrid Short to see if they really could keep up with my daily wear and tear. I was worried the shorts would get soaked and rip within a few days, but after a few weeks of punishment, the Gravel Hybrids still look and feel solid no matter what I put them through—even a sliding down a mountaintop snowfield in the Northern Cascades.
What I liked
The durability—These shorts are fully submersible with a quick dry fabric treatment, so I took them for a frigid ocean plunge and snow-sliding mountain hike. The shorts dried out quickly and didn’t hold onto any lingering odors, keeping all of my tent-mates happy.
The look—I can honestly say I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a pair of shorts in my life. The 55-percent cotton, 45-percent recycled polyester construction allows the Gravel Hybrid to look stylish and crisp despite being a technical short—I’m more than okay with that.
What I wasn’t feeling
The sizing—this could be chocked up to my relatively new association with HippyTree, but my 33-inch waist could have comfortably been in a 35. The tightened shorts reduced my mobility more than I would have liked on longer hikes and any motion where I had to step up onto something. True the gusseted crotch seam (there has to be a better name for this) provides a little bit of give, but if I were to do it again next time, I’d order a larger size.
Perhaps in the same vein as the sizing, I had a tough time fitting stuff into my pockets. Once in there, the mesh drainage pockets offer a decent amount of room, but the side slant construction is tight and hard to get a hand into. Also, I learned that the button fly closure isn’t my cup of tea. Call it personal preference.
As far as hybrid shorts go, HippyTree is up there as one of the better I’ve tried. Its lightweight combined with impressive durability and drying power makes them an attractive fit for someone who doesn’t have time to switch from hiking shorts to swim trunks and back on a backpacking trip or someone who just likes to be comfortable no matter what the situation. My gripes with the product (namely sizing) are too small to outweigh the positives HippyTree is bringing to the table with its Gravel Hybrid Short. In a “yes” or “no” world, the Gravel Hybrid gets a definite “yes” in my book.