Baggies: The Only Pair of Hiking Shorts You Need
This is a gear review of and love letter to my Patagonia Baggies shorts. They are the best and only pair of hiking shorts that I (or you) ever need to own.
In 2016 I wore my pink Baggies for 180 straight days while thru-hiking the 2,189.1 mile Appalachian Trail (AT); and in 2017, I wore them for 135 straight days while thru-hiking the 2,650.1 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Folks, that’s a grand total of 315 days or 10.5 months and 4,839.2 miles!
A Second Skin
I wore my Baggies all day everyday on the AT and PCT, only taking them off for laundry in towns. (Hold your breath here…) I even slept in them–some of you will understand that; some of you might cringe at the thought; and some might be unsure how to feel about that level of commitment.
And my Baggies even had a life before they thru-hiked. I bought them pre-owned from someone looking to give them a second life. I wore them for five years before my thru-hikes. Needless to say their total mileage is greater than the 4,839 miles from the AT and PCT.
Pink is for Pretty Darn Durable
When other hikers saw my shorts initially, day after day (or even month after month) on trail, they often asked, “Is pink your favorite color?” I would laugh, look down at my shorts and usually answer noncommittally. “Oh I dunno, I like it; but I owned these shorts before the trail so I wanted to bring them.”
At the beginning of the AT, my Baggies were the brightest shade of fuchsia — similar to my mom’s everyday signature lipstick and nail polish (she’s a classy lady!). In those first miles on the AT, between winter’s end and spring’s beginning, east coast woods can be barren, brown and void of color. On one of those days, a hiking partner behind me joked that his eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to springtime colors so he couldn’t look directly at my shorts. We shared a long belly laugh, especially because his hiking outfit was the opposite–sky grey–sometimes making it hard to see him among foggy days.
Over time and with more miles, my Baggies faded to a bubble gum pink but they always brought smiles to me and response to whomever I met on trail.
Thelma & Louise, Lewis & Clark, Hey Girl & Pink Baggies
Together on the AT and PCT, two of America’s National Scenic Trails (which turn 50 this year!!), my Baggies trekked across much of America—the Deep South, Appalachia, the mid-Atlantic, New England and the entire lengths of California, Oregon and Washington.
On the AT they hiked from Georgia to Maine with me — through mountains, forests, meadows, bogs and farms; they slid down rock, glissaded down snow, swam in ponds, sat in dirt, on trail and on pavement in town parking lots. On the PCT they walked from Mexico to Canada. They never ripped; they never tore; they never lost their functionality.
My shorts and I walked to and into some of the country’s most welcoming trail towns — places that are often as significant as the actual trails — where locals (like the Saufleys of Hiker Heaven in Southern California) are a lifeline for hikers — feeding you, providing access to showers, inviting you for a night indoors and home cooked meals, and stocking grocery stores and post offices. They provide endless generosity or “trail magic” for hikers.
Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines durability as the ability “…to exist for a long time without significant deterioration in quality or value.” My Baggies proved themselves beyond durability’s definition. They were durable as all get out.
My Baggies endured and outlasted every type of weather that we have in the US — rain, snow, ice, hail, thunderstorms, humid east coast summers, arid, dry desert heat.
They rubbed against deciduous trees of the East and evergreens of the West; slept on hard, soft, rooty, rocky, soiled and saturated ground. And they always held up!
The Pink Between the Trees
I was even told they helped me get rides to town when I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike because they were visible from far away on roads or their bright color made people smile.
On the AT, another hiker once yelled to me from a quarter mile away between a densely forested section of trail. ”Hey Girl, is that you?!” I stopped and looked back but couldn’t see anyone through the thicket of oak, beech and maple trees— people sometimes call the AT a “green tunnel” in its most lush areas. I yelled back. “Yea! It’s me.” As he got closer he called out in a declarative “gotcha” sort of way. “I knew it! No one else has pink shorts like you.” We hadn’t seen each other for nearly 1,000 miles of trail. But he said he noticed pink through the trees and thought it might be me. Along with my hiking partner, we spent the rest of the afternoon hiking together and swapping stories from the miles between when we had last seen each other.
My hiking partner, Hatchet, on the AT—who I met in the Great Smokey Mountains and then hiked 98% of the trail with—used to tell other hikers to send a message to “the girl in the pink shorts” when we were in different sections of the trail. Sometimes he sent important information like where to stop for a meal, a break or to camp, but other days he would tell them a joke to pass on to me. One time he had SOBOs wish me a “happy birthday” when they passed me in the opposite direction. It wasn’t my birthday (and wouldn’t be during any of the months on trail) but the joke put a smile on my face and I immediately knew who had shared the fake birthday with them and was playing a joke on all of us!
Reuse, Repeat, Repair!
We all have gear that is more than its utility. It’s dependable and sentimental like a good friend.
After the AT and PCT, I discovered only one tiny hole from a campfire in my shorts. Patagonia’s Worn Wear program repaired them for free — no questions asked — with a new pink patch. When an employee at my local Washington, D.C. Patagonia store packaged them for the repair center in Reno, NV, she smiled and reminded me to keep wearing and repairing them, “Don’t ever let these go!” I’ve pledged to take care of them like a good friend or hiking partner because they’ve taken care of me.
Shorts With Conservation Values
My Baggies remind me — like Patagonia — to do the right thing for the planet and public lands and and to repair and reuse what we already own. They also remind me about the value of fewer, but treasured possessions. In his book Let My People Go Surfing Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard writes, “You don’t need a different pair of shorts for every activity in your life. Why not have just one good pair?” I have mine. And they’re they’re definitely my favorite color, pink.
Baggies Because They’re A Little Baggy, But For Every Body
Baggies are the the only pair of shorts you’ll ever need — for hiking, running, swimming, water sports, trail work, climbing or just lying in the grass.
There are 21 styles of shorts and skirts alone for women, men and babies. So you can outfit your friends, family and hiking partners too no matter the age or gender. Inseam lengths vary for men (5″, 6.5″, 7″) and women (2.5″ and 5″ — my favorite which are long enough to cover your tush and protect your thighs from critters).
They are made of 100% recycled nylon SUPPLEX® (or a hemp/organic cotton blend) with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. This means they are beyond comfortable, move easily (hiking, glissading or sitting in the dirt), dry easily and are wind and water resistant–perfect for repelling rain, recovering after river crossings, and even retaining a minimal amount of water when you want to cool off in the desert in arid conditions out West. And in the wettest of conditions (e.g. full days of rain that are common on the AT or in WA state on the PCT), they are fast and easy to ring out.
With side and rear mesh-lined pockets large enough to fit your full hands (nice for a cold day), a smart phone or multiple Clif bars.
The leg openings are wide enough for lots of movement (straddling trees, water crossings, glissading) and never make you feel trapped in your own pants (you know you’ve felt that before); you can even comfortably wear a base layer under them during cool winter mornings and evenings.
One pair. They will last a lifetime! Or if grow out of them or want to pass them on, Patagonia will even help you sell them and get money for them.
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