Outdoor Research Swift Lite Shorts Review

If you’re looking for a new pair of shorts to show off your hiker legs this summer, the Women’s Swift Lite 2.5″ Shorts from Outdoor Research have got you covered. There’s also the Men’s version, which comes with a 5″ inseam instead.

These shorts are the newest addition to OR’s Swift Collection, which includes the best-selling Swift Cap. Like the other products in this collection, these shorts were built for breathability and comfort.

Out for a jaunt on the Pemi Loop in my OR Swift Lite Shorts.

Outdoor Research Women’s Swift Lite 2.5″ Shorts At a Glance

  • MSRP: $69
  • Weight: 2.8 oz
  • Materials: 88% polyester/12% spandex; liner 100% recycled polyester (bluesign approved)
  • Country of origin: Bangladesh

Circumstances of Review

The shorts were designed primarily for active use. So far, I’ve taken these shorts on runs, several day hikes, and an overnight backpacking trip. Since they’re so comfy (and cute), I’ve also lounged in them a fair amount and sported them around town. In fact, I’m wearing them as I write this review.

Why Outdoor Research?

OR has been making dependable, quality outdoor gear since the 80s. I’ve been fortunate to sport many of their products on my outdoor adventures, including rain gear and a fair amount from their sun protection collection (gloves, shirts, hats). Some of these products have lasted me several years and will hopefully last several more with proper care.

Quality products that don’t have to be replaced after a single season of use are a big win, both for our wallets and for the environment. OR has a big focus on sustainability and accessibility, which you can read more about on their website.

These intentions are reflected in the construction of the Swift Lite Shorts. The Echo brief liner is made with bluesign-approved 100 percent recycled polyester, and like all of OR’s products, they’re backed by a lifetime warranty.

READ NEXT – Outdoor Research Swiftbreaker Windbreaker Review


Quick-drying: I haven’t been rained on in these shorts (yet), but I’ve sweat in them aplenty. In addition to being super lightweight and breathable, they feature laser-cut ventilation holes on the backside and on the sides of the hem.

Zippered pocket: Too many running shorts don’t have pockets, but fortunately, that’s not the case here. The zippered pocket is low profile yet roomy enough for the essentials (car keys, lip balm, and maybe even a granola bar).

Multiple color options: I’m pretty happy I went with “Lavender Squiggle,” but there are several other colorways to choose from: black, blue, and another fun print called “Ultra Geo.”

lavendar outdoor research swift lite shorts with blue squiggles and a mesh pocket

The zippered pocket is roomier than it looks!

Outdoor Research Swift Lite Shorts Pros

Ultralight: Only 2.8 oz—it doesn’t get much lighter than that, folks. For comparison, the Swift Cap weighs only o.3 oz less.

Comfortable: The material is soft and stretchy. Outdoor Research describes them as having “movement-mirroring stretch,” which is entirely accurate. The notched hem allows for even more wiggle room.

UPF 30: ‘Nuff said.

Breathable Echo brief liner: No underwear? No problem. These shorts come with a breathable Echo brief liner, which is made with 100 percent bluesign-approved recycled polyester. OR’s Echo fabric promotes airflow and breathability. It’s also infused with odor control technology, which is a must IMO.

Internal drawcord: If you typically fall between sizes, you can use the drawcord to help perfect the fit in concert with the stretchy jacquard waistband. I could see this drawcord being extra helpful in the context of weight fluctuation (loss) on a thru-hike.

Reflective logo: The reflective logo and accents on the side hem offer just the right amount of reflectiveness, which night hikers and runners will appreciate.

Outdoor Research Swift Lite Shorts Cons

Price: These may not be the cheapest shorts you ever own. However, they are comparable to similar shorts on the market, and you should be able to get a decent amount of use out of them.

Size and fit: OR classifies these as being mid-rise with a standard fit. Personally, I’ve gotten used to wearing high-rise bottoms, so I had to accept that fact and move on with my life. I also found them to run a tad on the small side; I initially got them in size small and swapped them for size medium to have a roomier fit. For reference, I’m roughly 5’5″ and 130 lbs.

Inseam: The women’s version only comes in the 2.5″ inseam, which may or may not lead to inevitable chafing. If you prefer a longer inseam, consider going with the men’s 5″ version. The women’s version also comes in a skort, which has knit liner shorts instead of the brief liner.

hiking wearing outdoor research swift lite shorts stands on a rocky outcrop looking out at a forested view


Long story short(s), I would recommend this product. I do acknowledge that the Swift Lite shorts come with a steep price tag, so if I were to shop for a second pair, I’d probably wait for a sale. On the flip side, OR’s reputation and my personal experience lead me to believe that these shorts will likely last a good while. I’m interested to see how they hold up over time, especially since they’re so lightweight. If they hold up as expected, I’d say they’re worth the investment.

I don’t have any real complaints. These shorts are super comfortable, and I’m impressed with the amount of detail that went into their design. I do think it’d be great if there were greater flexibility with choosing whether or not you want a liner or a longer inseam.

While not quite as important as some of the other factors, I really love the color and pattern options that these shorts come in. I also love that the colors coordinate with the Swift Cap… I might just have to get myself a matching hat now.

Shop the Women’s Outdoor Research Swift Lite Shorts

Shop the Men’s Outdoor Research Swift Lite Shorts

Comparable Shorts

Patagonia Baggies Shorts – Women’s, Men’s

MSRP: $59, $65

Weight: 5 oz, 7.2 oz

REI Co-op Swiftland Running Shorts – Women’sMen’s

MSRP: $54.95, $59.95

Weight: 4.2 oz (Men’s)

Janji AFO Middle Shorts – Women’sMen’s

MSRP: $64-68

Weight: 3.1 oz, 3.7 oz

The Outdoor Research Women’s Swift Lite 2.5″ Shorts were donated for purpose of review.

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