The 10 best shorts for men, starting at $18 — denim, cargo, formal and more

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If you ask someone what they think are the best shorts for men, you’re sure to get a complicated response. After all, it’s arguably an impossible question to answer, given the number of variables that come into play. From length and shape to material and leg opening size, it’s safe to say that it all depends on the man who’s wearing them.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best options we’ve found, owned and tested. As with any piece of clothing, particularly those in the legwear category, finding the right option that complements your shape and physique is key.

Also, for many, particularly those who sweat a lot, the lighter the material, the better — especially now that summer’s in full swing.

To help you decide what option fits your style and purpose best, we’ve broken down each pair into 10 categories from “Best Overall” to “Best Formal Option.”

With brands like Mack Weldon and Nike and retailers ranging from Banana Republic to Amazon, you’re sure to find something here that perfectly fits your personal style and budget.

1. Best Overall: Mack Weldon Maverick Tech Chino Shorts, $98

Credit: Mack Weldon

It’s rare that I’m wowed by a piece of clothing, but these met all of my expectations and then some.

Mack Weldon is known for its best-selling cooling men’s pajama shorts, so I wasn’t surprised to be impressed by its Maverick Tech Chino Shorts. Made with technical fabric, a flexible fit and smart details, these shorts have everything you need for maximum style, comfort and versatility.

What I love most about these shorts, though, is that they’re water- and stain-resistant. So, whatever falls on them bounces right off. A definite must-buy! Sizes range from 30W to 44W.

2. Most Comfortable: Buck Mason Trail Roam Short, $75

Credit: Buck Mason

I’ve been a Buck Mason fan for years, so when I heard the brand released its new Trail Roam Short, I knew it would probably be one of the comfiest pairs I’ve ever worn — and I was right.

An updated take on 1960s Marine Corps shorts, these quick-drying, four-way stretch nylon shorts almost feel like there’s nothing there. They’re not restricting and are extremely lightweight, making them perfect for the summer.

What surprised me most about these shorts is that they’re packed with storage, including a hidden zip card compartment on the left side seam and two internal device pockets. They come in four colors, and sizes range from XS to XXL.

3. Best Casual Option: adidas Adicolor Essentials Trace Shorts, $40

Credit: adidas

Here’s an option that’s a definite must-have for every man. There’s a reason the adidas Adicolor Essentials Trace Shorts have been staples for years. They’re comfortable, versatile and go with just about everything. Plus, they’re perfect for running errands, working out or even lounging around the apartment.

I have these in five colors and can firmly say they live up to the hype.

4. Best Amazon Pick: Dockers Men’s Perfect Short, $21.30-$29.83

Credit: Amazon

The Dockers Men’s Perfect Short is a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon for a reason. With over 24,000 reviews, this is one of the most popular men’s fashion picks on the entire site.

They come in 10 colors, are 100% cotton and have that roomy fit through the seat and thigh that Dockers is known for.

5. Most Affordable: adidas PARMA 16 Shorts, $18

Credit: adidas

If you have less than $20 to spend and need an extremely comfortable pair of shorts that will last you for years to come, the adidas PARMA 16 Shorts are the ones to buy.

These moisture-wicking shorts keep you dry and are also non-restrictive. They’re a No. 1 best seller at adidas and several third-party retailers, and sizes range from S to 2XL.

6. Best Denim Option: Levi’s 511 Slim Cut-Off 10-11 Inch Men’s Shorts, $49.50

Credit: Levi’s

No one does denim quite like Levi’s, so it’s only right that the brand’s 511 Slim Cut-Off 10-11 Inch Men’s Shorts are the go-to denim pick on this list.

These cult-classic shorts range from size 28 to 44 and come in four wash options. They’re slim but not skinny, so there’s enough room to move around. Plus, they have just the right amount of stretch for mobility.

7. Best Distressed Denim: Levi’s 412 Slim Fit Denim Shorts, $69.50

Credit: Nordstrom

If distressed and ripped denim is more your style, the Levi’s 412 Slim Fit Denim Shorts are a no-brainer. Like the 511 Slim Cut-Off 10-11 Inch Men’s Shorts, these are slim. However, they taper slightly above the knee for a slightly narrower leg opening.

8. Top Cargo Pick: Carhartt WIP Aviation Cargo Shorts, $133

Credit: ASOS

Cargo shorts have been around for decades, and it’s highly unlikely they’re ever going out of style. These timeless Carhartt WIP Aviation Cargo Shorts have a regular straight leg and are made of lightweight, non-stretchy fabric. This neutral color is a classic, so you’ll surely get tons of wear out of these.

9. Best Sweatshorts: Nike Straight-Leg Cotton-Blend Tech-Fleece Drawstring Shorts, $75

Credit: Mr. Porter

It may be warmer outside, but fleece shorts are still a year-round staple. The Nike Straight-Leg Cotton-Blend Tech-Fleece Drawstring Shorts boast that classic silhouette that the sportswear brand has perfected over the years. And it seems to be working, as you likely know someone who wears these like a uniform, or you probably already own them yourself.

The subtle Nike logo print is the touch that makes these extra special — not to mention how comfortable and versatile they are. Editor’s note: Snag these while you can because they sell out every time they’re restocked.

10. Best Formal Option: Banana Republic Pelle Suit Short, $48.97-$49.97 (Orig. $100)

Credit: Banana Republic

Lastly, who said shorts can’t be formal? Whether you’re attending a beach wedding or heading to a summer evening event, this pair of luxe Banana Republic Pelle Suit Short will be your go-to. Choose from arctic ice blue or yellow.

The secret to rocking formal shorts is to stay away from skinny or straight cuts — tailored, slim-leg shorts in earth tones and cool colors boast that sleek, sophisticated look that gives you an effortless flair. Pair these with a simple white button-down, and you’re good to go. Sizes range from 28W to 44W.

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