Since 2014, I’ve used three different pairs of Patagonia Baggies (both the 5″ and 7″ models), all of which are still going strong at the time of writing. During this period I’ve covered more than 5,000 hiking miles (8,047 km) in Baggies, in conditions ranging from the Scottish Highlands to the Bolivian Altiplano to the sweltering Australian Alps in summer. Here is my take on the iconic shorts, which have been a core part of Patagonia’a catalogue since their release in the early 1980’s:
Models: 5″ seam and 7″ seam
Weight (men’s large / my scales):
- 5″ seam – 7 oz (221 g)
- 5″ sans liner – 5.9 oz (167 g)
- 7″ seam – 7.9 oz (224 g)
- 7″ sans liner – 6.7 oz (190 g)
Materials (from Patagonia website): The most recent incarnation of the Baggies are made from 100% recycled nylon (Supplex) with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. They have an internal drawstring, an elasticized waistband, and are made in accordance with Fair Trade sewing practices.
Pockets: Three in total. A rear snap pocket and two side pockets. The latter are large (big enough to hold most maps without having to worry about them falling out), self-draining (mesh corners), and the right one of the 2019 model has a loop attachment, which is ideal for hooking keys or a compass lanyard. Their vertical design comes in handy when fording deep rivers, as it helps reduce drag in the water; obviously a handy feature when swimming as well.
Mesh Liner: You can leave the undies at home when wearing the Baggies. Over the years I’ve generally been an advocate of going commando while hiking, but in two of my three pairs of baggies I decided to keep the liner. In addition to being airy, I’ve found it to be comfortable, while still retaining its elasticity over time (i.e. minimal sagging – I recently turned 50, so unfortunately I’m only talking about the liner).
DWR finish beads well in light rain or when splashing across watercourses.
Variety: There are lots of different colours and designs from which to choose.
When it comes to hiking shorts I want something light, not too short, not too long, quick-drying, comfortable, big pockets, and not restrictive. The Patagonia Baggies tick all of these boxes.
5″ Vs 7″: I’ve regularly used both models over the past six years. I tend to wear the 5″ in warmer conditions, and the 7″ shorts when I’m combining hiking and traveling, and/or if I’m walking in a place where folks are a little more conservative in regards to dress standards.
Drying Time: One of the impressive things I’ve found about the Baggies is that though the material has a sturdy feel, they are relatively lightweight and seem to dry just as quickly as much thinner and less durable running shorts when wet (i.e. less than 20 minutes in the sun).
Comfort: I love the fit and soft feel of the Baggies. Despite their name they aren’t overly baggy, nonetheless, they have ample legroom, and I’ve never found mobility to be an issue whether I’m hiking uphill, striding out on the flats, or doing some stretching at the end of a long hiking day (Note: I prefer all my shorts to be as roomy as practical. In regards to the Baggies, I size up from medium to large).
Breathability: The combo of lots of legroom and airy mesh liners means that the Baggies score well on the ventilation front.
Multifunctional: Among the things I like about the Baggies are their simplicity (no zippers) and multifunctionness – they are equally at home on trail, as they are at the beach or around town.
Double thumbs up. As with most Patagonia garments, Baggies are built to last. I’ve had my 5″ “Baby Blues” (Port Blue) since 2014, during which time I’ve put more than 3,000 miles (4,828 km) on them. This includes plenty of off-trail excursions (thick bushwhacks, scree descents, rocky scrambles, the occasional bum-sliding shimmy) which would have been the death of many, if not most other lightweight hiking or running shorts. Despite the beating they have taken, at the time of writing they are still showing very little sign of wear in either the elastic waistband, mesh liners, or the backside.
Value for Money
What constitutes value comes down to a balance between the long term effectiveness of your purchase and what you paid for it. At US$55 a pop (though as mentioned above, they are often on special at REI and Patagonia.com), at first glance Baggies are certainly not cheap for a pair of nylon shorts. However, unlike some other less expensive and less well made models, they aren’t going to blow out in the crotch, ass, or the waistband for literally thousands of miles. To me, that means they represent good value – like a Feathered Friends sleeping bag or Katabatic Gear quilt, you may have some doubts when you first shell out the cash, but when you see how well they perform and last over the long-term, those doubts will invariably fade.
I look for five basic attributes (see Backpacking Gear Philosophy) in all of my outdoor gear: simplicity, functionality, durability, lightweight and value. The Patagonia Baggies meet all of these criteria, plus they look respectable and feel comfortable. I suspect they’ll be my hiking shorts of choice for many years to come.
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