Merino wool is a fantastic fabric for next-to-skin clothing like underwear, socks, and tees due to its softness, breathability, and warmth. However, its versatility goes beyond just these products. Merino wool blends into outerwear like pants, vests, and jackets. Yet one type of gear that often is overlooked is shorts!
But which pair of women’s Merino wool shorts work best for you? That’s where we come in.
At Merino Wool Gear, we always want you to find the gear that fits you and your lifestyle. Using our expertise, first-hand experience, and testers, we provide as much ‘not-so-obvious‘ information about your favorite performance apparel as possible.
So, from athletic running shorts to high-waisted bike shorts to cozy loungewear, let’s begin with the nine best women’s Merino wool shorts. Enjoy!
- Best Everyday Shorts: Icebreaker Crush
- Best Value: Woolly Long Haul Weekender
- Best Bike Shorts: Wool& Summit
- Best For Running: Smartwool Active Lined
- Best For Hiking: Ortovox Piz Selva
- Best For Travel: Mons Royale Drift
- Best For The Gym: Icebreaker Fastray Gridlines
- Best Lounge Shorts: Woolx Poppy
- Editor’s Pick: Ibex Springbok Shorts
Disclosure: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain our genuineness and authenticity. However, as an affiliate member, we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Merino Wool Shorts Quick Buying Criteria
Before we go into the best merino wool shorts for women, you should understand some buying criteria used to gauge our decisions. We’ll be as brief as possible without omitting any necessary information.
Due to Merino wool’s natural properties, like its spring-like crimp and superfine fibers, it’s one of the softest clothing materials. However, pure Merino can be delicate, especially if you wear it as an outerlayer (as in these shorts). So, if you’re worried about tearing, snagging, or pulling, look for pairs blended with some synthetics. The mixed composition increases the fabric’s strength, durability, and longevity.
Building on this idea, many brands offer shorts with a Merino wool liner or waistband for added comfort and odor resistance. You won’t have to wear underwear with a few of these pairs.
Women’s Merino wool shorts typically have inseam lengths anywhere from 2-10″, with most in the 3-7″ range. Now, remember that inseam length is not 100% indicative of where the shorts will rest on your thighs, as other factors like height, torso length, size, and waistband thickness all play a role. Although, we have put together a small guide below so you can better understand how different inseam lengths may look.
The only question you have to ask yourself for short inseam length is, “how short is too short?” The smaller the inseam, the more it’s going to reveal. In our opinion, anything lower than 3″ and you risk showing off some bottom cheek. Wear a liner or supportive underwear underneath if you’re hesitant about anything slipping out.
Usage & Versatility
We can’t stress this enough; foresee how and where you will wear your new Merino wool shorts. Many items you’ll see below stand out because of their activity-specific design. And it’s hard to compare them side by side because they serve different purposes.
So, to help you figure out which ones work best for you, we’ve divided these shorts into superlatives, like best for hiking and most fashionable. We’re not saying one pair is better than the other, as they all have their niche. Instead, it’s more of a rough guide to narrow your options.
Other than the fabric composition, inseam length, and usage, what separates Merino wool shorts from other fabric are the technical features. Some have technical liners, heavy-duty zippers, and multiple pockets, while others are casual with a drawstring and nothing more.
And yes, we understand that it’s hard to rank these shorts based on one feature or another, but that’s not the point. We want to ensure you receive the features that you find essential. For example, a zippered back pocket may be worthless for lounging but critical for running. Here are a few of the features that we see among our favorite women’s Merino wool shorts:
- Multiple pockets (front, back, zippered, etc.)
- Closure type (snap, button, elastic, belted, etc.)
- Built-in waistband adjustments
- Reflective elements
- Highly-specialized stitching patterns
- Mesh venting
Editor’s Note: If you find a pair of shorts you like, but they only possess a few of your desired features, don’t fret. Brands release multiple iterations of each product, so there may be another version (perhaps with a different name) that fits your needs. Or, if you need extra help finding what you’re looking for, give us a shout!
Best Everyday Women’s Merino Wool Shorts
100% Merino wool | Midweight | 5″ inseam | 2 colors (seasonal) | Price: $$$$
Pros: Top-notch comfort | Fantastic temperature control | Two functional slash pockets
Cons: Expensive | Sizing runs large
As you may have read, Merino wool shorts should be comfortable, stylish, and versatile. And no other pair does it better than the Icebreaker Women’s Merino Crush Shorts. They are an excellent choice for everyday wear. So whether you’re chilling at home, on the go, or anywhere in between, these shorts will feel cozy every step of the way!
The key to the Crush’s enhanced comfort is the super soft, 100% Merino wool fabric. It keeps you cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cool! Moreover, the terry fabric creates a plush yet silky next-to-skin feel.
Yet, comfort means nothing without a touch of fashion. And these shorts are designed in such a way that they fit nearly every casual outfit. Due to the longer inseam, we’d classify them as boyfriend shorts. Moreover, the hidden slash pockets are practical. They aren’t there just because they can be. Instead, they serve a functional purpose without detracting from the overall style.
As of March 2023, Icebreaker only offers these shorts in black and lavender. However, they often release colors as the fashion seasons change. So, when you read this, more options may be available. You’ll just have to head over to Icebreaker to find out!
Best Value Merino Wool Shorts For Women
66% Merino, 29% cotton, 5% elastane | 215 gsm (light-to-midweight) | ~4″ inseam | 3 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Versatile style | Practical pockets & accessories | Affordable
Cons: Sizing inconsistency | Long-term durability concerns
If you didn’t know, many of these Merino wool shorts are expensive. Some will even cost you $100 or more! Luckily, there are some pairs with high-end quality but at a lower price. And out of those pairs, our favorite has to be the Woolly Longhaul Weekender shorts.
Like most of Woolly’s creations, these Longhaul Weekender shorts suit an active lifestyle. You can wear them running errands, running the dogs, or running through the airport. The design is simple and sleek so you can pair them with almost anything. Woolly doesn’t outright state the inseam length, but we figured it to be about 4″, which isn’t too revealing.
Moreover, there are a couple of extra features that we love. The Merino-cotton blend is soft, while the spandex adds a comfortable yet supportive stretch (nothing should flop out). Functional front and back pockets are large enough for a standard phone (although difficult for plus-sized models).
These are just a nice pair of casual athletic shorts ready for your next big adventure, all at an affordable price. If you’re interested in getting these Longhaul Weekender shorts, consult the Woolly sizing charts first, as some users have noted that the waist may run large. Check them out below!
Best Merino Wool Bike Shorts
68% Merino, 22% nylon, 10% spandex | Heavyweight (300 gsm) | 7″ inseam | 2 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Stretchy yet supportive | No more chub rub | Functional pockets
Cons: Minimal color selection | Size availability
If you’re going to wear bike shorts, make sure they’re Merino. As you know, it’s odor-resistant, uber-comfy, naturally stretchy, and more! Basically, Merino wool has everything you’re looking for in bike shorts. And our favorite pair are these Wool& Summit pocket bike shorts.
The best thing about these Merino wool bike shorts is that they double as an underlayer. You heard that right, no more chub rub! Not only does the 7″ inseam protect against chafing, but the fabric also breathes easily, regulating your moisture levels. So even in the summer, you can throw on the Wool& Summits underneath your favorite sun dress or skirt and be comfortable all day!
The anti-chafing perks don’t stop there. The soft, 17.5-micron Merino wool feels silky smooth against the skin. The high waist stays put and provides ample support. And, since they are so stretchy, there shouldn’t be any hot points when you’re exercising.
Unfortunately, these Summit Pocket shorts are popular, like really popular. As of April 2023, Wool& is taking preorders for some sizes in black. Hopefully, they will release more color options, but if you want them in black, you better get your preorder soon! They also have a choice in “Marionberry” available shortly.
Best Women’s Merino Wool Running Shorts
Body: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane (56% Merino liner) | Ultralight liner (150 gsm) | 2.75″ inseam | 11 designs | Price: $$
Pros: Multiple colors & prints | Stay-put liner | Relatively inexpensive
Cons: Short inseam | Liner longevity concerns
A classic athletic design with a Merino-lined twist, these Smartwool running shorts are the leader of the pack. They have the same “go anywhere” energy as other pairs on this list. Yet, unlike other Merino-lined shorts, these come in various prints and colors. You can choose from standard options like black and navy or something more vibrant like Festive Fuschia or Almond Meadow. There are eleven options in total, and new patterns are released seasonally.
These shorts have one of the shortest inseams, which works well for runners. Although, some people may find it too revealing. Luckily, Smartwool added an ultralight liner (150 gsm) to ensure nothing flops out. It feels super soft in all your sensitive areas and will help keep you cool as your push through your last mile. Still, you’ll want to take proper care when laundering, as some users have reported the liner to sag over time. We have yet to see it, but it’s still worth noting.
Finally, since the exterior is recycled polyester, these shorts can withstand the rigors of the outdoors. And better yet, they are one of the most inexpensive pairs you’ll see today. So, head over to Smartwool and give them a closer look!
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shorts
Body: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane (67% Merino waistband) | Lightweight | ~4″ inseam | 3 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Super durable | Well-designed construction | Interesting color pattern
Cons: Limited usage | No liner
While Merino wool has fantastic comfort, odor resistance, and breathability, there are more durable fabrics. And if you plan on wearing your shorts hiking, you could get them snagged on a branch or scraped on a rock. So instead of pure Merino wool shorts, blending them with synthetics for outdoor activities is better. And these Ortovox shorts are definitely the best for outdoor activities.
The Piz Selva is an active short for an active lifestyle. It’s just a rugged, durable piece of gear. And that’s not an understatement. Ortovox has tested these shorts using the Martindale test (also known as the rub test), which gauges a fabric’s strength. With over 30,000 abrasion cycles, these shorts test on the high end, making them the most durable pair on this list.
These shorts are scratch- and tear-resistant because the outer is not wool. Instead, it’s a robust polyamide, similar to nylon. However, the waistband is a soft Merino wool blend that doesn’t itch or irritate. So, you don’t need to worry about nasty chafing on those long alpine treks.
In the end, whether you’re planning a weekend trek or a month-long thru-hike, the Ortovox Piz Selvas are a must-bring piece of gear. They are well-constructed, comfy, and barely weigh anything. So grab a pair before spending the rest of your money on backpacking equipment!
Best Women’s Merino Wool Shorts For Travel
81% Polyester, 14% Merino, 5% Elastane | Ultralight (137 gsm) | 5-6″ inseam | 4 colors | Price: $$$$$
Pros: Versatile, casual style | Comes with belt | Packable
Cons: Minimal Merino composition | Very expensive
You must pack clothing that’s ready for adventure if you’re hopping from country to country. For example, you don’t want to be in a humid climate without a high-quality and functional pair of shorts. And one of the most versatile shorts we’ve seen is the Mons Royale Drift Shorts.
The style of these shorts is casual. They aren’t long or short (5-6″ inseam) and pair well with nearly any top. That way, you’ll have more outfit options on the road. They don’t wrinkle or even really get dirty. Moreover, if you have to do laundry away from home, these shorts will dry quicker than 75% of your travel wardrobe.
The only real thing we can say wrong about these shorts is that they are only 14% Merino wool. Yes, the synthetics help add strength and durability. But, at such a high price point, we would expect a higher Merino wool composition within the fabric.
Overall, these Mons Royale Drift shorts are great for those always on the go. Not only are they comfy and stylish, but they easily pack away in your suitcase. So, grab a pair for your next adventure!
Best Merino Wool Shorts For The Gym
97% Merino, 3% Spandex | Midweight (260 gsm) | 8″ inseam | 1 color | Price: $$$$
Pros: Trendy design | Squat-proof | Top-notch breathability
Cons: Color selection | Price Tag
If you’re big into the fitness world, you know how vital gym fashion can be. If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you work out harder. But the ultimate gym shorts are ones that not only look good and feel good but also perform well. And the Icebreaker Fast Ray Gridline shorts do all three.
These shorts are an iteration of Icebreaker’s Fast Ray High Rise shorts. They have all the same features, but unlike the solid color of the original, these have a geometric print inspired by the natural contour of the mountains. The flowing design is flattering for your curves.
Yet, since they have such a snug fit, they may feel revealing for some. But there is honestly nothing to worry about. The 8″ inseam is long enough to cover even the tallest. And these Merino wool shorts are squat-proof! Therefore, no matter how much you move, the fabric will stay put and, more importantly, remain opaque.
Finally, we get that these are a tad expensive (what’s new). Although, if they fit into your lifestyle, they are well worth it! Check out these shorts – or the rest of Icebreaker’s apparel – below!
Best Merino Wool Lounge Shorts
71% Merino, 29% Nylon | Ultralight (150 gsm) | 3-4″ inseam | 3 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Ultrasoft feel | Stay-put waistband | Pajama customization optional
Cons: Not very versatile | No extra features
Remember when wearing pajamas to school was cool? Still, it’s not as cool as wearing pajamas to work. There’s no better feeling than making money while you’re dressed in the softest, comfiest loungewear around. And the Woolx Poppy Feathertouch lounge shorts are the softest, comfiest women’s Merino wool shorts on the market.
Unlike other Merino wool shorts, these Poppy shorts are meant for one thing and one thing only: pajamas. The 16.5-micron, 150 gsm ultralight fabric is silky smooth and breathable. Woolx markets these as the best travel pajamas out there so much that they allow you to customize your pajama set. So, you can save on a pajama shirt if you purchase them all at once.
Obviously, there are more versatile pairs of Merino wool shorts than these Woolx Poppys. Sure, you could wear them to the store, but you’ll probably get dirty looks from people who think you never take off your pajamas. Moreover, there are no extra features other than standard pockets. They are just a solid pair of shorts that you can throw on at the end of a long day.
Editor’s Pick: Women’s Merino Wool Shorts
Body: 91% nylon, 9% elastane (45% Merino lining) | Lightweight | 3.5″ inseam | 4 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Active fabric technology | Flattering cut | Decent color selection
Cons: Expensive | Could be more Merino
So, I had to round out the best Merino wool shorts with one of my favorites, the Ibex Springbok shorts. I like the overall design and the unique “hidden” features. There is an interior pocket and an interior elastic key holder, which you rarely see. Even the stash pocket in the back comes in handy!
Yet the reason I love these shorts is the Merino wool liner. It’s an ultrasoft, ultradurable Merino Tencel™ blend finished with a proprietary steaming technique that leaves the material’s surface cool to the touch. And as you can imagine, feels incredibly comfy.
The style itself is simple, modeled after typical athletic shorts. Yet, the cut is very flattering. Despite the slim fit, the combination of the liner and 3.5″ inseam is not revealing. Still, if you want a looser, flowier fit, Ibex suggests sizing up. The elastic waistband and interior drawstring can accommodate a slightly oversized waist.
Overall, the Springbok shorts are a solid, consistent pair you can rely on during summer. The ultralight liner is top-notch, and you can wear them almost anywhere! Ibex offers these shorts in standard color options like black and charcoal but has vibrant options like beetroot and soft moss. So, no matter the shade, they should vibe with your wardrobe.
Final Note On The Best Women’s Merino Wool Shorts
And there you have it: the top women’s Merino wool shorts. They are an excellent choice for hikers, travelers, and even those working from home! Hopefully, you found a pair of shorts that fits your lifestyle. And if not, always feel free to contact us. We’ll do our best to help you find your perfect piece of Merino Wool Gear!
Moreover, if you’re interested in learning more about Merino wool – in all its glory – browse the site for a bit. Or, if you’re looking for deals, discounts, and sales on all your favorite Merino wool gear, follow us on the socials below. There’s always room in the flock for another Merino lover!