If you have already noticed by now, my entire wardrobe (and most of my wife’s) consists of Merino wool clothing. Why? It’s just something that we like; plain and simple. While this makes excellent socks, underwear, and base layers, Merino wool shorts is one piece of clothing that often goes overlooked.
So, I decided it was only fitting to put together a list of the top men’s Merino wool shorts for 2023 so that you may find a pair that works best for you. I’ll go over short buying criteria for specific features you should look out for, and then we’ll get into the best Merino wool shorts for men.
Need a pair of pants instead? Check out our 10 Best Merino Wool Pants For Men!
- Editor’s Pick: Woolly Longhaul Shorts
- Editor’s Pick: Smartwool Merino Sports 8″ Shorts
- Best For Running: Tracksmith Men’s Run Commute Shorts
- Best For Travel: Unbound Merino Essential Shorts
- Best For Lounging: Woolly Pro-Knit Warm Up Shorts
- Most Stylish: Wool & Prince Stretch Chino Shorts
- Best Hiking Shorts: Icebreaker Persist Hiking Shorts
- Best Compression Shorts: Mons Royale Epic Bike Short Liner
- Best For Climbing: Ortovox Engadin Shorts
- Best Bike Shorts: Mons Royale Momentum 2.0
Disclosure: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain genuineness and authenticity. However, as an affiliate member, we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Merino Wool Shorts Quick Buying Criteria
Before I go into the top ten merino wool shorts for men, you need to understand some of the buying criteria that factored into my decisions. I’ll be as brief as possible without omitting any necessary information.
I won’t go into too much detail here, but you should know that Merino wool by itself is not the most durable of fabrics. Yes, it’s super soft and comfortable, but it can be prone to tears with heavy use. So, if you’re planning on doing some hardcore physical activity, grab a pair of Merino wool shorts blended with synthetic material.
Also, many athletic shorts have a Merino wool liner for more comfort and odor resistance. So if that’s something you’re interested in, make sure that you check out shorts that have a liner. With some of these, you don’t even have to wear underwear. But that’s your choice.
How short is too short for shorts? Well, it all depends on the inseam length. If you want to show off your quads, you’ll want a shorter inseam length of around seven inches. But if you want a pair of Merino shorts that go down to your knee, you’ll need an inseam of eleven inches or more.
Honestly, it depends on personal preference, so I won’t go into too much depth. Check out the image below for better visualization of some potential short inseam lengths.
Aside from the fabric and the inseam, you’ll want to ensure that your shorts have all the features you deem necessary. Again, this depends on the person, but here are some added features on this list of top ten Merino wool shorts.
- Number of pockets
- Pocket depth
- Belt loops
- Closure type (snap, button, elastic, etc.)
- Built-in waistband adjustments
- Mesh venting
- Padding (for cycling)
Usage & Versatility
Finally, you need to understand what specific activities you will be using your Merino wool shorts. Some of the shorts below are meant for athletic endeavors, while others are more geared toward casualwear. Moreover, some Merino shorts are exclusively for hiking, biking, and running.
I classify each short into a specific class in the following list of top ten men’s Merino wool shorts. That’s not to say that one pair is better than another, but it’s simply to say that based on my experience, the listed pair of shorts are best for such activity. In other words, you should not take my category classes as the final word but as a guide.
Editor’s Pick: Everyday Merino Shorts
66% Merino / 29% Cotton / 5% Elastane | Lightweight | 9″ Inseam | 2 Colors | Price: $$
Pros: 5-Pocket design | Classic cut & construction | Flexible stretch
Cons: Fit a bit snug | Not great for bike commuting
My top everyday wear pick for Merino shorts goes to the Woolly Longhaul. These casual shorts are perfect for running errands, traveling, and working. The classic design is versatile, and they drape nicely over my legs. But, if you have giant thighs from performing too many lunges, they may be a bit tighter than pictured.
The material is made of ⅔ Merino wool, providing excellent comfort and odor protection. On the other hand, the elastane offers a bit of stretch, so the fabric moves with you, not against you. The only real issue I have with Woolly’s material is that it seems a bit delicate. I haven’t experienced any durability problems yet. Still, it’s an issue that I often come across with all Merino wool shorts.
To sum up, the Woolly Longhaul Merino shorts are a great addition to any summer wardrobe. The comfy fabric and construction, in combination with the five-pocket design, allow for maximum versatility.
In other words, these shorts will get you to wherever you’re headed.
Editor’s Pick: Athletic Merino Wool Shorts
Lining: 54% Merino Wool / 46% Polyester | Shell: 86% Polyester / 14% Elastane | Lightweight | 8” Inseam (others available) | 3 colors available | Price: $$
Pros: Waterproof finish | Zippered back pocket | Merino lining (no underwear necessary)
Cons: May feel tight for some | Drawstring needs improvement | Stock issues
As I always say, I’m a Smartwool fanboy through and through. But, I would love these shorts if they were made by any other brand. The Merino 150 sport lining feels comfy on my morning jogs, and I don’t have to wash them all the time because they are odor-resistant (to a point). I can slip my phone into the zippered pocket without worrying about it falling out, too!
Although, unlike other Merino wool shorts, the shell of the Smartwool shorts is composed of waterproof polyester. It adds a bit of durability for heavy-use activities but doesn’t compromise the overall comfort. Basically, you get the ease of Merino wool and the strength of synthetics.
Personally, I like the 8″ inseam while working out. But if you prefer either a shorter inseam for running or a longer one for daily use, Smartwool has 5″ and 10″ versions in the same style.
Overall, I like these Smartwool Merino Sport Lined shorts for any athletic activity. However, they aren’t always stocked online. So, if you want to grab a pair of your size, check them out now!
Best Merino Wool Shorts For Running
Lining: 83% Merino / 12% Nylon / 5% Elastane | Body: 48% Merino, 32% Nylon, 14% Polyester, 8% Spandex | Lightweight | 4.5″ Inseam | 2 Colors | Price: $$$
Pros: High-performance | Engineered breathable fabric | Pockets
Cons: Expensive | Made strictly for running | Not great for cold weather
Update: As of August 2022, Tracksmith no longer offers these run commute shorts. We are in contact with them to confirm if this is a seasonal change or if they have discontinued this product altogether.
I’m a runner, but not a runner. Still, whether you’re a morning jogger or a race prepper, the Tracksmith Run Commute Shorts should be part of your training gear. Although, these 4.5″-inseam shorts are specifically designed for commuters who want a workout on their way to work.
What I love most about these shorts is the attention to detail with the material and the overall design. Tracksmith has engineered both the liner and main fabric with Merino wool. Thus, providing excellent odor resistance. It also improves the 360-degree stretch of the shorts, as they freely move with you on your morning commute. Also, three pockets are strategically placed behind the hip to reduce irritation. It’s genuinely a one-of-a-kind design.
However, since the Run Commute shorts are created for one specific purpose, they have limited versatility. Plus, they are a bit on the expensive side. Did you think the added features and performance fabric would be cheap?
I highly recommend these Tracksmith Run Commute shorts to anyone looking for a performance running short. They are the best in the business, and you can’t do much better performance-wise.
Best Merino Wool Shorts For Travel
48% Merino wool, 48% Cotton, 4% Spandex | Midweight | 8.5” Inseam | Gray or Black | Price:$$$
Pros: Packable & anti-wrinkle | Pairs with most outfits | Excellent all-around performance
Cons: Shallow pockets | Limited color options | Expensive
Travelers rejoice! Finally, a pair of packable and fashionable Merino wool travel shorts. These Unbound Merino Essential shorts are great for anyone looking to reduce space in their luggage but improve overall comfort on the go.
At first glance, these minimalist Merino shorts don’t look like much, but the material itself is packed with comfort. The combination of wool and cotton is extra soft, while spandex provides enough stretch to move freely. Also, as an avid traveler, I love that these are wrinkle-resistant and fast-drying. Therefore, if I have to do laundry the night before a flight by the off-chance, I know these shorts will be good to go by the morning.
On the other hand (or should I say on the other leg), I wish these shorts would come in more color options than gray and black. Perhaps a light khaki or blue may be excellent. Also, the pockets are a bit shallow for my liking, so they aren’t ideal for carrying around a passport.
Overall, suppose you’re looking for a great pair of Merino wool travel shorts. In that case, you have to check out these Essential shorts from Unbound Merino. While at it, you can also browse their entire collection of travel clothing here.
Best Merino Shorts For Lounging Around
100% Merino wool | Midweight (250 GSM) | Inseam: ~8” | 2 Colors Available | Price: $$
Pros: Excellent Versatility | Super comfortable | No odor retention
Cons: Not as durable as other options | Limited color options | Sizing runs tight
Woolly is back on our list again with another solid pair of Merino shorts. The lightweight, 100% Merino wool Pro-Knit Warm-Up shorts are perfect for lounging, running, or even getting out of the house. In fact, I’d venture to say that these Merino wool shorts are the comfiest pair on our list!
These Pro-Knit shorts are the pinnacle of Merino wool loungewear. The cut is tapered, so they aren’t too baggy or loose. The 18.5-micron fiber diameter feels soft against your skin, especially if you’re a fan of going commando. Also, the versatile design and 8″ inseam allow you to wear them while running errands. You could say these are the goldilocks of lounge shorts; they’re just right!
However, since these are crafted with 100% Merino wool, they aren’t as durable as some other synthetic blends on our list. So, if you’re planning strenuous activities where your shorts might catch or tear, there are better options. Plus, they are only available in black or gray (as for now), and I’d love to see Woolly release more color options (I’m thinking a nice olive color).
To sum up, Woolly has created a comfortable, versatile pair of Merino wool lounge shorts with these Pro-Knit Warm-Ups. And if you bum around the house as much as I do, you will want to grab one soon.
Most Stylish Merino Shorts
44% Merino / 44% Nylon / 12% Elastane | Midweight (255 GSM) | 7” or 9” inseam | 1 Color (khaki) | Price: $$$
Pros: Added stretch and durability | Solid pocket depth | Minimalist construction
Cons: Button could be better | Limited colors | A bit snug for some
Fashion meets function with these Wool & Prince Stretch Chino Shorts. They are my favorite style on this list, but that doesn’t come at the cost of versatility. Not only does the material feel soft and look good, but the incorporation of 12% elastane allows maximum stretch. Thus, you’ll never feel too restricted while rocking these Merino wool shorts.
Moreover, Wool & Prince crafts all of their products with your comfort at the forefront. These shorts include a gusseted crotch for added mobility. The midweight, 255 GSM fabric is not too heavy or too light, making these shorts excellent for three-season wear. Plus, they are almost stain-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about an accidental spill.
Yet the thing we love most about these shorts is the pockets. It may seem minor, but both front pockets are deep. They can fit your keys, wallet, passport, and phone! There is even a zippered back pocket for secure storage. Although, one feature that lacks a bit is the button. It’s a cheaper plastic button that’s a bit flimsy, so if you have the sewing knowledge, I suggest replacing it with a metal one.
In summary, the Wool & Prince Stretch Chino shorts are the most stylish pair of Merino shorts on our list. As for now, they only come in a light khaki. But Wool & Prince is constantly releasing new colors and styles. So, keep an eye out for a shade that suits your wardrobe.
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shorts
60% Nylon, 35% Merino Wool, 5% LYCRA | Lightweight | Inseam ~11” | 2 Colors available | Price: $$$$
Pros: Engineered quick-dry waistband | Fantastic breathability | Adjustable waist tabs
Cons: Expensive | Longer inseam may be bothersome | No back pockets
I’m a fan of wearing pants out on the trail since I’ve had a few unfortunate run-ins with ticks. Therefore, I always wear the Icebreaker Persist pants while hiking. However, if I did have to choose a pair of Merino wool hiking shorts, I would be lucky that Icebreaker also makes their Persist pants in shorts.
These shorts are engineered for comfort and performance, as with all Icebreaker’s products. The interior is crafted with soft Merino wool, while the outer shell is primarily Nylon for increased durability. Plus, the adjustable waistband is breathable and supportive. They even added a gusseted crotch for full mobility.
Moreover, I love the front zippered pockets on the Merino Persist shorts. They allow plenty of room to store your phone, wallet, and even a few Cliff bars. However, there aren’t any back pockets. It’s not a deal-breaker, but you may need more storage space if you are out on a day hike with a small pack.
In short, the Icebreaker Persist Merino hiking shorts are an excellent pick for those looking to explore the trail. Pair them with an Icebreaker cool-lite tee, and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer hiking outfit made from Merino!
Best Merino Wool Compression Shorts
50% Merino, 34% polyester, 15% nylon, 1% elastane | Ultralight (155 GSM) | ~8” Inseam | Available in Black | Price: $$$
Pros: 6mm chamois padding | Side mesh paneling | Fast-drying & odor-free
Cons: Could be a bit more compressive | Limited versatility | Pricey
Listen, I’m not going to judge you if you want to wear compression shorts as a standalone piece. It’s not my style, no matter the activity. However, suppose you are in the market for a solid pair of Merino wool compression shorts that aren’t just another pair of underwear. In that case, the Mons Royale Epic Bike Short Liner is the pair for you.
These bike liner shorts are packed with performance features. The 6mm TMF chamois provides enough padding for 3-5 hour rides without the bulky feeling. Also, the side mesh paneling allows for excellent breathability. And in combination with the Merino wool, these shorts will help eliminate odors and keep you dry. What more could you ask for?
As these shorts were made for biking (up to 5-hour rides according to Mons Royale), they have limited versatility. It’s not that you can’t wear them on a jog or underneath your gym shorts. Still, I feel that better Merino underwear options are available. Moreover, I think Mons Royale should incorporate more elastane for added compression.
If you think the Mons Royale Epic Bike Liners are the right fit for you, check them out today. If not, that’s okay. We still have a few more men’s Merino shorts in our top ten!
Best Merino Wool Shorts For Climbing
Lining: 55% Cotton, 39% Merino, 6% Elastane | Main: 66% Cotton, 29% Polyamide, 5% Elastane | Midweight (230 GSM) | ~11” Inseam | 3 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Durable yet stretchy fabric | Water-repellent finish | Multiple pockets
Cons: Lighter options better in hot weather | Snap closure a bit fussy
While many climbers prefer pants due to less rock-to-skin contact, a few out there enjoy the freedom of movement that comes with climbing shorts. For these people, an excellent choice for climbing is the Ortovox Engadin shorts.
The material’s dual construction is perfect for keeping you cool in the gym or outdoor bouldering. There is a soft Merino-cotton lining with a durable cotton-polyamide shell. Elastane is used within both to provide adequate stretch and improve mobility. Both are necessary if you’re trying to execute a tricky heel hook.
Yet, it’s the performance features of the Engadin shorts that really have me excited about them. As mentioned before, the shell is abrasion-resistant, so it can stand up to the toughest crag. There are also five pockets (one zippered), so you can store whatever you need when scaling the wall. Although, I find the snap button closure a bit fussy. I’m much more of a button man myself.
These Ortovox Engadin shorts come in three different colors, giving you the freedom to choose your climbing look. Moreover, Ortovox uses the same fabric and features as their Engadin pants if you prefer more leg coverage.
Best Merino Wool Bike Shorts
52% Polyester, 39% Merino Wool, 9% Spandex | Midweight (255 GSM) | Inseam: ~14” | 2 Colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Excellent 4-way stretch | Breathable mesh | Room for additional padding
Cons: Expensive | Not ideal for hot conditions | Sizing runs small
Who knew Mons Royale made so many solid Merino wool bike shorts? Well, I guess I kind of did. Anyways, suppose you’re a bikeaholic or just a casual cycler. In that case, you have to check out these Mons Royale Momentum Bike Shorts 2.0. The 14″ inseam makes them long enough to cover your knee pads so that you have complete protection on your next pedal venture.
Looking at them, you might think that the Momentums are just your standard pair of Merino shorts. But, as with all of Mons Royale products, they are highly engineered to improve your performance. There is a velcro waist, deep zippered pockets, breathable back mesh paneling, zippered leg vents, and room for leg pads! Heck, the inseam is even paneled to help reduce chafing.
In other words, these shorts are built for ultimate comfort while riding.
However, as you can expect, these features come with a higher price tag. Still, if you are an avid cyclist or mountain biker, you’ve got to add these Momentum Merino wool bike shorts to your gear closet. They genuinely are one of the best on the market!
Final Note About Men’s Merino Wool Shorts
And there you have it; the not-so-short guide to the top men’s Merino wool shorts of 2023. We covered everything from high-tech running shorts to fashionable travel shorts and every type of Merino short imaginable.
When searching for Merino wool shorts, remember not to overlook the material, the inseam length, valuable features, and recommended activities. The last thing you want to do is spend triple digits on a pair of shorts only to realize they aren’t meant for you. Although, most of the brands above have comprehensive warranties and return policies if you’re unsatisfied. So, why not give them a try?
If you’re looking for more reviews about your favorite Merino Wool Gear, check out the rest of our site! Also, if you want us to review a specific product, need a recommendation, or just want to chat, feel free to send us a DM! Or, for quick hits, deals, and even a few giveaways, you can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Thanks again for reading!