Patagonia Baggies Review: I Finally Tried the Cult-Favorite Shorts, and I Get the Hype.
Patagonia’s Baggies shorts are the ultimate clothing anomaly. Designed in 1982, the brightly colored, loose-fitting active short has survived four decades of style shifts. The shorts have been photographed in action in just about every outdoor activity one could imagine, from surfing to climbing to beer-laden river tubing.
Water-resistant and with mesh pockets worthy of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s desire to “carry two tennis balls,” Baggies manage to make the unkempt outdoors crowd seemingly fashionable, at least on the brewery and backyard barbecue circuit. See someone wearing a pair of Baggies at the bar and you can be certain that the person just finished doing something awesome. And the loose, comfortable designs seem equally popular among men and women (they come in versions targeted at men and women, but the styles aren’t drastically different).
But despite being a super outdoorsy guy, I’d never owned a pair until this spring, making me a minority among the hardy Colorado adventure crowd. Years ago, I mocked a buddy for wearing Baggies to a punk rock show, only to have my judgment thrown in my face as he moved about the whirling mosh pit with greater ease than any of the Dickies-wearing dancers around him. Plus, the neon colors made him easier to spot.
At $65, the price point isn’t exactly cheap, but that wasn’t what put me off — it was a refusal to wear the same shorts that all my friends wore. Somehow, seeing my friends flaunt the Baggies’ seeming perfect design on years of river trips, campfire sessions, and hikes had only hardened my stance.
When Patagonia decided to make their 2022 lineup of Baggies with 100 percent recycled nylon (or hemp and organic cotton), I finally decided it was time to hop on the Baggies bus. I ordered a pair of teal Baggies with the standard seven-inch inseam, fully intent on putting them to the test of a range of activities.
And dammit, I love them.
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They come in multiple sizes, colors, patterns, and inseams for men and women
Sometimes patterned in floral or desert designs, sometimes in solid bright colors like yellow or blue, Patagonia Baggies bring the neons of 1980s ski gear to the trail. They may be single-handedly responsible for preventing the death of short shorts during the grunge era. Baggies are so popular even now that they’re often sold out at the start of every summer (so pro tip: if you see your size, buy it). They’ve appeared nearly everywhere in the outdoors community.
For women, Baggies come in 2.5-inch or five-inch varieties. For men, five or seven inches are your inseam options.
They’re breathable and don’t inhibit movement
I wore my Baggies first on a spring hike through the canyon country of western Colorado. The shorts tend to fit men more loosely than women, and about five minutes into the hike I had to stop and tighten the drawstring. I’d foolishly placed my cellphone and keys into the left and right pockets and their weight pulled the shorts down a tad with each step. Once tightened (and with keys moved to my backpack), the shorts stayed tight around my hip for the remainder of the day.
Reviewer Christine, who wears a large, confirmed that the shorts can be either loose or tight around the waist. She said she sized up after finding them tight around her waist, but noted that after tying the inside string, they are “Perfect for every activity in shorts weather.”
Even without them sliding over my butt, Baggies are ideal for desert environments due to how open they are. Shorts that allow your undercarriage to breathe make moving down the trail on a toasty afternoon much more pleasant. I found this to be important even in May in Western Colorado. Climbing up onto steep rock overlooks is also made easier when your shorts (or pants) aren’t grabbing you by the knees as you step up.
They’re great for active (and non-active) travel
A few days later I wore my Baggies on a plane in hopes that the breathability and casual comfort I noticed while hiking would also help while sitting in an uncomfortable seat for four hours, punctuated only brisk walks through airports. This proved true, but biggest win was that the Baggies remove any need for tight, cramped underwear, since they have a mesh liner. The mesh pockets also make it easy to tell when you have something in them, a nice hack when passing through airport security. And style-wise, I like them: wearing them felt representative of my hobbies and home while sporting Baggies in an airport in Mexico.
They dry very quickly
Capable for a surf session or a dip in the pool, Baggies dry quickly in the sun. The NetPlus® 100% post-consumer recycled nylon (made from recycled fishing nets) dried in only 10 minutes following a beach session. In these settings, Baggies give you the perk of wearing a soakable short that isn’t technically a swimsuit, again meaning there’s no need to change after leaving the beach unless you’re heading somewhere that calls for something more formal. On a beach vacation to Puerto Vallarta, formal was out of the question, so I spent much of my week in these shorts.
Paula, who bought a size XL, found them to be fast drying and cool. She noted the fit as “true to size” and said that she “basically lives in them all summer.” It’s good to know that buyers from size XS to XL experience the same perks of these shorts, regardless of body type or size.
The final test was a bike ride. Not a serious mountain bike ride where I needed a chammy, but a casual cruiser that mixed paved trail and dirt sections. Living up to their name, the Baggies slid easily over my knee guards, which I almost always wear to ease tension on my knees. I felt self-conscious as I pedaled onto the trail wearing bright blue shorts, since I normally keep my bike style pretty low-key.
But after less than two miles, I noticed that my transitions between hard-pedaling ascents and casual descents — which require a combination of sitting and standing, leaning forward and pushing my weight back — were smooth and unhindered by the shorts. I also quickly noticed again how breathable and flexible they are. It was hot, and I was pedaling hard. The shorts helped keep my legs and seat as airy and dry as possible, and I didn’t need to change when I pulled into my neighborhood brewpub for a post-ride pint.
Rare is a piece of outdoor wear so versatile that you can throw it on in the morning and be confident that no matter what the day brings, a change of clothes won’t be necessary. Rarer still is an article of clothing that can turn someone who has spent three decades haphazardly avoiding them into an immediate fan. I’m even wearing my Baggies now as I type this. During summer in the outdoors, it’s impossible to be out of place in a pair of Patagonia Baggies.