Ultimate Hiking Shorts Showdown: KÜHL Haven shorts vs. Patagonia Barely Baggies

KÜHL Haven shorts

Last year I was approached to review the KÜHL Haven shorts recently released as part of KÜHL’s latest women’s travel line. My husband is a long-time devotee of the brand, specifically the Free Rydr and Konfidant Air pants which he’s worn on many of our multi-day hikes. He’s got several pairs that he’s owned for years and they’ve held up really well despite heavy use, but I’d yet to try the brand myself.

My initial impression a few years ago, was that their menswear line was solid, but that they were still developing their woman’s wear. This was not unique to KUHL, and for some time, I’d had trouble finding outdoor apparel for women that was both functional and stylish. KUHL’s new line captured my interest – their new styles appeared tailored and flattering. I was eager to find out if the KUHL haven shorts would be practical hiking and travel shorts without compromising on style.

Kuhl Haven shorts 1 Atlas Introspective

I went with the KÜHL Haven shorts (3.5″) because they most closely resembled Patagonia Baggies which I’ve found to be the most comfortable and practical for multi-day hiking trips. Both KÜHL and Patagonia are solid brands for outdoor apparel but I wanted to see how they compared for hiking and other outdoor activities. Read on to discover how the KÜHL Haven shorts (3.5″) stack up against the Patagonia Barely Baggies to help you decide which shorts to pack for your next adventure.

For those not in the know, KÜHL is an American brand and I was approached by their media team in their summer (my winter). This meant that it was a few months before I could test them out. But once the weather warmed up, I took the kids on a trip to Rottnest, an island 19km off the cost of Fremantle, WA.

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Patagonia Baggies

You may recall from previous posts that the Patagonia ‘Baggies’ and the slightly shorter ‘Barely Baggies’ are my go-to hiking shorts. They’re a staple, come in a multitude of colours and have been around forever so there’s no risk of getting attached and then not being able to replace them when they wear out.

Kuhl shorts at chalet Rottnest Atlas Introspective

Design & Material

The Patagonia Barely Baggies are made of quality fabric that you don’t have to be precious with and are light enough to wear on hot days. I hiked through daily rain for a week and they dried quickly, and I often wear them on beach camping trips. They’re perfect for boating or as board-shorts. Patagonia is an eco-conscious brand who puts their money where there mouth is, and Baggies are made from 100% recycled nylon. The non-stretch fabric is designed to be worn baggy- hence the name.

The KÜHL Haven shorts are also light-weight and quick-dry, making them ideal for activities like hiking or kayaking where moisture-wicking properties are essential. However, unlike the Baggies, the material is a blend of nylon and spandex which offers 1-way stretch. Ultimately, both shorts were quality garments made of durable materials. But the KÜHL Haven shorts win out for me for hiking because the stretch fabric was a lot more comfortable, particularly when hiking on rugged terrain.

Comfort & Fit

The Patagonia Baggies are my preference for multi-day hikes as they give a bit more leg coverage when you have to sit in the dirt and I tend to reach for the Barely Baggies on days when I’ll be near the water. The relaxed fit and elasticated waistband, make the Baggies more suited to casual wear.

Kuhl shorts The Basin Rottnest Atlas Introspective

There are slight differences in fit between the Baggies and the Haven’s. Baggies have a lower rise and sit on the hip; whereas the Haven’s have a higher rise. I don’t mind a low rise for water sports, but in general, I feel that a higher waistline is more comfortable and flattering. Particularly if you’re carrying a backpack with a waist strap.

There are slight differences in sizing which are important to note if you are ordering online. KÜHL women’s sizing is more consistent with Australian fashion sizes. I am an AU8 / 162cm tall and the medium was slightly loose on me. Whereas, Patagonia, like a lot of outdoor apparel, doesn’t have vanity sizing. I have a number of Patagonia items and am consistently a solid size medium.

I do find that the Baggies can dig in a bit, but I’ve also never had an issue with them staying up. The Kuhl Haven shorts, on the other hand, have a really comfortable contoured waistband that sits nicely on the hips, but are a little loose. When carrying a backpack with a waist strap, I did have to keep readjusting them but this issue could potentially be resolved by sizing down. So, as long as you get the sizing right, the Haven’s are more comfortable and flattering which may offer more versatility.

Kuhl shorts Rottnest beach Atlas Introspective

Functionality

The Baggies have substantial pockets that easily fit my iPhone which is great for accessibility and taking quick snaps on the hiking trail, but I do worry about my phone falling out. However, the mesh-lined pockets drain easily making them perfect for water-based activities like swimming or paddle-boarding. The Haven’s on the other hand have zippered pockets which I found more practical. There are two front pockets and two back pockets giving plenty of storage space for small essentials like keys, phones, cash or trail bars.

The Baggies have an elastic waistband which is sewn through so there’s no risk of twisting and becoming uncomfortable. They also have an internal drawstring which makes it easy to adjust the sizing if they become loose. The Haven’s have an internal drawstring as well, but it is stretchy which limits its functionality as it is difficult to tighten. This was unfortunate as it would have been useful to be able to tighten the waistline, but once again, this issue could be resolved by ensuring you get the correct size.

Both shorts have a flat, elasticated waistband so there’s no risk of fly zippers or buttons digging in under the waist strap of your backpack. And both shorts feature water resistant, quick-dry fabric, ensuring you stay dry no matter what the weather throws at you.

Style

Patagonia baggies vs Kuhl Haven shorts

The Baggies are a casual style, best suited for hiking, water sports or beach days. They come in a variety of prints and colours for a bold & fun, retro or laid back vibe. The Haven’s tailored design, including a mock fly and cuffed legs offers slightly more versatility and make them great all-rounder travel shorts. My personal aesthetic tends towards classic and neutral so the Haven’s are more my style. But bright colours can be good for visibility, so that’s also something to consider.

Just a note that both the Patagonia Baggies and Kuhl haven shorts come in a black colour-way, but the Baggies are a true black while the Haven’s are more charcoal-grey.

Final Thoughts

Both the KÜHL Haven shorts (3.5″) and the Patagonia Barely Baggies offer impressive features and performance for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you prioritise durability, comfort, or functionality, I think either of them would happily meet your needs. If you’re looking for lightweight durability and versatile functionality, the KÜHL Haven shorts are an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxed fit, playful design, and value supporting an eco-conscious company, the Patagonia Baggies may be the perfect option for you. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the specific activities you have in mind.

The KÜHL Haven shorts are my pick for hiking and general travel, because they are a better all-rounder garment. Whereas, the Patagonia Baggies are best suited to water-sports and beach activities.

quokka selfie Atlas Introspective

Overall, I have been thoroughly impressed with the KÜHL Haven shorts. From their comfortable and functional design to their stylish aesthetic, these shorts have quickly become a staple in my wardrobe for both outdoor adventures and everyday wear. Whether you’re hitting the trails, exploring a new city, or simply running errands around town, these shorts are sure to keep you looking and feeling your best, without compromising on the technical features required for travel and outdoor adventures.

Which KÜHL garment is your favourite for hiking and travel?

Read on for more Travel Gear reviews!

KÜHL Haven shortsPatagonia Barely Baggies
PriceUSD $89AU $89.95
Design & Material-quick dry, stretch fabric-non-stretch fabric
-100% recycled nylon
Comfort & Fit-high rise
-NB fashion sizing
-low rise
-relaxed fit
Functionality-large, zippered pockets
-stretchy internal drawstring
(less practical)
-large, mesh-lined pockets
-perfect for water-based activities
-internal drawstring
Style-muted, minimalist style
-more versatile
-bright, fun colours, bold prints
-casual style
OVERALLPerfect for hiking and travel due
to comfortable stretch fabric
and versatile style that can be
dressed up / down
Best for casual-wear and
water sports