Summer Swaps for Raw Denim: A Geek’s Guide to Shorts

Too Hot for Jeans? Even Purists Can Wear Shorts! My Picks for the Best Men’s Shorts Right Now

We denimheads aren’t always the most logical bunch. Even when the sun is blazing, we stick to our raw denim jeans. Because you wouldn’t want to miss a wear day, right!?

Unless I’m out on a morning run or hitting the trails on my MTB, I’m wearing my jeans. But when the temperature rises, reaching for a pair of shorts is only natural and logical. So to help all you denimheads (and myself), I’ve compiled this list of shorts that even a die-hard no-shorts guy like me would consider wearing.

I’ve divided the guide into three categories:

  • Military-Inspired Shorts: These shorts—most of them military-inspired—combine rugged durability with practical features.
  • Casual Shorts: These shorts are all about comfort, ideal for lounging or casual outings.
  • Functional Shorts: Designed for active use, these shorts are built to handle hiking and other outdoor activities.

I’ve not included raw denim shorts because, frankly, if you can handle denim in the heat, just wear your jeans! And if you absolutely must wear denim shorts, just to convert a pair of your old worn-out jeans.

Let’s dive in and take a look at my top picks in each category.

All products are hand-picked by Thomas. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.


MILITARY-INSPIRED SHORTS

The shorts in this category are all about rugged durability and practical features, blending form and function, and designed to take on whatever you throw at them. Inspired by military and traditional workwear, they’re built to withstand tough conditions, typically have multiple pockets, and are made from heavy-duty fabrics.


Iron Heart Cargo Shorts (IH-736)

When the heat is on, even hardcore denimheads need a solid pair of shorts. The Iron Heart Cargo Shorts are a top pick, designed with the same attention to detail and quality as your favourite jeans.

The ripstop fabric, originally developed during WWII to prevent parachutes from tearing, makes these shorts incredibly durable and resistant to rips and tears. So whether you’re hitting the trails or just need something tough for the day, these shorts have you covered.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: 7 oz. Japanese ripstop fabric that’s not just lightweight but practically indestructible.
  • Pockets: Multiple spacious pockets, including large cargo pockets, perfect for carrying all your essentials without feeling bulky.
  • Fit: Relaxed fit that offers freedom of movement without sacrificing style.
  • Water Repellent: Water-repellent fabric, ideal for unexpected downpours or spills.
  • Colours: Available in Olive Drab Green (which looks awesome with chambray), Black, and Brown.

My Verdict: Best for Any Weather

Pockets are always a good choice, and these shorts have plenty of them. The comfortable relaxed fit makes them ideal for all-day wear, while the water-repellent fabric adds practicality. 

If you’re looking for shorts that combine functionality with the durability you expect from Iron Heart, these are the ones to beat.

Iron Heart have the shorts in all three colours (black, olive and brown), and Division Road also have the brown ones.


Tellason Fatigue Shorts

Drawing inspiration from the classic military fatigue pants worn during the Vietnam War, the Tellason Fatigue Shorts are a blend of history and modern style. The fatigue cloth, originally designed for durability in harsh conditions, makes these shorts incredibly tough and long-lasting.

What You Need to Know:

  • Material: Made from sturdy sateen fabric that mimics the rugged durability of military fatigue cloth.
  • Pockets: Featuring big pockets both front and back, perfect for carrying your essentials.
  • Fit: A comfortable fit that offers both style and freedom of movement.
  • Versatility: These shorts strike a balance between formal and casual, making them work with anything from a Hawaiian shirt to a white dress shirt.
  • Colour: Available in a versatile olive colour that pairs well with a variety of outfits.

My Verdict: Best Battle-Ready Comfort

These shorts are a solid choice for those who appreciate a mix of historical design and modern functionality. The large pockets are incredibly practical, the fit is comfortable, and the sateen fabric adds a touch of formality that makes these shorts suitable for basically anything.


Warehouse 11 oz. Weapon Chino Shorts

Whether you’re aiming for a polished look with a shirt and dress shoes or a laid-back, youthful vibe, these shorts adapt effortlessly.

The dense fabric adds both heft and a slight shine, making these shorts as durable as they are stylish.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: 11 oz. chino fabric that’s super dense and durable.
  • Pockets: Classic chino pockets for a clean and functional look.
  • Fit: Versatile fit that can be styled elegantly or casually.
  • Style: Dress them up with a shirt and dress shoes, or keep it casual with a relaxed fit and sneakers.
  • Colour: Available in olive, khaki, and charcoal.
I don’t quite get the styling here, but I’ll give it an A for effort.

My Verdict: Best Style Weapon of Choice

These shorts strike the perfect balance between sophistication and casual comfort. The dense fabric adds a touch of class, while the versatile design lets you dress them up or down. 


The Real McCoy’s MP24002 Shorts

Honestly, I hadn’t seen that these are swim shorts at first; these could easily pass as “ordinary” shorts (though they’re anything but ordinary). Interestingly, despite being swim shorts, they’re made from 100% cotton, making them less ideal for the pool as they’ll get heavy when wet. But hey, The Real McCoy’s do repros, so this must’ve been what swim shorts used to be made like.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Made from 100% cotton, giving them a classic, durable feel. Just be aware they might get heavy when wet.
  • Drawstring: The adjustable drawstring closure, reminiscent of vintage swimwear, ensures a secure fit.
  • Pockets: Practical pockets for carrying your essentials, combining style and functionality.
  • Fit: A shorter cut, which I personally love, perfect for a sleek, modern look.
  • Story: Jonathan, the owner of Lost & Found, has a knack for finding unique, high-quality pieces—these shorts are no exception.

My Verdict: Best Swim Shorts (that don’t look like swim shorts) 

These shorts aren’t just for swimming. Their tiger camouflage pattern is bold and eye-catching, making them a great choice for both casual outings and beach days. The 100% cotton fabric adds a touch of vintage charm, and the shorter length keeps them modern and stylish.


Post Overalls E-Z Dee Shorts

The Post Overalls E-Z Dee Shorts could’ve slipped into the relaxed category, but with their military influences, they belong right here. Made from a hemp and cotton blend, these shorts are designed for maximum comfort. The loose fit and elasticated waistband make them incredibly easy to wear—just like the name suggests.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: A durable and comfortable hemp and cotton blend.
  • Fit: Loose and relaxed, providing plenty of room to move.
  • Waistband: Elasticated, making them easy to slip on and off.
  • Design: Military-inspired details that add a rugged flair.
  • Colour: Versatile navy that goes with just about anything.

My Verdict: Best for Easy Comfort (pun intended)

These shorts are all about effortless comfort. The hemp/cotton blend is both sturdy and soft, the loose fit feels great all day, and the elastic waistband means they’re a breeze to wear. Plus, the military-inspired design adds a rugged, stylish touch to your look.


Taylor Stitch Matlow Shorts

These shorts gets its rugged appeal from the herringbone twill fabric, a material used by the US military during WWII for its durability and strength. These shorts bring that military-grade toughness into a stylish, everyday wear option.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: 11 oz. herringbone twill fabric, known for its rugged durability.
  • Fit: Classic chino fit for a timeless look.
  • Pockets: Classic chino pockets for practicality and style.
  • Design: Military-inspired herringbone pattern adds a distinctive touch.
  • Value: Exceptional price point, offering great value for money.

My Verdict: Best Value in Classic Style 

These shorts blend military durability with a classic chino style, making them a versatile addition to your wardrobe. The herringbone fabric gives them a unique texture and history, while the price point makes them an absolute bargain.


CASUAL SHORTS

If you’re after laid-back style without giving up comfort, these shorts have got you covered. Perfect for lazy days, running errands, or just hanging out, they keep you comfortable and looking good. Made from soft fabrics with elastic waistbands and relaxed fits, they’re all about making life easy and stylish.

Merz b. Schwanen Loopwheeled Sweat Shorts

Man, if the Dude were to pick out a pair of shorts, these would surely be it. The Merz b. Schwanen 356 12 oz. Loopwheeled Sweat Shorts are like the perfect mix of comfort and cool. Made from organic Pima cotton, these shorts are knitted in Germany and bring a whole new level of laid-back luxury.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Crafted from organic Pima cotton, known for its superior softness and durability. Pima cotton fibers are longer than regular cotton, making the fabric smoother and more resistant to pilling.
  • Fit: Classic fit that offers relaxed comfort.
  • Design: Loopwheeled for a soft, plush feel that’s hard to beat.
  • Details: Drawstring waistband for that easy, adjustable fit.
  • Origin: Knitted in Germany, ensuring top-notch quality and craftsmanship.

My Verdict: Best for ‘Dude’ Vibes

The organic Pima cotton in a loopwheeled knit makes these shorts soooo soft and comfy. The classic fit and drawstring waistband make them easy to wear, whether you’re lounging at home or stepping out. As the Dude would say, they really tie your wardrobe together, man.


Freenote Cloth Deck Shorts

Like most things from Freenote, these shorts are a bit of a hybrid. The big rounded patch pockets on the front give the otherwise chino-style shorts a relaxed vibe. The drawstring adds to the laid-back feel, making these shorts perfect for casual wear.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Made from 10 oz. Japanese canvas, known for its durability and rugged texture.
  • Fit: Chino-style with a relaxed fit, enhanced by the drawstring waist.
  • Pockets: Large rounded patch pockets on the front add both style and functionality.
  • Design: A blend of classic chino and relaxed shorts, creating a unique hybrid style.
  • Comfort: The 10 oz. canvas provides a sturdy yet comfortable wear.

Bonus info: Canvas has a rich history, originating from the Arabic word for “cannabis,” as it was traditionally made from hemp. It became popular for its use in sails and tents due to its strength.

My Verdict: Best Mix of Casual and Cool

These shorts combine the durability of canvas with a relaxed design. The big pockets and drawstring waist add a casual touch, while the high-quality Japanese fabric ensures they’re built to last.


Save Khaki Corduroy Easy Short

Sometimes, you don’t need a lot of words. Just a good pair of shorts that are comfortable and priced right. The Corduroy Easy Shorts in Union Blue fit that bill perfectly.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Soft yet durable needlecord corduroy.
  • Fit: Relaxed fit with an elasticated drawstring waistband for easy comfort.
  • Design: Simple, casual style with a drawstring waist.
  • Comfort: Plush fabric feels great against the skin.
  • Versatility: Easy to pair with anything from a T-shirt to a button-down.

My Verdict: Best for No-Nonsense Comfort

These shorts are all about straightforward comfort and style. The needlecord fabric is cozy and tough, the fit is relaxed, and the drawstring waist makes them easy to wear. Perfect for those days when you just need a reliable, comfortable pair of shorts without any fuss.

Brand Insight: Save Khaki

Save Khaki United (S.K.U.) creates simple, comfortable American clothing with a focus on minimalist design and fit. Based in New York City, their products are made mostly in the USA using sustainable practices and materials​.


South2 West8 String Easy Short

These shorts have me trippin’, seriously. They look like a towel reincarnated as a pair of shorts, then went on an acid trip! The vibrant tie-dye pattern in green and purple is as wild as it gets, and the cotton pile fabric makes them feel as cozy as your favourite beach towel.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Made from cotton pile fabric, giving them a soft, towel-like texture.
  • Design: Eye-catching tie-dye pattern in green and purple for a truly unique look.
  • Fit: Easy, relaxed fit with an elastic waistband for maximum comfort.
  • Comfort: Soft and plush, perfect for lounging or making a bold statement.
  • Details: Features a drawstring for an adjustable fit.

My Verdict: Craziest Comfort Creature

These shorts are perfect for those days when you want to stand out and stay comfortable. The towel-like fabric is super soft, and the tie-dye pattern is nothing short of psychedelic. Whether you’re lounging at home or heading to a beach party, these shorts will definitely get you noticed.


FUNCTIONAL SHORTS

For those who love the great outdoors or need high-performance gear, these shorts are built to handle it all. Made from tough, technical fabrics with practical features like multiple pockets and reinforced stitching, they’re designed with durability and functionality in mind—perfect for hiking, exploring, or any adventure.

HAVEN Solo Short

The HAVEN Solo Short offers a clean, minimalist look paired with high functionality. With a combined design that draws on utilitarian details from both outdoor and military wear, these shorts are both stylish and practical.

What You Need to Know

  • Material & Water Repellent: Made from 66% organic cotton and 34% polyester SOLOTEX stretch cloth, providing durability, comfort, and water-repellence.
  • Fit: Relaxed fit for ease of movement and all-day comfort.
  • Pockets: Two front ‘Baker’ patch pockets, two rear flap pockets with snap closures, plus an additional concealed storage pocket on the right side.
  • Design: Clean, streamlined design with an adjustable integrated nylon belt and magnetic buckle for a customised fit.
  • Made in Canada: High-quality craftsmanship ensuring durability and style.

My Verdict: Best for Functional Style

Perfect if you’re looking for practicality with style. The SOLOTEX fabric provides comfort, durability, and water-repellence, while the relaxed fit and ample pocket space.

Available in khaki and black at HAVEN.


Kato Clip Shorts

Saying something is the epitome of casual comfort is a worn-out cliché, but in this case, it might actually pass. These Kato Clip Shorts are incredibly easy to wear, thanks to their exceptional 4-way stretch fabric. It’s next-level comfort, and these shorts live up to the hype.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Made with Kato’s 4-way stretch fabric, combining the softness of sweatpants with exceptional stretch and recovery.
  • Fit: Relaxed and casual, perfect for everyday wear.
  • Design: Features a drawstring waist for adjustable comfort.
  • Comfort: The fabric provides unparalleled comfort, making these shorts a joy to wear.
  • Versatility: Ideal for lounging at home or stepping out casually.

My Verdict: Best for Laid-Back Flexibility

These shorts redefine casual comfort. The 4 Way Stretch Selvedge fabric feels like your favorite pair of sweatpants, offering an unmatched level of ease and flexibility. Whether you’re lounging or out and about, these shorts deliver comfort and style.


Sunflower Mike Shorts

These Sunflower Mike Shorts could easily become my new go-to. They seamlessly mix sportswear, swimwear, and casualwear into one very simple and understated garment.

Made from crispy nylon fabric, they offer a unique texture and durability. Zip pockets keep your EDC safe, and the drawstring waistband ensures a customisable fit.

What You Need to Know

  • Material: Crispy nylon fabric that’s tough and quick-drying.
  • Fit: Relaxed with an adjustable drawstring waistband.
  • Pockets: Secure zip pockets for your everyday carry.
  • Design: Simple, easy-going style that pairs with anything.
  • Price: Fairly priced, offering great value.

My Verdict: Best All-in-One

These shorts are all about practical style. Whether I’m by the pool with my Birkenstock EVA sandals and an open short-sleeve shirt, out in a tee and sneakers, or heading to a casual dinner, these shorts fit the bill. Comfortable, durable, and effortlessly stylish—these are the shorts I’ll be reaching for every day.


Get Inspired: Sign Up for More Tips and Guides

This guide has explored some of the best shorts available right now that combine style, comfort, and practicality, making them perfect additions to your wardrobe. Whether you prefer the rugged durability of military-inspired shorts or the easy-going vibe of casual shorts, these picks have you covered.

Continue your denim journey and sign up for our newsletter. Since 2011, I’ve been guiding denim enthusiasts with curated menswear selections and expert tips. Discover long-lasting style and quality that wears well, helping you build a wardrobe of wearable heirlooms.

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