Outdoors gear is made for out there. As trends take wilderness apparel from the summits to the streets, Highsnobiety is recasting a seminal part of the outdoors for the indoors with Trail Mix, a wear-test series. Instead of climbing mountains, we put gear through tests that ring closer to home. Will camp shorts work for lounging around? Is a trail runner too much for a jog in the park? Each month, we’ll take on a new category, testing five pieces in the wilds of New York City to answer questions just like these. This time, we’re talking the venerable nylon baggie.
Take a ‘long.’ Cut it to the thigh. Et voila. You’ve got ‘shorts.’
The simple nylon short shorts are just that: simple and short. A staple of time spent outdoors, the baggie traces its roots back to 1920, when the Boy Scouts (a camp organization if there ever was one) made the garment an official part of their uniform. Their belted shorts were neither nylon nor all that short, but “Scouts learned that shorts were comfortable camp wear.” Just like that, baggies found a place by the fire.
Fast forward 100 years, and the baggie camp short – post-war, in that new synthetic silk and certainly creeping up the thigh – has become a summer staple. A Jamboree’s worth of famous wearers have graced the trunks on screen: Clark Griswold, Forrest Gump, every ’80s cabin horror cast (yes, especially Sleepaway Camp). Through their influence – and the baggies’ own charm – the camping apparel leapt from trail to town.
What the baggie lacks in technicality, it makes up for in charm. And while there may not be much that can go wrong, there’s a wide range between the good enough and the ones that get it right. With summer around the corner (and your #WFH sweatpants worse for wear since March), we’ve reviewed five of the best nylon baggies out there.
The gold standard in baggies? Well, that’d be the Baggies.
Patagonia’s 5” Baggies are the OG outdoors trunk. With an inseam sitting well above the knee, these recycled nylon shortpants quite literally define the category. An internal drawstring keeps it all neat. A single snap pocket (back right, for those curious) keeps the look minimal. The quick-drying outer handles sweats and swims, which, in case you were hesitant, the mesh lining demands. But the real highlight here is only functional in a rescue.
The Baggies live and die through their insane color schemes. Masters of the throwback, Patagonia leans into the outrageous brights of ‘80s outdoors culture to swathe Baggies in such understated hues as Magno, Ultra Pink, and the oh-so-fitting Fire. The Purple shown here is my favorite: it’s rich, it’s bold, and it won’t get you confused for a streaker or a lifeguard. Rock them with a bucket and the brand’s upcycled Baggies Jacket for a chill look that won’t freeze past sunset.
District Vision is a New York-based running brand with mindfulness at its core. As the name suggests, Vision began with performance eyewear – what was once all glitz and chrome-tint became, through DV’s lens, thoughtful and understated but every bit as functional. Their approach to apparel follows the same inside line.
Built for speed but designed for comfort, the brand’s Spino Training Shorts are a barely-baggie nylon strider. The Spinos are performance-first to the thread. A bevy of pockets keeps gear secure. Two different stretch fabrics keep it all moving. Thanks to a spandex liner and some clever paneling, the short stays smooth over long runs (outside or TV series, it’s all up to you). But the function is only half the story; the Spino shines in Electric Blue, where its contrast drawstring and left thigh DV logo seem almost playful. Retro looks that stay rooted in the present? Mindful, indeed.
Stone Island is Stone Island because they make fabrics into magic. A simple garment named after its textile? When Stoney does baggies, they shoot for the moon.
The Nylon Metal Swim Short is Stone Island’s answer to the high-rise summer trunk. As the name suggests, this is Nylon Metal with leg holes. The brand’s famous fabric steals the show here because it is the show. There’s a logo patch, a draw string, and Rose Quartz. Thanks for coming. Stare if you must.
Function-wise, they’re fine to lounge in, but not particularly comfortable. But that’s not why you’d ever go Metal. Simply put, as a fashion piece, they are outrageous. I struggled to wear them with anything but neutral colors because anything – anything – that challenges Nylon Metal short shorts is making pretender’s claims. Statement short doesn’t even begin to describe it. Throw on a black tee, white socks, and some Suicokes. A thin mesh lining is all that separates skin from shine. Might as well dress like it.
The name. The look. The delightfully-silly pockets (why are there five?) Everything about Battenwear screams “golden age outdoors.” Everything, well, except Battenwear itself.
Founded in 2011 by Shinya Hasegawa, New York-based Battenwear reinterprets ‘70s surf and outdoor garments for the modern day. The Camp Shorts are that ethos, distilled. A belted nylon baggie that should come with its own station wagon, Battenwear’s trunks are the best retro outdoors shorts on the market. On one hand, they are supremely comfortable. The nylon used here is ace: as soft as any cotton, but with all the lightness and quick-drying properties that tech affords. On the other, these are shorts with a point of view. They’re loaded with details, a hodge-podge of pockets and belt loops and mesh lining that makes them just plain interesting, even in its muted color palette.
Battenwear’s Camp Shorts are the style guy’s upgraded utility – the summer equivalent to Gorecki Cargos. I’d live in these shorts if I could. For now, I’m content with eight hours a day.
Stylish, spandex-lined baggies weighing just 100 grams. If you could stitch a runner’s high, it’d feel like these shorts.
Parisian brand Satisfy was born of a multidisciplinary pursuit of better running gear – and after the shoes, it’s the shorts that matter most. Satisfy’s Trail Distance 3” Shorts are a marvel. Packed with pockets and designed for effortlessness, the Trail Distance 3” shows how creativity can make the simple into the phenomenal. There’s hi-viz hits for night running! A mini-carabiner in the waistband to stash keys! It’s everything you’d ever want to run in, and at a wispy 100g, I’m not kidding when I say you’ll seriously forget you’re wearing them.
While the integrated liner makes them difficult to style outside of a fitness context, Satisfy’s 3” shorts deserve praise. They are exceptional performance pieces – a revolution for the silhouette akin to the cotton-to-nylon switch. And if racing isn’t your style, they’re just as good for bodega runs, too.