Patagonia Baggies occupy a weird space in the menswear landscape. They’re as venerated by hardboiled fashion geeks as they are outdoor sports buffs; beloved by Pusha T and climbing legend Tommy Caldwell; equally at home on the subway as they are in the woods. Even if you’re not familiar familiar with them, you’d be able to ID them if you saw them, like a song that you know the words to but not the name of. You probably have friends who wear them all the time—heck, you probably owned a pair yourself at one point or another, maybe after this very publication convinced you to buy ’em.
Which is to say, they’re so deeply ingrained in the psyche, so consistent in their ubiquity, that they’d be at risk of fading into the background if their silhouette wasn’t so identifiable, their colors so particular. Which also helps explain why just about every brand worth its weight in crinkly nylon sells something that amounts to an “updated” version of Patagonia’s flagship shorts.
Today, though, we’re not here to talk about the luxe designer riffs or the mass-market knockoffs: we’re here to talk about the originals because, even after decades in the limelight, they hit harder than ever. Trust me—I would know.
A Slimmed-Down History of Patagonia Baggies
In 1982, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard conceived of Baggies as a “do-it-all short”—one he could theoretically hike, climb, swim, bike, camp, and do whatever else in—and they’ve remained relatively unchanged since. That’s a great thing. Because while other brands have dipped into their archives to reproduce silhouettes from that era, not always successfully, Patagonia has been playing its Greatest Hit over and over, dialing in every single note on a molecular level while delivering a product that feels as authentic to the source material now as it did then.
What Are They Made Of?
Baggies have basically looked the same since Ozzy Osbourne ate that bat, but the materials they’re made from have changed ever so slightly over the decades. Historically, Patagonia cut them from a fluttery, quick-drying, twill-like nylon; in 2018, the brand switched to a recycled version of the fabric. But if I hadn’t told you, you’d likely never know—I own pairs from both eras and I have no idea which are which. It doesn’t matter when I bought them: that soft, lightweight, surprisingly sturdy nylon feels exactly the same.
And while the nylon body is the star of the show, the featherweight mesh that lines its inside is equally important. It’s strong enough to handle the stress of your sundry knickknacks, and the pocket bags allow water to freely pass through, providing ventilation and a close approximation of a cross-breeze.
What Makes Them Different?
Technically, Baggies are, well, technical shorts. But don’t expect any next-gen specs or NASA-engineered hardware. They come equipped with three pockets, an elastic waistband, a mesh liner, and that’s about it—but the rock-solid execution allows for each of those components to punch well above their weight class.
The hand pockets are big enough to hold a regulation-size water bottle, or whatever 16-20 oz. beverage you prefer. There’s a convenient bungie loop inside the right pocket for your keys. There’s a back pocket that snaps shut. (An extra back pocket would be nice, but I’ve never really felt like I needed it.) The mesh pocket bags drain fast and don’t weigh you down while you’re swimming. The liner is supportive and breathable, but also takes to a pair of scissors easily if liners aren’t your thing. The elastic waistband is forgiving yet secure, and stays put without digging. And, perhaps most crucially, the nylon actually gets better with wear, gradually softening over time.
How Do They Fit?
Baggies are, as the name implies, baggy. They run true to size, but their elastic waistband offers plenty of wiggle room. As you probably know, they also come in two lengths: the reliably-preferred 5-inch version and the relatively unsung 7-inch counterpart. The 5-inch provides a short-and-roomy silhouette, flaring out a bit towards the hemline and hitting somewhere around mid-thigh. The 7-inch is similarly baggy, and also flares out a touch, but it hits somewhere between the lower thigh and right above the knee.