Paramo Maui Shorts Review
According to Paramo, their Maui shorts are for “people who need comfort and freedom of movement in a rugged pair of warm weather shorts.” Surely however, most people would have the same requirements from any pair of shorts, so why choose Paramo’s Maui shorts over the others?
To my mind, the first reason has to be the fabric. Paramo are already legendary for the innovative use of fabrics in their vast range of garments, challenging the norm and producing their own effective solutions to the varying requirements of outdoor gear. Maui shorts are constructed using their light but extremely strong “Parameta A Cotton+” fabric. This is a blend of cotton and polyester (polyamide) that combines a high degree of wind-resistance, increased durability and rip-resistance compared to their “Parameta A” fabric, and rapid and effective wicking and evaporation. This means they dry very quickly and provide evaporative cooling to keep you cool, and because any sweat-marks vanish quickly, this keeps you looking cool as well! The tight weave of the fabric provides UPF 50+ sun-protection and can deter biting insects, though sitting too close to a wood-ant’s nest is not recommended as the little critters can simply bypass your bum and go up your legs instead! To be fair this would have been a problem wearing ANY shorts!
The quality of construction more than matches the quality of the fabric used. All major seams are double or triple-stitched, with reinforcement in places where additional strain might occur, such as the top corners of pockets where the continuous effect of plunging hands can, over time, cause stitching to unravel. Where possible single pieces of fabric have been shaped to provide a comfortable fit, rather than have extra panels sewn in. This is particularly apparent in the gusset area where the shape of the shorts provides the unrestricted freedom of movement to climb stiles, leap up rocks or move in any direction you are capable of moving in without pinching or constriction. The quality and attention to detail even extends to stitching along the expanding pleats of the cargo pocket to ensure that the pleat doesn’t fall out over time and make the pocket become baggy and unsightly, with a propensity for objects to fall out of it when sitting. (This has been a problem with a number of pairs of cargo shorts I’ve previously owned.) The waistband is double-layered for comfort and resistance to curling over, and has elastic panels over the hips to provide a secure yet comfortable fit around the waist. Large belt-loops accept anything from a broad leather belt, to a webbing belt, to an old shoelace to keep the shorts up where they should be.
The Maui shorts have five pockets: two “jeans style” front pockets, a rear zipped pocket on the right, and a very useful flap-and-velcro secured cargo pocket along the right thigh. (With cool leather Paramo logo!) The hip and rear pockets have a half-mesh lining to allow airflow and increase ventilation through the pockets where the pocket-lining has contact with the skin. I found that to gain maximum benefit from this feature however, I had to walk with my hands in my pockets and hold them open. A serious plus, in fact a massive cause for celebration, is that the cargo pocket is exactly the right size to carry a laminated OS map easily, so no more wrestling with your leg when trying to check your location; the map just slips easily in and out. Due to the expansion pleats it doesn’t cause the map (or other contents) to rub uncomfortably against your leg either, thus contributing to the overall comfort and freedom of movement of the shorts. Absolutely brilliant! Inside the cargo pocket is a zipped hidden pocket which is the right size to carry a passport securely, or a phone if you want it protected but easily accessible. This was a very useful feature that stopped my phone bouncing around annoyingly as I walked, and meant I didn’t have to worry about it sliding out of my pockets when sunbathing! I noticed that even with a phone and an OS map in the cargo pocket, there was neither intrusive pressure or rubbing on my leg, nor any flapping from the load as the pocket retained its shape. On a slightly different note however, the rear and cargo pockets are both on the right-hand side of the shorts. This is fine for me, but could this right-hand bias be a bit irritating or inconvenient for someone who is left-handed? Or am I just being picky?
Over a number of long hot (and not so hot) days, walking over and sitting on varied terrain (indoors, outdoors, moorland, rocks, old logs in forests, wood-ant nests in forests!) I seem to have worn the Maui shorts loads. They were just so comfortable I didn’t bother to take them off, except at night when sleeping. Go out. Walk. Sweat. Sit. Dry. Walk. Sweat. Dry. Walk. Home. Dry. Still comfy. Why bother to take them off? Would have no problems wearing them around town or in the pub either. For me the fit is close and down to just above the knee (I’m size M, up to 32 inch waist, quite short legs!) but still with enough room to be comfortable. In fact I would describe them over all as “sleek and slinky.” Because the fabric is so efficient at evaporating moisture and cooling the wearer however, Paramo don’t recommend these shorts for cold, wet conditions, so if you’re the sort of person who wears shorts when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, maybe wear something different or wear some thermal underpants underneath!
Ah yes. Back to the fabric. As previously mentioned, Paramo are already well-known and respected fabric fabricators. They are also extremely serious about protecting the beautiful and sometimes fragile places around the world where their products find themselves being used. Behind the “Parameta A Cotton+” fabric lies a thoughtful and caring approach to the problems of manufacture versus environmental impact. The polyester in the fabric can be completely recycled by being broken down completely into its component building-blocks and then used to re-create fresh polyester: a process that uses massively less energy than making polyester from scratch. The cotton used is sourced from Fair Trade verified suppliers and can also be recycled.
All fabrics used by Paramo are tested at the source of manufacture to ensure they contain no added PFCs, (fluorocarbons, which can persist in and pollute the environment) unlike some clothing manufacturers who add PFC-based water-repellency treatments to the fabric before they make the garment. Regarding aftercare, Paramo recommend the use of Nikwax products such as fabric cleaners or repellency treatments which are water-based and contain no PFCs. Paramo also say Maui shorts can be easily repaired by the owner without compromising performance, but if needed they will give a reasonable quote for other repairs caused by user-damage. Faults in manufacturing however, are covered by their guarantee (as long as you register the shorts first!) and will be resolved, free of charge, for the lifetime of the garment. And when you can no longer keep your Maui shorts alive, Paramo will encourage you to send then back for recycling or refurbishment, either via the post or a Paramo retailer, and in return present you with a discount voucher worth £10 off your next Paramo purchase worth £25 or more. You can’t say fairer than that!
In summary then, these shorts are so comfortable I’ve needed to check I’m still wearing them, seem like they’ll last for ages and maybe even come back as another pair of shorts when they finally do die, and help in some small way to protect this fragile planet we call home. So to answer my original question about why buy a pair of Paramo Maui shorts, just re-read this review!
Reviewed by Stuart/ Posted by Ben