Anything light, as long as you cut that nasty mesh banana hammock out of them first. If they have a recognizable name brand, they are instantly disqualified. If they carry the name of a recognized Designer, you are instantly disqualified and banned from the river. If they are faded and worn and show your junk, you've found a good pair
A pair of IR Guide Shorts will last a long time. The fleece lined version are uber comfy though a bit heavy when wet. I recently picked up a pair of the BomberGear Bomination shorts and they're fantastic with a neoprene liner. The best part about them is the webbed belt with buckle - easy adjustment for a better fit than you can get with the typical drawstring closure (IR). I just wish they made a pair of the shorts without the neoprene liner as well.
I thought IR was great and then I discovered that surf companies have been making board shorts for decades and they're way better. I got a pair of the basic O'Neill board shorts and they're light, super comfy, great fit and fast drying. If you need something warm then get one of those neoprene lined shorts like the IR shorts or just wear a separate neoprene short underneath.
While pockets aren't needed on the river much, I still need to get to and from the river and that requires keys wallet and phone. any short that cant haul those basics are about useless too, unless you're on a multi day trip.
I picked up a pair of these Cloudveil shorts a few months ago and they are really great. Can't speak for how they will wear in the long run but they dry fast, are knee length and have decent sized pockets. Great price from Level Nine too.
I have been using the IR Guide shorts with neoprene in them for a couple years now. I recently did a 5 day Deso trip and a 14 day Grand Canyon trip with them. I won't get the neoprene guide shorts again. I will definitely give the fleece lined shorts a try though. The neoprene shorts are great for hot day runs on cold rivers, but I won't ever do another multi-day with them. Even though I washed them out every night I still ended up with a funky rash on the tops of my legs on both trips.
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