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Kit Guide

What are the Best Hiking Shorts for me?

By Steve Cockerill 2nd October 2020
Hiking shorts can reduce the pain of hiking and help you sail the boat flatter when used correctly. They are a breakthrough in pain-free hiking. I first made my own hike pads with battens and PVC canvas covered with velcro when I preparing for the Laser Worlds in Wakayama in 1994. Once I started developing Rooster products, hiking shorts was the top of my list. Classic Hikers - The lucky Accident.
Classic Hikers are still the go-to hiker for hiking sailors. Steve in his RS300 in 2003
I spent a week in the Research and Development room of a major neoprene factory developing the pattern for the Classic Hiking Shorts. I was keen that they had pre-bent knees and lots of back support and that they were tight on my legs to allow me to work the boat without any discomfort.
Steve Cockerill in an early pair of Classic Hikers circa 2003
We tailored the size medium to me, at the time I was about 76Kg and 5’8” tall. I thought of myself as an average Medium. I tested the pre-production samples back in the UK on the water and quickly found that the Medium I had developed became too baggy when wet. I later discovered that this was due to the glue between the raw neoprene and lining or outer skin relaxing when wet. I quickly opted for the size small which fitted rather tightly until I had sailed in them once – and then they were amazing. The lucky accident was that the hike pads on the small were slightly higher on the leg which made them were more effective and comfortable for your average club sailor. The Rooster Classic hikers have been a go-to style since then for club sailors and racers alike. They just do not offend anyone. The only negative is that they do not cover the lower leg. You will now notice that we had to change the sizing to numbers so sailors took the right size depending on their build. We later developed Junior Classic Hiking Shorts with the Saxton's who were busy winning everything in their Optimists in the early 2000s. More recently we have improved the durability and fit of the classic hikers. They are still a winner now. Rooster Pro Hikers (with fitted batten pads) were designed for the fitter elite athletes. The hike pads are slightly lower down the leg which gives a highly effective lift for the super-fit sailor. If you have normal length legs for your build – then these will be super comfortable. Girls also love this design as the high waist is super supportive. The Duratex kneepad and seat is also Aero or Optimist floor grip proof. These are the ones I used to win the Aero Worlds the 4000 Euro Cup and 2000 Nationals in 2017.
Aero 7 World Champion 2017
I am still using them in the RS400 and the RS300. In the wintertime, I add some PolyPro legs to boost the warmth and lots more top layers.
Steve Cockerill Hiking in Pro Hikers (with Fitted Pads) winning the RS 300 Inland Championships in 2019
We developed Pro Hikers with separate Pro Hike Pads at the same time for those sailors who liked the flexibility of attaching their hike pads where they felt they were most comfortable. Now available as a Pro Hike with Pads Bundle. They are particularly comfortable for sailors who are generally stockier than the average sailor as they can position the pads higher up the leg. They have the added benefit that you can wear them without the hike pads in trapeze boats or even in hiking boats in light winds. I use them in the RS800 as they offer the most comfort and flexibility when wearing a trapeze harness. Do not forget that you can use our Pro Hike Pads in our Thermaflex Shorts, Race Armour Lite Shorts, Supertherm Longjohn Thermaflex Longjohn, Women's Thermaflex Longjohn, Women's Supertherm Longjohn, Thermaflex Legs Exofleece Longjohn and Pro Rash Legs (if you are lucky enough to sail in hot waters). All those items have a comfortable fluffy part of Velcro in the back of the legs which holds the Velcro hook of the pads firmly in the right area. To fit the pads, it is ALWAYS best to turn them inside out and place the hike pads into the garment. Do not be afraid to place the top of the pads into the seat seam. If you are new to hiking pads, then choose the shorter options. Some of the Pro Sailors prefer our longest Pro Hike Pads to give them the maximum lift off the deck and maintain their freeboard by reducing their bum droop. Personally, I prefer to wear my hike pads over my Supertherm longjohns, fitted inside some Race Armour shorts.
Steve wearing Pro Hike Pads inside Race Armour Lite shorts over a Supertherm Longjohn - comfortable even on the last day of the regatta
It makes for a comfortable sail even on the last day of a regatta. This might also be the best option if you are keen to add some hiking efficiency to your existing wetsuit. You might also decide to add some Wear Protection Shorts to protect your assets. They can also add a little extra grip on a slippery side deck.
Sarah (crewing) wearing Wear Protection Shorts to give her some extra grip on the side deck.
Please also check our size guides - we have a vast amount of experience in this field and we would not want you to purchase something that feels comfortable in the dry - only to find they are too large when you are actually wearing them. Note - I am wearing size 3 Pro Hikers with fitted pads. I am 77Kg and 5'8" tall and reasonably trim. So for flexibility – it’s the Pro Hikers with separate Pro Hike Pads. For a no brainer comfort fit – take the Classic Hikers If you know you are hiking and you are a normal build – then Pro Hikers with built-in pads. For those adding a hiking system to their existing kit – take the hike pads and the Thermaflex Shorts or Race Armour Lite shorts. …. Simples. If you have ANY questions about the fit of hikers you have just bought or about to buy - please give us a call at the office or send an email to We are always happy to help and advise. Alternatively, come to Steve's talk about hiking shorts on the Rooster Stand at the RYA Dinghy Show.

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