In the age of ever skinnier pants, Chubbies is flouting two trends. The San Francisco-based brand manufactures unusually abbreviated leg wear with active men in mind, and its new collection of mountain shorts asks men to scrupulously avoid pants during fleece season. If that sounds like a bit of a hard sell, company founder Rainier Castillo is the first to admit that he understands why.

"We've heard story after story of people saying, 'Eww' before buying their first pair, then buying every type we have," says Castillo, a veteran of the Gap and Levi's merchandising departments. "It takes a bit of courage to say, 'Yep, I'll wear that,' but Chubbies are comfortable so people come back."

As for wearing shorts in late autumn, Castillo knows that his customers are resilient and well-educated enough to be up to the challenge. He's confident about resilience because one of his company's main demographics is members of the Armed Forces, who started buying Chubbies in bulk when the company released American flag shorts a few years back; they paired well with flak jackets when evening crept over the desert. The education bit comes from knowing that Chubbies have also caught on with the college crowd. And college-educated men know that heat loss occurs fastest in areas of the body (forearms, head, groin) where the veins are closest to the skin. The thighs insulate the femoral artery, which means that wearing shorts with a coat is not a bad idea.

The thighs also move a lot, which is why short shorts can prove surprisingly practical for hikers, walkers, and pub crawlers. And the brand's new line of rugged shorts named for American mountain ranges (Appalachians, Smokies, Sierras, Rockies, Blue Ridges) are a bit hardier than previous reditions. With thick belt loops and slanted back pockets perfect for climbers, these "sport utility shorts" are perfect for the alpine environment.

"We reinforce many of the pieces of the shorts because they're designed for active guys," says Castillo. "We create shorts for the weekends. Monday through Friday is not for us."

The shorts, which are are handsomely manufactured in northern California and carefully dyed in Los Angeles, don't exactly conform to the standards of work-appropriate apparel, but they are extremely complimentary to both muscular and long-waisted men; they show off the legs of the former and look proportional on the latter. At minimum, they make every man look confident. [$59.50; chubbiesshorts.com]