Best Hiking Pants Reviewed

What on earth makes hiking pants good for hiking? If you’re someone like me, who would rather shop for sweet new gear over clothes any day, the prospect of finding hiking pants that are comfortable, functional and vaguely fit your style is daunting. But the experience doesn’t have to be nauseating. Our recommendation? Pay attention to the little details that aren’t obvious from the outside, but which make it obvious that the designers have done some serious hiking and genuinely know what works and what doesn’t.

When you’ve hiked a hundred miles in scorching sun and sleety rain that feels freezing but just won’t turn into snow; when you’ve spent way too long fishing around in your pack because your pockets can’t hold your minimal EDC; when you’ve worn ten different pairs of pants until they had holes so that you know where those holes end up – that’s when you know what good hiking pants feel like.

Every hiker will have his/her preference when they invest in a good pair of pants specifically for hiking or for hiking and travelling around. Some hikers are not interested in a lot of carry factor through spacious or extra pockets, they may well be day hikers, looking to hike in warm weather in light and comfortable pants.

Many of us like the idea of lots of various sized pockets so we can carry more and perhaps even not bother with a pack pack, especially if hiking for just a day. It can be fair to say that the more useful items which you can carry, the more prepared you will be for the unexpected. One point all hikers have in common is that regardless of the types of hiking pants and for whatever environment, warm, wet, really cold or hot, we all want comfort, durability and performance.

Last Updated: October 28, 2017
By Brian:

In addition to more information hat might prove helpful to your search, we have also updated our list with a few new pants that we really like.

Fjällräven Keb
  • Fjällräven Keb
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable & water resistant
  • Price: See Here
Arc'teryx Lefroy
  • Arc'teryx Lefroy
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Price: See Here
PrAna Stretch Zion
  • PrAna Stretch Zion
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Zippered cargo pockets
  • Price: See Here

This review saves you the trouble by throwing together the best options for the start of 2017, most of them subtle improvements on tried and tested models. Just flick through the review to see which features and benefits catch your eye. If you’re still wondering how to choose the best hiking pants for you personally (I.e. sizing, fabrics, and whether you can get away without hiking-specific pants), keep scrolling past the reviews to where we delve into the details. There we go into what kind of performance you can expect from outdoor clothing, and which bells and whistles are a godsend vs. tacky extras made to appeal to the amateurs.

 

10 Best Hiking Pants

 

Fjällräven Keb

Fjällräven Keb
Fjällräven is Swedish for ‘arctic fox, and these hiking pants are designed to be just as good at adventuring through the forests and mountainsides of the northern USA, Europe or any other rugged, demanding climate. The Keb pants, like the Vidda Pro before them, feature reinforced panels that contain 35% cotton- something you almost never see in hiking pants anymore. This G-1000 technical fabric does a terrific job of deflecting scree, mud, snow, fierce thorns and all manner of hazards. The Fjällräven Keb hiking pants are amongst the most rain-resistant of the bunch, and you can even add your own wax coating to the G-1000 panels to amp up the water-resistance. These pants are an outstanding option for hikers looking for the highest level of protection and durability.
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Functionality

Often, hiking pants fall into one of two categories: waterproof, terrain resistant, insulated and breathable, covered in technical zips (and alarmingly expensive); or basically a pair of everyday slacks that dry a little faster and weigh slightly less. In the Fjällräven Keb, we think we’ve found the perfect balance. The upper, front of the pants and the panels behind each knee are made from a polyester/elastin blend. These sections are stretchy and durable, but soft and breathable too. The rest of the Keb: the front of your thighs and knees; the whole backside; and the bases of the trousers (where you get the most abrasion and tangling and hill-sliding); are all made of a 65% polyester/35% cotton blend Fjällräven call G-1000.

If you want your Kebs to be waterproof, you just rub some of Fjällräven’s own Greenland Wax beeswax compound into the G-1000 panels. This is the same product that Fjällräven recommend to waterproof a bunch of their stuff, so if you already have some lying around you don’t need anything new. You can get a demo on the right way to apply the wax in some specialty hiking stores, or watch videos online. It’s easy to get the hang of and effective at keeping out the rain. We opted not to put on the wax at first, just to see how the Kebs hold up without that added weight. The non-treated pants held their own against a one-hour rain shower no problem.

Comfort and weight


If you’re worried that these panels sound heavy and impermeable, fear not: we were quite impressed by the ventilation zips that run down the side of each. This makes pants that are the best choice of hiking pants for cold, wet weather and rough terrain perfectly good choices for hot, muggy days as well.

The ankle cuffs of the pants are designed to be worn in about four different ways, and sit really well in each position thanks to the snap fasteners. This means that no matter what your body shape (height/waistline), what shoes you’re wearing, or whether it’s hot and sunny or blowing freezing rain on you, you can close the ends of the pants up in a way that’s satisfactory.

The Fjällräven Keb Women’s version is definitely re-tailored to suit slightly different proportions, meaning that women can look forward something that fits really well, not just the men’s pants in smaller sizes. We liked this! We also reckon that the Kebs are flattering and stylish without trying to look like they’re not hiking pants.

Despite being the burliest hiking pants we tried on, the Kebs are fairly light in your pack and on the trail, at about 1.5 pounds, not quite twice the weight of the lightest hiking pants we could find, and still less than the average pair of blue jeans. We think they look pretty good on, too: a really nice balance of modern fit and classic mountaineering-style design.
Pros
  • Traditional pattern of stretch panels is stylish and adventurous-looking
  • Four different ways to fasten the ankles cuffs (In boot or above or as gaiters or open)
  • G-1000 reinforcement covers more of the leg than it did in Fjällräven’s Vidda Pro
  • Ventilation zips keep your legs cool and airy when you’re working up a sweat
  • Belt loops so you can carry a tool-belt / knife etc.
  • The Kebs come in a huge variety of color combinations
Cons
  • At this price, these are an equipment investment

Arc’Teryx Lefroy

Arc’Teryx Lefroy
Most hiking pants from the more technical brands like Arc’teryx, who we associate with technical snow gear, tend to be heavy and feel like thin hard-shell layers. So it was exciting when Arc’teryx released the Lefroy at under 10 ounces! The Lefroy pants are also designed specifically for the heat – not the snow. We found that the AirPerm fabric breathes incredibly well – the most breathable hiking pant out of everything we tested for this review.
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Functionality

The Lefroy hiking pants are cut in a slim style. Not formal exactly, but all the lines are clean and sit well and you can tell they’re a technical pant. When we saw the model photographs, we were worried they were going to restrictive and hot, but this wasn’t the case at all. The AirPerm fabric has a high (18) percent elastin, which makes it as stretchy as the prAna Stretch Zion. We found these perfectly comfy climbing over fallen logs and up embankments.

The Arc’teryx Lefroy are a great choice for anyone who wants lightweight travel pants that perform really well in summer hiking and backpacking conditions. The only downside really is that they are quite expensive for lightweight hiking pants. And while the AirPerm fabric is reasonably resistant to scrapes and spills, these are not pants that we’d take anywhere we were really planning to bushwhack.

Comfort and weight

It all depends on your lifestyle: if you do a lot of outdoor adventuring and/or sightseeing in the summer and want high-performance hiking pants that will last you for years and years, the Arc’teryx brand quality will be worth paying extra. This is one brand that is willing to pay plenty of attention to all those small details that make a difference.

Weight-wise, remember these are only 9 ounces. They are a considerable jump in price from good-value budget options like Columbia’s Silver Ridge, but not all hiking enthusiasts are students and for the seasoned traveler with a little more to spend, that isn’t going to matter.
Pros
  • Incredibly light 
  • Carefully crafted fit and high-stretch
  • Air permeable
  • Articulated pattern for excellent mobility
  • Integrated webbing belt for micro-adjustments – you can leave your heavy leather belt at home
Cons
  • No belt loops to wear your own belt over the top
  • Expensive
  • Not the best choice for winter or wet weather

PrAna Stretch Zion

PrAna Stretch Zion
These stretchy hiking pants are slim but flexible, with a streamlined belt built into the waist that lets you micro-adjust your size, ensuring the perfect fit every time you wear them. They are stylish enough to wear into town, and comfortable enough to wear on the airplane, but neither of these factors alone is enough to make them one of our top picks. Luckily, their nylon-spandex blend offered a great compromise of water-resistance and breathability and resisted abrasions and mud-stains too.
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Functionality

The built-in cinch belt is flat and slim-line enough that you can wear your own belt as well- perfect if you want to carry extra gear on your belt. The bottoms can roll up quite neatly and stay there, thanks to a snap on the side. The front and back pockets are placed nicely and big enough to use comfortably, unlike many pockets you see on men’s hiking pants (as well as women’s, which have notoriously useless pockets).

The prAna Stretch Zion pants breathe pretty well. While they resist water, they’re definitely not waterproof.

Comfort and weight

The prAna Stretch Zion are as comfortable as they look. Their fit is roomy enough that they’ll accommodate a set of long underwear/thermals underneath, but slim enough that a waterproof shell (like the Marmot PreCip below) will fit over the top without any issues. These are not the lightest pants reviewed here, but at 13 ounces they’re still easily less than a pound making them a great choice if weight is important to you.
Pros
  • Zippered dual cargo pocket
  • Front pockets and zippered back pockets
  • Designed to hold their line well and resistant to wrinkles
  • Men’s fit fits women as well
Cons
  • Sizes have changed recently – loyal returning customers should double check the suggested measurements before they order

Marmot Lobos

Marmot Lobos
Lots of water and abrasion resistance in pants that are flexible, comfortable, these pants are still looking great after months of backpacking. Both the convertible version and the full pants are designed to be rolled up below the knee, and they excel in just about every condition of weather and terrain.
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Functionality

Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pants are made from a water-resistant, sun-resistant (UFP 50), abrasion-resistant blend of 96% Nylon tempered with 6% Elastane to make them softer and more flexible. They proved quick-drying, blend that's treated with a DWR coating. The material is UPF 50, quick drying and offers no resistance to mobility as you scamper through scree and up an incline.

The nylon performed really well against all the perils of the trail, and after months of wear there wasn’t the wear and fabric pilling in high use areas (basically, the seat of your butt) that a few other comparable hiking pants tend to exhibit.
The nylon is coated with DWR that beads off water, and these withstand a long walk in light rain without any water seeping inside.

Comfort and weight

Comfortable in every way – stretchy fabric and a diamond gusset in the crotch for extra movement. The fabric never felt too sweaty, but if you want more airflow but to keep the extra protection from sticks and trail debris, you can just unzip the bottoms a bit to let the air through. The convertible option isn’t just about not wanting to carry a spare pair of pants in your pack – it’s about being able to go from long pants to capris (with buttons to hold them rolled up) or to shorts in any situation. The Marmot Lobo’s Convertible hiking pants are inexpensive considering their comfort, performance and versatility, and weigh just 9 ounces. The non-convertible Marmot Lobo’s hiking pants weigh even less, and cost even less to boot!
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Stretchy and functional
  • Stylish, flattering slim fit
  • Soft inner waistband designed for backpacking and laden hiking
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • If you go for the convertible option, the zippers can be a mild discomfort
  • Pockets are quite small: the front made for little phones or passports but not for hands or anything big, and the zippered side pocket can pretty much just fit a whistle and a packet of matches

Marmot Precip Pant

The only true, 100% waterproof hiking pants on this list, the Marmot PreCip are designed to be worn over your regular day pants, though you could wear them over long thermals if you expect storms from the start of the say. Like the Marmot PreCip jacket, the PreCip hiking pants live up to their claim and keep out the rain.
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Functionality

As rain paints, they are excellent: fully waterproof thanks to a waterproof NanoPro membrane and fully taped (waterproof-fabric-reinforced) seams. They are comfortable even when wet, and baggy enough to accommodate pants underneath without verging into MC Hammer territory. The waist is simple and they slip on and off fairly easy.

Comfort and weight

That said, these pants are definitely not comfortable enough that you’d choose them over the others on this list for even a day in dry conditions. The NanoPro is excellent at keeping out horizontal rain, and nothing on the market that is waterproof breathes as well as most things that aren’t. But at only 9 ounces, these are a feather-light addition to your pack that you’ll be grateful for whenever clouds threaten to ruin your hike.

Under Armour ArmourVent Trail Shorts

Under Armour ArmourVent Trail Shorts
If you’re wearing shorts hiking, it’s because you want to stay cool. So the best hiking shorts are the ones that keep you that way. Under Armour’s ArmourVent Trail Shorts are feather-light but don’t feel cheap or vulnerable. Their style is a slimmer fit than the baggy trail running shorts you usually see, but thanks to a thoughtful design and four-way-stretch you actually do have plenty of room to squat and lunge as you climb the trail.
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Functionality

An elastic waistband makes sure they fit comfortably and never slip down. The gusseted crotch means that your movement isn’t restricted on tougher trails or even while working out.

Comfort and weight

The seams and inner waistband are flattened, a nice touch that we didn’t expect in hiking shorts made by a company that focuses on fitness wear, and reasonably priced at that. These shorts let plenty of air in directly, and the Vent fabric makes sure that any sweat is transferred out and evaporates pretty quickly. A very comfortable pair of shorts with good versatility.
Pros
  • Cool and airy
  • Crazy light-weight
  • Stylish slim flit
  • More length than many trail-running shorts
Cons
  • The cons of all shorts: zero protection from mosquitoes, ticks, snakes, banging your shins on branches, etc.
  • The fabric is thin and not reinforced to withstand sharp branches or abrasion – you’ll shred them if you try to do any off-trail hiking

Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Outdoor Research Ferrosi
A really lightweight pair of hiking pants, whatever your out door hiking environment, these will work, they feel comfortable, do not restrict mobility and offer a degree of stretch factor for flexibility during mobility.

These hiking pants appear as minimalist which means they are easy to stow away yet they offer great form FIT, these feel snug and functional with fast drying out capability, you do get a set of pockets which are standard to small.
 
Water proofing is backed up through the inclusion of a DWR coating, a durable light fabric construction, so no bulk issues, though the material is thin and thus light you do get a fair level of durability relative to the conditions in which the pants are worn.

For hiking they are fine but if your scaling rock faces  ( some people do) you will find that the pants do not have qualities which protect from excessive abrasion, given that these are offered for hiking, they serve purpose very well.
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Functionality

Way up in the top league for stretch capability, you get great mobility without restriction, these pants stretch when needed so they comfortably with with your body motions.

The pants are sold without a belt so you will need to pick out a nice belt to use. on cool days you feel comfortable and on hot warm days the comfort level is consistent, due to the thin material you would be wise not to use these pants in extreme cold conditions, they were not designed for extreme weather.
In terms of FIT these might at first feel a little close to form but keep in mind the stretch factor which works well and allows you flexibility.

Breath-ability is impressive, heat transfer away from the body in hot conditions is good and the pants allow a good flow of air for ventilation,  these are not convertible so if you prefer a combination of long legs convertible to shorts, these do not go that direction.

The cuff of the pants have a draw cord feature for each leg, you can pull them up to just below the knee and pull the cord to hold in place, cinching the pants is quick and easy and you will find the buckle for cinching built under a convenient flap built into the leg of the pants.

Five pockets in total, two front pockets, a side pocket with zip system and two rear pockets also with zip security. Like the pants design, the pockets are minimalist but functional for purpose.

If your caught out in the wet weather the DWR coating gives a good level of protection but if the rain is heavy or prolonged the water will get through eventually.

Used for hiking these pants are impressive and fine for the right conditions of weather, if you are going to use them as hiking and other activities where leg material will be subjected to high abrasions such as climbing, you have to accept some scuff marks and pilling.

Comfort/Weight

Built from light material and DWR coated for weather protection, the pants are comfortably for hiking and you wont feel a sensation of heavy material weight.

For durability, the pants are well constructed and you wont experience seam failure, if you use these pants true to purpose which is hiking, your going to get longevity, good performance and sound durability but if you take these pants into activities such as climbing rock faces then you need to accept that durability will be challenged.

For comfort the FIT is close but with fair stretch designed in, though using other layers of clothing under the pants might prove challenging.

These are a great pair of pants an ideal for cool, warm and reasonably hot hiking conditions,

Cost

Affordable pants, the price tag is friendly.

Pros

Comfortable

Durable for hiking.

DWR water proofed

Stretch factor to give freedom of mobility/flexibility.

Cons

Not for very cold environments.

North Face Paramount Trail Convertible pants.

North Face Paramount Trail Convertible pants.
North Face Paramount Trail Convertible pants are versatile, impressively hard-wearing, comfortable and durable. The pants are made from thick strong material with good breath-ability.

You get good protection from strong chilly winds and the level of resistance to rain is impressive due to thick nylon at one hundred percent, this means real tough durability, resistance to tearing is really good.

Two choices, wear as long pants or easily convert over to shorts.

Excellent hiking pants and certainly also good for more longer challenging back pack hikes into tough environments.

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Functionality

The pants are updated , now you get bigger pockets, the fabric has more durability and dry out time is claimed to be quicker. Previous versions of these pants were slower to dry.

These are excellent for cool weather hiking, offering comfort, protection, durability with good cold wind resistance and DWR proofing to lessen the prospect of rain soaking through.

North Face have a lot of confidence in their own products they give a life time honored guarantee if a product turns out to be defective and they offer low repair costs for velcro pocket fasteners and broken zip systems, notably the stitch work in the pants is very durable and secure.

We like these pants, they are nice for hiking and even for a useful pair of pants for travel overseas or general wear.

When you prefer to be wearing shorts, simply unzip the lower part of the pants, a good amount of pocket room for carrying your choice of personal items, the pockets at the front are spacious, two more front pockets and for security these can be closed with velcro, you get an additional security feature on one of the larger front pockets with a zip system.

The beauty in these pants is that you get enough pocket space to carry a lot, this means if your out hiking for a day you don't really need a light back-pack.

An elasticated waist-band and a solid belt ensure comfort and FIT, the belt is designed into a secure belt sleeve to keep it out of your way. The change over feature for converting to shorts is great for hot weather hiking, and when you want to revert to long pants, the zip system has a blue to blue and red to red sip connection to avoid confusion.

These pants have fair breath-ability factor and when worn as shorts they certainly qualify for having good air ventilation.

 Comfort/Weight

For comfort the pants offer a loose FIT, these come in six different sizes for the waist so you can select the best fit.

The material has good durability though it is heavier than some other hiking pants, a little more weight gives a lot more strength and durability. In cold weather you could wear another layer under these pants, though wearing a layer over the pants is less feasible as they are baggy, which in itself is a comfort feature.

Though a bit more heavy due to thick durable material the weight is not a problem, these pants are durable, they give great protection and lots of very useful carry space through a good range of pockets, ideal for hiking.

Cost

The pants are packed with useful features and the price is balanced and reasonable.

Pros

Durable

Good weather-proofing

Exceptional carrying capacity through available pockets

Can convert into shorts

Comfortable FIT

Cons

Some hikers don't like velcro fasteners.

Geval Men's Windproof Quick Drying Outdoor Pants

Geval Men's Windproof Quick Drying Outdoor Pants
Geval Men's Windproof Quick Drying Outdoor Pants 

Dry weather hiking suits these pants but they can perform in a broad range of temperatures and are specific for windy environments.

Features are resourceful and interesting, you get a lot of very useful pockets in various sizes, even a pocket to carry a cell phone.

Offering a multiple bag of functions for hikers, these pants offer durability, nice fit, protection, comfort and good performance.

Wear them as hiking pants or easily convert them into hiking shorts.

Read more on the features.
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Functionality

Lots of appealing features each with its own useful function. these are convertible, the lower leg cuffs have zip systems so you don't need to remove your shoes when pulling off the leggings.

The seam which separates the pants into shorts has an inner flap which prevent the zip rubbing the skin while hiking.

For pockets you get so much, a secure key pocket at the front, two large pockets for hands, two side pockets with secure zip up, a cell phone pocket, a welt pocket and all the pockets inner fabric has stretch factor along the same level as the rest of the material used in making the pants.

These are really light and comfortable and you get a UPF sun protection of 40+ which is outstanding.

Great wick and dry out time.

Breath-ability is good through the blend of cotton and nylon.



Comfort/Weight

The pants give lots of durability, the material wears well and feels really comfortable, the DWR coating ensures a nice level of protection against wet and cold wind.

Being loose they allow a good degree of air flow for ventilation, in cooler weather the panels built into the pants serve towards retaining warmth, if your hiking in normal weather situations these pants are great.

In terms of weight they are light, just about right, great comfort, nice durability, sound performance, comfortable fit and a lot of very useful and secure pocket space.

Cost

Given that you get so many useful features all built into a single pair of pants, the price is ok and a good purchase.
Pros

Lots of secure useful pocket space

Very light

Great wick and dry out time

DWR protection

sun protection of 40+

Nylon and cotton blended material

Convertible

Average weight

Nice style

Cons

No cons yet

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
They are not designed with very wet conditions in mind and so, no need for DWR weather proofing.

Breath-ability is very good, the very light material helps you stay cool, the waist system is interesting and comes as integrated and works in conjunction with a web belt/the buckle is plastic and features as a standard sized belt.

In terms of functionality, these are designed specifically for hiking in certain conditions, for example in warm, mild moderate weather the pants perform well but in seriously cold weather or heavy wet conditions they will not perform so well because they were not made for such purposes.
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Functionality

They are not designed with very wet conditions in mind and so, no need for DWR weather proofing.

Breath-ability is very good, the very light material helps you stay cool, the waist system is interesting and comes as integrated and works in conjunction with a web belt/the buckle is plastic and features as a standard sized belt.

In terms of functionality, these are designed specifically for hiking in certain conditions, for example in warm, mild moderate weather the pants perform well but in seriously cold weather or heavy wet conditions they will not perform so well because they were not made for such purposes.

Comfort/Weight

Due to the thin light weight material used in the making of the pants, it is not recommended to use them for any outdoor activities where the pants are subjected to high abrasion from activities such as rock climbing.

These are very light to wear, breath-ability is nice and the factor for performance is good while hiking in mild,  warm or reasonably hot environments.

If you stay true to the purpose in the design you will get good performance, comfort, and a level of protection 

Cost

The cost is easily within the budget for hikers.
Pros

Light-weight

Good for warm weather hiking

Fair breath-ability

Close fit

100% nylon for durability

Cons

Not for cold weather hiking

Criteria for Evaluation

evaluation concept

Breathability

The main advantage of hiking pants over blue jeans. All those mesh sections and fully open panels that you can unzip to expose your skin may seem silly on the rack, but they are precious when you’re sweating through a forest trail.

Full-length breathable rip-stop fabric can protect you from twigs and thorns whilst keeping you breezy cool; mesh is less protective but still better protection against flies, ticks, mosquitos and sun.

Brand

Making choices based on brands, especially when the brand option is more expensive without clear advantages, can be silly. Don’t assume that just because you’ve heard a brand name before, it must a good one. Well-known does not mean well-respected.

Any new manufacturer can come out of nowhere with zero marketing experience but decades of hiking experience and suddenly be making the best product on the market. Well-established brands can get complacent or greedy and start churning out annual updates that are as pointless and ‘buggy’ as smartphone upgrades.

That said, there are a few reasons why you might let the brand weigh into your choice. The first reason, which is especially important if you want to buy hiking pants online, is that different brands tend to have slightly different sizings. If you know that brand x has fit you really comfortably before, chances are they will again. The second reason is that certain brands have a reputation for excellent customer service, advice, return policies and so forth.

Convertibles

Pants that can zip-off completely are attractive to ultra-lightweight travelers who want a pair of pants and shorts without needing to carry one or both. These are a better choice for people who usually prefer shorts and occasionally want to wear pants than the other way around, since the zippers however well-made can be an unnecessary discomfort and weight in themselves. If you usually prefer full-length pants and only occasionally want to wear shorts, just pack a pair of shorts as well. They’re not that heavy.

Flexibility

Many hiking pants are marketed for travelers who will be mostly sticking to city footpaths and the occasional overlooking trail. This means that they can get great reviews as hiking pants even though they actually have fairly limited flexibility. If you plan to climb steep trails and do the odd bit of bouldering on your way, let alone climb trees or anything more adventures, it’s crucial to find flexible, stretchy hiking pants that won’t cut into your thighs or limit your range of motion. Look for pants with a gusseted crotch, slightly baggy or boxy-looking knees, and don’t be afraid to do a bit of tai chi in the change room.

Weight

Another huge benefit of hiking pants over denim. This is important both for your body and your backpack. Some people get excited about every ounce they’ve managed to shave off, but it’s kind of like cycling: there’s a huge spectrum and unless you’re really experienced, the differences in weight between different products at the expensive end probably doesn’t matter too much – there’s been enough competition for long enough now that they’re all pretty good. Heavier isn’t always worse, either: the Fjällräven Keb, for example, has sections of reinforced G-1000 fabric covering a lot of the legs, with the option of adding wax to make them even more protective (and even heavier).

A more important consideration when it comes to weight might be how much water the pants soak up. If you get soaked, how much extra weight will you be hauling?

Noise

Cheap hiking pants can feel and sound like a sleeping bag. It’s a difference you might not notice in a busy store with a bustling sale on, but when you’re reaching for your binoculars for a better view of that bird, or just trying to enjoy the quiet, that plastic bag scrunching sound can really grate on you. This is especially true of pants that claim any level of water resistance. ‘Quietness’ is one factor that you really do see a big difference in between the affordable and up-market brands.

Pockets and pocket sizes

This one’s a bit easier to know for yourself what you want, but it bears mentioning in case you don’t think of it.

On a normal day at home and work, do you love being able to stash a bunch of stuff in your pockets? If so, check that the pockets in your potential hiking pants are big enough. You can see right away how many there are, but if they look suspiciously small, check the reviews to see if anyone’s complained about their lack of utility.

If you only ever carry your smartphone in your pockets, then you can shed a couple of ounces by choosing pants without those extra pockets.

Protection

Most hiking pants offer some amount of protection for your skin and durability for the fabric itself: you might not expect it to shield you from every branch and thorn that you whack into, but you should be able to expect the fabric not to tear too easily. This can be about the weave/construction (‘rip-stop’) or about an extra layer that is designed to reinforce and deflect.

Quick-drying

Yet another advantage over regular pants, hiking pants are designed to dry much quicker. Why is this important? So that if you encounter rain or a creek while hiking you are drier, warmer and lighter faster. It also makes it easier to do the laundry and then be able to pack up camp (or check out of your hotel room) sooner rather than later. Check specs and user reviews to see how well the pants you’re looking at have performed.

Waistband

This is probably going to be the main source of discomfort if your pants aren’t quite the right size, or if you have a backpack that tends to sit low and tug your waistband around. Look for pants with a soft panel inside the waistband, and with a way to adjust the sizing in case it’s not quite perfect. Almost everyone loses and/or gains weight after a few weeks hiking (or eating your way from Rome to Paris), so putting some forethought into this is a nice thing to do for your future self.

Some pants come with too few belt loops, some with too many. Some come with detachable belts, and some with permanently attached cheap and nasty belts that you can’t get rid of. Pay attention.

Waterproofing

Is this important for where you’re going? Remember that you can end up much colder if rain gets through your pants than if snow gets on top of them. Many hiking pants claim some level of water resistance – few are completely waterproof. If you think you need this level of protection, don’t expect to find a pair of hiking pants that is ultra-comfortable, quiet, flexible, lightweight, warm enough, breathable and waterproof. Ain’t gonna happen. You’re better off buying a pair of great overall performance hiking pants, plus a thin waterproof shell and some thermals to wear underneath. If it’s wet and warm, you’ll be much more comfortable with a merino-synthetic layer to wick away moisture and cool you down than sweating directly into your waterproof shell.

FAQ:

FAQ

 

Q: I like short day or even half day hiking trips, usually in summer, can you suggest what type of hiking pants I should check out?

A: Yes, you should look for a pair of hiking pants which are light weight and can be converted into shorts if the day becomes too warm while you hike. If your a day hiker whom likes to take along a small back pack, you could look for pants which offer more pockets, this way you wont need the back pack. Generally, pants designed for short term hiking should be light, reasonably protective and offer a nice level of breath-ability and quick dry out time just in case you get caught in a summer down pour.

 

Q: I’m seriously getting interested in hiking trips which last 3-4 days and in challenging environments, summer or winter, I’m up for both. Any suggestion for a good pair of hiking pants?

A:  You are talking about choosing a pair of hiking pants with a broad and high choice of performance features. Your going to need to lock for pants with a good choice of pocket sizes and around 6-7 pockets, you should think about what you will carry, phone, GPS, some rations to eat while on the move, maps perhaps, keys and other general useful items to have close at hand. Look for pants with DWR water proofing, UVA protection, convertible too shorts for hot days. Choose pants which offer good breath-ability combined with fast drying out.

 

Q: I want a reliable pair of pants for hiking and for traveling abroad because when I travel I like to carry a lot of stuff and perhaps even get in some hiking while abroad. Any suggestions?

A: You want style and functionality, lots of pockets which offer zip security and the pockets need to different sizes to cover a wide choice of things such as keys, wallet, passport etc. Check out ideal pants for hiking and travel with the features you want.

 

Q: Can hiking pants be worn with other layers of clothing?

A: Sure, if your in a cold climate and your wearing loose fitting pants, it should be ok to slip on a thin pair of pants underneath, you then have two layers for insulation. When layering with hiking pants ensure that the second inner layer of clothing has breath-ability and a degree of wick capability.

 

Q: I like the feel of cotton but is it ok for hiking pants?

A: If the hiking pants are 100% cotton you will have problems if you get the pants wet, cotton retains water and so dry out time is much longer. you can consider pants which are a blend of nylon and cotton and try to target hiking in a warm or sunny environment.

 

Q: How about polyester, is it good for hiking pants?

A: It is known that synthetic fibers do give good wick factor, the moisture can lift or pass up through synthetic fibers and then it is able to naturally evaporate. The ideal combination generally is a blend of merino wool and polyester, this leads to good wickability.

 

Sources:

We carry out our reviews through extensive research and a combination of real hands on testing and knowledge.

  1. outdoorgearlab.com How to choose the best hiking pants. Article Andy Welman
  2. bigskyfishing.com A guide to hiking pants. Review. 2017
  3. nerdfitness.com Beginners guide to hiking November 2016
  4. outdoorresearch.com In praise of zip up pants. Hiking Article.
  5. rei.com  Learn expert advicehow to choose hiking clothes. Article 2017
  6. switchbacktravel.com Best Hiking Pants 2017