Best Softshell Pants

A good pair of soft-shell pants really can improve the enjoyment of long journeys and camping trips during harsh weather, and as every avid outdoors enthusiast knows the weather can be unpredictable, so it is always good to be prepared. They keep your legs warm and dry, wick away water and moisture, and are lightweight to provide a full range of motion for treacherous pathways, or for climbing. As every camper or hiker knows, wet pants can ruin your trip or make your day quite uncomfortable. 

Since there are so many options on the market when looking for a pair of soft-shell pants, it can get quite overwhelming to determine which soft-shell pants will best fit your needs or the terrain you will find yourself in. That’s why we have done the research and compiled a detailed list of the top ten soft-shell pants currently on the market to make sure you don’t have any more camping trips with heavy, wet pants. We have also listed some criteria to keep in mind when looking for your perfect pair of soft-shell pants such as do they need to keep you warm? Are you looking for a lightweight pant that stays cool on hot days? Or do you want a pair that does both? Once you can answer some of these questions you will be on your way to narrowing down which soft-shell pants will be best for you!

Last Updated: September 12, 2018
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By Jordan Coleiro:

This list of softshell pants has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed softshell pants to keep you warm and dry on your next camping or hiking trip. A pair of softshell pants to keep your eye on is the 4UCycling. We love this addition, because it is highly rated, affordable, keeps you dry and warm, has extra padding, and comfortable.

4UCYCLING
  • 4UCYCLING
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Fleece
  • Breathable
  • Price: See Here
Outdoor Research Ferrosi
  • Outdoor Research Ferrosi
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wind-resistant
  • Modern design
  • Price: See Here
CIRQUE
  • CIRQUE
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Boot lace hooks
  • Gusseted Crotch
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Softshell Pants

 

4ucycling Athletic

Designed for cyclists, these pants are incredibly versatile and can be used for a myriad of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, fishing, and camping. They are lined with a comfortable fleece material, padded on the rear, and made from various weather-proof materials to ensure that your legs stay warm and dry in any weather condition.
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Brand Recognition:

4ucycling isn’t a very well known company as many as other others on the list, but the products that they offer for outdoor wear are very highly regarded by users, and because of this, they have earned a place on this this.

Price:

The most notable feature of these pants is the price. These pants are very reasonable priced, and are one of the cheapest pair of softshell pants to make this list.

Materials and Design:

These pants are comprised of multiple materials that serve different outdoor purposes. The rear panels are made from a more breathable material to prevent overheating. There is also draping over the knee to promote full range of motion. The interior of the pants are comprised of a thermal-lined fleece to keep legs warm and comfortable. The additional padding on the rear provide excellent comfort for cyclists.


Ideal weather conditions:

For cold weather outdoor adventures, these softshell pants are an excellent choice. Unfortunately, they were only designed for cold weather in mind, so they might not be ideal for warmer weather treks.

Summary:

Given consumer praise and an excellent price point, these softshell pants are worth taking a chance on. The blend of various materials with the user in mind will keep legs warm, dry, and comfortable on long cold weather bike ride, hikes, or camping trips.
Pros
  • Price
  • Comfortable and warm
  • Additional padding on rear
Cons
  • Not water or wind resistant
  • Unreliable sizing

Outdoor Research Ferrosi

We found that these are the best softshell pants on the market in terms of quality, versatility, brand recognition, and price. The lightweight material makes it a comfortable, breathable pant to wear fishing, hiking, camping, or climbing in any and all climates and weather conditions.
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Brand Recognition:

Since 1981, Outdoor Research has been a trusted name in any outdoor apparel. It was founded by a physicist that turned into an outdoor adventurer from Seattle, Washington that wanted to create outdoor gear that was functional as well as lightweight. Seasoned campers trust that Outdoor Research makes quality products.


Price:

Some softshell pants reside in the stratosphere in terms of cost, and these pants are not one of those pants. Typically, these cost more than the average person would pay for a pair of pants, which is about the average price for a good pair of softshell pants.

Material and Design:

These are more of a form fitting pant that isn’t too baggy. The material is comprised of stretch-Woven Ripstop fabric that is 86% Nylon, and 14% Spandex. The body of the pant isn’t encumbered with pockets for the exception of zippered pockets on the rear, and open pockets on the hips. It has a button and zipper fly. They are available in many colors, including: cairn, black, coyote, dusk, mushroom, pewter, and shade.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

The lightweight nylon/spandex material make these pants ideal for warmer climates because they keep the lower body cool. Furthermore, these pants would be ideal for wet conditions because the fabric wicks away moisture and dries quickly.

Summary:

With an appealing price point, a trusted brand, and a simple and effective design, these are the perfect and most versatile softshell pants and deserve a top spot on our list.
Pros
  • So soft they feel like pajama pants
  • Wind-resistant
  • Attractive and modern design
  • Available in many colors
Cons
  • Wrinkles show easily
  • Runs a tad too big

Outdoor Research Cirque

Here is another great product from Outdoor Research. The Cirque Pant from Outdoor Research offers a more relaxed fit than other pants on this list. It is a very versatile pant for any type of weather condition, and provides a water and wind resistant material.
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Brand Recognition:

As stated above, Outdoor Research is a highly trusted brand in the outdoor sports apparel market. Buyers who purchase any of their products can rest assured that they will receive a quality product that will exceed their expectations.

Price:

As far as price is concerned, these fall just above the average price range for a typical pair of softshell pants. However, this style comes with more features than many of the other pants, making them worth the slight bump in price.

Materials and Design:

The fit of these pants is a tad more loose than other pants listed above. They come in two neutral colors- black and tan- and are made from 50% nylon, 43% polyester, and 7% spandex. There are not pockets on the rear, and four zippered vertical pockets along the hips and thighs. The cuffs have a vertical zipper to cover shoes or to allow for larger hiking boots. As with any Outdoor Research product, the material is water and wind resistant. The pant is very lightweight, weighing in at around one pound.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

Ideally, these pants are made for colder weather climates. However, the lightweight material and loose fit make them versatile enough to wear in warmer weather. The water resist features allow them to be used in rainy weather and keep your legs warm and dry.

Summary:

If you are willing to pay a little extra, these pants could perhaps be the only pair of softshell pants you will need for quite some time. Users report that these pants have lasted countless outdoor adventures in snow, rain, and shine.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Allows for full range of motion
  • Great fit
Cons
  • Pockets are too shallow

Outdoor Research Voodoo

Outdoor Research Voodoo
Outdoor Research makes the list yet again with an excellent and stylish softshell pant. It’s made from the same type of quality materials, however, some feel that the Voodoo Pant sacrifices utility for style. If a good looking pant is something that you find important, then you will be impressed by this product.
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Brand Recognition:

As stated earlier, Outdoor Research is a long trusted and Since 1981, they have been a trusted name in any outdoor apparel. It was founded by a physicist that turned into an outdoor adventurer from Seattle, Washington that wanted to create outdoor gear that was functional as well as lightweight. Seasoned campers trust that Outdoor Research makes quality products.


Price:

This is one of Outdoor Research's more affordable pair of pants. You will still be paying more for them over some of the less expensive options on this list, however if you wanted to try an Outdoor Research product without paying the high price tag, then these will be an excellent choice.

Materials and Design:

These pants are composed of 88% nylon and 12% elastane, proving a lightweight pant that is water resistant and quick drying. The front and rear pockets are designed to resemble jean pockets and there is a horizontal zippered pocket along the thigh just about the knee. The Voodoo pant is available in four different colors: black, shade, charcoal, and walnut. They also have a low profile waist that works perfectly with a harness for rock climbing.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

Due to the fact that these pants do not have a fleece lining like many of the other softshell pants, they should be versatile enough to wear for warmer weather as well as colder climates.

Summary:

These pants look sleek and stylish, and are versatile enough to wear all year long. For rock climbing, hiking, fishing, or camping, these pants will keep your legs dry and comfortable for the duration of all your outdoor adventures.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Fits the same as denim jeans
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Pockets are a little shallow
  • Zippers sometime get caught on mesh

White Sierra Full Moon

White Sierra Full Moon
For users looking for a low impact, low maintenance, and simple softshell pant, the Full Moon by White Sierra is an excellent choice. It provides excellent protection from cold, wind, rain, and snow, and offers a design that promotes a full range of motion.
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Brand Recognition:

White Sierra is a family owned company that has been making quality outdoor gear since 1979, and they are a company that stands behind their products. Customers of White Sierra know that their products use quality materials to serve a myriad of outdoor activities.

Price:

They are not the least expensive softshell pants to makes this list- but almost. They are a very affordable pant that doesn’t sacrifice quality or design.

Materials and Design:

The Full Moon is offered in three neutral colors: black, arrowhead, and castle rock, and is available in sizes that range from small to extra large. The materials are composed of 94% polyester and 6% Spandex that offer excellent water resistance and wind resistance. The articulate knees and lightweight materials offer an excellent full range of motion.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

These pants were designed to keep the user warm while participating in any number of cold weather activities, however they may not be ideal for warmer weather.

Summary:

White Sierra Full Moon softshell pants were designed for the casual user that enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, sledding, and building snowmen in the cool months. If you are looking for a casual softshell pant and are willing to spend a lot of money for them, these pants are an excellent choice.
Pros
  • Stylish
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Sizes are not reliable
  • Pockets are too small and shallow
  • Buttons have a tendency to fall off

Mountain Hardwear Yumalino

Mountain Hardwear Yumalino
These softshell pants are as stylish as they are practical and comfortable, and are an excellent asset to any fishing or camping trip, as well as long hikes during inclimate weather. They are lightweight, provide plenty of pockets, and have stretchy nylon fabric for maximum mobility.
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Brand Recognition:

Mountain Hardwear has been making quality sports apparel since 1993, and was bought out by one of the leading names in the industry- Columbia Sportswear- in 2003. Buyers know that when purchasing a piece of gear from Mountain Hardwear that they are buy a well crafted item that is reliable and will last them a long time.


Price:

Depending on your size, these pants vary from rather inexpensive to middle of the road. An average size in these will run you about the same price as the Outdoor Research pants.


Materials and Design:

The materials used for this pant are similar to materials used for the Outdoor Research pants. They are a lightweight material that just passes 1 pound in weight, and are 88% Nylon and 12% Elastane. This stretchy pant also has a full inseam gusset that provides an excellent range of motion for those steep climbs, or for those times you will need to run from a bear. It has to pockets on the hips and rear, and one zippered pocket along the side of the thigh. They come in three neutral, dark colors such as black, shark, and midnight brown.


Ideal Weather Conditions:

The wind resistant material makes these a great pant for cold weather for those that are looking for a lightweight winter pant. The lightweight material is also great for warmer climates to keep the camper cool in the hottest of condition. The nylon material is wind-resistant, and wicks away water and moisture for the rainy seasons.

Summary:

For the hiker that is looking for an easy, stylish, and lightweight pant that leaves you unencumbered for those challenging trails, these pants are a great choice. You know that you are getting a quality product with Mountain Hardwear.
Pros
  • Stylish
  • Lightweight
  • Great for winter or summer
Cons
  • Runs a tad too big
  • Some users reported a distinct odor

Sitka Gear

Sitka Gear
The Grinder Pant for Sitka gear is a serious pant for hunters and campers that are looking for a softshell pant that is insulted for severely harsh winter climates, but also is also breathable enough to keep legs comfortable for warmer weather.
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Brand Recognition:

Sitka is a tried and trusted brand in the hunter community for designing excellent outdoor wear to brave the most severe weather conditions. Buyers know that a Sitka product is made from quality products and is designed with their outdoor needs in mind.

Price:

These pants are one of the more expensive pants to make this list. However, if you have intentions of facing extremely cold weather conditions and require a high performing pair of pants, it would be in your best interest to dish out the extra money to ensure that you are protected.


Materials and Design:

The thick and sturdy material for these pants is made of a polyester stretch weave. There are zippered pockets on the rear, and hidden zippered pockets on the thighs, as well as a hidden internal pocket system. They are water resistant and wind resistant, and come in three neural colors: mud, dirt, and optifade waterfowl.


Ideal Weather Conditions:

The Grinder pant was designed with hunters in mind that are facing harsh cold weather conditions, however they can also be used for hikers, climbers and campers that want to stay dry and warm during the winter months. Also, because of the breathable material, they can also be worn in warmer months to keep legs dry and protected on treacherous trails.

Summary:

Ideally, these pants are perfect for the camper, hunter, or fisherman that wants to brave the cold elements and wants to make sure that their legs are warm and protected. If you opt to buy a pair of Sitkas, you can rest easy in know that you are receiving the best quality in outdoor wear.
Pros
  • Insulated, breathable material keeps legs warm and dry
  • Many pocket
  • Stylish
Cons
  • Price
  • Runs a little big

Trailside Supply Co

Trailside Supply Co
These pants are designed to provide warmth to campers, hikers, and skiers in colder climates. The polyester fleece lined interior keeps legs warm and dry through even the harshest of wintertime temperature, and a lightweight material offers a full range of motion.
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Brand Recognition:

Trailside Supply Co. is a Amazon brand that provides good quality products at a fraction of the cost of other competitors. They are relatively unknown within the outdoor apparel market, but if you have ever bought an Amazon product before you are already familiar with the quality for which they strive.

Price:

These pants are offered at a very reasonable price, and are worth giving a try if you are curious to try a pair of softshell pants, but aren’t willing to pay the higher price tag of many of the other pants making this list.

Materials and Design:

The Trailside Supply Co. softshell Cargo pant is offered in two different colors: black and dark grey. The exterior of the pant is both wind and water resistant and it composed of 96% polyester, and 4% spandex, making them lightweight and provides a full range of motion to the user. The interior is lined with fleece that is 100% polyester, and it keeps the legs warm and comfortable. There are two zippered pockets on the rear, two zippered pockets on the hips, and a pair of cargo-style zippered pockets on both thighs just above the knee. The fit is a bit more narrow than one would expect a cargo pant to be.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

Ideally, these pants work best in colder climates due to fleece lining. They keep the legs warm and dry against rain and snow, as well as windy, plummeting temperatures.

Summary:

For the camper, skier, climber, or hiker that is looking for an excellent wintertime pant to keep them comfortable in even the harshest winter temperatures, and not willing to pay the high price of many of the other brands, these pants are an excellent choice.
Pros
  • Holds up after multiple washings
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Snaps often become unsnapped with use

Columbia Passo Alto

Columbia Passo Alto
These pants offer style and practicality, making them incredibly versatile for any type of weather condition as well as any outdoor activity. Users will quickly discover that this may become their new favorite pair of pants.
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Brand Recognition:

The brand Columbia is the grandfather of all other brands of outdoor gear. It was founded in 1938 and has dominated the sports apparel space for many years. Users that may not be familiar with the various companies that make outdoor apparel probably recognize the name Columbia. You can trust that with a pair of Columbia softshell pants that you are receiving a quality product.


Price:

These pants are modestly priced, and fall to the middle of the road of the price spectrum. They cost a tad more than you would likely spend on a normal pair of pants, but given the features and quality, they are a great value for the price point.


Materials and Design:

At first glance, these pants look like something you could wear into the office. They are offered only in jet black, and sport a sleek and narrow design. Constructed from 93% polyester and 7% Elastane Max Heat Softshell, they will keep your legs warm and dry, and are lightweight enough (weighing in at approximately 1 pound) to keep you cool and unencumbered on challenging terrain. They are also strategically reinforcement at high-wear areas to provide you with a quality pair of pants that will last for many outdoor adventures.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

The appeal of the Passo Alto Heat pant is its versatility. It’s great for colder climates, but it also can be worn on warmer summer days due to it’s lightweight and breathability. The water and wind repellent material will keep legs comfortable and dry for any type of weather condition.

Summary:

For the price, the Columbia Passo Alto Heat pant is a great choice for campers and hikers that cant decide if they want a pant for cold or warm weather. Some pants on this list tend to lean either one way or the other in terms of if they are for warm or cold weather, and these pants fall right in the middle.
Pros
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Great for any type of weather
  • Fit as expected
Cons
  • Only available in one color

Makino Outdoor

Makino Outdoor
The Makino Outdoor Softshell Pants come in many fun colors and are an excellent addition to any outdoor activity in cold weather to keep legs warm and dry, in even the most extreme winter conditions. They hit all of the marks for what users want in a softshell pant- warm, versatile, and affordable.
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Brand Recognition:

Many of the more affordable options on this list come from companies that are relatively unknown. However, the users that have purchased these pants in the past are pleased with the quality that can be attained at such a lower price point.


Price:

These pants are the cheapest softshell pants to make this list. However, don’t let the extremely low price tag fool you into thinking that it is an inferior product. People that have purchased this item in the past were extremely pleased with how affected these pants were at keeping them warm at an affordable price.

Materials and Design:

The first thing one notices about these pants are the fun and unique colors and designs that they come in. Whereas many of the pants on this list come in neutral colors, these come in fun colors such as: blue, black, green, and grey. They use a lighter color at the waist and a darker hue below the knee. The exterior is made of 100 percent polyester that is water repellant and windproof, without being too clingy or tight. The interior of the pant is lined with fleece, keeping legs warm and comfortable.

Ideal Weather Conditions:

For hikers, skiers, and campers that want a warm pant to keep them comfortable, these are the perfect piece of gear. Due to the heat retaining fleece lining, these softshell pants are not ideal for warmer climates.

Summary:

Are these pants the pants you want to wear while you scale Mount Kilimanjaro? Probably not. However, for modest outdoor activity such as hiking, sledding, skiing, and camping, they can offer great protection and warmth without breaking the bank.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Comes in fun colors
  • Warm and comfortable
Cons
  • Run a little large
  • Some feel they sit too far down on hips
  • Complaints of cuff at ankle being too tight

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Price

Price ranges for softshell pants vary wildly. Some prices for pants are so high that they rival a modest mortgage payment. As important as it is to ensure that you get the best quality to keep your legs dry and warm- at the end of the day you are going to beat these pants up on all of your outdoor adventuring. If you accidentally sit on your hot dog while sitting around a campfire, it will be a lot less painful if you are wearing a pair of softshell pants that you didn’t spend a great deal on.

Versatility

Ideally, you will want to have a pair of outdoor softshell pants that you can take on a ski trip, and take that same pair rock climbing the following summer. Outdoor Research and Columbia pants landed high on this list due to their versatility and lightweight designs.

Brand Recognition

 As always, this is a key factor when determining the best in outdoor gear. Companies such as Columbia have been perfecting their outdoor gear game since the 1930’s, and they remain one of the top competitors even today. Many people who aren’t familiar with the competing brands in the outdoor gear world have heard of Columbia. Brands like Columbia and Outdoor Research have been perfecting their products and conforming their gear to suit the needs of their many users. If you want to ensure that you purchase the best softshell pant for your outdoor activities, you can’t go wrong with any of recognized brands on this list. Keep in mind, however, that when going with one of the top companies results in paying a little bit more than if you pick a lesser known brand.

Performance

Performance is key when it comes to softshell pants. Do the pants do what they claim to do? One of the most important features for a softshell pant is water and wind resistance. These pants are intended to be dragged through the mud and snow and rain. If they don’t repel or wick away water, then they are not a very good softshell pant. A pair of pants- no matter how warm the lining is- can keep you warm if they are wet.

 

Other things to consider when buying softshell pants

As with any pair of pants, fit is very important. In this instance, a softshell pant that doesn’t fit right may not provide the full range of motion that you need when hiking treacherous terrain, or just will be downright uncomfortable. It seems that a common theme among many brands is that they all tend to run a bit bigger than normal pants. Also, some people like to wear an additional pair of pants under their softshell pants to provide another layer of insulation. If you feel like this would be you, then it would be in your best interest to buy a size bigger.

DIfferent styles of pants tend to have various shortcomings. Outdoor Research offers many different styles of softshell pants for every type of camper or hiker. The Voodoo pant, for instance, almost looks like a black pair of jeans. This style choice limits the number of pockets, and hinders the existing pockets as shallow and virtually useless. If you are looking for a softshell pant with many pockets, the cargo style pants may be more designed for you- they have ample pockets on the rear, hips, and deep pockets running along the thighs. Another important aspect to keep a lookout for is that the pants that you want should have zippered pockets. While out in the wilderness for extended periods of time, you want to have peace of mind that all of your valuables are safe and secure. There is no worse sound to hear while climbing a difficult trail than the sound of your car keys falling out of your pocket and bouncing off of the rocks below.

You most likely have an excellent jacket that serves to keep you warm throughout all sorts of weather. Why can’t your legs get the same type of love? It’s only natural that you apply that same level of care into pants. Besides, it’s your legs that are doing most of the work- they deserve to be warm and protected on all of your outdoor adventures.

FAQs

 

Q:   What exactly is a softshell pant?

A softshell pant is a piece of outdoor gear used by hikers, campers, fishermen, or really anyone looking for a comfortable pair of pants to wear on their outdoor endeavors. They are made from synthetic fabrics that are durable enough to take a heavy beating, and also wick away water. They can be used by hikers in a warmer climate to keep their legs dry and cool, and there are fleece-lined options available for to keep legs warm and dry for winter activities.

Q:   Do I need to wear anything under my softshell pants?

It all depends on your personal preference. Many of the brand name softshell pants are designed to wear without anything underneath. When you layer pants, you lose range of motion. The beauty of a good pair of softshell pants is that you get the protection, warmth and comfort, without losing flexibility and range of motion needed for difficult terrain.

Q:   Are softshell pants used only for snow?

Absolutely not. There are many different types of softshell pants, and some are designed for cold weather climates only (they are usually lined with something such as fleece). softshell pants serve many purposes. They keep your legs dry in the rain, warm from snow and wind, and protected from uncharted trails. You decide what you want from a pair of outdoor softshell pants, and there will be a pair of pants to suit your needs.

Q:   How can a softshell pant improve my hiking performance?

 Many of the pants that hikers wear just aren’t tailored to benefit the user when hiking weathered trails. Basic jeans provide no range of movement, they don’t wick away water, and they become impossibly heavy when they become wet. And nobody’s happy when they are wearing wet jeans. On the flip side, the time spandex materials that are sold as workout clothes offer an excellent range of motion, but don’t provide any warmth or insulation when the weather turns cold, windy, and wet. Not only will a good pair of softshell pants provide you with all of the things that jeans can’t, you will find that dry and warm legs are the key to making a happy camper.

Q:   Who wears softshell pants?

 Softshell pants are for anyone that is looking to stay dry and warm and comfortable when engaging in all sorts of outdoor activities. They can be worn by hunters that are out for a weekend hunting trip in the late winter months, or by a family that wants to go out in the backyard after a heavy snowfall and build a snowman. They are also worn by hikers during all seasons because they provide a loose and lightweight fit, therefore not slowing them down or restricting their range of motion. Some pants have harness loops above the belt to aid rock climbers. No matter what type of activity you wish to engage, a reliable pair of softshell pants will keep you comfortable and happy.

Q:   What size pants should I buy?

 Sizes are pretty consistent to what type of pant that you usually wear. If you wear a size 32×34 in jeans, that’s probably the size that you will order in soft shell pants. However, if you want to wear an additional pair of pants underneath you softshell pants, or you prefer that your hiking pants fit a little bit looser than your jeans, then you should probably go up a size. If the pants are only offered in general sizes like small, medium, or large, it’s also prudent to err on the side of larger. Sometimes pants can shrink in the wash, or enthusiastic holiday eating can also cause pants to shrink in the wash. There isn’t much one can do when pants are too small.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of what exactly a pair of soft-shell pants can bring to your camping or hiking experience, and are interested in getting a pair to stay dry then you should have a better idea about which pair of soft-shell pants will best fit your needs and be perfect for you. With any clothing, it is always recommended to go into a store when you believe you have found your perfect pair of soft-shell pants so you can ensure they fit well and are comfortable.

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