Best Waterproof Hiking Pants
In a perfect world, we’d all be hiking only during the sunniest weather conditions. However, since most outdoor enthusiasts know this isn’t possible, purchasing a good pair of waterproof hiking pants to stay dry is important for every hiker who wants to stay dry and comfortable when the weather becomes unpredictable. Whether it is raining or snowing, having pants to keep you dry and warm is important during outdoor adventures. Depending on the type of terrain and weather conditions you expect to endure, you can get different types of materials for each climate.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Very water resistant
- Outdoor Research Foray
- Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
- Marmot Minimalist Pants
- Marmot Precip Full Zip
- Outdoor Research Helium
- Columbia Rebel Roamer
- North Face Venture Half Zip
- Arc’teryx Beta AR
- Arc’teryx Beta SL
- Montane Minimus
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Outdoor Research Foray
Very water resistant
Only one pocket
Zippers could be easier to use
One of the most popular waterproof hiking pants on the market today is the Outdoor Research Foray pants, which offer an excellent set of features to keep you dry during all of your outdoor adventures. The Outdoor Research Foray Pants provide two great design benefits all hikers will enjoy when they come across extreme weather: breathability and weather resistance.Read more
No matter what the weather is, these pants are designed to protect you from all types of bad weather, no matter what you decide to do while outside. Made with gore-tex material, these pants ventilate well while also repelling water. The Outdoor Research Foray Pants also feature double-separating side zippers for extra ventilation when needed and excellent overall protection.
These pants are lightweight, at only 11-ounces.
When trying to purchase a good pair of waterproof hiking pants, probably two of the most important features you want to consider are the pants’ ability to stand up in incremental weather, and their ventilation capabilities. The features on the Outdoor Research Foray Pants cover both of these necessities well, while also offering an unrestrictive design in the material that makes it easy to move when you wear these pants. Made with lightweight features and with great breathability features, these pants can be worn year-round to provide you with protection in case of rain.
2. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
Offers great mobility
Nice built-in belt
Average weather resistance
If you’re looking for some great outdoor hiking shell pants, then Mountain Hardwear’s Stretch Ozonic Pants provide some excellent options. If you like your outdoor clothes to be stretchy and comfortable, then Mountain Hardwear’s Stretch Ozonic Pants might give you the features you need.Read more
These pants feature a 40D face fabric with a 4-way stretch. Mountain Hardwear’s Stretch Oznoic Pants offer some of the most flexible and stretchy waterproof hiking pants on the market. In turn, they move very well as you move and won’t restrict anything you try to accomplish while outside.
These pants are very lightweight and compressible, doing better in those categories than some of their competitors. This lightweight pair of pants weighs 10-ounces.
As far as weather resistance and durability are concerned, these pants are average with both of those features, and also offer a few bonuses.
Some of the extra features on these pants include Velcro waist flaps, which are meant to more easily adjust the pants at the waist so you can make the waist fit you well. The best benefit you’ll get if you pick these pants is their wide range of motion, which is provided by the four-way stretch fabric on the pants. If you enjoy having lightweight, flexible waterproof hiking pants, then these pants offer some things you’ll enjoy.
3. Marmot Minimalist Pants
Very weather resistant
Ankle-length zippers only
No venting options
No waist tightening options
For those outdoor enthusiasts who want pants with a simple design but excellent functionality, then they might want to consider Marmot Minimalist Pants. These pants are designed to be simple and functional, bringing you excellent weather protection for all of your adventures outside.Read more
Marmot’s Minimalist Pants are very durable and much stronger than some other options available on the market today. They are made from Gore-Tex Paclite and recycled polyester.
This product weighs 9.2-ounces. Marmot’s Minimalist Pants are made to be lightweight and compressible, so if you carry them along with you, they don’t take up much space in your backpack.
Its articulation is fantastic, and the pants themselves are very versatile, made to hold up during any outdoor activity. The design of the pants itself is just like what the name implies, meaning it’s minimalist and doesn’t have full-length side zippers, but does bring you a lot of concepts you’ll want to have when playing outside. Instead of the full-length side zippers you find on some other outdoor hiking pants, these have ¼ length boot cuff zips, and two front pockets, giving you some space to carry items and organize. While you don’t get a lot of bonus features with the design of these pants, but you do get an easy-to-carry, easy-to-use set of water-resistant pants.
4. Marmot Precip Full Zip
Easy to put on and take off
Could be lighter in weight
Velcro straps at waist sometimes come undone
For those outdoor enthusiasts out there looking to get a nice pair of waterproof hiking pants on a budget, the Marmot Precip Full Zip Pants offer a variety of nice benefits and features and an affordable price. For their value and price range, the Marmot Precip Full Zip Pants brings some of the best performance for those trying to save a bit when purchasing their pants.Read more
Marmot’s Precip Full Zip Pants are made with NanoPro fabric, which is a very breathable material for the affordable price on these pants and provides some of the best ventilation on the market.
These pants are constructed to be lightweight and pack down at a decent size, making them easy-to-carry. These pants weigh 12-ounces.
These pants provide a wide range of features that many outdoor enthusiasts want in waterproof pants. They are ideal for a variety of activities like backpacking, mountaineering, hiking, and other activities. Marmot’s Precip Full Zip Pants include materials that also make the pants comfortable, breathable, and waterproof, so you’ll get the protection you need while adventuring outdoors. They also come with full-length zippers, making them very easy to take off and put on. The zippers help you to pull the pants easily over your boots so that you can enjoy all the breathable waterproof benefits no matter where you decide to play outdoors.
5. Outdoor Research Helium
Comfortable elastic waistband
Could be more durable
Can be difficult to pull over boots
If picking up a pair of lightweight waterproof hiking pants is something that’s at the top of your list of needs, then the Outdoor Research Helium Pants might be the product for you. These pants are some of the lightest and most easy to compress styles on the market today, which has made this a popular product among many outdoor enthusiasts.Read more
These pants are made from a Pertex shield fabric and nylon ripstop. They are flexible, and while they aren’t as durable as some other styles, they are certainly strong enough to protect your legs during long-term outdoor activities.
One of the most-loved benefits provided by the Outdoor Research Helium Pants is their compressibility, which makes them very easy to pack and take along on any adventures. For those that prefer lighter loads and flexible pants, the Outdoor Research Helium Pants are a great option. This pair weighs only 5.6-ounces.
Since these pants are so lightweight and easy-to-pack, they do trade-off some of the extra features some outdoor enthusiasts are used to getting when buying pants. The Outdoor Research Helium Pants also aren’t as durable as some other competitor’s pants, but that’s something they sacrificed to make these pants lighter and easily packable. The Outdoor Research Helium Pants do bring to adventurists a very nice fit that also provides a lot of freedom of movement and mobility.
6. Columbia Rebel Roamer
Great weather protection
Not easy to get over footwear
Could offer more ventilation
Another great affordable option for those outdoor enthusiasts wanting good waterproof hiking pants on a budget is the Columbia Rebel Roamer. Columbia’s Rebel Roamer Pants are great for those that want something they can use for hiking, backpacking, and even some skiing and snowboarding fun, bringing some great versatility and excellent features.Read more
Columbia’s Rebel Roamer Pants offer a lot of versatility and comfort for those who like to do a lot of different things outside. Made from 70D nylon, these softshell rainpants feature OmniTech fabric technology and sealed seams.
While the Columbia Rebel Roamer Pants aren’t as lightweight as some other options on the market, for their price, they are pretty impressive. These pants weigh 15.4-ounces.
Columbia’s Rebel Roamer Pants, especially for their affordable price, offers a lot of weather resistance and protection, putting it in a nice place against its competition. Also, considering how affordable these pants are, they are not too heavy and compress well for those who want to pack them down. They don’t have an abundance of features on them, nor do they have a pocket for those who want them, but they do bring you everything you really need if you’re on a tight budget. Most importantly, they have nice flexibility and comfort benefits, which makes them a real steal for those buying pants on a budget.
7. North Face Venture Half Zip
Easy to get on and off
Could be more breathable
Could pack down better
Could be more comfortable
For those outdoor enthusiasts that really want versatility when selecting a pair of waterproof hiking pants, they’ll love the variety of features brought by the North Face Venture Half Zip Pants. These pants are lightweight, durable, and meant to handle all types of outdoor activities, including hiking, backpacking, skiing, and snowboarding.Read more
These pants are made out of materials that will help you get the protection you need no matter what type of weather you encounter while outside. This durable pair of pants is made from 40D Nylon Ripstop and Polyester.
The North Face Venture Half Zip Pants are made to be very light, and they compress well to fit compactly into your backpack. They weigh only 8.1-ounces.
Even with their lightweight, these pants are still durable enough to withstand just about any activity while still offering water-resistant protection. The North Face Venture Half Zip Pants feature half-length zippers that are wider than average, making them easy to put on over any shoes or boots, and also making them easy to remove. With so much durability and weather protection, you’ll get what you need from these pants if you plan on engaging in a variety of outdoor activities. You’ll also love how easy they are to get on and off, making them an all-around efficient pair of pants.
8. Arc’teryx Beta AR
Could be more breathable
Tend to run small
Arc’teryx’s Beta AR Pants are costlier than some of the other options we’ve provided on our list, but they do bring you a lot of versatility and great features for their price. If you want something that’s simply an all-around great pair of waterproof hiking pants, then these pants offer just about everything you could dream of.Read more
Arc’teryx’s Beta AR Pants are made to be lightweight, durable, and totally waterproof because of the Gore-Tex 3-layer fabric design encompassing the surface of the pants. These pants also have Gore-Seam tape and a DWR finish, which means the pants are made to fully repel water.
Heavier than most on our list, these pants weigh 18.9-ounces.
Arc’teryx’s Beta AR Pants are also made with both comfort and flexibility in mind and are designed to move as you move. The fabric on the pants is very stretchy and versatile, ensuring that the pants will protect you while never restricting your movement. This item is also made to withstand a lot of heavy, hardcore weather, and stand up well even in the craziest climates. These pants were designed to protect you from the weather like armor, while still allowing you to move the way you need to for your performance.
9. Arc’teryx Beta SL
Tends to run small
Could have better breathability
Similar to Arc'teryx's AR pants, but with a lower price tag, we have Arc’teryx’s Beta SL Pants. These pants are still not as budget-friendly as some of the other options on our list here, but they cost less than the AR pants and still offer a lot of benefits and features at a lower price.Read more
Arc’teryx’s Beta SL Pants are made to be very lightweight and are made of a 100% cotton waterproof material, making them versatile for hiking and other outdoor activities. Plus, they come designed with Gore-Tex fabric, helping add weather protection features and durability. Arc’teryx’s Beta SL Pants comes with a reinforced lower leg and tricot technology, or a lightweight liner added to the inside of the pants to boost the comfortable feel of the material against your skin.
The weight of these pants is about average for a lightweight pant, at 9.2-ounces.
Arc’teryx’s Beta SL Pants also are made with Paclite technology, meaning their lightweight design is compressible, allowing them to be packed up easily when you are hiking. You won’t have to worry about weight or space when you pack these pants down into your backpack since they compress easily and are made to save space. Plus, you get an elastic waistband with a drawstring so you can tailor your pants to fit you well.
10. Montane Minimus
For pants with a similar feel to the Outdoor Research Helium pants, these are another great option. Made from a 2.5 layer Pertex Shield+ material and similar water resistance to the Helium pants, these are slightly lighter.Read more
With a stylish and casual appearance, these pants are one of the best waterproof pants currently available. These pants are made from a nylon fabric that also features Pertex and a Durable Water Repellency lining that will definitely keep you dry.
Weighing only 4.4-ounces, they won't weigh you down out on the trail.
The Minimus pants feature articulated knees to provide great freedom of movement when hiking uphill. They are equipped with an adjustable elastic waist, 1/4 side zippers at the end of the trouser leg, and velcro calf tabs. Another unique feature of the Minimus Pants are the ankle press studs. These studs allow you to tighten the pants around the ankles to keep the pants tight against your shoes and conserve heat.
The side zippers are useful to pull pants over hiking boots and the velcro lets you tighten them in the calf area to fit better and avoid abrasion on technical terrain.
The reflectiveness of these pants can even help to increase visibility in low-light conditions. The only downside to these pants is the lack of pockets.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Different types of waterproof hiking pants come made with a wide variety of materials, but most manufacturers design their hiking pants with some type of nylon blend. Since a nylon blend is pretty standard, you’ll have to look at some other benefits of the other materials that are designed into the pants.
One thing you might want to consider is making sure the pants have some kind of elastane or spandex material in them, which ensures you get a good, flexible range of motion with the pants. Pants that are made with spandex features usually stretch better and don’t hinder your movement as you hike or conduct your other outdoor activities. If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, climbing, or a lot of outdoor activities in these pants, then you’ll be grateful to have a more flexible pants design since you don’t want something that might through you off balance and cause you to fall.
Some hiking pants are made with lightweight nylon softshell materials, which is a nice combination to provide good protection from the wind and wet weather elements you might encounter while outside. Plus, nylon softshell materials usually give enough durability and breathability to keep you comfortable as you move. Nylon softshell materials also move well as you move, and are typically more lightweight. One thing to look for with nylon materials is the fact that many 100% nylon pants, made to be lightweight, don’t stretch or flex as easily while you are on the trail. Those types of pants are better for the more casual outdoor enthusiast.
Since many hikers aren’t concerned with packing up their pants into their packs, since they are usually wearing and not carrying their pants, not all of them consider weight as something to look at when buying their pants. However, the heavier the pants you buy while you’re on the trail, the heavier they will feel, and for some, that can be restrictive when trying to move, uncomfortable, and simply annoying. A lot of hikers also like to have a pair of pants you can bring along with them, and that, along with feeling annoyed or restricted by heavier pants as you wear them, are reasons why you might want to consider lightweight, compressible pants. If you’re going to go out for multi-day hikes, then carrying lighter, easy-to-pack pants also makes sense.
There are many options on the market for waterproof hiking pants that are lightweight and easy to pack. However, when you do get a pair of pants that are lighter in weight, you might be sacrificing some durability and protection while out on the trail. If you plan on being out in the rain, snow, wind, or other foul weather conditions and harsh climates, then lightweight pants might not be the best answer for you. While lightweight pants are easy to carry, they aren’t as durable, nor do they offer as much protection, as some of the heavier pants made for extreme weather conditions.
So, when considering whether you need lightweight pants or not, review where you plan to do your hiking when you wear your pants. If you know you’ll be outside in a harsh climate, you will probably need to consider a more durable pair of pants. However, if you prefer sunny days and know you need something light to carry, then lightweight pants will probably serve your needs. Really, depending on the trips you plan to embark on, weight and packability are options you may need to consider.
Some hikers prefer waterproof options that come with articulated knees and gussets, which are built into the pants’ crotch areas. Whether or not you feel you need these features is a matter of personal opinion, but they do offer some benefits you might want to consider.
First, articulated knees help to match up to your walking motion, meaning there is a natural bend in the knee area of the pants’ design. Unlike regular pants that come with a straight leg, you get far more range of motion around the knee area with articulated knees, creating a lot more versatility and freedom in movement. For those hikers that don’t like being restricted when moving, articulated knees are a must-have feature.
Second, a gusset on a pair of pants is a diamond-shaped patch of fabric that can be found along the inner thigh area of the pants and is used to replace your usual pants seam. The extra fabric woven into the pants with a gusset means you’ll get more flexibility and comfort, and better versatility of movement overall.
Both articulated knees and gussets started gaining popularity with climbers that needed both comfort, fit, and movement capabilities in their pants to boost their performances. A lot of these features were then passed onto the world of hiking, and many hikers love the extra comfort and movement they get with these features.
These features will both make the pants you purchase cost more. So, if you are simply a casual, day hiker that doesn’t venture out into a wide range of climates or areas and you need to buy something on a budget, you can probably go without these features. For more avid hikers who don’t mind harsh climates or tough weather conditions, paying for these extra features will certainly help them better their performance. Whether you decide you need these features is entirely up to you, and you want to consider where, when, and in what weather you plan to perform your hiking.
Another feature we looked into were the pockets. Pockets are one of those features on pants hikers either love or hate. Some hikers feel they don’t need pockets at all since they don’t want to add items to their pants, creating bulk and weighing down their movement on the trail. However, for other hikers, pockets and organization are great features to have, since they want to carry small items with them on the trail for easy access. While pockets are really a matter of personal preference, there are several options out there for hikers that like having decent storage and organization options along with their pants. Some pants include zippered pockets that work like compartments, and some have mesh-overlay pockets. Most pants offer at least one or two simple pockets for hikers to use as they see fit.
If you don’t feel you really need pockets for organization, there are minimalist pants on the market without them that are often cheaper than pants that offer a lot of pocket organization. So, if not having pockets is your preference, you can save a bit of money by buying a pair of hiking pants without pockets.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While hiking in shorts may seem like a great idea for the heat, pants are more preferable for protection against bug bites and abrasions. Some people prefer pants with tight ankle cuffs to keep ants or mosquitos away, but for some they are uncomfortable. Always try on the pants in your house before committing to them on the trails.
Knowing how the pants move and stretch is incredibly important. If you can't make it up a set of stairs, you will have a difficult time reaching the top of the mountain. A pair of pants with articulated knees or gussets can make it easier to move in all directions.
Other Factors to Consider
Making sure your hiking pants fit you correctly is important, but it can also be a difficult task. Hiking pants shouldn’t feel too baggy, but still need to fit snugly and comfortably enough to protect you. However, they should also not detract too much from your movement. Some hiking pants come with belts and other adjustable features which can help make the fit more perfect for you, depending on what type of person you are. Some hikers prefer a more relaxed fit, while others want pants without too much space in them.
What you’ll need to do first is consider exactly how you want your hiking pants to fit, and what’s comfortable for you. Then, try on a few options to see how you like the fit, and figure out if the adjustable features on the pants work for you. The main rule you need to know is that you don’t want pants that are overly baggy or bulky, because they can hinder your performance on the trail. Baggy, bulky pants will restrict your movement and possibly cause accidents you could avoid easily with a pair of pants that fit you correctly. Otherwise, a lot of the other fit features and your comfort level with them is a matter of personal preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are some of the best uses for hiking pants?
Exactly what you can use your hiking pants for will depend a lot on the thickness of the material on the hiking pants. Some hiking pants are made to be thin and breathable for warmer weather, while others are made to endure wind and snow, and tend to be thicker. Pants that are thinner and more breathable, offering good ventilation, are usually better for warmer weather and more casual hikes. Some other pants are designed for all seasons with mid-level protection, while still others are made for winter weather and have thicker fabrics.
The thickness of your pants will also determine how durable and strong your hiking pants are. If your pants are thicker, then they’re made to withstand harsher climates, conditions, and weather, but might not do you much good if you want to take a hike outside during the warmer weather. So, depending on what you plan to do and where you plan to hike, you may need to buy more than one pair of pants.
Some pants are made for warm weather only, and give you a nice amount of ventilation and water resistance, but can tear easier than thicker pants. So again, try to determine where you plan to hike, during what weather, and how often to determine whether you need more than one pair of hiking pants.
q: How do you know if the pants are weather and water resistant?
All of the picks on our list here offer some type of water and weather resistance, although some pants do better in this category than others. How waterproof you want your pants to be, really depends on where and when you plan to be hiking. While you want some type of water and weather resistance in your hiking pants, the more water resistance they have, the less breathable they will be. So, there is a trade-off, and most hikers want the best of both worlds when they are out on the trail.
Most hiking pants work well in the rain as long as they offer some type of water-resistant technology. So, if you aren’t planning on hiking out into the snow and simply might get stuck in the rain from time to time, then you should opt for pants that can protect you if it rains, but still, let your skin breathe as you move.
For those that plan on hiking in harsher climates, getting pants that are fully waterproof or weatherproof is a good option. However, these types of pants won’t perform as well for you when the weather is warmer and you need ventilation, so you’ll need to consider exactly what you need before you set out on the trails.
Most hiking pants are made to keep the rain and wet weather off of your skin decently. Hiking pants are usually made with water repellant coatings to keep those raindrops from breaking through the pants. So, as long as your pants have some kind of nylon blend protection on them, you should get a decent amount of water resistance from them. Cotton pants typically don’t perform as well at this unless they have a laminate over them, so that’s another factor to consider.
q: What’s the difference between convertible and roll up pants?
For hikers who like going year-round, convertible pants are a popular choice since you can zip-off the pants and turn them into shorts. If you enjoy hiking a lot during the warm weather, then buying a pair of convertible hiking pants might be a great option for you, since you don’t need to purchase extra clothes, carry extra clothes with you, and you can easily increase your leg ventilation with a few zips. So it’s no wonder why so many warm weather hikers like convertible pants they can zip down into shorts.
Still, convertible pants aren’t made for all hikers. It’s nice to have the flexibility of convertible pants, but some hikers prefer other options. Some hikers feel the extra zippers on convertible pants can be difficult to use, and the zippers also make the pants heavier to carry and wear. Also, the zippers usually mean your pants will fit baggier simply because of the convertible design, and some hikers aren’t comfortable with this lack of snugness. The baggier design can also decrease flexibility when you hike, another thing that can make convertible pants less attractive to some hikers.
Since most convertible pants wind up feeling bulkier than hiking pants, roll up pants are now increasing in popularity. With roll-up pants, you don’t have to worry about the bulkiness of zippers or even dealing with them, and all you have to do is use a button and a few pants to pull your pants legs up into shorts. Roll up pants don’t typically add the extra weight and bulkiness of convertible pants, but still bring all the great features that make convertible pants so popular.
Still, the choice between convertible pants or roll-up pants for warm weather hikers is really a matter of personal preference. Some hikers still prefer convertible pants, while others like roll-up pants. It’s always a good idea to try on a pair of each just to see what style and design is more comfortable for you.
q: Do any waterproof hiking pants come with built-in belts?
Many hikers want their pants to fit perfectly before they hit the trails, and sometimes pants can be difficult to adjust. Some people don’t fit one size or the other perfectly and might be in-between two sizes when they try on their hiking pants. So, for those types of people, having a built-in belt or waistband in the pants helps to create the perfect fit and adds a bit of adjustability.
However, some hikers don’t like built-in belts and would rather opt for drawstring options. Built-in belts do add bulk along the waistline of the pants, wrap completely around the waist, and also can create problems if you carry a hip belt when you hike. So, depending on where you are at when you try on your pants, and whether you feel you need a belt for adjustability or not, you can gauge what you need.
Many pants offer other various adjustable features like zippers and cords which can cut down on the bulk of a built-in belt and still allow you to adapt your pants to the perfect fit. Also, built-in belts do tend to cost a bit more, so if you are on a budget, this might be a feature you can drop easily.
q: How do I wash my waterproof hiking pants?
Unless there is an unpleasant odor, you really don’t need to wash your waterproof clothing often. You will know it’s time when your clothing begins “wetting out.” Wetting out is when your waterproof clothing gets wet and soaks up the water instead of rolling the beads of water off. Many different everyday things can cause this, such as dirt or the oils from your sunscreen. No need to worry, this isn’t the end of your waterproof clothe’s life.
To begin with, it is always advised to check the label on your clothing. It will most likely follow the general guidelines that you will see here. Before putting your waterproof clothes in the washing machine, wipe off any mud from the pants and close all the zippers or velcro. Check the detergent dispenser in your washing machine for any residue from a previous wash. You will want to clean out any leftover detergent, as regular detergent can break down the waterproofing elements of your clothes. In place of detergent, you will want to use a soap specifically designed for waterproof clothing, such as Nikwax or Tech Wash. If your jacket is still wetting out after the wash, you may need to reapply DWR. If you do take the extra step to reapply the DWR, you may need to tumble dry your clothes to reactivate it. This is not necessary for every wash. After these few simple steps, you’re ready to get back out into nature without fear of rain or extreme weather conditions.
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