Best Hiking Pants Reviewed
When it comes to hiking, nothing is more important than the gear you decide to bring with you. As when you are in the wilderness you want to be comfortable and have everything you need to complete your hike. One of the most important pieces of gear that are usually overlooked is a quality pair of hiking pants. Hiking pants are important as they not only keep you comfortable but also provide you with a sense of breathability and security against the weather. Many think they can bring any pair of jeans or pants that they would use in their normal daily lives but that would turn to be uncomfortable and dangerous if you find yourself in some rough weather. Below we have listed the best pairs of hiking pants, and why these pants are the best for your next hike.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Good for warm weather hiking
Top Ten Hiking Pants
1. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
Good for warm weather hiking
Not for cold weather hiking
They are not designed with very wet conditions in mind and so, no need for DWR weatherproofing. 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.Read more
Breathability 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.
Comfort and Weight
Due to the thin lightweight 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 of the design you will get good performance, comfort, and a level of protection
2. Columbia Women's Saturday Trail
SPF 50 fabric
Water and stain resistant
Mesh-lined pockets for airflow
No internal drawstring
While they initially come off as a no-frills sort of pants, the Columbia Women's Saturday Trail Pants have a surprising amount of features, such as SPF 50 fabric, mesh-lined pockets, and articulated knees for additional mobility.Read more
SPF 50 fabric will keep your legs well protected in the sun, and Omni-Sheild technology repels water and stains so you can play hard without worry. The mesh-lined pockets and light material will vent well and keep you cool in warmer weather, and while they don't convert to shorts, the legs can be rolled up to a crop. A side-zip pocket is ideal for storing smaller items, such as keys or an ID. The fabric is thin and as such isn't ideal for cooler weather, though if you order a size up you can easily fit a base layer underneath.
Comfort and Weight
Made from nylon and elastane, it doesn't get more comfortable than this. The gusset detail and articulated knees provide superior mobility, so your movements won't feel limited by the material. The inner waist is made of the same material as the rest of the pant, which feels nice all day long, even under a harness or hip belt. The fabric does tend to pill near high friction areas such as the rear and between the thighs, so be mindful of this when making your decision.
3. White Sierra Trail
Can be converted into shorts
Color options could be better
These hiking pants from White Sierra are not only built with quality in mind but they are also convertible to ensure if you are hiking in warmer temperatures, you can change these pants into shorts. If you are in the market for some flexible pants for your next hiking trip, these may be the ones for you.Read more
These pants from White Sierra are great for breathability and what ensures that they have great breathability is not only the fact that they can be converted to shorts in warmer temperatures but also due to the fact that they are made from nylon. The great feature with these pants is the fact that they can be transformed into shorts, this way if you need maximum breathability, you have the option. White Sierra is not the most known brand in outdoor gear but they do make quality clothing. These pants come to you at an affordable price and are built with quality.
Comfort and Weight
Not only are these pants made from a comfortable material but the ability as stated above to turn these pants into shorts bring these pants to a whole next level of comfort. With other standard hiking pants, if you are in a warm climate and find that you are getting hot, you do not have the option to change them into shorts and cool down and with these pants from White Sierra, you have that option. These pants are not only adjustable at the waist but are also adjustable at the knees as they give you the ability to transform these pants into shorts. This ability allows you to adjust the pants for maximum comfort which is a big bonus when on your next hike.
4. Marmot Precip
Loose fit for mobility
Run a tad long
The Marmot Precip Pants are one of the best choices for rain pants in their price range. The ripstop nylon resists abrasions and tearing, while the articulation and slightly loose fit allow for full mobility.Read more
As their name implies, the Marmot Precip pants are water resistant and dry quickly, keeping them from feeling damp or clammy once the weather improves. The articulation and slightly loose fit increase mobility and provide a superior range of motion, for things like jumping over creeks or stepping over high rocks and logs. Mesh-lined pockets allow for some extra breathability. 100% nylon material is durable and resistant to tears.
Comfort and Weight:
Weighing just under 14 ounces, the Marmot Precip is lighter than many rain pants on the market. They're designed to fit somewhat loosely, which allows for comfort and increased mobility. If you're looking for a light and comfortable pants that aren't tight-fitted, look no further.
5. PrAna Stretch Zion
Zippered dual cargo pocket
Front pockets and zippered back pockets
Designed to hold their line well and resistant to wrinkles
Sizes have changed recently – loyal returning customers should double check the suggested measurements before they order
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.Read more
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).
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.
6. Fjällräven Keb
The 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
At this price, these are an equipment investment
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.Read more
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.
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 for 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.
7. Prana Women's Halle
Zippered thigh pocket
Some fabric pilling
Sometimes you want something that's both functional and stylish that easily transition from a day out hiking, to a night on the town. Enter the Prana Women's Halle pants. The nylon fabric is durable and agile enough for even the roughest of trails while sporting a feminine fit.Read more
Made of nylon and spandex and featuring articulated knees, these pants are mobile and allow for full freedom of movement. The fabric itself is quite tear-resistant, so they're definitely built to last. They aren't terribly water resistant despite having a DWR coating, so these may not be ideal for anything more than light rains. A zippered pocket on the thigh is made to easily fit a phone or wallet. The legs aren't convertible into shorts, but they can be rolled up to a more Capri-style length.
Comfort and Weight
At twelve ounces, these aren't the lightest of pants, but that makes them work well in colder conditions as well. The fabric is soft and flexible, allowing for a full range of motion no matter what you're doing. Internal drawstring lets you adjust the waistband without the need for a belt. The fit is stylish and feminine with a mid-rise waist and runs true to size.
8. Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Durable for hiking
DWR water proofed
Not for very cold environments
A really lightweight pair of hiking pants, whatever your outdoor hiking environment, these will work, they feel comfortable, do not restrict mobility and offer a degree of a 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 that are standard to small.
Way up in the top league for stretch capability, you get great mobility without restriction, these pants stretch when needed so they are comfortable 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 hiking pants in extremely cold conditions, they were not designed for extreme weather.
Comfort and Weight
Built from light material and DWR coated for weather protection, the pants are comfortable for hiking and you won't feel a sensation of heavy material weight. For durability, the pants are well constructed and you won't 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.
9. Outdoor Research Voodoo
Front pockets are shallow
Being a perfect balance between comfort, durability, and function, the Outdoor Research Voodoo pants are nothing short of pure magic.Read more
These pants feature five pockets, two of which are zippered. An elasticized waist ensures a solid fit, and tapered legs make them less baggy than most softshell pants. Nylon resists tearing, even against thorny obstacles. Articulated design and elastane blend support your movements, rather than holding you back.
Comfort and Weight:
Made of a nylon and elastane blend, these pants are made to move with you rather than against you. The fabric is lightweight and water-resistant while being durable, and wind resistant while being breathable. Their casual styling easily transitions from hiking during the day, to a pub crawl with friends at night.
10. Helikon-Tex Outdoor Tactical Pants
Agile and mobile
Can feel off-putting
Originally dealing in military surplus equipment, Helikon-Tex knows a thing or two about making great outdoor gear, and their Outdoor Tactical Pants are no exception. Sporting plenty of features and durability, these hiking pants are sure to last you a very long time.Read more
Made of nylon and spandex, these hiking pants have a DuPont Teflon coating to keep the moisture out and the warmth in. Ten (that's right, ten) pockets ensure you'll have enough room for whatever you bring with you.
Comfort and Weight:
The fly is secured at the waist with velcro closure, allowing for the same comfort and security as a button closure, without the chance of it digging into you when bending over. These pants have fully articulated knees, and internal compartments for knee pads in the event you need them. They are on the heavier side, and thus may not be well suited for warmer weather. A gusseted crotch allows for better freedom of movement while making them more durable by reducing the amount of stress put on the seams.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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. These features allow you to adjust your breathability and you will be thankful you have this option while you're out in the wilderness on a warm summer day.
Full-length breathable rip-stop fabric can protect you from twigs and thorns whilst keeping you breezy cool; mesh is less protective, but it is still better protection against flies, ticks, mosquitos, and sun. Overall the breathability of your hiking pants is something you need to consider as if you are hiking in a pair of non-breathable pants you are going to get uncomfortable which can cause you to not think straight and bring your self in harm's way.
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 be 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.
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.
Another area you want a good sense of adjustability is around the waist as you do not want to be hiking and have a tight feeling around your waist. Most pairs of pants will have an elastic waist to ensure that you stay comfortable as that is their main priority. Overall adjustability and staying comfortable is your main priority, so make sure to check the customer reviews to ensure that these pants were comfortable for other customers who decided to go with them.
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 adventurous, it’s crucial to find flexible, stretchy hiking pants and the best hiking boots 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.
Overall when looking to purchase any clothing, the main thing you want is something comfortable that is stylish. You expect the same thing when buying hiking pants. Most of these hiking pants on our guide are built with comfort in mind, as the manufacturers understand that when hiking you will be in the wilderness for a duration of time and want to be as comfortable as possible as the last thing you want is to be on a three hour hike and start to feel uncomfortable in your pants with not alternative. The best way to ensure that the pants you have your eye on will be comfortable without having the option to try them on is to check the customer reviews.
By checking the customer reviews you will see how these hiking pants felt for other customers after using them on a hike. That way you ensure you are getting a great pair of hiking pants that will be comfortable.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When going on a hiking adventure, do not think you can put on a pair of jeans and go. Jeans are not a breathable material and will most likely keep moisture and sweat inside your pants which can cause discomfort. When going on a hiking trip, invest in a pair of hiking pants for optimum comfort and breathability - you'll be happy you did.
If you can find a pair of pants that are versatile, which means they can convert from pants to shorts than you have hit the jackpot as these pants will offer the most comfortability and protection. To have the option to convert your pants in warm weather will make all the difference and you will be happy you made the choice to invest in a convertible pair.
Other Factors to Consider
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?
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What kind of hiking pants are best for short summer hikes?
Yes, you should look for a pair of hiking pants that are lightweight and can be converted into shorts if the day becomes too warm while you hike. If you are a day hiker who likes to take along a small backpack, you could look for pants that offer more pockets, this way you won’t need the backpack. 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 the summer downpour.
q: I’m interested in hiking trips which last 3-4 days and are in challenging environments, (summer or winter). Any suggestions?
You are talking about choosing a pair of hiking pants with a broad and high choice of performance features. You’re 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 generally useful items to have close at hand. Look for pants with DWR waterproofing, UVA protection, convertible too shorts for hot days. Choose pants that offer good breath-ability combined with fast drying out.
q: What are good pants that work for both hiking and travel?
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?
Sure, if you are 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: What is better, cotton or polyester for hiking pants?
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.
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 walkability.