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10 Best Hiking Pants Tested and Fully Reviewed

last updated Mar 13, 2019
Life is full of adventures, and there is no greater one for hiking lovers than trekking on the trails, in the woods or on the mountainside. Anyone who has gone for long and vigorous walks and climbs knows the importance of the right gear. And while many focus on good boots when picking out gear for their adventure, hiking pants are just as important.

A good pair of hiking pants will be lightweight and breathable while also having the ability to resist wind and water. There are also many versatile options that can be worn during cooler and warmer weather, as well as for just hanging out or running errands. This will mean that the pair is stylish, but overall —and most importantly—functional for hiking.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research

icon
Columbia Silver Ridge
94.5/100 our score
Comfort
99
Breathability
99
Durability
90
Weather Resistance
90
Columbia Silver Ridge
Why is it better?
  • Ultra-thin and lightweight
  • Packable and convertible option
  • Comfortable because of breathability in warmer weather
In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Columbia Silver Ridge
Test Winner: Columbia Silver Ridge
Researched Sources
7
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1200
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
18
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
25
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By EJ Callanan:

In this update, we rewrote our criteria section to help you learn more about hiking pants, the materials they're made of, and what to think about before you buy. We also answered some frequently asked questions from our readers.

Sorting Options
Comfort Breathability Durability Weather Resistance By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Comfort
99%
Breathability
99%
Durability
90%
Weather Resistance
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Comfort
98%
Breathability
97%
Durability
94%
Weather Resistance
84%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
Comfort
98%
Breathability
87%
Durability
95%
Weather Resistance
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Comfort
91%
Breathability
92%
Durability
88%
Weather Resistance
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
$95.40
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Comfort
88%
Breathability
88%
Durability
90%
Weather Resistance
86%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
$79.95
See Deal
$80.00
$80.00
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#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.3
Comfort
87%
Breathability
85%
Durability
85%
Weather Resistance
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
$106.46
See Deal
$112.46
$150.00
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#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Comfort
81%
Breathability
92%
Durability
82%
Weather Resistance
84%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Comfort
82%
Breathability
80%
Durability
80%
Weather Resistance
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.3
Comfort
85%
Breathability
77%
Durability
75%
Weather Resistance
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.8
Comfort
85%
Breathability
75%
Durability
90%
Weather Resistance
73%
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.03.19)
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Columbia Silver Ridge
  • Outdoor Research Ferrosi
  • PrAna Stretch Zion
  • Helikon Outback OTP
  • ExOfficio BugsAway Damselfly
  • Outdoor Research Cirque
  • Columbia Pilsner Peak
  • Marmot PreCip
  • The North Face Paramount 3.0
  • Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Best Hiking Pants

1. Columbia Silver Ridge

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Columbia Silver Ridge
Comfort
99
Breathability
99
Durability
90
Weather Resistance
90
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Pros:
  • Ultra-thin and lightweight
  • Packable and convertible option
  • Comfortable because of breathability in warmer weather
Cons:
  • Not ideal for cooler hikes in high elevation
  • Thin material means not much protection from brushes, shrubs, etc
  • No DWR finish for if it rains

With UV sun protection and moisture-wicking and evaporation properties, this pant is ideal for both sunny and rainy hikes. The best part is the pants can be detached above the knee to wear as shorts. This is a thin and light, breathable option made from ripstop nylon. It has a stretch band waist for a great fit that can work with a web belt.

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Materials

These pants are made with 100 percent nylon ripstop fabric with Columbia’s OMNI-Shade (sun protection) technology for its main body. It also features polyester and Omni-Wick (high-performance wicking fabric) mesh panels. While this adds to its breathability, overall these pants are extremely thin and light.

Comfort

These pants are designed to be worn on those warm hikes, especially in the summer. That’s where its thinness and breathable nature comes in. There is the option to unzip above the knee to wear these as 10-inch short. All of these features make them among the best to wear mild to warmer weather. They are quick to dry and won’t leave the consumer feeling overheated or too sweaty. Although this all makes them a bad choice for when it gets cold or when it rains.

Style and Fit

Even still, there is plenty of movement in these pants thanks to its gusseted crotch and overall fit. The Silver Ridge pants are among the cream of the crop when it comes to convertible hiking pants. That’s because of how light they are and its overall fit—for a great price. It has partial elastic waist with a belt. These pants come many different sizes, making it easy for every body to find their perfect fit. It also includes pockets with a hook a loop closure and mesh pocket bags.

2. Outdoor Research Ferrosi

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Comfort
98
Breathability
97
Durability
94
Weather Resistance
84
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Pros:
  • Breathable, lightweight and great for most weather
  • Durable enough to last many long hikes
  • Comfortable for both outdoor exploring and for hanging around town
  • Lots of movement with its stretchiness
  • More form fitting fit
Cons:
  • Can’t be worn alone in the cold
  • Might run short in length for taller consumers

Lightweight for hot hikes in the sun and not to weigh the consumer down, the Ferrosi pants are airy and comfortable. Made from nylon and spandex, they provide ample stretch and mobility. They are water-resistant for light rain protection and are quick to dry. These are durable and rugged, and have a great fit.

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Materials

The Ferrosi pant is made with nylon, spandex and stretch weaved ripstop fabric. This makes it light, flexible and stretchy, with an emphasis on the stretch to mimic real leg movement without feeling confined. These pants have a quick drying time and are both wind- and water-resistant thanks to its DWR finish.

Comfort

This is like the Ferrari of hiking pants when it comes to its level go comfort. These are great to wear in both cool and warm weather and can be worn as a base layer when things get more than just chilly. Its water-resistant properties hold up pretty well and will protect the legs from potential cuts when scaling the mountains. They are durable enough to withstand abrasion without having the sticking come to part, although rock climbers should expect from wear.

Style and Fit

These pants have a more snug fit, which looks flattering on athletic builds without being too tight. This fit doesn’t hinder flexibility and mobility, which are important in a hiking pant. It has ample of pockets, which is perfect for those who like to have maps, tools, and snacks on hand. This includes front slash pockets and zippered thigh and back pockets. It has a button and zipper fly, articulated knees, drawcord cuff closure, and a waist that is compatible with a harness. It’s brushed tricot-lined waistband is also smooth and comfortable for backpacking.

3. PrAna Stretch Zion

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
PrAna Stretch Zion
Comfort
98
Breathability
87
Durability
95
Weather Resistance
85
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Pros:
  • Stretchy fabric that is super comfortable
  • Great relaxed fit that can be worn outside of hiking or camping
  • Option to roll up to capris
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Doesn’t perform well in heavier rains
  • Not so breathable

This best-selling Prana pant is lightweight and flexible, with a four-way stretch that is water-resistant with quick drying time, and has 50+ UPF sun protection. It is great for hiking, camping, backpacking, traveling and more. It has a relaxed fit with more room in the thighs, along with an adjustable waistband and roll-up leg snaps.

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Materials

Constructed from the company’s “Stretch Zion” fabric, which consists of nylon and spandex, a sustainably made fabric that is lightweight, airy and sturdy enough to withstand abrasion and weather without restricting movement. This makes it a popular option amount climbers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The fabric is treated with a DWR finish to make it water-resistant, and it has a quick drying time. It also has up to UPF 50+ sun protection to keep harmful rays at bay. The fabric also has anti-wrinkle properties that will have the consumer looking their best after the pants are folded up in their backpacks.

Comfort

Ultra-stretchy, but with a not tight or baggy fit, this is one of the most comfortable hiking pants on the market. Soft to wear, moveable and breathable (although not as much as other options), the Stretch Zion can be worn all day long (or longer) without being itchy or feeling constricting. It has a ventilated inseam gusset for that extra room and air flow, and roll-up leg snaps to turn into capris when it’s too hot. These also offer more insulation than other lightweight hiking pants, making them great for more than just the spring/summer, although cold temperatures call for more layers.

Style and Fit

With a standard fit, these pants look great on—and feel good on too. That’s because over its stretchy fabric that makes ascending and descending unrestrictive, as well as its streamlined adjustable waistband that isn’t uncomfortable with a pack on. It has an angled dual entry cargo pocket with lots of room to store valuables, and hand pockets on each side. It’s available in multiple color options, looking great for the trails as well as for hanging out.

4. Helikon Outback OTP

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Helikon Outback OTP
Comfort
91
Breathability
92
Durability
88
Weather Resistance
89
best offer for today
$95.40
Pros:
  • Patented pocket design
  • Stain-resistant
  • Reinforced stitching around pockets and knees
  • Lightweight and stylish
Cons:
  • Some users did not like the velcro waist closure
  • A bit pricey

The low profile design and stretchable material of this pant provide the versatility and capability to fulfill the needs of professional users and amateur users in many different settings. The patented pocket arrangement allows you to carry all of your essential equipment in an organized fashion without losing your tactical advantage.

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Materials

The 4-way elastic fabric in these hiking pants is composed of 93% nylon and 7% spandex. Because of its composition, it has a stretchability helps take the stress away from any particular part of the pants. They are also coated with Dupont Teflon for durability and stain resistance and feature reinforced stitching and padding around the knees for added comfort and durability.

Comfort

Users report that these pants feel super-light, yet the seams and pockets feel strong. They are stylish and functional. The pockets stay flush to the body and the fabric doesn't dig into the skin like some other types of hiking pants. Everything about these pants is well designed and you will continually find small features that show a high level of engineering. The pants are superb for anyone who is mobile, active, and needs clothing that is functional.

Style and Fit

With its unique pocket set-up, these pants enable you to carry all your essential equipment in an organized fashion, while keeping your outdoor gear close to your body’s center of gravity. They feature a number of useful low profile pockets placed at the front, the rear and on both thighs.

5. ExOfficio BugsAway Damselfly

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
ExOfficio BugsAway Damselfly
Comfort
88
Breathability
88
Durability
90
Weather Resistance
86
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Pros:
  • Best protection against Zika, West Nile and bug bits
  • Smooth waistline and overall comfortable for hiking
  • Can roll up to be capris
Cons:
  • Insect Shield only lasts 70 washes
  • Not many pockets

These pants will solve any pesky mosquitos problem when hiking and camping. The fabric is treated with Insect Shield that is bound to the fibers that leaves odorless protection for the legs and ankles. Along with tick, flies and other bug protection, these pants are lightweight, have a security zip pocket on the back and a drawstring waist for a great fit.

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Materials

Made from 100 percent nylon, these pants are lightweight and breathable. The pants have a treatment by Insect Shield that is applied that gives it bug repellent properties. The finish is invisible and odorless, providing protection against ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and the dreaded mosquitoes. While this is great for summertime hikes, it’s also crucial in areas where these bugs can spread life-threatening diseases.

Comfort

Great for humid and sticky hikes, these pants are roomy enough to get some air circulated without being baggy. The pants can be cuffed and snapped into place to be worn as capris when there are no bugs in sight to become more breathable. It has a quick drying time when wet, although no DWR finish.

Style and Fit

Simple, yet not unattractive, the Damselfly Pant is available in a few colors and has a natural fit. It has a drawstring waist for a good fit, with a smooth waistline that won’t hurt or cause chaffing when gear is on. It has articulated knees for flexibility, and a zip pocket on the back.

6. Outdoor Research Cirque

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.3
Outdoor Research Cirque
Comfort
87
Breathability
85
Durability
85
Weather Resistance
88
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$112.46
$106.46
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$150.00
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Pros:
  • Great weather protection
  • Durable
  • Packs away small
Cons:
  • Too light to be worn alone in snow
  • Some find inseam too long, with waist too small to size down

The best words to describe these pants is comfortable and durable. It has a low-profile flat waistband with an adjustable belt that fits under the harness while being comfy. It has abrasion patched and articulated knees, and a gusseted crotch. These pants are warm, yet breathable—perfect for making the ascent in the snow and ice.

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Materials

The construction of the Crique pant includes nylon, polyester and spandex. This makes it breathable and stretchy. The double-weave fabric also makes it impressively weather-resistant. This is heavyweight option that is extremely durable, holding its own against abrasion.

Comfort

This soft shell pant is made with high-quality materials that pays off when it comes to comfort. It’s tough without feeling stiff. Plus it keeps the consumer dry to prevent chafing, ward off a chill and other discomfort.

Style and Fit

These pants have an articulated knee for movement, a low-profile, smooth was it that fits under a harness comfortably, a gusseted cloth and a reinforced boot lace hook. It also has allows for accessory suspenders. It includes zippered things pocket for storing a map or energy bar, as well as zippered side pockets. It has a trim fit that is less baggy then some options without being restricting.

7. Columbia Pilsner Peak

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Columbia Pilsner Peak
Comfort
81
Breathability
92
Durability
82
Weather Resistance
84
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Pros:

Moisture wicking material

Sun protection up to UPF 50

Articulated knees

Dedicated knife pocket

Stylish look

Best suited for warmer environments

Cons:

Sleek fit does not allow for added layers

Not the cheapest pair out there

This pant is made of 100% synthetic fibres for optimal moisture-wicking properties. These pants also include UVA and UVB protection, and feature articulated knees and a dedicated knife pocket for more intensive-trail hikers. These pants are moderately priced at about $60 per pair, and is best suited for warmer climates.

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Materials

Made with omni-wick technology to keep you dry, these pants are made of 100% synthetic fibres. Omni-shade features keep you protected from UVA and UVB up to UPF 50.

Comfort

The pants are not tight, but are also not loose. They have articulated knees, and material also includes some spandex for stretch to move with your body.

Style and Fit

The pants are not a a relaxed fit, but also not too tight against your body. They are more "stylish" than the traditional hiker's pant, for a more sleek look as you hit the trails.

8. Marmot PreCip

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Marmot PreCip
Comfort
82
Breathability
80
Durability
80
Weather Resistance
90
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Pros:
  • Great for windy and rainy hikes
  • Very breathable
  • Stretchy to be worn over layers
  • Affordable
Cons:
  • No belt
  • No front zipper

These pants are made to be worn in the rain, making them a great option to wear when mountain hiking or backpacking in all kinds of conditions. It includes Marmot’s NanoPro waterproof fabric and 100 percent taped seams to ward off rain to keep the legs nice and dry. These are extremely thin and lightweight, an made to be a shell draws other layers for cooler temperatures. It has a regular fit with a elastic waist and draw cord, and other features like ankle side zips.

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Materials

These pants are made with 100 percent nylon ripstop with Marmot’s patented NanoPro coating. The NanoPro tech allows for lots of air flow which helps shed moisture vapor, making these pants waterproof and breathable. This means that these hiking pants one of the best to wear in the rain. Thin and lightweight, it is a pair for hiking and backpacking in mild weather, and works well as a outer shell in the snow.

Comfort

Comfort isn’t a problem here since the consumer will be nice and dry in the PreCip pant. It has taped seams, as well as side zips at the ankle for more ventilation. There are snap tabs at the cuffs to keep water away from seeping into boots.

Style and Fit

With a regular fit, these plants are light enough for trekking on the trails. They can also fit over shorts or other base layer pants as an outer shell for when it rains or in windy conditions. It has an elastic waist with a drawcord for an adjustable fit, as well as pockets in the front and back for storage.

9. The North Face Paramount 3.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.3
The North Face Paramount 3.0
Comfort
85
Breathability
77
Durability
75
Weather Resistance
88
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Pros:
  • Great fit
  • DWR finish and UV protection
  • Can be turned into shorts
Cons:
  • No cargo pockets on each side
  • Not as soft as other options

North Face improved its popular Paramount Peak pants with the 3.0, making it slighter thinner and less baggy in the fit. This is a comfortable hiking pant that is made for longer walks or adventures because it is light and cool for hotter days. It also has hand warmer pockets that are mesh lined, and protect well against cooler winds. This is a versatile option that can also be worn for every day outings.

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Materials

The Paramount 3.0 pants have a nylon construction, with woven elastane stretch. It features a DWR finish and has an ultraviolet protection factor of 50. The fabric is lightweight to help regulate temperature to avoid overheating when hiking up the mountain. It also has FlashDry fabric, which speeds up the evaporation process to keep the consumer dry from sweat and rain.

Comfort

Because of changes from the Paramount 2.0, this is a much more comfortable option when it comes to fit. It is thinner; however, the material in general isn’t as “soft” as other options. Still, it is stretchy, moves well, and has room for storing items in its front handwarmer pockets and single side zippered pocket.

Style and Fit

These pants much more slender than its predecessor, with a straight fit that makes them much for comfortable and functional. This is a convertible option, so the legs zip-off to become 8-inch shorts. It has a zip at the leg opening, and a utility zippered pocket, as well ask an adjustable belt. It has a simple, sleek design that makes it ideal for the trails and the streets.

10. Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.8
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant
Comfort
85
Breathability
75
Durability
90
Weather Resistance
73
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Pros:
  • Extremely durable, so long lasting for serious hikers for multiple years
  • Versatile to be worn as a mid or outer layer in many weather conditions
  • Comfortable and stylish
  • Lightweight, airy and packable
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Not warm enough to wear alone

While most lightweight hiking pants are geared more for milder weather, the Gamma LT is a go-to for even cooler adventures. It is still lightweight, but performs extremely well in the rain and snow. It has a double weave, abrasion resistant fabric that is quick to dry and stretchy for climbing. It has an adjustable integrated webbing belt, pockets on the side and thigh, as well an an adjustable cuff drawcord.

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Materials

This pant features Arc’teryx’s Fortius DW 2.0 fabric that is designed to be moisture-wicking and dry quickly. It is also contracted with double weave stretch nylon and elastane, with a DWR finish.

Comfort

The Gamma series is the company’s light and breathable line, the LT here really emphasizing its feather-like design. However, it isn’t too thin. It is still durable and provides enough warm, although it can be worn as a mid layer in windier or cooler weather. This soft-shell pant is stretchy and airy, which is ideal for comfort. It also has great abrasion resistance. It also includes a brushed polyester waistband that is smooth and ultra-comfortable.

Style and Fit

The Gamma LT has a straight leg and comes with an adjustable integrated webbing belt. It features a front fly and a snap closure, with a gusseted crotch which provides the ability to move comfortably. It has ann adjustable pant cuff drawcord, thigh pocket that zippers and two hand pockets. It has a sleek look, and is available in a few colors.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

This is usually the number one factor for just about any piece of athletic apparel you can think of, whether it'srunning shoes or hiking pants. No matter how good the other factors are if the piece of gear isn't comfortable to wear, or even worse, causes the user pain during use, you shouldn't buy it. Period. There are a few different things that make a pair of hiking pants comfortable, or not. The first thing is the materials the pants are made of. You want the pants to feel soft against your skin. The next factor to take into account is the cut and fit. Most hiking pants are made for performance first with style coming in a distant fourth or fifth, so you won't find any "skinny" pants here. We only added products to this list that have the right cut to allow the freedom of movement that's essential when you're exploring the wilderness. But it's also up to you as the consumer to select the right size pants before buying. Before you start shopping, we suggest that you find whatever pair of pants that have the most comfortable fit without being overly loose or too tight and note the inseam and waist size. Then, after you find the pair of pants that you like the best, order them in the same size. It can be a good idea to check some user reviews before buying however to see if anyone noted whether the pants run large, small, or true to size. In many cases, we were able to find and note this information for you, but don't just take our word for it, it's your money you're spending after all.

Breathability

When you are out hiking, you want to be as comfortable as you can be!

Because hiking can work up a lot of sweat and is often done in moderate to extreme heat you'll definitely want to choose a pair of hiking pants that allow air to circulate as well as ones that wick moisture away from your skin. Luckily, the companies that make the best hiking pants know this truth all too well and have taken it into account in the design of their products. While having a pair of pants that aren't too tight is definitely an important factor here, the next thing you'll want to look for is materials that are breathable. The breathability of a material comes from the type of fiber they're made from. Synthetic fibers such as polyester are the best option because they are literally incapable of absorbing moisture. This means that your sweat will pass around the fibers to the outside air where it can evaporate naturally. Conversely, natural fibers such as cotton love to absorb moisture and are really good at it. So while they may be really comfortable, fabrics made of natural fibers will hold onto moisture and take a long time to dry out. Another quick thing to be aware of here is that even with synthetic fabrics if the weave is too tight moisture won't be able to pass around the fibers as easily as something with a loose weave and the breathability won't be as good even though it's made of the right type of fabric. Sun protective clothing is typically woven tightly which is how it stops UV light from penetrating, so keep that in mind. Also, we highly recommend letting your hiking pants and other apparel made of synthetic fibers to air dry to prevent shrinkage which can tighten the weave and impair breathability.

Durability

When you head out for a hike you never know what you're going to run into and the best rambles often include scrambling up and over boulders, hacking through overgrown bramble, and strolling through forests that have branches that create a fun obstacle course for you to navigate. While all of these activities can be super fun, they also come with the potential for snagging and ripping your clothing. Because of this, it's definitely important that the clothing you wear while hiking is tough and long-lasting. Even if your hikes are milder than the ones mentioned above, for you to get your money's worth out of a pair of hiking pants they'll need to last a long time. The quality of the material and construction is the biggest factor here. The manufacturer needs to do a good job with the stitching so that it doesn't come apart prematurely. To score each product on our list in this category we looked at the design, the materials, and the reputation of the brand. We also considered over 1200 reviews from real-world users to see what they had to say about how well the product stood both the test of time and all the things a good hike can throw at a pair of pants.

Weather Resistance

Having a pair of hiking pants that's wind and water resistant is definitely a good idea. Wind can sap your warmth a lot quicker than you'd think which can be dangerous when you're far from civilization, and having the hot sun beat down on your can certainly take its toll as well. While none of the options on our list are fully waterproof, you don't want to get saturated and have to take shelter to change clothes just because of a light sprinkle or mist. Because of all of these things we looked for products for this list that have wind, sun, and water resistant properties, if not all three. A lot of what you'll value most highly will depend on the location you are going to use your hiking pants most. If you're a desert trekker, sun and wind protection will most likely be the most important things to look for. If you regularly hike in wetter climates you'll obviously want to look for an option that is highly water resistant. Outdoor gear makers realize that weather protection is important in hiking pants and have designed their products accordingly. We looked at the materials and construction of each product, as well as over 1200 product reviews to help us assign each product on our list a score in this area.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
Comfort
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#2
Breathability
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#3
Weather Resistance
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#4
Durability
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Pants vs. Shorts

While you can get hiking pants or shorts, hiking pants are better because they provide more coverage and keep you better protected. If you are going on extensive trails or deep into the forest then you will want to wear a pair of pants to keep pests away. You can also get convertible pants that have zip away lower legs which transform them into shorts which gives you the best of both worlds.

Go for a loose fit

They don't need to be baggy, but having pants with a loose fit will allow more air to circulate which will help you stay cooler as well as help prevent hot spots and chafing.

Other Factors to Consider

Features

At its minimum, the pants need to protect the legs from cuts and the weather (sunburn, wind, and rain) when hiking in the great outdoors. In general, wearing pants as opposed to shorts is ideal for this. The best options have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish or some other water-resistant feature for when it starts to rain, however, this doesn’t mean completely waterproof.

The pants should be lightweight, but this is the best for warmer weather. There are options that are better suited for winter months or at higher elevations, but this still means the hiker needs to wear layers to really keep the cold away. Another nice feature some hiking pants will have is the ability to convert to shorts by zipping away from the lower legs.

Style

Even though many hikers bring along a backpack filled with supplies, it’s a good idea to have pockets to be able to store items and have them at an arms reach. Deeper pockets allow the consumer to store things like their smartphone, map, or a multi-tool.

Pay attention to how the was it is designed. A hiker doesn’t want the waistline to bunch up or feel uncomfortable with a waist belt. This can cause discomfort and chafing, so it’s best for the pants to be fitted well with a smooth waist.

Fit

Many hikers prefer a standard, relaxed fit. This is typically the most common style. Some options run tighter on the thighs, but keep in mind that with this fit there isn’t room to wear a base layer for colder hikes. Some options are convertible, ideal for hikers who go out in all seasons. A great hiking pant varies among consumers based on their needs, wants and style preferences. However, the best hiking pants aren’t too tight and aren’t too loose to allow for mobility and do not weigh the wearer down or get in the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What makes good hiking pants?
a:

The pants should be lightweight and breathable, and comfortable for a long amount of time. Functionality is also key. Your personal comfort and style preferences will also play a part in your choice. We recommend trying on a few styles in person to see what feels good for you.

q: Can you wear jeans when hiking?
a:

Well yes, but we certainly don't recommend it. First of all, jeans are typically made from natural fibers that absorb a lot of moisture and dry slowly. This can lead to chafing which is super uncomfortable. It can also be dangerous and lead to hypothermia in extreme cases if you are wet and the weather drops suddenly which happens a lot in the backcountry. Also, jeans aren't flexible, which is a factor you'll want when you're scrambling over boulders or navigating a natural obstacle course.

q: Are these pants good for winter hikes?
a:

Most of the options on this list are light or mid-weight. This means they aren't enough to wear alone. But hiking pants that are moisture-wicking and water-resistant are great as an outer shell in the snow. Many options are loose enough in the legs that you can wear a base layer underneath them which will be a pretty good layering strategy in the cold.

q: What are some useful additional features I can look for?
a:

Our favorite additional feature is zippered lower legs so you can turn the pants into shorts. Another handy thing that a lot of people don't think about before buying is pockets that zip shut so that whatever you're carrying in your pockets don't fall out when you're negotiating obstacles. Wind, water, and sun resistance are also nice features to have.

Sources

  1. Matt Heid, The Best Hiking Pants? Key Features to Look For, Mountain Club Organization, Mar 14, 2016
  2. Prana, Substainability Clothing Movement, Outdoor Apparel Website,
  3. Marmot, Nano Pro, Outdoor Apparel Website,
  4. Michelle Powell-Smith, Can You Wear Jeans While Hiking?, Informational Health Website, Jul 18, 2017