You’ve set out on a hike and have miles of walking ahead of you. All goes well for a couple of miles, but then things start going wrong with your hiking pants. Perhaps they tear after brushing against some rough terrain, or they’ve started to create friction against some more… delicate areas.
Simply put, you haven’t found the best hiking pants for the job. They’re not comfortable, they can’t stand up to wear and tear, and you’re going to end up replacing them when you get home. That’s your hike ruined and the prospect of more money out of your pocket to look forward to.
Experienced hikers already know about the horrors that appear when you don’t find good hiking pants. Those chaffed areas and strange rashes don’t go away in a hurry, which means your hiking adventures get cut short.
So that leads to the obvious question – what are the best hiking pants? It all boils down to what you’re looking for out of your pants.
(p.s. if you’re looking specifically for winter hiking pants, check out our review that specifically focuses on cold weather hiking pants)
The Quick Answer
When it comes to picking the best hiking pants from this list, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Some pants work best in cold or wet conditions, while others provide a light weight and keep your legs cool when walking in the sun.
All disclaimers aside, our “one size fits 99%” hiking pants for women are the Columbia’s Saturday Trail Pants. For men, our best hiking pants choice is the CQR Men’s Tactical Hiking Pants.
Check Latest Price for Women's Saturday Trail Pants Check Latest Price for Men's CQR Tactical Hiking Pants
Our Hiking Pants Comparison
Here’s a quick comparison of each of the hiking pants that this article looks at:
Hiking Pants Reviews
That’s the general hiking pants overview, but you need a little more detail. Let’s look at which pair stands out for each of seven key categories.
1. Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pants (Best for Women)
With a 96% nylon to 4% elastane material mix, these hiking pants offer breathability and flexibility. It’s all about comfort with these pants, with the two-way stretch ensuring a great fit, no matter what body shape the pants have to mold to. Naturally, they’re available in a range of sizes too.
It’s the little extras that make Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pants some of the best hiking pants around. They have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50, so the blazing sun isn’t going to lead to burns as you walk. Couple that with the use of repellant material and you have a pair of pants that keep your legs safe from the sun and any pesky bugs.
However, the pants also convert into Capri pants if you fancy showing your legs off for a bit. Just roll the pants up to the articulated knees and away you go. There’s also a handy zipped pocket, so you have somewhere to keep a map and compass if you’ve packed light.
It’s not all good news though. The pocket isn’t the deepest around, so you may end up needing that backpack in the end. They’re also not the best hiking pants for colder climates, as they focus more on sun protection and coolness.
- UPF-50 material offers protection against the sun
- Handy little security pocket that has a zip to ensure items don’t fall out
- Nylon material improves pant flexibility and breathability
- Addition of repellant to the pants keeps the bugs at bay
- Can convert into Capri pants if you want to get a tan
- Pockets could be a little deeper
- Tend to wrinkle up when packed tightly with other luggage
- Very snug fit means you may want to purchase a size above your normal choice
Who It’s For
You can choose from a selection of nine colors, so you can add your own touch of flair to your hiking adventures. If you’re looking for protection from the cold, try Anlamb’s Women’s Outdoor Hiking Pants. These are some of the best hiking pants for women who spend a lot of time hiking in sunny conditions. The lightweight, breathable materials ensure your legs don’t end up caked in sweat by the time you’ve finished your hike. The legs roll up easily too, so you can use them as Capri pants.Check Latest Price
2. CQR Men’s Tactical Hiking Pants (Best for Men)
Comfort isn’t the only feature of CQR Men’s Tactical Hiking Pants, as they’re also some of the best hiking pants for durability. Made using a combination of 35% cotton and 65% polyester, they’re sturdy enough to prevent any unfortunate tears. You’ll see that commitment to quality in the zipper and little snap button too, both of which have a surprising amount of strength to them.
The general design may remind you of the tactical pants that the police and army use. There are so many pockets, with two each at the back, front, and sides, plus a couple of small satchels. It feels like these pants have a vendetta against backpacks and have used a pocket overload to make sure you don’t need to carry one.
CQR claim they’ve used “Duratex” fabric. This means that the pants repel any liquids or dirt, making them easy to clean and ensuring they keep your legs dry. Assuming you don’t try to go swimming in them, that is.
Unfortunately, seam quality lets them down a little. You may find a few loose threads here and there, which means you may need the sewing kit to keep them in good condition. There’s some inconsistent sizing going on as well.
- High-strength materials can withstand the rigors of tough terrain
- More pockets than you’ll know what to do with
- Water and mud seem to bounce right off them
- Mix of polyester and cotton makes them breathable
- Surprisingly light weight given the nature of the pants
- The seams don’t always match the quality of the rest of the pants
- Sizing isn’t the most consistent in the world
- The snap button has a habit of popping open when you sit down
Who It’s For
The pants also have handy waist loops, so you can wear them with a belt to keep them snug. If you’re looking for the less tactical look, check out Columbia’s Convertible Pants. Any guys out there who spend a lot of time trekking in the mountains will appreciate the ruggedness of these pants. Plus, they’re great if you’re packing light and don’t want to haul a backpack around with you. The “tactical” tag doesn’t just apply to the look either, as they do the job well for men in military and law enforcement roles who need a spare pair of pants.Check Latest Price
3. Columbia Storm Surge Pants (Best Rain Pants)
There’s few things worse than having to slog your way through a walk with a pair of hiking pants that get sodden the second the sky’s open up. These pants have the antidote if you’re looking for the best hiking pants for walking in the rain.
Polyester makes up the inner lining of Columbia Storm Surge Pants, with a nylon shell taking care of the waterproofing. Your legs will stay dry as long as you’re not hiking in flood conditions. The seals ensure this waterproofing, and they’re sturdy enough to stand up to most conditions.
The drawstring closure offers them some flexibility, plus it means you can tighten the waist as much as needed to keep the water out. The elastic waistband also ensures that you don’t have to deal with any uncomfortable tightness. You can even open the legs up a little with the Velcro cuff tab, which helps with breathability when you’re hiking in dry conditions.
The focus on waterproofing does mean that these aren’t the best hiking pants for those who want pockets. There’s just one pocket on the inside that’s just about big enough for your cellphone.
The materials don’t stretch much either, so you may have to spend some time cycling through the sizes. Still, at least they’re machine washable.
- Elastic waistband offers some flexibility up top
- Waterproof in all but the most severe of conditions
- Has cuff tabs at the bottom to open up the legs a little
- Machine-washable, though you should avoid the dryer
- Larger sizes can fit easily over other hiking pants
- The combination of polyester and nylon doesn’t make them the best hiking pants for comfort
- Any tears or damage eliminate the waterproofing benefits
- Looseness at the bottom may allow water to seep in from snow or puddles
Who It’s For
These should be a great pair of pants for anybody who spends a lot of time hiking in the rain. They’re available in both men’s and women’s varieties, with different sizes for each. Consider Marmot Men’s Precip Pants if you want something more comfortable for less intense hikes. They’re also a great winter pair, as their wind resistance prevents the chill from getting to your legs. However, those who don’t like carrying backpacks may find that these aren’t the best hiking pants for them.Check Latest Price
4. FunnySun Women’s Outdoor Hiking Pants (Best for Winter)
The FunnySun name may imply that these would be the best hiking pants for, well, fun in the sun. However, these pants offer all of the protection that you need when braving those tough winter conditions. In fact, you’ll find that they’re a touch too warm for walking comfortably when the sun’s blazing down on you.
Made using a combination of 92% polyester, with a little spandex thrown in, these pants offer just enough flexibility to feel comfortable. However, the sizing is a touch on the small size, so it’s best to go for the next one up from the size you usually order. Still, there’s an elastic waist and some flex space in the knees to ensure comfort.
The FunnySun Women’s Outdoor Hiking Pants feature three pockets – two up front and one in the back – each of which has its own zip. The little yellow accent on the zips offers a splash of color against the blackness of the rest of the pants.
However, it’s the fleece that makes up the inner lining that really stands out. The outer shell may offer water resistance and wind-proofing, but that fleece is what makes these the best hiking pants for winter walkers. It’ll keep your legs feeling toasty whether you’re trekking through snow or hiking in cold conditions.
- Some of the best hiking pants for keeping your legs nice and warm during the winter
- Three zipped pockets that should keep your valuables safe
- Use of spandex offers a level of flexibility that most winter hiking pants don’t have
- Water resistant and windproof
- They’re not completely waterproof, so they’re not the best hiking pants for wet conditions
- Confusing sizing charts mean you’ll have to order one size higher than normal for a good fit
- They don’t come with washing instructions, so stick to hand washing.
Who They’re For
When the frigid conditions get to be too much for your regular gear, these are the best hiking pants to sub in. They’ll protect your legs from cold winds, plus they resist most water. The loops around the waistband offer enough space for a thin belt, just in case the elastic doesn’t snap in place as snugly as you want. Moncey’s Men’s Winter Warm Fleece Trousers offer a good alternative for guys. As a result, they’re a good choice for snow hikers and skiers.Check Latest Price
5. Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants (Best Convertible)
Made using 100% nylon, these are some of the best hiking pants for men who want a bit of breathability when they’re walking. The material keeps you cool during the walk, plus there’s the added value of convertibility.
The zips at about the halfway point of each leg allow you to remove the bottom half of the pants in a flash. You can turn them into shorts in the blink of an eye, plus the handy side pockets give you somewhere to store the bottom halves until you need them again. All told, there are six pockets, all of which you can use regardless of whether you’re wearing them as pants or shorts.
The material offers plenty of protection from the sun, with Columbia’s Omni-Shade technology doing its job well. This offers UPF-50 protection, so sunburn shouldn’t be an issue. They’re also good for those pesky summer showers, as water evaporates of them quickly thanks to the Omni-Wick technology.
The Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants come with a belt too, though it’s not the strongest around. You may want to buy a separate upgrade, especially as the waist doesn’t contain any elastic.
The dedication to keeping you cool also means these pants have very thin material. As a result, they’re not the best hiking pants for exploring difficult terrain. They rip too easily against rocks and other rough obstacles.
- Lightweight materials keep you cool even if you don’t convert them into shorts
- Offers protection against both water and the sun
- Plenty of pockets for easy access to phones, maps, etc.
- Comes with a belt
- Removable pant legs have handy R and L markers to let you know where they go
- The material tears too easily when brushed against rough surfaces
- The waist contains no elastic
- The wrinkle up very easily
Who’s It For
Despite the light material, these pants are surprisingly warm when you’re hiking at night and the temperature drops. For a good female equivalent, check out Nonwe’s Women’s Convertible Cargo Pants. These may be the best hiking pants for anybody who doesn’t engage in rigorous hiking. They’re ideal for summer strolls along nice nature paths, especially given the added sun protection. Plus, they make for ideal summer wear thanks to their convertible nature.Check Latest Price
6. Jessie Kidden Men’s Outdoor Hiking Pants (Best Waterproof)
Jessie Kidden Men’s Outdoor Hiking Pants aren’t just some of the best hiking pants for keeping you dry. They’re also an excellent choice for hiking in cold weather thanks to the polar fleece used for the inner lining. This makes them one of the more versatile pairs of hiking pants around.
However, it’s waterproofing that you came for, and these pants deliver, thanks to the polyester outer lining. This easily fends off most downpours, plus it offers some wind resistance that the inner fleece bolsters. Nevertheless, polyester is also a breathable material, which means the pants aren’t horrible to wear in warmer conditions.
You may notice a slightly odd fit at first, with the pants feeling quite tight around the knees and thighs. This tends to go away with a couple of wears, as the pants adjust to your body shape. They’re durable too, which means they’re not a bad choice for mountaineering or cycling either.
One thing that’s worth noting is the fact that they’re imported. This means that many retailers use strange sizing charts. You may want to order them in a size or two more than you normally would, especially if you intend on wearing them over other pants.
Beyond that, the adjustable waist band offers an extra touch of comfort. Plus they have a couple of big pockets at the front, which each have a zipper with a toggle to seal them up against the rain.
- Made using a combination of breathable polyester and warm polar fleece
- Capable of fitting to your body shape after a couple of uses
- Adjustable waist band with belt buckles makes it easier to keep them wrapped tight to your waits
- Big front pockets each have zippers
- Durable material should withstand brushes against most rough surfaces
- You may have to experiment with different sizes due to them being imported
- The front zip isn’t as strong as the pocket zips
Who’s They’re For
While they’re not so waterproof that they’ll allow you to wade into deep waters, these may be the best hiking pants for walking in rainy regions. They’ll keep your legs dry, with the inner fleece also protecting against any wind chill. They’re good for skiers too, as they protect against melting snow just as well as they protect against rain.Check Latest Price
7. FunnySun Men’s Hiking Pants (Best Lightweight)
Remember that mention of FunnySun being the sort of company name that you’d more readily associate with the best hiking pants for warm conditions? Well, the FunnySun Men’s Hiking Pants show that the company has a few tricks up its pant leg.
The pants use a combination of 85% polyamide and 15% spandex to create the lightweight feel. This also offers them some stretchiness too, so you shouldn’t have any problems with tightness in key areas. This is particularly important for your knees, and these pants have little knee dart sections to allow for easy bending.
Durability is often an issue with lightweight pants, but these do a great job of offering some sturdiness. You wouldn’t want to take on too much rough terrain while wearing them, but they won’t tear as easily as some other lightweight pants on the market.
There’s also plenty of space for storage, with two zippered pockets at the front and two smaller pouches on the sides. You won’t be able to go backpack-free, but you should be able to keep the essentials on your person during your hike.
Again, they’re imported, so you may have to mess around with sizing to find the right fit. The pocket zippers are also a touch on the flimsy side, so you wouldn’t want to overstuff the pockets.
- Lightweight material makes them a joy to wear when walking in hot weather
- Plenty of pockets for storing your essentials
- The use of spandex offers them greater flexibility
- Small knee darts making crouching and bending easy
- Perhaps the best hiking pants for combining a light weight with durability
- Could do with stronger zips for the pockets
- The sizing chart doesn’t appear to mesh with US standards
Who’s It For
Anybody who’s bought lightweight hiking pants only to find that they tear easily should give these a look. They may be the best hiking pants for the key combination of fit, lightness, and durability. They’re a great choice if you enjoy summer hikes but don’t want to feel weighed down.Check Latest Price
Buying Guide: What to Look for in the Hiking Pants
This article gives you a few selections for the best hiking pants on the market right now, but what if you want to look elsewhere?
If that’s the case, you need to know what you’re looking for. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when looking for the best hiking pants.
When you’re trekking with the sun blazing overhead, you don’t want a fleece lining making your legs sweat. Conversely, you do want something to keep your legs warm if it’s freezing cold outside.
The point is that your pants must suit your hiking needs. It’s no use buying a pair of winter hiking pants if you’re going to spend a lot of time in the sun. The best hiking pants for you have breathable materials that won’t leave you feeling uncomfortable.
If you’re a winter hiker, you want thicker materials and waterproof pants. Lightweight pants will just leave you shivering to the point that you fall out of love with your hobby.
Color also plays a role here. The best hiking pants for summer tend to have light colors, as this causes light to bounce off them. Darker colors absorb light, which ups the heat level.
Don’t choose based on personal style alone. Think of the practical reasons for why you might wear one color over another. Luckily, most of the pants on this list come in a variety of colors for this very reason.
The best hiking pants don’t just look the part. They also feel great when you’re wearing them.
You’re going to do a lot of miles in these pants, so you don’t want something that chafes at you whenever you take a step. A combination of quality materials and pant construction ensures a good fit.
Look for elasticity wherever you can find it, as this allows you to make some minor adjustments. This is particularly important around the waist. Remember that you can always use a belt to tighten slightly loose pants, but you can’t escape that suffocating feeling of wearing pants that wrap around your waist too tightly.
It’s also worth taking a close look at the country of origin. If it’s outside the United States, the sizing chart may not be completely accurate. Order a size larger, especially for winter pants that you might wear over other pants.
You need your pants to resist water if you’re hiking during the winter. However, don’t think that it isn’t important for summer hikers either. A quick shower can leave you completely drenched, meaning you have to wait for the sun to dry you out before you feel comfortable again.
Not all hiking pants resist water. Some have a coating that aids in water evaporation but won’t prevent your legs from taking a soaking.
Others do offer resistance, or even waterproofing. Typically, these pants work best for hiking in winter conditions and will carry a bit more weight.
It all depends on what you’re looking for from your pants, and where you’re most likely to use them.
A simple consideration, but one that many people overlook. The more pockets your pants have, the less reliant you are on a backpack. However, you must look at pocket depth and quality as well.
For example, pockets without zippers may not prevent valuables from falling out while you’re hiking. The shatter of a cellphone screen as it hits the ground is all the reminder that you need that high-quality zips are important.
However, you won’t need pockets so much if you’re a backpacker. Plus, they can get in way for winter hikers who just want to plow forward without worrying about what’s happening to the stuff inside their pockets.
Again, it all comes down to personal choice.
Hiking Pants FAQ
Let’s round the article off with some frequently asked questions about the best hiking pants.
What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?
Water-resistant pants can withstand water to a small degree, but not large amounts. You wouldn’t want to go trekking through deep puddles with them, and your legs may still get wet during a heavy downpour. Waterproof pants should prevent water from getting to your legs entirely (If you want a more thorough explanation, check this article).
What material should the best hiking pants have?
It all depends on the purpose.
For summer hiking, you’re looking for light materials with an element of breathability. Think polyester mixed with something like nylon or cotton.
For winter hikers, warmth becomes the big issue. The pants may still use polyester or something similar, but you’re also looking for fleece to keep your legs warm.
Why should I buy hiking pants?
Comfort is the main reason. You may think you can go for a long walk in jeans or jogging bottoms. But you’ll feel the pain a few miles into the hike.
Hiking pants manufacturers cater to the specific needs of hikers, which means no bunching up or any of those other issues that cause rashes and chafing. They also have a better fit than regular pants, plus you can buy hiking pants to suit specific climates and hiking needs. Plus, the best hiking pants can deal with the rigors of tough terrain better than regular pants.
How should hiking pants fit?
While hiking pants offer a snugger feel, you still need room to move around. You can test your pants before going on a hike.
The best hiking pants avoid the following issues:
- Tightness around the seat or more… sensitive areas. You don’t want the pants to tear in an unfortunate place while you’re hiking
- A lack of flexibility in the knees. Try bending over and squatting to make sure the pants have enough flexibility
- Prevention of any movements you commonly make while hiking. For example, there shouldn’t be tightness when you lift a leg while climbing over something
The Final Word
With this article’s help, you should be able to find a pair of hiking pants that suit your needs. Keep the key considerations mentioned above in mind. It doesn’t matter how good your pants are if you buy them for the wrong climate or you get the wrong fit.
Check out the pants in the list and use the information here to compare them against your other options. You should be able to find a pair that suit your budget and hiking style.
Want more hiking gear? Check out our other reviews on: