How to Pick the Best Hiking Pants An A-Z Guide
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
Editor's Choice: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible
Why is it better?
≫ Ultra-light and ultra-thin
≫ Multiple pockets
≫ Convertible pants
Editor's Choice: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible
Best Summer Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Best Winter Hiking Pants: Arctix Men's Advantage Softshell Pants
Best Women’s Legging Overall : Women's Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch
Best men's hiking pants: Arc'teryx Lefroy Pant
1. Editor's Choice: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible
≫ Ultra-light and ultra-thin
≫ Multiple pockets
≫ Convertible pants
≫ 100% nylon fabric
≫ Not breathable, durable, or versatile
≫ Not waterproof and windproof
With an understanding of people who love the outdoors, this company always provide products that are affordable while including all basic features.
This is their most lightweight pair of pants, which is only applicable for tight-budgeted hikers. Overall, the pants do provide some basic features of convertible pants such as zippers, pockets, etc.
This affordable pair of hiking pants is not really recommended to wear when your trail requires a wide range of movement. Its mobility, breathability, and durability are not highly appreciated.
2. Best Summer Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
≫ UPF 50+
≫ Comfortable, stretchable and breathable
≫ Not really durable
≫ Not suitable for winter hiking
The Outdoor Research team believe that if they can convince people to get outside, the world will become better and better. Thus, their products are created to inspire people to get closer to nature.
In terms of comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beaten. The pants keep you cool in hot weather while offering quality sun protection. The cut of the pants is so great that it offers fantastic mobility to hikers. The elastic cord at the bottom of each leg cuff is a simple but adequate solution to cool you down in the heat.
Some people say that the pants are too breathable that they are not suitable to wear in cold weather conditions. The durability of the pants is not highly rated, either.
3. Best Winter Hiking Pants: Arctix Men's Advantage Softshell Pants
≫ Perfect choice for winter
≫ Waterproof and windproof
≫ Zippered hand-warming pockets
≫ Not suitable for hot conditions
≫ Thick and heavy
ARCTIX focuses on making affordable high-quality weatherproof outerwear for winter activities. All products are tested in extreme winter weather.
The Arctix Men's Advantage Softshell Pants are a perfect choice for winter hiking and snowshoeing. What is great about these pants is that they can keep you warm while preventing excess sweat build-up. The focus is on cold weather hiking; thus, they are wind-resistant and water-resistant.
They cannot be used in summer, however, as they are heavy and thick.
4. Best Women’s Legging Overall : Women's Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch
≫ Lightweight and comfortable
≫ Super breathable
≫ UPF 50+
≫ Not suitable for cold weather
≫ Not really waterproof and quick-dry
≫ The pockets are too small to put hands inside
From the cutting edge of technology, all products of Columbia are tested tough to make sure the hikers can enjoy the outdoors longer.
The Omni-shield treatment and UPF 50+ of these pants are highly appreciated, while its price is below $60. Its breathability is among the best compared with other options of the same price. This is a good deal when you think about the fact that you’ll get to have this lightweight pair of pants for a variety of uses.
They are not recommended when hiking in cold weather conditions. Besides, they are not very water-resistant and aren’t as quick-dry as some other models at the same price.
5. Best men's hiking pants: Arc'teryx Lefroy Pant
≫ Ultra light and super breathable thanks to the Aequora AirPerm fabric
≫ Stretchable and durable
≫ Small pockets
This Canadian Company believe that the only way to build the right product is to build a company in the right environment. Idea and manufacture cannot be separated, according to them.
Lefroy’s pants are made from Aequora AirPerm, which makes the pants ultra light and super breathable. The combination of nylon and elastane fibers adds performance stretch. Moreover, the versatility of the pants is highly rated, as they are mainly designed for hiking and trekking, but the design is suitable for travel and casual wear as well.
Most hikers complain about its price and its small pockets, however.
In General, What Makes For The Best Hiking Pants?
A combination of the factors listed below is what all hikers should look for when buying hiking pants.
• For men
Cargo pants for hiking or combat pants are preferred by many male hikers. They are loose and originally designed for outdoor activities. They look unique thanks to the convenient cargo pockets, which help people to carry items during day trips on foot.
Roll-up pants are another popular kind of hiking pants as they offer more versatility to hikers. They normally come with buttons on the lower leg or elastic in the cuff. This is considered as a solution to excess heat when hiking.
• For women
Leggings for hiking are especially popular among female hikers. They are light and elastic to help women walk so easily that it could feel like wearing nothing. They are not recommended when hiking through locations with lots of insects.
A Mans legs with ski pants and hiking boots
Have you ever heard of convertible hiking pants? This kind of pants creates more flexibility for hikers to conquer any trail at any time during the year. These pants for hiking have bottom legs which can be removed to become a pair of shorts.
Moreover, the idea of flexibility also concerns the number of pockets and their sizes to improve the storage during your trail.
Nowadays, with great achievements in the textile industry, backpacking pants are made of different materials to offer the best comforts to hikers. Overall, synthetic (polyester) and nylon are the two most popular materials used for pants for hiking. This is the reason why hikers often argue about whether nylon or polyester hiking pants are better for outdoor activities. The answer to this question depends on your personal preference.
Nylon was developed by the chemist Dr. Julian Hill in 1930. He discovered a kind of polymer that can remain soft, strong, and flexible. A decade later, polyester was invented.
Nylon and polyester are made of crude oil, but they have different qualities and properties.
Firstly, nylon absorbs more water, while polyester absorbs more oil. In other words, polyester is suitable to wear in winter as it dries faster and warmer.
How about nylon? When is it good to wear nylon hiking pants?
Nylon is more versatile as it is applicable in warmer weather conditions.
Furthermore, nylon hiking pants today are more comfortable and stretchable, as most manufacturers mix nylon with some spandex or elastane.
The only kind of material that hikers should avoid is cotton. Cotton is unable to offer you a comfortable trail compared to these materials such as nylon, polyester, elastane, etc.
Next, the weight of hiking pants is another crucial factor when it comes to choosing the best hiking pants.
Ultra-light hiking pants are indispensable when you hike in summer or in certain hot places.
For half-day hikers, ultra-light backpacking pants can be a minor concern, but for a long trail, hikers should take into consideration the weight factor.
As you walk during your trail, you’re likely to sweat a lot. Breathable hiking pants can allow sweat to wick away and keep you dry as you hike.
Ventilation zips are a great feature to look for when choosing your hiking pants. Wet pants make you feel sticky and create a bad smell; thus, the quicker your pants can be dried off, the more you would enjoy your trail.
Ventilation zips are an effective way to regulate the temperature. It normally runs along the side of the hip, which allows for good airflow when you open them. Open the zip when you are sweating that bit more and zip back when you start feeling cool.
6/ UPF ratio
Sun exposure is something you need to be very conscious of. When you are out on the trail, you are totally exposed. As you are generally higher up in terms of altitude, you are getting closer and closer to the sunlight, which is really harmful to your skin.
Having a UPF rating is something to look for as part of your hiking pants purchasing decision, especially when you hike in sunnier and hotter climes.
UPF is a new and broad topic, but in general, UPF is a kind of ratio to prove that the clothing contains some elements of protection from the sun.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. More specifically, if a clothing item shows UPF 50, it means that if 50 units of UV fall on the fabric, only 1 unit will pass through to the skin.
This factor is essential to prevent your skin from sunburn and other problems caused by excessive sun exposure.
7/ DWR coating
Water-resistant hiking pants are proved useful for hiking throughout the year, especially during winter.
DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent, which is used to coat the outside of hiking pants. A DWR coating allows your pants to resist water to keep the pants breathable.Please note that even if your pants are coated with DWR, it does not mean that your pants are 100% waterproof. It is recommended to reapply the DWR coating to ensure that the pants continue to perform in this respect.
Price is the last factor on this list, but in fact, it is the decisive factor when choosing the best hiking pants. This, of course, varies depending on the type of pants and their specific function.
In my opinion, you should spend around $50 - $100 on hiking pants. Please be aware that the more functionality you want from your pants, the more expensive they will be.
One more tip is that you can check the price offered on some famous online platforms and try to bargain with your local stores. You may get a great deal!
Hiker with backpack on top of a mountain
This part is indispensable to make sure you are opting for the best pants for hiking. You must try them on to feel whether the pants provide you with comfort and freedom of movement.
How to test your hiking pants for comfort and freedom of movement
• Sit down and stand up
Try a larger size or change to another option if you feel tightness when sitting down and standing up.
• Bend and flex your knees
This is to test if the pants are stretchable enough for hiking. During your movement, if the pants bind at any time, they are not going to make you feel comfortable during your trail.
• Other motions
Depending on your trail, you may have to perform some particular motions. You should try to duplicate the motions several times before making your final decision.
How about making your purchase online?
My advice is that you can make a list of hiking pants you are considering and then try to go to a sporting goods store to try them on. It may be time consuming, but you may find the best pair of hiking pants at the very best deal when shopping online.
Last, but not least
After you’ve decided to invest in a good pair of hiking pants, you would think of the ways to take care of them. Though you might end up buying very expensive pants, without proper care, your pants cannot last for long. The things we are going to share below are just basic for all kinds of pants. Some pants will require more special care. You should ask the seller for more instructions.
How to take care of your hiking pants?
Storage and cleaning: Remember to wash your hiking pants right after coming back from your trail. The reason is that sweat and bacteria can kill the materials, as they penetrate into the fabrics. If they are still smelly, it is better to hang them out to dry. After that, put them somewhere flat.
Washing: Avoid using hot water and strong detergent. They will not remove stains on your hiking pants but instead, they will wear down the materials and fade. On the sporting goods market, there is a kind of soap used for washing hiking pants. Don’t be worried; the price of the soap is very affordable.
Drying: In any conditions, you should allow your hiking pants to dry out. Please do not put them into your dryer. The extreme heat of the dryer can misshape and over-stretch the pants. Most hiking pants nowadays are made of quick-dry fabric.
Waterproof trekking boots wade a rocky mountain stream
Which hiking pants you are going to buy depends on where your trail is, how often you’ll be suing them, and to do what. You may start hiking and then decide to go camping or climbing. Or you may want a pair of pants that are comfortable enough to wear from trail to town.
It is a bit hard, right?
In reality, it is hard to find a pair of pants which can be suitable for all conditions. Our recommendation is that you buy at least two pairs of hiking pants. One is for hot weather and the other is for cold weather.
In summary, the best hiking pants are the ones made of the mix of materials such as nylon/polyester with some spandex or elastane. Moreover, they need to have at least two pockets for carrying essential items. Breathability is a must to look for when choosing the pants.
We hope that this guide on how to pick the best hiking pants can somehow help you to make the right decision. Personally speaking, I will be glad to see how technological advancements will enhance the quality and capability of hiking pants in the coming years. I am sure that they will just get better and better.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- 01. Is my fitness legging suitable for hiking?
Often than not, we see many female hikers opt to bring out their yoga or fitness leggings instead of the traditional hiking pants. This, while offering the better comfort and stretchiness, isn’t considered a wise choice.
Aside from the simple treks or short hikes, if you’re preparing to get into the really intense activities, then these leggings won’t work for you. These can easily come in contact with the rocks and sharp edges along the way, which can easily scratch and tear your legwear.
But at the same time, many manufacturers have also observed this trend and are offering their own lineups of hiking leggings, which comes with padded and reinforced fabrics on sensitive areas. These can be a good choice if you’re so fond of legging’s comfort.
- 02. Should I opt for hiking shorts instead of pants?
While it’s undeniable that hiking pants are more versatile and offer better protection, hiking shorts do have their uses. Hence, you would find them quite useful during hot and arid environments. The stretchy, comfortable, and lightweight materials will allow you to enjoy your hikes.
- 03. What are the additional features that should come with my hiking pants?
To ensure better comfort and functionality with your hiking pants, there are a few features that you should consider, aside from the standard designs that we’ve talked about. First of all, your pants need to have lots of pockets so you can comfortably store your snacks or certain accessories, should you find it quite uncomfortably to carry your backpack.
Also, if it gets kind of hot and uncomfortably with your long pants, you would want to have the options to turn them into something more convenient. So having convertible pants with zippers that run around the bottom of the thigh, and therefore, allowing you to turn your pants into a short can certainly be helpful. Or alternatively, the roll-up pants, which you can turn to capris, will also work.
- 04. Suitable materials for my hiking pants?
For beginners who wouldn’t find themselves in a long hike anytime soon, your normal jeans can be a good alternative. But when you get to the tough challenges, these jeans, while can be quite durable, would also turn out to be relatively stiff. Plus, the cotton in your jeans can easily soak up sweats from the legs without letting go. This makes you feel uncomfortable during your long hikes.
On the other hand, hiking pants, with their proper synthetic materials will offer both comfort and functionality. With great insulation, you can keep your legs and feet from getting cold or wet. And at the same time, the breathable fabrics will let go of any excess moisture that comes from your sweat, allowing air to comfortably move around.
- 05. Do I really need hiking pants for my outdoor trip?
To be honest, hiking pants are considered less important than the likes of gloves, jackets, and other hiking gear. But still, if you’re planning on a tough hike, you’ll need something to protect your legs from the branches and get away from the annoying sunburn or cold weather. Not to mention that when hiking or trekking in the wild, you’ll never know what mysterious creatures could jump up and bite your legs
In addition, hiking pants, with their gusseted crotches and well-curated knees will allow you the freedom of movements without getting stress-out inside your legwear. Also, during cold and wet weather, your long pants can keep your legs from getting cold, which can lead to many uncomforting health-related conditions.
HIKING PANTS REVIEWED
Hiking, biking, fishing, and other outdoor activities provide an excellent opportunity for practicing mindfulness in nature. They also give us the natural stress-relieving benefits of fresh air and lasting memories. But, to enjoy adventures in the wilderness, we all need proper clothing, and a good pair of hiking pants plays an important role in the comfort of our trips.