Let me just start off this article by saying that hiking pants are the sh*t.
I got my first pair when I was preparing for a group trip because they were part of the packing list. When I tried them on, I thought “What the heck am I going to need a pair of convertible cargo pants for? I’ll never wear these.” Oh, but how wrong I was.
Ever since then, my hiking pants have come everywhere with me. Not only did I wear them every single day for the nearly 4-month trip I had gotten them for, but I continued to wear them almost every time I did any kind of outdoor activity.
Hiking, climbing, running through fields — you name it. My hiking pants were there.
Hiking pants are one of the most versatile items of clothing out there. They’re suited not only for hiking but pretty much anything. They have tons of pockets, are durable and lightweight (most of the time), and are seriously comfortable!
To help you find the perfect pair for your adventurous needs, I’ve put together this list of 10 of the best hiking pants out there today to make your choice a little bit easier.
- 1 Our Picks for Best Hiking Pants
- 2 Best Hiking Pants: Comparison Table
- 3 Why You Need Hiking Pants
- 4 Best Hiking Pants: What to Look for When Choosing One
- 5 Hiking Pants vs Hiking Shorts vs Hiking Tights
- 6 Best Hiking Pants (2021)
- 6.1 Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants
- 6.2 North Face Paramount Convertible Hiking Pants
- 6.3 Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants, Outback Line
- 6.4 prAna Stretch Zion Pant
- 6.5 Arc’teryx Gamma LT
- 6.6 Outdoor Research Ferrosi
- 6.7 Outdoor Ventures Lite Waterproof Warm Hiking Pants
- 6.8 Fjällräven Vidda Pro
- 6.9 Coalatree Trailhead Adventure Pant
- 6.10 Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pant
- 6.11 Getting ready for an outdoor adventure? Read our gear guides!
Our Picks for Best Hiking Pants
- Best Budget Hiking Pants: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants
- Best Summer Hiking Pants: Coalatree Trailhead Adventure Pant
- Best Winter Hiking Pants: Outdoor Ventures Lite Waterproof Warm Hiking Pants
- Best Waterproof Hiking Pants: Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pant
- Best Convertible Hiking Pants: North Face Paramount Convertible Hiking Pants
Best Hiking Pants: Comparison Table
|Pants||Image||Price||Convertible?||Number of Pockets||View on Amazon|
|Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants||$||Yes||5|
|North Face Paramount Convertible Hiking Pants||$$||Yes||4|
|Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants, Outback Line||$$||No||10|
|prAna Stretch Zion Pant||$$||No||5|
|Arc'teryx Gamma LT||$$$||No||3|
|Outdoor Research Ferrosi||$$||No||5|
|Outdoor Ventures Lite Waterproof Warm Hiking Pants||$||No||4|
|Fjällräven Vidda Pro||$$$||No||5|
|Coalatree Trailhead Adventure Pant||$$||No||3|
|Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pant||$$||No (but full zipper on sides)||3|
Why You Need Hiking Pants
When setting off on a trek, you can’t just wear any old pair of pants. Imagine slogging along in jeans or overheating on the trail in sweatpants. It just doesn’t make any sense. That’s why hiking pants were created!
Hiking pants are designed especially to allow you to move around with comfort. Whether you’re traversing a giant mountain or strolling along a well-maintained trail, hiking pants will keep you at a nice temperature, wick moisture, protect from UV rays, and shield your legs from any other elements you may encounter.
Hiking pants come in all shapes, sizes and styles, making sure that there’s a pair for any kind of hiker. There are pants that will help insulate in the winter and ones that will keep you cool during the summer. Then there’s the age-old classic ones that unzip at the knee to turn the pants into shorts.
Hiking pants are some of the most versatile and practical pieces of outdoor clothing you can own. Believe me, you need a pair of these.
Best Hiking Pants: What to Look for When Choosing One
Knowing what to look for in hiking pants will really help you determine if a pair is right for you or not. Here’s everything you should look at when weighing your options.
Typically, hiking pants are made of some sort of nylon blend, as nylon is a lightweight material that is fairly durable and offers some water resistance as well.
While material isn’t a great indicator when it comes to determining how the pants will perform on the trail, you can tell certain things by what nylon is blended with. If there’s spandex or another elastic material included, the hiking pants will have some stretch and range of motion in them, which is great for climbing or more technical hikes. Cotton blends tend to be warmer but also retain moisture.
You may also come across hiking pants that are more similar to rain pants as they have a completely waterproof shell. These pants will protect you from the rain but won’t be as breathable as typical hiking pants.
Like with any outdoor gear, each material has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to keep this in mind when looking at different hiking pants.
The thickness of your hiking pants is another serious consideration because it will determine when you should wear them and when you should opt for another pair of bottoms for the trail.
The thicker the hiking pants, the better they are for winter. Thicker pants also makes for a more durable pair as they won’t snag or tear as easily if they get caught on a stray branch or sharp rock.
Thin pants are great for summer wear because they offer protection from UV rays as well as debris, but you may feel a little chilly during cooler nights if you aren’t wearing a base layer.
When you want to wear your hiking pants is a good way to determine which thickness is best for you, but if you’re like me, you’ll go for a pair of lightweight ones for the summer and thicker ones for colder hikes!
Repeat after me: the more pockets, the better the pants. Well, not really, but having tons of pockets on your hiking pants is uber convenient as you can stash small items right at your side for quick access.
Consider going for a pair with pockets not only in the traditional front and back positions but the cargo pants positions as well. Having larger pockets the further down the pants makes for optimum storage for field guides, a compass and even a flashlight if you’re moving around near dark.
Besides pockets, you should look for hiking pants that offer you, the wearer, some extra features when you don them.
The first and probably most popular extra feature you can get in hiking pants is zippers halfway down that allow you to remove the bottom of the pants at the knees, turning them into shorts.
I can’t recommend convertible hiking pants enough. No, they aren’t just for dads, and no they don’t all have to be ugly. In fact, I have a pair of banging convertible hiking pants that come practically everywhere with me. Wear them in the winter with a base layer or during the summer as shorts. This is an extra feature worth springing for.
Besides the convertible aspect, you’ll also come across hiking pants with built-in belts. This is an awesome extra feature because you’ll be able to secure the pants better and more comfortably than you would with an external belt. Plus, a built-in belt allows you to wear these pants for many years to come as you can easily adjust the size as your waistline changes!
A final extra feature to look out for is articulated knees. This is a common quality in the best hiking pants because they give the wearer a greater range of motion compared to everyday pants. You’ll be able to run, jump, climb, hike and stroll more comfortably in a pair of pants with this feature because the pants are made for movement.
Finally, you’ll want to choose a pair of pants that fit you well. Luckily, most hiking pants come with a sizing chart to help you find the best size for you and I strongly recommend you consult this before purchasing a pair.
The fit of your pants is extremely important because if they’re too tight, you’ll be uncomfortable while on the trail (just think about your belly being squeezed by a button all day long!), but too loose and you’ll spend the entire day pulling them up. You should be focused on your hike while on the trail, not on how your pants fit you.
Hiking Pants vs Hiking Shorts vs Hiking Tights
Weather is ever-changing and unpredictable, especially when it comes to hiking. If you’re an avid hiker, I can almost guarantee that you’ve set off for the trail during a chilly morning only to be blasted by heat at midday, and then shivering again as the sun sinks in the sky.
What kind of clothing do you wear for weather like this? Hiking shorts during a hot day are an obvious choice, but while they’ll keep you cool, they won’t protect from cuts, scratches and from stray rocks slipping into your shoes. Plus, you’ll be freezing if you’re returning at night.
Another option is to wear a pair of hiking tights which can be super lightweight and ultra moisture-wicking, but they’re skintight and can be uncomfortable when hiking during particularly hot weather.
During colder weather, hiking tights are a good choice because they’re comfortable, but have downfalls as they’re not particularly water-resistant and wind can whip right through them.
I find that hiking pants give you the best of both worlds between hiking shorts and hiking tights — especially a good pair of convertible pants. Convertible pants tend to be lightweight, breathable and protect your legs, while giving you the option to zip off the bottoms and turn them into shorts. When it gets chilly, you can stick the lower part of the pants back on and there ya go, warm again!
Hiking pants are ideal in summer but are a practical option in winter months as well when paired with a cozy base layer or pair of thermals. The right ones will protect your hidden layers from any snow, rain or slush while trapping heat close to your body.
The choice is yours and it depends on what you’re most comfortable in. But if you’re looking for the most practical or versatile option, hiking pants win 10 times out of 10.
Best Hiking Pants (2021)
To help you decide on the best pair of hiking pants for your adventures, here are complete reviews of ten of the best hiking pants you can find. No matter the season or the weather, there’ll be a suitable pair of pants on this list for you!
Material: Combination of mesh, nylon and polyester | UPF50 sun protection
What We Love: Convertible | Lightweight | Breathable | Many pockets | 15 colors
One of the best hiking pants option available today is the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants that are a suitable option for year-round wear.
These hiking pants are a combination of mesh, nylon and polyester, making them lightweight and breathable. And if they’re not breathable enough, you can always zip off the bottoms for maximum ventilation. The material also features UPF50 sun protection and wicks moisture to keep you fresh and dry while you hike.
Now, for the fun stuff!
These pants have more than enough pockets, with two in front, two in back and two on the side, allowing you to fit your daily hiking necessities on your person instead of having to reach them in your pack. The waist also has an elastic, allowing you to adjust it until you get the perfect fit.
You’ll have a full range of motion in these pants, and look stylish to boot. The Silver Ridges come in 15 colors (yes 15!) so you can choose whether you want to blend in or stand out on the trail.
Material: Polyester and elastane
What We Love: Convertible | Many pockets | Some stretch | 4 colors
If you’re a fan of big name brands when buying outdoor gear, North Face comes in hot with a pair of functional hiking pants that will keep you comfortable on any trail.
These pants are carefully crafted with polyester and elastane, giving you the perfect amount of stretch for flexibility while you hike. The polyester is rather durable so you won’t have to worry about walking through dense brush or overgrowth and the elastic properties also makes these pants super comfy.
Similar to the pants above, these also zip off at the knee, giving you versatility when it comes to how you’d like to where them. The waist is also completed with a drawcord so you’re able to keep them from slipping off your hips even while carrying a heavy, sagging pack.
You get plenty of pockets, with two in the front and the back with one on the side. Choose from four different colors and get hiking!
Material: Nylon spandex blend
What We Love: Lightweight | Breathable | Some stretch | Many pockets | Slim look
Seeking something with “rugged durability”? Then these pants from Helikon-Tex are the perfect option. With a unique design and ultimate functionality, there’s little to complain about when it comes to the Outdoor Tactical Pants.
These hiking pants tick all the boxes of being lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, but they’re also designed with maximum practicality in mind. The pants are made from a nylon spandex blend that offers the wearer 4-way elasticity so you’ll always be able to reach that next boulder or jump over a fallen log. Plus, they’re extra comfortable and are able to be adjusted at the waist.
The design is slimming and gives a streamlined look, even when all the pockets are loaded up with gear. Did I mention there are ten pockets!? There’s even a space for your smartphone on the front and external pockets for valuables. Does it get any better?
Material: Nylon spandex blend
What We Love: Water repellent | Some stretch | Quick drying | UPF50+ sun protection | 12 colors
A huge crowd favorite when it comes to hiking pants are these stretchy ones made by prAna. You’ll feel comfy and casual while walking down the trail in these stylish trousers.
A nylon and spandex blend, these pants are made from the original “Zion” fabric which is designed to allow the user flexibility, comfort and versatility while partaking in outdoor activities. The fabric is also finished with a durable water repellent that will wick away the elements, if you’re caught in a brief rain storm.
Along with the finish, these pants are quick-drying, making them perfect for travel or hiking in unpredictable conditions. These pants are also abrasion-resistant so you don’t have to worry about snags or tears while clambering over rocks or climbing in trees. Plus, they have some flexibility to allow you to carry out your adventures too!
UPF50+ sun protection, mesh pockets, and snaps to roll the pant legs up into shorts are some other key features. And they come in 12 colors!
This is a super high quality product that you’ll love wearing on the trail and off.
Material: Polyester, nylon, and elastane
What We Love: Stylish | Lightweight | Stretchy | Durable | Softshell
If you don’t mind paying for quality, Arc’teryx makes some of the best outdoor gear on the market, and these hiking pants fall right in line with their reputation.
Fan of the streamlined, clean cut look rather than the bulky cargo one? These are the pants for you. Super stylish and unbelievably comfortable, the Gamma LT’s are ideal for hiking as they offer the wearer mobility, flexibility and durability.
What’s special about these is that they’re softshell pants, meaning they’re extremely resistant to rips, tears and abrasions, as well as having a certain degree of water resistance. They’re quite lightweight, very stretchy and breathable, leading them to be worth every penny and wearable in diverse climates.
Perfect for hiking, climbing, bouldering or all of the above, you’ll practically live in these outdoor pants that you’re able to wear everywhere.
Material: Nylon spandex blend
What We Love: Stretchy | Lightweight | Wind-resistant | Water-resistant | 8 colors
Softshell pants spark your interest? These ones from Outdoor Research are softshell as well, leading to versatile usability and maximum comfort.
The Ferrosi pants are a nylon spandex blend that match your movement no matter where you’re exercising. The material will feel soft against your skin while protecting you from outdoor elements, even rain! These pants are especially good at shielding wind and wicking moisture which means you’ll stay warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
You have several pockets on these pants, with the back ones coming complete with a zipper for stashing valuables on the trail. They also come in eight different colors, giving you your fair share of options in that department.
If durability and long-lasting is what you’re after, these pants fit the bill.
Material: Polyester and spandex, with 4-way stretch
What We Love: Ideal for winter | Waterproof | Windproof | Lined with fleece | Sleek look
If you’re seeking hiking pants suited for harsher conditions, this pair of from Outdoor Ventures is the way to go.
To keep you protected from winter elements, this pair of waterproof pants is also windproof. Plus, it’s lined with fleece to keep you extra toasty while you tromp through snow or skate across icy patches.
Although the outer shell is made of waterproof material, these pants are anything but rigid. The four-way stretch fabric incorporated into the design maximizes movement and gives the wearer a full range of motion.
There are six pockets in these cozy pants — all of which have zipped closures — so you’ll be able to safely store everything you need for the trail. There’s also an adjustable waistband so you can fit some extra layers underneath for the coldest days.
While they’re certainly the heaviest pair on this list, Outdoor Venture made sure these pants wouldn’t weigh you down while you go about your adventures with the sleek design and flexible materials.
What We Love: Wind-resistant | Water-resistant | Reinforced knees | Many pockets
Did you know that Fjällräven makes more than those cute little backpacks? Well, they do, and in fact, their outdoor gear matches the quality and durability of other big names. Their Vidda hiking pants is designed for pro use, boasting a long-lasting nature as well as above and beyond enhancements.
These pants are cotton, which is an unusual material for hiking pants, but that shouldn’t deter you. The fabric is actually both water and wind-resistant, making them more than suitable for the outdoors and has an unmatched durability.
The knees on the Vidda Pro pants are preshaped and reinforced to give you that extra protection and even allow you to fit knee pads if you’re off on a wheeled adventure.
With six pockets, you’ll be able to fit everything from a map to smartphone to compass and more, so skip the day pack on short excursions and fit everything you need in these pants! Adjust the legs with elastics and you’ll be feeling cool all day long.
Material: Ripstop nylon, with 4-way stretch
What We Love: Ideal for warm weather | Lightweight | Ultra comfortable | Waterproof | 5 colors
For the most comfortable pair of hiking pants ever, try out these Trailhead Adventure Pants.
Lightweight and versatile, these pants are ideal for warm weather or humid hikes when staying cool and comfy is a top priority. And since they’re made of ripstop nylon with a waterproof coating, they really will be ready for an tropical adventure.
The four-way stretch will make it easy to reach that next rock or venture around any obstacle in your way without restricting your movement at all. Plus, a crotch gusset is integrated into the design for further mobility.
If you aren’t convinced yet, in my opinion, these are the most stylish pair of pants on the list. They have an everyday look to them with the drawstring waist and ankles, so you’ll be able to rock them on the trail and off! Oh yeah, and they come in 5 different unique colors. Talk about style.
Weighing just 10.9oz, these pants are perfect for taking on your travels when you know that mountains and backcountry await in a far off land. Not to mention you can feel good while wearing them and enjoying the beautiful earth because they’re made by ethical and eco-friendly manufacturers.
Just be mindful when ordering — these pants tend to run small!
Material: Waterproof/breathable NanoPro fabric
What We Love: Ideal for wet weather | Lightweight | Breathable | Waterproof | Full-length side zips | Slim look
Last but not least, we have the Marmot PreCip pants which are perfect if you’re expecting a little bit of PreCipitation on your hike (see what I did there?).
Lightweight and breathable, these pants are ideal for moving around in wet weather because they’re made to keep you nice and dry while staying cool at the same time. That said, if you do start to get warm while hiking, you can always unzip the pants at the ankle and roll them up to give your legs some fresh air.
Speaking of zips, the side zips on these pants are full-length and covered by velcro seams. This makes it easier for you to slip them on and off. The waist is elastic so you’ll have some stretch when moving, and you’ve got your fair share of pockets to keep your belongings in.
We’ve come far from the bright yellow rain pants that were once so common — these pants come in black or grey allowing you to blend in a little more while wearing them. They also have a slimming design so they won’t hang loosely off your body the way other rain pants do.
As far as waterproof hiking pants are concerned, this pair is top notch.
So what do you think, are hiking pants worth the hype? I’d say they really are!
With so many different styles, types, colors and fits, no matter what kind of trail pants you’re looking for, you’re sure to find ones suited to your unique preferences.
Getting ready for an outdoor adventure? Read our gear guides!
- Definitive Guide: 15 Best Hiking Sandals
- Best Travel Backpacks [Recommended by Real Travelers!]
- Best Women’s Hiking Boots: The Ultimate List
- The Definitive Backpacking Checklist for Epic Adventures
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