Ever hiked in ill-fitting hiking pants? Miserable huh? If the waist isn’t riding up around your chest then they’ll be making a menace of themselves flapping around your ankles, or chafing in places that shouldn’t be chafed. So yes, getting the best hiking pants that fit you well is super important. You’ll be spending hours striding, lunging and leaping in them, so they need to be unrestrictive and mega comfortable. Really you shouldn’t even notice them on you, other than for their perfectly practical features that stand up to the weather and complement your movement.
Thankfully there are some really excellent brands out there that have developed hiking pants with all these things in mind. The result is a great range of outdoor pants that are suited to various hiking conditions and cater for different preferences when it comes to fit and comfort. And to make things even easier for you we’ve found 10 of the best hiking pants available for you to consider getting your hiking muscles into.
To help you figure out what you should expect from the best hiking pants, read our guide on what to look for. Or skip ahead and check out our pick of the best hiking pants available – why they’re great and what they are best suited to.
|Product Name||Type||Best suited to||Cost|
|Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants||Convertible||Summer hiking||$|
|Columbia Men’s Pilsner Peak Pants||Standard||Summer hiking||$|
|Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants||Convertible||Three season hiking||$$|
|Prana Stretch Zion Pants||Roll ups||Three season hiking and climbing||$$|
|Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants||Roll ups||Three season hiking and climbing||$$|
|Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Convertible Pants||Convertible||Three season hiking||$$|
|Arc’teryx Gamma MX Pants||Roll ups||Winter hiking||$$$$$|
|Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants||Roll ups||Three season hiking||$$$|
|Patagonia Quandary Pants||Standard||All seasons in the outdoors||$$|
|Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants||Standard||All seasons in the outdoors||$$|
What to look for in a great pair of hiking pants
The comfort and fit
The most important thing to consider when choosing the best hiking pants is the comfort and fit. The pants could be as technically perfect as great hiking pants get, but if they’re not comfortable, then all that tech counts for very little. Obviously there will be different shapes of pants that fit your personal dimensions better than others.
However, there are a few things to look for which will help you get as close to your perfect pair of hiking pants as possible, without trying on every single pair out there.
The best hiking pants should fit your form well but be neither too baggy or too tight. Excess amounts of material flapping around can be really annoying if your pants are too baggy. But equally, pants that are too tight can not only feel uncomfortable and restrictive to move in, but they can also cause chafing and rubbing.
The best hiking pants will have a little bit of stretch in them. Look for material that contains spandex/elastane.
This extra piece of material sewn into the crotch prevents all 4 seams coming together in one spot. This design allows for greater comfort levels and less restriction, and also increases the durability of the pants by dispersing the stress on the seams.
Having pants that mimic the natural anatomical shape of your legs will certainly improve comfort levels. This is especially helpful when crouching and kneeling at camp, but also when climbing and ascending out in the mountains.
Many hiking pants have an integrated belt for a streamlined, lightweight and customised fit. However for greater versatility, a fully removable belt might be preferable, especially when wearing a heavy pack or climbing – a belt can interfere and cause discomfort.
Different types of hiking pants
Standard hiking pants
These are plain old full-length pants. There are no options to alter the length (other than just rolling them up), and their lightweight nature are preferred by spring and fall hikers when temperature levels rarely see the need to cool off.
Convertible hiking pants
These are full-length pants that zip off just above the knee to create a pair of hiking shorts. Great for versatility and when the temperature during the day is much warmer than the evenings. But some people don’t get on well with convertible pants, suffering rubbing and chafing where the pants zip off, and they are usually heavier than standard pants.
Roll up hiking pants
If you can live without shorts, then roll ups are a great solution to dealing with temperature fluctuations. Many standard pants have the option to secure a roll up, with a hook, button or drawstring that adds little or no extra weight to the pant.
Technically desirable features of the best hiking pants
The best hiking pants should be coated in a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). To maintain breathability, hiking pants aren’t usually fully waterproof, so it’s super important that in light showers, your pants will repel as much of the water as possible.
Quick drying and breathable
Hiking pants should be good at drying out quickly if they do become saturated. Avoiding cotton pants will help with this, and instead look for nylon fabric that is also highly breathable to prevent excess sweating.
This becomes much more important when hiking at elevation or in colder temperatures. Look for high denier nylon ripstop fabric which is also more durable than normal nylon.
UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Level)
The higher the UPF value, the greater the level of protection the pants will give you from UV rays.
This is a very personal thing. Some find pockets restricting and unnecessary, whilst others can’t live without them. Many favour hiking pants with cargo side pockets so that they don’t dig into you. If you’re a pocket person in everyday life then you’ll probably want some good pockets on your hiking pants.
Some hiking pants have zippers on the bottom cuffs to make taking them off with your boots still on much easier. This option is good if you are opting for lightweight pants and lightweight shorts above convertible hiking pants.
The 10 best hiking pants in 2018
For hiking in hot summer conditions when long pants are still required, these convertible Silver Ridge pants are an ideal and super lightweight option. The articulated knees and gusseted crotch just about make up for the lack of stretch in the 100% nylon ripstop, and the partially elasticated waist helps to keep the fit snug and comfortable along with a removeable belt.
They come up a little on the small and slim side which can be restrictive, so it is worth trying before you buy. They also don’t have a DWR finish, making them much less versatile than the other pants in this review. However Columbia’s OMNI-Wick technology puts them right up there when it comes to efficient moisture wicking, as does the high UPF of 50 provided by OMNI-Shade innovation. With a good number of pockets including a zip-close security cargo pocket, these pants are made for summer hiking and traveling in hot climates.
Looking for a non zip-off lightweight option?
- Slim fit
- Polyester/nylon dobby blend ensures good stretchiness
- Standard lightweight hiking pants
- Knife pocket
The Prana Stretch Zion Convertible pants are up there with THE best hiking pants you can get your butt into. Not only are they super functional and ultra-comfortable, but they also look great – which isn’t always a given with hiking pants.
There are loads of pockets, including two cargo pockets, and the integrated belt is super streamlined for added comfort. The lack of articulated knees doesn’t let them down as the spandex/nylon fabric provides plenty of stretch both on the trail and on the rock. The one downside to these phenomenally versatile hiking pants is that they can become a little hot during the summer. The ventilated gusseted crotch helps to keep the air flowing, but if that fails, then zip off the bottoms and you’ve found a very simple remedy to that problem!
But it’s not just comfort and practicality that the Zion’s excel at. They are also abrasion resistant, coated with a DWR, have a UPF of 50+ and are quick drying. What more could you want from a great pair of hiking pants?
Want something with permanently fixed legs?
- No zip off legs
- Roll up leg snaps
- Better suited to climbing than the convertible pants
- Zion DWR finish
These OR Ferrosi pants are a hugely popular choice amongst hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. They compete fiercely with the Prana Zion Convertible pants as super comfortable, weather resistant pants that are also really good looking. But they fall ever-so-slightly short when it comes to versatility for hiking specifically, due to their inability to convert into shorts.
However what they lack in versatility, they make up for in their simple streamlined and very lightweight design that provides form-fitting comfort however you are moving your body. The harness-compatible waist, Movement-Mirroring stretch from the ripstop/spandex blend, and articulated knees make these pants as at home on the rock as they are on the trail. But they also do an excellent job of resisting wind and water without compromising their breathability in hotter climates. Pull in the drawcord ankle adjustment and roll them up for a little extra comfort in the heat, or wear them over thermal leggings during winter hikes.
With plenty of discreet zippered pocket options these are an all-round great pair of pants for hiking and outdoor activity all year round.
Looking for a more versatile option with zip-off legs?
- Zip-off legs
- Water and wind resistant
- Super stretchy
- Quick drying
The Gamma MX are excellent four season hiking pants that perform very well in mixed weather and winter hiking. Their light insulation makes them unsuitable for summer hikes. But they still manage to maintain good levels of breathability that is ideal for temperature regulation during alpine hiking and expedition climbing. The nylon/elastane softshell outer is stretchy through a good range of motion and is also coated with a DWR to weather light winter showers with no problem.
The legs are boot cut to allow for high top hiking boots and are also reinforced at the instep for greater durability. If you happen upon some warmer climes, then the drawstring cuff enables you to roll up the cuff. Or you might want to use that to cinch down on your boot to stop the snow getting in. The Gamma range hiking pants feature a gusseted crotch and also have articulated knees for optimal movement.
With an integrated belt, zippered pockets and an oh-so luxurious laminated soft-brush finish at the waistband, the Gamma MX pants ooze high quality and durability. And although they may not be the most versatile pair of hiking pants for year round hiking, they sure do a great job at providing excellent protection, comfort and performance when the bad weather sets in.
Looking for a lighter more versatile Gamma pant?
- Softshell nylon/spandex blend for greater stretchiness
- Lightweight for the streamlined minimalist in warmer conditions
- Quick drying
If you’ve struggled to make the fit of even the best hiking pants work for you, then there are a couple more options that are designed for general use in the outdoors but still perform excellently for hiking.
- Multifunctional all-season slim fit pants with DWR finish.
- They don’t look like hiking pants making them more suited to everyday use.
- UPF of 40.
- Great range of motion due to nylon/spandex blend, gusseted crotch and articulated knees in the front and back of the pants.
- Loads of pockets, loops and gadget attachments.
- Plenty of stretch and movement due to the nylon/spandex blend and elastic waist band.
- Reinforced and articulated knees with internal kneepad compartments.
- Lightweight, breathable and moisture wicking.