The right hiking pants can make all the difference in the world. Poor fitting pants, ones that don’t provide enough protection against the elements or ones that hold onto to sweat instead of wicking it away can make any hike a miserable experience. That’s why the proper amount of care and attention to buying them before the hiker heads out on the trail.
After a considerable amount of research, we have come up with ten different types of pants for hiking that we feel meet the needs of most hikers. The following are pants which will enable a full range of motion, are built to hold up to the proper elements and to be comfortable. All of which makes these pants some of the best ones that you can buy.
Best Hiking Pants – Top List
10prAna Men’s Pants
Designed for hikers who not only want to remain comfortable but also remain stylish while they’re out on the trail, these hiking pants are sure to be a welcome addition to most hiker’s closets. It’s manufactured using a blend of 97% nylon and 3% spandex, a blend which doesn’t become bogged down with sweat and offers a fair amount of resistance against branches and brambles. This product is made with DWR technology, a technology which enables the stretch fabric to resist water. Since this pair of pants features five different pockets, it can also carry everything needed for a long hike.
9Mountain Khakis Men’s Alpine Pants
The way these pants are designed to harken back to the adventurous spirit of the past. It’s reminiscent of big game hunters and other adventurers who have been immortalized in our stories. It has an antique metal shank button that’s not only functional but gives the pants a classic look and it has an easy-to-use YKK zipper. With its signature angled hand pockets and hidden side seam hand pocket, this pair of pants not only looks like it would be useful to the professional adventurer but is actually quite functional. And since it’s made from two-ply cotton canvas, these pants can hold up to anything the trail can impose.
8White Sierra Trail Convertible Pants
Manufactured in the U.S from 100% nylon, these pants are ready to stand up to just about any adventure. Its fabric offers UPF sun protection and helps to protect the wearer against dangerous UVA and UVB radiation. This product is also water repellent to protect the user from rain or from water splashed from a creek. Other key features which can be found on these innovative pants include two front slash pockets, two cargo pockets, vertical side zippers located on the cuffs and zip-off pants that allow them to be easily changed from pants to shorts. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that these pants are lightweight and easy to wear.
7Mountain Khakis Men’s Pants
Made from a combination of 98% cotton and 2% spandex, these pants are suitable for just about any adventure put to it. It’s durable, thanks to its bar-tac reinforcements and triple stitched seams and has a diamond-shaped gusset which allows the hiker to be extremely active yet remain comfortable at the same time. These pants have a quick-draw cellphone pocket that makes reaching essential items such as a phone or compass quite easy, and it also has reinforced pocket bags. The final thing worth mentioning on these active-wear pants is its reinforced heel cuffs which stand up to heavy use.
6Columbia Sportswear Global Adventure II Pants
These straight leg pants are designed to not only hold up quite well to the elements but to allow the hiker to have the full range of motion they need. These UPF 50 pants protect the wearer against the damaging rays of the sun, and it has Omni-Shield Advanced Repellency that helps prevent the user from getting too wet in extreme condition. Made from a blend of 88% polyester and 12% elastane, these pants won’t hold onto water the way pants made out of cotton twill, which helps protect the user against hypothermia in cold conditions. Everything considered these high-quality pants are ready for just about anything.
5Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque Pants
Hikers and other people engaged in active outdoor activities can’t afford a pair of pants that restrict their movements or makes it uncomfortable to move in the manner they have to move. Fortunately, this pair of pants doesn’t restrict them in that way. That’s because it’s made from a special blend of materials which make these pants durable but more importantly allows them to move in the way they need to move. These soft-shell pants are made from a blend of 50% nylon, 43% polyester, and 7% spandex and are built with articulated knees. These features, along with a gusseted crotch, give the wearer the freedom to move as they see fit.
4Helikon Tex OTP Outdoor Pants
With a unique design that’s patented in the EU, these high-quality pants are ready to hold up to just about any conditions. It’s made with a four-way elastic fabric that is not only comfortable but also provides a full range of motion without unnecessarily stressing its own seams. It’s made from a lightweight material that breathes and wicks moisture away from the wearer’s skin. This makes these outdoor pants suitable for just about any adventure. These pants also have a slim look that makes the user look good even as it provides them with the freedom of movement they need.
3CQR Men’s Tactical Pants
Available in a wide swath of different colors, these durable tactical pants are ready for action. Inspired by the pants worn by law enforcement and military personnel, these pants will move with the wearer as he goes about his day-to-day business. It’s made with a blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton and can easily repel water, dirt and a variety of other materials. These pants are fade resistant, wrinkle resistant and shrink resistant, too. What really sets these pants apart from other hiking pants currently on the market, however, is that they have high-density metal button snaps and zippers that hold up to just about anything.
2Union Bay Men’s Travel Pants
Whether you need a pair of chino-fit pants for hiking or for everyday casual wear, these pants are ready to serve your purposes. They are made from a blend of 94% nylon and 6% spandex, which makes them extremely durable but also allows them to provide an excellent range of movement. These lightweight pants will dry quickly when they get wet and offer UPF 50 protection against the damaging rays of the sun. They also stretch very easily and have mesh lined pockets. With a button-fly closure and a leg pocket, these pants also have a very stylish look to them.
1Terramar Men’s Military Fleece Pants
Not only are these pants suitable for hikers, but its suitable for anyone who needs to keep warm in extremely cold weather. Designed to be used as a base layer for active outdoor pursuits, these pants are suitable for hunting, hiking, fishing, snowboarding or even mountain climbing. These pants offer UPF 50+ protection against the damaging rays of the sun and have an elastic waistband that can wick moisture away from the wearer’s skin. These pants are made so that they remain smooth, which makes it easy to layer additional layers on top of it. And it’s interior fleece construction allows the skin to breathe, but traps heat so the wearer remains warm.
Can’t Find What You’re Looking For? Check these suggestions:
What to Look for When Buying Hiking Pants
When you head out on the trail, you are going to want to wear equipment that not only gives you the proper range of motion but also protects you from the elements you may face out in the wilderness. Although it’s probably true that no two hikers will agree on a particular style of hiking pants, there are some basics that a hiker should at least consider before purchasing a pair of pants. Sure, not every one of the below-mentioned items is needed or even wanted, by all hikers, I do believe that they are at least worth thinking about. So without further ado, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of this article and talk about some points you may want to consider.
Okay, the first thing you need to consider is buying hiking pants and not hiking shorts. Sure, shorts may seem like they would be better for the trail but in all reality, they are worse. The only real benefit that shorts provide is that they are cooler, otherwise they just offer up a whole lot of negatives. Shorts won’t protect the wearer against branches and brambles, won’t keep the wearer dry, won’t protect against the damaging rays of the sun or insects, and won’t provide warmth, if there’s an unexpected drop in temperature. While some people may want a pair of convertible pants which turn into shorts, which we cover below, most people will benefit from wearing just good old-fashioned pants.
Zip-Off Pant’s Legs
Zip-off legs are kind of a controversial subject nowadays. Some hikers like the ability to zip off the legs and turn them into shorts and in fact, this option may be handy in some circumstances. My opinion, however, is somewhat different. I believe that most of these convertible pants are poorly designed, and I really don’t like the placement of the zipper on most of them. While there are some notable exceptions, I do feel that in most instances hikers would be better off without zip-off pant’s legs.
I also have a very strong opinion about pockets. I feel that having the right pockets can mean the difference between a good pair of hiking pants and a bad pair of them. In my opinion, good hiking pants should have deep pockets that keep the stuff in them secure and prevents them from popping out of the pockets. It shouldn’t matter if you are lounging back or are climbing up a rock face at an odd angle, the pockets should hold your stuff firmly in place. They should also be stitched adequately for active wear. I like my pockets to be triple stitched, but to some people that may seem like overkill.
I also like pants that have utility pockets of some sort. Specifically, pants that either has a small change pocket where I can place a spare pocket knife, or a quick-draw cell phone pocket that makes it easier for me to pull my cell phone out if I need to do so. Of course, your needs may differ from mine, and you may want a pair of pants with pockets that are specific to your needs. You absolutely should consider your needs, and apply your best judgment in those circumstances.
A Smooth Waist Band
Another feature that I feel is absolutely necessary is a waistband that won’t bunch up. I absolutely hate pants that bunch up in this manner and end up hurting me or cutting off my circulation. When pants bunch up in this way, they can rub against your waist and that can not only cause discomfort but can also cause chafing. That’s why I always take a look at the pant’s belt loops and think about where rubbing may take place and whether the pants are prone to bunching up.
I also like to look at the pants legs to determine if they provide adequate protection. I hate hiking pants that either ride up the leg or sag too far down the boot. Some of the hiking pants made today have “mud flaps” which come partway down the boot and protect the ankle from dirt and mud getting into it. This is a feature I can really appreciate, but there are some people who don’t like it. The choice is up to you.
Hiking Pants Materials
While there are a lot of hiking pants manufactured nowadays that are made out of cotton, including a pair or two in our above top ten list, the truth of the matter is that your hiking pants should be constructed of synthetic materials and not made out of cotton. Cotton pants breathe well and are comfortable, but they also hold onto moisture. This can lead to discomfort as the day wears on and may even lead to hypothermia if the temperature drops. Therefore, it’s important to choose pants that use a lightweight and soft material that’s capable of wicking moisture away from your skin. And contrary to popular belief, synthetic materials can breathe and prevent excessive heat buildup, so it should be your primary material choice for your pants.
Decide What You Need
When it comes to hiking pants, you basically have two different types of pants to consider. There are standalone pants that are meant to be used alone, and there are pants that are meant to be layered. The type you need will depend on where you are planning on wearing your pants.
If you mainly go on summer hikes, then you will probably want to get a pair of standalone pants. In these circumstances, you’ll want pants that will protect you against insects, brambles, and the sun.
On the other hand, if you are potentially going to go on hikes anytime between the fall to spring, then you may want to consider getting a pair of pants that can be layered to provide additional warmth. Of course, in extreme conditions, you can pair pants that can be layered with standalone pants for added durability and protection against the elements.