The Best Hiking Pants in 2021
There are few pieces clothing more crucial to a successful hiking excursion than your hiking pants. Hiking pants provide you with warmth, comfort, protection from underbrush, freedom of movement and additional storage options (if they have pockets, which we believe they should) among other things. The right pants will also wick away moisture and allow excess heat to escape when the weather is warm and help retain heat when the mercury dips. Whereas in the past you basically had one choice for hiking pants (wool) today they come in a variety of materials including spandex, nylon, poly blends and, of course, wool; which still has a place on the mountain.
In this review guide we’re going to take a look at what we consider to be the best hiking pants currently on the market and what makes them so great.
The Best Hiking Pants
Now, the three fabrics thrown in the mix of this fantastic Arc’teryx Men’s Gamma LT Pants are elastane, nylon, and polyester and best believe that this is a functional combination. This ensures that hikers have maximum mobility while they find their way through both familiar and unfamiliar routes. As a whole, the fabric blend is able to stretch a whopping four ways while remaining as sturdy as can be. What’s more, the stretch capabilities are isolated to the mid and outer layers in order to really give that snug, yet freeing fit. All in all, in this case, flexibility is in no way connected to weakness, rather it adds a whole lot of comfort and versatility.
There’s also the added perk of its breathability, which is key when it comes to clothing like this. Breaking a sweat is part and parcel of the hiking experience, so this is one feature that should be coveted. Taking it up a notch, this is also a great option if you are looking for something equipped with stellar abrasion resistance capabilities. In general, this pair of hiking pants can brave through all sorts of harsh weather conditions thanks to its sturdy makeup. It is almost unreal how comfortable it is in comparison to its almost rough exterior (and interior). Nevertheless, users can rest assured that quality is not forsaken here, you can truly have the best of both worlds with this functional article of clothing. There is no losing out with the Arc’teryx men’s Gamma LT pants.
Made of an elastane, nylon, and polyester blend
Offers up light weather protection
Breathable and abrasion-resistant
Has a four-way stretch
- Weight12.5 ounces
The fact is that hiking is not the most glamorous of activities out there, but that is certainly no need to go out looking drab. Here is a stylish pair of pants which happens to be ‘not just another pretty face’. The all-around design here features an adjustable waistband that is fitted with a belt. There is also the addition of patchwork knees which come hand-in-hand with the steric knee darts. To crown it all up, there’s an array of one of a kind zippered cargo pockets located in the thigh area. These pockets will undoubtedly come in handy while on a hike; so, there is no need to fish smaller items out of your backpack with these easily accessible pockets in the picture. Even better; things like keys, mobile devices, bus passes, and credit cards can all be safely stowed away.
Another selling point of these BenBoy Women’s Outdoor Fleece Slim Cargo Hiking Pants is their ability to brave it through all sorts of weather conditions; be it mild or harsh. First and foremost, it comes in a waterproof design which will probably come in handy along the line. They also happen to be lined with fleece, so expect to be all warm and toasty all through your hiking experience. Yes, it is meant to keep you warm, but that does not mean that the pants are stifling. They are quite breathable, as the aim is to keep you warm and not to slow-cook you in your own moisture. Furthermore, this is a great piece of clothing to own if you lead an active lifestyle, or not. Apart from hiking, these pants can be used as part of a loungewear ensemble, for climbing, skiing, cycling, running and a handful of other high-energy activities. Versatility is obviously a very strong point here and this is something that should not be taken lightly. All in all, this is a sleek looking, functional article of clothing that every active individual should own.
Made of polyester and spandex
Fitted with multiple zipper pockets
Water repellent and windproof
Comes in a slim-fit design
Nylon and taffeta are not a mix you come across very often, but best believe that in this case; it is the perfect marriage. Together these two ensure that the wearer has maximum mobility and comfort while carrying out all sorts of activities. Besides the design, there is a lot that is quite commendable about the Columbia Rebel roamer pant. For one, it is one of the best when it comes to braving the elements. One of the features that contributes to this is their Omni-TECH technology which really puts them light years ahead of the game. This comes in the form of a unique seam-sealed waterproof makeup that is coupled with unparalleled breathability which makes for a level of versatility that most options out there lack.
Altogether, this pair of pants keep the moisture out, be it a heavy downpour or a splash of mud. They equally ensure that the airflow is at an optimum level which further gives way for added comfort. Making this already great product better is the addition of a total of two zippered security pockets right at the sides. What’s more, there are also two back pockets that can be used to secure all sorts of small items while you go about your business. And because of the unique design, these pants are completely true to size; so there’s no need to go up or down a size, as these babies are guaranteed to fit perfectly. Even better is the fact that no build or physique is foreign to this pair of pants, it is obvious that versatility is a strong suit here. To crown it all up, these come at a steal while holding quality to the highest possible level.
Made of nylon and taffeta
Both waterproof and breathable
Fitted with numerous zipper pockets
They are true to size
- Weight11.5 ounces
You will probably be surprised at how many articles of clothing simply hang there like a second skin without bringing anything tangible to the table. That is where the Columbia men’s Rapid River pant really stands out. Using what they call Omni-shade technology, the material used here guards the wearer against harmful UVA as well as UVB rays. What exactly does this do? It goes a long way to prevent sunburn or any kind of sun-related skin damage. This is all thanks to the tight weave construction coupled with UV absorbent yarns which are used to build up the material.
Altogether, this combination is responsible for blocking out UV rays which cause skin deterioration in instantly or in the long run. And in terms of design, this is also a really great product, as there are a bunch of seemingly insignificant features here that work together to create a bombshell effect. One such is the installation of two handy side pockets on the pants which go a long way to help with the storage of tidbits here and there. Additionally, there is a semi-elastic waist and gusset attachment that takes the comfort level up several notches. On a more general note, these pants come in an active fit, so the stretchiness of it is sure to add to the comfort altogether.
Made from a combination of cotton and elastane
Fitted with two side pockets
We appreciate the care Columbia brings to their line of hiking pants and nowhere is this care and attention to detail more evident than in their Men’s Silver Ridge convertible pants. These are, in our opinion, the best looking outdoor pants the company makes and they’re every bit as comfortable as they are attractive.
Men’s Silver Ridge convertible pants are lightweight wonders that keep you warm, dry and comfortable regardless of conditions. They’re cut to accommodate hiking boots so you can pick up a pair for your next mountaineering adventure. But they also convert easily to shorts so that when the sun comes out and things warm up you’re ready to adjust. Lots of pockets with both flaps and zippers to hold your emergency kit and they’re surprisingly effective against the wind.
They call them “tactical pants” but we’ll call them what they are, hiking pants. And damned good ones too. Their 65% polyester rip-stop duratex fabric takes whatever the trail can dish out and emerges unscathed. The elasticized waistband minimizes the need to carry a belt and in a move after our hearts they’ve included 8 cargo pockets for carrying various survival kit, camp gear, maps and more.
The CQR Mens Hiking Pants are lightweight and breathable, easy to clean, double stitched all around and stain resistant as well. They dry quickly when they get wet, provide full range of motion, have reinforced seat and knees, won’t bind when you sit and can be worn over polypro long underwear or under wind pants when the old north wind begins to blow. Whether you’re heading for the summit or to the campsite for the weekend these are the kind of all-purpose outdoor hiking pants you’ll want to be wearing. Be sure to also check out our list of the best men’s Chinos for more great items like this.
The Men’s TacLite Pro hiking pants from 5.11 are an upgrade of their standard tactical pants, this time with a fully gusseted crotch, lightweight ripstop fabric throughout and plenty of pockets. Those pockets are conveniently located and generously proportioned so you can always have your emergency kit at hand. There’s even a dedicated knife pocket on the right front.
That knife pocket features cordura nylon reinforcement and the pants as a whole are treated with Teflon Wear Resistant Finish so mud, coffee and any other potential stain agents slide right off. The heavy duty belt loops won’t give out if you’re carrying your large survival knife on your belt and the YKK zippers on these hiking pants are as tough as they are dependable. There’s also a clip loop on the front where you can hang your tactical flashlight or compass. Tough, durable, stain resistant and attractive. What else do you want in hiking pants?
The Columbia Men’s Pilsner hiking pants are as tough as they come and feature high performance Omin-Wick technology. They’re a more tailored pant than most of the others on our list but the material is flexible enough to nonetheless provide full range of motion. Regardless of whether you’re spending the weekend parked in the campsite or plan to engage in an epic trek across the ridge the Columbia Pilsner hiking pants won’t let you down.
The Columbia Men’s Pilsner hiking pants are as tough as they come and feature high performance Omin-Wick technology. They’re a more tailored pant than most of the others on our list but the material is flexible enough to nonetheless provide full range of motion. Regardless of whether you’re spending the weekend parked in the campsite or plan to engage in an epic trek across the ridge the Columbia Pilsner hiking pants won’t let you down. Be sure to also check out our list of the best overalls for men for more great items like this.
The Men’s Cascades hiking pants from Columbia are built for the outdoors. The company hasn’t wasted any effort creating the Cascades so they can be worn to the office on casual day. These are outdoor pants, built for the trail. They’re as comfortable as they are durable and as durable as they are practical.
The Cascades hiking pants feature a gusseted crotch, UV 50 sun protection, articulated knees for ease of motion and strength and “Omni-Shield” repellency that ensures the pants don’t succumb to mud, dirt and other debris. There’s also a half-dozen pockets to hold your survival kit, maps, power bars and more. Whether you’re heading up the mountain on a cool day or lounging by the campfire after a day of fly fishing these pants will suit you well.
The Bienzoe Men’s Outdoor hiking pants take “unassuming” to a whole ‘nother level. The cut may produce the cleanest profile of any hiking pants out there while at the same time managing to be comfortable and leaving enough room for underlayers should the temperature call for them. Ideal for those who aren’t thrilled by the sometimes overwrought profile of hiking gear in general and hiking pants in particular.
The stovepipe nature of the pant legs on the Bienzoe Men’s Outdoor pants somehow don’t impede freedom of movement, which is a pretty good trick. Overall these are comfortable and durable, water resistant and quick to dry if you stumble in a creek or get caught in a cloudburst. The ripstop fabric means they don’t shy away from underbrush and every pair is equipped with YKK zippers. The pockets are robust and numerous enough that you can remove some of the load from your back and distribute it down your legs. When your hiking odyssey is ended just toss them in the washing machine on cold.
Hiking Pants Buyers Guide
Here are some common questions related to choosing a pair of hiking pants that will fit your needs.
Q: How Should Hiking Pants Fit?
A: When it comes to fit your pants should be comfortable and not do anything to impede your freedom of movement. In all likelihood you’re not taking another pair of pants hiking with you so you have to make sure the ones you have aren’t in any way irritating. Here’s how you can test your pants before you ever venture into the woods with them.
Squat – Do a full squat and hold it. Are the pants pinching you anywhere? If they are that pinching effect will likely develop into a problem long term. Are they riding up to mid-calf on you? They should stay within a few inches of the top of your hiking boot or they’re too short. Is your butt still in the pants? If you’re displaying double moons it means the pants are too small for you.
Sit – If the pants are tight or otherwise uncomfortable during normal sitting you should try another pair.
Raise one knee at a time – Raise each knee as high as you can. Did your pants stay on? Did they split in the crotch? Did they prevent you from lifting your knee as high as you wanted to? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes” try another pair.
Q: How To Choose Appropriate Hiking Pants
A: Beyond the above considerations some other things you should look for in hiking pants are durability, breathability, quick drying, a belt or drawstring of some kind (because you’re going to lose weight hiking all day) and weight (lighter for summer, heavier for winter hiking). If the pants meet all of those criteria and also speak to you from a design and color standpoint then they’re likely just right for you.
Q: What Are The Best Make Of Hiking Pants?
A: As you might be able to tell from the above list we’re partial to the Columbia brand. Not because anyone here has a stake in Columbia (we don’t) but just because they consistently produce high quality, high durability, good fitting, attractive hiking and trekking pants for any season and just about any conditions.
Q: What’s The Best Material For Hiking Pants?
A: They should be made of lightweight material that is breathable and effectively wicks moisture away while retaining heat. For cold weather hikes you can’t lose with wool but there are also a number of synthetic alternatives available today if you find wool to be irritating. Remember; the fact that it’s cold out doesn’t necessarily mean you need heavier pants. Wind pants that prevent the cold wind from penetrating through to your skin may be all you need. Either that or leggings made of spandex, polypropylene or nylon under the pants. If the weather turns warmer you can always remove layers to adjust.
Things To Look For When Buying Hiking Pants
Here are a few more things you’ll want to keep in mind when searching for the right pair of hiking pants.
Material – As we mentioned above you’ll want your hiking pants to wick away moisture, breath and keep you warm. As such a nylon soft shell that protects you from wind and light rain are preferred by many people. You might also consider spandex as it will allow an excellent range of motion. When the weather begins to get chilly though you should seriously consider wool. Merino wool will wick away moisture while also preventing odor buildup and keeping you toasty warm.
Weight – Most hikers have only the pants they’re wearing when they hike through the woods so they don’t worry much about the weight. However, if you want to go the extra mile and stow a second, backup, pair in the pack you’ll definitely need to consider the weight of those pants. As a general rule you’ll want that backup pair to tip the scales at less than 1 pound and there are plenty of hiking pants out there that will fit the bill, including several of the pants on the above list.
Pockets – Some people are believers in the virtues of spandex outdoor pants and that’s great. For our money though we want pockets. Pockets allow you to better distribute the weight you’re carrying. You can also put your survival gear like the tactical flashlight, compass and multi-tool etc in your pants pocket and they’ll be immediately accessible in any situation. Maps, candles, the fire starter, energy bars and more are also excellent candidates for the pockets of your hiking pants.
Water resistance – Although you won’t find hiking pants that are completely waterproof (true waterproof hiking pants would have almost no breathability) it’s typically not necessary. The important thing is that they’re water resistant and able to dry quickly. Any of the hiking pants listed above will do a decent job drying out if they get wet in a downpour or crossing a stream.
Belts – If you’ve been hiking all day with little more than a power bar since breakfast 10 hours earlier you’re going to find your pants slipping down on you. It’s only natural. To keep your hiking pants where they belong you’ll want either a built in belt, a drawstring or belt loops for your own belt. In addition many types of outdoor pants come with a belt included.
Make and price – Some people will want to stick to brands they either have experience with or have at least heard of. For other people, who makes their hiking trousers is entirely irrelevant. While we like to see competition in the marketplace when it comes to something like hiking pants and other climbing gear we’d tend to stick with the brand names. But that’s just us. One of the great thing about outdoor pants is that you can get an excellent pair that will last you for years (including some brand name hiking pants) for about the price of a large pizza. Amazing.