Best Hiking Pants Reviewed & Tested
Let's talk hiking pants. And to be clear we're talking hiking pants, not shorts. When the going gets tough we're always going to suggest going with pants just because of the protection they provide. That means protection from the elements of course but also from biting things, and not just ticks. These days heading out into the wild is a bit more dangerous as some tropical diseases that used to live way beyond America's southern borders are finding their way, in general, anything from Zika to Dengue Fever to Chikungunya (google them). So just in general we're going to say pants are the way to go. Trust us on this one, the momentary discomfort of pants is nothing compared to the pain of something like Dengue.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
Triple stitch reinforcement
Lots of extra pockets
- 5-11 TacLite Pro
- Match Wild
- Columbia Silver Ridge
- Arctix SnowSports
- CQR Assault
- White Sierra Trail
- Columbia Royce Peak
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Hiking Pants
1. 5-11 TacLite Pro
Triple stitch reinforcement
Lots of extra pockets
Average breathability in the heat
Buyers not familiar with the 5.11 brand will find a new appreciation for them after trying the TacLite’s. They are comfortable, strong and can be worn with several different styles.Read more
A Good Balance of Materials
Using a Polyester/Cotton blend, the TacLite Pro Pants will pass the durability test with flying colors. And when it comes to comfort, it ranks as one of the best available.
These pants are built with a 65% Polyester/35% Cotton blend which makes them comfortable. In addition, they are rip, stain, soil and spill resistant which means they' stand up strong in the worst conditions
Cost And Value
The price can go from low to mid-high depending on what size and color you get. With such high durability, it will become your go-to hiking pants during any day of the week.
2. Match Wild
Ideal for multiple outdoor activities
Easy to care for
Left slant decoration not included for some of the better colors
Bringing a bit of balance to the list is Match Men’s Wild Cargo Pants, a fantastic overall choice. Their fit is natural, leading to better customer experience.Read more
The Most Colors Available
Variety is what makes this one of the best choices for hiking. There are over 40 colors to choose from, all with their own specific details.
Unique Cotton Design
These pants are 100 percent cotton unlike most of the other pants on our list that are synthetic or a blend of fabrics. We have our issues with cotton but there's not beating the warmth and comfort of 100 percent cotton.
Cost And Value
The price remains low for this specific model of pants and is a good reason why it is a customer favorite. With good value, to begin with, you can expect to come back for some more pairs with different colors.
3. Columbia Silver Ridge
Converts into shorts
Deep cargo pockets
Highest priced on the list
Columbia makes the list again, this time within the top three. Their convertible model lives up to its name and is one of the more stylized options for hiking pants.Read more
The Best Looking
No other pair of pants on this best hiking pants list can compare to the looks of the Silver Ridge Convertible. They have plenty of color choices to cement the look which promotes purchasing multiple pairs at once.
Added Sun Protection
These 100 percent nylon pants allow the manufacturers to add UPF 50 sun protection which gives these pants even more value than just as a solid hiking pant.
Cost And Value
The price goes from low to mid-high depending on the size and color, making it the most expensive but not by a lot. For both cold and hot climates, this is the ultimate value for customers.
Zippers are built tough
Reflective logo for visibility
Sizes run small
Available in black and black/red, these pants will surprise a lot of users that are used to traditional hiking pants. No matter what your size, they go on smooth and offer next level protection when outdoors.Read more
Great Size Choices
From small to 4XL, there is a size for everyone. And for additional help the sizes also come with weight recommendations.
Sure to Keep you Warm
These pants are made of 75% synthetic material designed to hold in heat. In addition they are thermo lined and water repelling, making them the perfect pant for a cold damp hike.
Cost And Value
No matter what size or color you use the price will be low. With a little bit of experimenting buyers will find this is a very comfortable pair of hiking pants.
5. Arctix SnowSports
Thick and insulated without being overbearing
Adjustable waist for all sizes
Not very water resistant
One of the premier high-end brands comes from Arctix with their SnowSports Cargo Pants. There are more than enough features to make this one of the best and to keep customers coming back for more.Read more
Keeping the elements out of your pants is important during harsh temperatures. So when it is cold outside you can depend on these pants to keep you warm.
There pants come with a great little feature of boot Gaiters with grippers. This helps keep the warm air in, and the wet out.
Cost And Value
With all of the options considered, it comes in low and can end up being mid-high priced when you look at the deeper end. For cold climates there will be a lot of use for these types of hiking pants.
6. CQR Assault
8 available pockets
Resistant to fades, shrinks and wrinkles
Sizing can be off for some users
There are sixteen total colors that can be bought, and they all look great. But the strength of these hiking pants is not in the myriad of colors and is more about their strength.Read more
Not just the pants, but the buttons and zippers are made to withstand damage. They are made of high-density metal alloy so will be the last thing on the pants to give you problems.
Easy to Clean
These pants are made with Duratex which made to repel the dirt, damp, and all kinds of messes that you'll come across during a hike. The pants themselves are also a comfortable 65% polyester 35% cotton mix.
Cost And Value
Low priced, buyers won’t have any issues paying for multiple pairs of these. The value will depend on how accurate the sizes are for your particular body.
7. White Sierra Trail
Great for travel
Built-in zip off legs
Zippers get stuck
Hiking pants don’t have to be all utility, so it’s nice when companies add in a little flair. White Sierra went the extra mile with this pair by giving users a lot of choices with their purchase.Read more
Available colors are bark, caviar, stone, dark sage, sage, and deep lichen green. They are all vibrant in colors and perfect for buyers that desire good looking hiking pants.
These pants are designed to keep all the bad stuff from negatively affecting your hike. Not only are they packed with UPF Sun protection but they are fully water repellent.
Cost And Value
Depending on the color and size, buyers will be looking at a low to average price. Since they are convertible pants, the value is big.
Great fitting options for all sizes
Highly stylized and comfortable
Slightly less durable than other offerings
Polyester has often done battle with other materials for the top spot with hiking pants. The Clothin company opted for a bolder approach to how they make their pants, so this may turn a lot of heads.Read more
They didn’t hide it, and this pair of pants wins the comfort points over a lot of others on the list. By giving up a little bit of durability they made a pair of hiking pants that can be worn for hours.
We like these pants because of their dedication to keeping you warm. Not only are they windproof and waterproof but the fleece lining ensures you'll stay warm and dry.
Cost And Value
You’re not going to pay a lot of money for these low priced pants, so that’s good news. Buyers that need more comfort over durability will find these pants the most appealing.
9. Columbia Royce Peak
Advanced repellent technology built-in
Roomy security pocket
Side zipper is in an awkward place
Combining some of the finest elements in hiking pants have helped the Royce Peak model become popular over the years. It is built to last and has a design that makes sense in everyday casual wear.Read more
Using a combination of 96% nylon and 4% elastane, the overall comfort level is great. This is one pair of hiking pants that you won’t need to worry about failing the longevity test.
You may not think that you're going to need UPF sun protection with a pair of hiking pants but we for one appreciate Columbia's commitment to keeping us safe and comfortrable.
Cost And Value
Depending on the size, the price will be somewhere between the low and average range. Due to the quality of the materials, there is plenty of value in purchasing this product.
Lightweight compared to other pants
Lots of storage space
All sizes need to be converted for US size
Imported hiking pants have a lot of benefits, with the first being quality. You can count on getting a great value for the money and all of the benefits of a high-end product.Read more
Zipper Closure Positioning
Having roomy zippers doesn’t mean anything if they are located in an awkward area. Makino put it in the correct spot so that you aren’t straining to reach an important item out of your pocket.
These pants have 4 zippered pockets to allow you stow your 'stuff.' We also like sun protection, but it's the pockets we really appreciate.
Cost And Value
These low priced hiking pants are a real bargain if you can find compatible sizes. The value will come from choosing the correct sizes rather than guessing them.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Let's take a moment and go through some of our pant choices. The full pant is just what it says it is, a full legged pant that is designed to be comfortable, unrestricted and hard wearing. They are easy to pull on and off with a useful closure around the waist, some are drawstring, others button and some offer a combination of zippers and buttons. It is advisable to look for the mesh vented pants in areas liable to heat build-up, for instance in the crotch or even behind your knees. These are great when the weather is warm.
If it’s cooler then a more appropriately designed pant will be the way to go. These are often slightly thicker and can come treated with a water-repellent coating. They can protect you from moisture and also reduce abrasions on your legs, whether these standard pants are either designed as hot weather or cold weather pants; they will provide you with just the right amount of protection and ventilation for maximum comfort.
A variation on the standard pant design is the easily convertible pant, these have a handy zipper part way down the leg; allowing the bottoms to be removed when the going gets hot and you want more ventilation. This type of pant is really quite useful when you’re on a long hike because it is basically two different pairs of comfortable legwear in one. They can also be useful for wading through shallow water.
If you don’t want the slightly heavier convertible hiking pants, there are also handy roll-up designs on the market. These often have buttons and snaps which allow you to roll them up as high (or low) as you choose and are even easier than the zippered convertibles because you don’t need to remove any footwear when shortening or lengthening them.
When you think of good clothing materials to go hiking in, you probably first think of cotton. It’s light, comfortable and soft to wear - all good points, but cotton can soak up moisture and sweat, which not only makes it heavier; it can lead to uncomfortable chills when the temperature drops. Synthetic materials are by far superior for the production of hiking pants, they will be soft, lightweight and will often benefit from being moisture wicking - keeping you more comfortable for longer. Techwick is a great material for this purpose and has the versatility of being suitable to use as a base layer as well as a stand-alone product.
Another great material is Merino wool, this is produced from Merino sheep and has most of the benefits of synthetic materials. It also has a good wicking quality that will reduce both moisture and odor; that has to be a benefit when you’re out in all weathers working up a sweat. This too is suitably used on its own or as a base layer when your hike is in cooler temperatures.
There are also some pants these days that have built in bug resistance and that's something to think about. We're not sure how adventurous you might be in your hiking but if you're really heading out into the wilds this might be more than just a good idea. And even if you're just messing around in the backyard keeping the bugs at bay is always a good idea.
Here are a few pointers that can make the difference between a comfortable or uncomfortable hike. It’s probably better to choose a comfortable form fit for your hiking pants, if you choose tight pants there is a risk of chafing and they can restrict your free movement which can only be a negative on a good hike.
Loose fitting hiking pants can also be less advisable to wear due to the excess material, they will be heavier, they may catch on plants and rocks, and can soak up and hold moisture which will eventually end up making you cold and potentially spoil your hike. A good benefit to look out for when you’re searching for the ideal pair of hiking pants is the addition of spandex to the material base. The spandex will give more comfort over long use because it allows for some stretch in the pants, this is useful especially for hiking because you will probably hike up and down terrains and the give provided by the spandex will give you more of an unrestricted climb up or down.
One thing that you should think about is making sure there's a smooth waist to any pants that you buy, especially if you're planning on taking a backpack with you. That last thing you want is the bottom of your backpack rubbing against bunched up or uneven material on the waist of your pants. That's going to hurt, a lot, and the farther you go the more it's going to hurt.
And by features we mainly mean pockets. The more the better we say as long as they don't get in the way of movement, and don't snag on every twig in the forest. But there are other things to think about, like waistbands, and the ability to convert your pants into other forms. You'll want to think about drawstring waistbands, elastic of zipper button combinations. There are all kinds of different options and they all work great depending on your preference. We also like pants that come with zippers that will easily allow you to transform your pants into shorts or drawstrings that will allow you to pull up the pants leg for when wading is necessary. The key here is functionality, we want pants that help us accomplish our goals safely, not get in the way of a perfectly good hike.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
We're big fans of hiking pants and if you grow to love them as we do, you'll be tempted to wear them all the time, they're comfortable, breathable and hugely multi-purpose. Don't do this! Don't let your hiking pants become the new yoga pants. These are pants that are made to be outdoors, not serve as proof you know how to hike.
Other Factors to Consider
It may sound obvious, but in order to help you make the right choice for your purchase of hiking pants, it’s always a good idea to check where you are heading and research not only the anticipated terrain but also the weather. It may be hot where you are going during the day, but if the weather is unpredictable - the last thing you want is a pair of lighter duty hot weather pants if it turns cool. Likewise, if it’s on the cooler side, you may want to adjust your preferences to take into account the warmth the pants can provide without the possibility of over-heating. If the weather is bad, you may be better to opt for hiking pants that are pre-treated with water repellent coating. This bit of research may sound over the top, but when you’re planning on being on your hike for more than a day or two, checking the weather can mean and dressing to meet it can mean the difference between a long trip - or an early end to a great adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are short or long pants best for hiking?
That depends on a few factors; 1st - you need to be aware of the expected temperatures where you are hiking, it’s no use taking short pants when you’re hiking in the cooler climates or months. 2nd - If it’s expected to be hot where you are going, you need to consider sun and wind damage to your lower legs, burns are painful and cut your trip short. And 3rd - if you are hiking on uneven or terrain that has plants, you may be better with a longer pair to protect you from harmful plants and abrasions from rocks and obstacles. Alternatives are convertible pants or pants you can roll and fasten up.
q: Does DWR make hiking pants heavy?
No, the specific treatments are added to repel water and shouldn’t make the pants heavy. However, you should note the level of protection on any individual production specification, and here you should be able to get the pants weight as well.
q: Are all hiking pants quick drying?
No, the quick-drying materials you should look out for are nylons and synthetics, these are notably quick drying so getting caught in a shower or going through shallow waters shouldn’t be the end of your hike. The higher the content of spandex or elastic the longer the pants will take to dry.
q: Should color make a difference to my choice of hiking pants?
Broadly speaking the color can make a difference to the comfort levels you expect, darker colors will naturally soak up heat and sunlight but may be warmer in the wind and rain, and lighter colors will reflect the sun and retain some cooling effects so will be better suited to warmer climates.
q: Do hiking pants have pockets?
Yes, they do, of course, it depends on any particular brand or type you choose how many pockets are available. Some have the option of having added ventilation within the pockets so they won’t increase the heat you feel when hiking in warmer climates. You can also purchase hiking pants with adjustable waistbands so reduce the need to keep a belt with you on your trips.
q: Can I buy winter hiking pants or do I need layers?
That is entirely your decision, you can purchase fleece lined hiking pants for the colder months and climates, and you can also retain your heat through layering your kit. If it’s particularly cold when you go hiking, you should consider both base layering and winter hiking pants to prevent freezing on your hike.
q: Should I Worry About The Sizes?
Some pants on the list run smaller than others, while some run larger. Always check with the company or any provided size charts to get the correct measurements.
q: Will Rips Make The Pants Unusable?
Yes, since they depend heavily on insulation. If you can’t properly patch it up, then it would be best to purchase a new pair.
q: Are Designer Hiking Pants Better?
At a higher price, a lot of eyes are on designer hiking pants as having better quality. This isn’t true, and in a durability test, all of the pants on the list would have favorable results.