Jeans look great. They are rugged and even last for many years. However, have you ever tried wearing jeans for outdoor activities? They are hot, heavy and even useless when they get wet. In fact, you would require some scissors or even a knife to convert jeans trousers into a pair of shorts.
The good news is that, you can leave those jeans at home. Hikers require versatile, comfortable and functional pants for backpacking or hiking. There are many considerations to make when selecting the appropriate backpacking pants for you.
Especially for those of you who don’t have a lot of experience with hiking yet… keep reading!
This, right here, is the stuff you wish you could tell your past self to spare him/her from becoming soaked all the way up to your belly button.
Types of Hiking Pants
Pants can be divided into different categories depending on their respective designs. One of the main features considered when buying a pair of pants for hiking, is whether to go for one that converts into a capris or one that converts into a pair of shorts. This guide will help you to select the right hiking pants, specific to your adventure.
These are hiking pants with a zipper on both legs. The zipper is usually fitted above the knee. This feature allows you to remove the lower section of the legs, thus ending up with shorts. Many hikers prefer this versatility, instead of carrying a separate pair of pants or hiking shorts. The leg bottoms can be easily washed once they get dirty, without removing the pants entirely.
Roll up Pants
These ones provide an alternative option to the convertible hiking pants. The pants can be rolled up or the bottoms can be buttoned, thus converting them to capris. They can promote breathability and good air movement just like shorts, without any extra weight.
Sizing, Mobility and Fit
Form-fitting is usually the best fit to go for, when looking for a pair of outdoor pants. However, avoid pants that are too tight, as they will limit your mobility. Some people go for a looser fit. Baggy pants are not perfect for hiking, since you will have to bear with extra material hanging around. On the other hand, pants that are too tight will lead to chaffing on your legs. Outdoor pants with gusseted crotches and articulated ankles are the most flexible, comfortable and mobile when trekking. Pants designed with a certain portion of stretch material like spandex will also provide a comfortable fit and easy travel.
Climate and Destination
The last thing, and a very important consideration to make when buying hiking pants, is the prevailing weather where you will be hiking. Different pants are ideal for different weather conditions, as you will find out below.
Cool or Temperate
For fall and spring hiking, or hiking at higher elevations, go for pants that can provide sufficient protection against cold as well as strong winds. Although some days might be hot, you can always counter this by rolling up your pants. If you encounter a rainstorm, the ability of your pants to repel water and remain dry should be an important consideration. Nylon fabrics repel water and also dry faster, once they become wet.
Hot and Dry
If you will be hiking in low elevation summer or desert conditions, you might find it challenging to identify the appropriate pants. Excessive heat might tempt you to go with hiking shorts. On the other hand, you still require sufficient protection against strong sunshine as well as wind. There is also foliage to consider. Convertibles are the most appropriate in these situations.
If you will be hiking for many days, and you are limited in terms of what to carry, ensure that your hiking pants are multipurpose. Convertible pants are more preferable for thru hikers or backpackers. The most important consideration is to choose a fitting pair of pants, comfortable and durable to last you the entire time in the wilderness.
Best Women’s Hiking Pants
1. 4ucycling Windproof Athletic Pants for Outdoor and Multi Sports
These comfortable pants for hiking have been crafted using polyester and spandex knitting. This makes them one of the strongest athlete’s pants. They are well built, industrial and durable making them a great choice for camping, hiking, backpacking or other outdoor activities. Featuring double layer synthetic material on the front, this 75% polyester makes them highly water repellant without being too tight or clingy. This means that you are given more flexibility in terms of mobility. The back contains breathable material. The combination of spandex and polyester is designed to give you extra comfort levels with the help of exceptional cushioning and padding. This material combination also enhances aeration, which is very important in preventing sweating, especially during those rigorous hiking trips. Interior is thermo-lined with fleece, a feature which is very essential in preventing heat loss from the body. Therefore, the pants will be able to keep warm, even when you are hiking in snowy conditions. Thermal retention abilities are also enhanced by the padding in the knee area. Ankles have been zippered, which makes it easy to put over the boots, thus reducing loose fitting and flapping. Reflective hiking keeps you secure when you are out there in the darkness. They can be worn outdoors or even as indoor comfortable wear, when it is chilly and cold.
2. Match Classic Straight Leg Multi Pocket Cargo Pants
The Match Women’s Classic are among the best cargo pants for hiking. Created using 100% cotton, you are getting a pair of hiking pants that will give you long-term service. They are ideal for all manner of outdoor recreation, which include camping and hiking. Designed with a drawstring at the waist, you can easily adjust them according to your fit. Leg cuffs have been added to prevent loose fitting and to enhance a tight fit around the hiking boots. These pants have multiple pockets, which you can fit the smaller items and accessories such as wallets. The high quality cotton fabric used to make them is also non-stretch, comfortable and soft to wear. The pants are functional and durable, thus ideal for all manner of casual occasions. In terms of sizing, it is recommended that you go two sizes up, sometimes three, depending on your usual fit. For example, if you wear size 5 or 6 in American pants, then you should order size XL/8. They are not too tight, giving you the freedom move around easily.
3. Columbia Sportswear Storm Surge Pant
Featuring breathable and waterproof Omni-tech fabric, these hiking pants can be used in every wet situation. Seams have been firmly sealed to make sure that water does not penetrate, keeping you warm and dry even during heavy storms. They are light enough to be fitted inside your golf bag, and versatile enough for a wide range of outdoor activities. The pants are very functional. Regardless of how strong the storm is, these pants will withstand the splashing, the mud, and even sitting on wet grounds and you will not encounter any wetness issue. Drawstring closure allows you to adjust according to your waist size. It can also be loosened when you need some breathing around the waist area. The elastic waist is also weatherproof. The fit is great and they feel comfortable overall. Interior is highly breathable, thanks to the mesh lining. They are light enough to be worn during any weather, whether fall or summer.
4. Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail Pant
Hiking pants should be comfortable and lightweight, and that is exactly what these ones have to offer. Featuring Omni-Shade UPF 50, you are guaranteed of advanced repellency and sun protection. They can be easily rolled up, and then converted to Capri knee pants. Security pockets have a zippered closure to ensure that your valuables remain safe and secure from pickpockets or falling down. The fit is comfortable, but still flexible enough not to constrict your movement. The material used to make them is great. It also stretches a bit to give the body enough breathing space, especially during the hot summer weather. The pants take a very short time to dry. Therefore, you can even wash them when you are taking your lunch, wear them and proceed with your hiking trip! Side pockets are firmly sewn to the main fabric. This means that they don’t bulge out. A zippered knee pocket has been added, which comes in very handy, when you want to store little things that can easily get lost such as hotel keys. There are two additional backside pockets, which you can use to store your wallets.
5. 11 Tactical Taclite Pro Pants
Fashionable and stylish, the 5.11 Women’s Taclite Pro Pants are created using lightweight poly-cotton fabric. The crotch is fully gusseted to allow easy movement. Pockets are located in such a way that you have quick access to your gear, anytime you need it. The right front side has an external knife pocket, where you can easily store your knife with the hand that is not engaged. The pocket knife is strengthened with 100% cordura nylon. Slash pockets are designed in the rear. Created using 35% non-fading poly-cotton ripstop and 65% lightweight polyester, you get pants that are highly functional. The combination of the two materials also maintains a clean, neat professional look. They also feature HT Teflon Wear-Resistant Finish for soil and stain resistance. Therefore, they are able to retain that crisp look regardless of the hiking conditions. They come with thick belt loops, which are strong enough to support the weight of any side equipment. The fit is nice, just what you would expect in tactical pants for hiking. They can be used for both long and short hikes, and you will always remain comfortable.
6. Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail II Knee Pant
The Trail II Knee pant is one of the best hiking pants for hot weather. The UPF 50 sun protection ensures sufficient sun shielding. Combined with Omni-shield moisture and stain repellency, you get the protection needed, as you hit the trails. A zipper is added on the security pocket to make sure that your items remain safe, wherever you are. The fit is slightly smaller. Therefore, you can order one size up. Again, this depends on the body type. Designed using lightweight material, they will dry fast on the go. The styling and cut is nicely done, just the kind of pants you need for the weather in the tropics. They are easy to clean and maintain, and easy to pack as well, whenever you are travelling. The elastics fitted at the knees work nicely. They stretch well to fit the curves of the avid hiker. They are comfortably loose without feeling buggy. Therefore, you get flexible mobility, while maintaining your style even when you are out there in the woods. Although they are designed for the hot weather, they tend to be water resistant, just in case you get caught by light showers.
7. prAna Regular Inseam Halle Pant
Moisture managing, reinforced at the knees and durable, these versatile Halle pants are just what you need for desert bouldering, mountain climbing or whatever outdoor activity you have in mind. They will always push you to the limit. Created using 97% nylon and 3% spandex, you get lightweight and comfortable pants. There are different colors to choose from, depending on the weather or even personal preferences. The material used to make them is light, making it easy to wash them. They are also easy to pack and stuff inside your bag, without taking too much space. The knees are articulated to give you a more comfortable fit, as well as freedom of movement. The pants are also water resistant. Fit is great, and also tend to be flexible, without sticking to your body. A drawcord inside provides for a more fitted waist. The cut is great and the sizing is perfect. They are also abrasion proof. Therefore, just expect them to handle the rugged outdoor conditions comfortably, without easily getting worn out. The pants are reliable and great, don’t stain and they can be easily cleaned. These nylon pants are just what you need as you plan your next hike.
8. Columbia Sportswear Cascades Explorer Pant
If you are searching for breathable, packable and lightweight travelling options for your next hiking trip, these Explorer pants should be worth considering. The fit and sizing are great. However, if you want something that is not too tight at the waist, order a full size up. They are thick and sturdy to handle tough trail conditions. Breathability and ventilation has been taken care of, to make sure that you don’t over heat, even when hiking at the Grand Canyon where temperatures can be extreme. Made using light fabric, they are easy to wash and quick to dry. You can even wash them every night and wear them when they are fresh and dry, the following morning. They also wick away sweat, keeping you cool during hot days. They tend to expand during hot weather, just as your body expands, to provide a comfortable and breathable fit. You can fit your point-and-shoot camera, or even the cell phone inside the cargo pockets on the legs, and they will not feel snug. Velcro closure on the back helps to keep the flaps down.
9. Columbia Anytime Outdoor Bootcut Pant
Treated against the harmful effects of UV rays and extreme rain, these flattering and durable cut pants will keep you comfortable and protected, throughout your hiking trip. Featuring 96% nylon and 4% elastane, you get a pair of lightweight and comfortable pants. These quick dry pants for hiking are available in more than 5 colors, giving you a wide range of choice. Closure system is zipper, snap and drawstring. You can therefore adjust them easily, based on the fit that you prefer. Featuring Omni-shield advanced repellency; these pants will keep you protected against the harsh outdoor weather. The fabric used is 2-way stretch. Therefore, they will not stick to the skin when the body expands during hot weather, but they will stretch accordingly. The stretch factor also makes them perfect for mountain climbing. When you are travelling, these lightweight hiking pants will simply roll and pack, taking a very small space. Since they are nylon, you can even wash them in a kitchen sink, ready for another great hiking day. The fabric is soft, smooth and flows nicely. They also have a small pocket on the rear, which you can use to carry your IDs, credit cards and such smaller items.
10. Columbia Anytime Outdoor Full Leg Pant
Featuring a classic outdoor style, these full leg pants are made from lite fabric for all-season comfort. They are designed with rain-resisting and sun protection properties, to ensure that your hike is very comfortable. The fabric used to make them stretches, thus giving you a wider range of motion. The closure can be adjusted through a zipper, drawstring or snap. It all depends on the combination that gives you a nice fit. Another great feature is that they don’t shrink, even if you put them in the air dryer. These pants are comfortable and lightweight, easy to travel with and the maintenance needs are just minimal. You can choose from four different colors, which are black, tusk, nocturnal and pulse. Versatility is another benefit that you get from these pants. Apart from hiking, they can be worn to the gym or even for date nights. They are true to size. As much as they might feel snug when you first put them on, they will eventually stretch within a short period.
Best Men’s Hiking Pants
1. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
These quick-wicking and durable pants feature plentiful storage and built-in sun protection, making them perfect for warm-weather hiking. Made from 100% nylon, they are easy to clean and dry. Travelling with them is equally easy, since they fold into a miniature pack that does not consume space in your travelling bag. Side cargo pockets can be used to carry your quick access accessories like a pocket knife. Their advanced evaporation technology ensures that you always remain cool and fresh. No buildup of heat or perspiration inside regardless of the prevailing temperatures. The width and length are true to size while the material used is of high quality. They can be easily converted into shorts during hot weather. They are great for long-distance hiking and travelling, as well as various other outdoor activities. The pants are durable and lightweight. They allow free and easy movement, whether you are hiking, or mountain climbing. They can be worn all-year round, without exposing you to extreme weather elements.
2. Columbia Big-Tall Silver Ridge Cargo Pants
These cargo pants for hiking are made from ultra-lightweight fabric, just like parachutes. During high winds, they inflate. This billowing is designed to enhance interior cooling and billowing. Since you will be buying them for hiking, you should go a size higher, to give you that flexibility and ease of movement. They have six pockets. One has been secured with a zipper. This is perfect for storing most of your valuables like keys, credit cards and other smaller items, which can easily get lost in the woods. The remaining five pockets are Velcro-secured. Cargo pockets don’t appear bloated since they are low profile, unless you have stuffed them with large items. The pockets also feature mesh lining, which is perfect for breathing. The paper-thin fabric ensures that you travel light even when you get splashed by a downpour. The benefit is that they dry quickly. Even when you are rained on, they will just require an hour or so, and they will be dry. Additionally, you can clean them every evening during your hiking trip, and they will be dry be the time you wake up. It is a nice pair of pants for hiking, camping or fishing, especially during the hot summer months. They are feather light, cool and protective.
3. White Sierra Trail 32-Inch Inseam Convertible Pant
The Sierra Trail pants are ideal for almost every outdoor activity. Whether it is hiking, fishing, camping or even trekking, they are comfortable and lightweight. They are easily convertible from full-length to knee length, thanks to the zip-off feature at the knees. Made from lightweight nylon, they provide UPF 30 sun protection. The material also features a water-resistant finish, ensuring that they dry quickly. With a comfortable elastic waistband, they can be worn by people with different waist sizes. Two side cargo pockets, together with two front slash pockets will accommodate all your miscellaneous gear. With the rip and stick adjustment tabs, you can easily secure the cuffs to the ankles thus keeping the pants up. This also helps to keeping them away from debris and mud. At first, they might appear as if they will fall apart within one mile of your hiking. However, you will soon realize that they were designed for longevity. They can handle numerous backpacking trips, without any sign of wear and tear. The material is durable and lightweight. They are easy to clean and dry easily.
4. White Sierra Trail Convertible Pant
From sunny river banks to scorching deserts all the way to mountain trails, the Sierra Point Convertible Pant easily converts from pants to shorts and vice versa, with changing temperatures. Created using lightweight woven fabric, they dry out fast and easy. Ventilation is nice and they don’t limit mobility. There is a Velcro strap at the bottom of the legs. This helps to secure them to the boot. It also prevents them from flapping around, or collecting dirt or mud. The strip also comes in handy, especially when you are hiking in areas that are infested with bugs. They prevent bugs and such from creeping up your legs to God knows where! The fabric used is also water resistant. Therefore, you don’t have to worry anymore about getting soaked when a downpour hits you on the trails. Their construction is solid, giving you some of the best convertible pants for hiking. Zippers have been fitted at the leg openings, providing an easy slip on and off, especially when wearing your hiking boots. On the other hand, the Velcro straps help in tightening them around the sleeves.
5. Columbia Rebel Roamer Pant
The Columbian Rebel Roamer is one of those outdoor pants for wet weather. They should be the first thing you pack, when you are heading for trails that experience frequent raining. These technical pants provide protection and comfort, from the city to the wilderness. They have high breathability and waterproofing rating, which makes them ideal for hiking under different weather conditions. Featuring 70D nylon fabric, Omni-Tech double layer waterproofing, and fully sealed seams, they will ensure you remain dry, regardless of the weather conditions. Interior lining is 100% nylon, reinforced with 210T taffeta for additional warmth, especially when it gets cold. They are designed with a wide elastic waist band, as well as modern classic fit. This makes it easy to adjust, for a perfect sure fit. The leg openings are adjustable. They are also fitted with hook and look cuff tabs, allowing easy adjustment of the pants, over the boots. They are windproof, waterproof, lightweight, breathable, durable and easy to pack and wear. These hiking pants will ensure that you remain dry, even when the trail conditions involve heavy rainstorms.
6. Columbia Convertible II Pant
The last thing you want to deal with during your hiking trip is torn pants. However, thanks to the nylon construction on this durable pair, that will not be a problem. They are made from strong nylon material, which is rip-resistant. This means that those pricks from thorny trees will hardly affect your hiking pants. Due to their lightweight construction, you will remain comfortable, throughout your hot-weather hiking trip. The waistband is partially elastic to accommodate changing waist size especially during hot weather. This also provides you with an added level of comfort. It is not always easy or convenient to change over to a pair of shorts, especially when the temperatures start rising. On the other hand, getting stuck in pair of full-length pants is not always comfortable. The manufacturer has taken this into consideration, thus designed these pants with a zip at the knee area. Therefore, you can easily turn your pants into shorts conveniently, and let your legs enjoy the summer breeze. Whether you choose to wear them as shorts or pants, you will still enjoy the same level of convenient functionality. The lightweight material used in making them dries fast while the back security compartment keeps your items secure.
7. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
The Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants are highly stretchy and mobile, designed for all your hiking-related activities. Although they lack a convertible feature, you can easily roll them up, and then secure them using the drawcord above the calf. They are highly breathable, which makes them among the best hiking pants for hot weather. Their design is minimalist and the pockets are very few, which makes them highly packable. With a borderline snug and sleek fit, they stretch and fit your form without any issues. They feature DWR coating as well as quick drying material, thus suitable for hiking in wet weather climates. They are a great option for someone who is looking for a reasonably-priced pair of durable outdoor pants.
8. Columbia Sportswear Silver Ridge Cargo Pant
Mile after mile, these cargo pants will wrap you in comfort, as you hit those trails. With ripstop nylon fabric, you are assured of long-lasting wear. On the other hand, the Omni-Wick fabric treatment helps to wipe or pull sweat away from the body immediately. Featuring a UPF rating of 50, the fabric is designed to offer reliable protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Featuring side cargo pockets, you can easily store your travel and trail items. Two rear pockets and front hand pockets provide additional space to store you hiking essentials. The crotch is gusseted, thus providing freedom of movement for that extra comfort. For a comfortable and secure fit, the pants have an integrated elastic and webbing belt on the side.
9. ExOfficio Nomad Pant, Regular
With the ExOfficio Men’s Nomad Pants, you are ready for your hiking adventures. They resist water, stains and wrinkles, keeping you looking good, even in the wild. The nylon fabric used to make them offers a breathable and cool comfort. When combined with easy-care and durability, you get one of the best materials for hiking pants. The fabric used in making them features Teflon treatment that repels water and stains. Additionally, the fabric provides UPF 30 sun protection. This is very effective in protecting the skin, against harmful effects of UV rays. A full in-seam gusset as well as a partial elastic waistband provides a comfortable fit. You also get a wider range of motion. The rear and leg pockets are zippered to secure your travel accessories. They are perfectly suited for warm weather hiking.
10. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
These Silver Ridge Convertible pants are lightweight and thin. They are just perfect for hiking during hot conditions while still providing adequate protection. With three lengths and 11 waist sizes to choose from, they are able to provide many sizing options. The face fabric is soft and smooth against the skin while the elastic waist allows easy adjustment. These breathable hiking pants will ensure that you remain cooler, especially during hot trail conditions. Their durability is unsurpassed, which can be attributed to the ripston nylon material. They offer sufficient pockets for storing and securing your items when on the move or hiking. Their convertible legs provide an easy transition to shorts, especially when the weather gets hotter. Back pockets have covering flaps that stick to the Velcro tabs. This feature helps to secure your valuables inside the pockets. They are perfect for backpacking, travelling, and hiking especially in warmer climates.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Women’s Hiking Pants
- 1.1 1. 4ucycling Windproof Athletic Pants for Outdoor and Multi Sports
- 1.2 2. Match Classic Straight Leg Multi Pocket Cargo Pants
- 1.3 3. Columbia Sportswear Storm Surge Pant
- 1.4 4. Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail Pant
- 1.5 5. 11 Tactical Taclite Pro Pants
- 1.6 6. Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail II Knee Pant
- 1.7 7. prAna Regular Inseam Halle Pant
- 1.8 8. Columbia Sportswear Cascades Explorer Pant
- 1.9 9. Columbia Anytime Outdoor Bootcut Pant
- 1.10 10. Columbia Anytime Outdoor Full Leg Pant
- 2 Best Men’s Hiking Pants
- 2.1 1. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
- 2.2 2. Columbia Big-Tall Silver Ridge Cargo Pants
- 2.3 3. White Sierra Trail 32-Inch Inseam Convertible Pant
- 2.4 4. White Sierra Trail Convertible Pant
- 2.5 5. Columbia Rebel Roamer Pant
- 2.6 6. Columbia Convertible II Pant
- 2.7 7. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
- 2.8 8. Columbia Sportswear Silver Ridge Cargo Pant
- 2.9 9. ExOfficio Nomad Pant, Regular
- 2.10 10. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
This page was authored by Brian Bradshaw, who represents the Boot Bomb. Brian is backed up by an expert team, made up of experienced family and friends, all of which are knowledgeable in the ways of footwear and/or hiking. His ancestors used to own a shoe store for almost a century. He has lived and breathed footwear for as long as he can remember.
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