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You’ve spent countless hours in the woods, logged thousands of miles on endless hiking trails, and now you’re feeling ready for something more extreme. Your well-loved hiking pants may work well for long trail hikes and logging training miles, but when you’re ready to put your training to the test and start mountaineering, you’ll need a pant that is up for the bigger challenge of higher mountains. That’s why we here at The Adventure Junkies have taken the guesswork out of the equation to help you find the best mountaineering pants for your big adventure.

As the days get longer, the elevation gains get greater, and you begin to incorporate altitude into the mix, you will find the mountains can be very unpredictable. Fortunately, you can pick out a pair of pants from our list below to prepare yourself for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at you. And because of that, whether you encounter wind, rain, snow, or sun, your mountaineering adventure will be epic!

For more of our top mountaineering gear recommendations, check out the Best Mountaineering Socks.

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

 

Quick Answer - The Best Mountaineering Pants

  1. Outdoor Research Cirque
  2. Arc’teryx Gamma AR
  3. Mountain Hardwear Superforma
  4. Outdoor Research Iceline
  5. Patagonia Simul Alpine
  6. Black Diamond Alpine
  7. Outdoor Research Skyward II
  8. Rab Kinetic Alpine
  9. Mammut Masao HS
  10. Mountain Equipment Ibex

 

Comparison Table - Best Mountaineering Pants

PictureNameClosureType of WaterproofingShellPriceRating
Outdoor Research CirqueZipper/Button/Adjustable Velcro WaistWater ResistantSoftshell$$4.5
Arc’teryx Gamma ARZipper/Snap with Waist BeltWater ResistantSoftshell$$$4.2
Mountain Hardwear SuperformaZipper/Button/Adjustable Velcro WaistWaterproofHardshell$4.0
Outdoor Research IcelineZipper Fly/Snap/Belt LoopsWater ResistantSoftshell$$$4.25
Patagonia Simul AlpineZipper Fly/Button/Draw Band WaistWater ResistantSoftshell$$4.5
Black Diamond AlpineZipper Fly and SnapWater ResistantSoftshell$$4.25
Outdoor Research Skyward IIZipper Fly/Snap/Belt LoopsWaterproofSoftshell$$$4.2
Rab Kinetic AlpineZipper Fly/Snap/Drawcord WaistWaterproofSoftshell$$4.25
Mammut Masao HSZipper Fly/Snap/Waist BeltWaterproofHardshell$$$4.0
Mountain Equipment IbexZipper Fly and SnapWater ResistantSoftshell$$4.8
PictureNameClosureType of WaterproofingShellPriceRating

MULTI-DAY HIKING PACKING LIST

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Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Pants for Mountaineering

Outdoor Research Cirque


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper/Button/Adjustable Velcro Waist
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Bootlace Hooks (to keep pant leg in place)
  • Movement Mirroring Stretching (for a solid fit and all day comfort)
  • Reinforced Scuff Guard (to protect against crampon snags)

BEST FOR: ALL AROUND USE

Outdoor Research is well known for their clothing and their Cirque pant has been a top mountaineering workhorse for years. The low-profile waist includes side velcro tabs for a perfect fit around the waist and will easily fit under a climbing harness without bunching. The zipper pockets are perfect for storing the essentials like maps, snacks, and headlamps without having to worry about them falling out. All zippers are finished with a water repellent, so you won’t experience leakage even if you encounter foul weather.

The pant bottoms are designed with a scuff guard for those technical times you have to put on the crampons and could get a snag. The bottoms also include metal bootlace hooks that will attach to your boot laces to keep your pants in place. Plus, the drawcord cuffs and zipper closures prevent the pants from walking up your boots and getting any snow pile-up, eliminating the need for a gaiter.

Arc’teryx Gamma AR


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper/Snap with Waist Belt
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Burly Double Weave Material (eliminating moisture and wind)
  • Gusseted Crotch And Articulated Patterning (for full range of motion)
  • Trim Fit (to fit under a hardshell)

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

The Gamma AR pant by Arc’teryx is on the higher end of cost, but with that comes high performance. This wind and water resistant pant is made from a burly double weave material that not only provides protection from the elements, but also provides stretch, warmth, and resistance to abrasion from any rocks and ice you may encounter on the mountain.

The low-profile waist includes a belt for a secure cinch that will fit under a climbing harness or pack. Pockets on this pant are strategically placed with two hand zipper pockets below the harness line and a zipper thigh pocket for quick stashing. Bootlace hooks are designed to attach to bootlaces and the adjustable cuffs at the bottom of each leg eliminates the need for gaiters.

Mountain Hardwear Superforma


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper/Button/Adjustable Velcro Waist
  • Type of Waterproofing: Waterproof
  • Shell: Hardshell
Features
  • Includes a 2-Way, 7/8 Side Zipper that runs from the bottom cuff of the pants to 7/8 up the outside of the pant leg, to keep you cool and allow for easy layering
  • Snap Adjusted Cuff For Quick Adjustment
  • Integrated Avalanche Reflector

BEST FOR: BACKCOUNTRY

The Mountain Hardwear Superforma pant is up for the challenge of full-on mountaineering. Offering zipper pockets that are secure and harness compatible, this pant will get you to the higher peaks. The snap adjustment on the cuffs allows you to secure different types of boots, allowing this pant to be used on many different adventures.

The Superforma has ample ventilation with the 2-way, 7/8 side zipper (from the cuff to the thigh) on the outside of the pant that allows a wider opening for easy layering without boot removal and aiding in cooling when things heat up. For adventures in the high peaks, this pant has an integrated avalanche  reflector, ensuring you are spotted even from a distance in backcountry settings.

Outdoor Research Iceline


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly/Snap/Belt Loops
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Zippered Outer Thigh Vents (for cooling)
  • Suspender Attachment
  • Reinforced Scuff Guards (to protect against crampon snags)

BEST FOR: ALPINE CONDITIONS

Another reliable pant from Outdoor Research, the Iceline Versa incorporates all the important features of a mountaineering pant. Both windproof and water resistant, this pant even has thigh zipper vents that will keep you cool and dry both on dry mountain ascents and ice.

This pant offers grommet lace hooks to keep the pant attached to the boot, as well as a drawcord cuff to ensure a tight fit around your boots and crampons while advancing in snow. Scuff guards and durable material keep this pant in good condition with minimal abrasions. This pant even offers features to attach your favorite pair of suspenders.

Patagonia Simul Alpine


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly/Button/Draw Band Waist
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Tie-Down Loops For Boots
  • Lightweight for Cooling And Less Bulk
  • Gusseted Crotch (for full range of motion)

BEST FOR: LOWER PEAK ASCENTS

This Patagonia pant offers zippered hand and thigh pockets that sit outside the climbing harness area and help make this a good choice for more technical ascents. The adjustable draw band waist ensures a snug fit without needing a belt and cuts down on bulk. 

The adjustable cuff with tie-down loops gives these pants the ability to be used with heavy duty alpine boots. While on the lighter side of mountaineering pants, they are durable and reliable, allowing them to be used on training hikes where you want pants that are light and cool, but still able to keep you dry during mild snow encounters.

Black Diamond Alpine


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly and Snap
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Built-in Waist Belt
  • 2-Way Zipper Fly (for men’s pants)
  • Four-Way Stretch Fabric (for all movement)

BEST FOR: FALL AND SPRING MISSIONS

The Black Diamond Alpine pant offers just the right amount of coverage to keep you warm on those chilly fall and spring expeditions. Extremely durable, this pant is also breathable and provides the stretch needed to handle any motion on the mountain.

Offering both an adjustable belt loop and drawcord cuff at the bottom of the pant, you will have a secure fit in these pants. The zippered hand pockets will protect your valuables on the route, while the exposed thigh pocket is functional and can also be used as a vent to keep you cool if the day heats up.

Outdoor Research Skyward II


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly/Snap/Belt Loops
  • Type of Waterproofing: Waterproof
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Built-In Inside Gaiter (to prevent water, snow, and dirt from entering your boots without having to carry additional gear)
  • Built-In Avalanche Beacon Clip (to clip avalanche beacon to while in the backcountry)
  • Zippered Outer Thigh Vents (to help ventilate and keep you cool)

BEST FOR: SNOW ASCENTS

A soft shell that acts like a hard shell, this Outdoor Research Pant offers protection for any weather – wind, rain, ice, and snow. While they are waterproof, these pants are designed with Outdoor Research’s AscentShell, which allows for breathability while keeping you dry. Further excess heat during performance can be vented through the zipper thighs.

This pant goes to the next level with a gaiter built-in, giving you full snow protection without having to carry any extra gear. And because these pants may lead you to the snowier side of mountaineering, they even have a built-in avalanche beacon clip to keep you extra safe in the backcountry.

Rab Kinetic Alpine

Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly/Snap/Drawcord Waist
  • Type of Waterproofing: Waterproof
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Knee Articulation For Ease Of Movement
  • Knit Wicking Lining (to pull sweat away and keep you dry and cool)
  • Stuff Sack To Store Pants When Not In Use

BEST FOR: WET WEATHER

RAB Kinetic pants offer a sweat wicking waterproof softshell with maximum stretching for any movement, making them a great pant for wet weather mountaineering. The zippered ankles allow this pant to be used with mountaineering boots and the webbing loop allows them to attach directly to the boot.

The drawstring waist of this pant provides a secure fit, so you won’t have to worry about them slipping down. This lightweight and packable pant also comes with a small stuff sack to condense them into your pack or clip to your harness when the weather improves.

Mammut Masao HS


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly/Snap/Waist Belt
  • Type of Waterproofing: Waterproof
  • Shell: Hardshell
Features
  • Waterproof Map Pocket
  • 3/4 Side Zipper From Cuff To Hip (for ease of putting on without removing shoes)
  • Suspender Attachment

BEST FOR: HIGH PEAK ASCENTS

Mammut’s brand of mountaineering pant, the Masao HS pant is a completely waterproof hardshell, withstanding anything the mountains throw at them. Ventilation is aplenty, as this pant is outfitted with a 2-way, 3/4 length zipper (from cuff to outer thigh) side ventilation system that also allows them to be pulled over a pair of softshell pants without having to remove your boots.

Designed with front zipper pockets that are climbing harness compatible and a waterproof map pocket on the leg, this pant can assist you on the more technical climbs. It also has a built-in adjustable gaiter to securely fit around your mountaineering boots in the higher peaks to prevent snow build-up under the pant, without needing an additional external gaiter overtop.

Mountain Equipment Ibex

Specs
  • Closure: Zipper Fly and Snap
  • Type of Waterproofing: Water Resistant
  • Shell: Softshell
Features
  • Micro-Fleece Lined Waist (to keep you warm/comfortable)
  • Pre-Shaped Knee For Natural Articulation
  • Integrated Belt

BEST FOR: TREKKING

The Mountain Equipment Ibex pant is an ideal pant to get you started into mountaineering on those long, cool day treks. These pants are a lighter weight option with a waist that’s lined with micro-fleece, so wearing a pack all day is sure to be a comfortable experience. 

Although these pants excel for more mild mountaineering, they still include a few useful features for use in the colder mountain weather. The pant cuffs are equipped with ankle zips and a gusset panel (to allow for more stretch), both of which help to accommodate mountain boots so that these pants can be used in the snow as well. And because they are on the lower end of the cost spectrum, they are an all around good pant to have in your arsenal.

Hiking Gear Course
Hiking Gear Course

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING MOUNTAINEERING PANTS

COST

If you’re new to mountaineering, you can expect to pay a bit more for a solid pair of pants than you would for hiking. But do not try to cut corners to save a few bucks! In the long run, having the appropriate pair of pants for your mountaineering adventure will make all the difference in whether or not you have a positive experience, especially if you encounter foul weather.

 

SHELL TYPE

There are two shell types that you will see out there – hardshell and softshell. Many mountaineering pants today are making softshells that offer the same wind and water resistance as the hardshell, eliminating the need for two pairs of pants. While hardshells do a great job of keeping you dry in rain and snow, if you get your heartrate up and begin to sweat, they tend to keep that moisture in, which can lead to other issues. Read more about how to decide between hardshell vs. softshell mountaineering pants.

 

MATERIAL

The same rules for hiking pants apply to mountaineering pants – cotton is rotten. Just like shirts, it is important to consider the materials and fabric types when selecting mountaineering pants. Choosing a fabric that is durable, but provides some stretch is just as important as choosing a breathable, but warm fabric.

 

WEATHER RESISTANCE

Especially when looking at softshell pants, it is imperative to look at the weather ratings, particularly wind and water resistance. A pair of pants that is waterproof is impenetrable to water, but most softshells will absorb some water in order to provide breathability. In this case, the pants will be categorized as water resistant, meaning they can withstand a certain amount of moisture and not act like a sponge.

On day trips in more mild conditions, a water resistant pant will be all you need, but on longer days in colder and constantly wet conditions, a water resistant pant may stay damp. In these situations, having a softshell pant that breathes better than a hardshell will work, but you will also want a thin pair of hardshell pants to throw over top to prevent getting damp and cold.

 

BREATHABILITY

Breathability is what sets apart hardshell and softshell pants. Because the material of hardshell is not penetrable, it will keep moisture in and can cause you to feel clammy and cold when your heart rate lowers, which can be extremely dangerous in the mountains. Softshells allow some air flow while still providing water and wind resistance, so even if you work up a sweat, the moisture can evaporate and you will not catch that chill when you slow your pace.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CUFF

The bottom part of the pant that covers the top of the boot.

WAIST PROFILE

The cut of the pants and how they fit around the waist. Low profile waists leave less bulk around the waist for use with harnesses and backpacks.

WATERPROOF

Material that does not allow for any water to penetrate the material.

WATER RESISTANT

Material that is able to repel water, but not completely impenetrable to water.

7/8 AND 3/4 SIDE ZIPPER

Zippers on the outer thigh of the pant that start at the cuff and end at 7/8 or 3/4 of the way up the outer thigh to allow them to be added over top of softshell layers without the need to remove your boots.

BOOTLACE HOOKS

A tab (usually on the front part of the pant cuff) that allows pants to be attached to the laces of boots.

About The Author

Born in Maryland, Lindsay Rohrbaugh is an avid rock-alpine climber and mountaineer. An urban wildlife biologist by trade, she is also a travel writer and student of Integrative Medicine. When not in school or conducting field work on bats and turtles in Washington, DC, she is out climbing rocks and peaks or scaling high points across the globe. She’s hiked the Lares Trek in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbed various routes in Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. She has even tried her skills at deep water soloing! Her weekends are often spent with her husband in their newly self-built cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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