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Together with a good pair of hiking boots and a hiking backpack, hiking pants are an essential item on your hiking packing list. But how do you know what are the best pants for hiking that suit your needs best?

It’s important to realize that not every pair of pants is made for the same conditions. Weather, terrain and personal comfort levels are all variables. This means that there are specific pants for various types of hiking.

In summer, you will need a lighter pair of hiking pants, maybe even with a zip-off feature. In winter, on the other hand, there will be the obvious need for warmer and tougher fabrics. Seasonal differences are probably the most important thing to think about when looking for the best pants for hiking.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out the Best Hiking Pants for Women

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

Quick Answer - The Best Pants for Hiking

  1. prAna Stretch Zion
  2. Outdoor Research Cirque
  3. Columbia Silver Ridge
  4. prAna Stretch Zion Convertible
  5. Arc’teryx Gamma LT
  6. Fjällräven Vidda Pro
  7. Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Comparison Table - The Best Hiking Pants

PictureNamePocketsConvertibleMaterialPriceRating
prAna Stretch Zion5 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 1 Thigh)No97% Nylon, 3% Spandex$$4.8
Outdoor Research Cirque4 (2 Hand, 1 Back, 1 Thigh)No50% Nylon, 43% Polyester, 7% Spandex$$$4.7
Columbia Silver Ridge6 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 2 Thigh)Yes100% Nylon$4.5
prAna Stretch Zion Convertible6 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 2 Thigh)Yes97% Nylon, 3% Spandex$$4.7
Arc’teryx Gamma LT3 (2 Hand, 1 Thigh)No100% Nylon$$$4.8
Fjällräven Vidda Pro7 (2 Hand, 1 Map, 1 Axe, 1 Knife, 1 Inner, 1 Knee Pad)No60% Polyester, 40% Cotton$$$4.5
Outdoor Research Ferrosi5 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 1 Thigh)No86% Nylon, 14% Spandex$4.6
PictureNamePocketsConvertibleMaterialPriceRating

MULTI-DAY HIKING PACKING LIST

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Reviews - Best Pants for Hiking

prAna Stretch Zion


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: No
  • Material: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Pockets: 5 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 1 Thigh)
Features
  • Roll-up leg snaps
  • Stretch fabric
  • Ventilated free-range gusset
  • Cinch belt system

BEST FOR MULTI-USE

PROS: Plenty of pockets, very comfortable and fitting, durable

CONS: Legs are short, a bit heavy

Outdoor Research Cirque


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: No
  • Material: 50% Nylon, 43% Polyester, 7% Spandex
  • Pockets: 4 (2 Hand, 1 Back, 1 Thigh)
Features
  • Button and zipper fly
  • Zippered pockets
  • Double-weave stretch fabric
  • Brushed nylon face with polyester backing

BEST FOR MOUNTAINEERING, ICE CLIMBING AND SNOWSHOEING

PROS: Extremely tough and durable, water resistant and breathable, great for winter sports

CONS: Heavy, expensive, not ideal for summer adventures

Columbia Silver Ridge

Specs
  • Convertible: Yes
  • Material: 100% Nylon
  • Pockets: 6 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 2 Thigh)
Features
  • Zip-off legs
  • Omni-Wick evaporation technology
  • Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection

BEST FOR CASUAL HIKING IN PLEASANT WEATHER

PROS: Plenty of pockets, affordable, lightweight, quick-drying breathable fabric, value for money

CONS: Less durable, lower-quality zippers, thin fabric

prAna Stretch Zion Convertible


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: Yes
  • Material: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Pockets: 6 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 2 Thigh)
Features
  • Quick-dry stretch performance fabric
  • Cinch belt system
  • Ventilated free-range gusset
  • Mesh pocketing
  • Zip-off legs
  • All-weather finish

BEST FOR LONG HIKES IN WARMER WEATHER

PROS: Converts to shorts, lots of pocket space, comfortable, abrasion resistant

CONS: Unsuitable for winter hiking

Arc’teryx Gamma LT


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: No
  • Material: 100% Nylon
  • Pockets: 3 (2 Hand, 1 Thigh)
Features
  • Brushed polyester waistband
  • Zippered fly with snap
  • Adjustable wedding belt

BEST FOR HIKING IN WET AND COLD CLIMATES

PROS: Water resistant, very durable, good range of motion

CONS: Very expensive, less versatile

Fjällräven Vidda Pro


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: No
  • Material: 60% Polyester, 40% Cotton
  • Pockets: 7 (2 Hand, 1 Map, 1 Axe, 1 Knife, 1 Inner, 1 Knee Pad)
Features
  • Double fabric on back and knees
  • Elastic adjustable placket ankles
  • Repellent wax
  • G-1000 fabric

BEST FOR WILDERNESS ADVENTURES, HUNTING AND FISHING

PROS: Exceptionally durable and tough, lots of different pockets

CONS: Heavy, not water resistant, rather pricey

Outdoor Research Ferrosi


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Convertible: No
  • Material: 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex
  • Pockets: 5 (2 Hand, 2 Back, 1 Thigh)
Features
  • Low-profile waistband
  • Wind-resistant stretch-woven ripstop
  • Button and zipper fly

BEST FOR YEAR-ROUND HIKING

PROS: Wind resistant, breathable, durable

CONS: Not for daily wear, small hand pockets

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST HIKING PANTS

There are a few other factors you should consider before handing over your money to an outdoor gear salesperson. You should think about hiking pants as an investment. A good pair will last for years, even under intense use. 

 

WEIGHT

While weight isn’t a major issue with regards to the best pants for hiking, it’s always good to try and cut weight. Nowadays, pretty much all modern hiking pants are lightweight. This often has the added benefit of more comfort and greater freedom of movement.

Try to find the lightest pants possible. But, make sure that less weight isn’t the result of lower-quality materials or lower water resistance. Those features are important too, if not more important than weight.

 

MATERIAL

This might be the main thing to consider to find the best pants for hiking. Ideally, hiking pants should be water resistant yet able to breathe, and quick-drying. This trio of characteristics is achieved with the use of a mix of different materials.

Many hiking pants are entirely made of nylon, which is one of the most durable materials. Polyester is used to make the pants more water resistant. Spandex is often used, as an addition to nylon, to increase stretch and comfort.

Look for a mix of two or more of these three materials if you can.

Tactel is a modern lab-created material that offers the best of all these other materials. Cotton is rarely used in hiking pants nowadays. Even though it does make pants much warmer, it is terrible in terms of water resistance.

 

POCKETS

Depending on the purpose and length of your hiking trip, it can be useful to have plenty of pockets. Some people like having as few pockets as possible. Others find it useful to be able to keep things within easy reach.

All the best pants for hiking listed in this article have at least two hand pockets and one thigh pocket. Often, they come with back pockets as well.

Zippered pockets are better than standard pockets because they prevent things from falling out. This is a big plus when rock scrambling and mountaineering, or even when sitting down and resting.

 

CONVERTIBLE VS. STANDARD

If you would like to use your hiking pants throughout the year, consider convertible pants. This means that they have zippers that allow you to make them into shorts. This feature enables you to wear them in hot as well as cold weather.

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Hiking Pants for Women | Convertible Hiking Pants

Hiking Shorts | Underwear for Hiking

Long Johns | Rain Pants for Hiking

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