Planning a Hiking Trip: The Complete Guide SEE FULL GUIDE prev next Hiking Shirts Hiking Socks Baby Carriers Hiking Watches Trekking Poles Compasses A Complete Packing List Tips for Hiking With Kids Tips for Hiking With Dogs Mapping and Navigating Your Route 10 Essential Safety Tips Tech for Backcountry Communication Best Hikes in US National Parks Amazing Mountain Hikes in the US Best Hiking Trails in Canada Best Hikes in Europe Best Hikes in Africa Best Hikes in South America Best Hikes in Southeast Asia World's Best Long-Distance Hikes Hiking Boots, Shoes, and Sandals: How to Choose Buying and Breaking in Hiking Boots Hiking Boots Lightweight Hiking Shoes Men's Hiking Boots Men's Hiking Sandals Waterproof Hiking Boots Women's Hiking Boots Women's Hiking Sandals List of Essential Gear Hiking Pants Planning a Hiking Trip: The Complete Guide close Overview Outdoors Trails & Climbs The 10 Best Hiking Pants to Buy in 2021 These hiking pants keep you dry, cool, and protected on the trail By Krystin Arneson Krystin Arneson Instagram University of Edinburgh Krystin Arneson is a writer and editor based out of Berlin, Germany. She covers an array of hotels, products, and destinations for TripSavvy. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Updated on 09/10/21 Share Pin Email Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best Overall: REI Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants at REI "Designed for all-around comfort and movement during a day out on the trail." Best Budget: REI Co-op Women's Savanna Trails Pants at REI "These smart-looking trail pants hold up and keep you comfortable at a more comfortable price point." Best for Men: Mountain Hardwear Hardwear AP Pant at Backcountry "One of the best pairs out there for guys who hit the trail." Best for Women: Women's Flexpedition Slim Leg Pants at Duluth Trading Co. "They’re comfy, stretchy, exactly the right rise, and have an elastic waistband that actually stays up." Best for Kids: Kuhl Renegade at REI "They’re outfitted with everything kids need for a day on the trail." Best Plus-Size: L.L. Bean Women's Vista Camp Pants at L.L. Bean "Slightly fitted shape through the hip and thigh that still gives you room to hike, climb, and scramble." Best for Summer: Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tights at Backcountry "These tights are made to be breathable on hot summer days with lighter material at the waist, crotch, and thighs." Best for Winter: Outdoor Research Ferrosi at Backcountry "Designed to give when you need it and stop abrasions in their tracks." Best for Climbing: Coalatree Trailhead Pants at Coalatree "These minimalist pants are waterproof, breathable, and as fantastic for climbing as they are for hiking." Best Style: Arc’teryx Gamma LT at Backcountry "These pants look great but also hold up when it comes to performance." Sure, your usual jeans or sports shorts work for casual hikes. But when you really go off the beaten path or encounter bad weather, hiking pants are where it’s at. Generally water- and rip-resistant, not to mention boasting a few extra pockets, these trousers are a go-to for trekkers who want to come away from a day of hiking without being soaked to the bone or scratched to shreds by errant underbrush. Hiking pants have come a long way in recent years—it’s not all baggy khaki cargo pants anymore. Instead, textile technology has produced a new generation of hiking pants that have bonus features, like lightweight materials that keep you warm in the winter, as well as trousers with built-in UPF to keep your lower half protected from the sun. You’ll also want the articulated knees and gussets that allow for a full range of motion, no matter what comes your way. But don’t worry about finding the perfect pair on your own: We’ve rounded up ten pairs to kick off your next adventure—whether it’s taking you to your local arboretum or to the top of your next mountain summit. Best Overall: REI Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants Courtesy of REI Buy on REI Buy on REI Sizes: XS-XL | Materials: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes Designed for all-around comfort and movement during a day out on the trail, REI’s Co-op Activator 3.0 pants are ready for wind and rain (thanks to the DWR coating), warm days (super-breathable fabric), sun (thanks to the UPF protection), and even the occasional creek crossing (hello, drawcord cuffs for rolling up during wading—or rolling down for bug protection). They have a comfortable mid-rise, articulated seams, and plenty of pockets to get you through the day, too. Bonus for being bluesign certified for sustainable production practices. Best Budget: REI Co-op Women's Savanna Trails Pants Courtesy of REI Buy on REI Sizes: 0-16 | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Slim | Waterproof: Yes Available in a variety of colors, these smart-looking trail pants hold up and keep you comfortable at a more comfortable price point than some of the super-high-performance options. They’re equipped with DWR coating to ward off light rain and UPF protection for keeping your skin shielded from the sun. Plus they’re made from a blend of nylon and spandex to keep you comfortable when the going gets a little tough. Best for Men: Mountain Hardwear Hardwear AP Pant Courtesy of Amazon Buy on Backcountry.com Buy on Moosejaw.com Buy on Mountainhardwear.com Sizes: 0-16 | Materials: Cotton, nylon, elastane | Fit: Slim | Waterproof: Yes One of the best pairs out there for guys who hit the trail, these high-performance, good-looking trousers have long been a favorite of avid hikers and outdoors people. With stretch in all the right places plus durable fabric and articulated knees, the AP pants are made to move. Plus, they come with multiple pockets—and look just as good off the trail for a well-deserved cold one after a hike. The 8 Best Men’s Travel Pants Best for Women: Duluth Trading Co. Women's Flexpedition Slim Leg Pants Courtesy of Duluth Trading Co. Buy on Duluthtrading.com Sizes: 2-18; 16W, 24W, 26W | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes Travel and science journalist—and avid hiker—Kate Morgan is a huge fan of her Duluth Trading Co. Flexpidition pants. They’re “comfy, stretchy, exactly the right rise” and have an “elastic waistband that actually stays up,” Morgan says. If you’re out on the trail for a few hours or more, they have plenty of pockets to carry the essentials, and should the skies open up, Morgan says that they “dry basically instantly.” Beyond being “pretty much stain-proof,” she says that another key perk of these pants is that they’re “cute enough to wear off the trail and still look put together.” Best for Kids: Kuhl Renegade Courtesy of Kuhl Buy on REI Sizes: XS-L | Material: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes Hiking pants need to be able to keep up with the kiddos on the trail, and these year-round Renegade trousers by Kuhl are just the trick. They’re outfitted with everything kids need for a day on the trail: Fabric that’s breathable, two-way stretch, and a durable water repellent finish—which also helps resist snags. Plus, they provide UPF 50+ protection so you don’t have to worry about sun exposure beneath the fabric. With seven pockets scattered throughout the pants, kids will have plenty of room for the trail treasures they pick up, too. Best Plus-Size: L.L. Bean Women's Vista Camp Pants Courtesy of L.L. Bean Buy on L.L.Bean Sizes: 1X-3X | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Slightly fitted | Waterproof: No L.L. Bean has been a name in the hiking game from the get-go, and their Vista Camp pants are some of the best around for hikers who are plus-size. They’re super comfortable, with the elastic waistband’s lower-on-the-waist rise and a slightly fitted shape through the hip and thigh that still gives you room to hike, climb, and scramble. Plus, they have UPF 50+ protection to block at least 97.5% of the sun’s rays, so you’re literally and figuratively covered. The 11 Best Women’s Travel Pants of 2021 Best for Summer: Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tights Courtesy of Backcountry Buy on Backcountry.com Buy on Moosejaw.com Buy on REI Sizes: XS-XL | Materials: Nylon, elastane | Fit: Form-fitting | Waterproof: No Perfect for hot days when the last thing you want is a bulky pair of pants weighing you down, Fjallraven’s trekking tights are breathable with lighter material at the waist, crotch, and thighs, and they’ll stay up thanks to an internal drawcord. They’re designed to be way more durable than a pair of thin cotton leggings, too, with reinforced fabric at the rear. (Plus, they have pockets!) Best for Winter: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Courtesy of Backcountry Buy on Backcountry.com Buy on Moosejaw.com Sizes: 2-14 | Weight: Ripstop nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: N/A We prefer to buy once and wear all year. With the right base layer, these Outdoor Research pants make a great choice for hiking in the winter—as well as in the shoulder seasons. Made with ripstop nylon and spandex, they’re designed to give when you need it and stop abrasions in their tracks. They’re great all-rounders for your outdoor adventures, too. The design and construction make them great for everything from climbing to bouldering (they’re harness-compatible) and backpacking, as well as your standard walk on the trail. Best for Climbing: Coalatree Trailhead Pants Courtesy of Coalatree Buy on Coalatree.com Sizes: XS-XL | Materials: Ripstop nylon, spandex | Fit: Slim and regular both available | Waterproof: Yes Born from Kickstarter, these eco-friendly hiking pants boast more than 2,000 five-star reviews and have the distinction of being the crowdfunding platform’s highest-funded outdoor pant. Worn by hikers around the world—including in the Himalayas, where the terrain is tough—these minimalist pants are waterproof, breathable, and as fantastic for climbing as they are for hiking thanks to four-way stretch. They’re also antimicrobial and tear-resistant, so they’ll hold up mile after mile with you. And for those tight on space, they’re packable—just fold them up into their own front right pocket. The 10 Best Hiking Pants to Buy in 2021 Best Style: Arc’teryx Gamma LT Courtesy of Arc’teryx Buy on Backcountry.com Buy on Arcteryx.com Buy on REI Sizes: 2-12 | Materials: Nylon, elastane | Fit: Slim | Waterproof: Yes Made for strolls in the woods as well as for more grueling hikes and climbs in alpine regions, these pants look great but also hold up when it comes to performance. They’re also one of the best hiking pants out there for rain: A DWR coating sheds rain and there’s adjustable cuffs to keep rain and wind from blowing in, too. A gusseted crotch and brushed waistband go a long way toward maximizing mobility and comfort, too. Final Verdict: REI Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants These all-around winners are the right blend of performance, comfort, durability, and stretch (view at REI). They also have all the practical bells and whistles you need for a day out hiking, whatever it may bring. A UPF rating of 50 for sunny days, waterproof treatment for those that aren’t, plenty of pockets, and articulated knees all help keep your hikings comfortable. What to Look For in Hiking Pants Durability There’s nothing worse than being on a hike and ripping a big hole in your trouser leg after snagging it on a tree—or getting a hole on the bum from scrambling and scooting down rocky parts of the trail. Durability is key when it comes to hiking pants. So look for ones made from material described as “ripstop” or that have reinforced seams or panels where you bend, reach, stretch, and squat. Breathability Trousers that are breathable and made from moisture-wicking technical fabrics tend to keep things breezier and drier than your standard cotton or canvas hiking pants. “I sweat a lot when I’m moving, and cotton just absorbs that and then creates chafing,” says avid hiker Danielle Taylor, who’s currently working on a hiking guidebook to waterfalls in Maryland. With the quality of today’s technical fabrics, the old adage that artificial fabrics make you sweat more or aren’t as breathable as cotton just doesn’t hold up anymore. Comfort Comfort is rarely so important as when you’re being active for several hours at a time—and potentially far away from an alternative pair of pants. Stretch and give are key for hiking pants. “Hiking sometimes involves climbing up stuff or scooting on your butt, and I hate standard pants that feel fine when you’re standing but suddenly become too tight in the waist if you sit or lift a leg up high to clear a big rock or log,” says Taylor. Price How frequently—and intensely—you hike is a good guide to determining how much to spend on a pair of hiking pants. The more you wear pants while hiking—and the more challenging the terrain—it might be worth it to invest in a pair that’ll hold up for many, many hikes to come and keep you super-comfortable along the way. Casual hikers who only go a few times a year and who generally hike moderate trails in good weather might consider a less expensive pair of trousers that, although perhaps more basic, still offer a little more protection than shorts. FAQs How do you wash hiking pants? Always check the manufacturer’s tag to see what the care label says. Or if you’ve removed the tag, try checking the product page online for care instructions. While you might be able to throw some pairs in with the rest of your clothes, some pairs might require special washing temperatures, have drying restrictions, or have water-repellent coating that merits being a little extra cautious. Are hiking pants necessary? For a casual hiker who heads out on (not-so-challenging) trails a few times a year, hiking pants might not be necessary—provided you’re hiking in good weather conditions, you might be just fine in sport shorts or leggings. But for trails where you might encounter inclement weather, bugs, or some rough terrain, hiking pants can go a long way toward protecting your skin. How should hiking pants fit? Hiking pants should feel comfortable and move with your body. As you try them on, be sure to move around and mimic some of the motions you might use while hiking to see how the pants stretch and give. Like other trousers, the waistband and rise should feel secure without being too tight or too loose, and you should be able to bend over without too much pulling. 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