The 10 Best Hiking Pants of 2021

The top picks to keep you dry, cool, and protected on the trail

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.com

"These are designed for all-around comfort and movement during a day out on the trail."

Best Budget: REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pants - Women's at rei.com

"These smart-looking trail pants hold up and keep you comfortable at an affordable price point."

Best for Men: Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant at backcountry.com

"This is one of the best pairs out there for guys who hit the trail."

Best for Women: Duluth Trading Co. Women's Flexpedition Slim Leg Pants at duluthtrading.com

"They’re comfy, stretchy, exactly the right rise and have an elastic waistband that actually stays up."

Best for Kids: Kuhl Renegade at rei.com

"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 llbean.com

"These pants have a 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 W at backcountry.com

"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 Pants at backcountry.com

"With the right base layer, these pants make a great choice for hiking in the winter."

Best for Climbing: Coalatree Trailhead Pants at coalatree.com

"These minimalist pants are waterproof, breathable, and as fantastic for climbing as they are for hiking."

Best Style: Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pant at backcountry.com

"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 SPF 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, whatever comes your way.

But don’t worry about finding the perfect pair on your own: We’ve rounded up the best pairs to kick off your next adventure—whether it’s taking you to your local arboretum or the top of your next mountain summit.

Ahead, the best hiking pants on the market.

Best Overall: REI Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants

REI Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Breathable

  • UPF protection

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive


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 comfortable mid-rise, articulated seams, and plenty of pockets to get you through the day, too.

Sizes: XS-XL | Materials: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: Unknown

Best Budget: REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pants - Women's

 REI Co-op Women's Savanna Trails Pants

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Has a DWR coating

  • UPF protection

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't offer long or short options

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 ones that are aimed at expert hikers. 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 bluesign-approved spandex to keep you comfortable when the going gets a little tough, too.

Sizes: 0-16 | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Slim | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: Unknown

Best for Men: Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant

Mountain Hardwear AP Pants

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Durable

  • UPF protection

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

One of the best pairs out there for guys who hit the trail, these high-performance 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 to hold the daily carry—and they look just as good off the trail for a well-deserved cold one after a hike.

Sizes: 28-42 | Materials: Cotton, nylon, elastane | Fit: Standard | Waterproof: No | Weight: 14.9 ounces

Best for Women: Duluth Trading Co. Women's Flexpedition Slim Leg Pants

Duluth Trading Co. Women's Flexpedition Slim Leg Pants

Courtesy of Duluth Trading Co.

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • No UPF protection

Travel and science journalist—and avid hiker—Kate Morgan is a huge fan of her Duluth Trading Co. Flexpidition pants. She says they’re “comfy, stretchy, exactly the right rise” and have an “elastic waistband that actually stays up.” 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.”

Sizes: 2-18; 16W, 24W, 26W | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: 6 ounces

Best for Kids: Kuhl Renegade

Kuhl Renegade - Boys

Courtesy of Kuhl

What We Like
  • UPF protection

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

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. It has breathable fabric, a two-way stretch, and is finished off with 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.

Sizes: XS-L | Material: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: Unknown

Best Plus-Size: L.L. Bean Women's Vista Camp Pants

L.L. Bean Women's Vista Camp Pants

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • UPF protection

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

L.L. Bean has been a name in the hiking game since 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 percent of the sun’s rays, so you’re literally and figuratively covered.

Sizes: 1X-3X | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Fitted | Waterproof: No | Weight: Unknown

Best for Summer: Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tights W

Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tight - Women's

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • UPF protection

  • Breathable

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

  • Expensive

Perfect for hot days when the last thing you want is a bulky pair of pants weighing you down, Fjallraven’s trekking tights are made to be breathable on hot summer days 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!)

Sizes: XXS-XXL | Materials: Polyamide, elastane | Fit: Form-fitting | Waterproof: No | Weight: 7 ounces

Best for Winter: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant - Women's

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Comes in short, regular, and long sizes

  • Durable

  • Harness compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

We prefer to buy pants once and wear them 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.

Sizes: 0-14 | Weight: Ripstop, spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop | Fit: Regular | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: 9.5 ounces

Best for Climbing: Coalatree Trailhead Pants

Coalatree Trailhead Pants

Courtesy of Coalatree

What We Like
  • Eco-friendly

  • Breathable

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't offer long or short options

Born from Kickstarter, these eco-friendly hiking pants are well-loved and have the distinction of being the crowdfunding platform’s highest-funded outdoor pants. 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.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Materials: Nylon, spandex | Fit: Slim and regular both available | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: 10.9 ounces

Best Style: Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pant

Arc’teryx Gamma LT

Courtesy of Arc’teryx

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Adjustable cuffs

What We Don't Like
  • No UPF protection

Made for walks in the woods and for more hardcore 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. Their DWR coating sheds rain, and there are 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.

Sizes: 00-12 | Materials: Nylon, elastane | Fit: Slim | Waterproof: Yes | Weight: 10.9 ounces

Final Verdict

REI's Co-op Activator 3.0 Pants (view at REI) are the right blend of performance, comfort, durability, and stretch. They also have all the practical bells and whistles you need for a day out hiking, whatever it may bring. They have a UPF rating of 50 for sunny days, waterproof treatment for those that aren’t, plenty of pockets, and articulated knees to help keep your movements free and easy.

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 a 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 go, and the more often you wear them—and the more challenging the terrain—the more 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, other pairs might require special washing temperatures, have drying restrictions, or have a 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 while you’re out for the day.

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.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

TripSavvy writers spend hours researching their product picks by reading expert blogs and reviews, sorting through customer reviews, and speaking to experts and specialists for recommendations and tips.

Was this page helpful?
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
Continue to 9 of 10 below.