10 Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2024

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A backpacker standing in front of a lake in the men's Kuhl Deceptr hiking pants
Kuhl Deceptr – Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)

Since 2012, our team of wilderness experts has tested over 60 pairs of hiking pants on trails all over the world. No matter what your priorities are when it comes to pants – stretch, style, pockets, features, or versatility – we’re confident you’ll find your new favorite hiking pants on this list. Whether you’re looking for stylish bottoms that can transition from trail to town after a morning hike or planning a long-distance adventure, we have you covered.

For those backpacking in especially wet weather, hiking pants are solid, but rain pants might be better. If you like maximum breathability and airflow, hiking shorts are your best bet on warm summer days. If you’re using pants primarily for sun protection, take a look at how you can complete your look with our guide to the best sun shirts available.

Quick Picks for Men’s Hiking Pants

Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best hiking pants overall: Outdoor Research Ferrosi ($99)

Best hiking pants for durability & weight: Arc’teryx Gamma ($200)

Best budget hiking pants: REI Sahara Convertible ($80)

Best stretchy lightweight hiking pants: Mammut Runbold ($130)

Best affordable lightweight hiking pants: REI Trailmade ($70)

Stretchy pants that work well for hiking & climbing: Prana Stretch Zion II ($95)

Comfortable & lightweight with a simple pocket design: Patagonia Quandary ($89)

Stylish hiking pants for town to trail: Kuhl Deceptr ($99)

Best softshell pants for cool weather hikes: REI Activator 3.0 ($100)

Best heavy-duty tactical pants: Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trousers ($180)

What’s new

We’ve been testing a range of new pants and trying out updated versions of our long time favorites:

  • The Mammut Runbold pants earn a spot on the list for their lightweight stretchy fabric and comfortable fit.

  • We added the affordable and impressively breathable REI Trailmade.

  • The burly REI Activator 3.0 is a new pick for durable, warm softshell pants for cool-weather hiking.

Men’s Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Best hiking pants overall

Price: $99

Weight: 13.1 oz.

Fit: Straight-leg

Fabric: 86% nylon (46% recycled), 14% spandex

Pros

  • Super airy and comfortable
  • Stretchy
  • Internal drawstring
  • Felted waist liner reduces chaffing

Cons

  • Waist stretches out over several days of use

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi has been one of our go-to summer hiking pants for years, and this model continues to be a backpacking favorite. This pair is super stretchy so you can move easily on your adventures, with plenty of room in the knees and hips. The pockets are simple and functional to keep your small items safe.

The fabric is light and airy but still has a 50+ UPF rating for strong sun protection. The lightweight material is also breathable so it keeps you cool on hot days and it’s also quick drying, so a passing thunderstorm or slippery stream-side trail won’t be a problem. Managing Editor, Ben Applebaum-Bauch, took these on a 3,000-mile thru-hike of the CDT and there were only a few small tears at the ankle by the end. 

This model features cinch cords at the bottom of each leg so you can roll them up if you need a little more ventilation but the cords themselves are completely hidden otherwise. Though there isn’t a full integrated belt, there is a drawstring, which is often key as the waist gets slightly more stretched out than other pants after a few consecutive days of wear.

However, the Ferrosi pants are one of our top picks because they are super stretchy, very comfortable, and have a simple pocket setup. Whether you’re on a long backcountry trek or taking a leisurely stroll on local trails, these pants are up to the task.

Stock image of Arc'teryx Gamma Pant

Men’s Arc’teryx Gamma Pants

Best hiking pants for durability & weight

Price: $200

Weight: 12.5 oz.

Fit: Fitted

Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% elastane

Pros

  • Good balance of stretch and durability
  • Built-in belt
  • All pockets have zipper
  • Stylish
  • Cinch cord in ankle for rolling up legs

Cons

  • No back pockets
  • Expensive

The Arc’teryx Gamma Pants are an exceptional balance of light weight and durability. At just over 12 ounces, these pants won’t weigh you down. We love that they include a built-in belt that’s user-friendly, sleek, and keeps your pants feeling snug and locked in. The simple three-pocket design (two front, one right thigh) makes for excellent zippered storage for those important small items.

These pants are truly comfortable thanks to their stretchy fabric and they’re versatile enough for almost any activity, from biking and hiking to the brewery.

Their biggest drawback is the high price tag. They’re one of the most expensive pants on this list. This model also doesn’t have any rear pockets, which was sometimes annoying because we were used to having at least one on other pairs. However, their outstanding materials and superior construction justify the cost. There are good reasons this model remains one of the most popular and highest-rated men’s hiking pants in recent years. 

We are big fans of these pants. When it comes to a lightweight, comfortable, and very high-quality pair of hiking pants with a built-in belt, the Gamma Pants are what you’re looking for.

Men’s REI Sahara Convertible

Best budget hiking pants

Price: $80

Weight: 13 oz.

Fit: Relaxed

Fabric: 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex

Pros

  • Versatile zip-off legs
  • Breathable
  • Many pockets
  • Easy to convert
  • Inclusive sizing

Cons

  • Not super stylish
  • No belt or drawstring

The REI Sahara Convertible are wallet-friendly and comfortable zip-off pants for folks who demand versatility from their hiking clothes. This model is loaded with pockets for plenty of storage and features zip-off legs to transform the pair into versatile cargo shorts for when the temps are warm.

Thanks to a secondary zipper that runs up the side of the lower leg, you won’t have to take off your shoes to convert them either. And, they include color-coded zippers so you don’t have to spend time guessing which leg goes where when you want to put them back on. 

Cargo pants go in and out of style, but this model is a classic. They are a little baggier than our preferred aesthetic, so these are not our first choice when it comes to style. However, where they fall a bit short on looks, they more than make up for in functionality and comfort.

At only $80, the REI Sahara Convertibles are our favorite budget-friendly pants. The price point is even more appealing since you’re getting a two-for-one. For hikers who want a highly functional and wallet-friendly pair for shoulder season and summer hiking, these are the ones.

Stock image of Mammut Runbold

Men’s Mammut Runbold

Best lightweight hiking pants

Price: $130

Weight: 10.3 oz.

Fit: Slim

Fabric: 85% polyamide, 15% spandex

Pros

  • Lighweight
  • Stretchy for high mobility
  • All pockets zippered
  • Dry quickly
  • Adjustable Velcro tabs at hip

Cons

  • No elastic to roll up legs
  • Slim fit can feel tight for thicker legs

At just over 10 ounces per pair, the Mammut Runbold are some of the lightest pants we tested. For hikers seeking stretchy, comfortable, and good-looking pants, these are for you.

The lightweight nylon and spandex blend manages moisture effectively, dries quickly, and stays breathable as you move. And if they get soaked in a storm or water crossing, you can rest assured knowing they’ll be dry in no time. 

The Runbold pants look great, too. This model has an athletic fit that transitions seamlessly from trail to town without technical features that seem out of place. They are highly adjustable thanks to a Velcro tab on each hip, plus, they come in a variety of colorways to match your vibe and activity.

Having said that, the slimmer leg and athletic cut can feel tight around larger legs or for those who prefer looser clothing. We also missed the elastic around the ankles to help keep pant legs rolled up when the day warms up or there’s a creek crossing.

The Mammut Runbold pants are one of the spendier options on this list, but for the money, you’ll have some of the lightest, stretchiest hiking pants on the market. We highly recommend them for day hikes and backpacking trips in warm weather, especially when you need stretchiness, breathability, and comfort from dusk ‘til dawn on those long hiking days.

Stock image of REI Trailmade pants

Men’s REI Trailmade

Most affordable lightweight hiking pants

Price: $70

Weight: 9.8 oz.

Fit: Tappered

Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% spandex

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Good color options

Cons

  • Not water resistant
  • Not as resilient in harsh conditions

Priced at only $70 and weighing just 9.8 ounces, the REI Trailmade pants are one of the least expensive and most lightweight models we tested, making them a real bargain for summer hiking pants. As a cherry on top, they feature a tapered fit that looks great on most people, and six colorways to match any outfit and style.

We like these pants for their über functional design. The Trailmade has five large pockets, including a substantial yet low-profile thigh pocket to stay organized. Thanks to the mostly nylon construction, these feel comfortable on short or long hikes and effectively wick sweat while dispersing heat quickly. The thinner, lightweight material isn’t meant for heavy rain, cold wind, or bushwhacking, but they dry a lot faster than heavier models.

We recommend the Trailmade for cool but not cold hiking. The material is stretchy and flexible without feeling clingy. The athletic fit and soft fabric sit snugly against the body without being cumbersome, so you’ll have no trouble with range of motion while navigating steep inclines or technical trails that require big steps. And, we like the drawstring at the waist. 

The men’s version of these pants do not include cinch cords in the ankle, which are often helpful to keep pants rolled up and offer even more breathability on hot days and at water crossings. That said, these pants are lightweight enough that overheating is rarely a problem.

Regardless, we love the REI Trailmade pants as a lightweight option for warm- and cool-weather hiking when you need a breathable pair that offers just enough protection from sun, bugs, plants, and brief summer storms.

Men’s prAna Stretch Zion II

Stretchy pants that work well for hiking & climbing

Price: $95

Weight: 14.2 oz.

Fit: Relaxed

Fabric: 95% nylon (recycled), 5% elastane

Pros

  • Lots of pockets
  • Built-in belt
  • Comfortable, stretchy material
  • Built-to-last stitching

Cons

  • A little baggy for our taste
  • Heavy

The prAna Stretch Zion II Pants have been a favorite among climbers and backpackers for years due to their stretchy comfort and durability. These pants offer plenty of room in the leg as a result of their more relaxed fit, so your movements won’t be limited. In addition, the burly double-stitching on the pockets and waist combined with thick material makes them robust and sturdy.

We love the built-in belt and these pants come with a large cargo pocket on the thigh that has two separate zippers on the top and side for easy accessibility. One of our favorite elements of these pants is the soft liner inside the waist which minimizes chafing on long hikes.

These pants weigh in at just over 14 ounces, making them some of the heaviest and hottest-feeling pants in the lineup, so they are better for cooler weather. Though these pants have a looser fit than we like, they also come in a slim option.

That said, these are a super solid choice if you need a versatile pair of do-it-all pants and you like that classic look. For hikers, climbers, and backpackers who want heavier-duty pants with a burly build, the Zion II deserves a closer look.

Men’s KÜHL Deceptr

Stylish hiking pants that transition seamlessly from town to trail

Price: $99

Weight: 11.9 oz.

Fit: Slim

Fabric: 76% nylon, 15% elastane, 9% polyester

Pros

  • Stylish fit
  • Minimalist
  • Good pocket set up
  • Lightweight
  • Comfy
  • Stretchy

Cons

  • No built-in belt
  • Not as durable as some

The KÜHL Deceptr pants are minimalist, stylish, and built to transition from backcountry to brewery. They pull off a rare and impressive combination of functionality – thanks to plenty of storage and stretch – and a truly contemporary look with a tapered leg and slim fit. We love their sleek aesthetic so much, some members of the CleverHiker team use them for daily use in town as much as for day hikes and overnights in the backcountry.

The pocket design is useful without looking or feeling bulky. The Deceptrs have a low-profile “hidden” zipper pocket inside the back pocket to secure an ID, and we also appreciate the two unique drop-in pockets at the rear thigh, perfect for stashing chapstick or a snack.

At 11.9 ounces, these pants are right in the middle of the pack for weight, but they still manage to feel breezy, stretchy, and very comfortable. The gusseted crotch offers plenty of room, which allows for natural, unimpeded movement and adds to the agile feeling of these pants.

The stitching is noticeably raised on the inside of the pants, which can get uncomfortable as the miles stack up. And, we wish there was a built-in belt. With those things in mind, we don’t recommend them for week-long adventures.

Overall though, they perform very well and are more than versatile enough for traveling, hitting the trail after a day around town, or for short-to-medium backpacking trips.

Men’s Patagonia Quandary

Comfortable, lightweight hiking pants with a simple pocket design

Price: $89

Weight: 10.9 oz.

Fit: Relaxed/straight-leg

Fabric: 94% nylon (recycled), 6% spandex

Pros

  • Simple but practical pocket design
  • Comfortable regular fit
  • Lightweight
  • Stretchy draw cord makes waist adjustable

Cons

  • Not super stretchy like other pants

The Patagonia Quandary pants are simple but functional and can handle mile after mile of hiking or comfy lounging on a patio on a summer evening. They offer a straightforward pocket design – including a roomy, single zippered thigh pocket – and low-profile double stitching.

The gently-curved waistband hugs hips well, making these pants feel super comfortable. The gusseted crotch allows for unrestricted movement on trail. And, we found the cut of these pants is useful beyond the backcountry, because they’re nice for a casual night out as well.

At just 10.9 ounces, the Quandary pants are some of the lightest we’ve tested. They come with an effective DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, but all DWR clothing has to be re-treated eventually so count on picking up a bottle of Nikwax if you want them to retain their weather-resistance in the long run. Thanks to the lightweight material, these pants breathe well and tend to dry quickly, so they’re a great option for most other summer hiking conditions. They also include a cinch cord at the waist for convenient tightening if you left your belt at home.

The Patagonia Quandary pants are an outstanding choice for day hikes and short backpacking trips that end at a brewery or burger joint – without needing an outfit change.

Men’s prAna Brion II

No-frills pants with a casual look

Price: $85

Weight: 12.3 oz.

Fit: Slim

Fabric: 95% nylon, 5% elastane

Pros

  • Stretchy material
  • Stylish cut
  • Simple
  • Look like regular pants

Cons

  • Tight in crotch
  • No zippered pockets

The prAna Brion II offer a casual aesthetic ideal for both trail adventures and nights out. With a slim fit and midweight material, you can wear these pants for long miles on the trail in cooler temperatures, or as a breathable option on warm days.

Our team at CleverHiker has used these pants for years, and they stand out for their simplicity, comfort, and durability. With a gusseted crotch, soft fabric, and the look of classic slacks, the Brion II is somewhere between activewear and stylish pants, so you can wear these almost anywhere. We appreciate the simplicity of this pair. They have zero extra pockets (beyond two front and two rear).

This model is decidedly not water-resistant. Though the slim fit might not be for everyone, the Brion II is a durable, reliable, and functional pair of pants and is a great choice for strolling downtown or a shoulder season hike under blue skies.

Stock image of Kuhl Renegade Convertible

Men’s KÜHL Renegade Convertible

Durable convertible pants with practical shorts mode

Price: $109

Weight: 15.9 oz.

Fit: Relaxed

Fabric: 95% nylon, 5% spandex

Pros

  • Durable
  • Useful pockets
  • Easy conversion design
  • Look good as shorts

Cons

  • Heavier
  • Bulky as pants
  • Limited breathability

The KÜHL Renegade Convertible Pants are durable and roomy zip offs with tons of functional features. Our favorite thing about the Renegades is the thoughtful pocket design, including two cargo pockets with dividers to organize small items like snack bars or matches without having them flopping around, and a Velcro-closure on the back pockets.

This model features snaps at the ankle to adjust the width of the cuff and keep debris and water out when you need it. The ankle snap can also stay closed while unzipping the sides, which allows for tons of lower leg ventilation without stopping to convert them to shorts. When we were ready to switch, the low-profile, simple zippers were smooth and fast.

The Renegade pants also look good and feel comfortable in shorts mode – avoiding the common pitfall of having an uncomfortable seam at the zipper. These actually look and feel like normal shorts when converted.

They weigh 15.9 ounces so they’re one of the heaviest pairs on this list. We also found this fabric makes the Renegade pants less breathable than other zip offs like the REI Sahara and the Columbia Silver Ridge, which are better for summer weather. However, it’s an outstanding pair for the shoulder seasons. On spring and fall days that start in the 30s or 40s and swing up to the 60s and 70s, they are excellent, keeping you warm in the morning and cool when the sun is out in full force.

Stock image of REI Activator 3.0

Men’s REI Activator 3.0

Best softshell pants for cool weather hikes

Price: $100

Weight: 14.5 oz.

Fit: Relaxed

Fabric: 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% spandex

Pros

  • Warm
  • Less expensive for a cool weather pant
  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy

Cons

  • Too warm for summer hiking
  • Shallower pockets

 The REI Activator 3.0 is a thick, durable pair of softshell pants for trekking in cool weather. We like the simple, thoughtful design, with elements like articulated knees for more mobility and a comfy elastic band included in the waist that won’t dig into your stomach. Cinch cords at the ankles are easy to adjust around your boots to block debris and mud, or you can roll up the pant legs a bit to cool down on warmer days.

The material is stretchy but burly, so these pants are a great choice when the wind is howling or there’s light snow or rain in the forecast. We found they are effectively water resistant – although not waterproof – so the Activator 3.0 is a good choice in spring and fall when the weather is chillier.

These pants are impressively tough. If your adventure is on-trail, you’ll appreciate their heft and warmth. If you’re heading off trail, you’ll like their durability in the bush. The thick material makes them outstanding for overgrown routes since they’re less likely to tear than thinner options on this list.

One minor issue is that the pockets aren’t especially deep. We’d like to see a bit more space in both the hand warmer and rear pockets so we aren’t constantly checking to make sure we still have our keys. However, they’re a great choice for durable and warm pants for hiking in cooler weather. At $100, they’re a little pricey but will last for years.

Men’s Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

Affordable & breathable convertible pants

Price: $65

Weight: 11.9 oz.

Fit: Relaxed

Fabric: Main: 100% ripstop nylon, Mesh panels: 100% polyester (57% recycled)

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Comes with detachable belt
  • Thin and breathable
  • Fabric feels light

Cons

  • Static fabric
  • Not water resistant
  • Less durable than some

The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants are breathable zip offs made for hiking on mild days. At a hair under 12 ounces, this pair lands in the middle of this list for weight, but we think the Silver Ridge Convertible feels lighter and airier than that ranking suggests.

Thanks to a loose fit and a lightweight nylon blend, the Silver Ridge Convertible is awesomely breathable during summer hikes where dispersing heat and sweat are paramount. When you get too warm, you can simply zip off the legs. When the wind picks up, the temps drop, or the bugs are swarming, simply reattach them.

The removable belt helps to dial in the fit at the waist, and we like that the legs feel loose but not baggy. Similar to most cargo-style pants, the pockets are large and spacious, so there’s plenty of storage for anything you might want to carry. 

There isn’t much stretch to the fabric and the zippers are not color-coded, so it’s not immediately clear which pant leg belongs to each side. You also need to take off your shoes to remove or reattach the lower portion of these pants. That said, none of these are deal breakers for us because their comfort outweighs these drawbacks.

The Silver Ridge Convertibles aren’t the most stylish pants out there, but they are more affordable and super functional for hiking in mild weather conditions. Plus, for only $65, you’re technically getting two pairs of clothing – shorts and pants – making these a smart move for the budget-conscious hiker.

Stock image of Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trousers

Men’s Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trousers

Best heavy-duty tactical pants

Price: $180

Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.

Fit: Slim

Fabric: Main: 65% polyester (recycled), 35% cotton (organic), Panels: 63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane

Pros

  • Thick and durable fabric
  • Tons of pockets for storage and organization
  • Strong build
  • Unique natural waterproofing technique
  • Durable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

If you’re seeking bombproof hiking pants for off-trail adventures and hiking in cool temperatures, the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trousers are your golden ticket. These are handsome, durable, and burly technical pants that work perfectly for short day hikes, fishing, bushcraft, and more.

The Vidda Pro pants are seriously burly. At 1 pound, 4.8 ounces, they are the heaviest pair on this list and they immediately feel warm, thick, and sturdy. And Fjallraven doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to quality construction: the knees are reinforced with double layers of fabric and “pre-shaped” with a bit of extra fabric for flexibility through the leg. All seams are double stitched and the material is waxed for a bit of extra water resistance, so this model can handle the worst off-trail hiking terrain.

These pants don’t skimp on features, either. Our favorite is the generous leg vents on the outside of the knees. If you get too warm, simply unzip these to release heat as you’re hiking. They feature a gear loop and six pockets for easy access to a phone, map, chapstick, or a pocket knife. We also like the boot hooks to keep the pants enclosed around footwear during muddy and snowy treks.

The Vidda Pros have a notable proportion of cotton (35%), however, these are wax treated, so they are capable of handling the elements, and the polyester makes these pants highly functional, comfortable, and versatile.

The Vidda Pro Ventilated Trousers are one of the most expensive pants on this list. However, we think the industry-leading build quality, unique design, and heft make them an outstanding value. If your top priorities are warmth, tons of storage, and durability these will be your new favorite pants.

prAna Brion Pants II – Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)

What’s Most Important to You in a Pair of Hiking Pants?

PRICE

When it comes to spending money on high-quality clothes that we are going to wear a ton, we’re willing to spend a bit more money to get the best. For us, outstanding durability, comfort, and a tailored fit take priority over price, but this list offers quality options across all price ranges.

Best budget hiking pants

Best high-end hiking pants

Best value hiking pants

WEIGHT

It’s essential to keep weight to a minimum when hiking and backpacking. That’s why we reach for the lightest-weight clothes – which typically also pack down small to fit in our packs – for the majority of our 3-season trips. However, we prefer more burly and heavy pants for cold weather and challenging, especially rugged backcountry routes.

Best lightweight hiking pants

Best heavy-duty hiking pants

STYLE

We highly recommend trying on as many hiking pants as you can get your legs into to make sure you find the perfect pants for your adventure, style, and body type. Whether you’re looking for minimalist pants with the perfect fit for walking around both skyscrapers and saguaros or loose-fitting convertible pants with all the pockets, you’ll likely find pants that fit your style below.

Best minimal hiking pants

Best roll-up hiking pants

Best convertible hiking pants

DURABILITY

Durability matters in hiking pants the most when you’re hiking on especially rugged routes that include heavy underbrush, bushwhacking, high-alpine scrambles, and weather like rain and snow. However, most pants – even the lightest-weight options on this list – will effectively protect you from scrapes, bugs, and unrelenting sunshine. We recommend choosing pants based on the amount of protection you need.

Most durable hiking pants

Men’s Leggings for hiking

Pants have a lot of advantages, but we’d be remiss not to share one of our favorite alternative hiking options for men: leggings.

Gear Analyst, Ian Krammer, prefers leggings over pants for most of his longest hikes and biggest alpine goals. He’s climbed all of Colorado’s high points in leggings, including 58 peaks over 14,000’ and more than 600 peaks over 13,000’. He prefers leggings for their versatility, since they’re an effective base layer during cool weather days. They can also help with compression and endurance – and all but eliminate chafing, sun exposure, or the need for a belt.

In general, leggings offer more freedom of movement than pants. Practical and comfortable features like a gusseted crotch and plenty of stretch in the hips and knees allow unrestricted freedom of movement. From tackling thousands of feet of descent and ascent to long-mileage days, and groomed trails to scrambly technical routes, leggings let you move with agility and control.

Though the skin-tight look of leggings is certainly not for everybody, you can always throw on a pair of breathable shorts on top. Modern leggings are made of lightweight and ultra-breathable materials, so they wick moisture efficiently, dry incredibly fast, and weigh very little. Plus, men’s hiking leggings provide many of the same benefits as the top-tier pants on the market: plenty of pockets and storage, excellent comfort, and long-term durability. If you’ve never considered leggings for hiking, check out our favorites:

  • Fjallraven Abisko Hiking Tights ($175) – These are our go-to technical leggings for men. We’ve hiked thousands of miles and climbed hundreds of thousands of feet in the Abiskos. With dialed-in, durable features like heavily reinforced knees and rear to handle the abuse of the trail, zippered pockets to secure small items, and a super responsive but durable material that lasts season after season, these are the hiking tights we recommend most. We have almost no complaints about the Abiskos besides their steep price tag – but they are worth every penny, and will be the only pair of leggings you’ll need for years to come.
  • Janji Trail Tights ($98) – Janji is a running company with the softest, most functional running tights we’ve tried. Featuring a whopping seven pockets to carry almost anything you could want on a hike or a run, these leggings are as close to an all-in-one solution as it gets. With an internal key clip, snug waist, and a tunnel pocket at the rear for holding a jacket or shirt, the Trail Tights are truly built for the backcountry. We’re also big fans of the very breathable and sweat-wicking material that offers just enough compression through the legs to keep our muscles feeling fresh and charged. 
  • Matador Meggings ($92) – We love these leggings not only for their marketing – dudes, they are made specifically for you – but because their high-performance fabric is stretchy, responsive, and breathable. We’re also big fans of the molded crotch cup in these leggings (which is way more comfy than it sounds) and keeps your most important “gear” secure while running and jumping. Plus, in a world where men’s products always come in black, grey, brown and blue, these leggings are a far cry from the same old, same old with dozens of bright patterns and colors.

Critical Hiking Pants Considerations

FABRIC

The best hiking pants are made with durable synthetic textiles that repel moisture, and get just a bit of extra stretchiness from materials and fibers like spandex and elastane that allow for better mobility.

Nylon

Nylon tends to be a bit more expensive due to how its manufactured, but it feels exceptionally soft on the skin versus other synthetic materials. It’s used heavily in hiking pants because it’s durable and dries quickly.

Polyester

Polyester is durable and hydrophobic – although just a bit less than nylon. It also naturally absorbs less water and wicks moisture to the surface to dry faster than nylon. The downside of polyester is that it tends to pill, which doesn’t affect performance, but doesn’t look as clean or pleasing over time.

Cotton

Cotton might be the standard for everyday clothes, but it can be downright dangerous on cold and wet hikes. Although cotton feels amazing on the skin, it soaks up more water than other materials on this list, dries slowly, and can cause meaningful chafing when it sticks to the skin. That’s why we don’t recommend cotton-based garments for much beyond a day hike in dry weather.

The prAna Brion II pants are made with stretchy fabric to give a full range of motion

Spandex/elastane

The most popular hiking pants have spandex or elastane woven into their fabric to increase stretchiness and enable range of motion. The majority of hiking pants on this list feature a two-way stretch with their material, so they’ll stretch one way – usually crosswise. That means when you’re navigating trails that require scrambling or climbing over fallen trees, the hiking pants are built to stretch across your thighs and knees. Other pants have four-way stretch that allows the pants to move both crosswise and lengthwise, so they’ll feel the most comfortable and freeing for large movements.

FIT / STYLE

Relaxed fit

Opt for hiking pants with a relaxed fit for all-day comfort. Their spacious design through the legs means they won’t inhibit mobility, and they have a bit more breathing space, so you can keep the temperature down. That said, these are rarely the most stylish pants, and those who don’t like a baggier look will want to steer clear of relaxed-fit pants.

Slim fit / straight leg

Slim fit and straight-leg hiking pants have a lightweight design, which makes them perfect for different environments. Our team prefers a slimmer fit for a seamless transition from  hiking to errands in the city, since they resemble jeans and “regular” pants instead of technical hiking attire. But, you’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of stretch in this material for easy movement in all of your outdoor adventures..

Articulated knees & gussets

We recommend pants with special seams and fabrics that make for easy movement. A gusseted crotch adds a bit of extra fabric in the crotch to account for fit, anatomy, and mobility. And, articulated knees with stretchy seams will move with your natural gait, not against it. Pants without these features tend to pull on your knees and thighs when making big moves, like climbing or lifting your legs high. 

Integrated belts

Integrated belts and internal drawcords are our favorite, since you’re able to get a dialed in fit from the minute you put them on. This is especially helpful when you’re between sizes, or if your weight is fluctuating over time.

CONVERTIBLES VS. ROLL-UPS

Convertibles

What’s not to like? You get two garments for the price of one, allowing you to save precious weight and space in your backpack. However, most convertible pants are baggy through the legs for our taste. And, the material tends to fade unevenly and awkwardly if you wear the shorts more than the pants – meaning the bottom of your pants will be darker than the tops over time.

Roll-ups

Overall, we favor roll-up pants over convertible pants for their more modern and slimmer fit, so you won’t feel like you have to change as soon as you’re back in town. Since they have an adjustable length, you don’t have to think about color fading unevenly. The downside is that the thick fabric of the rolled up fabric can feel uncomfortable and tight when rolled.

We like roll-up pants, like the prAna Stretch Zion II, because they make it quick and easy to regulate body temperature

POCKETS

We rarely use all the pocket space available in hiking pants. When pockets are overloaded, they can feel bulky, cumbersome, and limit movement. In general, we prefer pants with fewer pockets for their aesthetic and comfort.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants have a simple pocket configuration that works well for hiking

Back pockets

Back pockets can be tough to use with a backpack on, and things stored in them tend to get in the way when we sit down. Consequently, these are the pockets we tend to use the least. 

Front pockets

Front pockets are great around camp and town for keeping small things on hand like chapstick, a lighter, or an ID, but it’s a different story on trail. Front pockets are tough to reach with a hipbelt on, and lifting your legs in a big motion to step over rocks or move up steep trails can feel uncomfortable and limiting.

Side pockets

This is our favorite pocket on hiking pants when it comes to easy access. Positioned on the thigh, and usually large enough to fit a smart phone or map, this is the most practical pocket on most pairs of hiking pants. However, we also usually leave even the side pockets empty for freedom of movement and use our hip belt pockets instead.

Technical Fabric Care

PRETREATED FABRICS / MAINTENANCE

Some technical clothing comes pretreated with water or bug repellent. These pretreatments aren’t permanent and they cost extra money. You can easily maintain a pretreatment or add your own water or bug repellent to your pants with these products:

Water

To maintain or add water resistance to hiking pants we recommend using Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In Water Repellent Treatment. This treatment will maintain breathability while effectively causing water to bead and roll off the fabric. Keep in mind that this won’t make your pants completely waterproof, as most pants don’t have sealed seams and are constructed with fabrics that will absorb a small amount of water.

Bugs

To maintain or add bug repellant to your clothing we recommend Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray. This treatment will repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, mites, and chiggers. It lasts about 6 weeks or 6 washings before you need to reapply it.

Tears/ holes

To patch holes and tears, we recommend using the Noso Patchdazzle Gear Repair Kit. These patches don’t require any sewing or ironing, can withstand repeated machine washes, and are UV protective and waterproof.

The Patagonia Quandary pants are very durable, which makes them awesome for rugged trails like the rockwall trail in Kootenay Park in Alberta

GENERAL CARE

Technical fabrics do require some special care to keep them performing their best for years. You should always follow the washing directions on the tags carefully, but here are some general tips to follow:

Use a front loading washer

The agitator in a top loading washer can be hard on seams and can snag zippers or drawstrings. Make sure you zip all the zippers and tie the drawstrings before washing to prevent wear and tear.

Use a technical fabric wash

We recommend Nikwax Tech Wash for washing any technical fabrics.

Only wash when you really need to

A lot of technical fabrics are designed to be antimicrobial and shouldn’t hold odors. Hiking clothing doesn’t necessarily need to be washed after every trip.

Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets

Fabric softener and dryer sheets can deposit residue on the fabric and affect the overall performance.

Hang dry when possible

Heat and agitation in the dryer can damage technical fabrics.

Roll-up style hiking pants, like the Prana Stretch Zion Pants, provide a good balance between protection and temperature regulation.
Roll-up style hiking pants, like the prAna Stretch Zion II, provide a good balance between protection and temperature regulation