Preparing for a hike can take some preparation such as getting the right equipment, bringing enough water, and stretching beforehand. However, you also need to wear the right outfit on a hike, so it's important for you to find a great pair of pants. With plenty of hiking pants options, we did some research and created a list of our 7 favorite pairs.
Columbia's Silver Ridge Convertible Pants sit at the top of the list since they work great in most weather conditions, can turn into shorts, and have a lightweight design. As you check out Columbia's hiking pants along with the others, you can go through the buying guide reviewed by an outdoor guide to figure out what important features to look for.
My name is 박 (Pak). I am a first-generation Korean American who has worked in the outdoors for 6 years as a guide. Now I'm enjoying traveling around with my bicycle and spending time outdoors with my dog Gaara.
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Table of Contents
Hiking pants vary in their materials, pockets, and other design points, so we wrote a guide to help you find a great pair for your next hiking trip!
Polyester, nylon, and Spandex are common materials for hiking pants, but they're all ideal for different situations. Here are the key differences between them.
Polyester is a type of thermoplastic designed for different weather conditions. Polyester can stretch, so it’s a good material for people that want to easily bend while wearing it. It also provides some warmth and dries quickly, making it great for colder climates. It can also repel water and keeps out water, which makes it great for outerwear.
However, polyester doesn't provide as much durability as nylon, so it could tear and rip unexpectedly. If you want something that will work great in cold or rainy weather conditions, you can go with polyester.
Nylon is a synthetic fabric common in pants and other types of clothing. It's a breathable material, so it will keep the wearer cool in warm weather. Nylon’s structure is designed to move sweat away from the body, which makes it a cool fabric in hot, humid weather. The fabric is stretchy and light, lending itself to great outdoor and athletic wear that can keep you cool in the heat.
It's also a durable material, making it great for hikes with steep trails and more dangerous terrain such as rocks. On the other hand, nylon takes a while to dry and doesn't provide much heat, meaning it doesn't do well in cold weather conditions. If you plan to go hiking in the heat, you should give nylon a try.
Many hiking pants will include Spandex to make the pants stretch more. Spandex works well as a secondary material since it lets the pants stretch a bit. When the pants can stretch, they bend at the joints and are easier to move around in. If you want to make hiking less restrictive, you may want some pants with Spandex.
You will notice pockets vary between pants, such as some having standard pockets, others with zippers, and some with Velcro or buttons. We wanted to point out the advantages of each pocket type, so you can understand what they will do for you!
Standard pockets make it easy to grab belongings without anything blocking your access. Not only does this make things convenient, but it also saves time. However, your things can fall out of these pockets if you go on a steep trail or need to jump during the hike. Most outdoor pants have deeper pockets as it's common to have more in them while participating in outdoor activities.
Other pockets will have zippers along the slits to keep them closed. Zipper pockets will keep belongings in place without them falling out. They allow you to jump and scramble over boulders without holding onto your belongings.
On the other hand, zipper pockets take a bit more time to open, so they won't give you quick access. If you want to keep your belongings safe during a hike, zipper pockets are the way to go. Make sure that the pants have a durable type of zipper (like YKK) as the zippers will easily pick up dirt and grime as you spend more time outdoors.
Some pants have buttons or Velcro on them to work as in-between options for standard and zipper pockets. Buttons and Velcro are useful since they can keep a pocket closed to prevent belongings from falling out. They are also good at providing some convenience since you can easily slip smaller belongings between the fasteners.
However, zippers still provide more security, especially if you're hiking in thick woods where a pocket flap might get caught on branches. But Velcro and buttons usually tend to last longer in the outdoors since the dust and dirt don't affect them as much as zippers. Standard pockets are the most convenient option. As a side note, some pants will have a combination of pocket types, so keep your eyes open for them.
Hiking pants also have their own sets of colors, convertible features, and different types of waist support, so let's see how each one can benefit you as you go hiking!
Light and dark colors can affect how warm or cold people feel in different weather conditions. Light colors reflect more heat, so they won’t absorb as much heat, and keep you comfortable in warm weather. On the other hand, dark colors absorb more heat, so they are great for colder weather.
If you’re not sure which one to go with, you can choose an in-between color for more versatility. For example, you could choose from a few shades of green, blue, or gray. And if you're hiking in an area where hunting is permitted, go with something bright!
Some hiking pants are convertible, which means they have zippers near the knees to remove the lower half of the pant legs and turn them into shorts. If you start a hiking trip early in the morning, convertible pants can be useful as the day gets warmer.
The temperature will drop as you go on a trail with a higher elevation, so changing them back into pants can be useful. They can also make things more convenient by removing the need to buy a pair of both shorts and pants. As an alternative, you can bring leg warmers if you don't like the idea of convertible pants.
Pants can also come with elastic waistbands and belts to provide more support. Waistbands are convenient since they hold themselves against the waist to keep the pants in place. Attached belts are easy to adjust and provide more support. If you want to keep your pants secured, you should find a pair with elastic waists or belts included.
Many pants will have water resistance, so they will hold up in the rain or wet areas. Water-resistant pants will dry quickly after they get wet. They also won't soak up water as much, so they can remain dry in light rain and similar conditions.
If you plan to hike in an area with lots of rain, you will want some water resistance. It is good practice to wash your pants with waterproofing treatments like Nikwax every so often as water resistance does recede over time.
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Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
Lightweight Convertible Pants Designed for Most Weather
Men's Outdoor Convertible Hiking Pants
Stretchable Pants With Teflon for Water Repelling
PreCip Full-Zip Pants
Side Zippers and a Solid Water Resistant Design
Men's Hiking Cargo Pants
A Comfortable Pair of Pants That Stretch
Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants
Stretchy Hiking Pants With Zipper Pockets
Men's Hiking Pants
Quick-Drying Pants With Plenty of Pockets
Men's Outdoor Hiking Pants
Stretchy Material Available With Fleece Lining
These pants offer UPF 50 protection, so they do a great job of helping your legs avoid sunburn. They include many types of pockets, such as standard, Velcro, and zipper pockets to give you versatility. These pants are also convertible, so you can turn them into shorts when you want to.
A few reviewers said the pants felt too tight around the thighs, so they were uncomfortable climbing up steep terrain. However, plenty of reviewers loved the lightweight design of the pants since they didn't get in the way during hikes. They also felt the pants worked great in most weather conditions.
These convertible pants come with a belt that you can remove if you don't want to wear it. They have a coating of Teflon to make the pants more water-resistant if you hike in the rain. The fabric is also designed to resist wear and tear, making it great for hikes.
A couple of reviewers didn't like how the pants were tight around the waist and felt restrictive. On the other hand, a good portion of reviewers loved how they could convert into shorts. They also felt the material was comfortable to wear during hikes.
These pants offer a unique design by having them fitted at the waist, tapered at the knees, and loose at the cuffs. The pants have waterproofing along with taped seams to protect you from water leaks. It even includes side zippers that go all the way up the legs.
A couple of reviewers didn't like the pockets, saying the zippers didn't close all the way and the pants lacked cargo pockets. On the bright side, people felt these pants worked great in the rain. They also loved the side zippers since they could easily take off their shoes.
These pants have fabric designed to be stretched, making them excellent for difficult hiking trails. They include an elastic waistband along with belt loops to give you more options to keep your pants up. They even have elastic cuffs around the ankles, so your pants won't get stuck on anything, and to keep bugs out.
Some reviewers didn't like how lint and other small particles would stick to the pants. However, lots of reviewers loved how the pants had a stretchy material since they could easily bend in them. They also noticed the pants were comfortable to wear both indoors and outdoors.
These pants include a belt with a stretchy waistband, providing comfortable support during hikes. They dry quickly and are water-resistant, making them great for wetter climates. They also have three zipper pockets to protect your belongings during your hikes.
Some reviewers said the waist size for the pants was too baggy and big. On the bright side, plenty of reviewers enjoyed the stretchy material since it was comfortable during hikes. They also loved how the pants used zipper pockets for safe storage.
This pair offers nylon and Spandex material along with an elastic waistband to give you a comfortable design. They're water-resistant and have mesh pockets. They even have a UPF rating of over 50, so you can wear them in the sun without worrying about your legs getting exposed to the sun's rays.
A couple of reviewers felt the pants were too warm to wear and didn't feel breathable. On the other hand, a good portion of reviewers loved how the pants included tons of pockets. They also felt the pants worked great in the rain and dried quickly.
With these pants, you can choose between the 105 and 108 variations, which work great in the summer and winter, respectively. The 105 version does a great job of drying off and resisting water. The fleece-lined 108 offers excellent wind resistance and a softshell layer.
A few reviewers said the pants felt too loose and baggy for their preferences. Nevertheless, loads of reviewers said they loved the large pockets and how the pants had many of them. They also loved hiking in them because they're made out of stretchy material.
It's always better to be prepared when hiking, but you also want to travel light. We decided to share three lists to help you find some supplies to make the most out of your hiking trip!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
No. 1: Columbia｜Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
No. 2: Free Soldier｜Men's Outdoor Convertible Hiking Pants
No. 3: Marmot｜PreCip Full-Zip Pants
No. 4: Puli｜Men's Hiking Cargo Pants
No. 5: Tbmpoy｜Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants
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