Every piece of hiking gear is essential, and you must choose the best for your needs.
While often overlooked, the humble walking pant is as crucial as any other item on your hiking essentials list.
The best light pants will be able to breathe when it’s hot, and when it’s cold, they can deliver warmth. They also have to be quick-drying in those sudden downpours, so selecting the best outdoor pants is crucial.
There are many designs and styles, and we will look at each of the hiking pant submissions in these reviews to see which comes out on top.
What are Hiking Pants?
The jeans are great, and they look good at the same time. With a good quality pair, you can have jeans that last for years.
However, when jeans are worn for outdoor use. They are heavy, hot, and become useless or even dangerous when they get wet.
To top it off, you need to cut the legs to change jeans into a pair of comfortable shorts. Hiking pants can save the day and come in all kinds of styles, designs, and many features.
The lower legs can be unzipped, turning a long pant leg into comfortable hiking shorts, making them adaptable and suitable for all-weather use.
Trekking pants come with many pockets without being overbearing, bulky, or heavy.
Hiking pants have saved hikers who need versatile, comfortable, and practical pants for hiking and use in camping pants.
Hiking pants are lightweight pants that are super quick-drying and will be made with various suitable materials ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Top Hiking Pants Reviews
1. 5.11 Men’s TacLite Pro Tactical Pants with Cargo Pockets
These are an upgrade to the previous 5.11 hiking cargo pants, and the updates can be seen in every area. These are suitable for any occasion, be it street walking or hitting the hardest trails in dessert or extreme jungle environments.
They are made from a new 60/40 blend of ripstop material that allows them to be lightweight and very fast drying.
They are also super durable and stain-resistant, which does come in handy in muddier conditions.
Their Teflon coating is water repellent to a more than sufficient degree for a quick downpour.
- Ripstop material prevents tears and punctures
- Plenty of storage space
- Dedicated space for folding knife
- Perform well in humid and hot climates
- Teflon coated makes them water repellent
- Fast drying
- Large belt loops
- Gusseted crotch for maneuverability
- No zipper to make them into shorts
- Can appear baggy on some wearers
- Stretch waistband for comfort
- 8 pockets. Quick access to low profile cargo pockets
- Teflon coated – soil and stain resistant
- Double layered knees
- Taclite ripstop material
- 60/40 poly/cotton blend fast drying
These men’s hiking pants come in at around the high $38 mark, and for this, you get some of the best quality men’s hiking pants on the market.
There is plenty of storage from the 8 pockets, dedicated areas for knives/ cellphones, and genuine YKK zippers.
Additional to all these features, you have a mounted D-ring, Prym snaps, and even a holster-friendly belt loop.
The biggest drawback being the lack of zippers to convert them into men’s zip-off pants, but apart from that, these could quite easily be the best hiking pants for men.
2. Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant, Breathable
The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant is skinny and one of the lightest pants on the test.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t such a good thing. In testing, the Columbia zip-off pants were only found to be used for a handful of things.
Admittedly, the breathable hiking pants kept cool in testing, so the Columbia convertible pants are a good choice in scorching, humid climates where you need full-length protection. But, for any high stepping or climbing, they pull and make extended steps difficult. (Find the Best Knee Support)
Adding to this, there was no stretch in the Columbia men’s convertible pants material to make up for this.
They are very cheap and come in at a small amount under $30, but still, it was hard to decide where they would be the best men’s hiking pants or not.
- Machine wash and dry
- Adjustable waistband
- Zippered pockets for security
- Lots of storage space
- Convertible to shorts
- 50 UPF
- Not waterproof or water repellent
- 100% nylon construction – loses benefits of being a mix
- Only comes in standard sizes
- Tight fit around the thigh
- Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
- Partial elastic at waist
- Main Body – 100% nylon ripstop
- Mesh Panels – 57% recycled polyester & 43% polyester mesh
In testing, it was spotted that the Columbia hiking pants come small, so it could be a case of ordering the next size up, this can easily make things worse, and you may end up with even more unfashionable shorts than they are.
The zipper was also found to be on the short side compared to other means convertible hiking pants on the test.
This, coupled with the uncomfortable fitting, made them not feel very comfortable at all. Are the Columbia Silver Ridge pants good enough to be the best convertible hiking pants? We are still pondering over that question.
3. prAna Stretch Zion Pant
Highly prized among the open-air crowd for their comfort and usefulness, the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible pants fit well almost everywhere. Technically designed as climbing pants, with its elasticity and set of features.
They come with a cargo pocket with double access zip, making them an excellent choice for hiking and backpacking.
You get an excellent range of motion thanks to the reinforced crotch and stretch fabric and the semi-slim fit that moves with you.
To adjust, a low-profile waistband adjuster is placed to the right of the top button.
The extra thickness makes them a little warmer during backpacking trips in summer. On the opposite side, the sturdy shell fabric, along with its DWR coating, performs very well on longer backpacking trips.
This allows them to have high resistance and the ability to deliver weather protection a little easier.
- Very comfortable fit and fabric
- Stretch nylon allows plenty of agility
- Scuff and wrinkle resistant
- A decent minimalist feature set
- Can come in a convertible option
- Ventilated gusset
- Adjustable waistband
- Not suitable for warm climates
- Not very water resistant
- Heavy densely woven fabric
- Not many pockets
- Fabric 97% nylon/ 3% spandex
- UPF 50 rating
- DWR finish
- Ventilated inseam gusset
- Roll up leg snaps
Although better in colder climates, Prana hiking pants lack water resistance, so if the weather is humid in your future trekking, look elsewhere.
The Prana Zion convertible pants come in around $ 28, which makes them very affordable. They are much better than most hiking trekking pants in comfort, but they lack features like having storage space.
This makes the Prana stretch Zion convertible pant more suited for their original purpose of climbing and easy trekking in the fall.
4. Columbia Women’s Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pant, Water and Stain Repellent
Offering excellent value for money, there is a lot to love with these pants. They are both durable and comfortable.
The two-way stretching and gusset make it easy to negotiate high steps and to encounter rough terrain.
The Omni-Shield finish repels water and unwanted stains. However, it is not as effective as intended. Although they can make lightweight hiking pants, they face a significant disadvantage.
If you want to carry a lot in your pockets, you will be disappointed. Items can easily fall out of the front pockets because they are shallow.
Pocket space aside, they are an excellent choice for going out and about in comfort.
The other problem is that they cannot be converted into shorts or rolled efficiently. Therefore, if you are on backcountry hiking adventures or have a day of hiking, you may find them warm after a while.
- 2-way comfort stretch
- UPF 50 sun protection lets you enjoy the sun safely
- Resists rain and stains
- Boot cut.
- Regular rise
- The new model comes with a new lower cut waist
- Pockets do not lay flat
- Zippers liable to break
- Lack of storage options
- Pockets are shallow
- Doesn’t use waterproof fabrics
- 96% nylon/4% elastane Summiteer Lite
- Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
- Omni-Shield repellency and stain-resistant fabric
The Columbia women’s hiking pants are placed just under the $20 range, so they are affordable. These colored pants offer a wide variety, but feature-wise, there are much better options, and they are more suited to staying closer to home.
5. White Sierra Women’s Sierra Point 31-Inch Inseam Convertible Pant
This White Sierra convertible pant review for women is lightweight, and the pants are comfortable.
They are made of soft, thin material, thus ideal for hotter days or humid climates. Needless to say, the best characteristic of these hiking pants for women is their convertibility.
You can quickly zip off the pants and transform them into comfortable shorts.
In fact, from hitting the trails and river banks to arid climates, these White Sierra pants are the best women’s hiking pants for changes in the seasons.
They are from water repellent fabric and are average performers in wet conditions. However, they did dry easily and quickly.
We spotted that many buyers claim these White Sierra women’s pants can be easily transformed into shorts without removing hiking boots or hiking shoes; this makes these unique pants very different from others that so very often can only do this using an ankle zipper.
Also, they do come with better pockets which makes them practical. But there still isn’t a ton of storage space on hand.
- UPF 30 sun protection
- Articulated knees
- Comfort waistband
- Sierra Point pants come with side leg pocket and hand pockets
- Convert to shorts
- Inferior stitching
- Baggy in the thigh area
- Waist to leg ratio is off
- Zip-secure front pocket
- Teflon fabric protector
- Water repellant fabric
Although these Sierra Point Convertible Pants are light, they have a little more weight and bulk than the average set of hiking pants for women. This does, though, make them resistant and durable.
Even though they are thicker and appear well made, they are still highly affordable and come in just under the $20 range, which can be ideal for something.
These convertible pants are of a baggier fit, and we noticed some buyers saying it is difficult to find a correct fit.
So, if you’re looking for something to hit the trails in, you may need to be cautious when purchasing as these won’t be the best option for you.
What to Look For When Buying the Best Pants for Hiking
Artificial materials are often used, and you see lots of nylon hiking pants. Polyester being the primary material you will find in hiking pants. However, many come in a comfy and stretchy fabric made from a mixture of nylon with some spandex or elastane.
Depending on your priorities, we suggest looking for some that deliver a better range of motion.
A common type of lightweight pants is the nylon softshell, which combines sufficient protection; they are wind resistant and deal with wet weather with decent overall durability and breathability.
A weightier pant will also have a denser and tougher fabric pile and tend to have some extra water repellant properties on the fabric. One of the common types being Gore-Tex which often comes on rain jackets. (Need the best-heated jacket? Check our guide)
Hiking Pants Weight
Weight is a factor, and it will depend on the type of hiking. A day hiker may be much more content to carry extra weight in their hiking pants than hikers or backpackers heading out for a week or beyond.
The more suitable to hot conditions your hiking pants are, the lighter they will be. For a backpacker, it unquestionably becomes more of an aspect you need to take into consideration. You will almost certainly want as light and efficient pants as an option.
Sizing of Hiking Pants
Everyone has their own preference for sizing. You want hiking pants to be comfy while offering active movement in them.
It is essential to have a certain amount of bagginess for comfort and ease of movement, but you don’t want to go overboard.
You will need good mobility in the crotch and knee areas because When you hike over fluctuating ground, you will be moving those zones the most.
Some pants will purposely have things like articulated knees and gusseted crotches. These deliver more mobility and abrasion resistance.
You will also find the obvious, summer hiking pants are usually that bit baggier than winter ones.
Hiking Pant Breath-ability
You want breathable pants, and this can come from the material make-up. Hiking pants need breathability to ensure you can let your legs breathe so sweat can wick away.
While that is important, it is only part of the process, and added features like an aeration side zipper for quick ventilation are great if possible. Effective breathability also offers itself to helping hiking pants to dry out quicker.
You can have the best hiking pants for hot weather, but if they are no good at wicking sweat away, you will feel wet and uncomfortable. The best convertible pants will also change to shorts, or you can roll up and use the press studs to keep them in place.
Water Resistance and Waterproof
Some components of water resistance on a heavier pair of waterproof hiking pants for autumn/ winter can be a good thing to have.
For a light shower of rain, you don’t need to get your pair of rain pants and rain gear out. This will be presented by a water repellent coating (DWR) which sits on top of the material.
For summer hiking, don’t be too concerned with too much about water-resistant pants. If the pants have excellent breathability and get a bit wet, they usually dry off quickly.
Although you might not realize it, there are a few people who like to hike in the rain, and having the right pants could mean they stayed dry rather than getting soaked.
Some hiking pants come with added UPF protection. It’s worth knowing the difference between UPF and SPF so as not to get confused.
SPF rating indicates how fast skin will burn. If you use sunblock with an SPF of 20, it takes 20 minutes to burn.
UPF is a clothing rating that indicates the number of ultraviolet light units an item of clothing lets in through the fabric.
If clothing has a UPF 40, it means if 40 units of UV fall on the material, then only 1 unit of UV will pass.
Standard clothing alone provides some element of protection from the sun, so rarely will you actually get a sunburn through them.
However, as you’re generally higher up in altitude, the temperature may be cooler, so it can be a little misleading about the quantity of UV around.
The color of Hiking Pants
Hiking pants appear in diverse colors, but thinking about heat, dark colors absorb, and light colors reflect.
Nearly all light summer hiking pants come in light grey, light beige, or cream colors.
In winter, darker hiking pants can help absorb heat from the sun and help keep you warmer.
Pockets in Hiking Pants
Plenty of pockets are a must in any hiking pants. While you may need to carry lots of gear, you don’t want it all stuffed into one space.
Spreading it around makes things much more comfortable, and there is less chance of hard objects sticking in your leg unexpectedly.
You get what you pay for, and you can quickly find out that what appeared to be a bargain is a false economy, and your pants don’t last as long as you expect.
Hiking pants are a vital part of your hiking gear, and paying a decent rate for a pair that will last for a few years is something to consider.
After putting all these pants through their paces and testing as much as possible in situations where they would be used, it was quickly apparent that only one pair was up to scratch.
It was a unanimous decision that there were decent pants to choose from, but they were not overall as good as the winner; not only this, each pair had a couple more downsides.
If the only downside to a pair of hiking pants is loose-fitting, and they can’t be changed into shorts, they fulfill all needs in other areas.
The 5.11 Men’s Taclite Pro Tactical Pants with Cargo Pockets came out as a worthy winner with that in mind.
They are comfortable, highly breathable, and very durable. The repellency worked the best, and there is extra stitching where it matters. The 511 Taclite pants also come with way more pockets than even the next closest.
For the price, these are the best backpacking pants anyone could wish for.