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a woman hiking in the forest

A good pair of hiking pants makes for an enjoyable hike. Photo: Kip Tousuell//The Inertia

The Inertia

Hiking is unlike anything else. It’s a way to get outside, log some miles, and explore the natural world. There is nothing more satisfying than discovering a stunning pocket of nature that you access via your own two feet. Good hiking pants are an essential part of that endeavor, as they can help protect your legs from abrasions, keep you warm, and provide sun protection.

Some hiking pants are designed to be lightweight and breathable while others are designed to provide more protection and insulation. Many also have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to help keep moisture from ruining a good hike. In order to test these hiking pants, our team hiked hundreds of miles in both the hot, humid climates of Hawaii and California, as well as the cool, rainy mountains of British Columbia. We’ve been wear-testing these options for months, trying to find the best hiking pants for every condition, style, and price.

If you wish to learn more about how these hiking pants stacked up against one another, take a look at our Comparison Table. Or, if you wish to find out what makes a good pair of hiking pants, check out our Buyer’s Guide.

The Best Hiking Pants of 2024

Best Men’s Hiking Pants: Patagonia Quandary Pants
Best Women’s Hiking Pants: Patagonia Quandary Joggers
Best Budget Hiking Pants: REI Co-op Trailmade Pants
Runner-Up Best Men’s Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Runner-Up Best Women’s Hiking Pants: Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants

Best Men’s Hiking Pants

Patagonia Quandary Pants ($99)

Patagonia Quandary Joggers

Fabric: 96% NetPlus post-consumer recycled nylon/4% spandex plain weave/DWR finish made without PFCs/PFAS
Fit: Regular
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 8.8 oz
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Sustainably made, 40+ UPF protection
Cons: No ventilation zippers

A good pair of hiking pants offers flexibility, airflow, and sun protection to keep you out on the trails for longer. The Patagonia Quandary Pants check those boxes while also using sustainable materials. Made from 96% nylon that comes from recycled fishing nets, these pants help clean up the ocean as well as clean up your act. They look as good in town as they perform on trail.

We found the Quandary pants to have the best combination of features, material feel, and price. We loved the pocket arrangement — two open hand pockets in the front, as well as three zippered pockets on the rear and side. This allowed us to comfortably slide quick-access items in and out, while still keeping valuables protected. Plus, the super light material dries out quickly, stretches comfortably, and looks great. Finally, there is a roll-up cuff with button securement, great for water crossing or cooling off. Our only qualm was a lack of vents.

The Quandary Pants are available in both men’s and women’s, and come in a wide variety of styles (as well as shorts) to suit your particular needs and wants. Plus, it comes with Patagonia’s legendary lifetime repair guarantee, so you can push your limits and know that these pants will be ready for the next adventure, no matter what happens today.

CHECK Men's PRICE ON Patagonia CHECK Men's PRICE ON REI Check Women's Price on Patagonia Check Women's Price on REI

Best Women’s Hiking Pants

Patagonia Quandary Joggers ($119)

patagonia hiking pants

Fabric: 96% NetPlus post-consumer recycled nylon/4% spandex plain weave/DWR finish made without PFCs/PFAS
Fit: Regular
Leg Style: Jogger
Weight: 8.8 oz
Available In: Women’s, Men’s

Pros: Sustainably made, elastic waistband
Cons: No ventilation zippers, fit tight around the butt

Like most items from Patagonia, quality and function unite in the Quandary Joggers. The Quandary pants are lightweight and stretchy, making them easy to move around in. The elastic waistband is soft and comfortable, and the drawstring allows you to customize the fit. These joggers fit a little tighter in the butt and thighs, which is saying something because our tester has a fairly flat butt. If you’re slim you’ll probably like these but if you’re curvier, they might not be the best fit.

Additional features we love include five total pockets (three zippered and two hand pockets), a hemostat/carabiner loop on the front right pocket, elastic cuffs, and built-in odor control to help keep the stank at bay. The Quandary Joggers are comfortable enough to wear for hiking and climbing as well as traveling or just hanging at home.

Although these are similar to our favorite pick for men, the Quandary Pants, the jogger cut made these our favorite hiking pants for women. The slightly tapered cut adds some style points and also prevents excess material from snagging near your lower legs.

Read our full review of the Patagonia Quandary Joggers.

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Best Budget Hiking Pants

REI Co-op Trailmade Pants ($70)REI hiking pants

Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% spandex (bluesign approved)
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 10.7 oz
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Great price, gusseted crotch and knees
Cons: A bit warm for certain climates

While there are a ton of great hiking pants in this guide, most of them are around $100 or more. In come the REI Co-op Trailmade Pants: at $70 (on sale for less than $50 at the time of publishing), these pants boast many of the same chops as competitors. With five pockets, a durable and water-resistant fabric, and a gusseted crotch and knees, these are the best budget hiking pants this year.

The size and cut of hiking pants can be tricky to decide, and while you want something that fits snugly enough that it won’t snag on branches, you don’t want to be restricted in your movement. The Trailmade Pants strike a nice balance between fit and flexibility, and we found the straight cut was flattering without being restrictive. The gusseted crotch and knees helped these pants move with us as we hiked. While the material is a bit thick, we found the pants to be durable and water-resistant on trail. And even though there are five pockets, only one of them is zippered — we would have liked one or two more zippered pockets. Also, these pants lack ventilation, so they aren’t ideal for hot weather.

That said, for such a great price, we found the REI Co-op Trailmade Pants to perform just as well as much of the competition, and these will make a great pair of hiking pants.


Runner-Up Best Men’s Hiking Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi ($99)

men's hiking pants outdoor research ferrosi

Fabric: 46% recycled nylon, 40% nylon, 14% spandex
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 10.7 oz
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Lightweight, stretchy
Cons: Requires a belt

The Ferrosi pants by Outdoor Research have a classic look but an active feel. The 14% spandex plays a part in this, allowing for optimum movement in whatever conditions we took them through. These hiking pants held up in the wet rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, and we found that they shed water well. The straight cut of the Ferrosi is somewhat slim, which we really appreciated as they provide a great balance of style and mobility.

The pants are without a drawstring or built-in belt, so you’ll need your own belt to keep these secure. This isn’t much of an issue unless you’re counting grams. But at 10.7 ounces, the pants don’t weigh much, and these were one of our top choices for comfort. They placed just behind the Patagonia Quandary Pants due to a slightly less versatile pocket setup and lack of roll-up legs (though these do have an elastic leg cuff). Still, for hiking pants that look and perform great, the Ferrosi is a top choice.


Runner-Up Best Women’s Hiking Pants

Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants ($99)

kuhl hiking pants

Fabric: 50% polyester/50% new polyester
Fit: Relaxed
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: Not Specified
Available In: Women’s 

Pros: Roll-up design, water-resistant finish
Cons: No ventilation zippers

With a name like Kuhl, how could the Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants be anything but? The Freeflex pants are rugged and functional, but have a cool outdoorsy look to them. The fabric is stretchy yet durable, and the pants have a button closure with a wide waistband and drawcord that allows you to customize your fit.

The Freeflex pants have a water-resistant finish and offer UPF 50+ sun protection. As the name suggests, the pants roll up and secure with a button snap for stream crossings or when you’re overheating. Finally, someone listened to us ladies, and Kuhl designed the Freeflex pants with front pockets, cargo pockets, and back pockets, so you have lots of places to stash small items. We also love that these hiking pants come in a wide variety of sizes — sometimes hard to find in women’s gear — so you should be able to find a pair that fits you great.

We didn’t feel like the Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants quite outdid the Patagonia Quandary Joggers in the comfort department, so they took the runner-up spot.


Best of the Rest

Best Hiking Pants For Warm Weather

Mountain Hardwear Dynama Pull-On Ankle Pants ($85)

mountain hardwear hiking pants

Fabric: 94% nylon/6% elastane plain-weave stretch woven (139 g/m2)
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Tapered
Weight: 7.1 oz.
Available In: Women’s

Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, wide/flat waist
Cons: No drawstring on waistband, no ventilation zippers

The Mountain Hardwear Dynama Pull-On Ankle Pants are incredibly lightweight, comfortable, and breathable, plus they have a UPF 50 rating, making them our top pick for warm-weather hiking pants. Made from a blend of nylon and spandex, the fabric is stretchy, making them easy to move around in. The Dynamas lack ventilation zippers, but because the material is so lightweight and breathable they aren’t necessary.

The waistband is stretchy, flat, and wide, so layers and/or climbing harnesses sit well over it. We do, however, wish there was a drawstring in the waistband so we could further customize the fit.

The Dyanamas have a loose fit without being baggy, making them super comfortable. Testers noted these hiking pants felt like trail-ready sweats. Finally, the built-in odor control helps keep the pants smelling fresh even after a hot and sweaty hike.


Best Heavy-Duty Hiking Pants 

Fjallraven Keb Trousers ($240)

fjallraven hiking pants

Fabric: Main fabric: G-1000 Eco 65% recycled polyester/35% organic cotton; stretch fabric 63% polyamide/26% polyester/11% elastane
UPF Rating: N/A
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Boot Cut
Weight: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Pockets galore, ventilation zippers throughout
Cons: Mid-rise fit, pants swish together while hiking

The Fjallraven Keb Trousers are one heavy-duty pair of hiking pants. These look like premium cargo pants, with all the qualities you’d want in a good pair of hiking pants. The Keb Trousers are on the warmer side, but luckily they have hip-to-knee ventilation zippers as well as extra ventilation zippers along the calves. The Keb Trousers have a bootcut, so you can easily wear them over a pair of hiking boots. They also have boot hooks at the bottom of the pants, loops at the leg endings for attaching stirrups, and buttons along the bottoms of the legs for securely fitting the pants around your boots.

Due to their wider cut, we did notice the Keb Trousers tend to rub while hiking, making a swishing noise that is a bit annoying. If you adjust the the buttons for a more snug fit it can help a little. The pants have a mid-rise fit, which is flattering, but our tester didn’t find it the most comfortable for hiking uphill. The Keb Trousers have pockets galore: two hand pockets, two leg pockets, and one interior mesh pocket — these are great for backpacking or longer day hikes when you want quick access to gear. The Keb Trousers are also one of the most durable and water-resistant hiking pants we tested.

Check Men's price on Backcountry CHECK Women's PRICE ON REI

Runner-Up Best Warm Weather Hiking Pants

Cotopaxi Subo Pants ($90)

cotopaxi hiking pants

Fabric: 90% recycled nylon/10% spandex
UPF Rating: 50
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Tapered
Weight: 8 oz.
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: UPF 50 rating, adjustable bungees at the cuffs
Cons: No ventilation options

We love Cotopaxi for its fun, bright colors, and reliable gear, and the Cotopaxi Subo Pants are no exception. Although the colors are more muted than most of Cotopaxi’s gear, the pants come in six colors, making them easy to match with more colorful pieces on top. The Subo Pants have a UPF 50 rating and are treated with a durable water-repellent finish, which our tester greatly appreciated during intermittently sunny and rainy hikes near her home on Oahu.

The Subo pants have an elastic waist with a drawcord, which makes for a comfortable fit and easy adjustments. One of our favorite features of the Subo is the adjustable bungee at the cuffs for times when you don’t want your pants to snag. There are two pockets in the front as well as a zippered pocket in the rear. The Subo Pants are comfortable and flexible and work well for both hiking and rock climbing. The only thing missing is a ventilation option, but due to the lightweight, soft, and stretchy material, we found these hiking pants worked well for warm weather.


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Runner-Up Best Heavy-Duty Hiking Pants

Helly Hansen Verglas Tur Pants ($220)

helly hansen hiking pants

Fabric: 67% cotton/33% polyester; shell 2: 94% polyamide/6% elastane
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Adjustable waist strap, fuzzy material along waistband
Cons: No ventilation zipper in lower legs

The Helly Hansen Verglas Tur Pants were designed with comfort and function in mind. The Verglas pants fit on the baggier side, but have a velcro strap at the waist for adjustments as well as adjustable straps at the bottom of the legs for a secure fit. We found the adjustments at the cuffs to be particularly helpful when going through areas with lots of debris — we cinched them tight around our boots to keep everything out. Running along the inside of the waistband is a softer, fuzzier material which greatly enhances the comfort of the pants.

The Verglas Tur hiking pants have lots of zippered pockets for stashing the goods as well as zippered ventilation along the thighs that make a world of difference on hot days. We did wish there was additional venting further down the legs (like on the Keb Trousers). The Verglas are fairly stretchy hiking pants, further adding to their comfort on technical trails. While not many modern hiking pants feature as much cotton as these from Helly Hansen, we found the material felt great and performed well.

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Best Hiking Pants for Climbing

Arc’teryx Gamma Pants ($200)

arcteryx pants

Fabric: Fortius DW 2.0 88% nylon/12% elastane (bluesign approved)
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 12.5 oz.
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Incredibly lightweight, drawstring at the cuffs
Cons: No ventilation zippers

The Arc’teryx Gamma Pants are super comfortable and flexible, making them ideal for year-round hiking. The Gamma pants are wind and water-resistant, providing moderate insulation when you need it. There is an adjustable drawstring at the cuffs, which allows you to get a snug fit around the ankles.

The Gamma Pants have a mid-rise cut, meaning they hit around the belly button. Our tester didn’t find the higher cut to be as comfortable for hiking, but for climbing she saw how these could work well with a harness. These hiking pants also have two zippered hand pockets as well as a strategically placed zippered thigh pocket that can be accessed even while wearing a climbing harness. Plus, our team found the standard version to be abrasion-resistant (crucial for climbing).

We also tested the quick dry version which offers an even lighter (9.9 oz) composition with 92% nylon to give a bit more water-repellency. The tradeoff here is a bit of a noisier fabric when hiking. Both hiking pants are highly recommended by our team.

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Most Comfortable Hiking Pants

Black Diamond Technician Jogger Pants ($95)

black diamond hiking pants

Fabric: 96% nylon/4% elastane
Fit: Slim
Leg Style: Jogger
Weight: 1 lb. 5.5 oz.
Available In: Women’s

Pros: Insanely comfortable, knit waistband/cuffs
Cons: No ventilation zippers, only available in women’s

The Black Diamond Technician Jogger Pants are hands down the most comfortable pair of hiking pants for women on our list. They feel like wearing a pair of sweatpants but have all the technical features of hiking pants. Although the Technician Joggers are listed as climbing pants, they double nicely as hiking pants as well.

The Technician Joggers have a knit waistband and cuffs that are stretchy and allow for a more customizable fit. The material is lightweight, breathable, and treated with a durable water-repellent finish — all musts for our tester while hiking in Oahu’s hot and humid climate. Unfortunately, there are no ventilation zippers for when things really get toasty. The assortment of pockets was nice for stashing essentials and the lightweight material allowed for plenty of range of motion. We’d love to wear these camping when we don’t always feel like changing from our hiking pants to our pajamas, as they’re comfortable enough to do both.

CHECK Women's PRICE ON Black Diamond CHECK Women's PRICE ON REI

Outdoor Research Cirque Lite Pants ($139)

mountain hardwear hiking pants

Fabric: 88% nylon/12% spandex 90-denier stretch double weave (bluesign approved)
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 13.6 oz.
Available In: Men’s, Women’s 

Pros: Built-in belt, zipper at the bottom of the legs
Cons: No ventilation zippers

There’s a lot to love about the Outdoor Research Cirque Lite Pants. The fabric on the Cirque Lite pants is lightweight and breathable but is also wind and water-resistant, so you’re prepared for whatever nature decides to throw your way. The waist features a snap button closure with a built-in belt for size adjustments, which we thought was super cool. The pants slim down a bit at the lower legs, but have zippers if you want a wider fit for getting them over boots. The hiking pants include three zippered pockets but unfortunately have no ventilation zippers.

While these pants were well-featured and comfortable, they couldn’t quite match the combination of specs and price of some of our top picks.


Check Men's Price on Backcountry CHECK Women's PRICE ON Backcountry

Kuhl Silencr ($99)

kuhl silencr hiking pants

Fabric: 100% Polyester
Fit: Full
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 12 oz.
Available In: Men’s

Pros: Comes with a dedicated smartphone pocket
Cons: No ventilation

Kuhl’s Silencr pants make a great trail-to-town hiking option. The 100% polyester construction of these hiking pants has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it is remarkably durable for the weight. Polyester also provides excellent sun protection. On the downside, these hiking pants are less breathable than competitors, and since there are no vents, they can get pretty hot. The Silencr makes a great high-elevation or fall-weather hiking pant when the sun is shining but the temperatures aren’t too high.

The slip-in quick stash smartphone pockets may seem gimmicky, but once we started using it on the regular it became a welcome feature. As much as we’d like to say that phones don’t play a part in our 21st-century lives, we have to be real. So to have quick access to trail maps and snapping photos, it’s nice to have a dedicated pocket just for that purpose.

CHECK Men's PRICE ON Backcountry Check Men's Price on Kuhl

LIVSN Ecotrek Trail Pants ($139)

livsn ecotrek trail pants

Fabric: Blue Ocean nylon (75% recycled), 5% spandex
Fit: Slim
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: Not specified
Available In: Men’s

Pros: Stretchy fabric, commitment to sustainability
Cons: Fairly tight fit

LIVSN gets its name from the Swedish word Livsnjutare, which means “One who loves life deeply; an enjoyer of life”. While we shy away from marketing speak we felt it was important to mention the guiding force behind the brand name. One thing is for certain, LIVSN seems to follow that ethos well with these pants. We tested them in all sorts of conditions and they had just the right amount of stretch to be up to the test, whether it be climbing, hiking, bushwhacking, or trail running.

The Ecotrek‘s material is made up of 75% Blue Ocean nylon, a proprietary blend that comes from recycled fishing buoys in Taiwan, which is fairly close to where the pants are made. This is important if you feel a responsible supply chain is an important factor, which as consumers we all seem to be realizing that it is. Yet the pants still have to perform well, and we found the trail pants, while tight and thin, still held up well while being breathable and durable. If you like a more relaxed, baggy fit these pants might not be for you, but if you want a more form-fitting pair of pants, we found these to be really stylish.

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Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip-Off Pants ($175)

fjallraven abisko zip off pants

Fabric: 52% recycled polyester, 13% polyester, 35% organic cotton
Fit: Standard
Leg Style: Long, Zip off
Weight: 11.6 oz (Men’s M)
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Easily convertible to shorts
Cons: Pant legs can get lost

For those who have a hard time deciding between pants or shorts, the inner dialogue can come to an end with the best of both worlds. Many times convertible pants have a funky look to them, but Fjallraven’s Abisko Midsummer Zip-Off pants do a great job of hiding the zipper. While in hiking pants mode, the Abisko provides good sun protection while still feeling cool, thanks to a 35% organic cotton blend in the materials. But should it get too hot out or you just feel like rocking shorts for a while, the shorts mode looks and feels great without the zipper feeling bulky or in the way.

The only downside to these is the risk of losing a pant leg. We wish Fjallraven had provided a more clever way of keeping your pant legs secure. It might sound silly, but our testing team has lost a couple of convertible pant legs in their hiking days, and unless you want your pants rendered shorts forever, it’s worth keeping a close eye on them.

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Backcountry Wasatch Ripstop Pant ($99)

backcountry wasatch ripstop hiking pants

Fabric: 94 % Nylon (61% recycled), 6% ripstop spandex
Fit: Relaxed
Leg Style: Straight
Weight: 11.7 oz
Available In: Men’s, Women’s

Pros: Comfortable, great price point
Cons: No ventilation, crotch area is fairly baggy

Backcountry’s house-label clothing has a reputation for quality without the markup. Their Wasatch pants are no different and come in a number of styles, but we were fans of their regular pants for their versatility and good looks. The hiking pants come with their own belt that comes undone with a simple click, giving you the same fit every time. The pants have a single cargo pocket on the side, but it’s not too big, more of a pocket for a small tube of sunscreen or lip balm than a trail map or phone. On trail, we loved the simple and mobile design of these hiking pants.

We would have loved some ventilation zippers and maybe another pocket or two. But for more temperate climates and casual hikes, the Wasatch Ripstop Pant is comfortable and durable.

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Best Hiking Pants Comparison Table

Hiking Pants Price Material Fit Leg Style Weight
Patagonia Quandary Pants $99 96% NetPlus post-consumer recycled nylon/4% spandex plain weave/durable water repellent (DWR) finish made without PFCs/PFAS Standard Straight 8.8 oz
Patagonia Quandary Joggers $119 96% NetPlus post-consumer recycled nylon/4% spandex plain weave/durable water repellent (DWR) finish made without PFCs/PFAS Standard Jogger 8.8 oz
REI Co-Op Trailmade Pants $70 94% nylon/6% spandex (bluesign approved) Standard Straight 9.8 oz
Outdoor Research Ferrosi $99 46% recycled nylon, 40% nylon, 14% spandex Standard Straight 10.7 oz
Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants $99 50% polyester/50% new polyester Relaxed Straight N/A
Mountain Hardwear Dynama Pull-On Ankle Pants $85 94% nylon/6% elastane plain-weave stretch woven (139 g/m2) Standard Tapered 7.1 oz
Fjallraven Keb Trousers $240 Main fabric: G-1000 Eco 65% recycled polyester/35% organic cotton; stretch fabric 63% polyamide/26% polyester/11% elastane Standard Boot-Cut 1 lb 5 oz
Cotopaxi Subo Pants $90 90% recycled nylon/10% spandex Standard Tapered 8 oz
Helly Hansen Verglas Tur Pants $220 67% cotton/33% polyester; shell 2: 94% polyamide/6% elastane Standard Straight 1 lb 5 oz
Arc’teryx Gamma Pants $200 Fortius DW 2.0 88% nylon/12% elastane (bluesign approved) Standard Straight 12.5 oz
Black Diamond Technician Jogger Pants $95 96% nylon/4% elastane Slim Jogger 1 lb 5.5 oz
Outdoor Research Cirque Lite Pants $139 88% nylon/12% spandex 90-denier stretch double weave (bluesign approved) Standard Straight 13.6 oz
Kuhl Silencr $99 100% polyester Standard Straight 12 oz
LIVSN Ecotrek Trail Pants $139 Blue Ocean nylon (75% recycled), 5% spandex Slim Straight N/A
Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip-Off Pants $175 52% recycled polyester, 13% polyester, 35% organic cotton Standard Zip-Off 11.6 oz
Backcountry Wasatch Ripstop Pant $99 94 % Nylon (61% recycled), 6% ripstop spandex Relaxed Straight 11.7 oz

How We Tested Hiking Pants

In order to test out the best hiking pants, you guessed it, we hit the trails. In an effort to test a wide range of both men’s and women’s styles in different climates, this review was spearheaded by Steve Andrews and Rebecca Parsons, both avid hikers and outdoors-people. Our editors also contributed testing notes and impressions of hiking pants they have experience with.

Rebecca Parsons lives on Oahu in Hawaii where it is consistently warm and humid, with frequent rain showers. Rebecca also regularly visits her parents in southern California which is slightly drier, with moderate temperatures year-round. Hiking in Hawaii, Rebecca tested many of the lighter and more breathable pants on our list.

Steve Andrews tested the pants in the coastal rainforest and craggy bluffs of the Coast Mountains in British Columbia, a place with thousands of miles of hiking trails. The humid climate lends itself well to testing the water repellency of these hiking pants. He carried a few essentials such as a phone and multitool, to see how the pants would feel with gear in the pockets. The steep trails provide perfect terrain to see how the pants stretch under duress, as well as how breathable they are after a long day on the trail.

a woman in hiking pants and a dog in the forest

Testing out some of the best hiking pants in the business. Photo: Kip Touseull//The Inertia

Hiking Pants Buyer’s Guide

What Are Hiking Pants?

As the name suggests, hiking pants are pants that are specifically designed for hiking. That means they are typically lightweight, quick-drying, have an assortment of pockets, and don’t have any extra bulk. Additionally, they often have some type of weather-resistant coating such as Omni-Shield™ or durable water repellent (DWR)  to help them perform well in rain or snow. Their purpose is to protect your legs and — depending on where you’re hiking — keep you warm.

hiking in the forest with the outdoor research men's ferrosi pants

The Ferrosi pants by outdoor research had enough flex for hiking movement, yet still looked good enough for city streets. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia

What Should I Look For In A Pair of Hiking Pants?


A good pair of hiking pants should most definitely come with pockets. Whether you plan to use them for an easy-access place to stash your phone for photos, a place to store your bandana, or somewhere to warm your hands, pockets are a must. Many of the pants we tested had multiple pockets, some with zippers, some without, and some with both zippered and non-zippered pockets.

If you like to slip your hands into your pockets to warm them up, then you’ll want non-zippered pockets in the front. If you plan to store quick-access items in your pockets, then zippered is the move. Finally, if you plan on wearing your hiking pants for climbing, you’ll want a pocket or two situated lower on the leg so you can still access it while wearing a harness.

a close up of pockets on a pair of hiking pants

Zippered pockets are perfect for stashing essentials. Photo: Kip Tousuell//The Inertia

Ventilation Zippers

Ventilation zippers in hiking pants are a game changer. When you get hot while hiking, a ventilation zipper is an easy way to let in some air so you can cool off. Some hiking pants have zippers that run the entire length of the pants. Others have ventilation zippers in the thigh area and around the ankles. And some just have ventilation zippers in the thigh region. In our opinion, the more ventilation options the better. We appreciate ventilation zippers even in pants designed for cooler regions because you never know when you’re going to overheat. Plus, excessive sweating, especially when it’s cold out, is an easy way to ruin a hike.

Some of the ventilation zippers open directly to the skin whereas others have small mesh panels beneath. We didn’t have a preference either way but if you’re worried about debris getting in you may prefer ones with mesh underneath the zipper.

kuhl silencr hiking pants in the forest

Kuhl’s Silencr pants offer water repellency, durable materials, and a well-placed phone pocket for easy access. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia


In addition to ventilation options, you’ll want your hiking pants themselves to be breathable. Even if you plan on hiking in a colder area, you’ll still be moving around a lot in your pants and will likely find yourself heating up. Look for a material that lets a little air escape so you don’t feel like you’re hiking in your own personal sauna.

Hiking Pants “Rise”

Hiking pants “rise” refers to how high the pants sit on your waist. Through our testing, we found that most pants either had a standard-rise (hit below the belly button) or a mid-rise (hits in the middle of the belly button), but some even had a high-rise (hits above the belly button). This all comes down to personal preference, but it’s something to note if you have strong opinions one way or another. In general, go with a hiking pants rise that feels good for your normal pants.

Best Men’s Hiking Pants
Best Men’s Hiking Pants
Patagonia’s Quandary hiking pants are sustainably made and offer flexibility, airflow, and sun protection allowing you to stay on the trails longer.

Ankle Cuffs

Most of the pants on our list had some sort of adjustable ankle cuffs. The ankle cuffs refer to the bottom of the leg of the pants that rests over your ankle. Buttons, velcro, and drawstrings were all options we encountered. An adjustable ankle cuff can be helpful as it allows you to cinch the bottom of your pants tight to help prevent your pants from swishing around and to keep dust and debris out of your boots or shoes.

If the pants have a slimmer leg, an adjustable ankle can be helpful for fitting them over your boot. The only pants on our list that didn’t technically have adjustable ankle cuffs were the jogger-style pants, but they usually had elastic in the ankles so there was still some wiggle room.

a woman hiking in hiking pants

A good pair of hiking pants should have a weather-resistant coating. Photo: Kip Tousuell//The Inertia

Weather Resistant Coating

Typically, hiking pants aren’t waterproof — those would be rain pants. Fully waterproof pants aren’t breathable and aren’t the best option for hiking unless you’re in constant rain. However, a good pair of hiking pants should be water-resistant and often feature some sort of weather-resistant coating that works to keep the pants relatively dry.

The most common coating found on hiking pants is a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating that is applied to the outside of the pants. In our experience, pants with a DWR coating do a great job of keeping you dry unless you find yourself caught in a crazy downpour or are wearing them on river crossings. Another type of coating used to weatherproof pants is Omni-Shield.

UV Protection 

Because they cover your legs, all hiking pants provide some level of UV protection. However, some hiking pants are specifically designed with sun protection in mind and have a UPF rating to show for it. We found that lighter pants designed for warmer weather typically came with a UPF rating whereas pants designed for cooler regions did not. Note: Just because a UPF rating isn’t listed doesn’t mean that the pants don’t provide UV protection.


Hiking pants are a piece of clothing that gets put through the wringer. Depending on where you’re hiking, your pants will likely rub against brush, rocks, sticks, and more as you navigate the trail. As such, you’ll want pants that are durable and won’t easily tear.

a woman and her dogs hiking in the forest

Hiking pants come in many different leg styles. Photo: Kip Tousuell//The Inertia

Hiking Pants Fit and Style

Hiking pants come in multiple different cuts and styles including bootcut, straight leg, jogger, and slim. There is no right or wrong choice, as everyone has a preference and each choice comes with pros and cons.


Bootcut hiking pants start fitted around the hips and thighs and then flare a bit from the knee to the ankle. The benefit of bootcut pants is that they easily fit over your boots, but the extra material can get in the way depending on how wide the cut is.


As the name suggests, straight-leg hiking pants have a straight cut from top to bottom. They typically still fit over boots, but it’s helpful if they have an adjustable ankle cuff in case it’s a tight fit.

patagonia mens quandary hiking pants

Patagonia’s Quandary pants are free-moving, comfortable, and sustainable. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia


Jogger-style hiking pants tend to be looser on top and then slim down toward the ankles. Jogger pants often have elastic cuffs or draw-cords to cinch them tight. These types of pants were the most common in hiking pants that doubled as climbing pants. Some testers found this style to be the most comfortable and thought they felt similar to sweatpants. It really depends on whether you want your pants to sit above your hiking boots or over them.


This isn’t a super popular cut for hiking pants, but we did test slim hiking pants in some women’s styles. Slim-fit hiking pants taper down at the bottom and often sit above your hiking boots or shoes.

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Editor’s Note: Looking for some hiking sandals to go with your pants? Head to The Best Hiking Sandals. Prefer boots? Check out The Best Hiking Boots and The Best Women’s Hiking Boots. If you prefer hiking shoes, we’ve got you covered with The Best Hiking Shoes and The Best Women’s Hiking Shoes. Or click here for more gear reviews from The Inertia

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