The best hiking pants 2024: don't let winter slow you down with our top trail trousers

Collage of the best hiking pants
(Image credit: Future)

The best hiking pants are designed to keep you protected from the elements as you venture into the backcountry, whether you're determined to stride on through winter, or feel like hibernating until spring.

At the darkest and coldest time of year you need serious help to stay safe on the trails, so you may be looking for wind beating insulation, waterproofing, and abrasion resistance if you're planning to head out in the worst conditions.

The best hiking pants provide protection against trail elements like prickly vegetation and sharp rock. These things have a harder time ruining your day if you're wearing quality protective trousers.

During the winter, especially at altitude, there's rain, snow, hail, spindrift and the rest to contend with. Some of the best hiking pants are fully waterproof, while others are merely water resistant, with freedom of movement and low weight higher on their priority list. Insulated softshell hiking pants can be coupled with the best rain pants, which stay in your backpack when it's dry and are quick to put on when the heavens open.

Featured here are what we think are the best hiking pants in 2024, a top notch selection of trousers fit for the trails, from great all-rounders to heavier, more robust pairs for mountaineering use and waterproof hardshell pants. Our best value pick are the Revolution Race GP Pro, which come with features often seen in premium brands, but at a surprisingly low price.

Meet the expert

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.

The quick list

The best everyday trousers

Columbia Maxtrail Midweight Walking Trousers

Highly functional, no-frills hiking pants for everyday walking, made from mostly recycled content   (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best everyday hiking trousers

Specifications

Style: Lightweight hiking trousers
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Inseam: 32in; Waist: 28–40
Weight (Men's large): 436g /15.4oz
Materials: Omni-shield – Recycled polyester (57%), non-recycled polyester (34%), Elastane (9%)
Compatability: Year-round, non-technical walking, hiking, trekking, travel and backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and comfortable
+
Windproof and water resistant
+
Convert to three-quarter length
+
Plenty of pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited sizes
-
Basic belt

While the Maxtrail Midweight Warm hiking pants from Columbia are not going to blow your socks off with any fancy features, or revolutionise your hiking experiences with innovative ideas, they are a really reliable, reasonably robust and very wearable pair of walking pants, suitable for year-round use. Easy to care for and comfortable to wear, they’re ideal for coastal and countryside walks, and the occasional foray into higher hills and even mountains. Columbia’s Omnishield shell fabric is made from a material mix that includes recycled and non-recycled polyester (with the latter being the largest ingredient). Windproof and resistant to rain (up to a point), they retain their thermal properties when wet, and dry quickly if you do get a drenching. There’s also an Elastane element in these trousers that supplies a decent degree of flex, which means you can move freely on trails and crags.

They come with a belt, albeit a pretty basic one, and the ends of the legs have a cord and toggle so you can hitch them up three-quarter-style in warmer weather, or when going barefoot through shallow water. The design includes a pair of hand pockets, a wide thigh pocket with a popper for carrying a map (or other sizeable objects) and a single zipped rear pocket for keeping things safe.  

Read the full Maxtrail Midweight Warm walking pants review

The best for speed hiking

best hiking pants: inov-8 Venturelite Pants

Superb hiking pants; breathable, fast drying and with a tapered fit, the Venturelites liberate your legs to take on all manner of terrain (Image credit: Alex Foxfield)
Best for speed hiking

Specifications

Style: Softshell hiking trousers
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s
Sizes: Men’s XS-XL / women’s UK 6-16
Weight: 380g / 13.4oz
Materials: Main fabric nylon (90%) and elastane with PFC free DWR (10%)
Compatibility: Hiking, backpacking, scrambling, climbing

Reasons to buy

+
Stretchy fabric for unrestricted movement
+
Fast drying
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Thigh pocket is a little small
-
Swishing sound when walking

Created with a laser focus on the needs of hikers, inov-8's VentureLite Pants are designed with protection and warmth top of mind, combined with breathability and comfort. Inov-8 employ a recycled, PFC-free DWR finish to ensure water-resistance – crucial in the hills – while the outer fabric is also highly breathable for those punishing ascents.

We found there was just the right amount of stretch in all the right places. The main 4-way stretch fabric and articulated knees give freedom of movement on scrambling terrain. We like the three secure zippered pockets: two on hip and a smaller one on the thigh, though we found the latter to be a little small.

The pants are suitable for year-round wear, though for Baltic winter conditions a fleece-lined option will suit mountaineers better. Nevertheless, they’re fast drying and shed water well thanks to their DWR coating. In really wet conditions, I still supplemented them with my waterproof overtrousers, as the VentureLites aren’t designed to fend off consistent heavy rain.

Read our full inov-8 VentureLite Pant review

The best for freedom of movement

best hiking pants: Montane Men's Tenacity Pants

Lightweight, comfortable trousers with plenty of stretch, ideal for three-season hiking in all kinds of terrain (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Best for freedom of movement

Specifications

Style: Softshell hiking trousers
Gender specificity: Men’s only
Sizes: 28–40in waist. Short/regular/long leg versions available
Weight: 425g / 15oz
Materials: Nylon (88%) & Elastane (12%)
Compatibility: Three-season walking, hiking, trekking and backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated belt and lower leg zips
+
Lightweight
+
Quick drying
+
Plenty of stretch

Reasons to avoid

-
No large map pocket and mesh-backed pockets not very robust
-
No reinforced areas
-
No recycled material content 
-
No women’s version

Perfect for all kinds of trail pursuits from early spring through to late fall, these softshell pants are so light on your legs you do occasionally have to look down to check they’re still there. They provide decent protection from the wind however, and although they’re not waterproof, they’ve been treated with a PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) and the material is quick to dry. The knees are articulated and the four-way stretch of Montane’s ‘Granite’ material works exceptionally well – the Tenacity pants don’t restrict your freedom of movement at all, so you can clamber over boulders, walls, stiles, fallen trees and so on with no problem, and they’re ideal for scrambling, or even full-on rock climbing. We found that they do, however, seem prone to giving the wearer a wedgie…

There are two hand pockets, a thigh pocket and one back pocket, all of which have YKK zips, so you can keep things secure. There is no large map pouch, however, and the interior of the pockets are all mesh, which is great for keeping weight down and ventilation, but it does mean they’re not particularly robust – you can feel contents against your leg and holes may develop. The Tenacity trousers are done up with a sliding popper and come with a simplistic (but perfectly functional) belt, which is integrated into the design of the pants by passing through a long waist sleeve. They have a zipped gusset at the bottom of the legs, for use with larger boots.

Read our full Montane Men’s Tenacity Pants review

The best for unbeatable value

Revolution Race GP Pro hiking pants in black

Rugged, fully featured and great-value multi-activity pants with a trim cut and plenty of stretch (Image credit: Revolution Race)
Best for unbeatable value

Specifications

Style: Hybrid cargo
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Men's: XS-XXL, short/regular leg lengths / women's: XS-XXL, short/regular leg lengths
Weight (Men’s): 600g / 21.1oz
Materials: Main fabric: Polyester (65%) & cotton (35%); Stretch panels: Nylon (88%) & elastane (12%)
Compatibility: Three-season hiking, camping and backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Tough and rugged main fabric
+
4-way stretch panels for easy movement
+
Ventilation zips

Reasons to avoid

-
Slim cut won’t suit everyone
-
Not the lightest

This Swedish brand’s legwear has really created a stir in outdoor circles recently – and for good reason. The GP Pro trousers are rugged outdoor pants with a hybrid construction that incorporates softshell panels alongside a burly polycotton main fabric. The former features four-way stretch, while the latter adds abrasion-resistance at key areas like the knees and seat. Together, we found that they offer good breathability and durability, while being reasonably quick drying too.

Build quality is solid, with all main seams double or triple-stitched for strength. All zips are high-quality YKK branded. These trousers aren’t lacking in features either, with mesh-lined ventilation zips at the thigh, two roomy zipped thigh pockets, a zipped back pocket and two hand pockets – we always had somewhere to stash items. The waist is semi-elasticated, with a button closure, a zip fly and belt loops. Double-layer panels at the knees are designed to accommodate knee pads.

The Revolution Race GP Pros are as good as any outdoor trousers on the market but they come in at a far more reasonable price than some of the other ‘premium’ brands out there. These hiking pants are exceptionally durable, exceptionally comfortable and exceptionally good value.

Read our full Revolution Race GP Pro pants review

The best for durability

hiking trousers

Stylish and highly featured hiking pants that talk the talk and walk the walk (Image credit: Fjallraven)
Best for durability

Specifications

Style: Cargo
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Regular leg length, medium fit, 42–60 waist
Weight (Men’s): 610g / 21.5oz
Materials: Main garment Fjällräven G-1000 Eco: polyester (65%), cotton (35%) / Reinforced areas: polyamide (63%), polyester (26%), elastane (11%)
Compatibility: These are good all-round performers, which will look after your legs all year, while you concentrate on the trails

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent ventilation
+
Great storage capacity 
+
Hard wearing and protective
+
Eco friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive
-
Quite heavy
-
No back pockets

Vulpine Swedish brand Fjällräven produce a wide range of excellent outdoor-orientated pants, but the Kebs are a particularly good performer on hiking trails. Made mainly from Fjällräven’s G-1000 Eco material (fluorocarbon-free impregnation, organic and recycled) – which provides a good level of protection from scratchy and stinging plants, plus jagged rocks – they also have enough elastane in them that they moved dynamically along with us when we were walking.

Openings at the knee also help provide an excellent level of maneuverability, and can be used to house kneepads. Reinforced in all the right areas (knees, backside, pockets), they're really robust and will last a long time even with repeated use on the toughest of trails.

Besides hand pockets at the front, they have a big cargo-style pocket on each thigh, both protected with a flap that can be shut with poppers. We were able to stash a topo map in one of these thigh pouches, while the other features a zipper for securely stashing items like car keys, a phone or credit card.

Read our full Fjällräven Keb Trousers review

The best for lightweight missions

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic hiking pants

Durable, waterproof, lightweight leg protection that performs everywhere (Image credit: Mountain Hardwear)

6. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Best for lightweight missions

Specifications

Style: 2.5-layer shell pants
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes (men's): S-XXL, available in short, regular, long lengths
Sizes (women's): XS-XL, available in short, regular, long lengths
Weight: 279g / 10oz
Materials: Water-resistant Dry Q Technology (100% nylon)
Compatibility: All-weather protection for hiking, climbing, camping, backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Water and wind-proof
+
4-way stretch fabric for easy movement
+
Long cuff zippers
+
Abrasion resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one pocket
-
Take care with sizing

Lightweight and extremely compact for easy stashing when not in use, the Stretch Ozonic pant lives up to its name. A tailored design and adjustable elastic waistband dial in a comfortable fit and avoid the boxy appearance of other waterproof hiking pants. Using 2.5 layer Dry.Q technology to keep you dry, the fabric also offers much appreciated 4-way stretch that accommodates movement in wild, uneven terrain. We thought they were great for keeping the weight down on backpacking misssions.

We found that Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary fabric was soft and didn't scare away the wildlife by sounding like a crinkly crisps bag in the field. Abrasion resistant fabrics add durability season after season. A secure zippered waterproof thigh pocket keeps valuables safe, dry and close at hand. Transitioning to different apparel when the rains stop and the weather improves, full-length zippers make changing fast and easy. The rain pants roll up into a small bundle that doesn’t take much room in your daypack. With these pants you won't mind venturing out of your tent on a rainy day.

The best for protection

Sasta Jero hiking pants in orange

Exceptionally tough yet comfortable outdoor trousers that are well-suited to forest or moorland hikes, as well as camping and bushcraft activities  (Image credit: Sasta)
Best for protection

Specifications

Style: Cargo
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Men's: EU 46–60, regular leg only / women's: EU 32–46, regular leg only
Weight (Men’s): 500g / 17.6oz
Materials: Main fabric: recycled polyester (65%), organic cotton (35%), wax- and Nikwax Cotton Proof treatments; Reinforced panels: Kenytex (93% polyester, 7% Kevlar)
Compatibility: Three-season hiking, camping and backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Tough and rugged main fabric
+
Sustainably made
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
No leg vents
-
No stretch
-
Expensive

Keen camping and bushcraft types will love these rugged outdoor trousers, as will hikers who relish crashing through the heather on long moorland walks or exploring little-used forest footpaths, which is exactly where we put this pair through its paces.

Finnish brand Sasta is best known for making seriously tough kit for the sorts of activities and pastimes that Finns traditionally love – namely, hunting, fishing and general outdoors life. So, if your typical day might involve a morning spent foraging for chanterelles in the forest before whiling away an afternoon chopping firewood for the winter, the Jero trousers are for you. Perhaps it’s no surprise that bushcraft legend Ray Mears loves ‘em. 

They’re also made with sustainability in mind, since the main fabric is a polycotton blend of recycled polyester and organic cotton. This is pre-treated with PFC-free Nikwax water-repellent solution for added weather resistance. The trousers are reinforced at the knees and ankles with Kenytex panels for durability – a tough polyester fabric that incorporates Kevlar fibres (yes, the same stuff that is used to make bulletproof vests). That gives a clue as to just how durable these pants are. We found that the stretch gusset in the crotch also permits a little extra flexibility. Other features include articulated, pre-shaped knees, a large, zipped thigh pocket with a secondary press-stud storm flap and Velcro-adjustable tabs at the ankles and calves. Hidden lace hooks are fitted to allow you to attach them to boots too. Keeping these trousers up is also a belt-and-braces affair – literally – since as well as being fitted with belt loops, they also have twin sets of buttons to fit braces. The waistband is semi-elasticated for a more forgiving and comfortable fit.

Read our full Sasta Jero pants review

The best for robust fabrics

best hiking pants: Klättermusen Gere 2.0

Hardwearing outdoor pants with excellent durability, good wind resistance and superb build quality, as well as strong eco credentials  (Image credit: Klättermusen)
Best for robust fabrics

Specifications

Style: Mountain pants
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Men's: XS–XXL, short/regular leg / women's: XXS–XL, short/regular leg
Weight (Men’s): 810g / 28.6oz
Materials: Ultramid Bio-Mass Balanced Nylon (95%), Elastane bluesign approved fabric (5%)
Compatibility: Three-season hiking, climbing and mountaineering

Reasons to buy

+
Durable and well-made
+
Plenty of pockets
+
Great leg vents

Reasons to avoid

-
Double the weight of some
-
Expensive compared to similar models

A serious pair of outdoor trousers, built to last, the Gere pants are constructed from a tough, heavyweight fabric and are kitted out with a range of similarly robust features, in a design that is clearly geared towards technical mountain pursuits. The materials are also manufactured in an eco-conscious way. 

In the field, we found that the Gere perform well. A relaxed cut and offset seams ensure good freedom of movement, zero chafing and reduced wear. Pre-bent knees and an elasticated waist add further articulation. Practical features include an adjustable webbing waist belt, two roomy zipped thigh pockets (one with an inner mesh pocket for a smartphone) plus two rear pockets with storm flaps. There are zipped, mesh-lined side vents, integrated boot-lace hooks and adjustable ankle cuffs. Cleverly, the leg vents face forward for increased airflow. The trouser hems are also edged with webbing reinforcements for added durability. All in all, these are supremely well-designed and well-built trousers. 

Admittedly, the polyamide blend isn’t the softest fabric, but these trousers are still very comfortable thanks to the good cut and in-built stretch. The fit allows for excellent flexibility, although the cut isn’t the closest. At over 800g in a men’s medium, they’re also not the lightest, though that excellent venting ensures they rarely get too hot. Having said that, they’re still best suited to cooler conditions and higher altitudes. But for outright durability and performance, we can’t fault them. For climbing, scrambling and summit bagging missions, these are a cracking piece of kit.

Read our full Klättermusen Gere 2.0 Mountaineering Pants review

The best eco option

Patagonia Altvia Alpine hiking pants

Dynamic and eco friendly adventure pants for approach hikes and climbing escapades (Image credit: Patagonia)
Best eco option

Specifications

Style: Soft shell climbing and approach-hiking pants
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes (men): Slim fit: men's waist sizes 28–40 / women's US 2-14
Average weight: 340g /12oz (men) / 323g / 11.4oz (women)
Materials: Main: 4.7oz recycled polyester (86%) & elastane dobby (14%); Panels: 4.5oz recycled nylon (85%) & recycled elastane (15%)
Compatibility: Approach walks, climbing, scrambling and all sorts of adventures above the treeline

Reasons to buy

+
4-way stretch
+
Good thermal properties
+
Made mostly from recycled materials
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Ankle hem adjuster a bit fiddly
-
No map pocket
-
Integrated belt quite basic

Made almost entirely from recycled materials, and certified as fair-sewn, these Patagonia pants combine superb functionality with excellent performance levels and environmental credentials. We found that they look and feel great to wear, whether we were lounging around in camp or at the crag, or putting them through their paces on technical alpine trails or rock-climbing routes.

The main fabric on the body of the pants features four-way stretch, so they don't impede your movement whatsoever, and there are protective scuff panels in various areas, such as the inner legs. Designed with climbers firmly in mind, the Altvia has a high waistband and an articulated cut which we found comfortable with a harness, even for extended periods.

They have four pockets – one on each side, one on the right buttock and another on the right thigh – all of which zip shut, so you won’t lose anything important no matter what moves you pull. The thigh pocket is more modest sized than the thigh pouches on other trousers on tent, but it’s not intended for packing maps or anything too large.

The Altvia come with an integrated belt, albeit a pretty basic one, and the waist fastening method is a popper. These pants are warm enough to wear in most conditions and have been treated with a PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) coating that will keep you dry in all but heavy downpours.

Read our full Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants review

The best for winter and alpine mountaineering

best hiking pants: Berghaus MTN Guide GTX Pro Pant

Hard as nails pants for seriously tough conditions (Image credit: Alex Foxfield)
Best for winter and alpine mountaineering

Specifications

Style: Waterproof hardshell mountaineering pants
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Mens: XS-XXL / women's: UK 8-18
Average weight: 588g / 20.7oz (men's) 538g / 19oz (women's)
Materials: Outer: 100% Polyamide with ePTFE membrane / reinforcements: 92% Polyamide / reinforcements: 8% polyurethane
Compatibility: Mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding

Reasons to buy

+
Magnificent levels of protection
+
Adjustable fit
+
Large, zippered pockets
+
Integrated gaiter

Reasons to avoid

-
Pretty much the most expensive pants we’ve tested
-
Overkill for casual use
-
Heavy compared to most

The MTN Guide GTX Pro Pants are part of Berghaus' newly revamped Extrem range, comprised of kit for serious mountaineers and mountain professionals. Along with the matching MTN Guide GTX Pro Jacket, the Pro Pants are a hugely protective and rugged pair of trousers that wouldn't be out of place on a Himalayan peak.

Like the Pro Jacket, the trousers combine two leading Gore-Tex Pro technologies: Most Rugged and Stretch. The strategically placed Stretch panels provide the necessary freedom of movement, while still providing high levels of durability and protection. Meanwhile, Most Rugged is hugely hard-wearing and resistant to snags and rock abrasion.

Features include full length zips, an internal gaiter and thigh pockets, among other nice little touches. Winter and alpine mountaineers will rejoice at the quality of the Pro Pants, as they offer useful features and excellent protection against the conditions and terrain. They're also well-suited to skiers and snowboarders. However, the price point makes the Pro Pant a real investment and they’re definitely overkill for normal hiking endeavours.

Read our full Berghaus MTN Guide GTX Pro Pant review

The best for waterproof comfort

Paramo Cascada II hiking trousers

Wear-all-day waterproof trousers that are soft and comfortable, with excellent venting options (Image credit: Paramo)
Best for waterproof comfort

Specifications

Style: Waterproof hiking pants
Gender specificity: Men’s & women’s versions available
Sizes: Men's: XS–XXXL / women's XS-XXL
Average weight: Men's: 481g / 17oz / women's 478g / 16.8oz
Materials: Nikwax Analogy (PFC-free 100% polyester), guaranteed Fair Trade
Compatibility: Ideal for hiking and hillwalking in fluctuating temperatures and changeable weather

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile ventilation 
+
Extremely soft and comfortable
+
Effective weatherproofing 
+
Ethically and sustainably made

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric not the most durable
-
No back or thigh pockets
-
Limited color options

We found that the Cascada IIs are a great solution to the perennial problem of having to pull on rain pants whenever a downpour threatens. They are designed to be worn all day, but these aren’t your regular walking trousers. They are completely waterproof, being constructed with the Nikwax Analogy directional system.

This combines a closely-woven, water-repellent face fabric with a pump liner that pushes water away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable – from both seeping rain and your own sweat. We found that this construction makes them a little thicker and heavier than most trousers, but on the flip side they’re super soft and comfortable, with excellent venting options to dump heat fast.

The liner also adds a welcome boost of warmth in cool conditions. As such, they’re ideally suited to general hiking and hillwalking in mixed conditions and fluctuating temperatures, not least because they’re impressively quick drying too.

Read our full Páramo Cascada II Rain Pants review

The best hybrid pants

best hiking pant: Royal Robbins Active Traveler Zip 'n' Go Pant

The transformer pants, which go from long to short pants in seconds, and repel bugs while they’re at it (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Best hybrid pants: can change from trousers to shorts

Specifications

Style: Convertible long-to-short pants
Gender specificity: Men’s
Weight (Men’s large): 303g / 10.7oz
Materials: nylon (94%), spandex (6%)
Compatibility: Ideal for taking traveling on walking holidays in warmer climates

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile
+
Lightweight
+
Packable 
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Lightweight material not massively durable
-
Leg zips can fail
-
Possible to lose a leg

When you’re embarking on a multiday hike in summer, when the conditions look a little unpredictable, or if you’re heading off on vacation and don’t want to take too much luggage, convertible walking pants can be a godsend.

When the weather is wild, or the nettles are high, wear these as long pants for the protection they offer, but when the sun comes out, the temperature rises and you want to feel the breeze on your knees, simply undo a couple of zippers and voila! You’re there in a pair of 9.5in shorts. Just don’t forget where you then stash the leg ends, or lose one along the trail…

This feature isn’t the only benefit the Zip ’n’ Go pants offer, though – they’re also impregnated with Insect Shield, which repels mosquitoes, ticks (see: how to avoid tick bites) and other annoying insects. Made with stretchy nylon, we found them to be breathable, durable and quick drying too, and the fabric is specially designed so it didn't stick to our skin. The ankle hem can be tightened with a bungy.

There are pockets aplenty, including hand pockets, a zipped thigh pocket and two back pockets. These trousers are designed for men, but Royal Robbins’ Women's Bug Barrier Jammer Zip 'N' Go Pant is very similar in design (it converts to a capri), features and price.

Read our full Royal Robbins Active Traveler Zip ’n’ Go Pant review

The best lightweight convertible pants

best hiking pants: Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Walking Trousers

Versatile, recycled, lightweight hiking pants that can quickly be transformed from long trousers to shorts (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Best lightweight convertible pants

Specifications

Style: Long, lightweight hiking pants with removable legs
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: Waist: XS–XL; short, regular and long inseam lengths available
Weight: Unstated
Materials: 100% recycled polyester
Compatibility: Three-season day walking, hiking and trekking

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and breathable with good sun protection
+
Removable legs
+
Made from recycled material
+
Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited protection from prickly and stinging undergrowth
-
Shallow hand pockets
-
No zip on the bottom of the legs
-
Sizing runs a bit small

Primarily designed for use on the trails from late spring, through summer and into early autumn, Columbia’s Silver Ridge convertible pants are extremely lightweight long trousers with legs that can easily be removed to transform them into shorts when you want to air your legs. Color-coded, for ease of organisation and reassembly, the legs simply unzip from just above the knee. This is a nice feature, which makes the pants nice and versatile, but the addition of a zip on the bottom of the legs would make taking them on and off a lot quicker and easier.

Like the shirts in Columbia’s Silver Ridge range, these pants are made completely from recycled fabric, which we applaud, but they don’t have any elastane content, so there’s no stretch in the garment. They offer excellent protection from the sun (UPF50), but being very thin don’t shield you from prickly plants and stings. These trousers are not water repellent, but because they’re so thin they do dry very quickly if you get caught in a shower.

Read our full Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Pants review

The best for casual adventures

Stretcher carry

We tested these on a day with Arrochar Mountain Rescue (Image credit: Ed Smith)
Best for casual adventures

Specifications

Style: Casual hiking trousers
Gender specificity: Men's and women's versions available
Sizes: Mens; S-XXL / women's; XS-XL
Weight: 380g / 13.4oz (women's small)
Materials: 65% recycled polyester, 35% organic cotton - Shell: 94% polyamide, 6% elastane
Compatibility: Hiking

Reasons to buy

+
Treated with DWR
+
Reinforced seat and knees
+
Adjustable hems and boot loops
+
Recycled content

Reasons to avoid

-
Sizing runs large
-
Thigh pockets not deep enough for a map
-
No protection against prickly, overgrown trails
-
No leg vents

If your average trek steers clear of remote backcountry and you just need a casual pair of hiking pants that can withstand moderate conditions, then the Helly Hansen Vandre Tur are a good option to consider.
Made with recycled polyester and cotton, they’ve been treated with DWR to withstand a light rain, and will also dry out fast if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a soaking.

If you like to have a lot of essentials within your grasp, rather than stashed in your pack, then you’ll appreciate the storage on offer; there are two hip pockets and two cargo-style thigh pockets with velcro closures.

However, we would have liked a pocket large enough for a map and neither of the thigh pockets were quite big enough to manage that, so if that’s a priority then you’ll need to look elsewhere.

There’s still a lot to recommend them though. The fabric is nicely breathable, so you shouldn’t overheat in humid conditions, and soft against the skin, with an even softer waistband lining. There are belt loops so you can perfect the fit, but do check your size. Our tester found these ran really big, and flapping trousers isn’t something you want on the trail of course, as it’ll make them more likely to catch on things. These pants don’t include abrasion protection, so they’re not suitable for bushwhacking through overgrown terrain, but for an easy-going pair of hiking pants that are straightforwardly functional they do the job nicely.

Read our full Helly Hansen Vandre Tur review

The best hiking pants comparison table

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Hiking PantPriceWeightStyleBest use
Columbia Maxtrail Midweight Warm Walking Pants$100 (US) / £90 (UK436g / 15.4ozLightweight hiking trousersYear-round, non-technical walking, hiking, trekking, travel and backpacking
inov-8 VentureLite Pant$140 (US) / £110 (UK)380g / 13.4ozSoftshell hiking trousersHiking, backpacking, scrambling, climbing
Montane Men's Tenacity Pants$129 (US) / £100 (UK)425g / 15ozSoftshell hiking trousersThree-season walking, hiking, trekking and backpacking
Revolution Race GP Pro$109 (US) / £95 (UK)600g / 21.1ozHybrid cargoThree-season hiking, camping and backpacking
Fjällräven Keb Trousers$225 (US) / £200 (UK)610g / 21.5ozCargoAll-round performers
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pant$150 (US) / £120 (UK)279g / 10oz2.5-layer shell pantsHiking, climbing, camping, backpacking
Sasta Jero$210 (US) / £160 (UK)500g / 17.6ozCargoThree-season hiking, camping and backpacking
Klättermusen Gere 2.0$270 (US) / £199 (UK)810g / 28.6ozMountain pantsThree-season hiking, climbing and mountaineering
Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants$149 (US) / £130 (UK)340g / 12oz (Men's) : 323g / 11.4oz (Women's)SoftshellApproach walks, climbing, scrambling
Berghaus MTN Guide GTX Pro Pant£360 (UK) / €400 (EU)588g / 20.7oz (Men’s M) : 538g / 19oz (Women’s S10) Hardshell waterproof mountaineering pantsMountaineering, skiing, snowboarding
Páramo Cascada II Trousers$215 (US) / £155 (UK)481g / 17oz (Men's) : 478g / 16.8oz (Women's)Waterproof hiking pants Hiking and hillwalking
Royal Robbins Active Traveler Zip ’n’ Go Pant$115 (US) / €100 (EU)303g / 10.7ozConvertible long-to-short pants Traveling and walking holidays in warmer climates
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Walking Trousers$60 (US) / £70 (UK) / €80 (EU)UnstatedConvertible long-to-short pantsThree-season day walking, hiking and trekking
Helly Hansen Vandre Tur$120 (US) / £90 (UK)380g / 13.4oz (women’s small)SoftshellHiking

How we test hiking pants

Our reviewers test hiking pants on trails in a range of environments and conditions, from hills and peaks to coastal paths and woodlands, on day hikes and longer treks. Features (including materials, stretch, style, pockets, protection from flora and fauna, and overall comfort) are tested against claims made by the brand, and we assess factors such as value for money, durability, functionality and environmental impact.

For more details see how Advnture tests products.

Meet the testers

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here.

Kit I couldn't live without: Ibex pant wearing Alex in Scotland
Alex Foxfield

Alex is a qualified mountain leader and writer with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com

how to puff your down jacket: Matt Jones
Matthew Jones

An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.

best hiking pants: Lou Dzierzak
Lou Dzierzak

A journalist specializing in outdoor recreation, Lou has covered product design innovations, participation trends and environmentally sustainable manufacturing for over 20 years. On the other hand, he’s had some less than successful outdoor adventures: once, completely spent after a hard day on the trail, he managed to set a vintage MSR Whisperlite stove ablaze before accidentally kicking the burning contraption into a lake. A published author, his book about invasive fish threatening the Great Lakes watershed will be published in 2021.

How to choose hiking pants

What makes one pair of pants the best hiking pants for you is a very subjective thing, and the design features and materials that perfectly suit one person’s needs might not be ideal for another. The biggest factor in all of this is, of course, where and when you go hiking most often.

If you do almost all your wild wandering in summer, or when the weather conditions are good, then a pair of breathable pants (see: breathability ratings explained and what to wear hiking in hot weather) made from a lightweight material – perhaps with the option of transforming them into shorts – will be the best hiking pants for you. You might also want to consider instead opting for a pair fo the best hiking shorts.

But, if you intend to go bagging high peaks in the off-season then, obviously, you will need a pair of technical pants that offer much more thermal protection, and perhaps some rain pants too.

However, all that said, there are some factors that are worth considering whatever style of hiking you intend to do, which we'll cover below.

Comfort

Whatever you’re doing in the outdoors, it’s important to be comfortable in your clothes. Pay close attention to the fit of your prospective trousers, and the materials they are made from. Make sure they’re going to be warm (or cool) enough for the conditions and terrain you’re planning to walk in. There’s no point buying the most technically advanced pair of pants on the market if they’re totally over specced for the hike you’re going on, as you’ll overheat and feel a bit silly. You wouldn't wear your best hiking socks in the height of summer if they're super insulated, so don't make that mistake with trousers. Many of the best hiking pants will also feature vents, so you can dump some of that heat and let in some fresh air.

best hiking pants

Hiking pants give you great protection against thorns, nettles and brushes against rock (Image credit: Getty)

Stretch

If you're planning on incorporating rock climbing and technical scrambling in your hiking adventures, it’s always good to have a bit of dynamic stretch in your pants. Even things like a bit of clambering over the odd stile or wall, can lead to tears (definitely a double meaning here) and leave you exposed in a way you probably won’t like. Look for a percentage of elastane or spandex in the material make-up of your trousers, and any mention of four-way stretch is a good sign.

Protection

Generally speaking, the thicker the material used in your hiking trousers, the more protection they will offer you from everything from the sun (check the Ultraviolet Protection Factor – UPF – rating) and sharp sticks and stones, through to biting insects and stinging or prickly plants. There is a weight penalty to pay for this protection of course. Some lightweight hiking pants are impregnated with insect repelling agents. Many of the best walking pants feature reinforced panels that will both protect you, and improve the lifespan of the trousers.

Wild weather

Many of the best hiking pants have been treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, which means they won’t absorb water during light rain showers. Some will also be windproof, which will greatly improve their capability to keep you warm.

Waterproof overtrousers are designed to go over your hiking pants and can be a good option if you know you're heading into territory that's liable to be wet.

best hiking pants: Pat in Montane pants

Hiking pants should flex enough to give you good freedom of movement (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Pockets

Like with the best day packs and hydration packs, these days the functionality of multiple pockets is something manufacturers go for when designing hiking pants.

Of course you shouldn’t be wandering around on rocky or precipitous trails with your hands shoved in your pockets, but having storage in your pants is important in all kinds of scenarios. If you still like to carry a paper topographical map, then many of the best walking pants come with cargo pouch big enough to stash said map (plus compass) so you can keep it to hand at all times. 

Alternatively, you might want to put a small water bottle in that space, or a GPS device, or your phone. Having at least one pocket with a zip is always a benefit, so you can securely store things you really don’t want to lose, like your car keys and credit card. Rain pants for hiking often don’t have pockets, but will feature gaps so you can reach the pockets in the pants you’re wearing underneath.

Other features

Pants may seem like very simple pieces of apparel, but the best hiking pants will actually offer a massive array of little features that can improve your experience on the trails and in the hills. Some have hooks for attaching to your boots to keep the leg material in place; others have gear loops for attaching things like compasses or an integrated wipe in a pocket for cleaning sunglasses and camera lenses. Some wa