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Best rain pants 2022: waterproofs to keep you warm and dry

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

The best rain pants are essential for hiking anywhere there's even the slightest chance of rain, and we've tested a huge selection in real life, wet conditions to help you choose the ones for you.

At one end of the hiking spectrum are the eternal optimists, convinced the skies will stay clear and their rain pants can spend their lives rolled up in a pouch and stowed in their backpack. In the middle are the realists, who acknowledge that they're at the mercy of unpredictable weather systems, which means that the skies will occasionally fill with rain clouds and that hikes will be a washout unless decent waterproof protection is close at hand. And at the far end of the spectrum are no-holds-barred hikers, the ones who already know all about how to waterproof hiking boots, striding to the summit fearless of the monsoon set to accompany them throughout the day.

These differing attitudes dictate the investment required in rain pants to complement your best waterproof jacket, from a cheap and cheerful pair that you can slip on in an emergency, to a serious outlay for a pair required to defy the deluge, day after day.

Here’s our selection of some of the best rain pants for hikers, so that you can hope for the best while preparing for the worst. 

Best rain pants overall

Berghaus Deluge 2.0 rain pants

(Image credit: Berghaus)

Berghaus Deluge 2.0

Rain pants that offer top performance and won't blow your budget

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / women’s
Materials: Hydroshell
Weight (men’s size large): 374g / 13oz
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL / XXXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Great waterproof protection
+
Top performance-to-price ratio
+
Convenient three-quarter length sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
Neither the smallest nor lightest
-
No pockets

Slim fitting and comfortable, the robust Berghaus Deluge 2.0 rain pants don’t billow like Zeppelins in a strong wind, so you may find you’ll quickly forget you’re wearing them at all. Their protection comes in the form of Berghaus’s own two-layer Hydroshell fabric, which helps to keep their price competitive compared Gore-Tex alternatives, while still combining excellent rain protection with impressive breathability. 

The three-quarter length zips of these rain pants make them easy to pull on over boots, and the press-stud closures give the option of leaving the zips open for extra breathability when walking through fog rather than rain. The waistband is wide for comfort and there’s a draw cord for a snugger fit.

Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Pants

(Image credit: Montane)

Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Pants

Enjoy all-day breathable protection from these rain pants

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / women’s
Materials: Paclite Plus
Weight (men’s size large): 215g / 7.6oz
Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex fabric
+
Fully-taped seams
+
Articulated knees
+
Three-quarter length side zips
+
Ankle hem adjustment

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly expensive

It’s a triumph of fabric technology (with a dusting of marketing genius) that many hikers go into an outdoors shop and ask for a Gore-Tex jacket, rather than a specific brand (other breathable waterproof fabrics are available). For any hiker who wants similar confidence in the waterproofness and breathability of their pants, the Montane Pac Plus tick all the key boxes. They are made from Paclite Plus, a two-layer waterproof and breathable fabric designed to be thin, light and packable. For all-day, every day deluges there are heavier, more robust versions of Gore-Tex, but as a balance between performance and packability these are hard to beat. They are also available in both regular and short leg lengths. 

Rab Kangri Gore-Tex Pants

(Image credit: Rab)

Rab Kangri Gore-Tex Pants

Rain paints as tough as the mountain adventures you’re going to tackle

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / women’s
Materials: 70D three-layer Gore-Tex
Weight (men’s size medium): 435g / 15oz
Sizes: M / L / XL / XXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Three-layer Gore-Tex
+
Articulated knees for ease of movement
+
Full-length, two-way side zips
+
Under-boot loops

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Designed for days and weekends when you know the weather will be hostile, the Rab Kangri rain pants use three-layer Gore-Tex for waterproof protection, with an outer fabric made from recycled material. The result is a pair of pants as rugged and robust as any waterproof jacket that you’d rely on to protect you from the elements on a winter’s walk or multi-day hike. 

The full-length side zips make them easy to pull on quickly over walking boots, while poppers mean you can leave the zips undone for ventilation when conditions allow. And when you need to batten down the hatches, the waterproof zips with internal storm flap will keep the heaviest downpour at bay. 

There’s a fully adjustable, elasticated waistband with a Velcro-style adjustment for a comfortable fit, and loops to attach an under-boot cord to secure the Kangri rain pants to your hiking boots in order to keep your lower legs dry in long, wet grass. All of which secures the Rag Kangri a firm place in our selection of the best rain pants.

Craghoppers Ascent Overpants

(Image credit: Craghoppers)

Craghoppers Ascent Overpants

Feature-packed rain pants at a bargain price

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Materials: Polyamide / polyester
Weight (men’s size large): 275g / 9.7oz
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Short, regular and long lengths
+
Two zipped pockets
+
Pack into a small pouch
+
Lightweight
+
Competitive price

Reasons to avoid

-
Shorter side zips than others

When you have these rolled into their small, neat pouch, it is really very easy to forget that you’re carrying the easily packable Craghoppers Ascent rain pants. 

Fortunately, the designers haven’t forgotten to add a host of useful features. Alongside an elasticated waist with drawcord, Velcro-style tape at the hem keeps them tight around your boots, while two zipped pockets offer a waterproof sanctuary for a phone and wallet. 

The side zips only go as far as the knee, so they are not as easy to pull on as some other pairs in this round-up of the best rain pants, but they will still slip on over a pair of boots. Think of them as more of an emergency pair of waterproof pants rather than an all-day downpour pair, and you’ll be happy with your purchase.

Mountain Warehouse Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers

(Image credit: Mountain Warehouse)

Mountain Warehouse Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers

A bargain-priced, super-light option for occasional use

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / women’s
Materials: Nylon
Weight (men’s size large): 155g / 5.5oz
Sizes: XXS / XXS / XS / S / M / L / XL / 2XL / 3XL / 4XL
Colors: Black / Khaki / Navy

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
Comes with stuff sack
+
Taped seams
+
Three colors available 

Reasons to avoid

-
No side zips

Tipping the scales at less than 6oz (155g in size Large), the Pakka are exceptionally light rain pants, and ideal for stowing away in a small daypack on a just-in-case basis. Their competitive price (you can find them even cheaper than the already very reasonable RRP) also makes them a useful option if you need waterproof pants for a compulsory kit list but don’t want to invest much in them (be that for a scout camp of an ultra running event). 

If called upon, the Pakka will certainly fend off rain and the taped seams are arguably more waterproof than pants with side zips. However, without zips they can be tricky to pull on over large, muddy boots without smearing mud up the inside. The legs of these rain pants are reasonably wide to although Velcro-style fastenings at the bottom hem stop the ankles from flapping like flares. 

All-in-one waterproof pants

Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers

(Image credit: Paramo)

Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers

Proper hiking pants that are fully waterproof and breathable

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Nikwax Analogy
Weight (men’s size medium): 392g / 14oz
Sizes: 30R to 40R
Color: Rock Grey & Black

Reasons to buy

+
The full comfort of normal trousers
+
Short, regular and long leg lengths
+
Breathable fabric plus thigh vents
+
Knee and leg articulation
+
Two zipped pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Require careful washing

For hikers who can’t bear the rustle and sweatiness of overtrousers, the Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers offer an excellent alternative. Deploying Paramo’s Analogy waterproof fabric system, the trousers are comfortable in wet or dry conditions – they’ve been lab tested to keep out four hours of steady rain. 

Nor will you get wet from the inside through sweat; the fabric is breathable and the thigh ventilation zips provide extra climate control options when the uphill going gets a tad warm. 

A wide range of waist sizes and leg lengths makes it possible to ensure a goof fit, and Velcro-type ankle fastenings make them easier to squeeze below gaiters. To maintain this performance, however, they do require regular care with specialist cleaning and waterproofing products.

Klattermusen Ran Pant

(Image credit: Klattermusen)

Klättermusen Ran Pant

These waterproof pants provide all-day comfort and protection

Specifications

RRP: $300 (UK) / £215 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s
Materials: 3L Cutan 103g/m2 (100% Recycled Polyamide), Fluorocarbon-free bluesign-approved fabric with Icebreaker recycled polyester reinforced areas
Weight (men’s size medium): 407g / 14oz
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL
Colors: Raven / Granite Grey

Reasons to buy

+
Fully waterproof trousers
+
Full two-way side zip
+
Zipped hand pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

As a rule of thumb, the further north a gear manufacturer is based, the tougher its kit will be, which is why many mountaineers turn to Scandinavia for their gear. A harsh climate, long winters and powerful outdoors culture have inspired a number of high performance brands, including Sweden’s Klättermusen. 

The Ran Pant are made from recycled, fluorocarbon-free fabric, which is durable and fabulously waterproof – at least the equal if not the better of overtrousers – and it’s breathable, too (with ventilation boosted by full-length side zips). Two zipped pockets plus pre-bent knees make them even more useful for hiking and trekking whatever the weather.

How we test rain pants

We put each pair of rain pants to the test in real world conditions, usually facing severe weather in the UK. We look for pants with secure seams that won't leak even in strong winds or at the joints, and which will keep your socks dry in a storm. We also time how long it takes to take them off and put them on in a sudden downpour, so you know you won't get soaked if the weather suddenly turns.

For more details, see how Advnture tests products

How to choose rain pants

Best waterproof trousers

Choosing the best rain pants for hiking depends on a number of factors (Image credit: Getty)

Whether you’re looking for a pair of the best rain pants for hiking in monsoon conditions, or lightweight overtrousers that you can slide on over the top of your trekking trousers in showery weather, there are various considerations that need to be factored in before you make a purchase. 

Fabric

The material from which rai pants are made is the business end of their performance. While all fabrics should keep you dry in a downpour, ultra-lightweight fabrics are ideal for packing away in your best hiking backpack as an emergency precaution, while heavier fabrics will prove more robust against rocks and thorns and will likely keep you drier for longer. (See also: Waterproof versus water-resistant: fabrics and equipment.)

All rain pands promise that they’re breathable, but if you’re working hard in humid conditions (and rain is 100% humidity), it’s difficult for sweat to evaporate through a fabric and out into the open.

Waist

Generally speaking, the deeper the waistband, the more comfortable a pair of rain wants will be; many pairs also have a draw cord for a more personalised fit. While they tend to come in standard S, M and L sizes, some rain pants are available in the same waist size and leg lengths as denim jeans, so you can find a pair that fits perfectly.

Pack size

How much spare capacity is there in the rucksack you typically pack, and how likely are you to walk when the forecast is for rain? Emergency rain pants can pack down very small into their own stuffsacks, ideal for mountain marathon runners, but don’t expect the same protection and performance as you’ll get from a bigger, heavier pair that will occupy more space in your pack. (See also: how to pack a backpack.)

Zips

The ability to pull on rain pants s in a flash when the heavens open is vital; you certainly don’t want to be hopping around on one leg while you take a boot off to get your foot through the trousers. The longer the side zips, the easier it is to pull on rain pants. Zips also offer ventilation options, but they can be weak points for water ingress, so look for storm flaps behind the zip to keep you perfectly dry.

Montane Men's Pac Plus Waterproof Pants

The ankle fastening on Montane Men's Pac Plus Waterproof Pants (Image credit: Montane)

Ankles

No one wants to walk with the bottom of their rain pants flapping in the wind, rain and mud, so a stud or Velcro-type fastening at the hem is a useful feature to keep the ankles tight.

Pockets

Pockets represent a potential weak point for rain to sneak in, so many rain pants don’t feature them. If you need pockets for a ski pass or phone, it’s easier to find them in a jacket than pants. 

Care

Rain pants don’t stay waterproof forever. The more you wear them, the more frequently they will need reproofing with specialist cleaning and waterproofing agents. This is particularly the case with trousers worn all day, rather than occasional use overtrousers. (See also: how to use waterproofing spray.)

Top tip!

Pack rain pants in a plastic bag. When you need to pull them on, put your boot into the bag – it will slip more easily into the pant leg and will avoid smearing mud up the inside.

After spending a decade as editor of Country Walking, the UK’s biggest-selling walking magazine, Jonathan moved to edit Outdoor Fitness magazine, adding adrenaline to his adventures and expeditions. He has hiked stages or completed all of the UK's national trails, but was once overtaken by three Smurfs, a cross-dressing Little Bo Peep, and a pair of Teletubbies on an ascent of Snowdon. (Turns out they were soldiers on a fundraising mission.)