The best rain pants 2024: stride out in confidence, whatever the weather

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

When the winter wind and rain sets in, serious adventurers know that the best rain pants are a vital piece of kit. While you should definitely have a waterproof jacket stashed, it can be easy to kid yourself that all you need for your legs is a pair of standard hiking pants. But if you're off exploring the back country, it's worth carrying waterproof rain pants as well.

We tested these rain pants in a variety of conditions, to check how well they stood up to a proper downpour, how likely we were to get sweaty in them, and how easy they were to get on and off without getting mucky in the process.

There are a couple of options for how to keep your legs dry when hiking, trekking or cycling. Some of the best rain pants are over-trousers, designed to fit over your normal hiking pants, while others are fully featured trousers that can be worn alone. They feature the same waterproof membranes as premium hard shell jackets, designed to keep the wind, rain, sleet and hail at bay.

Over-trousers usually feature zips and/or buttons up their length, to enable you to fit them quickly while still wearing your hiking boots. After all, the last thing you want to be doing in a deluge is taking off your footwear! Some are light and extremely packable, while others feature thicker, robust fabrics designed for truly biblical conditions.

One disadvantage of some over-trousers is that, unlike the best hiking pants, they don't have pockets for stashing valuables. This is something to look out for when making your choice. For more on how to choose rain pants, see our guide at the bottom of the page.

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 hiking backpack: Jonathan Manning
Jonathan Manning

After spending a decade as editor of Country Walking, the UK’s biggest-selling walking magazine, Jonathan moved to edit Outdoor Fitness magazine, adding adrenalin 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 Little Bo Peep, and a pair of Teletubbies on an ascent of Snowdon. (Turns out they were soldiers on a fundraising mission.)

The quick list

The best overall

Man wearing Haglöfs LIM ZT Trek GTX PRO Jacket in misty mountains

The Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants are a serious investment, but should last for many years (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
High-performing, super-reliable waterproof over-trousers for serious adventures in the wet zone

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Gore-Tex Pro stretch
Weight (men’s size medium): Men’s 510g / 18oz; Women’s: 480g / 16.9oz
Sizes: S-XXL
Colors: Zenith red / True black

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex Pro construction for reliable and robust waterproofing
+
Full-length, two-way side zips

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colors
-
Expensive

These mega-protective pants are constructed from Gore-Tex Pro stretch, the toughest type of Gore-Tex out there. Completely water- and windproof, they keep the wearer warm and dry in wild weather, while remaining impressively breathable. They feature full-length, top-quality side zips, which means you can quickly and easily pull them on over the top of under-trousers and boots when the sky starts to darken. 

The leg-ends button up tightly around boots, and they synchronize with top-layer jackets in the L.I.M. ZT range, with a storm lock that connects to the back hems. The material is stretchy, and the excellent design also includes a seam-free gusset and articulated knees and seat. They’re so comfortable and breathable you may even keep wearing them even after the storm stops. Impressively, they are also pretty quiet to walk in. 

Generous thigh pockets on both legs accommodate sheet maps and much more besides, and they both close with weatherproof zips. As with the rest of the design, these pockets are carefully placed to avoid getting in the way of a climbing harness. 

These waterproof pants are a serious investment, but the fabrics employed are highly robust as well as technical, and reinforced panels in high abrasion areas will vastly improve their lifespan. 

Read our full Haglöfs' LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants review

The best for packability

Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Pants

The clue's in the name with the Montane Pac Plus - these are highly packable pants with a wealth of desirable features  (Image credit: Jonathan Manning)
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-XXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Paclite Plus Gore-Tex fabric
+
Fully-taped seams
+
Articulated knees and ankle hem adjustment

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly expensive for a 'back-up' rain pant

The reputation of a certain waterproof, breathable fabric means that many hikers will specifically look for Gore-Tex when buying their outdoor gear, although it should be noted that other breathable waterproof fabrics are available! 

Montane has chosen a lighter than average Gore-Tex fabric - Paclite Plus, for their rain pants, but that certainly doesn't make them inferior. In fact the fabric used is an impressively thin, light and packable two-layer waterproof and breathable membrane that measures up well against sturdier offerings from Gore-Tex.

These pants aren't designed for the most extreme conditions - more as a back up, or for days when the weather is going to be mediocre rather than truly awful. For all-day, every day deluges there are heavier, sturdier versions of Gore-Tex, but as a balance between performance and packability these are hard to beat. Helpfully, they come in both regular and short leg lengths. 

Read our full Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Pants review

The best for quick changes

Hiker wearing Keela Rainlife 5000 waterproof trousers

The Keela Rainlife 5000 rain pants are easy to pull on in a flash when the heavens open (Image credit: Julia Clarke)
Haul these rain pants on over your hiking boots in a hurry and fend off the worst of the wet weather on a hill walk

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / women’s
Materials: 100% nylon with polyurethane coating
Weight (men’s medium): 340g / 12oz
Sizes: 2XS-3XL
Colors: Black / Moss / Navy

Reasons to buy

+
Windproof and waterproof with taped seams
+
Breathable fabric
+
Elasticated waist and belt loops for an adjustable fit
+
Unzip to the knee for easy on and off

Reasons to avoid

-
Access pockets design can let in some wind and rain

Much like the Montane Pac Plus, the Rainlife 5000 pants are a great option to pull on quickly when the skies darken without warning.

The cut is roomy, leaving plenty of space to wear them over your hiking trousers, without sacrificing comfort. Helpfully, the lower leg unzips to the knee, meaning you should still be able to get them on when wearing the chunkiest of hiking boots.

Taped seams offer good protection from the rain and wind, and the waist is elasticated with a simple drawcord plus belt loops, so you can tailor these to fit.

These trousers are lined, medium-weight and pretty packable, meaning you can stow them in your backpack and just whip them on (and off) as needed). Once you’re walking in them, two access side pockets allow you to reach any gear that’s in your pants pockets, although a little wind and rain can of course get in here. There's a wide range of sizes and three leg lengths too, meaning almost any hiker can find a pair to suit.

Read our full Keela Rainlife 5000 waterproof trousers review

The best for durability

Rab Kangri waterproof trousers

Three-layer Gore-Tex fabric makes these pants from Rab exceptionally waterproof (Image credit: Jonathan Manning)
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: S-XXL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Three-layer Gore-Tex fabric
+
Articulated knee design
+
Full-length, two-way side zips
+
Under-boot loops offer an extra secure fit

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than many other pants on test

While some rain pants on test here are designed to pull on in a pinch, the Rab Kangri are an altogether different beast, with a price to match.

Made from three-layer Gore-Tex fabric, with an outer fabric constructed from recycled material, these pants are designed to be super durable for all day wear. They combine the Holy Grail of full-length waterproof size zips - making them quick and easy to get on over walking boots, with poppers that allow you to leave the zips, err, unzipped, for ventilation when conditions allow. Storm flaps sit behind the zips, aimed at keeping out even the heaviest downpour.

The waistband is elasticated, with a Velcro-style adjustment, and there are loops to attach an under boot cord for even more weather proofing. With fabric this robust and such a wealth of features it's no wonder they don't come cheap, but we think they're well-specced for how much they cost.

Read our full Rab Kangri Gore-Tex Pants review

The best slim fit

Berghaus Deluge 2.0

The Berghaus Deluge 2.0 rain pants use Bergaus's own two-layer Hydroshell fabric, which helps to keep the price down (Image credit: Jonathan Manning)
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-3XL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent waterproofing
+
Great performance-to-price ratio
+
Three-quarter length zips

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest to carry
-
No pockets

If you prefer your rain pants to be cut on the slim side then the Berghaus Deluge 2.0 may be just what you're looking for. This design also features a deep waist band and draw cord, allowing you to tighten the fit even further if you need to.

They're made from Berghaus’s own two-layer Hydroshell fabric, which keeps the price in check compared to Gore-Tex alternatives, without sacrificing rain protection or breathability. 

Three-quarter length zips make them easy to pull on over mucky hiking boots, and there are also press-stud closures along the length of the generous opening, allowing you to leave the zips open for extra breathability when walking through mist and fog rather than rain. 

Read our full Berghaus Deluge 2.0 review

The best for occasional use

Craghoppers Ascent Overtrousers

We'd treat these as a better quality emergency rain pant, rather than a pair to turn to regularly, but they do the job they're designed for and can be found at a low price (Image credit: Jonathan Manning)
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-2XL
Color: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Available in three lengths
+
Two zipped pockets
+
Pack into a small pouch
+
Competitive price

Reasons to avoid

-
Zips only go up the knee

We might not pack these for a multi-day hike, but if you're looking for a pair of very packable light rain pants to stow away in your backpack then the Craghoppers Ascent tick the right box.

And despite their bargain price they have plenty of useful features to recommend them; an elasticated waist with draw cord, Velcro-style tape at the hem top keep them snug around your boots, and two zipped pockets to keep your phone and wallet unsoaked.

Unlike some of the pricier versions on test, the side zips only go as far as the knee, so they are not as easy to pull on as some other pairs we tested, but they will still slip on over a pair of boots. If you treat them as more of an emergency pair of waterproof pants rather than an all-day downpour pair, you should be happy with your purchase.

Read our full Craghoppers Ascent Overtrousers review

The best value

Mountain Warehouse Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers

The bargain price means these are lower on features than most on test, but for an emergency pair to stow in your pack they're a cost-conscious choice (Image credit: Mountain Warehouse)

7. Mountain Warehouse Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers

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