Like comfortable hiking boots and a good hiking backpack, well-made pants can mean the difference between a good hike and a great hike. The best hiking pants are durable, lightweight, and comfortable in almost any weather. Thanks to remarkable advances in eco-friendly technology, the world’s best outdoor clothing brands make some truly epic hiking pants. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to score a good pair. Here are the best
For the discerning outdoorsmen for whom only the best will do, Arc’teryx always delivers. The brand’s Gamma LT pants are soft and ultra-lightweight at less than 13 ounces. The Fortius DW 2.0 fabric is also durable and soft with plenty of stretch. Together, the zippered fly and adjustable webbing belt ensure a firm closure even when the going — er, climbing — gets rough.
One of the first rules outdoor adventurers learn is that “cotton kills.” That’s why it’s rare to find cotton fabric in premium outdoor apparel. Fjallraven, however, doesn’t always play by the rules. The brand’s Vidda Pro Ventilated pants are made from G-1000 material that’s 35% cotton. This unusual choice makes these hiking pants extremely durable, allowing for harder slides over rough, rocky terrain without worrying that your trousers won’t survive the abuse. Just throw on a liberal coating offor added waterproofing, and you’re good to go.
Prana’s popular Stretch Zion Pants embody the brand’s approach to versatile outdoor apparel. The minimal, understated aesthetic works equally well from the office to the trail and back to the pub for après-hike beers. The combination nylon/spandex is quick-drying and water-repellant with a DWR finish. Abrasion- and wrinkle-resistance are baked into the fabric, along with guaranteed UPF 50+ sun protection.
Kuhl’s long history of well-built hiking apparel carries through to its Renegade Convertible Pants. The Duralux fabric is soft like cotton but durable for years and years of wear. That’s mainly due to its blended 95% nylon and 5% spandex construction. The latter makes for a stretchy fit that gives where and when you need it and guarantees all-day comfort even on the most extended hikes. Plus, when the weather heats up, the legs zip off.
REI Co-Op’s Activator 3.0 are a pair of next-gen, three-season hiking pants with clever, useful trail technology built in. The softshell fabric is bluesign-approved with a blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex for maximum moisture-wicking, water-repellency, and active stretch. A center gusset and articulated knees also help you move more freely on the trail. When the going gets a little rougher, draw-cords at the cuffs allow you to cinch the legs around your hiking sneakers to keep out debris.
For warm-weather adventures on the trail or in the crags, Marmot’s Arch Rock pants are ready. The stretch fabric construction features a gusseted inseam, articulated knees, and a zippered closure along the right pant leg for maximum comfort and mobility. At just 11.6 ounces, they’re ideal for desert hikes and scrambles, even in the height of summer.
For outdoor pants that are damn-near bulletproof, Outdoor Research offers its Cirque II Softshell Pants. Most softshell pants are designed to minimize weight and maximize range of motion and water resistance. But that usually results in a thinner, less durable construction. The Cirque II boast all of these features but with a tougher, abrasion-resistant fabric that’s ready for bushwhacking and venturing farther off-trail. None of which is surprising given that these are technically billed as specialty, all-season, alpine-centric pants.
Patagonia’s Quandary Pants are among the most versatile hiking pants in its catalog. They’re tough and technical, with a generous 6% spandex that allows for a wide range of movement on the trail. They’re also surprisingly lightweight at just 10 ounces, yet plenty durable with a tough, weather-resistant DWR finish. Plus, the fabric offers solid UPF 40 sun protection.
Columbia has become a staple in our outdoor gear closet. Nearly every product in its catalog is durable, comfortable, and well-made — yet costs a fraction of its better-known competition. The Silver Ridge Convertible hiking pants are quick-wicking with plenty of storage and sun protection. Like most on this list, they easily convert to shorts with just two zipper pulls. The best part? The $60 price tag.
The North Face’s Paramount Trail Convertible Pants remain a perennial favorite among avid hikers. The relaxed fit allows for free and easy active movements, while the DWR fabric stays dry through mist and light rain. Weighing in at almost a pound, they’re also plenty durable and more heavy-duty than most ultra-light alternatives. At under $70, they’re more affordable, too.