A great pair of hiking pants can go a long way toward making your next hike better. Whether you plan on being outdoors for a few hours or multiple days, a high performance pant can make all the difference. As someone who used to backpack in jeans, I can vouch for the importance of lightweight hiking pants that dry quickly, breathe well, and repel water.
Tip: Not sure which lightweight backpacking gear to buy? We’ve done the “heavy lifting” for you. See our top picks.
There are an overwhelming amount of options, so I wrote this post to help you decide on the best hiking pants for you. To help you make an informed decision, I have listed the top five things to consider when you shop for hiking pants. Below that, you can find my top five picks for the best hiking pants.
Top Things to Consider
1. Do they dry quickly?
Chances are you have encountered wet weather on a hike or slipped on a rock while crossing a stream. There are few worse feelings I can think of than wearing around a pair of wet pants. Make sure to find hiking pants that dry quickly.
2. Do they stretch?
You don’t want your hiking strides to be constricted by a stiff pant. Opt for hiking pants made with fabrics that are stretchable. You will appreciate the added mobility on the trail.
3. Are they durable?
Your new hiking pants should be rugged and long lasting. Great pants are not cheap to buy, so it is reasonable to expect them to hold up. As you shop around, look at reviews and see what people are experiencing.
4. Are they breathable?
As you hike, heat and sweat are generated by your body. When you stop to rest, your body cools off. If it is covered in sweat, you will get cold. To avoid this, make sure you find hiking pants that are breathable and wick away moisture.
5. Are they comfortable?
As you compare hiking pants, this is perhaps the most important consideration to make. How do they fit? Are they too tight in any particular areas? Make sure you are happy with how they feel before you commit. This is even more important when hiking or backpacking long distances.
What other features do they have?
Look at every feature of the hiking pants you are interested in, then decide which are the most important. Here are a few others I care about:
- Can they convert to shorts?
Zip-offs aren’t for everyone, but I find them useful.
- Sun protection
All pants provide sun protection, but some do more than others. Look for the UPF rating. The higher the number, the more UV it blocks.
- Effective pockets
I like pockets with zippers. Without them, I wind up losing stuff.
- How much do they weigh?
If you are like me, the quest to lower your backpacking weight never ends.
- Do they look good?
Just because you are hiking doesn’t mean you have to look bad.
Best Hiking Pants for Men
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Fabric: 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex
Features: Quick dry, durable, water-resistant, sun protection, roll-up leg snaps, adjustable waistband, zip pockets
Price: $50 – $85
Out of my five picks for the best hiking pants, the prAna Stretch Zion is a clear winner. These pants are a home run in every category. They dry quickly, are durable, breathable, comfortable, and are rated UPF 50+. This means they block out 98% of the sun’s UV rays. Also, their DWR coat repels impressive amounts of water. I tend to lose weight on multi day trips and the adjustable waistband is another nice feature. As an added bonus, these pants are available in nine colors.
Weight: 13 oz
Fabric: 95% Nylon / 5% Spandex
Features: Quick dry, durable, water-resistant, sun protection, 8 pockets
With its Renegade Pant, KUHL has achieved the impossible – make a hiking pant that actually looks good. Being ready to hike at a moment’s notice no longer means you have to look like a total dork.
Tip: Want more info about these pants? Read my review.
Weight: 10.7 ounces
Fabric: 86% nylon, 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop
Features: Tough, stretchable, breathable, water-resistant, zip pockets, lightweight
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi are another excellent choice for a hiking pant. They are comfortable, stretchable, and wind-resistant. These pants are tough and hold up well over sustained use. They are quite minimalist, so the pockets are small, but the thigh and back pockets have zippers. Of the hiking pants I recommend, these are the lightest ones.
Weight: 17.5 ounces
Fabric: 96% Nylon / 4% Elastane Stretch Woven
Features: Durable, stretchable, water-resistant, sun protection, zip pocket
The North Face Paramount 3.0 pants are designed for hikers looking for a durable pant with all of the fixings. These pants have a relaxed fit that provides good comfortability and offer a DWR finish and UPF protection. These are the heaviest pants I recommend. Some people prefer them over the prAna Stretch Zion pants for their stylish look and slimmer fit around the legs.
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Fabric: Main Body: 100% nylon ripstop. Mesh Panels: 57% recycled polyester / 43% polyester mesh
Features: Affordable, durable, breathable, sun protection, zip pocket
Price: $30 – $60
The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants are my budget pick. I like that they are priced low without any glaring compromises on quality. These pants wick away moisture, feature UPF 30 sun protection, ripstop fabric, and a zip-closed security pocket. They are not as stretchable as other hiking pants I have recommended and do not repel water. Still, these are a good choice and can save you some money.