Super tough and water resistant.
Well, a couple of things, which isn't a surprise since no piece of outdoor equipment is perfect. The super thin 90D ripstop fabric is, without doubt, the most breathable that we tested, but we suffered a little bit on cold, cloudy, and windy days where they didn't provide quite enough protection for our skinny legs.
Another knock is that the waist sizing is a bit off: OR markets these pants as an alpine climber's dream, but we thought they worked even better as all-purpose hiking pants that especially shine in hot weather. For years, the Prana Stretch Zion has been one of our favorite hiking and trekking pants.
There are also far and away our favorite pant to climb in, a testament to their durability and versatility. We loved the cargo pocket with zippers on two sides, enabling us to easily reach our phone or topo while sitting at a belay, as well as the small waist tightener that allows us to wear these pants without a belt. This feature is also great for keeping the waist fitting perfectly after a week or two on the trail.
Combined with the softest and most comfortable stretchy fabric of any of the choices we tested, it is no wonder these pants were one of the highest scorers in our overall rankings. If you prefer convertibles to give you the choice of pants vs.
While these were our absolute favorite pair of pants for climbing in, we did notice that they had a few flaws.
For one, the fabric is a bit heavy and densely woven for hiking in hot weather. They work much better when the temps are on the cooler side. They also aren't as water resistant as most, so be warned if wet weather is in your future. If you are looking for a supremely comfortable pair of hiking pants, or perhaps never want to have to look for another pair of pants ever again, then we would recommend trying on the Prana Stretch Zion. The Patagonia Quandary is a very simple and comfortable hiking pant made of stretchy recycled nylon and cut in a slim, straight fit.
We thought it was stylish and unassuming off the trail while doing an awesome job of balancing weather protection and the ability to stay cool while hiking. Best of all, it was among the most affordable pants in this review and considering it was one of the highest scorers; this made it the optimal choice for our Best Bang for the Buck Award.
Usually, if you want to spend the least amount of money on gear, you will have to compromise a bit on performance, but not so here! The Quandary Pant offers the best of both worlds, combining affordability with superior comfort, mobility, and water protection.
While these pants are relatively breathable, they don't offer much in the way of ventilation. Combine this fact with a very slim straight fit, and there is the possibility they could feel claustrophobic to some; dudes with powerlifter thighs should probably look elsewhere.
This is a pant that will genuinely thrive for hours, days, or even months on the trail, but wouldn't be our top choice for heavy manual labor or abrasive rock climbing. For those who want to spend the least amount of money on their pants, but don't want to compromise on materials or performance, the Patagonia Quandary is our recommendation for you. Not only is this the least expensive convertible pant we tested, but it's also one of the best values of any hiking pant we've seen.
Despite the low price, it comes loaded with more features than most of the competition. It has five pockets including two long cargo pockets that easily fit a larger map. The integrated belt features a flat face that is relatively comfortable under a backpacking waist belt.
Rear zips allow ventilation and for the pant to fit over bigger boots. About all it lacks is stretchy material. If you want a more stretchy convertible pant, we'd go with the Stretch Zion. Hiking is an excellent way to explore the landscape anywhere on earth, and the most versatile hiking pant will be able to keep you fresh as you traverse the blistering heat of the Mojave Desert just as well as it protects you from the chill winds high in the Sierra.
If you are looking for that one pair of uber-pants that can handle it all better than the rest, look no further than the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible. We found its heavy, stretchy nylon to be an optimal shield against both wind and sun, not to mention trailside brush and abrasive dirt and rock. The option to convert them into shorts makes the Renegade Cargo Convertible a perfect choice for mountain travel where temperatures fluctuate rapidly, and we loved wearing them as shorts by day, and pants once the sun got lower in the sky.
On the downside, we found the zipper that allows for pants to shorts conversion to be noticeable as it rubs across the upper thigh, but then again this is an issue with all convertible pants. We were also surprised to find that the front button often came undone by itself with a bit of pressure and stretch, but at least it didn't "ping" off and fly across the room!
With their durable fabric and stylish fit, these pants took "do everything" to a new level, as we think they are a fantastic choice for other activities besides just hiking. While traveling, camping, climbing, or working in the yard, we always loved how these pants fit and performed, which is why we chose to recommend them as our Top Pick for Versatility.
Some landscapes on earth are virtually synonymous with heavy rainfall: Hiking in these areas almost guarantees that you will end up getting wet, so a water resistant hiking pant should be a top priority if you have a trip to these or other wet climates in mind. Most of the pants that we tested for this review claim to have some durable water resistant DWR coating applied to help them shed water before it absorbs into the fabric, but only the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant accomplished this task efficiently, making it our Top Pick for Wet Weather.
It's made of a stretchy blend of nylon and elastane that reminds one of a more technical mountain pant but in very lightweight form. Of course, worth pointing out is that despite being the most water resistant in this review, these pants were nowhere near waterproof, and cannot be substituted for actual rain pants in a downpour.
We also found the nylon fabric to be a bit more abrasive against the skin compared to its smoother and softer counterparts — a trait we often noticed when putting them on, but then immediately forgot as we got on with our day. The Perimeter Pant balances supple mobility and breathability with more than adequate water resistance for most hiking adventures, and although it wasn't one of the highest overall scorers, it's our first choice if we know that rain is on its way.
For some people, hiking is not so much about strolling along a perfectly manicured trail as it is about bushwacking, scrambling through difficult terrain, and getting very dirty. For these types, we recommend checking out the unique Fjallraven Vidda Pro , a tried and true design that comes to us from the backwoods of Sweden.
The most interesting feature of these pants is that they are designed to be "impregnated" with Fjallraven's Greenland wax, in much the same way that one might wax their skis, to add durability and water resistance in the same way that our ancestors did in the days before Gore-Tex and high-tech synthetic fabrics.
With this unique design comes a few significant downsides, such as heavy materials that trap heat far more than their competition. They are also quite expensive and look more a bit more technical Euro than metro-sexual.
It is not an exaggeration to think of these pants as high-quality, reinforced, and ethically sourced army surplus pants, and they will thrive as a do-it-all option for the rough wearer: While they weren't the highest scorers in our stretchy nylon-heavy review, they set themselves apart for their durability and toughness, notable and admirable qualities for any pair of pants.
We tested most of these pants over a three-month period in a variety of locations, including the Cascades of Oregon, the desert of Southern Utah, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. A few other pairs were added in as we had the chance to test them. The majority of our testing took place on hikes and camping adventures, where we used these pants as they were intended to be used.
To accurately rate each product, we assessed them based upon five separate metrics that play a critical role in the optimal performance and quality of a hiking pant: For certain products or metrics where we were not able to reach solid conclusions in the field, we devised more controlled comparative tests described below.
For each metric that we assessed for, we assigned each pant a score of We then weighted each parameter based upon its relative importance to the function and combined all the scores to come up with an overall score between In all cases, we rated pants based on their performance compared to the competition. Since we selected the twelve best pairs of hiking pants from an exhaustive list of over 70 options, a poor score means that it wasn't as good as the other 11 excellent pairs of pants in our review, and doesn't imply that it is an awful product.
It's possible that a particular metric may be far more important to you than it was in our scoring system. If so, we encourage you to pay very close attention to that metric and dive deeper into the individual reviews to find out exactly how a given pant performed. Below we will describe each review metric in detail, including how we assessed for it, how much that metric contributed to the overall score, and let you know which were the best scoring products for each metric.
An important consideration that almost anyone can appreciate while shopping for new clothing or equipment is value. While the adage, "You get what you pay for" often rings true, our years of testing experience has taught us that one can usually find great products for far less than top of the line pricing. This fact becomes increasingly important for those who are working hard to outfit themselves with an entire backpacking or trekking kit. Choosing the best value for all of the necessary purchases could end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the end.
Check out the chart below, which plots price versus performance, a good indicator of value. Pants found on the right side of the chart had the highest performance grades from our testing, while pants near the bottom of the chart are available for the lowest price. If you are searching for the best value, then, look to the products in the lower right.
As the chart shows, most of the pants in this review fall relatively close to each other in performance as well as price, and so there are many choices if you are searching for the best value. It stands to reason that the most critical consideration for any piece of clothing is how comfortable it is. If you are distracted by something that you are wearing, then your attention is being taken away from what you are doing.
Comfort, then, could be defined as a lack of distraction, where the pant moves and flows with you as you move; never obstructing, never pinching, never rubbing, never annoying, never distracting. If a pant isn't comfortable to wear, you won't care about the rest of the metrics we measured for you here, because you won't consider wearing the pants long enough to care whether the pockets are in convenient places or the stitching is durable.
Comfort goes hand-in-hand with mobility. Hiking pants need to be able to move and bend like you, and this is a crucial component to keeping your pants off your mind. While all of the pants reviewed are constructed primarily of nylon, some incorporate small percentages of stretchy material, such as spandex or elastane to help them stretch and move without hindering, and others use blends of cotton to improve the feel against the skin. Some pants, such as the Patagonia Quandary fit slim, but have incredible stretching properties , keeping them mobile.
On the other hand, a couple of options, such as the Fjallraven Vidda Pro pants, have no stretchiness built into the fabric but instead promote mobility by incorporating a looser, baggier cut. The pants that were the most comfortable were constructed using a soft material that felt great against the skin. They also had the fewest restrictions in the cut where we noticed tightness or rubbing and had the stretchiest and most mobile fabrics.
The Prana Stretch Zion did the best job of incorporating all these factors , providing the most comfortable, mobile, and relaxing fit.
The very similar Prana Brion, which uses the same fabric and has the same cut as the Stretch Zion , likewise scored at the top of the pile. Close behind was the stretchy and mobile Patagonia Quandary , as well as the similarly stretchy Outdoor Research Ferrosi, which only missed out on a top score for comfort because the sizing of the waist was entirely off. Comfort varies based on body size and type, so be sure to read the individual reviews to get an idea of how each pant fits.
Those of us who like to hike in pants can appreciate their ability to protect us from wind, sun, cold, and brush. However, spend enough time walking around outside in pants, and you are going to experience some severe heat buildup, not to mention sweating.
That's why it's essential to have a pant that can vent and breathe well. Breathability is the ability of fabric to allow heat and especially moisture to travel from the inside to the outside through the material while venting refers to the ability to open up pockets or zippers to more quickly allow hot, moist air to escape and cool one off.
Through our many months of testing, we found that venting is the most effective and efficient way of cooling off when overheating in a pair of pants, so features like zippered vents, mesh lined pockets, and roll-able cuffs factored heavily into a product's score. Most of the pants featured a tight, nylon weave that severely limited direct air transfer — good for wind protection, but not as efficient for breathability.
To test venting and breathability, we mostly relied on our time field testing. Much of this time was spent wandering around in the sun in the desert, perfect for understanding how well a pant will breathe while exerting oneself in the sun. Other times we hiked uphill, as one usually does in the mountains, building up the heat and sweat needed for some serious study.
Not content with these "uncontrolled" tests, we also decided to test all the pants in a controlled situation. We took them out to a steep hill in the sun, worked up a sweat, and ran up the hill as fast as we could in each different pair of pants, paying close attention to how hot and uncomfortable each pair felt, especially compared to the others. While we found it impossible to quantify the results of this test numerically, we easily noticed what models felt cooler than others.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the pants made of the lightest and thinnest fabric did the best job of breathing, while the pants with the most mesh and zippered vents cooled us off the quickest and prevented us from getting too sweaty in the first place.
The OR Ferrosi were the lightest, thinnest, and by far the most breathable pants in this test, making them a primo choice for wearing in hot climates.
On the other hand, the REI Co-op Screeline was the clear winner in the venting department, thanks to its generous mesh vents, especially behind the knees. The KUHL Kontra Air was right behind, using a combination of a ton of venting as well as a thin and light cotton blend fabric. The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible also had a ton of vents, not to mention the ability to simply convert them to shorts, should the desire arise.
The pants that we found to be the hottest, interpreted here as the least breathable, were also the thickest and heaviest and had the least vents.
With its extraordinarily dense and heavy G fabric and no vents, the Fjallraven Vidda Pro was a pant designed exclusively for cooler weather. On many hiking adventures, you will travel light, sometimes only having the luxury to take what you are wearing when you walk out the door. Whether you are going for a day hike or planning an extended backpacking trip, you will be happier in a single pair of pants that work across a range of conditions and temperatures.
The ideal pants can protect your legs from most conditions all on the same hike. A pair of super versatile pants should have no problem handling situations ranging from intense sun and heat, wind, rain, cold, or brush along the trail. The convertible feature helps with a pant's versatility. Technically designed as a climbing pant, their flexibility and feature set, including a dual access zippered cargo pocket, makes them an excellent choice for hiking and backpacking. You get superior range of motion thanks to a gusseted crotch and stretchy fabric, and we really like the semi-slim fit that moves with you.
To dial in the fit, a low profile waistband adjuster is located to the right of the top button. The stretchy water resistant fabric resembles a lightweight soft-shell, making it a bit more substantial than standard fare hiking pants. This added thickness does make them run a little warmer during summer backpacking. On the flipside, the trustworthy shell fabric, along with its DWR coating, excels at longer backpacking trips where toughness and the ability to handle inclement weather is a must.
The popularity of the Stretch Zions has spawned a huge color selection, meaning you can go with a standard charcoal or khaki or get a little weird and choose among the more colorful options. For hotter climates, prAna makes a convertible version of the Zion that zip off into shorts, and they've also recently released a straight leg model that offers a trimmer cut. Pockets galore and a great value. Despite the inexpensive price tag, these pants perform well with breathable and quick drying fabric this also makes them popular among travelers.
What are the shortcomings of the Silver Ridge? But for hikers and travelers on a budget, the Columbia Silver Ridge pants are the best value on this list. The convertible version is their most popular model, but you can also pick up the Silver Ridge Cargo. Baggy fit and a bit heavy. The fit of the Renegades is a little baggy for our tastes, but those that like a relaxed cut should find them perfectly suitable.
We particularly like its low-profile styling that does a decent job of disguising the zippers. This may be overkill for those prefer to hike without being weighed down, but we appreciate the unobtrusive design nonetheless. Tough, mountain-ready build with great stretchiness. What sets this softshell pant apart is its fantastic stretchiness, durability, and weight. We wore it all day in the alpine for 9 days while hiking, setting up camp, filtering water, cooking, and lounging, and it came home looking like new.
For most 3-season backpacking trips, you can spend significantly less and be just as pleased with the performance. Stretchy and a great fit.
Drawcord adjustment isn't as good as a belt. A quality climbing pant often makes for a wonderful hiking trouser, and the Patagonia Quandary is a great example of this. Patagonia checks off all the important boxes: More, the fabric is bluesign approved, which means the pants are sourced from and made with sustainable materials. Both offer good stretch and a just-right athletic fit that pleases climbers and hikers alike, although we prefer the belt adjustment on the prAna's to the Quandry's drawcord.
The Patagonia's 3-ounce weight savings and streamlined design may appeal to travelers and summer hikers, but we still prefer the more versatile Stretch Zion for most uses. Premium build and breathability.
Pricey for a lightweight hiking pant. You can use this pant for hiking and backpacking and it also makes a good option for travel. The company always seems to pay attention to the small details and the Lefroy is no exception.
However, these pants are considerably more expensive than other lightweight options like the OR Ferrosi and budget Columbia Silver Ridge. Very light and packable. Button fastener fell off early in our test.
The impressively low 8. The pant also has one of the more customizable fit systems with an elasticized waistband, both a button and snap closure, and a removable belt. Along with an athletic cut and articulated knees, the Terra Pack scores highly for trail comfort for those moving fast and light. The thin fabric makes the Terra Pack the lightest on our list, but also surprised us with its versatility. The pant showed no signs of wear following an extended trek through rough terrain, and the DWR coating shed light rain and snow.
This was a letdown as we appreciated the ability to taper the bottom hem and secure it above our boots. Very tough and durable. We have a hard time getting over the cotton in the G blend.
The Vidda Pro from Swedish company Fjallraven is a different breed. And at 21 ounces, the pant is heavier than any of the options above.
But for certain outdoor uses—serious bushwacking in particular—the Vidda Pro can make a whole lot of the sense. This is by far the toughest hiking pant on this list with fully reinforced knees and butt. More, the thickness of the G fabric allows you to move through brush and slide over rocks without worrying about tears.
You also get a decent amount of extra warmth and protection for downtimes and sitting around camp at night. For waterproofing, Fjallraven recommends applying their environmentally-friendly beeswax for added protection.
We like the concept but it lacks in practicality. Tough construction but breathable. Disappointing fit and less stretchy than our top picks. REI makes fantastic tents, but their clothing hasn't always been up to snuff compared to other outdoor gear brands.
Enter the new Screeline Technical, which is durable and flexible in a similar way as the prAana Stretch Zion above although not quite as stretchy , making it a popular option for hiking and backpacking. The reinforced Cordura panels in the knees and butt stand up to rough treatment, and the fabric breathes well and dries quickly on the go in the summer heat. Along with well-placed pockets and an integrated belt, the Screeline is nicely appointed for trail use. We were big fans of the original Screeline, but the updated Technical version feels like a step backward.
One of REI's old issues with apparel was fit, and it appears that this has cropped up again with this new model. The pant fits awkwardly small, and many people have had issues getting a comfortable fit even when sizing up. With strong competitors like the Ferrosi, Stretch Zion, and Quandary all at similar price points, this is enough to push the Screeline down our list. But if the pant manages to fit you well, it offers a nice combination of toughness and ventilation.
Super tough and water resistant. Heavy and overkill for most conditions. Without intending to open a new can of worms, certain types of cold weather hiking and bushwhacking beckons a more serious pant than the options above. This pant offers an impressive mix of protection from the elements and mobility: For hiking, the double-weave stretch fabric allows for much better range of movement and breathability than you get with a rain pant or hardshell.
Keep in mind that the Cirque is a specialty pant. The pant is water resistant but not waterproof for a true rain pant see the Marmot PreCip below , meaning that it will eventually soak through in sustained downpour. And at over 20 ounces, it weighs roughly double most lightweight hiking pants on this list. But for fall, winter, and spring hiking in nasty or off-trail conditions, the Cirque can be your bomber hiking pant.
It doubles well for snowshoeing and spring skiing. Lightweight and a good price. For hiking in hot weather, the Marmot Arch Rock offers impressive temperature regulation at a decent price. See the Men's Marmot Arch Rock. Durable and includes a belt. Baggy fit and lower quality materials. Our biggest complaints center on fit. More, the excess fabric makes a noticeable swishing sound at each step that quickly becomes an annoyance.
If you prefer a generous fit or have an allegiance to The North Face, give the Paramount Trail a look. Otherwise, we prefer the options above. Can be too hot for summer use. A surprise inclusion on this list, the Columbia Royce Peak offer great cool and even cold weather performance at a very good price. This budget softshell won us over with their excellent fit and stretch.
A gusseted crotch and articulated knees that deliver excellent range of motion and comfort are notable features at this price point. A nice, low profile mesh pocket along the outer hem is both great for storage and can be unzipped to release hot air while hiking. One feature missing on the Royce Peak, particularly for the style of pant, is a drawcord cinch along the bottom of the pant legs to better seal out the elements.
The only waterproof pant on this list. Great for storms, but not breathable enough for all-day use. All of the pants above are traditional hiking designs or softshells in the case of the OR Cirque , but we wanted to include at least one true rain pant. The Marmot PreCip pants—from the same line as the popular rain jacket with the same name—can be worn over your hiking pants when the rain hits or even over a pair of long underwear if you expect it to continue all day. With a waterproof NanoPro membrane and fully taped seams, these pants will keep you dry when the going gets tough unlike anything else on this list.
But at less than 9 ounces, the PreCip is great to have in your pack on hiking days with mixed conditions. Just-right fit, features, and performance.
More expensive than trail-running models. Many tights you see on the trail are simply repurposed yoga or running models, but the Patagonia Pack Out is a hiking design through and through. First off, the tights works well with a backpack: It's stretchy and soft along the interior but won't get torn up while sitting on rocks or squeezing between branches. And the clincher for many is the Pack Out's functional organization: It also doesn't have the lounge-worthy, lightweight feel of those models, but it's not far off and more versatile overall.
And in winter-time, the Pack Out can pull double-duty as an insulating layer for snowshoeing or even skiing. This multi-sport appeal justifies the steep price tag for us and lands the Pack Out at the top of our list. See the Patagonia Pack Out Tights. Tough and well-thought-out tights for hiking. The North Face has a surprisingly large collection of outdoor-oriented tights, and our top pick for is the Progressor Hybrid.
Additionally, The North Face added thicker panels on the thighs and seat to improve abrasion resistance. The result is a first-rate hiking tight that can stand up to serious use and abuse on the trail. Alternatives include the Utility Hybrid, which is super durable and offers lots of storage with zippered front and side pockets. Additionally, The North Face has the Winter Warm tights for the shoulder seasons and cold weather, along with its Perfect Core series for the gym and more casual use.
But again, for one tight to wear both on the trail and around town, the Progressor Hybrid gets the nod. Excellent performance, build quality, and storage. Not quite as soft as a yoga pant. We love its breathability, which helps you stay comfortable in a range of temperatures. A nice bonus with the Sunara is storage: See the Women's Arc'teryx Sunara Tight. Well made with lots of features. Perhaps a little too much storage. The first is the double pockets, which seem like a little too much storage for our taste.
Unavailable What we like: A hiking-specific model from one of the best in the business.
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