The Best Hiking Pants in 2022: Style and Comfort for Your Next Adventure

Man in Kühl Renegade Convertible Pants

Your legs are your engine out on the trail and, as such, they deserve the same kind of comfort and protection you give to your feet. That's why a pair of the best hiking pants are a great addition to your hiking arsenal.

Not everyone likes to hike in pants versus shorts, but there are some definite benefits. For one, they cover up your hiking boots so that less dirt and debris can get in there when you're hiking on loose or rocky terrain. That means fewer stops to take off your hiking backpack, sit down, undo your shoes, and clear them out before you can continue on the trail. But, hiking pants also protect your legs from cuts, scrapes, and sunburns.

Fortunately, there are plenty of hiking pant options for you to choose from. And this guide provides buying criteria as well as nine of our favorite hiking pants on the market today. So let's get started!

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The Best Hiking Pants - Our Top Picks

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Best Hiking Pants Overall - Kühl Renegade Convertible Pants

Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Relaxed and straight leg
  • Weight: 17 oz.
  • Material: 95% nylon and 5% spandex
  • Pockets: 6

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Kühl is one of the best brands for high-quality hiking pants and their convertible Renegade pants are basically a BOGO. These pants are convertible and the stealth zipper is hardly noticeable when you're wearing them as shorts or pants. When converted to shorts, the 10-inch inseam provides extra range of motion for your knees and legs.

These Kühl pants are strong, breathable, and offer excellent abrasion resistance if you don't always stay on your feet on the trail. We also like that they’re finished with a durable water repellent treatment for extra weather protection.

What We Like

  • You don't have to choose between shorts and pants if you're on the fence
  • Plenty of pockets for trail snacks and other items
  • UPF 50 sun protection

What We Don't Like

  • A little heavier than most pants on this list
  • Quick dry time if you need to give them a quick wash on a thru-hike

BUY: Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

Best Hiking Pants for Women - Black Diamond Notion SP Pant

Black Diamond Notion SP Pant

SPECS

  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 12.5 oz.
  • Material: 98% organic cotton and 2% elastane
  • Pockets: 4

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The ladies' Notion pants from Black Diamond are designed for spending long days at your favorite climbing spot, but they're also great for getting you down the trail to access that spot. Because they're made of organic cotton, they're softer and provide a little more insulation than some other hiking pants.

They're made with elastic cuffs on the ankles to keep them snug on more technical trails and a drawcord waistband that keeps them secure even if you have to wear them multiple times between washes. These are possibly the most versatile pants on this list as they're well-suited to bouldering, sport climbing, hiking, or relaxing around the house.

What We Like

  • The pockets are built to stay out of the way of a climbing harness
  • Added durability and abrasion resistance around the knees
  • Organic cotton provides a softer feel

What We Don't Like

  • May not dry as quickly as other hiking pants if they get wet
  • More ideal for climbing or trips to the gym

BUY: Black Diamond Notion SP Pant

Best Hiking Pants for Men - REI CO-OP Sahara Path Pants

REI CO-OP Sahara Path Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Standard and straight leg
  • Weight: 17.6 oz.
  • Material: BluesignⓇ Approved 96% nylon and 4% spandex
  • Pockets: 5

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If you've been looking for a pair of hiking pants that can also be worn daily (when they're clean), we recommend checking out the Sahara Path Pants from REI. They're finished with a durable water repellent treatment that sheds light rain and also makes these pants more stain-resistant.

You have the option to secure these hiking pants with an adjustable drawcord or a belt. And the gusseted crotch and articulating knees combine with adequate stretch so these pants don't restrict your movement on the trail. We like how the blend of nylon and spandex provides a great blend of abrasion resistance and breathability on hot days. And, in addition to the hand pockets and drop-in back pockets, there's a zippered pocket on the left thigh that includes a cord loop for easily securing keys or other hanging items.

What We Like

  • 4-way stretch for improved range of motion
  • Extensively field tested in Washington and Alaska
  • Quick-drying fabric

What We Don't Like

  • Only a single zippered pocket
  • Legs may be too tapered to fit over some hiking boots

BUY: REI CO-OP Sahara Path Pants

Best Winter Hiking Pants - The North Face Royal Arch Pants

The North Face Royal Arch Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Material: 100% recycled ripstop with durable water repellent (DWR) treatment and 100% recycled polyester low-pile Sherpa fleece insulation
  • Pockets: 3

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For colder days, The North Face Royal Arch Pants are a good choice. They’re a ladies fit and can also handle snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, but they're best-suited for hanging around the campfire after dark.

They feature reinforced knees which increase their durability and ripstop face fabric to better handle the wear and tear of life in camp. They're more insulated than normal sweatpants and offer light moisture resistance if it starts to sprinkle before you can climb into your tent. Two hand pockets also provide easy storage or simply a place to keep your hands warm between sips of your favorite campfire beverage. And a third Velcro-secured thigh pocket provides more secure storage for keys and other small items.

What We Like

  • Added insulation for keeping your legs warm on cold nights
  • Elastic waistband for a customized, comfortable fit
  • Double-fleece lining keeps heat in and wicks moisture away

What We Don't Like

  • Maybe more suited for camp lounging than strenuous hiking
  • Seams aren't sealed, creating a possible weak point if tested in higher stress activities

BUY: The North Face Royal Arch Pants

Best Waterproof Hiking Pants - REI CO-OP Rainier Full-Zip Rain Pants

REI CO-OP Rainier Full-Zip Rain Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Material: BluesignⓇ Approved recycled ripstop nylon with 2.5-layer REI Peak recycled waterproof breathable laminate
  • Pockets: 2

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Every hiker needs a solid pair of rain pants in their arsenal, especially if you frequent hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest. Named after the highest peak in the state of Washington, these full-zip rain pants for hiking fit the bill for hiking in that area. They boast two-and-a-half layers of laminate waterproofing material to keep moisture out and keep your legs dry. That also makes them windproof when you summit high mountain peaks on particularly breezy days.

The Rainier pants come with a fully-adjustable drawstring waistband and they also feature elastic ankle cuffs to secure around your hiking boots and keep mud and snow away from your hiking socks. Another great feature is the full-length outseam zippers that allow you to put them on or take them off without removing your hiking boots. These zippers can also be partially opened to provide better ventilation as you're working up a sweat on your next peak ascent.

What We Like

  • Sealed seams for added waterproof protection
  • 4-way stretch promotes ample range of motion
  • Zippered hand pockets keep your essentials secure

What We Don't Like

  • Looser, baggier fit than most hiking pants
  • Less insulating than other options

BUY: REI CO-OP Rainier Full-Zip Rain Pants

Best Convertible Hiking Pants - REI CO-OP Sahara Convertible Pants

REI CO-OP Sahara Convertible Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Relaxed and straight leg
  • Weight: 11.4 oz.
  • Material: BluesignⓇ Approved 96% recycled nylon and 4% spandex
  • Pockets: 6

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If you liked the idea of the convertible Kühl Renegade pants, you should compare them with these Sahara convertible pants from REI CO-OP. These pants are lighter and more affordable, and they're also made with more environmentally-friendly materials.

They feature two hand pockets, two back pockets, and two more thigh cargo pockets to provide plenty of storage on long hikes. They can also be converted to shorts with anywhere from an eight to 10-inch inseam, depending on the size. We like how the backs of the legs are reinforced to keep them from fraying as they rub against your hiking boots and the fully elastic waistband helps to prevent chafing. It also features belt loops so you can secure the waist to your preference.

What We Like

  • Sun-protective fabric with a UPF-50 rating
  • Color-coded zippers to help you easily keep track of the right and left zippered legs
  • Flatseam stitching helps them pack down small between uses

What We Don't Like

  • Might not be the most durable option out there
  • Straight-cut top pockets are harder to reach into than angle-cut pockets

BUY: REI CO-OP Sahara Convertible Pants

Best Budget Hiking Pants - Columbia Silver Ridge

Columbia Silver Ridge

SPECS

  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 10.8 oz.
  • Material: Nylon ripstop, recycled polyester, and polyester mesh
  • Pockets: 7

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The convertible Columbia Silver Ridge pants are the most affordable choice on our list and they're a great option for casual hikers. Despite their smaller price tag, they're still a two-for-one score, as you'll essentially get hiking shorts and pants in one package. They also have the kind of look that you can pull off on a casual day around town, provided you've washed them after your last hiking adventure. With a total of seven cargo pockets, they offer the most storage space of all the pants on this list.

The Silver Ridge pants are built with Columbia's Omni-Wick technology that provides advanced evaporation to keep you cool and promote a quick drying time if they get wet. That technology also gives them a UPF-50 sun protection rating to protect your legs from sunburns.

What We Like

  • Built-in belt for an adjustable fit
  • Gusseted crotch allows for plenty of movement
  • The price is right

What We Don't Like

  • Less durable than higher-end hiking pants
  • Waistband doesn't always remain secure after several wears

BUY: Columbia Silver Ridge

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants - Patagonia Quandary Pants

Patagonia Quandary Pants

SPECS

  • Fit: Regular and straight leg
  • Weight: 9.5 oz.
  • Material: BluesignⓇ Approved 94% nylon and 6% spandex
  • Pockets: 6

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For those of you that have patiently been waiting for hiking pants suited for thru-hiking, wait no longer. In spite of their name, Patagonia's Quandary pants will take the guesswork out of what to wear on your next hiking trip. They’re not only lightweight, they are also finished with a DWR coating that repels moisture from light rain or the occasional splash. Their stretch-woven fabric dries quickly if it does get wet and provides just the right amount of stretch for those knee-high step-ups.

The Quandary pants also feature a zippered thigh pocket and a zippered back pocket for you to keep small essentials from falling out when maneuvering over technical terrain. Articulating knees and a gusseted crotch also work to improve your range of motion on a variety of hiking trails.

What We Like

  • UPF 50+ sun protection factor
  • Affordable and stylish enough to transition from the trail to the office
  • Lightweight and wrinkle-resistant

What We Don't Like

  • Slimmer fit than older versions of the Quandary pants
  • Slightly shorter inseam may allow more debris into low-cut hiking shoes

BUY: Patagonia Quandary Pants

Best High-Waisted Hiking Pants - REI CO-OP Flash Hybrid Tights

REI Co-op Flash Hybrid Tights

SPECS

  • Fit: High-waist, ankle length
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Material (front and back): BluesignⓇ Approved 88% nylon and 12% spandex
  • Material (sides, waist, and ankles): BluesignⓇ Approved 85% polyester and 15% spandex
  • Pockets: 2

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These high-waisted hiking pants are the closest thing to yoga pants that you'll find for hiking. But where yoga pants aren't as durable as your typical hiking pants, these Flash Hybrid tights feature abrasion-resistant panels that also breathe well to keep you cool. They also feature softshell fabric that provides added shape support while improving their overall durability. The jersey fabric also stretches just enough, wicks moisture away, and dries quickly if you run into an unexpected rain squall.

If you want to use these pants for a quick hike or even a trail run, there's a zippered pocket on the left side that's perfect for a key. And on the opposite side, a stretchy pocket provides just enough room for your phone and keeps it from jostling around while you're hiking.

What We Like

  • High-waist fit
  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • 3-layer waistband doesn't allow them to ride down

What We Don't Like

  • Limited pockets
  • Could be more stretchy

BUY: REI CO-OP Flash Hybrid Tights

What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Hiking Pants

Not all hikers need military-grade leg protection, but some do. These criteria will help you select the right pair of hiking pants for your body and hiking style:

Fit

First and foremost, hiking pants need to be comfortable. Your goal is to find a pair that doesn't restrict your movement at all, but you don't want a particularly baggy pair of hiking pants either. Baggy pants are more likely to catch on sticks, shrubs, and other sharp objects on the side of the trail. So you want something that fits rather securely without feeling too tight.

Aside from that, you may not find that all hiking pants fit the same if you purchase them on the basis of waist circumference and inseam length. That's why it's always a good idea to head to your local outdoor goods store and try on a few pairs even if you don't buy anything because you know you can get a better price online.

As far as the waist size goes, you can always use a stretchy belt to get your perfect fit.

Weight

The bottom line when it comes to weight for hiking pants is that lighter is almost always better. The longer your hikes are going to be, the less weight you'll want to carry. But, there are some scenarios in which you might be willing to wear a slightly heavier pair of hiking pants.

The most important one is when you know there's a high likelihood of inclement weather. Waterproof hiking pants are typically a little heavier, but they're worth it to keep your legs, feet, and ankles drier when the weather takes a turn.

Materials

You've probably heard the saying “cotton kills.” It's absolutely true for hiking pants, and all hiking clothing. Cotton is heavy and doesn't dry as quickly as modern synthetic materials. It also doesn't wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool on particularly warm days.

That's why synthetics are the best materials for hiking pants. When we say synthetics, we're mostly referring to nylon and polyester, although you may find some proprietary materials from the manufacturers of the best hiking pants below.

Pants that mix those synthetic materials with elastane or spandex are a must. These materials provide that little bit of extra stretch that can make all the difference when the trail you chose happens to have 18-inch stone steps to ascend.

FAQs About Hiking Pants


How tight should hiking pants be?

The best hiking pants are loose enough that they don't restrict your movement but tight enough that they're not constantly getting snagged on trees or shrubs along the trail. Many long-distance runners opt for compression-fit sleeves and socks because they promote blood flow, but hiking pants that are too tight tend to do more harm than good.

What material is best for hiking?

You'll find that most of the best hiking pants out there these days are synthetic. Typically, you'll find some combination of polyester, nylon, spandex, and elastane. These materials are better at wicking moisture than cotton and they’re also lighter in weight.

The inclusion of elastane also makes them somewhat stretchy to promote easier movement. Plus, polyester and nylon dry more quickly than cotton if they get wet. In terms of the ration, you'll find most of the best hiking pants made of 85 to 97 percent nylon or polyester with the remaining 3 to 15 percent made of elastane.

What should you wear for a hike?

The best answer is that it depends on the weather. It's never a bad idea to pack extra layers in your hiking backpack, but your goal with your clothing choice should be layers that breathe well enough to keep you from overheating while still providing protection from UV rays and flying insects.

If you're hiking in a particularly buggy location, you may opt for long sleeves and long pants. But if it's fall in a place like the high Sierras where bugs are few and far between, you might be more comfortable in shorts and a moisture-wicking shirt, provided you apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

Is it better to hike in pants or shorts?

This is really a judgment call. Pants are great for providing more complete protection from UV rays. And because they cover the tops of your hiking boots, you're less likely to get rocks and dirt inside your shoes when hiking on loose terrain.

But if you're starting out on a particularly dew-filled morning, your hiking pants can get saturated with moisture rather quickly. This dichotomy is why many hikers opt for convertible hiking pants that can be pants when you need extra protection and shorts when you want your legs to breathe a little more.

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