a man in hiking pants climbs through desert sandstone

Hiking Pants Comparison Table

Hiking Pants Price ($) Weight (oz) Avg User Review
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro 90 11.2 4.6
W’s Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-Up 99 14.0 4.7
M’s Kuhl Renegade Convertible 109 15.2 4.5
Outdoor Research Ferrosi 99 10.7 4.2
REI Co-op Trailmade 70 9.8 4.6
REI Co-op Sahara Convertible 80 12 4.1

Full Reviews of Hiking Pants

Best All-Around

Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants

Style meets exceptional performance in this durable, great looking pair of hiking pants, available in men’s and women’s.

  • Price: $85-90
  • Weight: 11.2 oz
  • Material: Flexion nylon/spandex
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 zippered thigh, 2 back (men’s only)
  • Sustainability: bluesign approved
  • Avg Review Score at Amazon: 4.6/5
  • Fit: Standard, leaning trim
  • Pros: Durable. Quick drying. Breathable. UPF 50. Dual cargo pockets. Great looking.
  • Cons:  Scoop-style hand pockets can be difficult to reach into. No back pockets on W’s model.


Whenever we see it, the first thing we always want to call out on a pair of hiking pants are its cargo pockets. We love having one on each thigh, and the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants deliver. Each thigh has a large, zippered pocket, angled for easy access. They are big enough to fit some, but not all phones.

Next thing to call out is the material, which is called Flexion, a nylon-Spandex blend, offering 2-way stretch. Two way stretch makes them sound less stretchy than they actually are, we find these to be great for movement.

Worth calling out that the women’s models don’t have back pockets. Not sure why, but it seems like an obvious oversight to us. That said, rear pockets are perhaps the least useful for hiking, so at least this isn’t a huge loss. Another notable is the high rise scoop pockets, which are more secure but harder to access than our preferred semi-trouser-style pockets.


The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants don’t get as much love as they deserve from the community and are largely flying under the radar. These are a truly awesome pair of hiking pants. They’re extremely well-rounded and are perhaps the best looking for trail-to-town situations.

Best Women’s Model

Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants

We would describe the Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-Up Pants as soft, comfortable, converts to capris, stretchy, durable and with a full set of usable pockets.

  • Price: $99
  • Weight: 14.0 oz
  • Material: 100% Polyester
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh
  • Sustainability: 50% recycled
  • Avg Review Score at REI: 4.7/5 Stars
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Pros: Full set of deep pockets. Incredibly durable for how soft they are. Converts to capris. Spandex-free stretch that won’t sag or bag.
  • Cons: On the heavier side. Cargo pockets slightly too small.


There’s so much to like about the Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-up Pants. But we’ll start with the six pockets: two hand, two back, two thigh. They’re fully functional, sufficiently deep, and good for storing frequently accessed items while hiking. Of note, the cargo pockets are too small to hold a phone. Also of note, the hand pockets are scoop style, meaning they are more secure but a bit harder to reach into.

Next, we’ll call out the fabric, which is soft and pleasant to the touch, while also being stretchy and durable. It’s everything you need it to be and nothing you don’t. Kuhl claims it is stretch without spandex, meaning that they don’t sag or bag and recover perfectly after each movement. That is likely explained by the polyester construction, rather than nylon.

Finally, the roll up capri feature. This is a snap closure system that secure the pant leg after you roll it up to about mid calf. While it is the namesake feature of this pair of hiking pants and not unwelcome, we’ve never had much trouble rolling up and cuffing any old pair of pants, so this isn’t a huge bonus.

Averaging 4.7/5 stars among hundreds of user reviews, almost everyone who tries Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-Up Pants has good things to say.


This is an excellent pair of pants. They’re comfortable, functional, flattering, and have a full set of pockets. We recommend them highly.

Best Men’s Model

Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

For the most bomber convertible hiking pants with the best possible pockets, we recommend the Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants. These are Alan’s top pick.

  • Price: $109
  • Weight: 15.2 oz
  • Material: 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh
  • Sustainability: None noted
  • Avg Review Score at REI: 4.5/5 Stars
  • Fit: Full
  • Pros: Best pocket configuration. Incredibly durable. Convertible. Conversion does not require shoes off. Well-made.
  • Cons:  Heavy. Zippers add rigidity and structure to the leg.


The most important part about the Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants is their excellent and full suite of pockets. First we have the large hand pockets, with semi-trouser style openings. Next we have the large rear pockets with Velcro closure for extra security. Lastly, we have the large dual cargo pockets, one on each thigh. These are made with snap closure and even have more smaller pockets within the main compartment.

The Duralux fabric with DWR treatment is incredibly durable and abrasion-resistant, yet with a reasonably soft and supple hand-feel. It is made with 95% nylon and 5% spandex, and offers light duty stretch for a good range of motion. That said, they are on the less stretchy end of the hiking pants spectrum.

Unlike most other pants which offer a standard or slim fit, the Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants are wider and have a “full fit” through the leg. Full fit is especially preferable for convertible pants wearers with thick thighs, as it prevents the zippers from riding up and squeezing your quads. In our experience, the waist is true to size and does not have stretch.

Another thing we like about these convertibles is that they have lower leg zips, which allows you to convert to shorts-mode without having to take your shoes off. The downside to this is that these extra zippers and additional bulk, structure, weight, and cost to the garment, which isn’t always desirable.

One of the biggest upsides, but also perhaps the only downside, is that Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants are simply heavy duty. At 15 oz, they are the heaviest pants on our list, the most durable, and have the most zippers and pockets. These pants are good for wearing, but should or carried in a backpack. At $109, they are also the most expensive. 


It’s rare to see a pair of pants that is the best in multiple ways, but here we are. The Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants have the best pockets AND are the most bomber.

Most Comfortable

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are a lightweight, stretchy, comfortable, and weather-resistant pair of all-purpose hiking pants.

  • Price: $99
  • Weight: 10.7 oz
  • Material: 86% 90D Ripstop Nylon, 14% spandex
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 back (1 zippered), 1 thigh
  • Sustainability: 46% recycled materials, bluesign approved
  • Avg Review Score at REI: 4.2/5
  • Fit: Standard
  • Pros: Very Stretchy. Very comfortable. Breathable. Water/Wind resistant. UPF 50.
  • Cons:  Only one thigh pocket. Thigh pocket is too small. Scoop-style hand pockets can be difficult to reach into.


The most important thing going for Ferrosi Pants is their stretchiness, thanks to 14% Spandex. Seriously, these pants are significantly more stretchy than the average hiking pants, and the stretchiest in our wardrobe. And all without sacrificing too much durability thanks to the 90d ripstop nylon. That said, they are more prone to snagging on pokey objects than other, less stretchy hiking pants.

The material is also quick drying, water resistant, somewhere in between a soft shell and hiking pants. If we had to choose, these Ferrosi Pants are our pick for comfiest model.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants offer cuff and built-in-waistband adjustment, but we hardly use either because they fit so well to begin with. We dislike the built-in waist band adjustment cords, as they get caught in the fly and are inferior to a belt in virtually every way.

Previous versions of Ferrosi have had issues with the waistband getting over stretched,  but the most recent iteration has solved this problem. Now it only has a little give, and a comparable amount to other pants. It might go up half a size, if at all, with long term use.

Notably, the hand pockets are scoop-style, which help secure the contents and prevent them from sliding out in the event that they become horizontal. This is a climbing-friendly design. But on the flip side, they are much more difficult to reach in and out of, as the top of the scoop pocket frictions your hand each time. In a similar vein, the zippered back pocket is slightly uncomfortable to reach into it as the zipper scrapes on the back of your hand. Both minor issues, but worth calling out.

One easy, and in our opinion obvious, opportunity to improve the design would be increasing the size of the thigh pocket, and adding a second one on the other thigh. Cargo pockets may come and go in and out of style, but for pure functionality on the trail, they are a “yes please.” Even with its small size, the Ferrosi’s cargo pocket is still useful for storing small things like lip balm or a tube of sunscreen.

If you like Ferrosi Pants, Outdoor Research also makes Ferrosi Convertible Pants.


We’ve been wearing various iterations of the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants for over a decade, all over the world, and they’ve never let us down. They’re extremely comfortable, plenty durable, and easy to move in. Highly recommended!

Best Value

REI Trailmade Pants

The REI Trailmade Pants are a crowd-pleaser at a fair price. For just seventy bucks, they score very very highly on reviews, averaging 4.6 out of 5 stars.

  • Price: $69
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Material: 94% nylon, 6% spandex
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh
  • Sustainability: bluesign® approved
  • Avg Review Score at REI: 4.6/5
  • Fit: Standard
  • Pros: Breathable. Durable. Quick-Dry. Lightweight. UPF 50. Some Stretch. Trouser style hand pockets.
  • Cons: Only one thigh pocket. Some user reviews complain about mesh pocket durability.


Constructed with 94% nylon and 6% spandex, the REI Trailmade Pants have an average amount of stretch in the hiking pants category. They are designed with a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. All of this adds up to make them very movement friendly and easy to walk in.

The pockets are all user friendly, plenty deep enough (including the W’s version). Note, they have trouser-style hand pockets, rather than scoop pockets. They are quick and easy to reach in and out of, but marginally less secure than scoop style pockets. Factoring in the pros and cons, we view this as a positive and generally prefer a semi-trouser style pockets.

A few other features to note include the waistband internal drawcord. This is becoming a very popular feature which we don’t love. The cords can easily dangle out and get caught in the fly. Wearing a hiking-friendly belt is a far superior way to keep your pants up. Lastly, REI Trailmade Pants have a neat little loop above the left hand pocket for securing keys. Not sure we’ll use it, but it seems like it could be handy.


There’s nothing fancy or particularly innovative going on with the REI Trailmade Pants, they’re simply a good all around pair of hiking pants at a good price that score very highly on user-reviews.

Good All-Around

REI Sahara Convertible Pants

The REI Sahara Convertible Pants offer great value for a fully-featured pair of zip-off hiking pants.

  • Price: $80
  • Weight: 12.0 oz
  • Material: 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex
  • Pockets: 2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh
  • Sustainability: recycled materials, bluesign approved.
  • Avg ReviewScore at REI: 4.1/5 Stars
  • Fit: Standard
  • Pros: Full set of pockets. Good value. Convertible. Conversion does not require shoes off. Color coded thigh zips
  • Cons: Small belt loops. Zippers add weight and bulk. Some customers complain that current version is worse than previous version. Scoop pockets can be hard to reach into.


Whenever we see it, the first thing to call out is always dual cargo pockets. There’s simply no reason to stop at one, and we wish all pants had two. The REI Sahara convertibles check this box with one zippered pocket (right side) and one flap-covered pocket (left).

We also love the construction of these convertibles. Not only do they have color coded thigh zips, but they also have lower leg zips. This has some venting utility, but mainly what it offers is the ability to remove the pants without taking shoes off. A very useful feature for trips that involve an above average amount of shorts/pants conversions.

While these pants average a solid 4.1 out of five stars, we found that many of the user reviews lament this version being inferior to previous versions. When people find a pair of pants they like, it’s easy to feel married to them. So we understand the sentiment, but suggest taking it with a grain of salt. For reference, the main difference between current and past is that the previous version was 100% nylon and with a looser fit and less stretch, but also more durable and more quick drying.

A few other notes, the women’s version has an internal drawstring, which we dislike as it is one more step in the on/off process, and can get caught in the zipper. Both men’s and women’s have scoop style hand pockets, which are more secure but also more difficult to reach into.


The REI Sahara Convertible Pants are a good value for a good all-around pair of hiking pants with all of the right features.

Accessories For Hiking Pants

Best Ultralight Rain Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

6.7 oz | $130

Incredibly light, fully waterproof, great value, and more durable than the competition, thanks for the Pertex DiamondFuse shell fabric. The Helium Rain Pants are our go-to rain pants for hiking and backpacking, and exemplary ultralight backpacking gear.

Best Ultralight Wind Pants

Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Pants

1.5 oz | $80

For backpacking, fastpacking, and ultra running, we recommend the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Pants. Weighing just 1.5 oz in M’s medium, they are the perfect windbreaker pants to stow in any pocket, and provide incredible resistance to wind chill relative to their weight. The 10D nylon fabric is treated with DWR for light water repellency. They are extremely minimalist and delicate, so use them respectfully. A shock cord cinches the waist. It simply does not get lighter than these.

Best Ultralight Puffy Pants

Western Mountaineering Flash Pants

6.5 oz | $270

An ultralight classic! The Western Mountaineering Flash Pants are our go-to down puffy pants for cold weather camping when temps begin to drop below freezing. They weigh only 6.5 oz, and are filled with two oz of 850 fp down, 31% of the garment’s total weight. They are much, much warmer and lighter than fleece pants.

Best Belt

Arcade Belts Ranger Belt

Arcade Belts Ranger Belt

2.5 oz | $32

The Arcade Belts Ranger Belt could be a big upgrade for hikers. It’s made of polyester webbing that is soft to the touch and stretchy, so it doesn’t dig into your skin or bite, even when you have it pulled taught. Adjusting this belt is straightforward, the clasp is very secure, it holds tightness, and does an excellent job of keeping pants up. Highly recommended if you’re still using something old, heavy, leather, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Best Socks

Smartwool Performance Run Ankle Socks

Smartwool Performance Run Ankle Socks

1.6 oz | $21

When it comes to a comfortable and secure fit, nobody beats Smartwool Performance Socks. Because we do all of our hiking in trail running shoes, running socks are a better choice than thicker hiking socks designed to be worn with boots. The thinner fabric reduces foot sweat, and thus also reduces blisters caused by maceration. When choosing between models, we recommend ones with light to no cushioning. Apply your personal preferences when choosing ankle height.

Best Insect Repellent

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent


Bug season? Treat your clothes with Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent before you head into the backcountry! Bugs hate the presence of permethrin and are their immune systems are harmed by it. This easy-to-apply protection is safe to use, lasts for many washes, and makes you an unappetizing target for mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other nasties. Treat all outerlayer garments.

Deep Dive on Features

100% nylon vs 5-10% Spandex

When shopping for hiking pants, you will frequently encounter models made of either 100% nylon, or ~90-95% nylon with ~5-10% Spandex, Lycra, or elastane. The obvious upside is that the more Spandex, the stretchier the pants. Stretchy pants improve the functional range of movement and can be more comfortable to walk in, and are definitely more comfortable to scramble or climb in.

However, spandex blends come with some downside as well. Compared to 100% nylon, Spandex-nylon blends are slightly heavier, absorb more water, dry more slowly, are less durable/more prone to snagging, and stretch out or “bag and sag” over time. Pants that are 100% nylon need to be looser fitting to compensate for the lack of stretch, especially if you have thicker legs. Flowy, loose-fitting pants can be comfortable, but also create their own challenges and interfere with stepping.

Thus, there is no perfect fabric for hiking pants, and whether or not to choose a nylon-spandex blend, or a pair made of 100% nylon is largely dependent on personal preference and the traits you value most. That said, people have voted with their dollars and brands have voted with their product lines, and most people seem to prefer pants with a bit of stretch.

Why we love cargo pockets

Cargo pockets seem to fluctuate in and out of style, but they have never lost any utility for hikers. Our ideal hiking pants have a large cargo pockets, one on each thigh. And two cargo pockets is strictly better than one.

They are useful for storing all sorts of things, including: sunscreen, lip balm, maps, phones, snacks, gloves, a hat, a wallet, mosquito head net, compass, and so much more.

Every time you can reach into your cargo pockets to access gear instead of stopping to take your pack off saves a couple of minute. Added up over the length of a multi-day hike, cargo pockets could save half an hour of gear futzing.

Hand pockets: scoop vs trouser style

Another feature worth discussing is hand pocket configuration, of which their are two main types: scoop pockets and trouser pockets.

Scoop pockets, commonly found on jeans, create something of a rounded 90 degree angle, allowing the hand to enter from the top, rather than the side. This does a superior job of securing the contents, but makes it more difficult to reach in and out of as their location at the hip crease can create contortion or tightness. Furthermore, repeatedly reaching into scoop pockets all throughout the day can start to chafe uncomfortably on the back of your hand.

Trouser pockets are far easier and more comfortable to reach in and out of, and feel more user friendly. But they also create a minor risk of contents falling out, depending on the position of your leg and the angle of the pocket. If you are considering a pair of hiking pants with trouser-style pockets, make sure they are extra deep to secure the load.

Perhaps the ideal hand pocket configuration is a blend between scoop and trouser, which is what we see on the Kuhl Renegade Convertible. Notice that the hand entry line is roughly a 45 degree angle, rather than 0 or 90. This is a best of both worlds feature, yet it is surprisingly rare.

convertible hiking pants

Convertibles hiking pants vs non-convertibles

Convertible hiking pants, by which we mean those that zip off above the knee to create shorts, are always worth considering. Doubly so for backpackers. They have many benefits, but also some drawbacks. We will outline below:

Obviously, the main benefit is that you get two garments for the price/weight/volume of one. Being able to switch between shorts and pants is very handy in climates with big temperature fluctuations. And they offer major potential weight savings if it means you don’t need to pack shorts. This is a huge and obvious benefit that often outweighs the micro-downsides we’re going to list off below.

The downsides are less pronounced, but still very relevant. Primarily, when worn as pants, convertibles are simply less comfortable than non-convertibles. The presence of a stiff metal zipper creates an uncomfortable area at the lower thigh. Should your pants ever ride up, like in the middle of a large high step, the zipper may squeeze/choke/pinch the wide point of your mid-thigh, double so if you have thick and/or muscular legs.

Simply put, convertible pants are worse at being pants than true pants. What’s more, any pants can be rolled up and cuffed into capris. While this is less comfortable and far less airy than convertible pants in shorts-mode, it is at least something of a consolation prize.

If you’ve owned convertible, consider how often you actually convert them into shorts. People take advantage of this feature far, far less often than they envision that they will.

Lastly, convertibles are made with zippers. Zipper teeth can break, get stuck, get sand in them, and otherwise fail. You might be stuck with shorts, or worse, stuck with one leg in pants-mode and one leg in shorts-mode.

So should you choose convertibles? We think that’s up to you. If you’re the type who actually takes advantage of shorts-mode and/or are traveling to a climate that has very large temperature fluctuations, it could be very worthwhile. If you mostly wear them as pants and live in a cooler climate, or mostly wear them as shorts in a warmer climate, true pants and true shorts might be preferable.

Important bonus features for convertible hiking pants

If you choose to go with convertibles, there are a few important features to look for. All of the convertible pants in our guide have them, but they’re worth calling out.

First is the color coded zips. This helps you visually identify which lower leg goes with which upper leg.

Second is the lower leg zippers. They can run from hem to mid-calf, the knee, or even all of the way up to the main shorts zipper. This is useful in two ways, but also comes with downside. It is useful to have low leg zips in that they can be opened for ventilation.

It is even more useful because they allow the wearer to convert between pants and shorts without having to take their shoes off. This is especially important if you wear boots, and/or your shoes aren’t loose enough to be slipped in/out of without untying.

Lower leg zips can be a disadvantage too. Like the primary zip offs above the knee, the zipper teeth on the lower leg can also bend, break, stick, or otherwise fail. They add manufacturing cost that is always passed down to the consumer. Stashing removed lower pant legs in your pack is heavier and bulkier when they have zippers. Wearing pants with lower leg zippers adds additional stiffness, volume, bulk, and makes them less comfortable, rather than more comfortable.

Internal Drawstrings and Integrated Belts

In our opinion, internal drawstrings and integrated belts are just junk gizmos that seem attractive to brands and designers trying to sell a feature-rich product. They are less useful to the customers using them. While all well and good for non-technical garments, we dislike these features for any hiking pants with true zipper fly. They’re not for us, nor do we recommend them to you.

In our experience, internal drawstrings get stuck in the zipper fly, or interfere with the ability to use it. They frequently retreat into the inner sleeve and have be tediously pulled out, one inch at a time.

The drawstring is not very wide so it can create an uncomfortable amount of pressure in a concentrated band around your waist. We always wear a belt anyway, and a true belt is far superior in every single way to an integrated belt in terms of function, and pressure distribution, making the drawstring redundant in addition to inferior.

We also dislike like integrated belts for similar reasons. They add weight/cost/bulk. Like drawstrings, they are narrower, and less comfortable than a true belt. What’s more, pants designed with integrated belts often cannot be used with true belts. True belts do a better job of keeping pants up while also being wider and better at distributing pressure. And like drawstrings, true belts can also retreat into the inner workings of the pants and get stuck.

There are some good hiking pants built with drawstrings and integrated belts, including some models on this list. However, if we had a magic wand and could change those pants, we would still remove them and consider it an upgrade.

Why hiking pants over tights?

Compared to hiking pants, stretchy tights have fewer pockets, less durability, and less weather resistance and aren’t recommended in our guide. But if you like hiking in tights, please don’t let us stop you. Truly! Comfort is the single most important feature and you should wear what works best for you.

Hiking Pants Conclusion

We can’t stress enough how important it is to wear a well-fitting, comfortable, functional pair of hiking pants. The models in this guide have performed well for us, and we think they will for you too. Happy hiking! If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.


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