Finding the right pair of hiking pants is much more essential than many assume. It can be tempting to reach for whatever you have in your closet and hit the trail in jeans, leggings, or shorts. So, we’ve dedicated the last couple of months to search for the perfect pairs of pants that will make you question how much more comfortable previous trips could have been with the right clothing.
The pair of pants you should buy is dependent on the kind of trips you have planned. Included here are options for everyone, from the extreme adventurer to those who enjoy casual hikes. We’ve included our favorite versatile pants here, but we also have longer guides for both men’s and women’s pants as well. If you’re planning hikes or trips and want to consider variables such as bug protection, convertibility, or cheaper options check out our full-length guides.
We had high hopes for these pants and they delivered for both the Men’s and Women’s version. They are a great design with all essential features, perform well in almost any outdoor situation. They fit well, are light and breathable without sacrificing durability, and best of all they are moderately priced. The stretch fabric used is comfortable on skin and has just the right amount of give. They definitely stretch throughout the day as well, so we recommend sizing down. So far we’ve taken them hiking and climbing, and their performance has exceeded our expectations.
In our research to find the best pair of pants this year, we read hundreds of five-star reviews on these Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants and knew we had to try them ourselves. The fit is flattering for both men and women, and the stretch fabric makes them suited for pretty much any activity. They are extremely lightweight and have built-in UPF protection, so they will be perfect for long days in the sun this summer. Furthermore, the casual design means you could go from the trail to dinner and no one would know the difference. And even the Women’s Pants have great pockets — a rare thing in Women’s Pants!
Eddie Bauer Men’s Guide Pro Pants
MSRP: $75.00 Weight: 11.2 oz M’s 30W x 30L (our measurement) Fabric/durability/UPF: 100% nylon / extremely durable / 50+ UPF Pockets: six; two zippered (non-bellows) cargo; two hand pockets; two back pockets (velcro but no flap) SIZING: These pants run true to size in the inseam and the waist. The stretchy fabric also aids in a comfortable fit, so order your normal size or size down. BEST USE: hiking, travel, climbing
Eddie Bauer’s breathable and versatile guide pro pants are meant for everything from technical climbing to running errands. The material is durable and won’t tear easily, and the two-way stretch construction moves and breathes through high-output activities such as climbing or even mountaineering. The pants are incredibly light and comfortable, with plenty of room for mobility without too loose of a fit. They’re also made with a StormRepel DWR treatment that repels water. The men’s version has six pockets instead of the women’s four, with two deep zippered cargo pockets. We wish there was a small zippered security pocket as well. Also, calf zippers to get pants over shoes are one feature we would like to see as well. Eddie Bauer works with Bluesign to ensure their products are made with sustainability in mind. True to their name, these pants are used and loved by guides.
“These pants can do everything from hiking to rock climbing to topping out on a 14er. I wore them for 5 days straight on Rainier, including summiting in them. I’ve never had a more comfortable, versatile pair of pants.” – Seth Waterfall, Eddie Bauer Alpine Climbing Guide.”
MSRP: $60 – $65 WEIGHT: 8.8 oz (based on our own measurements, women’s 6) FABRIC/DURABILITY/UPF: 96% nylon; 4% spandex / extremely durable / 50+ UPF POCKETS: four; two zippered cargo pockets; two hand pockets SIZING: Pants run large. If between sizes order a smaller size. BEST USE: hiking, travel, climbing
Eddie Bauer’s breathable and versatile guide pro pants are meant for everything from technical climbing to running errands. The material is durable and won’t tear easily, while the bit of spandex makes them stretchy enough for climbing or scrambling. They’re also made with a StormRepel DWR treatment that repels water. Though they don’t have any back pockets, the side zippered cargo pockets are deep enough for a cell phone or wallet. Eddie Bauer works with Bluesign to ensure their products are made with sustainability in mind.
It’s getting harder to find quality convertible pants, but these ones exceeded our expectations. The fit is extremely comfortable and flattering, and the softshell fabric is durable yet light enough for summer hiking and backpacking. They have one of the best pocket confirmation of any pants we tested. We also love the thoughtful features, like side zippers to be able to convert these pants into shorts without taking off your shoes. We expect to be reaching for these pants more often than not this summer.
Kuhl Renegade Cargo convertible pants
MSRP: $99.00 *TOP PICK* Weight: 15.2 oz Ms 30W x 30L (our measurement) Fabric/Durability/UPF: 95% nylon; 5% spandex / extremely durable / 50+ UPF Pockets: six; two cargo pockets (snap); two mesh hand pockets; two back pockets (velcro) SIZING: These pants are true to size, and have a full fit so will not be slim in the leg. BEST USE: hiking, backpacking, travel, climbing
KUHL designs durable and functional clothing for all outdoor activities. The Renegade convertible pants are made with a breathable yet strong softshell fabric. The pants zip into 10” shorts, and the mesh cargo pockets and peached waistband both make the pants more breathable and moisture wicking. These pants have plenty of room and mobility without having too loose of a fit, which can make pants feel sloppy. We love that they have calf zippers to get them over shoes, and wish more pants included in this list had that featured as well. In summary, it’s hard to find any faults with these pants — as such they are clear winners and make our top pick by a large margin.
Without question, Rail Riders make the toughest and most durable pants we have ever tried. The Bushwacker weather pants are suited for absolutely anything, whether you’re bushwacking in Montana or climbing in Patagonia. There’s no better pick for a pair of pants that will last you the rest of your life. Furthermore, these come in an Insect Shield version as well, which we highly recommend if you’re planning on backpacking or traveling in bug territory.
RailRiders Bushwacker Weatherpants
MSRP: $110.00 Weight: 15 oz w self-belt M’s Small x 30L (our measurement) Fabric/Durability/UPF: 2ply 3oz duralite nylon / extremely durable / none Pockets: seven; two zippered cargo; two hand pockets; one zippered security; two zippered back SIZING: These pants run large. Size down for a slimmer fit, or order your true size for a large fit. BEST USE: anything from hiking, backpacking, brutal and abusive conditions to casual
We’ve worn these pants everywhere from Patagonia to Alaska, to technical canyoneering in Utah. These are true durable bomber trail pants, yet they’re also suitable for everyday wear. RailRiders pants are some of the most durable we’ve tested over the years, so these will last forever no matter what adventures you take them on. The fabric is reinforced at the seat, knees, and ankles to make high wear areas stronger. We love how many zippered pockets are featured, which is great both on the trail and around town. These truly are a “do it all” pant, perfect for traveling or long backpacking trips where you will head into towns and may want to blend in. These pants also come in an InsectShield version, for backpacking or traveling in bug territory. In summary they excel in almost every feature and performance category with little downside except for a few oz more in weight..
Use Code RRAAB21 to get 10% off your first RailRiders order.
Best Budget Pants
Backpacking and hiking can be expensive at the start, and you may be tempted to just wear whatever pants you already have. If that’s where you are, we highly recommend investing in these budget-friendly convertible pants. They have a crazy amount of pockets, and the fit allows for so much more movement than jeans. Though they don’t have stretch fabric which many of the more expensive pants do, the design of these pants makes them excellent for hiking, scrambling, and backpacking on a budget. And we preferred them over both the REI Sahara and Columbia Silver Ridge convertible pants that cost twice as much.
Toomett Hiking Fishing Pants
MSRP: $33.00 Weight: 11 oz w/o belt, 12.6 with (our measurements size 30) Fabric/Durability/UPF: 100% polyester / semi-durable / 50+ UPF Pockets: seven; two snap-close cargo; one zippered cargo; two deep hand pockets; two snap-close back pockets SIZING: The sizing is confusing! The numbered size is the inseam length — so a size “30” seems to be a 32W x 30L. The waist runs true to size / maybe slightly large. Throughout the rest of the pants, the fit is large with plenty of room in the legs, even for well muscled legs. BEST USE: hiking, backpacking, traveling
The Toomett Cargo Convertible Pants are our top budget pick. We like them because they have plenty of pockets for storage, and the fit allows for plenty of movement. Even though they are not made with stretch fabric, the wide fit throughout the thighs still gives plenty of room. Also, there is an extra zippered cargo security pocket for valuable items, while the two other cargo pockets snap closed. We prefer the snaps as they snag less than velcro. The waist has elastic in it, with a button closure. The quick dry material makes these pants suitable for water adventures as well. Finally, the pants zip into shorts to add versatility.
Yes, we know these aren’t fully convertible. However, amongst all the women’s convertible options we’ve tried, these are by far the best. The snap closure converts these pants into capris for extra breathability, and gives the pants a much more flattering look than awkward 10” shorts usually featured on convertible pants. These Kuhl pants are extremely durable and designed for movement, and we can’t wait to wear them on long hikes and backpacking trips throughout the summer. And unlike most women’s pants the Kuhl FreeFlex have great pockets.
Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-Up Pants
MSRP: $89.00 WEIGHT: 11.2 oz (our tested weight) FABRIC/DURABILITY/UPF: polyester / durable / 50+ UPF POCKETS: six; two hand; two back; two cargo SIZING: These pants run true to size in the waist, and have a 32 inch inseam BEST USE: hiking, backpacking, travel, casual
These are a close competitor with the Prana Halle pants, but with a more durable fabric. And they absolutely come out on top in terms of pockets. They have six deep pockets, four of which have a snap closure to hold the essentials. Furthermore, they roll up and snap closed into capris, which makes them convertible with less work (and more style). We love the fit on these pants, it’s fitted yet roomy enough to accommodate big movements while hiking or backpacking. There is also an internal waistband to adjust the fit, and the UPF protection makes them great for long days in the sun.
If you’re a multi-sport athlete with big objectives in your future, we cannot recommend these enough. They’re light enough to stay comfortable while climbing or hiking during hot days, while the softshell fabric still provides warmth and protection against ice or snow. The Patagonia Simul Alpine Pants are an extremely durable, stretchy, and versatile pant that will excel in pretty much every activity from backpacking to backcountry skiing to alpine climbing.
Patagonia Simul Alpine Softshell Pants
MSRP: $139.00 WEIGHT: 11.3 oz FABRIC/DURABILITY/UPF: 91% recycled polyester; 9% spandex / extremely durable / none POCKETS: four pockets; two zippered hand pockets; two zippered cargo pockets SIZING: These pants have a true to size waist, and the fit throughout the leg is slightly large. Stick with your normal size, or size down for a snug fit. BEST USE: alpine climbing, backpacking, hiking
Softshell pants are an essential component of any high alpine adventure, whether you’re backpacking, climbing, or backcountry skiing. The Patagonia Simul Alpine pants are a great option for a lightweight yet ridiculously durable construction. Though they’re designed specifically for climbing, softshells also work great for backpacking. The zippered pockets are deep enough to comfortably carry the essentials. The crotch and knees are gusseted to allow for movement in these areas, and the waistband has a stretchy fabric to accommodate for movement.
We all want to look good. The Prana Halle pants fit extremely well, and have enough stretch and durability to excel on the trail and then effortlessly transition to any post-hiking plans you may have. Furthermore, the versatility of these pants make them excellent for backpacking when you want clothing that will stay comfortable for days on end. The Halle pants are our top pick for pants that truly could be used any day of the week.
Prana Halle Pants
MSRP: $85.00 – $89.00 WEIGHT: 8.9 oz (based on our own measurements) FABRIC/DURABILITY/UPF: 97% polyester; 3% spandex / extremely durable / 50+ UPF POCKETS: five; one zippered cargo pocket; two buttoned back pockets; two hand pockets SIZING: Pants run true to size, and have a bit of stretch in them. Pants come in a range of sizes, with petite, regular, and tall sizing available in 0 – 22 waist options. BEST USE: hiking, travel, climbing, everyday
In Prana pants, I can go straight from a hike or the climbing gym to dinner. These pants are extremely versatile, and excel in so many ways. They’re stretchy enough for climbing, hiking, and scrambling, yet designed like “normal” everyday pants. The DWR treatment repels light rain or snow. Also, the legs roll up to convert the pants into capris, so although they don’t fully zip into shorts they are still versatile for when it’s hotter. These are available in short, tall, regular, and plus sizing. Also, there are straight leg (for a more fitted look) and fully convertible options available too.
We know that each person is different, and the pair of pants best suited for each individual varies. However, whatever your 2021 plans may hold, we’re confident that one of these pants featured in our top three overall picks will comfortably take you wherever you’re headed. If you’re still unsure about any of these three pants or want to see the full arsenal of pants we’ve reviewed, head over to our full Men’s Hiking Pant Guide and Women’s Hiking Pant Guide. Happy hiking!
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Disclaimer: Posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products I review. Unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, reviews express my own independent opinion.
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