A great pair of hiking pants offers comfort, freedom of movement, the versatility to perform well in a range of environments, and durability over the long haul. In terms of materials, many of today’s top pants are made from lightweight and stretchy nylon blends for mobility and protection from wet and windy weather, and increasingly feature recycled fabrics and PFC-free DWR coatings. Below are our favorite hiking pants of 2024. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice after the picks. One additional note: This article includes recommendations for both men and women, but we’ve also written a dedicated round-up on the best women’s hiking pants.
 


Our Team's Hiking Pant Picks



Best Overall Hiking Pant

1. Prana Stretch Zion ($95)

Prana Stretch Zion hiking pantsMaterials: 97% nylon, 3% spandex
Weight: 13.6 oz.
Belt included: Yes
What we like: The original Stretch Zion—and its standout comfort, durability, and versatility—has returned.
What we don’t: Breathability can be an issue in hot weather.

It’s back! Roughly one year since they discontinued the line, Prana has reintroduced the legendary Stretch Zion Pant. And we couldn’t be happier about it—the original Stretch Zion is our team's all-time favorite design, landing in that near-perfect combination of comfort, fit, durability, and on-trail performance. Doubling as a great climbing pant, you get nice range of motion thanks to the stretchy fabric, and we really like the semi-slim cut that moves with you. In terms of features, the Stretch Zion has a zippered cargo pocket that fits our iPhone 11, snaps for rolling up the legs, and a low-profile waistband adjuster to the right of the top button. All told, the Stretch Zion is just about the whole package in a hiking pant and looks good around town, too (much better than most other hiking models).

Our only real gripe with the Prana Stretch Zion comes when wearing them in hot weather. The nylon build has a DWR treatment and is a bit more substantial than some other designs on this list, almost resembling a lightweight softshell. This added thickness does make the pants run a little warmer during summer hiking and backpacking. On the flipside, the shell fabric is durable and can handle a range of weather conditions—we’ve even worn them snowshoeing. For a thinner-feeling and more breathable pant, albeit with less causal appeal, see the Outdoor Research Ferrosi below.
See the Men's Prana Stretch Zion  See the Women's Prana Halle

 

A Close Second (With Better Breathability)

2. Outdoor Research Ferrosi ($99)

Outdoor Research Ferrosi (hiking pant)Materials: 86% nylon, 14% spandex
Weight: 10.7 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Ferrosi fabric is stretchy, breathable, and tough.
What we don’t: Doesn’t come with a built-in belt; not as around-town-friendly as some. 

The fabric of a hiking pant makes or breaks it, and Outdoor Research has a real winner in its signature Ferrosi nylon blend. Featuring a healthy dose of spandex, this highly stretchy and lightweight material offers excellent mobility for hiking, scrambling, and even climbing. In addition, the Ferrosi excels at temperature regulation: We’ve found it to be tough enough to cut the wind and shed light rain but dries quickly and breathes when the thermometer starts to climb. It’s worth noting that the Ferrosi was recently updated, with highlights including a bump in sustainability—the fabric is now bluesign-approved and 46% recycled—but the winning formula has gone largely unchanged for years, which is a good thing.

OR's Ferrosi has been a long-time favorite of ours, but we do have a couple nitpicks with the design. First off, you don’t get a built-in belt like the Stretch Zion above, and the drawstring along the inside of the waistband is a less effective solution (they’re harder to quickly access and adjust if you need to tighten or loosen the fit). Additionally, the thin fabric and basic pocket layout make the Ferrosi less appealing than alternatives like the Prana Stretch Zion or Kuhl Silencr below for everyday wear and travel. That said, for hitting the backcountry, it’s a fantastic and highly comfortable option, and availability in 11 sizes and four lengths means there’s a Ferrosi Pant for almost everyone. Of note: The Ferrosi line has expanded recently and now includes a convertible option, jogger and travel variations.
See the Men's Outdoor Research Ferrosi  See the Women's Outdoor Research Ferrosi

 

Best Budget Hiking Pant

3. REI Co-op Trailmade Pants ($70)

REI Co-op Trailmade hiking pantsMaterials: 94% nylon, 6% spandex
Weight: 9.8 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Excellent price for a light and comfortable design; offered in a good range of color and sizes.
What we don’t: Drop in build quality and toughness from the top picks; thin fabric is best in mild weather.

We’ve had mixed experiences with REI’s budget-oriented Trailmade line, but the namesake pants are a strong entry in the hiking market. Both the men’s and women’s versions stood out with their lightweight nylon construction, which makes them breathable and quick to dry—ideal for summer hiking and travel. Comfort is another highlight: On a recent alpine lake-hopping backpacking trip in Washington State, we were consistently impressed by the soft and stretchy fabric, athletic fit, and functional articulation that limited bunching. Tack on practical storage—the zippered thigh pocket is a great add-on—and reinforcements at the cuffs for a boost in durability, and you have a well-rounded warm-weather hiking pant.

The Trailmade undercuts the Prana and Outdoor Research options above by $25 and $29, respectively, and there is a corresponding drop in build quality. The thin fabric isn’t as tough or weather-resistant—although the DWR coating and quick-dry material are helpful if the pants get wet—and some stitching has come loose in areas that rubbed against rock while scrambling and at camp. As such, we think it’s worth upgrading if you’ll be out in rough terrain or want something truly long lasting. But for summer hiking, occasional backpacking, and travel, the REI Trailmade checks nearly all the boxes at a great price. And it doesn’t hurt that the men’s version is offered in six color options and three inseam lengths at the time of publishing.
See the Men's REI Co-op Trailmade  See the Women's REI Co-op Trailmade

 

Best Convertible Hiking Pant

4. Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible ($109)

Kuhl Renegade Convertible hiking pantMaterials: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.
​Belt included: No
What we like: A versatile pant with ample storage; holds up well to rough use.
What we don’t: Slightly baggy fit and a bit heavy.

Kuhl clothing has distinctive styling in general, but it’s the durable fabric and well-sorted zip-off design that won the Renegade Cargo Convertibles a spot on this list. The thoughtful mix of materials and solid construction make the Renegade impressively tough—ours still look like new after extensive use—and the generous amount of stretch is a nice upgrade from another popular (but since-discontinued) Kuhl hiking pant we’ve tested, the Liberator Convertible. The fit of the Renegades is a little baggy for our tastes, but those that like a relaxed cut should find them perfectly suitable.

As with the Liberator, the Renegade’s convertible design is among the best. We particularly like its low-profile styling that does a decent job of disguising the zippers, and the 10-inch length for the shorts is a practical choice for hiking and backpacking. Additionally, if you’re the type that likes to carry a number of gadgets in your pockets or will be using the pants for travel, the Renegade's dual cargo pockets will be a welcome sight. Not only are they generously sized, but they have another set of “compartment pockets” inside for storing valuables. Taken together, the Renegade won't be for everyone, but the feature-rich build offers a great combo of zip-off versatility, storage, and toughness.
See the Men's Kuhl Renegade Convertible

 

Best Softshell Pant for Alpine Use

5. Arc’teryx Gamma ($180)

Arc'teryx Gamma hiking pantMaterials: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Weight: 11.8 oz.
​Belt included: Yes
What we like: Tough, mountain-ready build with great stretchiness.
What we don’t: Expensive and runs warm in mild temps.

Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi above is a great match for summer heat, but on a trek through Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash, we turned to the more serious Arc’teryx Gamma. What sets this softshell pant apart is its fantastic stretchiness, durability, and weight. We wore it all day in the alpine for nine days while hiking, setting up camp, filtering water, cooking, and lounging, and it came home looking like new. Moreover, the Gamma’s high-quality softshell fabric was stretchy enough to layer comfortably over thermal pants in the cold evenings and retained its shape through it all.

At $180, the Gamma is the most expensive pant on our list. For most three-season backpacking trips, you can spend significantly less and be just as pleased with the performance. In fact, you’ll likely find it overkill if temperatures rise, as the burly build can’t match the breathability of a much-thinner alternative like the OR Ferrosi or Patagonia Quandary (below). All in all, the Gamma lacks the versatility of our top picks, but for alpine adventures or shoulder seasons when you need a step up in toughness and weather protection without adding much weight, it’s a terrific option. And a final note on fit: It’s worth consulting the sizing chart. We ended up going down a size and wound up with a just-right-for-us trim cut. Arc’teryx has recently expanded the line to include the winter-ready Gamma MX, which features light insulation and a durable softshell exterior.
See the Men's Arc'teryx Gamma  See the Women's Arc'teryx Gamma

 

Best Rain Pant for Hiking

6. REI Co-op Rainier Full-Zip ($100)

REI Co-op Rainier Full-Zip pantsMaterials: 100% nylon, Peak waterproof membrane
Weight: 12.6 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Waterproof and includes full side zips at a good price.
What we don’t: Great for storms, but not breathable enough for all-day and active use.

All of the pants above are traditional hiking designs (or a softshell in the case of the Arc’teryx Gamma), but we wanted to include at least one true rain pant. The REI Co-op Rainier Full-Zip—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 as an outer layer around camp for an extra dose of wind protection and warmth. With a waterproof 2.5-layer Peak construction and fully taped seams, these pants will keep you dry when the going gets tough unlike anything else on this list. And the full-length side zips make it really easy to slide them on and off over a pair of shoes or boots.

Keep in mind that rain pants are not a replacement for the options above, and they are best used as a supplementary and/or emergency layer in wet and inclement weather. Although relatively comfortable, the Rainier won’t move as well with the body as a stretchy nylon blend (plus, the rigid fabric is more prone to tears). And of course, the waterproof membrane won’t breathe nearly as well, either. But at about 12 ounces, the Rainier is great to have in your pack for multi-day trips or on hiking days with mixed conditions. We also like the fit, which is baggy enough for layering but still works well when you’re on the move.
See the Men's REI Co-op Rainier  See the Women's REI Co-op Rainier

 

Best of the Rest

7. Kuhl Silencr ($99)

Kuhl Silencr hiking pantsMaterials: 100% polyester
Weight: 14.4 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Clean crossover design for hiking and daily use.
What we don’t: None of the pockets have closures; does not come in a women's version.

Kuhl makes a dizzying array of hiking pant models, and there are more quality options aside from the popular Renegade Convertible above. For something a little different, the sleek Silencr hits the sweet spot between performance and casual wear. The softshell material is tough, comfortable, and resists the elements well including a DWR finish. But the design of this pant is so streamlined and clean that it’s easy to wear around town. It’s true that the Silencr isn’t as mountain-ready as other softshell models like the Arc’teryx Gamma above or Outdoor Research Cirque II below, but we love the crossover appeal.

Our biggest gripe with the Kuhl Silencr pant is that none of the pockets have closures or even clips. With two large, drop-in style side pockets along with four standard pockets on the front and back, the storage options are plentiful, but none allow you to securely stow your electronics or wallet. This isn’t a deal-breaker for us, however, and the Silencr still has a lot going for it in terms of versatility. For a hiking pant that can be worn every day and excels at travel—and is available in both tapered and full-leg fits—it’s a nice option.
See the Men's Kuhl Silencr

 

8. Patagonia Quandary Pant ($89)

Patagonia Quandary hiking pantMaterials: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
Weight: 10 oz.
​Belt included: No
What we like: Well-built and good-looking crossover hiking and travel pant.
What we don’t: Thin build is best only in the summer months.

Billed as a lightweight hiking and travel pant, the Patagonia Quandary balances performance and casual needs. And we’ve found it checks all the important boxes: clean styling, articulated knees, gusseted crotch, and a tough but light fabric with a DWR coating and 50+ UPF rating for sun protection. Further, Patagonia leads the charge in sustainable measures, and the Quandary’s nylon is 65% recycled, and the fabric is bluesign-approved, which means the pants are sourced from and made with sustainable materials.

In many ways, the Quandary is a lighter and simpler alternative to the Prana Stretch Zion above. Both offer good stretch and an athletic fit that pleases hikers and urban explorers alike, but we prefer the belt adjustment on the Pranas to the Quandary's internal drawcords. And for those that prioritize pockets and organization, the Stretch Zion gets the clear edge. Finally, although the Patagonia's 3.6-ounce weight savings and streamlined design may appeal to warm-weather backpackers, we still favor the more versatile and tougher Stretch Zion for most uses.
See the Men's Patagonia Quandary  See the Women's Patagonia Quandary

 

9. Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated ($180)

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated hiking pantsMaterials: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
Weight: 1 lb. 3.7 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Classic Fjallraven build that's tough, durable, and now more breathable.
What we don’t: Thick and not ideal for covering long distances.

It’s rare in 2024 to see hiking pants with cotton—or any outdoor gear for that matter—but the Vidda Pro from Swedish company Fjallraven is a different breed. This pant is made from Fjallraven’s tough G-1000 material that is 35% cotton, which is heavier than most other options on this list, and we all know that it doesn’t exactly shine in terms of water resistance (for waterproofing, Fjallraven recommends applying their environmentally friendly beeswax for added protection). On the flip side, the thickness of the G-1000 fabric allows you to move through brush and slide over rocks without worrying about tears. Simply put, the toughness and durability can’t be beat.

It’s worth noting that we’ve included the Vidda Pro Ventilated version here. This design takes the original and adds side zips between the thigh and knee for dumping heat, along with stretch fabric on the insides of the legs for better mobility. Both are positive changes in our opinion and make the pant more versatile. We still don’t love the Vidda Pro Ventilated for hikers and backpackers covering a lot of ground, but for off-trail jaunts (think fishing and hunting) or extra warmth and protection around camp, it’s an interesting option. For a lighter option from Fjall but without the venting, check out their Vidda Pro Lite ($155).
See the Men's Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated

 

10. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ($60)

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo hiking pantsMaterials: 100% nylon, polyester mesh panels
Belt included: Yes
What we like: Great value and lots of pockets; breathes well in the heat.
What we don’t: Thin materials aren't very durable; all-nylon build lacks stretch.

For casual hiking and even summer backpacking, the Columbia Silver Ridge is a great value in a hiking pant. Offered at a reasonable $60 and often available for considerably less on Amazon, these pants perform well with breathable and quick-drying fabrics (this also makes them popular among travelers). Storage isn’t lacking either, including easily accessible hand pockets, three massive cargo pockets (two at the back and one on the right leg), and a zippered security pocket on the left thigh. All in all, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the performance and comfort of these pants, and the generous storage layout is the cherry on top.

What are the shortcomings of the Columbia Silver Ridge? Despite being reasonably well built for the price, the materials feel relatively thin and don’t provide as much weather protection as some of the pricier options on this list. In addition, the zippers certainly aren’t the smoothest we tested, and the cheaper materials lack stretch and won’t hold up as well as the more premium designs here (including REI's $10-pricier Trailmade above). But it’s hard to argue with the price or vast color and size options, which is why we’ve included the Silver Ridge here. And for those who want zip-off capabilities, the pant also is also offered in a convertible variation for $5 more.
See the Men's Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo  See the Women's Silver Ridge 2.0

 

11. REI Co-op Activator 3.0 ($100)

REI Co-op Activator 3.0 hiking pantsMaterials: 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% spandex
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Softshell build is very durable; reasonable price.
What we don’t: Not ideal for hot conditions.

Most hikers head straight for a lightweight nylon pant, which is the makeup of many of our choices above, but we can tell you firsthand that a burlier softshell is underrated. Here’s the story: The REI Activator 3.0 feels thicker than a true summer pant and weighs a bit more than popular models like the OR Ferrosi or Columbia Silver Ridge, but you get more for it. The softshell fabric is noticeably burlier yet still supremely comfortable, and we’ve worn multiple generations of this line start to finish on long trail days. It’s tough and helps block out those sharp branches you walk by, handles camp with ease (both in sitting on rough ground and providing a boost in warmth), is water- and wind-resistant, and hikes as well as any pant on this list.

The biggest concern with a softshell pant like the REI Activator is that it will run warm. In practice, we’ve taken it on hikes up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and have not experienced any overheating, which is a pleasant surprise. We wouldn’t bring the Activator on a true summer or desert hike in hot conditions, but it’s a nice three-season pant that can take you all the way down to near freezing. All in all, we can’t help but love the versatility and performance boost of the Activator, which has made it one of our go-to trekking pants.
See the Men's REI Co-op Activator 3.0  See the Women's REI Activator 3.0

 

12. Marmot Arch Rock ($80)

Marmot Arch Rock hiking pantsMaterials: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
Weight: 9 oz.
​Belt included: No
What we like: Great in warm temps and a good value.
What we don’t: We prefer the trimmer fit of the Ferrosi above.

For hiking in hot weather, the Marmot Arch Rock offers impressive temperature regulation at a decent price. For $10 to $20 less than the competition, the Marmot has a full suite of features like articulated knees, a gusseted crotch, and a hand-sized zippered closure along the right pant leg. It’s also among the lightest hiking pants on our list at just 9 ounces but managed to hold up well while hiking and scrambling in Utah’s canyon country. In temperatures topping 80 degrees Fahrenheit, they kept us nearly as comfortable as Arc’teryx's premium Gamma Lightweight.

Despite good performance in hot weather at a value price, we have the Arch Rock midpack on our list because it isn’t as versatile as the competition. The pant is too thin for true three-season use and noticeably less stretchy than the popular Outdoor Research Ferrosi. Additionally, the fit lands a little too far on the baggy end of the spectrum for our tastes, although that’s mostly a matter of personal preference. And for those that land in between sizes (like our 31-inch-waisted tester), you may have a hard time getting an ideal fit (the 30 was snug, while the 32 required a belt). But the price is right, and the Arch Rock lines up really nicely for those looking for a highly breathable design.
See the Men's Marmot Arch Rock

 

13. Patagonia Terravia Trail Pants ($129)

Patagonia Terravia Trail hiking pantsMaterials: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Weight: 11.1 oz.
Belt included: No
What we like: Very stretchy and durable build with zippered storage for all five pockets.
What we don’t: Thick fabric is too hot for summer-time temps.

A recent addition to Patagonia’s hiking pant line, the Terravia Trail combines a durable yet stretchy build with a very functional storage layout. Starting with the stretch, this slim-fitting pant includes a healthy dose of spandex (14%) for excellent mobility and all-around comfort. They’ve even incorporated elastic into the waistband to give it a jogger-like fit and feel. That said, the Terravia is still sufficiently trail-ready with a highly durable and abrasion-resistant exterior, DWR coating for shedding light moisture, and zippered closures on five pockets. And with zippers at the bottom of the cuffs and a small metal hook to secure to your laces, the lower legs of the pant can be tuned to fit over anything from low-profile trail runners to bulky hiking boots.

What’s not to like with the Terravia Trail Pant? For one, the sheer number of zippers in the design has us concerned about its long-term durability (and we’ve unfortunately had a number of Patagonia zippers fail on us recently). Further, the fabric is among the thickest on this list, and we found it ran hot when backpacking in temperatures above about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the 31-inch inseam is a polarizing choice: Most pants either offer a standard 32-inch inseam or a 30-inch option, so this in-between length may not work for some folks. But if the sizing is good for you—it was spot-on for our tester—and you like the security of zippered storage, the stretchy and comfortable Terravia has plenty of appeal.
See the Men's Patagonia Terravia Trail

 

14. Vuori Ripstop Pant ($98)

Vuori Ripstop Hiking PantsMaterials: 98% cotton, 2% elastane
​Belt included: No (drawstring)
What we like: Tough, comfortable, and one of the most stylish options here.
What we don’t: Cotton-heavy build limits the pants’ backcountry appeal.

Athleisure brand Vuori is a relative newcomer to the outdoor scene, but many folks love their products’ balance of fashion and function. True to form, their Ripstop Pant here is easily one of the most stylish options on the market, combining super durable materials and practical storage in a modern and good-looking package. In a departure from standard nylon and polyester constructions, the Ripstop’s cotton-heavy build does limit its backcountry appeal—we don’t advise bringing the pants along on multi-day outings into the wilderness or into unpredictable weather (Colorado’s notorious mid-day thunderstorms, for instance). But the Ripstop excels as a summer day hiker and looks right at home at après, which is a winning combination for many.

Comfort is another highlight of the Vuori Ripstop’s design (and many cotton pants in general). It can’t match the mobility of performance options like the Patagonia Quandary, Prana Stretch Zion, or Outdoor Research Ferrosi above, but the touch of elastane (2%) and gusseted crotch offer enough give for most activities. We also found the unique waistband design—including an exterior drawstring and elastic along the perimeter—to be very functional for dialing in fit. The biggest deterrent for many will be the lack of performance chops: Cotton doesn’t breathe all that well and holds onto moisture when wet, which is a bad combination for high exertion and warmer temperatures. But the Ripstop Pant has its place as a casual option that can hold its own on easy to moderate day hikes, and we certainly appreciate the toughness and confidence-inspiring build quality.
See the Men's Vuori Ripstop  See the Women's Vuori Ripstop

 

15. Prana Stretch Zion Pant II ($95)

prAna Stretch Zion Pant II hiking pantsMaterials: 95% nylon, 5% elastane
Weight: 13.5 oz.
Belt included: Yes
What we like: Great organization, built-in belt, and sustainable construction.
What we don’t: ReZion fabric looks and feels cheaper than the original Stretch Zion.

It’s always risky business updating a legendary line, but Prana dove in and gave their extremely popular Stretch Zion a full revamp in 2022. The “II” utilizes an all-new fabric—their more sustainable ReZion blend—and sees a number of changes, including a new button closure and slightly different fit. Importantly, they retained a lot of what made the pant popular in the first place: There’s plenty of stretch in the construction, the built-in belt is helpful for dialing in fit, and you get ample pockets for hiking and travel. On paper, there’s a whole lot to like about Prana’s latest effort.

Now for the bad news: We think the latest Stretch Zion II is less competitive than the original. We count ourselves among the legions of Stretch Zion fans—it’s no coincidence the reintroduced version is at the top of this list—but the new one looks and feels cheaper. To start, the updated ReZion fabric lacks the supremely soft and comfy feel of the original. The replacement is less softshell-like and silkier and smoother, plus it’s oddly shimmery in the sun (this was true for us in both the Black and Dark Iron colorways). In addition, the standard model has a more pronounced flare at the bottom, which led to a lot of annoying pant-leg swishing. We also tried the “Slim Pant” version, which resolves the pant-leg issue, but the trim fit elsewhere will be polarizing for some. In the end, the shift to more sustainable materials is applauded, but unfortunately it can’t touch the all-around goodness of the original Stretch Zion.
See the Men's Prana Stretch Zion II  See the Women's Prana Halle II

 

16. Black Diamond Alpine Light ($125)

Black Diamond Alpine Light hiking pantsMaterials: 85% nylon, 15% elastane
Weight: 10.2 oz.
Belt included: Yes
What we like: Nice mix of weight, breathability, and toughness; highly adjustable belt.
What we don’t: Only offered in four waist sizes and one inseam length.

Black Diamond is a climbing company at its core, but plenty of their mountain-ready gear translates nicely to hiking and backpacking. The Alpine Light Pants are a great example: The very stretchy build is comfortable on the trail, and BD hit a really nice mix of breathability, weight (the pants pack down quite small), durability, and weather protection. For reference, they were our go-to pant for a recent trip to Patagonia and held up extremely well to wild swings in temperature and conditions. The Alpine Light is a bit spendy at $125, and we don’t love the organization—the thigh pocket is located in an awkward spot that makes is pretty useless while hiking—but overall, we think it’s a solid effort.

Unlike many of the apparel specialists above, Black Diamond only offers the Alpine Light
Pants in four waist sizes (S-XL) and just one inseam length. As such, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up with an in-between or less-than-ideal fit. That was true for us: The medium was baggier in the legs than we prefer and lacked the tailored cut that we’re able to get with alternatives from KÜHL, Prana, Patagonia, and others. The good news is the built-in belt is easy to use and has a wide adjustment range, but we’d much prefer a larger slate of available sizes. That said, if the Alpine Light works for you, it’s a well built and versatile three-season option. 
See the Men's Black Diamond Alpine Light  See the Women's BD Alpine Light

 

17. REI Co-op Sahara Convertible ($80)

REI Co-op Sahara Covertible hiking pantsMaterials: 96% nylon, 4% spandex
Belt included: No
What we like: Available in a wide range of sizes; easy-to-remove legs.
What we don’t: Strange fit and no integrated belt.

REI Co-op has an interesting history with hiking pants and the lineup frequently changes. We really liked the Screeline in years past, but that model has been discontinued. And the Activator 3.0 above is a very solid softshell option, but it’s not a traditional hiking pant for warm spring and summer conditions. The Co-op’s biggest seller is the Sahara, which is an attractively priced convertible pant at $80 but has its fair share of shortcomings, which is why it’s included so far down this list.

What are our concerns with the latest Sahara Convertible? Past versions were on the normal to baggy end of the spectrum, but REI went in the other direction here with a regular fit and a flared bottom (making it prone to swishing on the trail). Additionally, the pant no longer includes an integrated belt, which is a feature that we really appreciate. Finally, the belt loops are surprisingly small and only work with narrow designs (roughly 1.25 in.). Taken together, the Sahara certainly aren’t the worst hiking pants out there, but we prefer the convertible options from Columbia and Kuhl above.
See the Men's REI Sahara Convertible  See the Women's REI Sahara Convertible

 

18. Outdoor Research Cirque II Pants ($159)

Outdoor Research Cirque II pantMaterials: 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% spandex
Weight: 1 lb. 5.8 oz.
​Belt included: No
What we like: Alpine-ready build that's super tough and water-resistant.
What we don’t: 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. For this reason, we’ve added a technical softshell to this list: the Cirque II from Outdoor Research. This pant offers an impressive mix of protection from the elements and mobility: It’s water-resistant, breathable, and tough enough for off-trail adventuring that might tear some of the lighter weight pants to shreds (the face fabric of the Cirque II is a burly 90D). 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 II is a specialty pant. It’s listed as being ideal for “high-energy alpine climbing, mountaineering, and ice climbing,” so it’s clearly built with alpine conditions in mind. The pant is water-resistant but not waterproof, meaning that it will eventually soak through in sustained rainfall or wet snow. And at over 1 pound 5 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 up well for snowshoeing and spring skiing, too.
See the Men's Outdoor Research Cirque II  See the Women's Outdoor Research Cirque II

 

Hiking Pant Comparison Table

Pant Price Materials Weight Convertible Belt
Prana Stretch Zion $95 97% nylon, 3% spandex 13.6 oz. No Yes
Outdoor Research Ferrosi $99 86% nylon, 14% elastane 10.7 oz. No (available) No
REI Co-op Trailmade $70 94% nylon, 6% spandex 9.8 oz. No No
Kuhl Renegade Convertible $109 95% nylon, 5% spandex 1 lb. 1 oz. Yes No
Arc'teryx Gamma $180 88% nylon, 12% elastane 11.8 oz. No Yes
REI Co-op Rainier Full-Zip $100 100% nylon, Peak membrane 12.6 oz. No No
Kuhl Silencr $99 100% polyester 14.4 oz. No No
Patagonia Quandary $89 95% nylon, 5% spandex 10 oz. No No
Fjallraven Vidda Pro $180 65% polyester, 35% cotton 1 lb. 3.7 oz. No No
Columbia Silver Ridge $60 100% nylon Unavail. No (available) Yes
REI Co-op Activator 3.0 $100 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% spandex 14.5 oz. No No
Marmot Arch Rock $80 94% nylon, 6% elastane 9 oz. No No
Patagonia Terravia Trail $129 86% polyester, 14% spandex 11.1 oz. No No
Vuori Ripstop Pant $98 98% cotton, 2% elastane Unavail. No No
Prana Stretch Zion II $95 95% nylon, 5% elastane 13.5 oz. No Yes
Black Diamond Alpine Light $125 85% nylon, 15% elastane 10.2 oz. No Yes
REI Co-op Sahara Convertible $80 96% nylon, 4% spandex Unavail. Yes No
Outdoor Research Cirque II $159 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% spandex 1 lb. 5.8 oz. No No

 

Hiking Pant Buying Advice


Hiking Pant Materials

Hiking pants typically are made of a nylon blend, and most of the options here have at least a small amount of built-in stretch via spandex (elastane). A higher percentage of spandex will result in a stretchier feel, which can be especially nice for those who tend to size their pants on the tight side. The added give in the material also can be a real boon on the trail, and even more so when it comes to setting up a tent and moving around camp. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Patagonia Terravia Trail are two of the stretchiest hiking pants available (86% nylon and 14% spandex), while the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated are all polyester and cotton and have no added give. 

Hiking pants (sitting on rock in the Patagonia Altvia Trail pants)
The Patagonia Terravia Trail Pants use 86% polyester and 14% spandex

In addition to nylon hiking pants, there are a few softshell pants on this list such as the Arc’teryx Gamma, REI Co-op Activator, and Outdoor Research Cirque II. These essentially are tougher and more weather-resistant pants that are ideal for alpine conditions, cooler weather, precipitation, and bushwhacking. For truly wet weather, however, it might be worth opting for a fully waterproof model like the REI Co-op Rainier, which is a rain pant that will keep you dry but lacks breathability for extended treks.

Hiking Pants (hiking with REI Trailmade)
Backpacking with REI's lightweight Trailmade Pants

Weight

Unlike other types of outdoor gear, for most hikers the exact weight of their pants isn’t a top consideration (after all, you're not usually carrying them on your back). We’ve worn pairs ranging from 8 to 17 ounces on everything from day hikes to multi-day treks, and only the 1-pound-1-ounce Kuhl Renegade Convertible felt a little heavy on the trail. And if you’re like us, you bring a single pair of pants and clean it along the way. However, if you will be carrying pants in your backpack, lightweight and packable designs like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi (10.7 oz.) and Patagonia Quandary (10 oz.) are great options. On the other end of the spectrum, for high-alpine adventures when you need added weather protection and durability, taking on extra weight for a pant like the 1-pound-5.8-ounce Outdoor Research Cirque II may be worth it. To help highlight differences in weight, we've included the numbers in both our product specs and comparison table.

Hiking pants (packed size)
Depending on the trip, weight and packability can be an important consideration

Pockets

Pockets aren’t for everyone—we often prefer to not overload our hiking pants with excess bulk—but organization can be a plus for some. Hiking pants will typically offer a few of good storage options in the form of a cargo pocket or two. One standout in our group is the Kuhl Renegade Convertible. These pants have creative storage options with large zippered thigh and compartment-style pockets. The various sizes means you should be able to find a spot for just about anything you decide to throw in. But if you’re like us, a simpler design like the single side pocket you get with the Prana Stretch Zion or REI Trailmade is plenty.

Hiking pants (prAna Stretch Zion zippered side pocket)
Simple but functional pocket designs are typically best

Articulated Knees and Gussets

Two wonderful design features to look out for in your hiking pant search are articulated knees and gussets built into the crotch of the pants. Articulated knees mimic a person’s walking motion by creating a natural bend in the knee area of the pants. In contrast to a traditional, straight-legged pant, the improved range of motion is immediately apparent. A gusset is a patch of diamond shaped fabric that runs along the inner thigh of the pants, replacing a standard seam. As with an articulated knee design, the extra fabric improves range of motion and general fit and comfort. 

Hiking pants (articulated knees)
We love articulated knees on our hiking pants

Originally popular with climbers that required a good fit to perform at peak levels, these features have trickled down nicely into the hiking pant world. There are extra costs associated with the greater complexity in constructing the pants, so short day hikers on well-maintained trails with flatter grades or those on a budget can probably go without either. But the very tangible benefits can be enjoyed by just about everyone, so we highly recommend stretching the budget and choosing pants that include both. It just makes for a more comfortable wear.

Hiking pants (REI Co-op Activator in Grand Canyon)
The REI Activator pant has excellent mobility and comfort

Integrated Belts and Waist Adjusters

Dialing in the fit can often be a difficult thing, so those that fall in between sizes (like yours truly) really appreciate a waistband with a little adjustability. Enter the integrated belt. One of our favorites comes with the Prana Stretch Zion—its low-profile, small adjuster is made out of webbing and resembles a shortened belt. The downside of an integrated belt, particularly one that wraps all the way around your waist, is the extra bulk, which can potentially interfere with a backpack’s hipbelt. A more minimalist alternative is a pant with a drawstring closure along the inside of the waistband (Patagonia’s Quandary and OR’s Ferrosi have this), although we’ve found them to be less user-friendly (it’s hard to make quick adjustments) and functional overall than a belt-like design.


Water Resistance

No hiking pant that you’d want to bring along on a summer backpacking trip will be truly waterproof. The reasons for that are the same reason you don’t often find yourself hiking in a fully waterproof jacket unless it’s actually raining: They just don’t breathe as well. So how good are hiking pants when the rain starts to fall? Depending on the model, they can actually be pretty decent performers. And as a result, we often prefer to keep our hiking pants on rather than swapping out for a rain pant (like the REI Co-op Rainier) even in a rain shower.

Hiking pants (drinking coffee in Outdoor Research Ferrosi)
The Ferrosi pants balance wind and water resistance with excellent breathability

Most hiking pants shed light rain pretty well, thanks to a durable water repellent coating (you’ll often see if listed as DWR), which makes the droplets bead up and roll off. And, as long as you avoid a more casual cotton construction, the nylon blends aren’t very prone to soaking up moisture. If and when they eventually soak through, drying time isn’t too shabby either—particularly among thin designs like the OR Ferrosi and REI Trailmade—reason enough for us to recommend sticking to hiking pants in all but the most extreme rainy days (and this is coming from a group of Seattleites).

Hiking pants (wearing rain pants at camp)
Rain pants are useful in wet conditions around camp

Thickness and Durability

How thick the material is will play a big role in a hiking pant’s best uses. You’ll see anything from tropical and summer ready thin pants all the way to medium-thick softshell pants in the “hiking pants” category, so it’s important to know what you’re looking at. From our list, pants like the Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo and Marmot Arch Rock excel in hot temperatures with their thin, breathable fabrics. Many of the core models above are designed for three-season use, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Prana Stretch Zion, and Kuhl Renegade. And thicker pants like the Arc'teryx Gamma, REI Co-op Activator 3.0, and Outdoor Research Cirque are great for the alpine, shoulder seasons, and even light winter use. Keep in mind, throwing on a pair of baselayers underneath can make many three-season pants very agreeable in the wintertime as well.

Hiking pants (climbing in Patagonia with Black Diamond Alpine Light)
Black Diamond's Alpine Light is a balanced option for three-season use

Beyond temperature considerations, thickness often correlates with durability and tear resistance. Most of the softshell-style pants like the Patagonia Terravia Trail and Prana Stretch Zion are tough enough that we had few concerns brushing up against and squeezing between rocks and brush on the trail. Both the Marmot Arch Rock and OR Ferrosi have surprising levels of durability despite their lighter feel. Truly summer-specific pants like the Columbia Silver Ridge are more tear-prone and should be restricted to more casual hiking and backpacking.

Hiking pants (cutting wood in Fjallraven Vidda Pro)
The Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers are impressively thick and durable for rough use

Convertible and Roll-Up Pants

With the ability to zip off and convert into shorts, convertible pants are a popular choice for year-round hikers and outdoor adventurers. The benefits are readily apparent: A 2-in-1 style means you don’t have to pack extra clothing, and it's a quick process to increase leg ventilation.

And while we do appreciate the flexibility a convertible pant brings, in use, it’s still not for everyone. Outside of the potential qualms that some have about the look, zip-off pants are often not as practical as you’d probably think. The extra zippers can be a pain to use, and no matter the design, they add bulk. And in designing a pant that has to accommodate the additional pinch points the zippers create, you’ll often get a baggier fit. One of the better designs on the market, the Kuhl Renegade is still a bit heftier-feeling than a standard hiking pant, even with its low-profile zippers. As a result, roll-up pants are becoming more and more popular in both men’s and women’s styles. The big benefit is you don’t have to fuss with zippers, all that’s required is a low-profile button and some tabs to secure the pant legs, and you get many of the ventilating benefits of a zip-off in a ¾ length.

Hiking pants (Kuhl Renegade Convertible unzipping leg)
Using Kuhl's low-profile convertible system

Crossover Hiking/Everyday Pants

Many of the pants on this list are hiking-centric and look more at home on-trail than off. That said, we do appreciate a hiking pant that can double up for everyday use or be worn for travel. In particular, outdoor clothing brands like Kuhl, Prana, and Patagonia (depending on the model) tend to cross over well as everyday pants. Even more capable hiking models like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi can pull double duty around town, although the thin fabric and basic pocket layout make them less appealing for everyday use than options like the Prana Stretch Zion. And our Fjallraven Vidda Pros look so unique that we always jump on an opportunity to wear them. The point is, if you like to wear your hiking pants around town, there are a number of good options for that.

Hiking pants (Kuhl Silencr at alpine lake)
Kuhl's Silencr pant is one of our favorite crossover designs

Hiking Pant Fit

Finding the right fit in hiking pants can be a tough task, particularly in the past when the options were more limited. At that time, we found that the Rab brand was one of the few offering a more agreeable cut that didn’t feel excessively baggy. Nowadays, there are a number of pants that hit that sweet spot for us, with an athletic fit that isn’t overly tight. Outdoor Research, Prana, and Arc'teryx all have this concept down quite well, and REI and Columbia have recently changed the fit of a number of their pants to bring them in line with the competition. For a more relaxed fit, the Kuhl Renegade strike us as a good balance of a bit of extra space without swishing around like a pair of old windbreakers.

Hiking pants (hiking in the Prana Stretch Zion and Outdoor Research Ferrosi)
We prefer pants that maximize mobility and comfort, like the Prana Stretch Zion and OR Ferrosi

Sustainability

We appreciate when companies go the extra mile toward creating more sustainability built products, and the most common practice in the hiking pant world is the use of recycled fabrics. Many of the picks above are made with at least some recycled content, including designs like the Prana Stretch Zion II (95% recycled nylon) and Outdoor Research Ferrosi (46% recycled material). Other measures to look out for include certification to the Fair Trade standard, bluesign-approved materials, and PFC-free DWR coatings (traditional coatings use per- or polyfluorinated chemicals—"forever chemicals" known to be harmful to the environment). Leading brands of the sustainability movement include Patagonia, REI Co-op, and Prana, although most of the companies above have started incorporating at least some of these practices into production.
 

Hiking Pants vs. Hiking Shorts

If you're heading out on an overnight backpacking trip or the weather is iffy, pants are the obvious choice. But hikers that hit the trail in the warm summer months are left with a difficult decision: Pants or shorts? Choosing full-length pants give you better protection from the sun and help keep dirt and rocks from getting into your shoes. Further, they're the preferred selection for technical hikes or summit bids to reduce the number of scratches or cuts you get when brushing against rocks or branches. But we love shorts for day hikes on well-maintained trails. Shorts are cheaper (typically about $10 to $20 less than a comparable pant), and offer better freedom of movement and ventilation. The final option is convertible pants, which give you the ability to swap between styles, although they come with a fair number of downsides (we cover those in detail in the convertible pant section above). 

Hiking pants (backpacking in the prAna Stretch Zion Slim II)
Backpacking in the Prana Stretch Zion Slim Pant II

The good news for those that want to pick up a pair of hiking shorts is that many of our favorite pants are offered in this style. In general, the shorts versions have a similar fit, fabric blend, and pocket layout as their full-length counterparts. From the models we've worn, we think Prana's Stretch Zion are one of the best. Other favorites include the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Kuhl's durable Renegade. And if you want a superlight and breathable option, a trail-running-specific short can do the trick (we've worn a range of styles from Salomon, Brooks, and REI). The biggest downside with running shorts is that you give up some durability with their thin polyester constructions.

Hiking shorts (prAna Stretch Zion in Utah desert)
Hiking in Utah in the Prana Stretch Zion shorts

Women’s-Specific Hiking Pants

Our picks above were selected based on the experiences of both male and female testers, and you’ll notice that wherever available we link to both the men’s and women’s versions. That said, due to this category’s noteworthy variation in styles, we’ve also created a unique round-up of the best women’s hiking pants. In this article, you’ll find many of the same models here (names and colorways often differ) in addition to a variety of women’s-specific hiking pants and trail-worthy leggings.
Back to Our Top Hiking Pant Picks  Back to Our Hiking Pant Comparison Table

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