Ready to hit the mountains? This is our list of the best walking trousers on the market right now. And if new walking pants aren't an excuse to plan an adventure we don't know what is!
When it comes right down to it, hiking pants embody the freedom of shorts and the protection of trousers. They’re truly the best of both worlds, and to achieve that finely tuned balance, they need some nifty tech and garment industry wizardry. But it can all be a bit dense to navigate, and some brands can get mighty spenny if you’re not careful.
But you don’t have to pay the world for a good pair of hiking pants. What you do need, however, is a carefully assembled list from the top companies around. Accompanied by detailed write-ups explaining why they’re good, what advantages they offer, and maybe even a handy link for where you can grab a pair. Oh, coincidence then, because that’s what this page is, and that’s what you’ll find below. So scroll down a little, dig in, and find the best walking trousers to choose from!
In a rush? Check out this season’s latest styles over at Ridestore.
Mud, rain, thunder, bright sunshine, or freezing cold. Outdoor trousers have to withstand a lot of different conditions, especially when going on a hiking trip to the mountains, where the weather can change in seconds.
This is why there are a lot of factors to consider when buying a pair of trousers. Our models ranking has been based on the performance in the following categories that we felt most relevant to us:
The conditions in which the trousers will be mainly used in, the comfort and fit of the pants, waterproofing and breathability, and additional features like pockets or zip-off legs.
Let’s start off with the conditions as our first and most important ranking factor. Not every pair of trousers will be suited for certain kinds of weather conditions.
In our ranking, we focused on finding the best pair of trousers for different conditions. For example cold weather, summer hiking, multi-day hiking tours, or climbing.
For cold and dry weather, we generally recommend to go for softshell pants. They are windproof and keep heat locked in. Some of them are even made with a fleece lining to keep you extra warm and cosy. They do not, however, protect you from heavy rain as they are only water-repellent.
For rainy conditions or a tour with unpredictable weather, we recommend to go for a pair with a blend of different materials. When you are at risk of getting caught in a rain shower, you want to be on the safe side and make sure that your pants protect you.
For summer hikes with hot weather and sunshine, we recommend pants that can be changed to shorts by zipping off the legs. A great option for women is to go for a technical pair of leggings.
A second important ranking factor for us was the comfort and fit. When hiking, you need a pair that support movement and feel comfy on your skin at the same time. The comfier, the better – you will spend a lot of time hiking in them.
Softshell pants made from blended fabrics are usually the most comfortable. See that as a reason for why we didn’t include hardshell pants in our ranking – even though they are extremely weatherproof. Being comfortable while exploring was more important to us than full waterproofness!
Another positive of comfy trousers is that they generally also look better than hardshell pants. Comfort, functionality, and style was the winning combination for our best walking trousers ranking!
Next up is the technical part of our ranking factors. The functionality of our outdoor models was as important as the comfort and style when putting together the ranking for the best walking trousers.
A good pair of trousers should protect you from wind and weather if you find yourself being surprised by a storm.
Especially when going on multi-day-hikes, it is super important that you are wearing windproof and fast-drying clothing. The weather is unpredictable and it can change quickly!
Most are windproof and fast-drying instead of being completely waterproof. A waterproof shell usually is quite heavy and therefore a poor choice for non-professional hiking tours.
Breathability, on the other hand, is the single most important factor when buying trousers for hot or fast-changing weather conditions. Breathable materials will help to avoid sweating and make your pants dry faster.
As our fourth and last ranking factor, we decided to include additional features. The additional features are not necessary, yet they can make the difference between liking and loving a pair of pants.
With every model that made it into our ranking, we included which feature we liked the most. To name some examples of additional features… a built-in belt, cargo pockets for extra storage, fleece lining, removable legs…
But more about the additional features later in this article. Let’s look at the winners of our men’s and women’s ranking!
The Nomad pants are a returning favourite, and for good reason. With comfort, durability, and performance all at the forefront of the design ethos, these tapered pants are the ideal choice for any adventure, any time of the year. Made using a tough 2-layer softshell fabric, a smooth DWR treated outer means they shrug off light rain with easy. A polyester construction means that they’re breathable, too, while a brushed back inner keeps them cosy in the colder months.
But that’s not all. With oversized inner thigh vents, cooling off in the summer is super easy, and with a comfy, elasticated waistband with built in belt, it’s easy to get the perfect fit. Size up for a little extra room to move, and enjoy the best all-year hiking pant around.
The Rover pants are the perfect blend between performance and fashion. They may look like a chino, but they’re a true workhorse, and aren’t afraid of a little fun. Made with a lightweight but tough cotton and spandex blend, these are the ideal choice for everything from running errands to hiking in the mountains.
A slick tapered style means they’ve got a timeless yet modern look, and an elasticated waistband with built-in belt means you can skip outdated buttons and zip flies, and concentrate on what matters — having fun!
The Downpour pants from Dope are a quirky addition to this list, and pull double duty in the best way possible. Made from a featherlight 3-layer waterproof fabric, these thin but durable pants pack down super tightly in your pack, and are baggy enough to slip on over your normal trousers or shorts if the weather turns.
But, thanks to their tricot backer, they’re also comfy enough to wear as pants themselves, either over a baselayer or just on their own. A simplified elasticated waist makes them even easier to pull on, and a zipped and gusseted hem allows you to tailor the bagginess to your preference.
The Athletic Outdoor Woven pants are a slim-fitting and easy going model with a focus on lightweight performance and comfort. With a nylon, elastane, and polyester blend, these DWR-treated pants are made to move. Breathability is prioritised, and with a quick-dry construction, whether it’s rain or shine, you’ll be leading the charge up the trails.
An elasticated waistband with drawstring means comfort is king, while a pair of zippered handwarmer pockets ensure safe storage for your valuables. Truly a pair of pants that you can wear anywhere, the Athletic Outdoor Woven from The North Face are a top choice for any adventure this season.
The Nomad trousers for women from Dope are a super comfortable and low-key technical pair of pants fit for adventures any time of the year. With a 2-layer bonded softshell construction, they have a smooth, DWR-treated outer, and a brushed back inner for warmth. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting hot and bothered. They have oversized zipped thigh vents to cool you off in the summer, making them a versatile model you can wear all year round.
But beyond the construction, the design doesn’t miss a beat, either. A spacious tapered silhouette is ideal for rocky scrambles, and a super comfy elasticated waistband with built-in belt means no fiddling around with zips and flies. Finished with a zippered hem to dial in the perfect fit, and you’ve got a great pair of pants that miss no steps.
The Downpour pants are another entry from Dope, and are an interesting pair of outdoor pants as they can be worn either over your other pants as a weather shield, or by themselves. This is thanks to Dope’s new featherlight 3-layer stretchy fabric which offers a DWR-treated outer, full waterproof membrane, and soft tricot backer, making them extremely useful and totally packable, too.
Beyond their packable design, the Downpour also feature a comfortable elasticated waistband, and gusseted and zipped hems for improved fit. They’re baggy enough to wear comfortably over your pants, but stretchy and slim enough to wear on their own too. An ideal choice for anyone who enjoys their adventures even in wet weather!
The Lofty Tech leggings from Dope are a top choice for any outdoor enthusiast thanks to their super breathable, comfortable, and versatile construction. Made from an ultra-stretchy poly-spandex blend, they have a high waist with an oversized waistband for supreme comfort, as well as a built-in drawstring for the perfect fit.
A just above the ankle cut means they pair nicely with hiking boots and socks, while a laser cut media pockets on the thigh means you can keep your phone and valuables safe while you hike. New for this season it also comes with a laser-cut key pocket in the waistband, and flatlock seams to eliminate chafing. Are they the best leggings ever? We can’t say, but they’re definitely our favourite.
The NSE Light trousers from The North Face are a lightweight and comfortable model made for summer adventures. With a 100% cotton construction, they’re the perfect choice for dry weather hikes, and thanks to their tapered cut and wide, elasticated waistband, they’re both comfy and stylish.
With two handwarmer pockets and lowkey styling, the NSE Light pants may not be super exciting or technical, but they’ll certainly get the job done. So whether you’re lounging around the house, running errands, running trails, or running late for dinner, the NSE Light from The North Face are a solid, dependable choice, dripping with style.
Choosing the greatest outdoor trouser isn’t easy. That’s why we put together a short manual for you that will help you to find the perfect one for your needs.
The first thing to look for when buying a pair of trousers is the mix of materials used. Depending on the use of fabrics, they can be either robust or more stretchy.
The most common material blend is a mix of synthetics like nylon or polyester and spandex. Spandex gives the pants the flexibility needed and makes them extra comfy. The more spandex is in the mix, the more flexible they are.
Others are made partially from cotton. Cotton has the big plus that it is more robust than a polyester-spandex mix. On the downside, cotton is less breathable and takes longer to dry if wet.
Therefore, we recommend you to go for a cotton-spandex mix in dry and cold conditions and for a synthetics-spandex mix in warmer and wetter conditions.
The next thing to look out for is the warmth. The weather conditions in which you want to wear your new pair of trousers should determine how warm they should be.
The warmest type are the softshell trousers with a warm and cosy fleece lining. They keep you toasty but only in dry weather.
Those made from blended materials are usually extremely lightweight and breathable and can be used in various types of conditions. In the summer, 2 in 1 models are perfect so you don’t have to decide between wearing shorts or trousers.
One of the most important criteria for our ranking was the versatility and style. We love to have only one pair that you can use for multiple occasions.
When talking about outdoor trousers, our favourites can be worn for a day hike or a trip to the city. Because who said that hiking can’t be stylish?
For more ambitious hikers, we recommend 2-in-1 that can be transformed into shorts when the sun comes out. Due to their low weight and versatility, they are the perfect companion for multi-day trips.
Another important thing to look out for is the weather resistance. When hiking in the mountains, the weather is unpredictable and can change within a few minutes.
When that happens, you want to be well prepared and wearing a pair of pants that can withstand the rain in order to keep you dry.
Look out for waterproofing or a water-repellent coating on your future trousers to make sure to stay protected from a storm.
Equally important as the waterproofing, is the breathability. Breathable pants will dry faster after the rain and allow hot air to evaporate.
While hiking, it is important to have a breathable model. If you get warm and hot air can’t escape, you will start sweating and can become cold really quickly.
Models with high breathability are usually made from synthetic fabrics. Cotton is generally less breathable than synthetics. Therefore, we recommend to go for ones made from synthetic fabrics when going for long and demanding hikes.
The last thing to look out for when buying a pair of outdoor trousers are the additional features. Like we mentioned earlier, the additional features will make the difference between liking and loving your new pants.
Zip-off – With zippable legs are super versatile and can be worn in various conditions. The zipper is usually placed slightly above the knees. And in seconds you can transform your trousers into shorts.
Built-in belt – A lot of models have a built-in belt that is perfect for hiking. It is easy to adjust and you don’t have to buy an additional belt.
Pockets – Big pockets are a great feature for everyone who loves to hike without a backpack. For day-hikes or long walks, it is often enough to only bring the necessities: wallet, phone, and a little snack like a chocolate bar.
Now it’s time to look a little bit closer into the different types. The different types are suitable for different types of weather conditions. We listed the three most common types of trousers for you and explained which one is best suited for which type of weather condition.
Softshell walking trousers are usually made from two layers: a wind and weather-proof outer layer and an insulating inner layer.
The smooth material of a softshell trouser is known for its high comfort and nice looks. The lining is usually made from fleece or mesh which makes softshell pants extra comfy.
Because of their warmth, softshell models are a great choice for winter walks or colder climates like the UK or Scotland.
The downside of softshells is that they are usually only water repellent and won’t keep you dry in the rain.
These are made from highly waterproof and breathable materials, which can provide you with protection from the roughest conditions.
They are designed for advanced hikers who need a highly robust model when going on mountaineering trips or ski tours during the winter.
Compared to other outdoor trousers, they lack comfortability and insulation. Therefore, we decided to not include hardshell trousers in our ranking.
These are our favourites when looking for an all-round model. With a pair of trousers made from blended fabrics, you are ready to tackle all kinds of terrain in both comfort and style. They are robust, lightweight, and can be used in all kinds of conditions. We absolutely love their versatility!
If you are looking to buy only one pair, this is the right choice! The mix of synthetics with spandex materials results in a highly robust and comfy pant.
Dope Snow – This is a company that is taking the snowboard and outdoor apparel industry by storm. It has fresh and functional products.
Peak Performance – This brand stands for modern designs, technical solutions and high quality.
The North Face – Their pants feature innovative waterproofing and insulating technologies to keep you dry and warm.
The winner of our category best overall outdoor trousers are the Dope Downpour. A light weight and water resistant model that can save your day in an instance.
The winner of our category best women's trekking trousers are the Dope Lofty TECH leggings. We were swayed by their classy leggings style combined with smart functionalities like the smartphone pocket and the drawstring belt.
The winner of our category best for advances hikes is the The North Face Athletic Outdoor Woven - both for men and women. We were won over by their light weight and durable materials at a fair price.
The winner of our category best for wet conditions are the Dope Downpour. We were blown away by their impressive waterproofing and breathability in combination with their extremely light weight.
The winner of our category best for cold conditions are the Dope Nomad. Everyone who gets cold easily or who goes outside in rougher weather conditions should own this pair of comfy walking trousers.
That was it folks! Our ultimate buyer’s guide for outdoor trousers. We hope you enjoyed the read and are now ready to tackle your next mountain adventure together with your new favourite pair.
If you are keen on finding out more about the Dope Collection, make sure to check out our other buyer’s guides in the related reading section!