The Best Hiking Pants of 2024

Elevate your outdoor adventures by investing in the best hiking pants
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Anyone who has been caught in a rainstorm, had their inseam rip as they sat on a rock during a break, or been swarmed by mosquitoes when the wind died down can appreciate the importance of performance hiking pants. But choosing from so many different models, for everything from casual day hikes to climbing, can be confusing. We’ve picked the best hiking pants out of what’s available today to help narrow the field: 

How I Tested the Best Hiking Pants

Staff writer Laura Lancaster and OL contributor Justin La Vigne evaluated the best hiking pants in this roundup using real world testing and feedback from other experienced hikers. Lancaster and her testers wore the pants on spring day hikes around the Pacific Northwest with at least 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Justin and his testers performed a majority of testing in remote areas of Alaska.

Conditions ranged from frosty mornings, full blown snow, and unexpected showers into early summertime temperatures. Pants were evaluated on comfort, ease of movement, weight, fit, and skin feel. Lancaster also separately tested her picks for water absorption to see how they would perform in heavy rain conditions. We also considered each pair’s crossover appeal — whether the pants were suitable for multiple activities or appropriate casual wear for errands or post-trail beers. Finally, we considered the functionality of each pants’ features (pockets, drawstrings, roll-up buttons).

Best Hiking Pants: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Royal Robbins Alpine Mountain Pro Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Women’s 2 to 16; men’s 32- to 42-inch waist
  • Weight: Women’s 11 ounces; men’s 13.3 ounces
  • Fabric: 88 percent polyester, 12 percent elastane
  • Closure: Snap-lock button, women’s version has an adjustable drawcord

Pros

  • Comfortable fit in a great cut that is a touch thicker than average
  • Durable 
  • Great pocket coverage
  • Made of recycled (88 percent polyester) plastic bottles

Cons

  • Lack of inseam sizing makes it hard to find the right length
  • No cuff adjustment
A person from the waist down walking in the woods wearing grey best hiking pants
These durable pants do it all. Laura Lancaster

The Alpine Mountain Pros do it all. They are rugged enough to tackle brambly trails with just the right amount of flexibility for some scrambling, and after a hard day on the trail they still look good enough to head out for a post-hike beer. The tight knit of the fabric was surprisingly durable given the materials used. But they also feel soft against my skin. I liked that these were a bit thicker on average than the other pants in this review, making them more versatile for shoulder season adventures.

The pockets on the women’s version of these pants were the best of any we tried: the front-hand pockets are deep enough to fit a smartphone, one of the back pockets has a zipper for added security, and there were two deep, thigh pockets that were virtually unnoticeable when empty. 

Best for Men: Sitka Gear Equinox Guard Pant

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Men’s 30R to 44R
  • Weight: 13.5 ounces
  • Fabric: Exterior 86 percent polyester, 14 percent spandex 
  • Closure: Button, with belt loops

Pros

  • Insect shield technology
  • Internal gaiters 
  • Zippered side vents
  • Zippered pockets
  • Dedicated knife pocket
  • UPF 50+

Cons

  • No women’s style
  • Expensive 

Sitka is best known for their hunting and fishing apparel, but I’ve been testing these pants for close to a year while guiding backpacking and hiking trips into the Alaskan bush. They are the most comfortable I have ever worn and full of features. I have tested a lot of hiking pants, and I must say these are at the top of their game.

The breathable waffle patterned material promotes optimal airflow. There is a scent-free insect shield that repels the largest and most annoying mosquitoes that bite through some of my other hiking pants. There is an internal gaiter that tucks into your socks to prevent ticks and other bugs from crawling up your leg. During testing, the gaiters also kept out sticks, dirt, and debris while bushwacking. The zippered side hip vents are perfect for dumping heat and allowing your legs to cool off all the while not allowing bugs to get in with a mesh internal lining

I carry a knife all the time, and the dedicated reinforced knife pocket is easy to clip your knife into and get it out quickly. There’s no more struggling to get my knife out when time is of the essence. The Equinox Guard pants might be made for hunting but they’re the best backpacking and hiking pants I’ve ever worn. They come in two solid and three camouflage colors. I can’t stop wearing these and now compare almost every other pair of pants to them.  —Justin La Vigne

Best for Cold Weather: Helly Hansen Odin Huginn Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Men’s S to 2XL
  • Weight: 21 ounces
  • Fabric: 91 percent polyamide, 9 percent elastane 
  • Closure: Two buttons and one clasp

Pros

  • Softshell stretchy pants with DWR treatment
  • Adjustable waist and bottom legs
  • Boot hooks
  • Zippered pockets
  • Three color options

Cons

  • No back pockets
  • No side vents or mesh pockets
  • No women’s options
  • Expensive 

These have been my go to pants for colder days that may bring a mix of snow or ice. They are similar to the Norrona Falketind, but are made of a thicker softshell material that moves with your body and has articulated knees for full motion. Designed for brutal weather, these performed flawlessly during negative temps with blowing wind and snow while snowshoeing through the backcountry of Denali National Park. The super secure waist system has a velcro belt with additional belt loops for an optimal fit. The inside hem is reinforced with a fleece-like lining that is soft against your skin. 

Hiker wears Helly Hansen pants.
The Odin Huginn Pant cuffs are reinforced with a built-in gaiter and gaiter hook. Justin La Vigne

Three decent sized zippered pockets (two hand and one hip) that can fit hand warmers, keys, and even a large cell phone are accessible with a nice long zipper pull. You can easily grab it, even while wearing bulky gloves. The Odin Huginns lack back pockets, but the sleeker design makes wearing a backpack more comfortable. The bottom cuffs are feature rich with a 13-inch expansion zipper and three-way snap closure to allow you to fit them around big boots, plus the cuffs are reinforced with a built-in gaiter and gaiter hook. The only thing missing from these are some side zips for ventilation or mesh pockets to dump heat.  —Justin La Vigne

Best for Hot Weather: Free Fly Breeze Pant

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Women’s XS to XL; men’s S to 3XL
  • Fabric: 86 percent polyester, 14 percent spandex
  • Closure: Pull on with elastic waistband

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Cooling
  • UPF 50

Cons

  • Limited protection from the elements in the event the weather turns

Hot weather can make a mess of even the most breathable material; it’s why you see so many hikers wearing shorts in the desert sections of long trails. But exposing your legs to the sun for hours at a time in intense heat of summer isn’t an option (or even desirable) for all people: fortunately, there is the Breeze series from Free Fly. On overnighters and casual day hikes in bright sunlight, these pants are comfortable in everything from early morning to midday heat.

The Free Fly Breeze Pants are the perfect hiking pant to wear all day long in desert and other hot-weather climes. Orijin Media

In fact, they often feel cooler than shorts (especially if the wind isn’t delivering as much as you’d like it to) and are very quick drying. They’re rated to UPF 50, which is great for anyone with a sun sensitivity. I’ve also appreciated that they look great. I’m not tempted to switch out of them before heading for post-hike, and have even been known to keep them on throughout the rest of the day into the evening hours. If you’ve been looking for a full-coverage hiking pants option, then this is a great pick that will keep you cool and protected.

Most Comfortable for Women: prAna Halle Pant II

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Women’s 0 to 16
  • Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Fabric: 95 percent recycled nylon; 5 percent elastane
  • Closure: Double buttons with drawcord
  • The men’s Stretch Zion Pant II is the equivalent to the Halle collection

Pros

  • Loose, comfortable fit 
  • Rollup buttons helped create extra airflow on hot days
  • Uses recycled nylon
  • Comes in plus sizes

Cons

  • Right side-seam zip pocket was difficult to use and may be too small for some smartphones
  • Repels water less effectively than other pants in this test

I wore the prAna Halle Pant II on multiple hikes this spring and found them to be the most comfortable in our best hiking pants lineup. This was thanks to a soft knit and a loose cut that was also flattering. These pants also incorporated a roll-up cuff — which I prefer to the men’s style of convertible pants—which worked great when I had worked up a sweat and needed a bit more airflow.

In the water repellency test, these pants absorbed water more readily than the others we tested. These are not the pants we’d pick for a hike through morning dew–soaked brush. That said, their airy fit means that they are unlikely to hold sweat on hot days. 

The size and shape of the Halle Pant II’s right side-seam pocket perfectly fit my 5.7 inch x 2.7 inch smartphone — although it may be too small or a tight fit for larger models. The side zip entry helped keep the phone from jostling around while I hiked, but I had to stop to access the phone to prevent it from accidentally falling on the ground. 

Like the Savannas, these also come in plus sizes. The equivalent men’s pant is the Stretch Zion Pant II.

Most Comfortable for Men: Norrona Falketind Flex 1 Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Men’s S to XXL, women’s XS to XL2
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Fabric: 69 percent polyamide, 19 percent polyester, 12 percent elastane
  • Closure: Double snap

Pros

  • Stretchy softshell pants with DWR treatment
  • Adjustable lower leg with zipper, snaps, cinch, and boot hook 
  • Two way ventilation zippers on each hip
  • Velcro adjustable waist with additional belt loops

Cons 

  • Expensive
  • Not the deepest pockets

The Norrona Falketind are all around great pants for hiking or climbing in winter and summer. These are super stretchy, but not as thick as the Helly Hansen Odin Huginn making them ideal for shoulder season trips. These feature-rich softshell pants had me drooling from day one. They are made of elastane combined with recycled polyester that allows 100 percent mobility while bending, sitting, and moving around. 

Backpacker wears the Norrona Falketind Flex 1 pants.
The lack of back pockets on the Norrona Falketind Flex 1 pants make it more comfortable to wear a backpack. Justin La Vigne

The custom-fit waist system has two velcro adjustment points that act like a belt. If that isn’t good enough, it has the option of adding a belt with belt loops. The four pockets (two hips, one leg, and one back) all have zippers with a nice zipper pull that is easy to access but never in your way. The large zippered fly is accompanied by two large front snaps. The bottom leg cuffs are chock full of special features with a gaiter hook that can be stored away in a small pocket when not in use.

The zippered bottom cuffs allow you to get the pants on over bulky boots with a snap closure and a bungee cinch around the cuff. The best feature is the 12-inch zippered side vents on either leg with a full thick mesh covering. It’s perfect for ventilation but prevents mosquitoes from biting your legs. The PFC-free DWR coating is perfect for damp conditions and it took some time for the pants to wet out. —Justin La Vigne

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Key Features

  • Sizing: 28- to 42-inch waist with inseam choices of regular, short, tall
  • Weight: 18.5 ounces
  • Constructed with high stretch polyester fabric
  • Wicks and evaporates perspiration
  • Four large, zippered pockets
  • Articulated knees and gusseted crotch

Pros

  • Six pockets
  • Zippered hip vents
  • Thick durable material
  • Various colors, including camouflage
  • DWR treatment

Cons

  • Not meant for warmer temps
  • No expandable zippered cuff
  • Men’s only

Our tester, an Alaskan bush guide, wore the Kuiu Attack pants over 300 miles through gnarly terrain of thick alders, willows, wet boggy tundra, heavy snow, driving rain, and scree slopes. They went through the wash more than 20 times, and after all the abuse and miles of trailless terrain, these pants still look like the first day he received them. He praised the feel and comfort and that fact that they moved with him with the ideal amount of stretch, especially around the knees and crotch. The six pockets were more than enough to carry keys, a phone, and a wallet with the two back and two thigh pockets still zipping closed. All the zippers have long pulls, allowing you to easily open and close with gloves.

When the weather turned to rain and snow, the pants had a long-lasting DWR coating that really pushed the moisture away and dried very quickly. When temps got a bit warmer, our tester loved the 10-inch hip side vent lined with mesh underneath, which was a perfect defense against swarming monster mosquitoes.  Both oversized front pockets (not zippered) were also vented for optional air flow.  If you are looking for a pant that is best for rough and tough terrain, these were made for those conditions. —Justin La Vigne

Best Lightweight: Mountain Hardwear Trail Sender Pant

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Women’s XS to XL, men’s 30- to 44-inch waist
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Very soft material (100 percent polyester)
  • UPF 50 fabric for UV rays
  • Tapered fit
  • Has a style that works on and off trail

Pros

  • Material moves with you
  • Deep front pockets
  • Zippered rear pocket, which fits phone
  • No belt loops to interfere with pack waist straps
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Sizing is bit tight
  • No belt loops
  • Single snap at waist is small and challenging to snap the pants up
  • Only one rear pocket

Our Montana-based tester said the Trail Sender Pants are lightest and most breathable hiking pants he has ever hiked in. The material has the feel of a high-thread count linen even though it is 100 percent polyester. The tapered cut through the thigh to calf was form-fitting, but not restrictive. The style was fitting for post-hike outings in civilization. Although without a zippered cuff, you cannot take these pants off without first removing your boots. The waist band has a drawstring for ultimate comfort and adjustment on the go, so there wasn’t really a need for an added belt.

There are four pockets: two deep open ones on the front hips, one thigh, and a zippered one on the backside that fits a phone. These pants proved to be very stain resistant as our tester coated them in DEET multiple times, but they didn’t stain or wear down at all. Being so ultralight and breathable with UPF protection, they worked well for warmer weather, but also could be paired with a thermal bottom for cooler days. With a $79 regular price tag, these are a great option. And when they go on sale at $39, you definitely can’t go wrong. —Justin La Vigne

Best Cargo Pants: Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Cargo Pants

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Key Features 

  • Sizing: Women’s 0 to 24W, men’s 28 to 42-inch waist
  • Weight: 11.25 ounces 
  • Fabric: 86 percent nylon, 14 percent spandex
  • Closure: Button closure with drawcord

Pros

  • Comfortable fit that is true to size
  • Protected against the cold on windy days
  • Rugged enough to withstand the trail

Cons

  • Front-facing cargo pockets sometimes got in the way of hiking
  • Button snaps were difficult to use on the go

I sent the Ferrosi hiking pants out with a tester on a 6-mile out-and-back with 2,400 feet of elevation gain in eastern Washington State. They reported back that, like the other Ferrosi pants, the fabric of these pants felt light, but durable and true to size. Not only did these pants breathe well enough to prevent overheating on the hike up, but the tester reported that “the situation at the top of Umtanum Ridge was quite windy and these pants blocked the wind as effectively as a pair of rain pants.”

Rather than a belt, the Ferrosi has a drawstring at the waist to help users dial in that perfect fit. The one drawback to these pants is that the pockets are more forward-facing than usual, which got in the way on long uphill climbs. Those side pockets also incorporated snap buttons (rather than the zipper found at the back pocket), which felt less secure.

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Men’s 28- to 42-inch waist
  • Weight: 17 ounces
  • Fabric: 95 percent nylon; 5 percent spandex
  • Closure: Snap button closure

Pros

  • High placement of the convertible zippers meant they were never in the way while hiking
  • Zips at the cuff allow you to take off the lower legs without taking off your shoes
  • Durable, water-resistant fabric

Cons

  • No drawcords or attached belt at the waist

The tester for the Renegades was a convertible pants skeptic, at least until he took these out for a few spring day hikes. He reported back that during a hike up Tiger Mountain in Washington State’s Issaquah Alps they were easier to use than expected, mimicking the feel of non-convertible hiking pants when the lower section was attached and zipping off easily when he was ready to convert them. Whereas other convertible pants have a fit that is a hair too relaxed, the Renegades “felt surprisingly lightweight,” and were form-fitting without ever riding up on steep climbs. 

While the pocket placement on these has a traditional cargo style, they were slanted more toward the back of the leg, which kept them out of the way. One thing to note about these pants is that they don’t come with a built-in belt or a drawstring cord — something to keep in mind if you plan to size up to accommodate a base layer. The tester also noted that these ran small, so if you are in-between sizes or looking for a more relaxed fit, consider sizing up. 

Best for Trail to Town: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizing: Women’s 0 to 18, men’s 30- to 42-inch waist
  • DWR treatment
  • 94 percent nylon, 6 percent spandex
  • Stylish for on and off the trail

Pros

  • Durable with two-way stretch
  • Six pockets
  • UPF 50+ sun protection

Cons

  • No venting abilities
  • Velcro back pockets
  • Stitching around front pockets coming undone

These pants can be found on sale for cheaper than the MSRP, making them very affordable. However, the Guide Pro pants don’t act or perform like the inexpensive price. Our tester wore these equally on trail and around town. The comfort, stretch, and feel kept him moving while logging over 200 miles through various terrain. There are six pockets: two open front pockets, two zippered thigh pockets, and two Velcro back pockets. He did note the Velcro back pockets are not practical, as they would open at times with a pack on and sometimes not line up when shut. And it seems after several months of use, the stitching around the pockets is coming undone.

The SPF 50+ technology along with the DWR coat added a bonus level of protection. With that being said, he noticed they wetted out quicker than some of the other reviewed pants. The lined waistband does not only add comfort, but has odor controlling properties. Because these pants are made of a lightweight nylon/spandex blend, they can be worn on warmer days, although they do lack venting abilities. —Justin La Vigne

Read Next: Best Hiking Underwear for Women

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Hiking Pants

Five best hiking pants laying on the ground
From left to right: KÜHL Freeflex Roll-up Pant, Helly Hansen Rask Softshell Pant, REI Co-op Savanna Trail Pants, prAna Halle Pant II, Royal Robbins Alpine Mountain Pro Pants. Laura Lancaster

Materials

Most hiking pants are made from nylon and/or polyester, with spandex or elastane for stretch. Some also incorporate specialty fibers like hemp or Tencel, a type of rayon made from wood fibers. One material that is virtually never seen in the best hiking pants is cotton, due to its tendency to retain moisture. 

Bug Protection

In general, pants made from nylon—especially ripstop nylon — will do a better job at keeping bugs (including mosquitoes) away from your skin than polyester. But, if you live in a place where the mosquito is recognized as the official state bird, then you should treat your hiking clothes with permethrin for an additional defense. Some clothing manufacturers now sell hiking pants with permethrin pre-applied which has the added bonus of lasting for additional washings over self application. 

Pockets

There can be huge variation between the pockets on men’s and women’s pants, with the men’s pants having adequate to (sometimes) excessive pocket coverage, while some of the women’s pants aren’t cut out to carry much more than some chapstick. In this review, if I’ve commented on pocket coverage, I’ll clarify which version of the pants were tested (the women’s picks in this roundup all have adequate to great pocket coverage), but it’s worth double-checking the manufacturer website to ensure the style you are purchasing has the coverage you need.

Read Next: Best Hiking Leggings

FAQs

Q: Do I need hiking pants?

Plenty of people don’t use hiking pants—opting instead for leggings, running shorts, or even jeans—but there are a few reasons why hiking pants are worth the investment. As anyone who lives in tick country knows, long pants are essential for avoiding serious illnesses like Lyme disease. Similarly, while many women hike in leggings, I’ve found that mosquitoes are quite adept at biting through the thin fabric. Jeans, well—we’ve all hiked in jeans at one time or another. But the reality is that in a surprise squall or misstep in a creek could leave your jeans wet and chafing you all the way back to the trailhead. The best hiking pants are a worthwhile investment if you plan to go out on day hikes more than a couple of times per year. 

Q: How much do the best hiking pants cost?

Hiking pants can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 or more, with the higher range dominated by more technical hiking pants, suited for off-trail scrambles. 

Q: What is the best fabric for hiking pants? 

Hiking pants are typically made out of a combination of nylon and/or polyester (for durability) and spandex (for stretch). When looking at pants made from nylon and polyester (which are partially derived from oil and may introduce microplastics), we recommend steering toward ones with a high percentage of recycled fibers, like our best overall pick, the Royal Robbins Alpine Pro Pants. 

A woman walking through the woods wearing brown best hiking pants
prAna Halle II are idea for warm-weather hiking. Laura Lancaster

Read Next: Best Hiking Backpacks

Final Thoughts

Outdoor apparel comanpies have spent years perfecting the best hiking pants, and the efforts show. Most hiking pants available for purchase today will function in a wide range of environments, and protect you from sun, bugs, rain, and wind. Hone in on the details (durability, pockets, comfort) that matter most to you before making a final selection. 

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Laura Lancaster

Staff Writer

Lancaster is Outdoor Life’s gear staff writer where she focuses on in-depth testing of backpacking and camping gear, with a particular interest in lightweight and ultralight gear. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter.

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