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When it comes to upland hunting pants, what works best for chasing flighty chukars in the early season won’t fly in frigid temps when you’re pursuing late-season roosters. While there are some pants that allow you to hunt the full range of seasons with proper layering, a lot of options are more season specific. I’ve been upland hunting for more than 25 years and having the right pants can give you more time in the field, while the wrong ones can send you packing early. For this review I tested the best upland hunting pants to cover a variety of hunting scenarios, regions, and temperatures and hopefully help you bag more birds.
- Best All-Around: Pyke Gear Dakota Upland Brush Pants
- Most Versatile: SITKA Harvester Pants
- Most Comfortable: KUIU Attack Pants
- Best Brush Pants: Orvis Missouri Breaks Field Pants
- Best Casual: KÜHL Rydr Pants
Best All-Around: Pyke Gear Dakota Upland Brush Pants
Why It Made the Cut
The durable Dakota Upland Brush Pants are breathable, waterproof, and keep briars and thorns from poking and prodding your legs.
- Weight: 20 ounces (Size 36)
- Breathable, waterproof brush guard facing
- DWR treated upper
- Great for variety of upland hunting scenarios
The first time I put on these pants, I knew the Dakota Upland Brush Pants were designed for the hardcore upland hunter. These pants feature an abrasion resistant, DWR treated upper that has a three-layer waterproof, breathable brush guard. Pyke also increased the height of the brush guard facing to add additional protection for your legs. Other features include articulated knees, an elastic stretch waistband, and intuitively placed front and rear pockets.
These features are great, but the weight (or lack thereof) is the most impressive feature of these pants. Most pants with brush guards typically come with excess weight, but Pyke created a pair that provides plenty of protection without slowing you down.
Most Versatile: SITKA Harvester Pants
Why It Made the Cut
Designed as “do-all” work pants, SITKA’s Harvester Pants are comfortable and durable enough for chasing roosters behind the house after work or spending long days pursuing ruffed grouse in the hardwoods.
- Straight leg fit
- Additional secure leg pocket
- Cotton, spandex blend
- Allows full range of motion
- Deep pockets
- Protects legs from most grasses and thorns
- Not a hot weather pant
- Dries slowly when wet
SITKA’s recently launched Harvester Pants are a fantastic option for upland hunting. The fabric initially reminded me of a lightweight canvas, so I was skeptical at first. But after testing them in a variety of terrains and weather conditions, I can confidently say these are not your traditional canvas-style pants. Imagine them as a rugged, beefed-up pair of comfortable jeans.
The Harvester Pants contain enough spandex to make them extremely comfortable to wear without hindering any movement. And the heavier material also fends off most grasses and briars, while deep pockets provide ample room for gear or other necessities. However, the heavier material makes these a cold-weather option. So, these might not be the best pair to sport on opening day.
Most Comfortable: KUIU Attack Pants
Why It Made the Cut
Whether you pursue forest grouse in September or Hungarian partridge in January, you can cover all your hunting scenarios with the comfortable and versatile KUIU Attack Pants.
- Weight: 18.5 ounces
- Vented hip zips
- Water resistant/DWR treated
- Plenty of ventilation
- Easy to layer
- Doesn’t endure briars and thorns well
KUIU’s Attack Pants are not specifically designed for upland hunting but are a favorite among bird hunters across the country and for good reason. They’re hands down the most comfortable and some of the best hunting pants I have ever worn. And the vented hip zips are a game changer for warm early season hunts. I also appreciate the Primeflex Polyester fabric, which flexes with your body and doesn’t constrict leg movement.
Though these pants are comfortable, they’re not the most durable when it comes to briars or thorns. I’ve yet to rip a hole in them, but my Attack Pants wear briar scars like a badge of honor. If you want a versatile pair of hunting pants, KUIU’s Attack pants will quickly become your favorite.
Best Brush Pants: Orvis Missouri Breaks Field Pants
Why It Made the Cut
The durable canvas-lined brush guard on these pants sets them apart from their competitors. They provide maximum protection from briar thickets and other thorny plants.
- Water resistant
- Reinforced canvas brush guard facing
- Gusseted crotch
- Upper features a comfortable built-in stretch fabric
- Bomb-proof briar protection
- Fit slightly off
- Lacks breathability
The reinforced brush guard facing of the Missouri Breaks Field Pants is impressive and provides protection from the most wicked thorns. These pants are ideal for hunting the briar choked thickets of the South for bobwhite quail but may not be the best option when you’re hunting the wide expanses of the West. In fairness, it was hot (80+ degrees) when I tested these pants, but they did not provide the breathability of other upland hunting pants on this list. Forty to 70 degrees is probably the sweet spot for hunting in the Missouri Breaks Field Pants.
These pants also didn’t fit true to size. The waist ran a little small, and the rise seemed shorter than most pants should fit. I’ve never been accused of having a large rear-end, so this is worth noting. However, if you want some of the best upland hunting pants that can handle the nastiest brush or briar thickets, you’ll want a pair of these.
Best Casual: KÜHL Rydr Pants
Why It Made the Cut
KÜHL’s Rydr Pants thrive in a variety of upland hunting situations. They provide comfort for long days afield and a full range of motion thanks to their exclusive stretch Eurotwill fabric.
- Reinforced pockets and bottom cuff
- Scuff guards
- Exclusive Eurotwill fabric
- Variety of color options
- Double as a casual dress pant
- More affordable than others
- Dries slowly when wet
- A little baggy through thigh section
- Slightly undersized
KÜHL doesn’t tailor their pants specifically to hunters, but their Rydr Pants deserve consideration. Though not canvas, these pants feature a fairly heavy Eurotwill fabric that’s ideal for those brisk October morning strolls through the hardwoods. I also found that these ventilated surprisingly well when I tested them in extreme summer heat, but they would not be my first choice in temps over 75 degrees.
I’m not a fan of skintight pants. However, the Rydr Pants are too baggy through the thigh section. If you don’t skip leg day, this won’t be a problem. If you have runner/hiker legs like me, make sure you try them on before buying a pair.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Upland Hunting Pant
Upland bird hunters can experience the entire weather spectrum depending on where, when, and what they hunt. While pants might not seem as important as the best shotguns for bird hunting, try wading through a patch of briars in just any pair of pants and see how many birds you bag.
First, you’ll want to consider the climate you hunt most. The pants you wear hunting quail in the deep South will not be the same pants you wear chasing roosters across the plains of Montana in December. Nothing is more miserable than sweating through your pants or realizing that you didn’t layer properly. If you pair the best base layers for hunting with pants like the KUIU Attack, you can hunt with them in a wide range of temperatures, and you can likely get away without buying multiple pairs.
Many upland birds thrive in dense vegetation, complete with thorns of every shape and size. Others survive on the barren ankle-high cheatgrass slopes in the mountains. If you are hunting in thick cover, upland pants with a built-in brush guard are a necessity. But if you spend most of your time in the high mountains of the west pursuing chukars and huns, you’ll want a comfortable and breathable set of pants that provides you with a full range of motion, when you’re putting miles on your best upland hunting boots.
For this review, I used 25-plus years of upland hunting experience and the opinions of other seasoned upland hunters to arrive at this list. I considered fit, function, comfort, durability, and hunting applications to determine which ones made the cut. While I tested these outside of hunting season, I wore and hiked in them extensively in a variety of upland bird hunting terrains to determine how they would function while chasing birds.
Q: How should upland pants fit?
Hunting upland birds often means putting several miles under your boots, so you’ll want pants that fit comfortably and keep you in the field longer. If they don’t feel comfortable when you try them on in a store or at home, keep looking.
Q: Do you need camo pants to upland hunt?
The short answer is no, you don’t need camo pants to upland hunt. In fact, most upland bird hunters do not wear camo pants. Though, if those are the only pants you have available, they certainly won’t hurt. Birds don’t care about your pants’ color or pattern.
Q: Are wool pants good for upland hunting?
If you are hunting in brutally cold temps with minimal walking or on flat terrain, then yes, a pair of wool pants can be good for that situation. However, most upland hunts require a lot of physical exertion, which makes other materials more desirable than wool.
Q: Should I wear chaps or pants?
Some of the best upland hunting pants feature brush guards that eliminate the need for wearing chaps. If you don’t have pants with brush guards and know you’ll be wading through briar thickets, chaps are a solid option if you don’t won’t to buy a separate pair of pants. Filson’s Double Tin Cloth Chaps are a classic.
The best upland hunting pants will make your time in the field more enjoyable if you find the right ones for your hunting style. Everyone has a different fit. What works for me might rub you the wrong way (literally). So, no matter what upland hunting pants you go with, just make sure that opening day isn’t the first time that you try them on.