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Which hiking pants are best? 

Whether you are hiking a few trails at your local park in the heat of summer or embarking on a winter weekend camping trip, it is important to match gear with your environment and be prepared to face all of the elements. Be it the number of pockets, insulation, style or fabric, it is important to consider which features are most vital to your situation before purchasing a pair of hiking pants. A top choice, The North Face Men’s Paramount Trail Convertible Pants remain a favorite for their lightweight fabric and simple design. 

What to consider before buying hiking pants


When purchasing hiking pants, consider what type of environment you will be hiking in. If you are hiking in a colder location, you will want to purchase pants that have thermal properties versus a more lightweight design for warmer climate hikes.


The fabric of hiking pants can tell users a lot about the benefits that they will provide. If a fabric claims to be knit, woven or cotton, then it will be thicker and more thermal in nature. If a fabric is nylon or mesh, it will be more lightweight and breathable. The thicker the fabric, the more insulation that the pants will provide. 


If you are planning to layer clothing, size up hiking pants to make sure that you will be able to fit layers underneath them. You can usually tell by the product description online if you will be able to comfortably layer another pair of pants and thick socks with the product. If you are worried that the product will fit too loosely when sizing up, make sure you check the website’s return policy for assurance. 

To find the right size hiking pants, buy them just long enough to cover up the boot but not longer. Hiking pants that are too short can get caught in the back of the boot, just as hiking pants that are too long can drag and become heavy. 

What to look for in quality hiking pants


If you are going on a long-term trip and are looking to utilize every ounce of space, then you should consider a pair of hiking pants that feature multiple pockets. If you plan to carry important items, get zipper pockets versus velcro pockets as they are more secure. 


The description of the product will tell buyers if the pants that they are purchasing are waterproof. If users plan to hike around water, it is best to look for pants that are lined with waterproof fabric. 


Few styles of hiking pants feature an adjustable drawstring waistband and convertible shorts. Though not the most common, these are best for hikers who are hiking in various climates and environments and are looking for a comfortable and adaptable option.  

How much you can expect to spend on hiking pants

Hiking pants vary in price, but you can likely find a pair that fits your needs and budget. The least expensive pants cost less than $30. These are less adjustable and sport a lightweight fabric. Mid-range pants will fall within the $40-60 range and provide good insulation, come in several colors and have multiple pockets. However, if you want a pair of durable hiking pants that have the best thermal qualities and adjustable features, these typically cost over $80. But it’s a worthy investment if you plan on using them often.

Best hiking pants FAQ

What are the benefits of hiking pants being made with nylon? 

A. There are many benefits to purchasing hiking pants made with nylon fabric. Not only is it one of the most lightweight fabrics, but it is quick-drying and quiet. This is useful if you are around wildlife in the forest and are trying to remain unseen or heard. 

What is the difference between ski pants and hiking pants? 

A. Hiking pants are on the looser side and are more rugged-looking in style. They are designed with pockets for best use of space, while ski pants are more sleek in design and thermal. The fabrics of each are very similar. 

What are the best hiking pants to buy?

Top hiking pants

The North Face Men's Paramount Trail Convertible Pants

The North Face Men’s Paramount Trail Convertible Pants

What you need to know: These pants are designed with lightweight ripstop, flash-dry fabric for all activities and are crafted to look simple 

What you’ll love: It is available in many colors and is able to be zipped into shorts for warmer weather hikes. The pants have a comfortable elastic waist and relaxed fit provided by an adjustable built-in elastane belt. The material will not shrink and it is great for layering. 

What you should consider: The pocket placement on the pants makes the fit feel abnormal.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

Best bang for your buck hiking pants 

Dickies Women's Relaxed Fit Cargo Pants

Dickies Women’s Relaxed Fit Cargo Pants

What you need to know: These pants sport a timeless style and are easily adjustable. The straight-leg style will make it easy to pair with boots.

What you’ll love: They are offered in a few different colors and are made with 100% cotton, making it a breathable yet thermal option. They have a flattering waistline with convenient pocket locations.

What you should consider: There is no stretch to this product, making it harder to move around and the pockets make it heavier.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Worth checking out

Free Soldier Women’s Soft Shell Ski Pants 

Free Soldier Women’s Soft Shell Ski Pants 

What you need to know: These pants have a stylish design and were created with comfortable fabric. 

What you’ll love: The product is available in a large number of colors with a polar fleece liner for warmth. The material is stretchable and scratch-resistant. Its water-repellent fabric protects it from various liquids. 

What you should consider: There have been multiple fit issues, including size running too small. When purchasing, order a size larger than you would normally fit.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Logan DeLoye writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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