Which winter hiking pants are best?
Game of Thrones fans know that winter is coming, but you might have forgotten about how harsh the winter weather can be. If you live in Florida or Hawaii, your winter pants may be quite similar to your summer pants. However, for those who brave the winters of the US Northeast or Midwest, a pair of winter hiking pants is essential for enjoyment and safety.
What to know before you buy winter hiking pants
Winter in your area
Just what winter hiking pants look like depends on what your winter looks like. You’ll want heavier, more insulated pants if you live in North Dakota rather than in Texas. Also, take into consideration how tolerant you are of the cold and dampness.
It might be counterintuitive, but sweating too much is actually bad for you in the winter. While sweating warms you up, when you slow down, you can get aggressively cold quickly. Getting that cold that fast can be dangerous in certain scenarios, so assess how heavily you sweat in normal conditions and what kind of terrain you’ll be hiking through in your winter hiking pants.
If you tend to overheat easily, you may want to opt for non-insulated pants and pick a light base layer to wear under your winter hiking pants. If you know you’re naturally cold or don’t like to wear base layers under your pants, you’ll probably want an insulated version of winter pants. You’ll also want an insulated option if you tend to only take moderate-intensity hikes and won’t work up much body heat.
What to look for in quality winter hiking pants
There are few things worse than getting wet in the cold of winter. While it’s always uncomfortable, being wet can also be dangerous in certain winter scenarios. If you live in a place that has cold, wet winters, weatherproofing features will be an essential part of your winter hiking pants. Look for pants that are water-resistant.
Depending on the intensity of your planned hikes, you may want a pant with more stretch and a fuller range of motion. The ability to move comfortably while staying warm is essential when on trails during the colder months.
In tandem with stretchability is often the weight of the pants. If you plan a lot of snowshoe hikes, you’ll likely want to opt for slightly heavier pants with more insulating and weatherproofing properties. If you have dry winters, this may not be as much of a concern for you.
How much you can expect to spend on winter hiking pants
While winter hiking pants can range from $80-$800, you can find high-quality winter hiking pants in the $80-200 range to suit your needs.
Winter hiking pants FAQ
If I don’t get snow, do I need winter-specific hiking pants?
A. This mainly depends on your preference. If you live in a place with cold, dry winters, you probably won’t need or want winter hiking pants. If you don’t get snow but you do get rain, like in certain parts of the Pacific Northwest, you may still want winter-specific hiking pants but without insulation and with waterproofing.
Should I buy winter hiking pants in my usual size?
A. Most likely, yes, you should buy winter hiking pants in your usual pant size. However, if you plan to wear heavier base layers under your winter pants or just like a bit of extra room when you’re hiking, consider sizing up. Always consult the manufacturer’s size chart and recommendations before making your decisions.
What are the best winter hiking pants to buy?
Top winter hiking pants
What you need to know: If you expect cold winters and need top-quality protection, that’s Fjallraven’s bread and butter.
What you’ll love: Not only do the Keb Trousers look great, but they also provide unmatched element protection for the comfort. With ventilation zippers, you can be sure you won’t overheat, and detachable strap adjustments allow you to connect your pantlegs to your boots.
What you should consider: If you aren’t serious about intense hiking, the price tag may not be worth it for you.
Top winter hiking pants for the money
What you need to know: If you want to stay warm and dry while still moving well, Outdoor Research has you covered.
What you’ll love: You don’t have to pick between warmth and movement with these pants. The Ferrosi’s articulated knee gives you a full range of motion while water and abrasion-resistant materials keep you comfortable.
What you should consider: If you’re in a heavy snow area, these pants probably won’t be heavy enough for you.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you prioritize dryness over mobility, Columbia has an offering that’s focused on those who prefer shorter hikes.
What you’ll love: Staying warm and dry is the name of the game with the Bugaboo II pants. Columbia’s Omni-Tech technology will keep you warm even when not exerting yourself. It will be hard to fit a pant that keeps you more comfortable for the money.
What you should consider: These pants don’t sport the most athletic cut. Users looking for a higher-intensity hike will not enjoy these as much as other options.
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Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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