The legs are the body’s primary mode of transportation, and pants are their first line of defense. Finding the best hiking pants for your objective can keep your legs comfortable, warm (or cool), and abrasion-free, keeping your mind on the trail ahead.
We focused on comfort, durability, construction, performance, and price, relying on the experience of our field testers. These folks tested pants across the Andean cloud forests, deep desert canyons, high mountain peaks, on long-distance trails, and even in everyday use. Pants have such innovative technology, with fabrics that can shed water, block the sun, deflect sharp sticks and rocks, and still perform after years of wear and tear.
While there isn’t a single pair of pants that work for everyone, we’ve tested a variety of pants and broken them down into relevant categories. If you need help determining what you need in your hiking pants, jump to our buyer’s guide at the end of this article, or check out our comparison chart and FAQ.
The Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2023
- Best Overall Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants
- Best Budget Hiking Pants: Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant
- Runner Up Best Hiking Pants: Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip Off Trousers
- Most Comfortable Hiking Pants: The North Face Paramount Pro Pants
- Best Hiking Pants for Scrambling: Black Diamond Alpine Light
- Fabric 87% 90-denier stretch-woven ripstop nylon, 14% spandex
- Fit Straight, true to size
- Weight 10.7 oz.
- DWR Water resistant fabric
- UPF 50+
- Lightweight but durable
- Incredible, flexible fit
- Small back pockets
- Won't last as long as heavier pants
These barely register on you, but instill confidence through inclement weather and rough terrain. They clock in at a scant 10.7 ounces and cram down to the size of a softball, but have held up over many miles, and some significant off-trail bushwhacking.
When we say the Ferrosis are comfy, we mean we often choose these over sweatpants while curling up for a movie kind of comfy. Their movement-mirroring elasticity is truly a wonder, and they feel like extensions of your legs as you vault over downed trees or navigate boulder-strewn river beds. The articulated knees, brushed waistband, and drawcord cuff adjustments boost the pant’s versatility and comfort.
We wore these pants on a recent backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon, and were greatly impressed by their ability to shed light precipitation while maintaining a high level of breathability as we slogged our way out of the great ditch. Often you’ll find that pants will excel at one or the other — but rarely both.
These are admittedly hard to criticize. If you’re looking for bomb-proof invincibility, you’d be better off with something on the tougher (but heavier) end of the spectrum. But at such a light weight, the 90-denier stretch-woven nylon fabric holds its own on taxing adventures.
We found the back pockets to be a little on the small side, and we couldn’t close the zipper around something like an iPhone (only one is zippered). However, the front pockets and single-zippered hip pocket are plenty spacious and thoughtfully placed.
As some of the best-fitting pants we’ve had the pleasure of testing, the Outdoor Research Ferrosis secured a spot at the top of this list for their premium comfort, solid durability, and overall stellar design. If you’re looking for an ultralight, reliable option for extended backpacking excursions, don’t pass these by.
- Great storage options
- Integrated belt
- No mechanical stretch or elastic fibers
- No DWR treatment
Straight lines along the inseam are graced with gusseted construction in the crotch to strengthen and add breadth to the seams. The five pockets, including a secure cargo pocket, are deep and you can store a lot of supplies in there with minimal bounce.
They also include an integrated belt, and the extra pockets have ample room to store your phone and a few snacks. You do, however, have to make some concessions at this price. The lightweight material doesn’t have any mechanical stretch or elastic fibers. And it lacks a DWR treatment, so you sacrifice durability, mobility, and weather protection.
While the Silver Ridge skimps on the bells and whistles that make many of the pants on this list better choices for more adventurous trips, the Silver Ridge is less than half the price and often goes on sale.
If you are looking for a convertible option, give Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants a look ($70).
- Fabric 65% polyester, 35% cotton
- Fit Runs large
- Weight 12 oz.
- DWR Reinforced G-1000 patches can be waxed
- UPF No
- Lightweight but durable
- Good mechanical stretch
- No DWR treatment
- Pockets are a bit oversized
This past year, Fjallraven released a zip-off version ($175) of the Abisko Midsummer. As on the pant version, the butt and legs are reinforced with a Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric. These pants are lightweight and durable, and as the name implies, are designed for hot summer days.
To preserve breathability, the pant isn’t treated with a DWR. Though Fjallraven sells a Greenland Wax you can apply it for added weather durability. On the backside of the legs, the pants are paired with a breathable, four-way mechanical stretch fabric, pairing mobility with the G-1000’s durability.
Two mesh hand pockets zip up your essentials, and a pair of well-positioned leg pockets ride up front on top of the thighs. Inside the front right pocket is a stretchy mesh sleeve just big enough for a phone.
The pockets are oversized and can swallow a lot of supplies. Overloaded, we found the contents will bounce on the legs, so pack wisely.
Like all of Fjall’s trekking pants, they lack rear pockets. We prefer it this way. Loaded rear pockets can rub on a pack and be uncomfortable when sitting around camp. They are also one of the first parts of a pant to wear out.
The zip-off zippers add 2 ounces to the convertible pants over the straight trousers, but give you the added ventilation of shorts for those hot summer days. If you don’t want to show that much leg, simply pull the cuffs over your calves and cinch them with the draw cord.
The Midsummers come in European sizes, and we found they run large, so you’ll want to consult the size guide when buying. If you buy them at one of Fjallraven’s brick-and-mortar stores, the brand will hem them for free, giving you a fully tailored fit.
While these pants are more durable than Jack Wolfskins, the larger fit and pocket bulk work against the pant, so we put them lower on the list.
They’re not the cheapest hiking pants available, but the quality and aesthetics make the Abisko Midsummers a worthwhile investment.
- Extremely comfortable fabric
- Zippers on each low-profile pocket
- Integrated belt loosens easier than some
We gravitate to these pants for climbing trips that require long approach hikes. Their flexibility and light weight make them solid crossover pants for sending hard at the crag, while being comfortably durable enough for the trek in.
The anti-odor treatment allows you to go for days (or weeks if you live alone) without washing them, and a DWR treatment repels light rain from the quick-drying fabric. We love that all of the pockets are zippered and low-profile, giving you confidence that nothing will fall out while climbing or hiking.
We appreciate the ability to cinch these pants up with the integrated belt, but the belt loosens quite easily. It’s a bit difficult to dial in the fit and tightness. The front key loop can be useful but is somewhat gimmicky, and we wish there was the option of removing it to cut weight.
The North Face Paramount Pro Pants are stylish, technical pants that feel equally at home on a lofty cliffside, or a rocky trail. The comfortable, flexible fabric allows for a streamlined fit that isn’t restricting and moves with you over technical terrain. You won’t want to take these things off.
- Secure, effective belt closure
- Solid stretch and durability
- Pockets aren't super deep
Instead of a belt, the pants fasten with a G-hook that sits off-center and catches on ladder webbing sewn into the waist. Both Arc’teryx and Seadon use a similar G-hook belt closure, but Black Diamond’s solution is the most secure implementation of the three.
The drawcord around the ankles locks into a slot, pinching the elastic cord. Unlike other pants with drawcords, you can’t pull it with one hand, but the concept is light and the most minimal setup we tested, significantly reducing bulk around the ankles.
For stretch and durability, the material is a combination of nylon and elastane, whose qualities start to shine once you veer off the map. Beyond the trail, you need pants that move with you, deflecting rock and scrub. That’s what terrain Black Diamond feels most comfortable in, and that’s where the Alpine Light delivers.
They have a four-way stretch woven fabric that is water resistant, lightweight, and incredibly durable for the weight, looking nearly new after months of testing.
The pants have five pockets (two hand and two rear drop-in pockets, with a fifth pocket on the lower right leg). The front pockets aren’t very deep, and the thigh pocket sits low against the knee. This is by design to stay clear of a climbing harness.
If you like to carry lots of items in your pant pockets — particularly a phone in that thigh pocket — this could be a dealbreaker. If the thigh pocket was better positioned, we would have awarded the Alpine Light our choice for the best hiking pant overall.
The Alpine Light is available in general sizes (S, M, L, and XL), with inseams scaling from 31.5 to 33.5 inches. The waist sizing trends small, so if you’re between sizes, we recommend sizing up.
- Super durable
- Great four-way stretch
- Low breathability
The Gamma ($190) — previously known as the Gamma LT — has only improved in the years since its inception. Arc’teryx has put a cord inside the pant hem, updated the belt, and sewn in a thigh map pocket. It’s seen a recent upgrade in materials, but still brings four-way stretch with snag-proof protection. Only now they have a more comfortable skin-facing side.
Unfortunately, the price is nearly twice that of the other pants on the list. Breathability is low, and the fabric is fairly noisy. But these are acceptable sacrifices for more vertical endeavors, particularly hiking and climbing in wet conditions.
- Comfortable fit
- Durable construction
- Good flexibility
- Plastic button a step down in durability
- Some complain about premature piling
With such a loyal following, the recently updated Zion II had big shoes to fill — and has been met with mixed reviews. Some praise the new breathable ReZion fabric, while others bemoan its thin shiny appearance and propensity for piling. The plastic button shaved some weight from the original metal one, but many have noted that it has broken on them after minimal use. We haven’t had ours for long enough to confirm or deny this, but we do miss the metal.
The new fabric is more flexible, lighter, and has a nice, soft feel to it. Perhaps most importantly, though, it is made with bluesign-approved, recycled nylon. We don’t notice an appreciable decrease in durability but haven’t been able to test them quite long enough to tell.
The left thigh zipper pocket is a handy touch, with double entry points that allow you to access contents while hiking or sitting with ease. Ventilated inseam gussets boost breathability and comfort while hiking or climbing, and a snap roll-up feature at the hem increases versatility.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, prAna’s Stretch Zions are back with an updated, more sustainable design. While we are still gauging the durability and functionality of the newest iteration, if previous Zions are any indication of these pants’ value, they deserve a spot on any hiking pants roundup.
- Fabric 94% polyamide, 6% spandex
- Fit Runs slim around the legs, wider in the waist
- Weight 7.5 oz.
- DWR Yes
- UPF No
- Extremely lightweight
- Not as flexible
- Shallow hand pockets (but are zipped)
Even though there’s some spandex woven into the material, they don’t offer as much mobility as other pants on the list. They tend to restrict the legs when, for instance, high-stepping over boulder fields.
The lightweight yarn breathes very well and is suitable for hot-weather hikes. With pockets constructed entirely of mesh, they work effectively as vents. Unfortunately, the ankles don’t have a drawcord to keep them pinned over the calves, so you’ll have to roll them up instead.
Treated with a robust DWR, water and spray roll off the fabric. And if they do get soaked, they dry out very quickly.
The hand pockets are shallow and tend to dump their contents when seated in the car. Fortunately, all three pockets are zipped.
While the pants have belt loops, they don’t come with a belt and run wider in the waist. This becomes more critical as you lose weight on long hikes or are wearing a pack.
Hiking Pants Comparison Chart
|Outdoor Research Men’s
|$99||87% nylon, 14% spandex||Straight, true to size||10.7 oz.||Water resistant fabric||50+|
|Columbia Silver Ridge
|$60||100% nylon||True to size||N/A||No||50+|
|$175||65% polyester, 35% cotton||Runs large||12 oz.||No||No|
The North Face Paramount
|$109||91% recycled polyester, 9% elastane||True to size||10.2 oz.||Yes||40+|
|Black Diamond Alpine Light||$125||
|Slim, true to size||11 oz.||Yes||No|
|True to size||12 oz.||Yes||No|
|prAna Stretch Zion Pants II||$95||95% recycled nylon, 5% elastane||True to size||N/A||Yes||50+|
|Mammut Hiking Pants||$119||94% polyamide, 6% spandex||Slim||7.5 oz.||Yes||No|
Why You Should Trust Us
Author and lifelong gear tester Justin La Vigne has backpacked over 7,000 miles, including thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail and Te Araroa in New Zealand. He also has a passion for mountaineering, having spent time in the North Cascades on Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier, as well as Denali in Alaska.
He has a different pair of pants for all of his outdoor endeavors, and for each season’s challenges. He’s pushed pants to their limits to hone in on their best utility.
Chris Carter, another contributor to this guide, has thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in the United States. He has put thousands of miles on a variety of different hiking pants, through different climates and terrain, and knows what to look for in trekking clothes that need to last for months of torture.
We put each of the pants on this guide to the test on real-world adventures and feel happy recommending any of them for long hikes or demanding backpacking trips.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants
Pant Length & Versatility
Hiking pants come in three main options: full-length, convertible, and roll-up. Full-length pants are a great option for complete leg protection, even in the summer. To combat overheating, most pants have mesh pockets or vents that provide ventilation.
Convertible pants are the ultimate 2-in-1. The legs zip off and can be worn as shorts or pants. They’re a great option for variable weather and multiday hikes where you want more options and less gear to pack, but it’s tough to find a pair that doesn’t look goofy. It’s also nice to be able to pull the legs off without having to remove your hiking boots — a luxury not all convertible pants offer.
Somewhere in between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants. These have a tab, button, or drawcord that secures the cuff when rolled up.
The alpine-centric Arc’teryx Gamma is a heavier, more durable model that we’d hesitate to wear on the hottest summer days, but they also feature useful drawcords on the cuffs, so it’s easy to pull them up and get some airflow on the calves.
Drawcords around the ankles can keep the cuffs secured up around the legs. Pants without them will need to be rolled up.
Being able to move freely in hiking pants is a major concern. Whether running down the trail or scrambling up a rocky patch, you don’t want your pants restricting your movement.
This is where design features like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and stretchy materials prove useful. And because every body is shaped differently, it can be helpful to try on a few pairs before buying to ensure a snug (but comfortable) fit.
Some pants, like the Lightweight Hikers from Mammut, run slim and restrict movement. Conversely, we found that Black Diamond’s Alpine Light strikes a perfect balance of lightweight durability and mobility.
It’s also important to consider how comfortable your pants will be when wearing a fully loaded backpacking backpack. Make sure they fit you well so you don’t have to wear a belt to keep them up, as that could rub uncomfortably against your pack as your hike.
Just because you’re wearing pants doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s damaging rays. If you are hiking on extremely sunny days, look for pants with rated UPF protection of 40 or 50.
A DWR coating doesn’t make pants completely waterproof, but it adds enough wet-weather protection to keep you dry while hiking through dewy brush or in light showers. DWR keeps water droplets on the exterior, allowing them to simply roll off.
DWRs will eventually wash out over time. For optimal performance, you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants on occasion. Nikwax Softshell Proof Wash-In is an easy way to keep your pants repelling water year after year.
And if you don’t want pants with DWR, the Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer is a great option. Fjallraven steers clear of DWR and instead sells an aftermarket wax that you can apply to beef up the water resistance.
These additions start to creep up the cost of pants. Our budget choice, Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pant, doesn’t have a DWR, but it has UV protection and is an incredible value.
Additional Features for Hiking Pants
The little extras can really make or break a good pair of pants. Well-positioned cargo pockets, zippered pockets, belt loops, and built-in belts are some of the features available. Whether you want these or not depends on your personal hiking plans and style.
It truly depends on where you are going (dry desert, humid forest, bushwhacking), how long you will be out (hours, days, weeks, months), what the weather will be like, and your personal preference. We laid out plenty of options above that cover these variables.
For long-term use, you should be looking for a pair of pants that have durability, can repel water or dry out quickly, and has features you want (pockets, belt, leg zip-offs). It’s better to consider these options initially, even if you end up dishing out more money. The best hiking pants are the ones that meet your unique needs.
Again, this is a personal preference. One of our authors hiked with a guy on the Appalachian Trail who only wore shorts for the 2,000+ miles, no matter the weather. In contrast, he mainly wore pants to protect against mosquitoes, sun, and abrasions. If it was really hot, he converted his zip-offs.
If you’re in the Sonoran desert where temps are scorching you may want the option to convert to shorts, so cut-offs may be your best option. If you’re blazing through thick brush in the Alaskan backcountry, you definitely need to protect your legs from getting cut up, so the Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip Off Trousers do the trick.
Do tires for your car matter? Go ahead and hike in your work pants, jeans, or sweatpants, and then try a technical pair from the list above — that should answer your question. If you are just getting started, try a pair of less expensive pants like the Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant, then work your way up as you determine what features you’d prefer.
Jeans are not the best option because they are made of cotton and cotton does not wick away moisture. They’re also not breathable, have no stretch, and are quite heavy. In general, you’ll want to stay away from clothing made of cotton, linen, denim, or anything stiff.
It’s always best to wear and pack layers when hiking. You want to think of your body as an onion with the option to layer down. Loose clothing with breathability is ideal, ensuring that you’ll stay cool and wick away moisture. Having clothing that has UPF of 40-50 within the blend of materials can help with avoiding sunburn.
If you’re in buggy areas, having clothing with or treating your clothing with some type of bug repellent can help keep those pesky mosquitos, ticks, and sandflies away. Lastly, color is important. Keep your clothing, including your pants, on the lighter side, such as light beige, gray, or cream. Darker colors tend to absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect it.