5 of the best... waterproof overtrousers reviewed (2018)

To stay warm, dry and comfortable during rain a pair of waterproof overtrousers are essential kit for any all-weather hill-goer, so here are our top picks.


Fit

Overtrousers can often be baggy, but if the knees are articulated they can be designed to fit a little closer. Look for a seam around the knee area and a slightly angled shape in the leg if you want a closer fit. The calf may have some Velcro tab adjustment so it can be tightened down a little and there may be a drawcord, Velcro tab or press stud at the ankle cuff. Some trousers come in a choice of leg lengths.

Waistband

This area is commonly elasticated for extra comfort. A drawcord allows extra control of fit, while Velcro tabs, press studs or belt loops allow further enhancement of fit. The ability to attach braces is ideal for scrambling or mountaineering.

Leg zips 

The longer the zip, the easier it is to put on overtrousers while still wearing boots, or even crampons. This is also an area that can easily leak, particularly at the knees when the zip flexes. Water-resistant zips may keep some water out, but as they may still leak they are often fitted with an internal flap that is designed to channel away any water that enters this area. External storm flaps are ideal, but they are heavy and bulky. 

Ventilation

Even the best waterproof and breathable fabrics allow condensation to form, so it is important that you can increase ventilation between showers. A trouser with long side zips and two or three zip pulls will allow extra ventilation at the calf, knee or hip.

Scuff patch

The area on the inside of the ankle takes a hammering and rapidly wears out from being scuffed with boots, crampons, rocks and undergrowth. Look for an extra panel of material here if you are going to be really hammering this area on mountain walks.

Fabrics

In general, higher-priced overtrousers use more breathable 3-layer laminated fabrics, which will reduce the likelihood of condensation forming on the inside of the fabric. Mesh linings improve comfort, as any condensation is held away from the body, but such linings make a trouser heavy and can snag when you are putting the trousers on over boots. A lightweight trouser may use 2-layer or 2.5-layer fabrics that tend to show condensation a little more. 

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Sprayway Santiago / Atlanta Rainpant £40

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  • Material 2-layer Hydrodry with taffeta lining

  • Men’s XS-XXXL (Santiago)

  • Women’s 8-20 (Atlanta)

  • Weight 367g (men’s L)

It’s good

This is a great price for a pair of overtrousers. They are made from a 2-layer fabric with a loose lining for comfort, so even though this is not the most breathable of fabrics, you don’t get clammy as the lining keeps any condensation away from your underclothes. You also get a huge size range, so these should fit lots of people. To ease fitting you get knee-length zips which are long enough to just about get these over boots. A Velcro tab at the calf allows some control of the leg shape, so they are less baggy than some. The waist is elasticated and you get a drawcord too.

However

Compared to higher-priced options, these are not the most breathable or most durably waterproof fabric, so you need that loose lining and this makes them a little heavy. The side zips are relatively short, so other trousers are easier to fit over boots as they have thigh-length zips. The Velcro tab at the calf is useful but these are not as neat a fit as higher-priced trousers, and that Velcro tab can snag in undergrowth so overall others are just a little bit neater. Like many you don’t get an internal gaiter or the option to fit braces to the waist, but this is a common drawback of many low- and mid-priced trousers.

Verdict

Low-priced trousers that provide the essential features a hillwalker needs, but pay more and you do get additional benefits.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofing 4/5

  • Breathability 3/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


Montane Atomic Pant £90

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  • Material 2.5-layer Pertex Shield

  • Men’s S-XXL plus two leg lengths

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 225g (men’s L)

It’s good

There are lots of trousers around this price that are similar to these, but for me the Atomic has a slight edge. The fabric is Pertex Shield without a mesh lining, and this makes them lightweight and packable, but loads of trousers can claim this benefit. What sets them apart is the thigh-length zip which makes them easy to fit over boots. I also noticed the elasticated waistband with its drawcord tended to sit flat and more comfortably against the body than others. Another bonus was a press-stud ankle cuff adjustment plus a Velcro tab calf adjuster, so you can control the fit. The knees are articulated too. Overall the fit was just slightly neater than others. 

However

Like many lightweight trousers, these are clammier than heavier trousers, as they don’t have such good protection against condensation. This isn’t a major problem but don’t be surprised if the trousers underneath get a little damp from condensation. The fabric is also very thin, which means it will tear more easily than heavier fabrics, so some care is needed when scrambling over rocks. Like most others, there is no internal gaiter and no braces attachment option, so you do have to tug them back up occasionally. The drawbacks are mainly down to these trousers being so lightweight.

Verdict

If low-weight trousers at a good price are your preference these are better than most, but they still have drawbacks compared to some others.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofing 4/5

  • Breathability 3/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%


Berghaus Hillwalker £110

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  • Material 2-layer Gore-Tex with mesh and taffeta lining

  • Men’s XS-XXXL plus three leg lengths

  • Women’s 8-20 plus three leg lengths

  • Weight 414g (men’s L)

It’s good

You get a huge size range here that includes three leg lengths, so most people should be able to find a size that fits them well. The fabric is the tried and trusted Gore-Tex laminate, but in 2-layer format, with a mesh and nylon lining. Compared to a 3-layer fabric this is softer and more comfortable and also lower in price. The side zips extend to the top of the thigh, so these easily fit over boots, while an external stormflap covers the zip to keep rain out. The waist is elasticated with an elasticated drawcord. This all adds up to a good all-round option for many walkers and the price is reasonable for Gore-Tex trousers. 

However

These are, though, slightly heavier than others, due to that lining in part but also the long zip with the external stormflap adds more weight. While a mesh lining adds comfort, it does mean the trousers can snag a bit and feel slightly hotter than a standard 2- or 3-layer fabric without a lining. The upside is less condensation. Like others you don’t get a means of attaching braces or an internal gaiter, and there’s no means of attaching an underfoot stirrup either. Trousers with higher price tags have a better fit too, but all lower-priced trousers suffer from this.

Verdict

Great option for hillwalkers wanting good condensation management and comfort and a middling price, but the weight is a drawback.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofing 5/5

  • Breathability 5/5

  • In use 3/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Rab Ladakh DV Pant £170

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  • Material 3-layer Event DV alpine with grid backer

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 340g (men’s L)

It’s good

New for autumn 2018, these replace the Bergen Pant. They are built from Event 3-layer fabric, so are at the top of the tree for waterproofness and breathability, and also very durable. Getting them on is easy, thanks to a three-quarter length side zip. The waistband is elasticated, with an additional elasticated drawcord, while the side zip benefits from a two-way zip so you can vent the thigh or calf. Also you get ankle cuff loops so you can attach a cord and thread this under your boot to hold the cuff down. An ankle cuff drawcord is also provided. 

However

To make these the ultimate overtrousers it would be great if they had some means of attaching braces, so you never have to tug them up. As it is, their ability to stay up will depend on both your body shape and your rucksack hipbelt’s ability to cause your trousers to slip down, as well as how much weight you lose on a trip. Trousers with built-in gaiters are great for keeping water and mud out of your boots, and unfortunately these trousers don’t get that extra benefit either. Of course, there are lighter and lower-priced options available too.

Verdict

Great all-round performance that will suit the needs of most hillwalkers, but some other trousers still have additional benefits.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofing 5/5

  • Breathability 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Haglofs L.I.M Comp Pant £200

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  • Material 3-layer Gore-Tex Active

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 194g (men’s L)

It’s good

It is the 3-layer Gore-Tex Active shell fabric that really makes the difference here. This fabric is very lightweight and yet it’s also a 3-layer construction so you get good condensation control. Another feature I like is that the ankle zip has a stiff internal baffle, to keep rain out, and this area tends not to be as flappy as other lightweight trousers. So the ankle cuff just sits quite nicely without buckling in the breeze too badly. The waist is elasticated, with an elasticated cord like most others, and again this sits a little more comfortably than some thanks to a brushed polyester lining.

However

The drawback is the price tag, as you have to be pretty keen on the weight saving and better condensation control these offer to splash out this amount of cash for trousers that, while great in many ways, still lack some features. For example, you only get a short ankle zip, so getting these over boots is a challenge. Also, this price still doesn’t get you an internal gaiter or the option to fit braces. And female users don’t even get a version made specifically for them. Also, while the fabric is great, it isn’t as tough and durable as heavier fabrics such as standard 3-layer Gore-Tex. 

Verdict

 Extremely lightweight trousers with great condensation control, but the price tag will dampen enthusiasm for many, and there is no women’s option.

  • Features 3/5

  • Weatherproofing 5/5

  • Breathability 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

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