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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Arcteryx Gamma Review

Canadian brand Arc’teryx make high-spec kit for those who don’t mind paying more for the very best materials and build quality. And they are very mountain-centric. So there is probably only a slim percentage of actual country walkers who will be tempted by these, but those who want to take on every terrain in every condition will really love them. There is absolutely nothing cheap or skimpy about the Gammas. The rigid, high back is beautifully supportive. The toughened face fabric is extremely robust without needing weighty abrasion panels, and they stretch in all the directions you want them to. They come with a fully enclosed belt and three generous pockets, and the hem is adjustable by drawcord. They’re comfy, well insulated, and they are likely to last for years. The only ‘but’, of course, is the price. Is absolute peace of mind worth that much? But that said, it’s possible to find these reduced to the RRP of a good pair from Rab or Montane; that’s still a lot, but it does make them competitive, especially if you’re a committed winter hill-walker (or even an Alpinist). 

Target Price £130

Specification

Size: XS-XXL

Fabric: 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% elastane

Weight: 496g

Contact: 0207 078 3546, www.arcteryx.com

Verdict

PROS: All-round excellence, comfort and robustness.
CONS: Price in comparison to others in its class.

COMFORT: 5/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 5/5
VENTILATION: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

BEST FOR: Mountain terrain in cold conditions – but lovely on the flat too.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Paramo Velez Adventure Review

The Velez Adventures are the ultimate weather warriors. Where other manufacturers hedge their bets, Páramo go all out with one goal in mind: waterproofing. And the Analogy fabric is really good at that. There is minimum faffing and maximum peace of mind here – no awkward dances with the overtrousers, no risk of returning to the car a drowned rat. Páramo also ensure other basics are covered too: the trousers are loose and allow good freedom of movement, there are ventilation zips on both legs and the ankle cuffs can be adjusted with a Velcro strap. For my money they’re still significantly sweatier than non-waterproofs, even with the vents, but if the weather’s so wet that you’d be pulling on overtrousers anyway then these are still by far the best option. They do unfortunately come with the familiar crisp-packet rustle of waterproof clothing, and I personally find the elasticated waistband too high to be totally comfortable, but these are minor points for what is a long-standing and high-performing product.

Target Price £ 120

Specification 

Size: 8-18

Fabric: 100% polyester

Weight: 340g

Contact: 01892 786444, www.paramo-clothing.com

Verdict

PROS: Fully waterproof, good freedom of movement, ventilation zips

CONS: Sweaty, expensive, rather noisy when walking.

Comfort: 3/5

WeatherproofinG: 5/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Best for: Irrepressibly wet and cold days when staying dry is everything.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Rad Exodus Review

Rab’s Exodus trousers offer the best compromise in this test between ruggedness and comfort. Despite the substantial weightiness of the fabric, the trousers are surprisingly easy to move in – helped in large part by the highly articulated knees. They also offer the most effective ventilation zips on test: positioned right in the centre of the thighs, they let in a wonderful wallop of fresh air whenever you need it. When all zipped up, the fabric will stand up to pretty much all the scrapes and scuffs a mountain path can summon, and the reinforced ankles will protect from any self-inflicted abrasions too. Talking of ankles, the Exodus trousers also come with waterproof ‘snow gaiters’, which lock out the wet stuff from the ground up. The trousers are a match for the wind as well: a weekend of Irish Sea  gales certainly couldn’t penetrate the fabric, though I have to say that the rain did. It was pretty serious Snowdonian rain (is there any more serious?), but I’d say the water repellency is still the weak spot on these otherwise superb walking trousers.

Target Price £130

Specification 

Size: 8-16

Fabric: 50% polyamide, 43% polyester, 7% elastane

Weight: 550g

Contact: 01773 601870, www.rab.equipment/uk

Verdict

PROS: Durable fabric, great windproofing, good freedom of movement.
CONS: Not as water repellent as others, heavy, expensive.

COMFORT: 4/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 3/5
VENTILATION: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

BEST FOR: Those who spend a lot of time in the hills and value durability.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Sherpa Nilgra Review

The Nilgiris are a bit of a machine. Sherpa have packed everything into these trousers: a weatherproof shell, fleece lining, leg vents, ankle zippers and, somehow, a stylish design. It’s quite an achievement, and for the most part it all comes together to make an excellent product. The softshell material really does form a confidence-inspiring barrier between you and the elements with little in the way of water or rain getting through, and the fleece on the inside of the legs and in the pockets makes them very cosy indeed. There are zips on both legs which run all the way from the bottom to mid thigh and serve a dual purpose: to offer ventilation and to widen the ankle to make boot fastening and removing a whole lot easier. Despite the ventilation however, these trousers can still get very hot on climbs as they really struggle for natural breathability. They are also designed to be tight-fitting trousers and, given the robustness of the softshell fabric, that does mean the range of movement is slightly more restricted than on some of the other pairs in this test.

Target Price £120

Specification 

Size: XS-XL

Fabric: 75% polyester, 20% polyurethane, 5% spandex

Weight: 385g

Contact: 01572 772474

Verdict 

PROS: Excellent weatherproofing, cosy fleece lining, adjustable ankle zip.
CONS: Can overheat; material can feel restrictive on steep climbs.

COMFORT: 3/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 4/5
VENTILATION: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

BEST FOR: Cold hilltop days when you need thickness and warmth. 

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Montane Terra GT Converts Review

Montane’s Terra range includes some of the finest soft shell trousers on the market, in particular the Terra Stretch (£90) and the heavy-winter Super Terra (£130), either of which I’d heartily recommend you to try in this same category. But having reviewed those before, this time we opted for a lighter, more subtle pair. Aside from the abrasion patch at the hem, these are the most normal-looking trousers I tried; they’re light enough to work all year round, not just in colder months – especially as they zip off into shorts above the knee. The 100% nylon construction doesn’t allow for a lot of stretch and isn’t water-resistant (and the deep, buttoned cargo pockets become an ingress risk when it’s wet), but it’s windproof and reasonably tough. Oddly, the abrasion patches aren’t significantly tougher than the main fabric – a bit more for show than real resilience. So although they are very comfortable and definitely adaptable, they’re a little over-priced for what you actually get, compared to a) other trousers in the Terra range and b) the Keelas.

Target Price £90

Specification 

Size: XS-XL

Fabric: 100% nylon

Weight: 367g

Contact: 01670 522300, www.montane.co.uk

Verdict

PROS: Lightweight, cool, subtle-looking, year-round adaptable.

CONS: Lacks enough features to justify the big pricetag.

Comfort: 4/5

WeatherproofinG: 3/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Best for: Relaxed walking anywhere, as it long as it’s not going to rain heavily.

Review from Country Walking magazine.

Bergans Bera Review

These are the walking trousers Billy Elliot would wear. They are extremely slender down the leg (thankfully they are slightly more generous around the crotch), so when worn, they feel almost like a leotard. But then, right down at the hem, they explode into multiple features, like a thick abrasion patch, a scrunchy elasticated hemline and a sticky internal strip that locks solid over your boot-tops.

In fact the Beras as a whole are a curiously uncertain mix of minimalist lightweight racing pants and premium-featured technical trousers. There’s no cargo pocket, there are very few seams, the fit is super-athletic – and yet suddenly they throw on a load of extra features at the base. For this reason I find them rather unadaptable. And you have to be very proud of your leg muscles to wear them with confidence, because the fit is so anatomically correct. So if you’re a well-built, athletic mover who wants to power through mud, bog and boulder fields, they will do nicely. If you like a more relaxed fit and a good balance of features, less so.

Target Price £ 95.

Specification

 Size: S-XXL

Fabric: 88% polyamide, 12% elastane

Weight: 361g

Contact: 01825 740082, www.bergans.com

Verdict

PROS: Terrific features around the ankle cuff, very stretchy fabric.

CONS: Athletic cut won’t suit everyone, not many storage options.

Comfort: 3/5

Weatherproofing: 4/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money 3/5

Best for: Athletic walkers who really want to seal their legs up tightly.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Salomon Wayfarer Winter Trouser Review

On a spectrum of trouser toughness, the Wayfarer Winter Pants would be at the softer end, though they pack a punch bigger than their slimline form would suggest. Despite being a ‘winterised’ version of the popular Wayfarers, they’re lightweight and relatively thin, which means the wind can get through a little easier, but the flip side is that they’re extremely breathable and need no ventilation. Water beads off the surface like it would off a duck’s back and I stayed dry in them through some pretty nasty stuff. Using a combination of nylon and elastane, the four-way stretch material is truly liberating when negotiating rough terrain and mischievous stiles (there’s always one); when taking on a mountain the last thing you want to be doing is battling a swaddle of stiffly stitched slacks. There’s no danger of that here. What’s more, the Wayfarers are in
it with you for the long haul – they’re a hugely popular model for Salomon and that’s partly a credit to the quality of the materials as well as their performance in tough conditions. Target Price £74.

Specification

Size: 6-18

Fabric: 92% nylon, 8% elastane

Weight: 330g

Contact: 0207 078 3528, www.salomon.com

Verdict

PROS: Excellent range of movement, lightweight, quick drying.
CONS:  Not as windproof or as warm as thicker soft shell trousers.

COMFORT: 5/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 3/5
VENTILATION: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

BEST FOR: Adventure-packed days when you want to travel light and fast. 

Review from Country Walking magazine.

 

Mammut Runhold Review

Feel like pyjamas, move like armour. The Runbolds are the lightest pair I tried (341g) and their stretchy, elastic design makes them really suited to mountain moves. Although they’re reliably windproof and reasonably water-repellent, they aren’t very insulated, so they work best if you run hot even on the coldest days. There’s a good high back which supports your lower abdomen and doesn’t get pushed down by the weight of a rucksack. I’d prefer more articulation through the knees, though: the fabric has a tendency to stick to my kneecaps on steep climbs. But if the day warms up, the elasticity of the fabric and lack of heavy abrasion padding means you can roll up the hem easily; I’ve often worn these as three-quarter capris in summer too. Plus you get properly usable hip pockets and a GPS-sized cargo pocket. And the build quality is outstanding, as you’d hope from a brand whose logo has become increasingly covetable in recent years. So at this price (and with decent discounts around), what you’re getting is a very sound investment. Target Price £54.

Specification

Size: 28-36

Fabric: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane

Weight: 341g

Contact: 01625 508218, www.mammut.ch

Verdict

PROS: Sleek, lightweight, extremely stretchy, well ventilated. 
CONS: Not much warmth, could use a bit more articulation.

COMFORT: 4/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 4/4
VENTILATION: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/4

BEST FOR: Mountain walks, but not in the very coldest conditions.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Keela Scuffers Review

I absolutely love my Scuffers: thick, tough, go-anywhere, through-anything companions that I’ve been grateful for many times. I’ve had a pair for years and they are the hardest-working legwear item I own. Let’s get the negatives out of the way: they weigh a lot, and some will find the fabric scratchy. At 569g they are the heaviest pair here, but do a mile in them and pretty soon you won’t notice the weight at all. What you will notice is their sturdiness; the reinforced seat and the toughened patches around the hem that protect against nettle, thistle, igneous rock, Yorkshire heather and Sussex gorse. You’ll rejoice in the easily adjustable Velcro cuff that gives you the perfect fit around your boot, and the hip pockets that are deep enough to actually be useful (including a secret security pocket). They can get hot on warmer days, but at least you
get vents up the thigh to help with that. There’s also plenty of stretch through thigh and calf. They are by no means slimline, but if you don’t need an athletic look, you can’t go wrong with these – especially at this price. Target Price £60

Specification 

Size: XS-XXXL

Fabric: 65% nylon, 24% polyester, 11% spandex

Weight: 569g

Contact: 01592 777000, www.keela.co.uk

Verdict

PROS: Really tough, good stretch, reliably showerproof, great value.

CONS: Heavy, scratchy; not as well ventilated as lighter pairs.

Comfort: 4/5

WeatherproofinG: 5/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 5/5

Best for: I use them everywhere, but they’re most at home on mountains.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

 

Sprayway Warm Challenger Review

There’s something comforting about stepping into the Warm Challenger Pants. That’s partly because they’re lined with snug, soft fleece, but also because they’re made by Sprayway, who can generally be relied upon to produce solid pieces of outdoors kit. The Warm Challengers are, sure enough, solid and reliable. On the wild west coast of Wales they saw off showers with ease and kept me warm despite a keen wind, though they’re not quite as windproof as some of the pricier models. Weighing in at a light and breezy 315g, the Warm Challengers aren’t prone to overheating, but the lack of ventilation zips means things can still get a little sweaty on those thigh-burning climbs. The most impressive thing at this price range is that these trousers still allow an excellent range of movement even while offering a substantial barrier against the elements. Some might not find the elasticated waistband particularly sexy, but when you’re halfway up a mountain with rain dripping off your nose and sheep poo on your boots, who cares really? Target Price £60.

Specification 

Size: 8-18

Fabric: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane

Weight: 315g

Contact: 0161 366 5020, www.sprayway.com

Verdict

PROS: Freedom of movement, good value, good water repellency.

CONS: Windproofing could be better, poor venting, not too durable.

Comfort:4/5

WeatherproofinG: 3/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Best for: Hillwalking on cool showery days when overtrousers are overkill.

Review from Country Walking magazine.