5 OF THE BEST... Autumn & Winter hillwalking trousers REVIEWED (2018)

As we head into the cooler months its time to ditch the shorts and light summer trousers for something warmer and more weather-resistant. Here’s our top picks for autumn and winter hillwalking trousers.


Weather resistance

Soft shell type fabrics that are more wind- and water-resistant and slightly thicker are often used in winter trousers. Some may even have waterproof panels in them. However the more waterproof or wind-resistant the fabric, the less breathable it will be and this can result in a clammy feeling against the skin. So maximum water and wind resistance is not always ideal. You can always throw on a pair of waterproof overtrousers in more extreme weather.

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Durability

For increased durability when scrambling, climbing or mountaineering, look for trousers with knees, seat or ankle abrasion panels. Thicker materials are also often more durable than thinner options.

Waist Design

A stretchy waist, either with a belt or the option of adding one, gives all-round adjustability. Some trousers also have a soft lining for extra comfort. A high waist will protect the lower back better, particularly when scrambling or wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt.

Pockets

It’s good if some pockets have zippers to keep items safe. Pockets that will accommodate a map are particularly practical, but make sure you can access them even while wearing a rucksack hipbelt.

Stretch

The best fabrics will have stretch in both the horizontal and vertical direction. However, if the cut of the trousers is good, stretch in one direction is fine, or just a small panel of stretch material may be needed.

Ventilation

Ventilation allows you to cool down. It will also make more insulated trousers versatile enough to wear in a wider range of conditions. Look for vents on the legs or mesh-lined pockets.

Ankle Cuff

Ankle cuffs that can be adjusted are best, as this allows them to be used with different pairs of boots and to be cinched in when scrambling. Drawcords, Velcro and press studs are ideal for preventing material from flapping around the ankle cuff. Zipped ankle cuffs allow trousers to be fitted more closely over the wide and taller ankle cuff of a ski boot or mountaineering boot, and also allow a more relaxed style when a neater fit is not needed.


Rab Vector Pants £90 

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  • Material 67% polyamide, 21% polyester, 12% elastane

  • Men’s 30-34, plus three leg lengths

  • Women’s 8-16, plus three leg lengths

  • Weight 496g (size 34) 

It’s good

There are lots of trousers around this price point but these have a slight edge. Firstly they use a mid-weight fabric while many use thinner materials, so they are better for weather resistance and warmth. The fabric is quite tough and feels hardwearing too, and it has good stretch. Get them on and the waistband is very comfy, thanks to it being quite wide and stretchy, and it comes with belt loops and a fitted belt. The ankle cuff is not too wide and can be cinched in with press studs. The zipped thigh pocket is OS map width, and while not OS map deep is still more useful than similar pockets on other trousers. 

However

This price comes with drawbacks. First off, some similarly-priced trousers get a zipped and gusseted ankle cuff, which you might prefer. Also while the pockets are better than some, it would be great if that thigh pocket was deep enough to take the full length of an OS map, but at least you can still use the pocket for a map on the move. There is no added venting or extra reinforcement, or a waterproof knee or seat, as higher-priced trousers offer. But for many users these trousers make a good compromise between features and price.

Verdict

One of the better options at this price and very good for general hillwalking, backpacking and scrambling. But pay more and you get extra features.

  • Features 3/5

  • Weather resistance 3/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 3/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%

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Montane Super Terra Pants £140

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  • Material Granite (97% nylon, 3% spandex), plus Cordura reinforcement (93% nylon, 7% polyurethane)

  • Men’s S-XXL, plus three leg lengths

  • Women’s 8-16 (Skyline)

  • Weight 676g (size L)

It’s good

The main fabric is a tough nylon, and the reinforced knees and seat use a waterproof material, so you can sit or kneel on wet ground and stay dry. The fit is not too restrictive, thanks to a good cut. The waistband is lined, elasticated and comes with belt loops and a belt, while the ankle cuff can be adjusted with press studs. In warm weather you can open zipped knee vents or vent the calf, while a lace hook keeps the ankle cuff in place. The four front pockets and one rear pocket are all zipped, and the thigh pockets are large enough for a map. Great for general hillwalking and backpacking.

However

The women’s version doesn’t come in a choice of leg lengths or offer thigh pockets. This version also has a gusseted ankle cuff zip, while the men’s has a non-gusseted calf zip. Perhaps the main drawback, though, is there is not the stretch of other trousers, so even though the cut is great, these feel slightly restrictive, hence when scrambling or mountaineering I’d prefer something more stretchy with a closer fit on the leg. They are slightly rougher on the skin than others too, and are also heavy, which could make carrying them a burden. 

Verdict

Hardwearing backpacking trousers with nice OS map-sized pockets and a great waist, but they are not the best for scrambling or mountaineering and they’re heavy.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weather resistance 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


Helly Hansen Odin Huginn Pants £160 

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  • Material Stretch soft shell (94% polymide, 6% elastane)

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s XS-XL (Muninn)

  • Weight 532g (size L)

It’s good

This is a tough, weather-resistant soft shell fabric, but it is not a laminate so you still get good breathability for when overtrousers are worn over the top. The waist is wide and higher than some, so offers great protection. In addition the waist has an in-situ stretch Velcro adjuster, as well as belt loops, so you can add a conventional belt if needed. The fit is relaxed but not too baggy, and press stud adjustment at the ankle cuff is useful. A nice touch is you get lace hooks to keep the ankle cuff down. There are two zipped hip pockets and a zipped thigh pocket. For autumn and winter hillwalkers these are very good.

However

Unlike others in this price range there are no leg length options. Also those pockets are slightly annoying, as the hip ones won’t take an OS map and the leg one is even smaller and very low, meaning small items tend to fall right above the knee, which is not very comfortable. The leg is slightly wider than some others, so while fine for most use you may want something slightly narrower, particularly for scrambling or mountaineering. These are all small drawbacks though, as if these fit they are great for hillwalking in most situations, but at this price you may expect a little more.

Verdict

Weather resistant and comfort are good, but the choice of fit is not ideal and the pockets aren’t perfect, so at this price that may not be good enough?

  • Features 3/5

  • Weather resistance 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%


Mammut Courmayeur Pants £169

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  • Material Schoeller Dryskin stretch with Coldblack treatment (93% polyamide, 7% spandex), reinforced areas (70% polymade, 20% polyester, 10% spandex)

  • Men’s 28-42, plus three leg lengths

  • Women’s 6-20, plus three leg lengths

  • Weight 403g (size 34) 

It’s good

The Schoeller fabric is very stretchy, with a Coldblack treatment that helps it reflect 80% of sunlight rather than absorb it like normal black fabrics. The result is you don’t overheat in these as badly as in some black trousers. The waist is nicely lined for comfort, with belt loops and a belt. The ankle cuff has press stud adjustment and the fit in general is a little closer than some others, making these ideal for scrambling but still great for walking. The four pockets are zipped and the hip pockets fit an OS map, but the thigh pocket is a little short for a map. The small rear zipped pocket is useful.

However

The main fabric is a little thin, so these aren’t the warmest option for autumn and winter. They’re not the best for resisting wind and moisture either, so you’ll need your overtrousers sooner than with other trousers. There is reinforcement at the knees and down the inside of the legs, but the rest of the fabric isn’t as durable as some options. It’s a pity the thigh pocket is a little short for an OS map. I like these for autumn but for some winter days in Scotland something with a little more weather protection is good. Hefty price tag too.

Verdict

Great general hillwalking, scrambling and mountaineering trousers, but others offer more weather resistance and better pockets for maps.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weather resistance 3/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%


Fjallraven Keb Trousers £190

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  • Material G-1000 Eco (65% recycled polyester, 35% cotton), stretch fabric (63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane)

  • Men’s 28-42, plus two leg lengths

  • Women’s 26-37, plus two leg lengths, standard and curved fit

  • Weight 648g (size 33/34)

It’s good

These are bursting with unique features, such as an extensive size range that includes a curved fit option
for women. Then you get the robust material, which is very tough G-1000 Eco on the dark blue sections and a tough, stretchy material in the lighter blue sections. You can also treat the G-1000 Eco areas with Greenland wax for more water resistance. The waist is high and wide with belt loops, and the overall fit is relaxed without being too baggy. The large thigh pockets are zipped, while the map-sized hip pockets are deep. If you overheat easily then you’ll welcome the thigh and calf-zipped vents. For general hillwalking, occasional scrambles and backpacking these are great.

However

The waist is not elasticated, so if you lose a few pounds on a trip, you’ll need to add a belt. The calf area is slightly wider than others, and for lots of scrambling a slightly neater and narrower fit here would be good. The front thigh pockets are great, but just too short for an OS map. A small zipped pocket would perhaps be a good option somewhere, rather than just the four large pockets. The price is the big drawback though, as lower-priced trousers are also pretty good but for less cash.

Verdict

Great weather-resistant trousers for backpacking and walking over rough terrain, but others are slightly better for scrambling. Pricey too.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weather resistance 4/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


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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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