In many places, walking trousers are in use for hikes throughout the year. If you live somewhere temperate, there's always a chance of chill or rain, even in the warmer parts of the year.
The best hiking trousers are breathable for all-day comfort. They don't have to be waterproof trousers but should ideally be wind- and water-resistant. A tapered cut will stop them flapping in the breeze, while a bit of stretch adds flexibility for hopping from rock to rock or scrambling up steep gullies. Those designed for use in winter need to up the toughness and protection.
The best walking trousers at a glance:
Best in Test: Fjällräven Keb Agile Trousers - View on Sportsshoes.com
Best Value: Berghaus Lomaxx Pant - View on Berghaus.com
Best lightweight walking trousers: Montane Terra Lite - View on Montane.com
Best waterproof trousers: Rab Kangri Gore-Tex Pants - View on Cotswoldoutdoor.com
In this guide, we review and recommend our favourite tested range of walking trousers. This includes three-season, winter, and waterproof options.
The best hiking trousers in detail
This offering from Fjällräven is a lighter and even more flexible version of the Swedish brand's
- Uses more sustainable fabrics
- Allows excellent freedom of movement
- Great collection of features
- No women's version
The hallmark of good walking trousers is that you forget you're wearing them. Berghaus' Lomaxx are
- Decent weather resistance
- Bluesign-approved fabric and PFC-free DWR
- Very comfortable
- No thigh pocket
- Flimsy plastic belt buckle
Montane's extensive and much-loved Terra range got a new addition in spring 2023, the Terra Lite.
- PFC-free DWR
- Excellent for warmer conditions
- Plenty of pockets
- No zips on hand pockets
- More tapered fit would be preferable
To get the best type of waterproof trousers, you need to follow the same approach as for
- Very high waterproof rating
- Easy to put on and take off
- Recycled fabric
- Rab, a Fair Wear Foundation member
- Perhaps overkill for casual hikers
- Not PFC-free
Our female gear reviewer Ellie is an avowed fan of Acai's summer-weight Max Stretch Skinny
- Excellent comfort
- Quite durable
- Many sizes and four leg lengths
- Skinny fit not for everyone
Best wind-resistant walking trousers
These midweight trousers provide a little more protection in windy conditions than the lighter
- Bluesign-approved fabric
- Lots of pockets
- Great wind-resistance
- No DWR
- No women's version
These are do-it-all mountain pants for 3-season use. They're available for both men and women, but
- Men's and women's versions
- Good balance of durability and low weight
- One leg length
Mountain Equipment's Ibex pants remain a favourite of ours, and the newest Ibex Pro is better than
- Great features
- No reinforced seams or additional fabric panels
- No women's version
BAM is all about bamboo clothing. The brand does a range of everyday and outdoor/active garments
- Form and function
- Not suitable for tough mountain adventures
66°North is an Icelandic clothing brand that allows hikers and runners to continue their outdoor
- Very breathable
- Wind-resistant and water repellent
- Great for high-intensity outings
- They'll need a lot of use to get your money's worth
What to look for in walking and hiking trousers
Fabrics: Most 3-season hillwalking trousers and hiking shorts are made from tightly woven nylon or polyester soft shell, often with elastane for stretch. They may have a durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment for added water resistance. Other outdoor trousers are made from polycotton, which can often be waxed for additional weather protection.
Pockets: Zipped pockets keep items safe. Large pockets that will accommodate a map are particularly practical, but make sure they are sensibly placed so as not to affect leg movement.
Waist: An elasticated waist, either with belt loops or an integrated belt, gives all-round adjustability. A soft, lined waistband prevents irritation, especially when wearing a pack.
Ventilation: Thigh vents can help to dump heat and can also be unzipped for better temperature regulation if you're forced to put on waterproof overtrousers.
Reinforced panels: High-wear areas like the knees, seat and instep often have thicker, reinforced fabric panels.
Stitching: Look for double- or even triple-stitched seams in high-stress areas for added durability.
Ankle cuffs: Adjustable cuffs with a press stud or Velcro tab give a closer fit and stop your trousers from flapping around. It also helps you to see where you're putting your feet on technical terrain.
Lace hooks: Some trousers have an integrated lace or boot hook at the ankle cuff to help stop debris from getting into your boots.
Stretch: Adding elastane (also called spandex or Lycra) to a fabric provides stretch, giving better freedom of movement and a closer fit. Two-way stretch fabrics stretch either vertically or horizontally. Four-way stretch fabrics stretch in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise.
Patterning: Features such as knee darts and a gusseted crotch improve overall fit and articulation, enhancing mobility, especially when scrambling or climbing.
How we test
Our experienced gear testers know exactly what to look for in hiking trousers. Not only do we consider fit and comfort, but also aspects like durability, sustainability, and even small details such as where the pockets are placed.
All hiking clothing, including walking trousers, are subject to many miles of use in the conditions they're primarily intended for. This could include leisurely hillwalking through to mountain hiking in mid-winter.
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Matt Jones and Ellie Clewlow are freelance gear testers for Live For The Outdoors and Trail Magazine. They have walked several long-distance backpacking trails in New Zealand, the USA and throughout the UK.