Best walking trousers 2024 | Tested and reviewed

Walking trousers are a good wardrobe choice for most of the year. Check out our current favourite hiking pants, with details of how to pick your perfect pair.

Photos of LFTO team testing walking trousers

by James Forrest |
Updated on

In most places, you'll want a good pair of walking trousers for hikes throughout the year. If you live somewhere temperate, there's always a chance of chill or rain, and trousers offer extra protection from the elements.

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.

What are the best walking trousers of 2024?

Best in Test: Fjällräven Keb Agile Trousers

Best Value: Decathlon Forclaz MT500 Trekking Trousers

Best lightweight walking trousers: Montane Terra Lite

Best waterproof trousers: Mountain Equipment Makalu Pants

In this guide, we review and recommend our favourite tested range of walking trousers. This includes three-season, winter, and waterproof options.

How we test walking trousers

Man scrambling on rocky ridge in red walking trousers
Our fearless gear editor on the East Ridge of Ill Crag ©Live For The Outdoors

The trousers recommended here were tested by a number of our team including James Forrest, Matt Jones, Ellie Clewlow, and Chris Williams. 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.

Best walking trousers reviewed:

Best in Test

Live For The Outdoors
Price: £179.49 (RRP £195)

www.sportsshoes.com

This offering from Fjällräven is a lighter and even more flexible version of the Swedish brand's standard Keb trousers – a previous 'Best in Test' winner in our Trail Magazine group test. It uses a zoned fabric construction, largely consisting of fast-drying, double-woven nylon stretch fabric. 

Thigh pockets, knee panels, hems and ankle scuff patches feature G-1000 Lite Eco reinforcements for extra durability. This is a tough ripstop fabric incorporating organic cotton and recycled polyester, which can be waxed for extra water resistance. Pre-shaped knees and a crotch gusset allow superb freedom of movement, while the tapered legs ensure minimal flapping in windy weather. 

The lower legs have press-stud ankle cinches, and you also get zipped thigh vents to help dump heat when working hard uphill. Twin zipped thigh pockets provide secure storage (the right-hand pocket has a stretch mesh inner to hold a smartphone). There are also two open hand pockets and a waistband fitted with belt loops, finished with a button closure and a zip fly. These well-built and versatile trousers feel protective and robust without being too hot or heavy. They work well for hillwalking and scrambling in most conditions, from spring right through to autumn. 

There's no women's version yet. We think the hem cinches could use some additional snaps for an even closer fit with trail shoes or mid-boots. They're expensive trousers too.

Pros

  • Uses more sustainable fabrics
  • Allows excellent freedom of movement
  • Great collection of features
  • Tough

Cons

  • No women's version
  • Overpriced

Best Value

At just £35, these hiking trousers are amazing value for money – it’s hard to believe the price is correct.

You get loads of features despite the low price-tag, including an integrated belt, ankle cuff drawcords, two zippered handwarmer pockets, one rear zippered pocket (right buttock), and two thigh pockets (one with a flap and press stud closure, one with a zip and an internal phone sleeve). The left leg thigh pocket can just about take an OS map, but it sticks out of the top of the pocket.

Features are simple but effective, consisting of a zip fly and press stud waist closure, two secure zipped hand pockets, a zipped rear pocket and a side elasticated waistband fitted with a low-profile webbing waistbelt. But these trousers lack a thigh pocket. The plastic belt buckle is a side-release type that feels rather flimsy.

The fit is true to size with a slightly athletic cut – although we noticed a touch of tightness over the quads. Freedom of movement is generally good, however, thanks to the use of stretchier fabrics (88% polyamide, 12% elastane) across the seat, knees and lower legs.

Tougher nylon fabric inserts are used across high-wear areas to improve long-term durability, and the materials over the lower leg and seat are water-repellent. The ankle cuffs, which flare out a little, can be cinched-in using elasticated drawcords for improved syncing with your boots.

At 387g the MT500 trousers are midweight, but strike a nice balance between comfort, toughness and agility. All of this for £35 is quite remarkable.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Decent all-round performance

Cons

  • Not especially durable
  • Non-existent eco credientials

Best lightweight walking trousers

Montane Terra Lite Live For The Outdoors
Price: £95.00

montane.com

Montane's extensive and much-loved Terra range got a new addition in spring 2023, the Terra Lite. From the name, you might think they're just a lighter version of the brand's best-selling Terra pants. Not altogether wrong, but in terms of fabric, construction and fit, they're very different. These are made from Vector Lite fabric, a nylon-elastane blend, which ensures they're both lighter and stretchier than the standard Terras. It offers sun protection of UPF 50+ and is finished with a PFC-free DWR. 

The fit is closer than the Terra too, being slimmer through the seat and thigh. Knee darts and a small gusset panel in the crotch add some articulation. Other features include a zipped fly with button and secondary press stud closure and a removable webbing belt with a sturdy metal hook buckle. There are two open mesh-lined hand pockets and a rear zipped pocket, plus a zipped front thigh pocket. 

Essentially these are less of an all-mountain trouser than the Terra, instead being better suited to trekking in warmer climates. Having said that, they also work well for all-day wear on hot and humid hill days here in the UK. 

We'd like a more tapered lower leg or some ankle adjustment to cinch them in around trail shoes and mid-cut hikers. We wish the hand pockets had zips too. 

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • PFC-free DWR
  • Excellent for warmer conditions
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Montane a Fair Wear Foundation member

Cons

  • No zips on hand pockets
  • More tapered fit would be preferable

Best walking trousers under £100

These simple, no-nonsense trousers are lightweight, comfortable and technical, at an affordable price – impressive credentials for just £65. They don't have any technical features, and you won’t find yourself getting too excited about them, but they quietly achieve almost everything you need from a pair of hillwalking trousers.

Out on the hill, they are comfortable with good freedom of movement, and the fit works well. Made from partially recycled 96% polyamide blended with 4% elastane, there is a nice bit of stretchiness to the material, although we’d like to see a hybrid design with more durable fabrics used across high-abrasion areas.

You do, however, get a stronger ‘heel tape’ around the ankle cuff for a slight durability boost. The trousers have a DWR (durable water-repellent) finish so they can withstand a light shower, and the waistline is elasticated with six belt loops, button closure and a zippered fly.

You get four pockets – two polycotton-lined handwarmer pockets, one mesh-lined central thigh pocket, and one rear right buttock zippered pocket. The trousers weigh 339g (men’s 32in), which is surprisingly lightweight considering the price.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Great comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Partly recycled

Cons

  • No technical features

Best waterproof trousers

The Mountain Equipment Makalu Pants make use of a new Gore-Tex membrane that's been 10 years in the making.

It's called ePE and has exactly the same waterproof rating as Gore-Tex's membrane it's used for decades (ePTFE) but is more sustainable.

People can be suspicious of a performance drop when a bigger focus is put on sustainability, but if we hadn't told you this, you wouldn't notice. The only detectable giveaway is that ePE is marginally lighter and thinner than the old membrane.

The Makalu Pants are highly waterproof, quite breathable, and tough thanks to a recycled 75D fabric. We liked the 3/4-length zips, which make the Makalu Pants easy to put on and take off. They also boost ventilation thanks to the use of two-way zips.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Very high waterproof rating
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Mountain Equipment a Fair Wear Foundation member
  • Made from more sustainable Gore-Tex ePE
  • Provide classic Gore-Tex performance and durability

Cons

  • Not the best drawcord
  • Overkill for some

Best women’s walking trousers

Acai Aventurite Stretch Skinny Trousers Live For The Outdoors

Our female gear reviewer Ellie is an avowed fan of Acai's summer-weight Max Stretch Skinny trousers. She's also tested its cold-weather, fleece-lined Thermal Skinny trousers. But the brand's Aventurite Stretch Skinny are probably the best all-round option from Acai yet. They're also the most eco-friendly since they incorporate recycled nylon and are finished with a PFC-free DWR treatment.

Otherwise, the formula is familiar. These are technical, performance-focused trousers developed for women, by women, with the look of skinny jeans. That means riveted front pockets, twin back pockets (one of which is zipped), belt loops and a rear leather-look logo patch for on-trend casual styling.

But the fabric is a hardwearing and quick-drying nylon polyester with four-way stretch, delivering great comfort and flexibility, plus decent durability. They have a high waist to prevent a draughty back, even if your base layer rides up. And they come in a wide range of sizes, including four leg lengths. However, there's only one small rear-zipped pocket. And despite the fabric's high level of stretch, the skinny fit might not suit everyone.

Pros

  • Sustainable
  • Excellent comfort
  • Quite durable
  • Many sizes and four leg lengths

Cons

  • Skinny fit not for everyone

Best alpine walking trousers

Salewa Terminal Durastretch Pants
Price: £115.00

www.tiso.com

These trousers take things up a notch or two in terms of technicality. While other pairs we’ve tested this year, such as the Forclaz MT500 and Craghoppers Kiwi Pro II feel like simple pants for bimbling around the UK’s grassy hills, the Salewa Terminal Durastretch are unapologetically alpine in their build, style and performance.

They are highly technical softshell trousers (66% polyamide, 23% polyester, 11% elastane), with an athletic cut, excellent freedom of movement, loads of stretch and superb comfort levels. We absolutely love them – although the fit might not suit all body shapes and the alpine style is clearly better suited to those who move fast and light in the mountains.

At just 350g, they are ultralight, and breathability is pretty decent too. Features include a PFC-free water repellent finish, two zippered handwarmer pockets, one zippered left thigh pocket, and ankle cuff adjustment via an integrated drawcord. The waistband is elasticated with five belt loops, press stud closure and zippered fly. Neither vents nor integrated belt are included.

Despite being lightweight, these versatile trousers are suitable for year-round use, bar the coldest of winter days.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Technical design and features
  • Versatile
  • Slimmer cut
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Some features missing

Best winter walking trousers

LFTO
Price: £150.00

montane.com

The recipe for creating these trousers was simple and superb: take Montane's popular Terra Mission Pants, and make them a bit tougher and more weather resistant.

The result is (perhaps predictably) excellent. Weighing in at half a kilogram, the Tenacity XT Pants (women's version called Terra Stretch XT) are a very good balance of mountain-ready toughness, and comfort.

We found the 260gsm softshell fabric had good stretch and overall mobility. To help improve ventilation, there are zipped, mesh-lined thigh vents, which work a treat. The fabric also does a great job of cutting out the wind and also has a PFC-free DWR to keep light rain at bay.

We were pleased with the use of a super tough Schoeller-Keprotec Kevlar panel on the instep. This material was originally developed for motorcycle racing and is extremely hard wearing. So, the instep was well and truly reinforced but the knees and seat don't receive any.

While the price is still 'premium' for lack of a better word, these are less expensive than many rivals and are fully featured, technical mountain trousers. From the inclusion of zipped gussets for accommodating mountain boots, to Montane being a Fair Wear Foundation member, these are a fantastic option for demading cold weather mountain hikes.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Tough and warm
  • Four-way stretch
  • Tapered, tailored fit
  • Tough reinforced instep
  • Montane a Fair Wear Foundation member

Cons

  • No large pockets
  • No knee reinforcement panels
  • Too warm for milder conditions

Best trousers for running and hiking

66°North Straumnes Trousers Live For The Outdoors

66°North is an Icelandic clothing brand that allows hikers and runners to continue their outdoor pursuits even when mother nature suggests they don't. 

Its Straumnes trousers provide exactly that service to runners and hikers. We found for high-octane walking or running in deep winter, these trousers are exceptional. Eye-wateringly expensive but exceptional.

In terms of breathability, they're the easily best option here. And they're on par with the best for wind-resistance too. This is courtesy of Gore-Tex Infinium fabric. It's stretchy and lightweight yet keeps out the wind and even light drizzle.  

66°North is a reasonably sustainable brand too. It's a certified B-Corp and offers a repair service on all garments it's ever made and a return recycling scheme.

Read our full 66°North Straumnes review

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Very breathable
  • Wind-resistant and water repellent
  • Great for high-intensity outings

Cons

  • They'll need a lot of use to get your money's worth

How do I choose walking trousers?

Walking-trousers-Jacks-Rake-Lake-District
A big range of motion is essential for steep climbs

What material should hiking trousers be?

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.

High-wear areas like the knees, seat and instep often have thicker, reinforced fabric panels. Look for double- or even triple-stitched seams in high-stress areas for added durability.

Hiking in bright blue walking trousers
It's rumoured that some people even find hiking trousers quite stylish... ©Live For The Outdoors

How should hiking trousers fit? Tight or loose?

Whether tight or loose is a matter of preference, but everyone should have walking trousers that balance a secure fit with a lack of restriction. 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, so make sure it's the perfect size.

Generally, a slightly looser fit benefits comofrt for long hiking day, but if you're looking for a close fit, ensure ithe material has plenty of stretch to maintain freedom of movement. Adding elastane (also called spandex or Lycra) to a fabric provides stretch, giving better freedom of movement and a more precise fit.

Two-way stretch fabrics stretch either vertically or horizontally. Four-way stretch fabrics stretch in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise.

Hiking trousers Jacks Rake Lake District
High up Jack's Rake, our knees are thankful for protective walking trousers ©Live For The Outdoors

Do hiking trousers have extra ventilation?

Aside from insulated pairs for winter walking, good hiking trousers should have lots of ventilation features. 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.

They should also fit will around the ankle and accomodate your hiking boots. 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.

Features such as knee darts and a gusseted crotch improve overall fit and articulation, enhancing mobility, especially when scrambling or climbing.

showing off the reinforced knees on these hiking trousers
Patches of more stretchy fabric across the knee are helpful for climbs ©Live For The Outdoors

Should you tuck your trousers into your walking boots?

Any decent pair of hiking trousers should offer plenty of protection from fitting over the top of your boot and around the ankle. The only reason we've ever bothered to tuck our trousers in is when we didn't want them getting muddy on a week-long trek through the Yorkshire Moors.

Some trousers have an integrated lace or boot hook at the ankle cuff to help stop debris from getting into your boots, but again, this is a fairly rare problem to encounter.

Showing the pockets on these alpkit walking trousers
A typical zipped map pocket on these alpkit trousers ©Live For The Outdoors

Do hiking trousers have extra pockets?

Many do. You'll want to seek out zipped pockets to keep your items safe. We'd say they're an essential for mountain walking or scrambling.

Large pockets that will accommodate a map are particularly practical, but make sure they are sensibly placed so as not to affect leg movement.

How do I clean my walking trousers?

In order to keep the material breathable and maintain its water repellency (if it has it), use Grangers or Nikwax gear cleaner (below) instead of regular laundry detergnet, which leaves behind residue and inhibts the peformance of technical fabrics.

And if your walking trousers suffer a tear, broken zip, or some ailment, don't fret. Retailers like Cotswold Outdoor, along with outdoor brands and specialists like Alpkit and Lancashire Sports Repairs have superb repair services on hand for all types of outdoor gear.

Grangers performance wash
Price: $19.67

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