The best waterproof walking trousers reviewed (2022)

The Live For The Outdoors team reviews and recommends the best waterproof trousers for hiking in bad weather.

Best waterproof trousers

by Trail magazine |

Loved and loathed by hikers in equal measure, waterproof overtrousers are an essential piece of clothing for UK winter hikes in particular.

We've put together our recommendations for the best waterproof hiking trousers. In addition, to help you when looking around for waterproof hiking trousers, we have included a buying guide at the bottom with a list of important features to consider.

Key features to look for in waterproof trousers:

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. While regular waist-height trousers are suitable for most uses, those mountaineering in full winter conditions may like the extra protection bib-type salopettes provide for the upper body.

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 because this can 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.

Scruff 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.

Toughness: For winter and mountaineering use where the trousers may be worn all day for clambering through snow and ice and over rock, it’s important that the fabric won’t tear or split. Heavier-weight fabrics tend to handle the abuse better, and some of the tougher trousers are reinforced around the inside of the ankle to protect them from crampon spikes.

Waterproof garment care and maintenance

Before we dive into the best waterproof trousers, we wanted to explain how best to maintain and care for your waterproof garments. This extends to jackets, tents, and footwear.

The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish added to waterproof outdoor clothing needs to be maintained. Over time, the finish that was added during the manufacturing process wears off. If you don't maintain it, water will not bead on the surface of the material as it should, and instead, begin to seep through.

When you notice this starting to occur, it's time to restore the DWR on your gear. The products we recommend come from Granger's. In addition to being good value, easy to apply, and effective, Granger's products are Bluesign approved and fluorocarbon-free.

Granger's Performance Repel Plus is a fantastic spray for all waterproof fabrics. Apply it after a wash, using Granger's Performance Wash instead of regular washing liquid. You can buy the two in a kit, if you wish.

The best waterproof trousers:

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Waterproof trousers

Editor's pick
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Waterproof trousers

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Features 5/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 4/5 | In use 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score: 85%

These are a high-performance, durable and fairly breathable pair of overtrousers. They are made from durable 3-layer fabric that will ensure you don’t get clammy. You also get exceptional waterproof performance.

Two-way side zips extend all the way from cuff to thigh, which makes it easy to pull these trousers on over boots, plus you get two zipped pockets and the trousers can be stuffed into a stow pocket with a handy carabiner clip.

Specs: Short and regular lengths; 20,000mm HH; 335g weight

Sustainability: Bluesign approved; Fair Trade Certified; contains recycled nylon

Marmot PreCip Eco Waterproof Trousers

Best value
Marmot PreCip Eco Waterproof Trousers
Amazon

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Features 4/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 4/5 | In use 4/5 | Value 5/5

Overall score: 85%

Boasting good value, good performance, and sustainable credentials, these waterproof trousers from Marmot are appealing to all. PFC-free DWRs aren't as durable as the fluorocarbon-based ones, but Marmot has developed a new technology that means the waterproof coating lasts longer here.

These trousers are very light, using a 2.5-layer durable and breathable fabric. They have a baggy fit, which allows for fast and easy fitting over clothing, helped further by the full-length side zips.

Specs: Short, regular, and long lengths; 10,000mm HH; 235g

Sustainability: PFC-free; bluesign approved

Berghaus Hillwalker Overtrousers

A proven classic
Berghaus Hillwalker Overtrousers

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Features 4/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 5/5 | In use 3/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score: 84%

Berghaus offers a big size range in these trousers, which means they will suit almost anyone. In addition to this, the 2-layer Gore-Tex fabric with a mesh lining is comfortable compared to relatively stiff 3-layer fabrics, but do not compromise when it comes to performance.

The side zips extend to the top of the thigh, so these easily fit over boots, while an external storm flap covers the zip to keep the 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. The increased relative weight is due to the mesh and storm flaps.

Specs: Short, regular, and long lengths; fully waterproof (HH rating not specified); 449g weight

Sustainability: Berghaus a bluesign partner but no certification on this product

Rab Zenith Gore-Tex Paclite Waterproof Trousers

Best look
Rab Zenith Gore-Tex Paclite Waterproof Trousers

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Features 4/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 5/5 | In use 4/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score: 84%

Light, durable, breathable, these Gore-Tex waterproof trousers offer almost everything you need. Made with a regular fit, these are a little slimmer than the Marmot trousers above to offer a little more aesthetic style, but feature articulated knees, allowing them to remain functional.

These trousers come with a stuff sack and 3/4 length side zips to further add to their functionality.

Specs: Single length; fully waterproof (HH rating not specified); 285g weight

Sustainability: Rab a Fair Wear Foundation member and climate neutral

Fjallraven High Coast Hydratic Waterproof Trousers

Recommended
Fju00e4llru00e4ven High Coast Hydratic Waterproof Trousers

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Features 4/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 4/5 | In use 4/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score: 82%

Similar to the Rab Zenith trousers, this pair from Fjällräven offers lightweight performance, but with PFC-free waterproofing. With 3/4 length zips and a relaxed fit, these are easier to put on too and layer underneath, although not quite as stylish if that matters to you.

The waterproof rating is high and the 2.5-layer fabric is fairly durable. These are highly effective and versatile waterproof trousers.

Specs: Regular or long lengths; 10,000mm HH; 267g weight

Sustainability: PFC-free; contains recycled polyamides

Rab Latok Gore-Tex Pro Bib

Best for mountaineering
Rab Latok Gore-Tex Pro Bib

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Features 5/5 | Weatherproofing 5/5 | Breathability 3/5 | In use 4/5 | Value 3/5

Built to offer protection in extreme weather and made from hard-wearing Gore-Tex Pro, the Latok GTX Bib is a robust choice for winter mountaineers doing battle with the worst conditions mountains offer.

There are full length zips that make use easier and the braces are adjustable and removable. The fabric is extremely tough, yet because of the clever design such as articulated knees and a softshell fabric on the upper section, these trousers are also rather comfortable.

Specs: Single length, waterproof rating not stated, 700g weight

Sustainability: 100% recycled main fabric; Rab a Fair Wear Foundation member and climate-neutral

Waterproof garment care and maintenance

The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish added to waterproof outdoor clothing needs to be maintained. Over time, the finish that was added during the manufacturing process wears off. If you don't maintain it, water will not bead on the surface of the material as it should, and instead, begin to seep through.

When you notice this starting to occur, it's time to restore the DWR on your gear. The products we recommend come from Granger's. In addition to being good value, easy to apply, and effective, Granger's products are Bluesign approved and fluorocarbon-free.

Granger's Performance Repel Plus is a fantastic spray for all waterproof fabrics. Apply it after a wash, using Granger's Performance Wash instead of regular washing liquid. Nikwax also has similar and equally effective versions that are PFC-free, too.

Read our guide to caring for waterproof clothing to find out all you need to know.

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