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10 Best Hiking Pants of 2019

Hiking pants are an important piece of hiking gear but one that we often take for granted. They have to be highly breathable and quick-drying, easy to vent when you get too hot, but warm when the temperature drops. Fit, freedom of movement, and pockets are also key factors.  What about hiking pants that are bug resistant or provide a high degree of sun protection? All of these are important variables when choosing the best hiking pants.

Make / ModelLeg StyleGenderPrice
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking PantsConvertibleM | F$60
prAna Stretch Zion PantsRoll-upM$85
REI Sahara Convertible Hiking PantsConvertibleM | F$70
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible PantsConvertibleM | F$90
Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible PantsConvertibleM$99
REI Screeline Hiking PantsFull LengthM | F$80
Mountain Hardware AP PantsRoll-upM | F$90
Arc'teryx Palisade PantsFull-lengthM | F$159
Marmot Arch Rock PantsFull LengthM$75
Fjallraven Vidda Pro PantsFull LengthM | F$150

However, no one pant will suit everyone’s body type. Some hikers prefer a slimmer fit that reduces extra fabric while others feel more comfortable and airy with a looser fit. Particular features to look for include articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, lots of pockets, and venting options such as roll-up legs or convertible pants. With these variables in mind, here are the top 10 hiking pants we recommend for 2019.

1. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants

Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants are versatile summer hiking pants designed with hot days in mind. Their wicking, quick-drying fabric offers UPF 50 sun protection, and the legs zip off to convert into shorts with a 10-inch inseam. Their fit features a partial elastic waist, an adjustable outer waistband and a gusseted crotch that makes it easier to clamber up and over the trail’s obstacles. Pockets include a zippered security pocket on the left leg. A good value, they boast the most affordable price on this list before any sales or discounts.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

2. prAna Stretch Zion Pants

prAna Stretch Zion Hiking Pants get rave reviews for comfort, fit and durability, with an abrasion-resistant nylon/spandex blend designed to stretch when you scramble and climb. The quick-drying fabric also features a water-repellent (DWR) finish and UPF 50+ sun protection. For heat relief, the pants have a ventilated inseam gusset and roll-up cuffs held with snaps. Other handy features include an adjustable waistband and an angled dual-entry cargo pocket. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

3. REI Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants

REI’s Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are made of a lightweight, quick-drying stretch nylon fabric with a water repellent (DWR) finish and UPF 50+ rating. Convenient features include two cargo pockets and a hidden passport pocket; convertible pant-legs with color-coded zippers for when you are ready to convert your shorts back to pants; and reinforced cuff backs. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

4. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi Convertible Pants, made from nylon/spandex woven ripstop fabric, are abrasion resistant but also lightweight, breathable and quick-drying, with good stretch. Like other pants on this list, they are DWR treated, with a UPF 50+ rating. Unlike the Ferrosi Pants on last year’s list, though, these convert to 10-inch inseam shorts, making them more versatile on hot days. Other features include a gusseted crotch and a zippered thigh pocket.

Check out the latest price at:
Outdoor Research | Moosejaw | Amazon

5. Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants

Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants have a soft, cotton-like feel, but are made from a nylon/spandex fabric blend that’s abrasion-resistant, water-repellent (DWR-coated) and fast-drying. The convertible pants’ zippers don’t have a flap over them, for a less bulky, more streamlined design, while ankle zips make it easier to get the lower pant legs on and off without messing with your footwear. Additional features: UPF 50 sun protection, dual cargo pockets, mesh pocket bags and a gusseted crotch.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

6. REI Screeline Hiking Pants

REI Screeline Hiking Pants are designed for stretch, durability, and breathability. The fabric has a higher spandex-to-nylon ratio than comparable hiking pants, and the pants’ leg and side-panel gussets further improve range of motion. For added toughness, they’ve added 100%-nylon panels in the seat and knees. Behind the knees, mesh vents keep you cool and the bugs out. Final touches include a zippered side security pocket and a mid-rise pack-compatible waist.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

7. Mountain Hardwear AP Pants

Mountain Hardwear AP Pants offer a slimmer fit with lots of stretch, thanks to a breathable 75% cotton/23% nylon/2% elastane blend and articulated knees. The cotton content makes it better suited to hotter, dry climates. The roll-up pant legs fasten with snaps. Five pockets include two zippered back pockets and a slide-in front cellphone pocket. As a bonus, the pants have reflective trim to enhance your visibility at night.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

8. Arc’teryx Palisade Pants

Arc’teryx Palisade Pants were designed with long hikes and rugged terrain in mind. The lightweight, fast-drying nylon/elastane fabric stretches well and offers articulated patterning and a gusseted crotch to boost mobility. There is an adjustable, built-in webbing belt for a better fit. All five pockets are zippered, including two thigh pockets. Typically pricier than most of its competition, Arc’teryx markets itself as precisely designed, high-performance gear.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

9. Marmot Arch Rock Pants

Marmot Arch Rock Pants get consistent positive customer reviews for durability, breathability and comfort. With a sleek style, they work well for travel when you need something for on-trail and off. They feature a quick-drying nylon/elastane blend, with a DWR finish and UPF 50 rating; articulated knees and a gusseted crotch for a good range of motion; and plenty of pockets, including a zippered thigh pocket.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

10. Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants are designed for rugged hiking, mountaineering, and hunting. They are made from Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric: a 65% polyester/35% cotton mix that the company recommends treating with Greenland Wax to reach the level of water- and weather-proofing you want. They have extra reinforcement on the rear and knees and an adjustable, elastic pant bottom. There are pockets galore: 2 hand pockets, a map pocket, a multi-tool pocket, and an internal phone pocket. Need durable while you perform trail maintenance? Here you go. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

Hiking Pants Selection Criteria

Consider these variables when buying hiking pants.

Weight & breathability

For summer hiking, you want a breathable, lightweight fabric that will help you stay cool. You may want a three-season pant, or one you can layer for winter, but if you plan on hiking at the height of summer, buy for that.  Overheating will make you miserable, or worse.  Most hiking pants are fully synthetic, which helps them dry out quickly when you sweat. Some also incorporate mesh panels and/or pockets to help airflow.

Long pants, convertible pants, or roll-ups

Your choice will depend on both your comfort preferences and the type of hiking you’ll be doing. If it’s going to be hot, and you are backpacking with just one pair of pants, convertible pants will give you the most options for day and night. But if you know you will not want shorts, because of sun exposure, bugs, or terrain that will beat up your legs, convertible pants are unnecessary and will add bulk. In other words, consider your terrain and habits when you choose. If you do choose convertible pants, test the zippers and look for ankle zips, too, which let you take the lower legs on and off without removing your shoes. An alternative to fully convertible pants, roll-up legs–typically held up with a snap or button–can provide extra ventilation on a hot day.

Pockets and Extra Features

Extra features can make a good pair of pants into a great pair of pants. Secure, well-designed pockets give you easy access to essentials like your phone or map without rummaging through your pack. Well-placed waistbands won’t chafe under your pack’s hip belt. Reinforced pant cuffs can help prevent fraying.

Stretch

You’ll also want to look for stretch, especially if you’ll be hiking in scrambly terrain. If you have to get your legs up and over obstacles, you’re going to want to give in the fabric. Most of the pants listed here blend nylon with spandex or elastane to provide that stretch, but the ratios differ. Typically, the higher the spandex or elastane content, the more flexible the fabric. A cotton blend can also offer good mobility, as with the Mountain Hardwear AP Pants and the Fjallraven Vidda Pros on our list.

Durability

Aside from the durability of the fabric itself–which you learn through gear reviews along with trial and error–features that increase durability include reinforced seams as well as reinforced knee and rear panels. Heavier fabrics, or those with a tighter weave, may be more durable, but that also needs to be balanced against breathability in the summer months.

Sun protection

All clothing will provide some protection from direct sun, but some fabrics provide more than others. Many manufacturers have started listing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings on their clothes. This tells you how much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate the material. For example, if a garment’s UPF rating is 50, that means 1/50, or 2 percent, of the sun’s UV rays, reach your skin through the cloth. UPF 20 means that 1/20, or 4 percent, of the sun’s rays, get through. The higher the rating, the better the protection. Fabric type, weave, dyes and added chemical treatments can all affect UPF.

Insect protection

Fabric treated with insect repellents such as Permethrin can help keep the biting critters away. This can be especially helpful in high tick season. None of the pants on our list this year are treated with repellent, but it is not a hard process to do on your own. (Permethrin is known to be dangerous to cats, so if you treat clothing at home, be careful with the chemical. Once you have finished treatment, however, the clothes are safe.) See here and here for info on treating clothes yourself.

Water protection

Durable water repellent (DWR) coating is common in hiking pants, as you’ll notice in our top ten list. It won’t make the pants waterproof, but it will help them shed water, and delay, if not prevent a soaking. That said, the coating wears off with wear, tear, and washing, so you’ll eventually need to refresh or re-apply it, which you can do safely at home with the right products.

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11 comments

  1. Nowhere here do I see Duluth Trading pants. I have 3 pair of their “Dry on theFly” nylon cargo pants, one of which is fleece lined for winter use.

    The DT synthetic pants are, in my experience, as good as the much more expensive Rail Riders pants (which were also not included in this review). This “goodness” includes features, materials and quality of construction.

    Take a look at the Duluth Trading pants suitable for hiking. They are great outdoor pants.

    • They look like great pants, but it appears that Duluth no longer makes or sells them.

      • I was going to suggest the DTC pants but Eric B. beat me to it. I love them. And they most certainly do still make them. Just Google “Dry on the Fly” and you will find them on-line. They are in my local store too. However this year’s version is slightly different than last year’s version. I like last year’s a bit better. I especially like the pockets. Mine have double zippered back pocket. Also the front and thigh pocket all open from the top rather than the side so stuff is less likely to fall out of them when sitting on the ground. It happens (speaking from experience). I had a pair of Kuhl pants that did not wear well – ripped out very quickly.

      • Searched last night and you can’t buy some of them. I think its a bad store design. Anyway, ordered a pair to try out.

  2. I have the Fjallraven Keb pants for spring and fall and the Abisko pants for summer. Both have outstanding features, are well-made and rugged. They should be on the list.

  3. What happened to your beloved Eco Mesh RailRiders? I just bought a pair, largely based on your past glowing review.

    • They’re still good lightweight pants. But, I’ve gotten sick of replacing them. They’re just not durable enough. I’m lucky if I get a full season out of them and so far, I’m on my third pair this year…and summer isn’t even over. In the past, it was one pair per year, like clockwork. Railriders is also kind of going mainstream and pulling away from their more technical clothes. It’s my sense that the eco-mesh pants days are numbered. I’m sure you’ll like them and I still wear mine occasionally, but less and less.

  4. I’m surprised you review pants with DWR favorably. In my experience, they don’t shed water well enough to matter. I wear ankle or knee-high gaiters for snow, trail maintenance or bushwhacking and rain pants if it’s raining hard enough. Having the DWR wear off pants quickly and reapplying it often seems like more trouble than its worth. They also seem to breathe less well, causing me to sweat more. I think DWR on hiking pants is just an excuse to charge more without better function. I agree with your reply to Adam W that Railriders EcoMesh are a bit delicate, but I love them anyway for hot, humid, buggy conditions if staying mostly on-trail. I can attest that the InsectShield (permethrin) works. (In winter, I love soft shell pants.)

    • We mention the DWR coating because some people do care for it, but it has no impact on our assessment or recommendation of the pants. DWR rubs off of pants quickly and has little lasting effect unless you constantly reapply it. We care a lot more about fit, stretch, gussets, durability, ventilation options, fabric thickness, pockets, etc. DWR is at the bottom of the list.

  5. I love my RR Eco-Mesh pants but have holed and gotten small tears in them even though I don’t hike in the extreme conditions Philip does. My worst disaster with them was completely self inflicted.

    I decided to fix several holes and small rips but my lone, overloaded working brain cell forgot about the good supply of Tenacious Tape I had on hand just for that sort of thing and chose to use small iron on patches instead. On the very last repair, just as my wife was saying, “I don’t think using the iron is a good idea…”, there was a smoky “poof” and I had an iron shaped hole completely through both sides of one of the pant legs. My wife didn’t need to finish her sentence because the proof was in the poof.

    I ‘fessed up my mistake to RailRiders and they sent me a couple square feet of material in the closest color to those old pants and I took it all to a tailor to be fixed. Now, I have a one of a kind pair of Eco-Patch pants. I think I’ll remember the Tenacious Tape the next time they need fixing.

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