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Best Hiking Pants

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Best Hiking Pants

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This is a gear review about the best hiking pants for backpacking in 2022 by BikeHikeSafari.

Hiking pants have to be comfortable, breathable, keep you cool in hot weather, and warm when it’s cold. They also provide extra carrying capacity, which needs to be secure and accessible.

With so many options available I tested the best pants for hiking on the market to find out which ones are best in 2022.  There is also a buyer’s guide to help you make the best-informed decision. 

Best Hiking Pants for Backpacking 2022

The Best Hiking Pants for Backpacking 2022 are:

Best Hiking Pants for 2022

Prana Stretch Zion Pants II

Prana Zion Stretch Hiking Pants II

Weight: Unknown
Stretch: Yes
Weather Resistant:
 Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Stretch fabric
> Ventilated inseam gusset and mesh pockets
> Integrated belt
Cons:
> Warmer than most other pants
> Slightly thicker fabric than the other pants

The Prana Stretch Zion II pants have been updated in 2022. They are now made from a lighter recycled material. Overall, not too different from the old model but a bit lighter.

The Prana Stretch Zion II are a great choice for anyone seeking durability and comfort, and they look stylish and casual in the bargain. I’ve used these pants for thousands of miles of trails and can they are great for backpacking.

Made from Prana’s stretch reccycled fabric, which features a durable water repellent layer, they dry quickly without sacrificing comfort. They are also UPF 50+ UV resistant for skin safety.

While the material is thicker than many other pants, the Prana Stretch Zion pants feature a ventilated inseam gusset to keep you cool.

They have enough stretch and space for strenuous activity, and they are highly abrasion-resistant. These pants have a double zippered cargo pocket for storage and an integrated belt.

Overall, the Prana Stretch Zion is one of the best hiking pants for backpacking and they are also very stylish backpacking pants.

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Best Lightweight Hiking Pants

Kuhl Silencr Pants

Kuhl Silencr Hiking Pants

Weight: 12 oz / 340 grams
Stretch: Yes
Weather Resistant:
 Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Nice fit
> Good weather resistance
> Lightweight
> UPF 50+ UV protection
> Two fit options – whether you prefer a tapered fit or relaxed fit. I like the relaxed fit
Cons:
> No Belt
> Not much stretch around the waist area.

The first thing you will notice about these pants is the weight. They are one of the lightest pants in this whole review.

The Kuhl Silencr hiking trousers are stylish-looking technical pants designed for everyday wear and everything you need on the trail. They are constructed from 100 percent softshell ripstop polyester. Although they are lightweight, they also have a good amount of stretch. They come in a choice of slim fit or relaxed fit depending on how you like to wear your hikin pants, I prefer the relaxed fit, even though the slim fit is good too.

They are water- and UV-resistant, wick moisture away from your body, and are designed to maximize freedom of movement. Tailored for a full fit, they also (as the Silencr Rogue) come in a tapered fit for more style versatility. 

Overall, the Kuhl Silencr makes a great pair of lightweight pants for hiking, backpacking, or casual wear. These are my favorite Kuhl backpacking pants.

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Read the full review of the Kuhl Silencr Pants

Best Ultralight Hiking Pants

Kuhl Deceptr Pants

Kuhl Deceptr Pants review

Weight: 11oz / 312 grams
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Ultralight
> Very Stretchy
> Tough
> Good water resistance
Cons:
> The first impression is the pants have a rough feel, but over time they feel much better

Want a pair of pants that function equally well on and off the trail? Try a pair of Kuhl Deceptr Pants. These pants look like chinos, but are rugged, comfortable trail pants too.

The first thing I noticed about the Kuhl Deceptr men’s pants was the unique material. These ultralight hiking pants are rather rough to the touch. Initially, I didn’t like the feel and thought these men’s pants would not be very comfortable for hiking and backpacking. After a few hours of hiking, all those thoughts disappeared.

These pants are comfortable, super breathable, and very ultra lightweight. And I think they look rather stylish. They are also one of the most stretchy pants in the whole review.

They are water and UPF 50+ UV resistant, have articulated knee stitching, and are made of a ripstop nylon/polyester/spandex blend.  

Overall, the Kuhl Deceptr Pants are one of the best ultralight hiking pants on the market in 2022 with great stretch and very good weather resistance.

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Read the full review of the Kuhl Deceptr Pants

Best Hiking Pants Australia and New Zealand

Macpac Trekker Pants

Macpac Trekker Pants Review

Weight: 11.6 oz / 330 grams
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Durable
> Good Stretch fabric
> Integrated Belt
> UPF 50+ protection
> Weather resistant
Cons:
> Only one zip pocket
> Only available in Australia and New Zealand

Macpac Trekker Pants are a classic for a reason. This New Zealand based company uses their unique Pertex Equilibrium stretchy fabric has a double weave construction with an open inner weave that wicks moisture away from your body, and a tight outer weave for increased weather protection.

They also feature a DWR coating of C6 treatment for additional weather resistance while staying breathable and they are UPF 50+ rated UV protection.

These pants are stretchy and also very durable and suitable for any outdoor adventurers. They are abrasion-resistant and have a gusseted seat for additional toughness. Two hand pockets allow for easy access, and one zippered security pocket on the thigh for any additional items you might be carrying.  They come in Men’s pants and Women’s pants.

I’ve been wearing these pants for over 2 years and can attest to their comfort and durability.

Overall, these are the best hiking pants in Australia and New Zealand.

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Read the full review of the Macpac Trekker Pants

Best Budget Hiking Pants of 2022

REI Co-op Activator 3.0

REI Co-Op Activator Hiking Pants

Weight: Unknown
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:
> Windproof
> Great Zippered pockets
> Adjustable waistband with belt loops
> Ethical materials and manufacture
Cons:
> Not so good in bad weather

The REI Co-Op Activator 3.0 are another soft shell fabric design, this time with additional windproofing (good for gusts of up to 35mph), making them suitable for those changeable days in spring and early autumn too.

Drawcord-adjustable cuffs help you avoid debris and dirt getting in, and are good for keeping your pants dry if you’re fording a stream. These pants also conform to Bluesign standards, which means they are environmentally friendly and respect workers’ rights. 

They have articulated knees and center gusset to assist in freedom of movement and feel quite comfortable.

Overall, the REI Co-Op Activator 3.0 is a solid pair of budget pants for hiking.

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REI

Most Comfortable Hiking Pants

Kuhl Radikl Pants

Kuhl Radikl Hiking Pants Review

Weight: 15 oz / 425 grams
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
No
Pros:

> Super tough
> Very Comfortable
> Good fit
> Available in two styles, Klassic Fit and Tapered. I like the Klassic Fit.
Cons:
> Not weather resistant so not good in wet weather
> Heavy

The Kuhl Radikl Men’s Pants are not only one of the most popular hiking pants in the world, they are also one of the most comfortable.

These pants are well suited on hiking trails, at home, at restaurants, and out shopping. They are close to the perfect pair of men’s pants for 2022. The only thing they do not have is some form of weather resistance when it rains and a lighter-weight material. If they had those things these would be the perfect pair of trekking pants.

Constructed from a cotton/nylon/spandex mixed fabric that effortlessly combines stretch, toughness, and comfort, these are a real stand-out in the field.

Warmer than nylon alternatives but still breathable and UPF 50+ UV rated, these pants will carry you through a wide range of weather conditions. 

Overall, these are some of the most comfortable hiking pants on the market and a great choice for traveling and backpacking. These are a very popular pair of pants for good reason.

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Read the full review of the Kuhl Radikl Pants

best environmentally friendly hiking pants

Patagonia Quandary Pants

Patagonia Quandary Hiking Pants

Weight: 10 oz / 284 grams
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> High amount of Recycled fabric used 
> Zip-closure hip pocket
> Classic straight cut
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> Best for lean-to-medium builds due to the slim fit/classic cut of the pants

Another lightweight softshell option, Patagonia’s Quandary pants are a classic straight-leg cut made from a nylon/spandex blend with a durable water repellent finish. The nylon is 65 percent recycled too, making these pants comfortable and better for the environment.

They are UV-protected to UPF 50+ standards, have a gusseted crotch and articulated knees for better freedom of movement, and a zippered thigh pocket for storing your small items. 

Overall, these are one of the best backpacking pants for someone who wants to purchase a product that does what it can to help the environment. They also make a great pair of everyday pants to wear around town just as much as they are suited to the trail.

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Best Convertible Pants

Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants

Kuhl Renegade Convertible Cargo Pants Review

Weight: Unknown
Stretch:
Yes but not much
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Baggy Cargo Pant fit
> Weather resistant DWR coating on pants
> Good fit
Cons:
> Not very much stretch
> Front button can pop open if your pants are too tight. Could be a tighter fit to prevent this

Kuhl Renegade convertible pants bring two massive benefits to the table. The ability to convert to shorts and back easily is a clear winner, meaning you can retain the benefits of long pants legs but also enjoy the cooling effect of shorts.

Made of weather-resistant fabric and coated with a DWR finish they are able to withstand mild drizzle for a short period of time.

Kuhl Renegade Cargo pants buff up your carrying capacity, they have rear pockets, front pockets, and cargo pockets. If you’re a hiker who likes to keep small equipment out of their pack, these are what you might be seeking.

Constructed to the highest standards of breathability, durability, and sun protection, the Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants are an all-around great choice.

Overall, the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Pants are the best convertible pants for backpacking and traveling. Best suited if you want comfortable convertible pants with good weather resistance and lots of pockets.

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Read the full review of the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants

Weight: Unknown
Stretch:
No
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Convertible combo of shorts and pants
> Durable
> Reasonably priced
> Good Pockets
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> Not stretchy

The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants are a great utilitarian option, giving you shorts and pants in one garment! Just use the simple zips to detach and reattach the lower legs. Most people either love them or hate them. Over the years I’ve used them quite a lot and still have a pair I use regularly.

The Columbia Silver Ridge are full-featured convertible pants with zip-off legs that are water-resistant, UVA and UVB-protected, and made from tough and breathable nylon fabric. They have zippered security hand pockets and hook-and-loop closures for the side pockets, keeping your pocket items secure when you’re on the trail. 

Overall, the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants are very versatile pants and one of the best convertible pants at an economical price. 

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Arc’teryx Gamma LT

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hiking Pants

Weight: 12.5 oz / 354 grams
Stretch: Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Lightweight
> Breathable
> Three zip pockets
Cons:
> Not suitable for all weather conditions – these pants are a bit light for cold weather or heavy rain.
> Extremely expensive

The Arc’teryx Gamma LT has been newly updated in 2022 and is a lightweight, stretchy and durable softshell pants from Arc’teryx. are a great choice for any hiker.

As a softshell, the Arc’teryx Gamma LT is best for light weather, so probably not the best option for the depths of winter, but they are water-resistant and breathable. For summer hikes, these pants are durable and lightweight. 

The Arc’teryx Gamma LT have nice zippered hand pockets and rear pockets which not all pants for hiking have so that is a good touch.

Overall, the Arc’teryx Gamma LT are quality pants for hiking that are one of the best lightweight hiking pants for backpacking but are too expensive for most people.

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REI Co-op Sahara Convertible

REI Co-Op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants

Weight: Unknown
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Convertible combo of shorts and pants
> Lots of great pockets
> All-weather suitability with DWR
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> Best for warmer days

Classic convertible pants for hiking, backpacking, and travel from REI Co-Op. These pants are water-resistant, quick-drying, and UV sun protection making them perfect for all weathers.

The rear edges of the cuffs on the REI pants are reinforced to prevent them from succumbing to rubbing from your boots, and the bottoms of the pants unzip to give you another option besides the full shorts conversion. They have a gusseted crotch and are comfortable to wear.

Overall, the REI Sahara Pants are a great pair of durable convertible pants at a reasonable price.

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REI

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Weight: 10.7 oz / 303 grams
Stretch:
Yes
Weather Resistant:
Yes with DWR
Pros:

> Lightweight
> Comfortable
> Durable
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> No belt

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants have been around for a while now and are just as popular now as ever.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi offers one of the best blends of lightweight stretch fabric, breathability, and durability. In fact, they have more stretch than most in this review so if that is important for you then you will like this aspect of the design. Like many other lightweight pants for hiking, they are awesome in the heat but not so good in cold windy weather.

Overall, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants are one of the most popular hiking pants in this review and will work well for anyone on their next backpacking trip.

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Lightweight Hiking Pants
Gear Testing Pants for Backpacking on the climb up Mt Whitney

Yet to be tested

  • Fjallraven Vidda Pro : The Fjallraven Vidda Pro will be added to the review when they have been tested

Buyers Guide

There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to find the perfect pair of pants for hiking and backpacking.

You need to make sure they’re comfortable, durable, and that they’ll protect you from all kinds of weather. There are so many choices, so how do you narrow down your options? 

Here is a buyer’s guide to help you zero in on the most important considerations for deciding which trekking pants are the right fit for you. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to hit the trail in no time!


Material

There are a couple of main materials used in the manufacture of hiking pants, Nylon and Polyester, Spandex / Elastane, and Cotton.

Nylon

Almost all the pants in this review are made from nylon or nylon blend. Even if pants don’t use nylon they usually have strong nylon stitching.

Polyester

Polyester is also common on some of the high-end hiking pants in this review. They offer slightly more water resistance than nylon. As with most of the fabrics for hiking pants they are usually a blend of several materials.

Spandex / Elastane

All of the stretch hiking pants have some form of spandex or elastane blended into the material or stitched into panels on the pants. This material is not the most durable and generally works well blended with nylon which is super strong.

Cotton

Cotton is arguably the most comfortable material against the skin. But it is not the best material for hiking pants as it is not weather resistant and will absorb water. If hiking in hot dry desert-type environments cotton can be a welcome addition to pants, but in the tropics or wet weather they are not recommended.


Features

Integrated belts or some form of waist adjustment, articulated knees, and gussets are all features that have made their way onto hiking pants over the years.

Integrated Belt and Waist Adjustment

A built-in-belt is a welcome addition to hiking pants in my opinion. After several days of hiking, we can all lose a pant size quite easily and put that weight back on in a couple of days. So an integrated belt or some other form of waist adjustment is appreciated. Unfortunately, not all pants have waist adjustment either in the form of a belt, drawcord, or adjustable buttons on the waist. For the companies that don’t have waist adjustments built in, they should consider this a design flaw and aim to work on rectifying this.

Articulated Knee and Gussets

Articulated knees and gussets are another feature that is appreciated in hiking pant design. The articulated knees allow for a full range of movement in the leg and knee area as the knee bends. Usually, it is simply more material added to this section of the pants. Gussets are extra room in the crotch area that replaces the normal way pants are made.


Style and Fit

Hiking pants are generally classified as being Slim Fit or Relaxed. Many brands have a proprietary brand name for the style but they are essentially the same.

Slim Fit

Slim-fit pants are usually lighter than regular fit and also well suited to the outdoors. They usually look nicer and also work well as travel pants that can be used for hiking. Pants with a slim fit usually offer a lot of stretch.

Relaxed / Regular Fit

A relaxed fit is my preferred style of hiking pants. They offer a little more room than a slim fit and are better suited to the outdoors. But there is a limit. Some relaxed-fit pants can look very baggy, especially if you have a thin build.

Women’s Hiking Pants

Almost all the brands and styles mentioned in this review have a Women’s specific version. Sometimes they use a different name but they all feature the same characteristics as the Men’s hiking pants in this review.


Pockets

You probably don’t want to carry too much extra weight in your pants, but everyone knows that there are some things you’d rather have at hand than on your back.

If you’re someone who prefers to carry more in your pockets, make sure you’re looking for options like zip closures for security, and cargo pockets for capacity. Also, consider the lining of your pockets.

Mesh lining helps to ventilate internal pockets and facilitates drainage, perfect for any fording. Just take your phone out before you go wading!

Thigh pockets and hand pockets are the most important, with rear pockets being a bit useless.

Hiking pants pockets

Weight

You want to keep your pack weight light and your legs unencumbered. You’re also looking for durability, comfort, and warmth. The weight of the material your hiking pant is made of is a key factor here.

Out for a multi-day hike with a couple of pairs in your pack? You might want to bring lighter pants. The same goes for summer-time hikes, where extra material can be more of a hindrance than a help.

However, a heavier material can be great for fending off cold and wind, and a heavier pair of pants is more resistant to snagging and tears. 


Water Resistance

Most hiking pants have some degree of water resistance. A general rule of thumb is that water resistance has an inverse relationship with breathability, which makes sense.

You wouldn’t want to wear a waterproof jacket on a hot summer’s day, and the same goes for your pants.

You’ll often see the letters DWR in the features of weather-resistant pants, which stands for durable water repellant. This means that they have a DWR coating, which enables them to shed water more easily in light rain.

Choosing synthetic fabrics over cotton also helps them be more water resistant, as nylon is far less absorbent than its organic counterparts. 

When things get wet it can be annoying. When hiking and backpacking you should always carry a good pair of lightweight rain pants to keep your hiking pants dry.

Water resistant hiking pants

Breathability of Hiking Pants

You put in a lot of effort when you’re hiking, and you know what effort means; that’s right, sweat! You need to make sure that the hiking pant you choose is breathable. Sweat not being able to evaporate keeps you from cooling down when you need to the most.

You’ll find that hiking pants marketed as rain pants are less breathable, along with softshell pants, whereas lightweight all-weather pants are far more so.

Often, breathability is highlighted as a feature, so if it doesn’t appear on a label or a listing, make sure you check to see if the pants you’re looking at are made for a more specific function. 

As well as the material itself, look for ventilation. Thick pants like the Prana Stretch Zion may not be that breathable in fabric terms, but they have built-in vents to keep air flowing and help body heat to disperse. 

Breathable pants for backpacking

Comfort

A comfortable pair of hiking pants are the best. Usually they are breathable, have a least some degree of stretch, are lightweight, durable, have good pockets and some for of mild water resistance.

All the items that make for comfortable hiking pants are covered in more details below, keep reading. Part of having comfortable pants involves the design that includes articulated knees which allow a good amount of movement in the knee region of the pants. Not all pants have articulated knees but those that do make for a good room in the knee area.


Stretch

Most hiking pants contain some degree of elasticity in their material. This is important for both your comfort and your freedom of movement. A bit of added stretch gives you a blend of durability and flexibility.

The last thing you want to be worrying about when crouching to set up a tent is the possibility of your pants splitting, and if you’re doing any climbing or clambering you’re going to want to be able to make those stretches in confidence.

Look for pants with a decent percentage of elastane in their construction, or that market themselves as stretchy, like the Prana Stretch Zion

Testing Prana Pants on a hiking trail
A good pair of stretch pants are great for hiking in the backcountry

Durability

You want to be confident that your pair of pants is going to be sturdy, and resistant to snags, tears, and abrasion. This is why it’s important to think about durability when you’re picking out a pair.

Different weaves and coatings can increase the durability of a hiking pant, and features like a gusseted crotch make for more robust construction. A thicker pair of pants tends to be more durable but carry a cost in terms of weight in comparison to lightweight fabric used is lightweight pants.

Thinner synthetic pants are resistant to most forms of trail damage and still keep you cool. 

When hiking in wet weather and rough areas and you need extra protection it might be a wise idea to invest in a good pair of hiking gaiters to stop abrasion and mud from damaging the lower legs of the pants. I’ve been using gaiters to protect my pants and hiking boots for most of my hiking life but only in areas with lots of mud or snow.

Durable hiking pants

Warmth

All of the lightweight pants provide good sun protection and warmth when needed. The lightweight softshell fabric and lightweight stretchy materials provide a good level of protection from the cold when needed. But when things get really cold and the temperature drops below freezing it is time to layer up.

When it gets cold it is good to know that all the best trail pants can be worn with a warm base layer for backpacking and hiking trips. If you need another layer to stop the cold wind then a pair of rain pants can provide that too. But when it really gets cold you may need to take a look at a pair of Winter Hiking Pants which are thicker pants with good wind resistance and insulation. You may also need to upgrade to a pair of Winter Hiking Boots for better insulation. And when it really gets cold you may need some down pants which are a great option for when you in camp.


Convertible Hiking Pants

Convertible pants are an option that appeals to hikers and backpackers that like to wear shorts during warm weather and hiking pants in colder weather.

Over the years I find that I have had a love-hate relationship with convertible pants. My main dislike is wearing a pair of shorts with a great big zip running around my thighs or knee area. This feeling is shared by many who are turned off for the same reason. But the positives are very good.

Like most people, I love the flexibility of having shorts and pants all in one option. When it comes to lightweight traveling they are perfect, when it comes to lightweight backpacking and hiking they are often better than taking a separate pair of hiking shorts and hiking pants. The lower legs zip off easily and you can store the pant leg in the backpack until needed.

Overall, I like zip-off convertible pants, they are versatile pants. They are here to stay and always a part of most of my gear lists when I go hiking and backpacking. And the best convertible pants mentioned in the review above are all awesome.

Best lightweight hiking pants
Lightweight Convertible Pants in the mountains of New Mexico

Pants Vs Shorts

Hiking Shorts are lighter, and more breathable, but don’t provide the same level of protection as Hiking Pants. In the summer months, shorts are a good option. Many ultralight hikers don’t use hiking pants but prefer to use shorts only. When it gets cold they wear a pair of base layers underneath the shorts. I’ve tried this method in temperatures well below freezing and it works well. Especially when you add a pair of Rain Pants to stop the cold wind.


Value

There is a huge divide between the pricing of the most expensive and the most economical pants in this review. In many ways, you get what you pay for but sometimes things are just too prohibitively expensive. Check the prices to see whether they fit your budget.


Conclusion

Here are the best pants for backpacking and hiking on the market in 2022:


Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to wear Hiking Pants in Summer?

Hiking pants can be worn in summer or winter. In fact, most hikers and backpackers prefer to wear long pants all year around. Generally, unless it is very hot longer pants are better.

Are Hiking Pants better than hiking shorts?

For most people hiking pants are better because they provide better protecting against scratches, better protection against bugs, better protection against the sun and look better. Also, in some parts of the world it is more appropriate and less offensive to wear hiking pants rather than hiking shorts.

Are Convertible Hiking Pants better than normal long pair of pants?

This is personal preference but many people prefer the functionality of convertible pants. When it gets too hot you can zip off the pant legs if you want and when it gets cold again you can zip them back on.

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.
Pants for Backpacking and Hiking
Best Pants for Backpacking
Best Pants for Hiking

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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