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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 2021.

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 put together this gear review guide to the best hiking pants on the market.  There is also a buyer’s guide packed full of knowledge to help you make the best-informed decision. 

Best Hiking Pants for Backpacking 2021

The Best Hiking Pants for Backpacking 2021 are:


Best Hiking Pants 2021

Prana Stretch Zion

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

The Prana Stretch Zion hiking pants are a great choice for anyone seeking durability and comfort, and they look stylish and casual into 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 Zion 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 hiking 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, these are one of the best hiking pants for backpacking.

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Best Hiking Pants Australia and New Zealand 2021

Macpac Trekker Pants

Pros:
> Durable
> Integrated belt
> UPF 50+ UV protection
> Perfect blend between warmth and weight
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 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 C6 treatment for additional water resistance while staying breathable and they are UPF 50+ rated UV protection.

These pants are stretchy and also very durable. They are abrasion-resistant and have a gusseted seat for additional toughness. Two hand pockets allow for easy access, and one zip-closure thigh pocket offers security for any additional items you might be carrying. 

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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Patagonia Quandary Pants

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

Another lightweight soft-shell 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 for better freedom of movement, and a zippered hip 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.

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Columbia Ridge Silver Ridge Convertible

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

Convertible hiking 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.

These full-featured convertible pants are water-resistant, UVA and UVB-protected, and made from tough and breathable nylon fabric. They have a zippered security pocket and hook-and-loop closures for the side pockets, keeping your pocket items secure when you’re on the trail. 

Overall, these are one of the best convertible hiking pants on the market at the moment. 

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Arc’teryx Gamma LT

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.

The Arc’teryx Gamma LT are a lightweight, stretchy and durable softshell pants from Arc’teryx. are a great choice for any hiker.

As a softshell, they are 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. 

Overall, these are one of the best lightweight hiking pants for backpacking.

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REI Co-op Activator 3.0

Pros:
> Windproof
> Great Zippered pockets
> Adjustable waistband with belt loops
> Ethical materials and manufacture
Cons:
> Not so good in bad weather

The Activator 3.0 hiking pants from REI Co-Op are another softshell 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 Bluedesign standards, which means they are environmentally friendly and respect workers’ rights. 

Overall, these a solid pair of hiking pants.

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REI

Kuhl Deceptr

Pros:
> Stylish Pants
> Comfortable
> Well Featured
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> Tapered fit

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

They are water and UPF 50+ UV resistant, have articulated knee stitching, and are made of a ripstop nylon/polyester/spandex blend. These are the pants for you if you’re looking for something to take you from the office to the woods. 

Overall, these are another pair of solid hiking pants.

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Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible

Pros:
> Convertible combo of shorts and pants
> Specially designed zip-off system
> Great Cargo pockets with compartments
Cons:
> Not so stylish

Convertible cargo 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.

Cargo pants buff up your carrying capacity, so 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 Cargo Convertibles are an all-round great choice.

Overall, these are a great convertible hiking pants.

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Arc’teryx Lefroy

Pros:
> Designed for warm weather
> Trim fit – perfect for athletic hiking.
> Mesh-lined pockets
Cons:
> Best for warmer weather

Another great lightweight hiking pants alternative, the Arc’teryx Lefroy pants are designed for warm-weather hiking. They are made from a breathable material specifically chosen to help you regulate your temperature without compromising on durability or comfort.

The Arc’teryx Lefroy pants are cut to a trim fit and have elastane for stretch, both of which are intended to maintain your athletic performance in higher-temperature conditions. 

Overall, these one of the best lightweight hiking pants for summer.

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Kuhl Radikl

Pros:
> Comfortable
> Multi-season suitability
> Durable
> UPF 50+ UV protection
Cons:
> Not for rainy days – No DWR

The Kuhl Radikls promise the durability of technical hiking pants with the comfort of sweatpants, an incredible combination.

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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REI Co-op Sahara Convertible

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 hiking pants from REI Co-Op. These pants are water-resistant, quick-drying, and UV protected making them perfect for all weathers.

The rear edges of the cuffs 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. 

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REI

Kuhl Silencr Pants

Pros:
> Stylish
> Technical performance
> UPF 50+ UV protection
>
Two fit options – whether you prefer a slimmer or fuller fit, there’s a Silencr for you.
Cons:
> Lots of pockets, but no cargo pockets

Another great offering from Kuhl, the Silencr hiking pants are stylish technical pants designed for everyday wear and performance on the trail. Constructed from 100 percent polyester, they’re lightweight with a good amount of stretch.

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

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

Buyers Guide

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

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 hiking pants are the right fit for you. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to hit the trail in no time!

Breathability

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 pants you choose are 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. Thicker 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. 

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

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 pants are 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 some heavier pants are more resistant to snagging and tears. 

Durability

You want to be confident that your hiking pants are going to be sturdy, 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 hiking pants, and features like gusseting make for more robust construction. Thicker pants tend to be more durable but carry a cost in terms of weight.

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

Lightweight Hiking Pants in the mountains of New Mexico

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 hiking pants, which stands for durable water repellant. This means that they have a coating, which enables them to shed water more easily.

Choosing synthetic fabrics over cotton also helps with water resistance, as nylon is far less absorbent than its organic counterparts. 

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!

Convertible Pants 

Don’t want to bring shorts and pants? Maybe you’re a hiker who likes to rock the Capri look. You want to keep an eye out for zip-off convertible pants or pants which include easy attachments for rolling up the cuffs.

While they might be considered something of a halfway house, there’s a utility to having two garments in one. Constructed to the same high standards of durability and comfort, you might find that some form of convertible pants is exactly what you are looking for. 

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Hiking Pants for Backpacking

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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 Sydney, Australia.

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