The Best Men’s Hiking Pants of 2020

With a focus on comfort, durability, and performance, we’ve found the best men’s pants for hiking and trekking. Get ready to hit the trail.

The legs are the body’s primary mobilization team, and pants are their first line of defense. With innovative fabrics, today’s pants can shed water, block the sun, deflect sharps, and still look great while reliving the experience over burgers and brew.

For some real-world feedback, we brought a crop of the latest pants with us to the Andean cloud forests, deep desert canyons, high mountain peaks, and more everyday scenarios (read: punching the keyboard at work).

Finding the Best Hiking Pants

With summer in full swing and the first cooler days of autumn just around the corner, it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to logging some miles on the legs.

And because these klicks will likely be spent tromping through hot, dusty days and cool, buggy nights, we look for pants that offer superior breathability, a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, good SPF, and pockets to keep our backcountry everyday carries close at hand.

A good pair of pants should be lightweight and (in our preference) lighter in color to remain a little more inconspicuous. The bonus to those khakis and grays is they also reflect the intense summer rays better than darker colors, helping you stay cool in the heat of the day. And because we go outside to hear nature over nylon, we prize a light twill that swishes quietly down the trail.

Crowned with belt loops (or even better, an integrated belt) and cuffed with a drawcord, we like a pant that doesn’t pull below the fold and value being able to hoist the ankles mid-leg.

While there isn’t a single pair of pants that work for everyone, we’ve tested a variety of pants and broken them down into relevant categories. And if you need help choosing the right hiking pants, jump to our buyer’s guide at the end of this article.

Best Men’s Hiking Pants

Best Overall: Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Pant ($145)

Fjallraven_ABISKO MIDSUMMER TROUSERS

These pants tick all the boxes: well-placed zippered pockets, durability where you need it, and flexibility where you want it. The Midsummer exemplifies Scandinavian design with fantastic attention to detail through and through.

The butt and legs are reinforced with a Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric. It’s lightweight but durable and waxed for superior weather protection. The pants are paired with a breathable four-way-stretch fabric, allowing you to scramble up the mountain without feeling restricted.

Two mesh hand pockets zip up your essentials, and a pair of leg pockets ride up front on top of the thighs and out of the way. Inside the front right pocket is a stretchy mesh sleeve that keeps the flopping around.

The pant lacks rear pockets, but you really don’t need them. Loaded rear pockets can rub on a pack and can be uncomfortable when sitting around camp. They are also one of the first parts of a pant to wear out.

At 10 ounces, these pants are truly lightweight and breathe incredibly well on those hot summer days. One of our favorite parts of the pant is the 10-inch thigh zippers that spill the heat on a hike.

Need even more ventilation? Simply pull the cuff over the calves and cinch them with the drawcord. We’ve used these while hiking and camping, and they still look good as new.

They come in European sizes, so you’ll probably need to consult the size guide when buying. If you buy them at one of Fjallraven’s brick-and-mortar stores, the brand will hem them for free, giving you a fully tailored fit. They’re not the cheapest hiking pants available, but the quality and aesthetics make the Midsummer a worthy investment.

Fabric: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
Fit: True to size
Weight: 10.5 oz.
DWR: Reinforced G-1000 patches are waxed
Bottom line: Anyone willing to invest in a pair of long-lasting trekking pants will love these

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Best Scrambler: prAna Stretch Zion Pant ($89)

prAna_StretchZion

If you were to pick an industry favorite, prAna’s Stretch Zion would likely be at the top of the heap. Over 600 reviewers on prAna’s own site gave the Stretch Zion a five-star review. Year after year, review after review, the Stretch Zion — like its canyon namesake — stands the test of time, and it makes our list again this year.

The Zion is woven from a nylon-spandex blend that has a forgiving flex and just enough protection to deflect chaparral and granite.

A clever integrated belt buckle is offset from the fly. And two angled cargo pockets silhouette the legs to holster a map or phone.

At the cuffs, prAna placed a row of snaps that allows you to roll and snap the legs up and out of the way for better footwork visibility, making these our top choice for hikers who drop the pack to venture off to the crags.

They’re also available in shorts ($69) and convertible pants ($95).

Fabric: 97% nylon, 3% spandex
Fit: True to size
DWR: Yes
Sun protection: 50-plus UPF
Bottom line: A do-all pair of pants styled for climbing but great on the trail and can pass for the city without looking like you walked off the Camel Trophy series

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Best Budget Hiking Pants: REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pants ($55)

REI-Co-op-Savanna-Trails-Pants

The best-priced pants on our list, REI’s Savanna Trail pant is the latest incarnation of the Co-op member favorite, the Sahara Pant. And you get a lot of bang for your buck.

The Savanna’s straight lines are reinforced at the knees and graced with articulated and gusseted construction to prevent backcountry blowouts and allow increased mobility. The deep front pockets billow slightly to swallow oversized items, and a zippered stash pocket in the back secures your valuables.

The pants have an elastic drawcord that allows you to keep the lower legs cool on hot days.

The Savanna’s material provides a soft, brushed surface that whispers down the trail. Sporting a 50-plus UPF rating and a DWR coating, it sheds light rain and keeps dewy brush from saturating through. On the downside, we found that the fabric’s soft, almost micro-brushed surface collects lint, which stands out on dark-colored fabric.

A belt isn’t included, but you may not need it, as an elastic waist hugs the hips. And the Savanna runs smaller than most pants (though the length is spot-on). So if you’re still claiming you fit into your high school jeans, try before you buy or size up. As always, REI has a great return policy if the fit isn’t right.

Fabric: The nylon fabric is static and offers little-to-no stretch, but the gusseted and articulated construction allows more freedom
Fit: Small
DWR: Yes
Sun protection: 50-plus UPF
Bottom line: The Savanna is soft to the touch but still blocks the elements like a hard-nose; the low price makes this our best buy for those on a budget

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Best Convertible Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Equinox Convert Pants ($99)

Outdoor Research Equinox Convert Pants

The convertible pant is a tough look to pull off without looking like an NPR journalist on a book safari. Fortunately, OR released a convertible pant that pulls double duty, winning both functionality and looks.

The Equinox has a tailored fit with deep horizontal pockets to secure your goods. A third, zippered thigh pocket rides just below the right front pocket and is large enough to hold a device without pinching your high-step.

What cinches the deal is the discreet breakaway bottom. The zipper pull is tucked cleanly away in a zipper garage and spirals around the thigh to jettison the lower leg.

A 9-inch vertical side zipper gives you enough room to pull the pant leg over your boots. An extra 3 inches of fabric drapes below the zipper, giving you a presentable 10-inch short that rides just above the knees. The whole setup is easy to zip on and off and tucks cleanly away for a smooth finish.

Choose these if you get hot easily, like hiking in shorts, and want a durable, comfortable, do-all pair of convertible hiking pants. And for the convertible skeptics — you know who you are — the Equinox makes the convertible pant look sharp.

Fabric: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
Fit: True to size
Weight: 9.5 oz.
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: For hikers who are prone to overheating or those who want functionality in variable weather without packing extra clothes

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Best Pants for Bushwhacking: 1620 Workwear Shop Pant ($198)

1620_THE SHOP PANT

If your hike takes you off trail and through brush and brambles, a tough pant is a must. But you also don’t want a pant that limits mobility. That’s where the 1620 Shop Pant shines.

1620 makes the Shop Pant in the USA with 91% nylon and 9% spandex twill. That makes for a very tough, but still stretchy, pant. The gusseted crotch adds to the great mobility of these burly pants.

Treated with a DWR coating, the Shop Pants shed water, stains, and mud well. But these pants are fairly warm, so look elsewhere for hiking in very hot weather.

They’re tough as nails, which is nice when hiking through skin-clawing thorns and branches. For a versatile work pant that does great on the trail, these are a solid choice.

We’ve been testing these pants for nearly 3 years now, and they’re incredibly tough. And yes, they’re expensive. But given the abuse they’ve taken — from thrashing through brambles while pheasant hunting to grating against rocks while scrambling — we’d say they’re worth the price.

Fabric: 91% nylon, 9% spandex
Fit: True to size
DWR: Yes
Unique elements: Military-spec button, YKK zippers
Bottom line: For a burly, protective pant, the 1620 Shop Pant also allows excellent mobility; it excels when hikers need a protective, work-style pant to push through thick cover

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Best of the Rest: Hiking Pants

Rab Calient ($100)

RAB_Calient_Pant

Rab produces some of the finest outdoor apparel, and the Calient pants fall in line. The merits are in its restrained British design.

The slim-fit pant runs true to size and has a sleek, unobtrusive profile, made from Matrix synthetic fabric. The fabric doesn’t have a lot of give, but with the articulated cuts and anatomical yoke, the pant moves well with the body. The result is a durable but soft-to-the-touch pant that breathes well while on the move.

The pair of hand pockets and right thigh pocket zip up tight and out of the way. The mesh hand pockets are reinforced with the same static fabric on the pant, so dads carrying rocks and sharps don’t have to worry about pocket wear. And if you like to keep your kit stowed away neatly, the pant rolls up inside the left pocket, zipping into a softball-size package that disappears in the pack.

The pants button up with a double snap, and included is a thin webbing belt that clips with a slim profile. A thin Velcro patch keeps the belt from shifting out of place. Don’t want to use it? That’s OK too. You can unclip it and remove it entirely and sling your own belt through the pant’s belt loops.

Curiously, the pant cuffs have a pair of sewn eyelets but ship without a drawcord. You’ll have to rig your own drawcord with a cord or elastic band. That said, the tailored fit pulls over the calves and stays put on its own very well.

Fabric: 100% Polyamide plain weave with a brushed finish, sewed with four-way-stretch panels for articulation freedom
Fit: Slim, true to size
DWR: Yes
Sun protection: 30-plus UPF
Bottom line: Plucky and undramatic, like a Defender 90 on the trail, the Calient is a fantastic option for a reliable warm-weather pant

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Backcountry Active Utility Pant ($90)

Backcountry_Active_Utility

Cargo pants can be clunky, carry too much, and are rarely (if ever) an attractive look. Backcountry slid in a pair of slim, vertical-zippered pockets that saddle close to the thighs without feeling like you’re strutting with loaded bike panniers.

Two hand pockets are lined with a durable mesh to help vent the legs. A tidy vertical coin pocket rides on the hip to zip your ID, keys, or beer money.

The Utility Pant is constructed of a double-weave, brushed softshell fabric. Warm, stretchy, durable, and washed with a protective DWR coating, the material approaches alpine utility with jean styling.

We found that these pants run slightly large, but it’s nothing a belt can’t work with. And we appreciated the snaps, which can serve double duty, both pegging the pants around the ankle and pinning on the leg when things heat up.

Best of all, this pant is currently a steal at $68 from Backcountry.

Fabric: 88% poly, 12% spandex
Fit: True to size, with a little extra room
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: A classic straight-leg trail styling best for long day trips that wrap up at the bar

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Arc’teryx Gamma LT ($189)

Arcteryx_Gamma_LT

We’ve been wearing an original version of this pant for nearly 20 years, taking it rock climbing, mountaineering, bushwhacking, spring crud skiing, and on cross-country mountain runs. The pocket zipper has pulled off and the DWR has worn off, but the pant material is still — by nearly every measure — as good as new. It’s a cockroach: virtually bombproof. We can’t kill it.

The Gamma LT has only improved in years since its inception. Arc’teryx has put cord inside the pant hem, updated the belt, and sewed in a thigh map pocket. It’s seen a recent upgrade in materials that still brings four-way stretch with snag-proof protection. But now it has a more comfortable skin-facing side.

Unfortunately, the price is nearly twice that of the other pants on the list. And the breathability is low and the fabric fairly noisy. But these are acceptable sacrifices for more vertical endeavors, particularly hiking and climbing in wet conditions.

Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Fit: True to size
Weight: 12 oz.
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: For climbers and hikers who push their pants to the limit; well-suited to wet conditions

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Norrona falketind flex1 ($179)

Norrona Falketind flex1 pants

Adjustability, breathability, and utility come together in Norrona’s falketind flex1 hiking pants. Fair water repellency — enough for misty, drizzly days and light spills — and stretchy fabric make for comfortable wear through variable outdoor terrains and climes.

But two large side zips along the thigh and two lower gusset zippers add the most versatility to these synthetic pants. Open the vents to dump heat and adjust the lower leg zippers to accommodate large hiking boots or low-cut trail shoes.

Velcro straps allow you to dial in fit, and all pockets have zippers to help keep stowed items secure. Beyond the pants’ utility, Norrona also incorporated some noteworthy sustainability hits. At least 50% of the fibers are recycled, the DWR is PFC-free, and the falketind flex1 received both Bluesign and Oeko-Tex certifications for environmentally responsible practices.

Fabric: Proprietary flex1 fabric (softshell, stretch)
Fit: Snug and slim, consider sizing up
Weight: 15 oz.
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: Excellent all-around outdoor pants with great breathability and solid construction

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How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants

Pant Length & Versatility

Hiking pants come in three main options: full-length, convertible, and roll-up. Full-length pants are a great option for complete leg protection, even in the summer. To combat overheating, our favorite full-length pants have zippered vents and mesh pockets to increase airflow.

Convertible pants are the ultimate 2-in-1. The legs zip off and can be worn as shorts or pants. They’re a great option for variable weather and multiday hikes where you want more options and less gear to pack. OR’s Equinox Convert is our top pick for convertible pants.

Somewhere in between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants. These have a tab, button, or drawcord that secures the cuff when rolled up. They offer a bit more cooling and are especially popular in climbing pants, where complete mobility is key. Our overall pick, Fjallraven’s Abisko Midsummer, has a tidy drawcord to keep the pant leg up.

Mobility

Being able to move freely is a major concern. Whether running down the trail or scrambling up a rocky patch, you don’t want your pants restricting your movement.

This is where design features like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and stretchy materials prove useful. And because every body is shaped differently, it can be helpful to try on a few pairs before buying to ensure a snug (but comfortable) fit.

Weather Protection

A DWR coating is used on most hiking pants. It doesn’t make pants completely waterproof but adds enough protection to keep you dry on dewy mornings or in light showers.

The coating washes out over time, so for optimal performance, you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants. Nikwax Softshell Proof Wash-In is an easy way to keep your pants repelling water year after year.

And if you don’t want pants with DWR, the Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer is a great option. Fjallraven steers clear of DWR and instead uses wax to up the water resistance.

Additional Features for Hiking Pants

The little extras can really make or break a good pair of pants. Well-positioned cargo pockets, zippered pockets, belt loops, and built-in belts are some of the features available. Whether you want these or not depends on your personal hiking plans and style.


Have a favorite pair of hiking pants we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.


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Steve Graepel
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Contributing Editor (and Gear Junkie Idaho Bureau Chief) Steve Graepel is allegedly a crook and a thief, conning his friends to steal away time from their families in pursuit of premeditated leisure, which typically involves a bike, a pack-raft, skis, running shoes, climbing rack, or all of the above.

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