Hiking in Utah, Testing the Best Hiking Pants of 2019

Best Men’s Hiking Pants of 2019

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 walk away looking good while you’re reliving the experience over burgers and brew.

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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, as well as more everyday scenarios (read: punching the keyboard at work).

Testing gear while hiking in Colorado

Finding the Best Hiking Pants

Summertime in the woods translates to long miles on the legs. And because these miles are often logged tromping through hot, dusty days and buggy nights, we look for pants that offer superior breathability, a durable water-repellant (DWR) coating to deflect dewy brush, good SPF, and pockets to keep our backcountry everyday carries close at hand.

A good pair of hikers should be lightweight and (in our preference) lighter in color to remain a little more inconspicuous. Lighter khakis and grays also reflect the intense summer rays better than darker colors, helping you keep cooler in the heat of the day.

We also appreciate a pant that has a belt (or belt loops) to keep the pants from falling below the fold while carrying a pack.

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.

Best Overall Hiking Pants

prAna Stretch Zion Pant ($90)

If you were to pick an industry favorite, Prana’s Stretch Zion would likely be at the top of the heap. Year after year, review after review, the Stretch Zion — like its canyon namesake — stands the test of time.

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 sits offset from the fly and out of an overlaying harness belt. And two angled cargo pockets silhouette the legs to holster a map or phone.

At the cuffs, prAna placed a clever set of snaps that allows you to roll and snap the legs up and out of the way for better footwork visibility.

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

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

Best Budget Hiking Pants

REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pants ($55)

One of 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 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 draw cord that can keep hoisted pants snug over the calves on hot days.

The Savanna’s material provides a soft, brushed surface, sports a 50-plus UPF rating, and is coated with DWR that can shed light rain or prevent dewy brush from saturating the pants. 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.
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.

Best Convertible Hiking Pants

KÜHL Renegade Convertible Pants ($99)

These pants are built for variable weather. The zip-off legs allow you to easily transition from pants to shorts when the mercury rises. The lightweight, soft-shell fabric dries quickly and stays breathable all day long.

The gusseted crotch allows for full movement, and the DWR coating provides an extra dose of water resistance. We found the zippers smooth to use, and there were no signs of abrasion even after scrambling over rough terrain.

Choose these if you get hot easily, like hiking in shorts, and want a durable, comfortable, do-all pair of convertible hiking pants.

Fabric: 95 percent nylon, 5 percent spandex
Fit: True to size
Weight: 16.8 ounces
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: For hikers who are prone to overheating or those who want functionality in variable weather without packing extra clothes.

Best Alpine Hiking Pants

Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Hiking Pant ($99)

Last summer, our reviewer lived in MHW’s Chockstone pants for a week on the Grand Teton. He wore them humping loads to high camp without overheating, and they were warm enough to pass time at high camp. And on summit day, he threw them over a base layer to use as an outer layer, climbing up through blowing snow.

The material has a low nylon ratio, making the Chockstone more flexible but less durable over the long haul (and less desirable for those hitting the crags week after week). But the no-frills design is pure alpine and incredibly comfortable. The pants have a security pocket, two hand pockets, a side pocket, a removable belt, and an ankle hem cinch cord. They’re clean and simple — just the way we like our alpine gear to be.

Fabric: 91 percent nylon, 9 percent elastane
Fit: True to size
Weight: 12 ounces
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: Best pants to wear from the trailhead to the summit.

Best Pants for Bushwhacking

1620 Workwear Shop Pant ($198)

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 percent nylon and 9 percent 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 percent nylon, 9 percent 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.

Best of the Rest Hiking Pants

Mountain Khakis Original Trail Pants Classic Fit ($100)

Cargo pants can be clunky, carry too much, and are rarely (if ever) an attractive look. Mountain Khakis snuck a pair of slim, vertical-zippered pockets that saddle close to the thighs and can swallow a phone without making you feel like you’re swinging guns.

The MK Trail Pant is constructed from two different fabrics: a static and durable brushed fabric paired with four-way-stretch nylon. The panel construction is matched with a gusseted crotch, providing durability and flexibility where you need it most. Durable and flexible — the best of both worlds!

High-stress seams are triple-stitched, and the cuffs have cowboy durability, sewn with an extra swatch of material at the heels. The fabric is protected with a DWR coating and rated 50-plus UPF, covering you on both good and bad days.

Fabric: 4.7-ounce, 75 percent cotton, 25 percent nylon plain weave with a brushed finish, sewed with four-way stretch panels for articulation freedom.
Fit: Small
DWR: Yes
Sun protection: 50-plus UPF
Bottom line: A classic straight-leg trail pant built for the long haul. Best for long day trips that wrap up at the bar.

Rohan Gobi Hiking Pant ($90)

If you haven’t heard of it, U.K. brand Rohan should be on your get-to-know list. It offers a solid line of clothes for the dedicated traveler. The brand had several pants that could have made our list, but we were particularly smitten with its packable hiking pant, the Gobi Trouser.

The Gobi is a no-frills pant. It has two pockets up front, a zipper pocket in the rear, and an elastic waist cinched with an internal drawcord. A fly zipper in front provides relief without unbuckling.

The real value of the Gobi is in what it lacks. It’s a simple, well-tailored pant that keeps the weight down and packability high while feeling like your favorite pair of sweatpants.

Fabric: 86 percent polyamide, 14 percent elastane; the Gobi is the stretchiest pant in our hiking lineup.
Fit: True to size
Weight: 9 ounces
DWR: Yes
Sun protection: 40-plus UPF
Bottom line: For minimalist hikers looking for protection with simple, clean design.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT ($189)

I’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, but the pant material is still — by nearly every measure — as good as new. It’s a cockroach: virtually bombproof. I can’t kill it.

The Gamma LT has only improved in years since its conception. Arc’teryx has added a cuff cord, updated the belt, and added a thigh map pocket. It’s seen a recent upgrade in materials that still affords four-way stretch and 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 percent nylon, 12 percent elastane
Fit: True to size
Weight: 12 ounces
DWR: Yes
Bottom line: For climbers and hikers who push their pants to the limit. Well-suited to wet conditions.

Fjällraven Abisko Lite Trekking Pant ($170)

These trekking pants manage to pair durability with comfort. The cuffs and the inside of the legs are reinforced with heavy-duty G-1000 fabric, and the four-way stretch means you can easily scramble up the mountain without feeling restricted.

We’ve used these while hiking and camping, and they still look good as new. The leg vents kept us cool in the summer, and when the temps dropped, we threw on a pair of long underwear underneath and carried on.

They come in European sizes, so you’ll probably need to consult the size guide when buying. They’re not the cheapest hiking pants available, but the quality makes this a worthy investment. These are hiking pants that can withstand heavy use and will last through several seasons on the trail.

Fabric: 65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton
Fit: True to size
Weight: 15.8 ounces
Bottom line: Anyone willing to invest in a pair of longlasting trekking pants will love these.

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. The KÜHL Renegade is a top pick for convertible pants.

Somewhere in between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants. These have a tab or button 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, the prAna Stretch Zion, has roll-up button tabs.


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 limiting your movement. This is where design features like a gusseted crotch and articulated knees 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 does wash out over time, so for optimal performance, you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants. Nikwax 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 Fjällraven Abisko Lite is a great option. Fjällraven 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. Cargo pockets, zippered pockets, belt loops, and built-in belts are some of the features available. Whether you want these or not really depends on your personal hiking plans and style.

Have a favorite pair of pants? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.

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Steve Graepel

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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