Hiker walking with trekking poles
The author testing hiking pants.

The Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2021

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

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).

While there isn’t a single pair of pants that works 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.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2021

Best Scrambler: prAna Stretch Zion Pant

prAna_StretchZion

The elements of the perfect hiking pant aren’t complicated — fit, breathability, good pockets, smart materials, and durability. Putting these components together with intelligent design is where many hiking pants fall short.

If you were to pick an industry favorite, prAna’s Stretch Zion ($89) would likely be at the top of the heap. Over 800 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 enhanced footwork visibility. The smart composition of the parts makes this our top choice for hikers who drop the pack to venture off to the crags.

The fabric is fairly heavy and more durable. And it’s also warmer, making it our choice for fall and spring trips or a pinch hitter for snow climbs.

The Stretch Zion is also available in shorts ($69) and convertible pants ($95).

Specs
  • Fabric: 97% nylon, 3% spandex
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 13 oz.
  • Fabric weight: 180-185gsm
  • DWR: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

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.

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Best Warm-Weather Hiker: Seadon Helios Trail Pants

Seadon Helios Trail Pants

Each year, we see a lot of the same brands. Finding an outlier is like unearthing treasure. Seadon is a newcomer we found on Kickstarter. They’ve done their homework and brought a gem of a pant this year. Their Helios Trail Pant ($100) is the best lightweight pant on the market today.

The lightweight Sunsail fabric is woven from recycled fishing nets, treated with a DWR, and blocks UV rays. Mesh-lined hand pockets angle down, and the drop pockets out back have a fold-over tab. They’re easy to access and keep supplies from popping out.

Leg pockets can be hard to nail. They often ride too far front or too low, causing the contents to flop around the leg. Zipped slightly back off the side of the leg, this Seadon pant pulls it off better than most. It’s easy to open and close with one hand and deep enough to hold a device without feeling sloppy.

To increase dependability in the backcountry, all mechanical parts have been removed. The waist belt is hooked with an alloy G-clip. The webbing is tagged inside the waist to prevent it from pulling through or twisting in the wash.

There are no spring-loaded cord locks to break. The pant’s hem can be held up with a lightweight elastic cord cinched through a friction stopper. You can pull it with one hand on the go.

Do they hit a home run? Nearly. The 126gsm material is lightweight, and they won’t be as durable as Black Diamond’s Alpine Light or prAna’s Stretch Zion.

Similarly, embracing the sun-kissed “sea” in Seadon, they don’t pack a lot of punch when it gets cold. In early spring, we wore these pants hiking down into Hells Canyon. Despite the name, it gets pretty chilly down by the Snake River.

We needed to wear them over baselayer bottoms. But we’d giddily pack these on summer hikes in the Rockies where the sun gets intense.

Lastly, they have sweatpant sizing: S, M, L, and XL with a consistent 32-inch inseam. The mediums fit our 5’10” frame with a 32 waist quite well. But as you trend taller, the pants run shorter.

The Helios will be available to preorder in their online shop at the beginning of June at a discount (shorts $64, pants $84). Products will ship at the beginning of July, with prices climbing to $79 for the shorts. The pants will retail for $99.

Specs
  • Fabric: 85% recycled nylon, 15% spandex
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Fabric weight: 126gsm
  • UPF: 50
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: Best for hot and dusty trails or humid climates.

Check Price at Kickstarter

Best Convertible Pant: Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research Equinox Convert Pants

The convertible pant is a tough style 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 ($99) 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 closes 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.

Specs
  • Fabric: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 9.5 oz.
  • UPF: 50+
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: For hikers who are prone to overheating or those who want functionality in variable weather without packing extra clothes.

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Outdoor Research

Best Budget Hiking Pants: Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant ($55)

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo

Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pant ($55) is a straightforward cargo pant, made of lightweight nylon and a reasonable option for general day hikes. It blocks UV rays, includes a webbing belt, and has ample room to store your essentials.

The straight lines are graced with gusseted construction to prevent backcountry blowouts and add some constructive mobility. The pockets are deep and sit off to the side. You can store a lot of supplies in there with minimal bounce.

But you do have to make some concessions at this price. The lightweight material doesn’t have any mechanical stretch or elastic fibers. And it lacks a DWR. So you sacrifice durability, mobility, and weather protection.

While the Silver Ridge skimps on the bells and whistles that make many of the pants on this list better choices for more adventurous trips, the Silver Ridge is less than half the price and often goes on sale. You can find them right now for $33, making them a true bargain.

If you are looking for a convertible option, give Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants a look ($70).

Specs
  • Fabric: 100% nylon
  • Fit: True to size
  • UPF: 50+

Bottom line: Lightweight pant for day hikes that doesn’t break the bank.

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Best Pants for Bushwhacking: 1620 Workwear Shop Pant

1620_THE SHOP PANT

If your hike takes you off-trail 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 ($198) 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 4 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.

Specs
  • 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.

Check Price at 1620 USA

Best of the Rest: Hiking Pants

Black Diamond Alpine Light

Black diamond Alpine light

Black Diamond’s roots are in technical climbing gear. They’ve taken what they’ve learned on the mountain to make some of the finest outdoor apparel available. The Alpine Light ($99) speaks to their years of experience. The merits are in its restrained design.

Instead of a belt, the pants fasten with a G-hook that sits off-center and catches on ladder webbing sewn into the waist. Both Arc’Teryx and Seadon use a similar G-hook belt closure, but Black Diamond’s solution is the most secure implementation of the three.

The drawcord around the ankles locks into a slot, pinching the elastic cord. Unlike other pants with drawcords, you can’t pull it with one hand. It takes both hands to lock it into place. But the concept is light and the most minimal setup we tested. It significantly reduces bulk around the ankles.

For stretch and durability, the material is a combination of nylon and elastane, whose qualities start to shine once you veer off the map. Beyond the trail, you need pants that move with you, deflecting rock and scrub. That’s what terrain Black Diamond feels most comfortable in, and that’s where the Alpine Light delivers.

The 150gsm fabric is water-resistant, lightweight, and incredibly durable for the weight, looking nearly new after months of testing.

The pants have five pockets (two hand and two rear drop-in pockets, with a fifth pocket on the lower right leg). The front pockets aren’t very deep, and the thigh pocket sits low against the knee. This is by design to stay clear of a climbing harness.

If you like to carry lots of items in your pant pockets — particularly a phone in that thigh pocket — this could be a dealbreaker. If the thigh pocket was better positioned, we would have awarded the Alpine Light our choice for the best overall hiking pant.

The Alpine Light is available in general sizes (S, M, L, and XL), with inseams scaling from 31.5 to 33.5 inches. The waist sizing trends small. If you are between sizes, we recommend sizing up.

Specs
  • Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% elastane
  • Fit: Slim, true to size
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Fabric weight: 150gsm
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: A fantastic option for trail to summer summits.

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Rab Calient

RAB Calient Pant

Rab produces some of the finest outdoor apparel, and the Calient pant ($100) falls 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.

Specs
  • 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
  • UPF: 30+

Bottom line: Plucky and undramatic, like a Defender 90 on the trail, the Calient is a fantastic option for a reliable warm-weather pant.

Check Price at Camp SaverCheck Price at gearx

Jack Wolfskin Activate Light Zip Off Pants

Jack Wolfskinn Activate Light Zip Off pants

If securing personal items is your primary concern, Jack Wolfskin’s Activate Light Hiking Zip Off Pants ($129) have five pockets that zip shut to prevent contents from spilling out. And they are really good pockets.

The cargos are deep but snug and well-positioned. They keep phones and GPS devices from flopping around.

Generally speaking, many convertible pants have a hard time balancing the taper through the legs with fit. They are often too baggy, or the legs run narrow and bind around the thigh when converted to shorts.

The Active Light strikes a balance of room and functionality. The length is appropriate, and the width is comfortable.

Instead of drawcords around the ankles, the Activate Light uses Velcro to secure the cuff. The simple system reduces bulk and weight and removes the chances of elastic cording from catching on passing scrub.

In our experience, hook and loop closures start to fail when gunked up with mud and debris. They also tend to snag on brushed materials like socks. We haven’t experienced this on these pants yet. We’ll see how these fare over time.

One gripe we did have is the snap closure. It’s not as secure as other pants and pops open fairly easily. A hook-and-loop tab behind the snap helps take the pressure off the snap. And the pants have belt loops if you want to add extra security.

Jack Wolfskin has been producing technical gear in the European market for 40 years, but only recently introduced outdoor wear to stateside buyers. Their Activate Light Zip Off is a legit pant that does nearly everything well. Overall, we really liked these pants and are looking forward to seeing more from Jack Wolfskin.

Specs
  • Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 12 oz.
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: Comfortable convertible with lots of secure pockets.

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Jack Wolfskin

Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip Off Trousers

Fjallraven Midsummer Zip Trouser

The red fox might have been usurped by Kanken-toting VSCO girls, but Fjallraven makes some of the very best outdoor gear we see.

Last year we ranked the Abisko Midsummer Trouser as our favorite hiking pant. It ticked all the boxes: well-placed zippered pockets, ventilation, durability where you need it, and flexibility where you want it. The pants exemplify Scandinavian design with attention to detail through and through.

Fjallraven released a zip-off version ($165) of the Abisko Midsummer. Like on the pant version, the butt and legs are reinforced with a Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric. It’s lightweight and durable, and as the name implies, designed for hot summer days.

To preserve breathability, the pant isn’t treated with a DWR. Fjallraven sells a Greenland Wax you can apply for added weather durability. On the backside of the legs, the pants are paired with a breathable, four-way mechanical stretch fabric, pairing mobility with the G-1000’s durability.

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 just big enough for a phone.

The pockets are oversized and can swallow a lot of supplies. Overloaded, we found the contents will bounce on the legs, so pack wisely.

Like all of Fjall’s trekking pants, they lack rear pockets. And we prefer it this way. Loaded rear pockets can rub on a pack and be uncomfortable when sitting around camp. They are also one of the first parts of a pant to wear out.

The zip-off zippers add 2 ounces to the convertible pants over the straight trousers. Of course, you get the added ventilation of shorts for those hot summer days. If you don’t want to show that much leg, simply pull the cuffs over your calves and cinch them with the drawcord.

The Midsummers come in European sizes, and we found they run large. So you’ll want 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.

While these pants are more durable than Jack Wolfskins, the larger fit and pocket bulk work against the pant, so we put it lower on the list.

They’re not the cheapest hiking pants available, but the quality and aesthetics make the Abisko Midsummers a worthwhile investment.

Specs
  • Fabric: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
  • Fit: Runs large
  • Weight: 12 oz.
  • DWR: Reinforced G-1000 patches can be waxed

Bottom line: Anyone willing to invest in a pair of long-lasting trekking pants will love these.

Check Price at Backcountry Check Price at Amazon

Arc’teryx Gamma LT

Arc'teryx 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 cross-country running. 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 virtually bombproof. We can’t kill it.

The Gamma LT ($189) has only improved in years since its inception. Arc’teryx has put a 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. Breathability is low, and the fabric is fairly noisy. But these are acceptable sacrifices for more vertical endeavors, particularly hiking and climbing in wet conditions.

Specs
  • 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. They’re well-suited to wet conditions.

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Arc’teryx Lefroy 

Arcteryx Lefroy

If you don’t need the durability of Gamma LT but want that classic Canadian fit, Arc’teryx’s lighter duty Lefroy ($119) is a more streamlined pant that’s classy enough to wear traveling.

These pants nearly hit all the marks we looked for to make the top of our list. The stretchy, water-resistant material closes around the waist with a snap and is secured with a sewn-in belt.

And as we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx, the fit looks sharp. But the tailored cut doesn’t provide as much room to move as other pants on the list.

The Lefroy’s material composition is nearly identical to Black Diamond’s Alpine Light, but BD’s pattern gives their Alpine Light more function for off-trail scrambling.

We also found the hand pockets run shallow. This limits the amount of pocket load with the pant’s slim fit. Those who like to carry gear on their person will likely be disappointed.

We also wished there was a drawstring around the ankle to help keep the pants up. The pants are made for hot weather, and this adjustability only becomes more important on hotter hikes.

Like all products from Arc’teryx, the price is premium, but you get unmatched quality and attention to detail. We wish they just included more trail-friendly details.

Specs
  • Fabric: 86% nylon, 14% elastane
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 10.2 oz.
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: Sharp-looking with great breathability and solid construction but lacks many features we prefer in a hiking pant.

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Mammut Hiking Pants

Mammut Lightweight Stretch Hiking Pants

At 7.5 ounces, Mammut’s Hiking Pants ($120) are the lightest pants on the list. A lot of that weight can be chalked up to less material. While the waist feels true to size (even slightly large), the Alpine Lightweight Hikers taper through the legs.

Even though there’s some spandex woven into the material, they don’t offer as much mobility as other pants on the list. They tend to restrict the legs when high-stepping boulder fields.

The lightweight yarn breathes very well and is suitable for hot-weather hikes. The pockets are constructed entirely of mesh, so they work effectively as vents. Unfortunately, the ankles don’t have a drawcord to keep them pinned over the calves. You’ll have to roll them up instead.

Treated with a robust DWR, water and spray roll off the fabric. And if they do get soaked, they dry out very quickly.

The hand pockets are shallow and tend to dump their contents when seated in the car. Fortunately, all three pockets are zipped.

While the pants have belt loops, they don’t come with a belt and run wider in the waist. This becomes more critical as you lose weight on long hikes or are wearing a pack.

Specs
  • Fabric: 94% polyamide, 6% spandex
  • Fit: Runs slim around the legs, wider in waist
  • Weight: 7.5 oz.
  • DWR: Yes

Bottom line: A great choice for hiking in hot temperatures and trips where every ounce counts. But it comes with sacrifices. There are less pricey pants on the list with more hike-friendly details.

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Camp Saver

Buyer’s Guide: 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, most pants have mesh pockets that serve as vents.

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.

Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants were our top pick for convertible pants. They allow you to pull the legs off over boots, and their clever zipper system is discreet.

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 mobility, protection, and watching your footing are key. Our overall pick, prAna’s Stretch Zion, has snaps to keep the pant legs up.

For truly hot conditions, we’d choose the lightweight breathable Helios Trail Pant by Seadon, which has a tidy drawcord to pull the legs up.

Hiker showing cuffed hiking pants
Drawcords around the ankles can keep the cuffs secured up around the legs. Pants without them will need to be rolled 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.

Some pants, like the Lefroy from Arc’teryx and the Lightweight Hikers from Mammut, run slim and restrict movement. We found Black Diamond’s Alpine Light strike a perfect balance of lightweight durability and mobility.

Weather Protection

Just because you’re wearing pants doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s damaging rays. Hiking through blazing exposure? Look for pants with rated UPF protection of 40 or 50.

A DWR coating doesn’t make pants completely waterproof, but it adds enough wet-weather protection to keep you dry while hiking through dewy brush or in light showers.

DWRs will eventually wash out over time. 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 sells an aftermarket wax to up the water resistance.

These additions start to creep up the cost of pants. Our budget choice, Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pant, doesn’t have a DWR. But it has UV protection and is on sale now for $33, which is an incredible value.

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.


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