The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The Best Hiking Pants of 2019

The stretchy fabric on these pants was comfortable and quite mobile  although at times felt a bit rough  a common complaint with all synthetic pants.
Sunday May 12, 2019
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To help you find the best hiking pants, we researched 70+ top models available in 2019 and selected the 11 most promising pairs to test rigorously. Our recommendations are based on extensive legs-on testing in a variety of seasons and locations, including the Colorado Rockies, Pacific Northwest, the deserts of Utah, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We wore each pair for hiking, rock climbing, working outside, hanging out in the town, and traveling. Whether you need a new set for hot weather or cold, dry climates or rainy, or just the best deal out there, this review has you covered with high-performing recommendations for a variety of activities.

Related: The Best Hiking Pants for Women of 2019


Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $59.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$59.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$79.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$99.00 at REI$41.93 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobilityComfortable fit and fabric, very versatile, perfectly functioning featuresSupple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair priceConvertible option looks nice and is easy to use, durable stretchy nylon, tons of pocketsComfortable, lots of pockets, integrated belt
Cons Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weatherNot much ventilation, fabric absorbs water in a heavy downpourNot many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adultsConvertible zipper rests across lower thigh, front button sometimes comes undoneRoll up snaps have limited versatility, baggy
Bottom Line For comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beat.A favorite pair of very comfortable hiking pants.An awesome pant for 14er day hikes and chilling at the brewpub afterwards.A fantastic versatile option because of its numerous, spacious pockets, and the ability to switch quickly into shorts.These comfortable, relaxed fit pants are an inexpensive option for day hikes and short backpacking trips.
Rating Categories Ferrosi Pants Prana Stretch Zion Patagonia Quandary KUHL Renegade Cargo Converti... REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
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8
Venting And Breathability (20%)
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Versatility (15%)
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5
Water Resistance (15%)
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Features (15%)
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Specs Ferrosi Pants Prana Stretch Zion Patagonia Quandary KUHL Renegade... REI Co-op Sahara...
Weight (in oz) 12.2 oz 13.6 oz 10 oz 17 oz 9.5 oz
Material 86% nylon / 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex 94% nylon (62% recycled) / 6% spandex DURALUX 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex 94% nylon / 6% spandex
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options) W: 28" - 38" W: 28" - 42"
L: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36"
W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
W: 28" - 42",
L: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36"
Shorts: 10"
W: 30" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
Sun Protection not specified UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? No, but convertible version available No, but convertible version available No Yes Yes
Pockets 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, one left side 2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin 2 front, 2 back, 2 side cargo 2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh zip
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly with waist cinch Button and zip fly Snap and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket Ventilated inseam gusset, roll up leg snaps, adjustable waist tightening strap Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit Articulated knees, gusseted crotch, mesh pockets for ventilation, compartment sections inside cargo pockets for organization, ankle zips and snaps for easy removal with boots Legs roll up and snap in place, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt, UPF 50
Warranty Lifetime Full refund, credit, or exchange if you are dissatisfied Lifetime Limited warranty against manufacturer defects - will repair or replace defective products Limited warranty

Best Overall


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants


Editors' Choice Award

$59.93
(25% off)
at REI
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 9
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6
  • Features - 15% 6
Material: 86% nylon / 14% spandex | Weight: 9.4 oz
Very light fabric is highly breathable
Stretch fabric offers superior mobility
Look good for everyday wear
Too light for cold, windy days
Waist fit is larger than expected

We think that the Outdoor Research Ferrosi is the best pair of hiking pants we tested. They are extremely comfortable, offer a high degree of mobility, keep you cool as you work up a sweat, and are versatile enough to be worn in the rain or sunshine. They are made of durable ripstop fabric, and incorporate a higher-than-average 14% spandex to ensure maximum mobility for hiking, running, yoga, or high stepping on rock. They are also very light, thin, and highly breathable, making them an ideal choice for hot weather.

The super thin 90D ripstop fabric is without a doubt the most breathable that we tested, but on the flip side it means that they are not ideal on cold or windy days where they don't provide quite enough protection for skinny legs. We also couldn't help but notice that the waist sizing is a bit off. These pants want to sit lower on the hips. For our testers, they needed to wear their typical waist size with a belt to make them functional. Even so, we think that they work well as an all-purpose pair that especially shine in hot weather.

Read Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Best Bang for the Buck


REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up


Best Buy Award

$41.93
(30% off)
at REI
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 7
Material: 94% Nylon/6% Spandex, DWR coating | Weight: 9.5 oz
Sheds water well
Comfortable material
Integrated belt
Pocket closures have issues
Not the most stylish
Snap buttons could be up higher

As one of the least expensive pants that we tested, the REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up is one of the best values around. They have a relaxed and comfortable fit. Despite the low price, this pair is highly water resistant and comes with a bunch of features. It has six pockets, including two front, two rear, and two cargo pockets on the side. The integrated belt features a simple slide buckle that is comfortable under a backpacking waist belt. The namesake feature offers ventilation by securing the lower legs via snaps if you choose to roll them up.

We found that these pants are either a love 'em or hate 'em kind of pair. The fit may be too baggy for some. We also don't like the lack of zippers on the rear pockets, and the flap covers make it challenging to pull out items. All things considered though, we are delighted with the performance of the Sahara Roll-Up and would recommend this pair to anyone who prioritizes functionality with a touch of value.

Read Review: REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up

Top Pick for Climbing


Prana Stretch Zion


Top Pick Award

$59.96
(29% off)
at Backcountry
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 9
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 9
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 8
Material: 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex | Weight: 13.6 oz
Very comfortable fabric and fit
Agile
A solid set of minimalist features
Convertible option available
Water resistance
A bit warm in hot climates

The Prana Stretch Zion is one of our favorite pairs of pants for hiking and trekking. They are also our favorite model to wear while climbing, a testament to their durability and versatility. We love the cargo pocket with zippers on both sides, enabling us to easily reach a phone or topo while sitting at a belay. We also enjoy the small but practical waist tightener, which means these pants can stay on without a belt. This feature is especially beneficial for typical weight loss after a week or two on the trail. Combined with some of the softest and most comfortable, stretchy fabric of any of the models we tested, it is no wonder that these pants are one of our Top Picks.

While these were our absolute favorite pair of pants for climbing, they are not without their flaws. The fabric is a bit heavy and densely woven for hiking in hot weather. They are much more effective when the temperature is on the cooler side. They also aren't as water resistant as most, so if wet weather is in your future, look elsewhere. However, if comfort is your top priority, then we would strongly recommend trying on this pair of pants.

Read Review: Prana Stretch Zion

Notable for Incredible Durability


Fjallraven Vidda Pro



$128.95
(14% off)
at Amazon
See It

65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 4
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Features - 15% 9
Material: 65% polyester / 35% cotton | Weight: 20.8 oz
Robust fabric
Reinforced in heavy wear areas
High durability and weather resistance
Far too heavy for warm climates
A noticeably "Euro" style
Expensive

If bushwhacking and scrambling are more your speed in the outdoors than staying on the trail, we recommend checking out the unique Fjallraven Vidda Pro, made with a tried-and-true design from the backwoods of Sweden. The most interesting feature of these pants is that their high-cotton fabric is meant to have Fjallraven's Greenland wax treatment, in much the same way that one might wax their skis, to increase their durability and water resistance.

With this unique design comes a few notable downsides. These pants are heavy and trap heat far more than their competition. They are also quite expensive and offer an atypical style for a pair of hiking pants. These pants are high-quality, reinforced, and ethically sourced, and they will thrive as a do-it-all option for the rough wearer who's into hunting, bushcraft, and winter ranching. While they weren't the highest scorers in our nylon-heavy review, they set themselves apart for their durability and toughness — notable and admirable qualities for any pair of pants.

Read Review: Fjallraven Vidda Pro


Hiking pants should stretch across multiple areas of outdoor recreation --  hiking  backpacking  or simply scrambling around on the rocks  as we are here at Sparks Lake  OR.
Hiking pants should stretch across multiple areas of outdoor recreation -- hiking, backpacking, or simply scrambling around on the rocks, as we are here at Sparks Lake, OR.

Why You Should Trust Us


Lead testers Ben Applebaum-Bauch and Andy Wellman live for the backcountry. Andy is an avid climber, hiker, and alpine skier. He has published multiple bouldering and climbing guides to the American southwest and knows the value that a comfortable, protective pair of hiking pants can provide. His work has also been published on Climbing.com. Ben got his professional start in the outdoor industry as a trip guide and has led multi-week adventures throughout northern New England. He is also an avid thru-hiker, passing under the baking sun of the Pacific Crest Trail and moving through the whipping winds and summer hail storms of the Colorado, Long, and Appalachian trails.

Our review began by scouring the internet and researching hiking pants. We then selected our top choices and went from there to hands-on testing. We took them out, rain, shine, and wind. We tested these pants in a variety of locations, including the Cascades of Oregon, the desert of Southern Utah, the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The majority of our testing took place on hikes and camping adventures. We looked at each pair's comfort and mobility and how well they protected us from the elements; whether they kept us dry in the rain or allowed us to stay dry in the damp heat of summer. In addition to a variety of activities on trail, we wore them for everyday use, hoping to get a compliment or two on our refined style.

Related: How We Tested Hiking Pants

The Stretch Zion was our Best Overall Hiking Pants winner because they were simply the most comfortable to wear. Here we are checking out Cascade Falls from behind the water during low season  not something you can do most of the year.
The Perimeter Pant is our Top Pick for Wet Weather due to its superior DWR protection. Here we are wearing it on a hike out to a far off cliff at Smith Rock State Park  with rain threatening.
These pants offer enough stretch and mobility to avoid restricting range of motion.

Analysis and Test Results


To accurately rate each product, we tested them in five separate metrics that we feel are critical for assessing the performance and quality of any pair of hiking pants: comfort and mobility, venting and breathability, versatility, water resistance, and features. For each metric, we assigned each pair a score from 1-10. These scores are weighted based on each parameter's relative importance to the overall function of a pair of hiking pants. Combining the tallies from all of the metrics, each model earns a score between 0-100. In all cases, we rated pants based on their performance compared to the competition. That is, the highest scoring model from our testing is the best overall model.

The Renegade Cargo Convertible is an awesome hiking pant that can be used in any type of situation. Here we are on an evening hike on the backside of Smith Rock in Oregon  with a mighty Cascade volcano in the background.
The Renegade Cargo Convertible is an awesome hiking pant that can be used in any type of situation. Here we are on an evening hike on the backside of Smith Rock in Oregon, with a mighty Cascade volcano in the background.

It's important to note that a lower scoring model is still a top choice; it may just be less than the best in a specific metric. We carefully consider the weight of each metric relative to the others, but we recognize that each wearer is going to have different priorities. If, for example, versatility is most vital to you, we encourage you not just to look at a product's overall score, but to also focus in on that specific metric within to discover how each product performed at a more granular level.

Related: Buying Advice for Hiking Pants

Value


An important consideration while shopping for new clothing or equipment is value. While the adage, "you get what you pay for" often rings true, our years of testing experience have taught us that the highest priced products are often not the highest performing, and with a little research, consumers can usually find great products for less than their retail price. For us, value is the price of an item relative to its overall score. That is, models with higher scores and lower prices are considered a better value than those with lower scores and higher prices. Most of the pants in this review fall relatively close to each other in performance as well as price, and so there are many solid choices if you are searching for the best value.


Comfort and Mobility


The most critical consideration for most outdoor clothing is how comfortable it is. We find that when we are comfortable, we can focus more on what we are doing and less on what we are wearing.


In the context of hiking pants, comfort means that the pair moves and flows as you move; not obstructing, not pinching, not rubbing or riding up, not annoying or distracting. Our thinking is that if it isn't comfortable, the rest of the metrics probably don't matter nearly as much; it doesn't matter whether the pockets are deep enough or if the stitching in the rear is durable if you are not going to wear the pants in the first place.

Trails that require high steps highlight the lack of mobility in the all-nylon Silver Ridge pants.
Trails that require high steps highlight the lack of mobility in the all-nylon Silver Ridge pants.

Comfort goes hand-in-hand with mobility. Hiking pants need to be able to move and bend with you and not restrict movement. The pants we reviewed are primarily nylon that typically incorporates some smaller percentages of stretchy material, such as spandex or elastane to facilitate user mobility. Still, others include some cotton to improve the feel against the skin.

The felt liner inside the Ferrosi waist is a nice touch that minimizes abrasion and increases comfort.
The felt liner inside the Ferrosi waist is a nice touch that minimizes abrasion and increases comfort.

Some pants, such as the Patagonia Quandary have a slim fit but compensate with an increased stretchiness, maintaining mobility for the wearer. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi includes a higher proportion of elastane. Other models, such as the Fjallraven Vidda Pro or REI Sahara Roll-Up pants, offer minimal stretch in the fabric and promote mobility with a looser, more relaxed cut.

We tried out all contenders for a lot more than just hiking. Dune running can test how comfortable they are and how freely a pair allows you to move.
We tried out all contenders for a lot more than just hiking. Dune running can test how comfortable they are and how freely a pair allows you to move.

The most comfortable pants are constructed using a soft material that feels great against the skin and has stretchier, more mobile fabrics. The cut is also an essential factor but could be heavily dependent on the body type and shape of the wearer. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Prana Brion, and Prana Stretch Zion score at the top of the list. Close behind is the stretchy Patagonia Quandary.

Venting and Breathability


We love hiking pants for their ability to protect from the wind, sun, cold, and brush. However, do enough physical activity in them, and you are going to get hot and sweaty. The best hiking pants are going to shield the wearer from the elements while keeping them cool and dry. Breathability is the ability of the fabric to allow heat and moisture to escape from the inside of the garment to the outside world. Venting refers to the features included in a pair of pants that facilitate the release of heat and moisture. Features like zippered vents, mesh-lined pockets, and rollable cuffs factored heavily into a product's score. Most of the pants feature a tight, nylon weave that severely limits direct air transfer — good for wind protection, but not as efficient for breathability.


To assess venting and breathability, we primarily relied on field testing. Much of this time was in the direct rays of the desert sun, where we could quickly work up a sweat. We also decided to test all the pants in a more controlled situation, running up the same steep hill in the sun, working up a sweat, paying close attention to how effectively each pair kept us cool relative to the others. Though it is challenging to quantify these results numerically, the quality of each model's breathability became apparent.

Running uphill in the sun on a hot day to test the venting and breathability capabilities of each pair of pants. The Stretch Zion were a pretty warm pant overall  and we preferred them for cooler weather.
Running uphill in the sun on a hot day to test the venting and breathability capabilities of each pair of pants. The Stretch Zion were a pretty warm pant overall, and we preferred them for cooler weather.

Not surprisingly, the pants made of the lightest and thinnest fabric tended to be the most breathable, while the pants with the most mesh and zippered vents cooled us off the quickest and prevented us from getting too sweaty in the first place. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is the lightest, thinnest, and by far the most breathable pair in this test, making them a top choice for wearing in hot climates. The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible has a variety of vents, not to mention the ability to zip off the lower legs to turn the pants into shorts. The pants that we found to be the least breathable were also the thickest and heaviest and had the fewest vents. With its extraordinarily dense and heavy G-1000 fabric and no vents, the Fjallraven Vidda Pro is a pant designed exclusively for cooler weather. The Arc-Teryx Lefroy also has thicker fabric — great for wind resistance — less impressive on breathability.

Versatility


Versatility is a model's ability to maintain functionality in a variety of conditions and activities. The most versatile pants should be able to handle intense sun, heat, wind, rain, cold, bugs, and brush.


Convertibility (from pants to shorts) increases a pant's versatility. In general, pants that have a convertible option score higher for versatility. If versatility is a top priority for you, be sure to check out whether or not a pair that we have reviewed also comes in an option with removable legs.

We also assess how appropriate each pair is for activities other than hiking. We took them swimming (we don't bring our bathing suits on thru-hikes), stretching out with some yoga, rock climbing, and on long days traveling. In these activities, we considered the durability of each pair, as well as their style. While these pants are suited for hiking, it is nice to be able to wear them around town if need be, and this factor also contributed to a pant's versatility score.

The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants were the some of the most versatile in our review  in large part due to the fact that if you are too warm  you can simply unzip the lower leg and you are left with shorts.
The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants were the some of the most versatile in our review, in large part due to the fact that if you are too warm, you can simply unzip the lower leg and you are left with shorts.

Made with durable nylon and offering many venting options as well as the ability to convert into shorts, we found the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible to be the most versatile pair of pants that we tested for this review. They kept us cool while hiking uphill in the sun, and were also thick enough to protect us from the cold and wind. We also liked wearing them around town and while working outside. They also proved to be an adequate climbing pant as well. A close second was the Prana Stretch Zion, which we found to be slightly warmer, and also comes in a convertible option. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Arc'Teryx Lefroy and The North Face Paramount Active served us well whether out hiking with a pack on or traveling. The last two have a slimmer fit, making them more stylish and passable in front country social settings.

We like the ability to roll up our pants leg as temps rise. The best pairs stay up after you roll them up.
We like the ability to roll up our pants leg as temps rise. The best pairs stay up after you roll them up.

Water Resistance


If rain is in the forecast, you'll want to be protected. Quality water resistance is a huge bonus for a pair of hiking pants, but it is also important for those day hikers that happen to live in a wet climate. We also consider wind resistance when assessing a hiking pant's performance. This metric more or less chalks up to the denseness of the weave and heft of the fabric.


Most of these pants are designed to keep you as dry as possible while remaining lightweight and comfortable. However, it is worth noting that they are not specialty rain layers, and are not waterproof. Most of them come with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating applied to the outside. This chemical coating helps the fabric shed precipitation, preventing it from absorbing into the material and dripping down your legs. These treatments do break down and wear off over time, especially if you wash your pants frequently in the washing machine, so if you are heading out on a long trip with an older pair of pants, you should apply a new DWR finish before you begin.

Our testers appreciating his pants' high water resistance when the rain started pouring down at Smith Rock  ruining the day of climbing  but leaving the ground and sparse vegetation happily nourished.
Our testers appreciating his pants' high water resistance when the rain started pouring down at Smith Rock, ruining the day of climbing, but leaving the ground and sparse vegetation happily nourished.

To test water resistance, we wore these pants outside as often as we could in poor weather. Testing conditions ranged from hiking in rainy, snowy mountains to sunny and dry in the desert. To determine how these pants performed in precipitation, we also conducted a shower test: we put the pants on and jumped into a shower for a fixed amount of time. We also used a spray bottle to evenly spritz the outside of the pants to understand the process of saturation and water beading. Things we look for are how well the DWR coating works before and after testing and washing, whether the fabric tended to absorb water, how wet our legs got inside the pants, and how long the pants took to dry out after being hung up.

Testing the water resistance after applying quite a lot of Greenland wax treatment to the Vidda Pro. These pants extend their versatility well into winter  which is what we expect from a pant born above the arctic circle.
Testing the water resistance after applying quite a lot of Greenland wax treatment to the Vidda Pro. These pants extend their versatility well into winter, which is what we expect from a pant born above the arctic circle.

The most weather resistant pants are the Patagonia Quandary and Arc'Teryx Lefroy. The DWR coating on these models does a great job of shedding water even after a lot of wears, and there is minimal absorption. These pants also dry out quickly since water stays on the surface. We are intrigued by the performance of the wax impregnated Fjallraven Vidda Pro pant, which eschews the now-standard chemical DWR coating in favor of a more natural and customizable treatment.

Features


The final category that differentiates the best pairs of hiking pants from the rest is each pair's set of features. These are the thoughtful design elements that enhance a wearer's experience. Each pair has its own set of unique features, including the type and number of pockets and their location, waist tightening systems, and belts, pants-to-shorts conversion, roll up snaps, ventilation holes, and crotch zippers. Some of these features were functional additions that inspired our adoration, while others were excessive and frustrating.


Our primary focus during testing was whether the features included proved to be practical and functional. For example, having the option to convert a pair into shorts is useful, but we also rated this feature on how well the lower leg zippers functioned and how they looked and felt. We did a similar analysis of pocket layout and location, as well as for waist tightening systems.

The single cargo pocket on the Stretch Zion has the cool feature of being zipper enclosed on both the top and the side. When sitting in a harness  the side entrance becomes very convenient.
The single cargo pocket on the Stretch Zion has the cool feature of being zipper enclosed on both the top and the side. When sitting in a harness, the side entrance becomes very convenient.

In short, the more useful and functional features a pant included, the higher the score. Products that received a lower rating either included few useful features, or the features that they had didn't function nearly as well as competitors.

A feature unique to the Quandary is this drawstring on the inside of the waist belt that helps make micro-tuned adjustments to the fit  and helps you avoid needing to wear a belt underneath a pack waist strap. You can also see the mesh wicking material inside the waist belt designed to allow sweat moisture to evaporate quicker.
A feature unique to the Quandary is this drawstring on the inside of the waist belt that helps make micro-tuned adjustments to the fit, and helps you avoid needing to wear a belt underneath a pack waist strap. You can also see the mesh wicking material inside the waist belt designed to allow sweat moisture to evaporate quicker.

The KUHL Renegade pant boasts the best feature set. It has a ton of pocket options for those who like to have all their trail trinkets handy and organized, as well as excellent ventilation and the ability to convert to shorts. The Prana Stretch Zion has fewer pockets than the KUHL pants, but the design and execution of its features are nearly flawless. We love the small, low profile waist tightener that allowed us to backpack and climb without wearing a belt. Features account for 15% of a product's final score.

The Vidda Pro are by far the most burly and durable pant that we tested for this review  and also have a ton of large pockets for storage. We think they are ideal for hunting or other bushcraft.
The Vidda Pro are by far the most burly and durable pant that we tested for this review, and also have a ton of large pockets for storage. We think they are ideal for hunting or other bushcraft.

Conclusion


Hiking pants offer a large handful of benefits, often for activities beyond hiking and backpacking. With so many options on the market, the challenge is trying to decide which ones to buy. While comfort is usually a top priority, the climate in which you spend most of your time can dictate what other metrics are most important to you. We hope that our review of the most highly rated and popular hiking pants will help you make the best choice for your needs. Happy trails!


Ben Applebaum-Bauch & Andy Wellman