Pants might be one of those things you sometimes don’t really pay much attention to when it comes to backpacking. There are many other things that can come up to your mind like knifes, equipment, tents. But choosing the best backpacking pants can make a great difference on your outdoor experience, because it can either help or weigh against you.
Outdoor pants are not just usual pants with a fancier name, and if you are reading this, you must be aware of it. These are specially designed clothing with hiking in mind.
Sometimes, when in outdoor scenarios, you have to face with complicated situations caused by either weather, the land, animals or sudden and uncontrolled situations. This is when having the right clothing can even help you to save your life.
What you should know
Hiking or backpacking pants are special clothing designed to endure and to protect you while in difficult conditions like hard climate or falls, while still allowing you to move around comfortably.
Imagine yourself wearing a pair of jeans while having to move around and run, or having pants with a thin layer while hiking in a cold place. Outdoor pants are specially designed for this type of situations.
There are many options on pants, and in occasions some pants can promise to be one thing, but end up underwhelming you, so picking the right one can feel like an impossible task sometimes. To help, we have reviewed the main characteristics you might need in a pair of pants.
They should be durable
It goes without saying that these pants will have to face with some situations other clothing would not usually have to. Climbing rocks where you might fall and scratch, facing rain, wind, or sand, or being carried in small spaces, these are conditions your gear must endure.
And adding the fact that certain special clothing such as this one can be more expensive, buying something that will last you for some time can help save some bucks. So you should look for clothing that is abrasive resistant, which means that it will not tear easily or start debilitating in places like knees due to the constant use.
This is usually accomplished by the fabric they use, so read the details and compare reviews to get to your perfect balance between flexibility and endurance.
They should endure harsh weather conditions
Hard weather might be one of the conditions you will be faced against when backpacking. Whether it is rain, win or sun, your body will need to be protected against it.
Many outdoor gear is waterproof, which tends to be a handy thing when you are faced with unexpected rain or having to cross water. Having something that will dry soon, and not having to stay wet and cold can make a huge difference in your camping experience.
Sun is another factor that can be hard on you and your clothing. While exposed on the sun you might not want to wear much clothing at all, but it is crucial to protect ourselves from the UV light.
There are many different pants that offer this kind of UV protection, but still remain breathable so you will not feel uncomfortable and sweaty while walking long paths under the sun.
Also, wind might be one other thing that can be hurtful to you and your gear. Whether it is cold wind or dusty wind, your body should be protected against it, and many different outdoor pants have been designed to do so.
They should let you “breathe”
Many pants that tend to have waterproof resistance also tend to become very hot when wearing them, and make you sweat or feel uncomfortable in them. This is why a breathing capacity is a big necessity on your outdoor pants.
Breathability is not the same as a cold facilitating, as even if you are not faced with a warm or hot climate, pants should allow your body to breathe and not keep the sweat in, since it can make your body temperature drop and become dangerous.
Depending on the fabric, pants can be very breathable, but still keep other aspects like water-proof. So looking for a balance between both is a must.
They should allow you to move
One of the biggest needs when it comes to outdoor gear is mobility. Pants specifically, are faced against long trekking paths, climbing and many other situations were flexibility is a necessity. That’s the reason why you should look for hiking pants that allow you to move freely, but while keeping all other needed aspects, like protection.
As well as other aspects, this is usually guaranteed by the kind of fabric they use, as well as special features like reinforced knees. Now, there are also different types of pants you can find, depending on your taste and what you feel comfortable using.
Types of pants
This are the typical pants, they are usually either Capri or full length and don’t allow you to change their measurements. These ones are great for long hikes on either cold or at least cooler weather, where they can protect you from wind, and also for protecting your legs against the sun in desolate situations.
The bad thing about them is that you are stuck with that option, and cannot change according to your needs, so it lacks a little bit of versatility.
Convertible (zip off)
The Convertible, or zip off pants are those that come in full length or Capri, but can be converted into shorts by detaching the bottom, usually with zippers or Velcro.
For this reason, these pants can be great for hot weather situations as well as colder ones by just attaching the base, and offer great adaptability. The downside of this kind of pants is that the zipper can make them uncomfortable to wear, since sometimes it gets in touch with the skin.
This kind of pants also allow you to shorten their length, but not by detaching them but by rolling them up and securing them. They usually come with a button or Velcro to lock them up and make them stay in place.
The good thing is that you get a variety of options according to your need without having to compromise on detaching or getting hurt by zippers, but on the downside, the roll up can sometimes get bulky and be on your way when trekking.
Top Backpacking Pants for the Money
So choosing the right pants might be different from person to person, which is why, having this in mind, we are going to review some popular options to make it easier for you to choose from.
Marmot Women’s Lobo’s Convertible Pant
Dimensions: From size 2 (XXS) to Size 14 (XXL)
- Abrasion Resistant
- Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50
- Water resistant
- Convertible to 9” short
- Two cargo pockets
Best use: Hiking, hot weather, deserts, rock climbing, rain
Marmot Women’s Lobo’s Convertible Pants are a great option for hiking, mostly due to its ability to zip off to a 9-inch short, which means that when the condition gets hard or it becomes too hot, you can detach the bottom part and make it into a short. Another great thing is that it has UV 50 protection, perfect for sunny and desert landscapes, but it also water resistant, so if an unexpected rain comes up, you are fully prepared.
In addition, it is abrasion resistant which makes it great for rock climbing and hiking in rocky terrains.Since it has a regular fit, it is relaxed at waist and has straight cuff opening which improves mobility. It comes with two cargo pockets that have a lot of space to carry your stuff, and they are very comfortable and lightweight since they are made of Nylon, and come in 4 different colors.
The only downside are the zippers, which can get annoying when sitting or moving sometimes, although you don’t get direct contact with the zipper to make it an unbearable situation.
Related: If you plan to go to water related scenery or rainy locations, the Marmot Woman’s Precip Jacket goes perfect with this item, since it is water-proof but still regulates temperature, so you don’t get hot.
prAna Women’s Regular Inseam Halle Pant
Dimensions: From Size 0 (XS) to Size 16 (XL)
- Stretch Zion fabric
- Reinforced knees
- Water resistant
- Mid rise, relaxed fit and straight leg
Best use: Hiking, mountain and deserts locations, rock climbing
pRana Women’s Inseam Halle pants are treated with Durable Water Repellent finish, which means that water usually rolls off and it is not absorbed by the fabric. This makes them dry pretty quickly so are perfect for trips where there is a risk of moisture or rain.
Their reinforced knees allow this item to be very durable, since this part is the one that usually wears out first. It also makes it a great option for rock climbing, where you have to bend a great deal. Since it is made with mostly Nylon (97%) and 3% spandex, these pants are very comfortable and allow better movement.
They come in three inseams, short, regular and long, which give more options from you to choose from according to your need. The issue you may have with these pants is that the length and size may be difficult to estimate, so you have to really check out their conversion and sizes to find the one that fits you.
KUHL Splash Roll-Up Pants – Women’s
Dimensions: From size 2 (XS) to Size 22W (3X)
- Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50
- Comfortable and stretching.
- Roll-up pants
- Snap-closure back and tight pockets
Best use: Hiking, casual wear, summer weather and beach.
KUHL Splash Roll-Up Pants are one of the most comfortable options there are, because of the fabric they use. They are 68% cotton, 29% nylon and 3% spandex. They stretch a lot and its relaxed fit and cotton makes the pants great for hikes and casual outdoor scenarios where you have to move around a lot.
The pants can be rolled up from its 32 inches up to 24 inches and has a snap to secure it. They are also protected against UV light, which can be helpful for sunny conditions and trips. Since it is made of performance cotton blend and nylon, it dries faster than common cotton fabric.
On the downside, cotton is still hard to dry, which doesn’t make this the best option for rainy climate or water related activities. This fits more a casual wear or casual hiking trips where you need to be comfortable, but don’t need for those extra features that can elevate the price.
Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants
Dimensions: 9 x 10 x 6 inches
- Abrasion Resistant
- Wind Resistant
- Water resistant
Best use: Hiking, rock climbing, windy locations, alpine and rock environments
Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants are great for different reasons. One is that they are tough abrasion resistant, that makes them perfect for rocky scenarios and climbing, and they don’t usually get damaged easily so they are very durable.
Another great feature is that they are water resistant, so no rainy situation is going to ruin your trip, and they dry up easily after cleaning them. Also they are wind resistant as well, but being very breathable as well, which means these pants are perfect for both summer and colder situations without losing its protection.
Many people also enjoy their style, which is very attractive, but also remaining useful and very comfortable. They are great for moving around because they are light, but resistant enough for rock climbing. The only downside people sometimes have with these pants is the size of their pockets, which tends to be small and doesn’t allow you to carry much. All in all, a very fixable situation.
Related: The perfect companion gear for these pants is the Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Hoody, which is abrasion and wind resistant and will keep you warm but not too hot.
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pant
Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 2 inches
- Articulated knees
- Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
- Roll-up legs that convert into Capri
Best use: Hiking, rocky landscapes, sunny weather
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pants are a very comfortable but resistant option. They are made of 96% Nylon and 4% Elastane, which makes them very comfortable and make them fit great to different types of bodies. Another great thing about these pants is the fact that they have a 50 Ultraviolet Protection, which makes them great to wear in sunny or deserted locations.
Also, since they have a very breathable fabric you will not get too hot or sweat during those hard weather conditions in your trip. Since they fit very well to the body, and also have reinforcement on the knees, these pants are great for rock climbing and hiking in mountain scenarios, as well as deserted locations.
They are very durable, and can deal with difficult situations perfectly. The only downside is that the back pockets are secured with Velcro, which can sometimes get caught on things.
The North Face Paramount 2.0 Women’s
Dimensions: From size 00 to Size 16
- Quick drying
- Water resistant
- Convertible to 5” short
Best use: Hiking, hot weather, deserts, water sports, rainy locations
The North Face Paramount 2.0 Pants come in three inseam lengths (short, regular and long), and they have a zip that can convert them into 5 inches shorts. This is a very beneficial characteristic of these pants because it allows them to adjust according to your needs.
If you are planning on going to hot locations or doing activities in which your pants might get in the way, the shorts are way above the knees to allow you flexibility.
One thing people always find hard to deal with convertible pants are the zippers getting in the way and making uncomfortable to move, but the zippers on these pants are up, and don’t usually get in the way. Also, since the pants are relaxed fitting, you don’t usually feel them at all.
The pants are water resistant, so they can be used in cases like playing water sports and trekking on rainy spots. The fabric and the durable water repellent coating allow the pants to stay dry for very long time during wet situations, and once they do get wet, they take only around 20 minutes to dry up.
Now, to conclude
There are many different types of outdoor pants depending on your need, and as with many things, there is no perfect option. However, there are some characteristics that can help you define a great pair of pants, from others that will not give you what you need.
So remember to look for pants with the correct balance of durability, mobility, weather resistance and breathability. Also, keep in mind the fit may be different from person to person, so make sure to look for the measurements instead of sizes.
Every brand and pants will have their pros and cons, so when choosing it comes up to your needs. We have put together a comparative review to facilitate the choosing.
|Marmot Women’s Lobo’s Convertible Pant||Convertible to 9” short.
Water and abrasion resistance
50 UV protection
|prAna Women’s Regular Inseam Halle Pant||Durable water repellent
Comfortable and allow movement
|KUHL Splash Roll-Up Pants – Women’s||Roll-Up pants
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50
Comfortable and flexible
|Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants
Durable water repellent
|Columbia Sportswear Women’s Saturday Trail Pant
50 UPF protection
|The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pant Woman’s
|Convertible to 5” short.
Quicky dry time (20 minutes)
Now, we hope that this article has been helpful towards making a decision, and we would love to hear from you.
So tell us, what is the most important to you when choosing a pair of outdoor pants? Which pair comes with your highest recommendation? We’d love to hear more from you in the comments below