Best Quick Dry Pants: A Buyer’s Guide for Choosing the Best Backpacking Pants

Hiking pants
Written by Sean Nelson

Outdoor activities ranging from biking tours to caving, backpacking and intensive climbing have become popular. With that said, other than skills needed to persevere, having comfortable and durable trail pants is key to a successful journey into the breathtaking outdoors. Quick-drying pants are an ideal choice as they offer easy solutions to even the most demanding trails alongside simplifying the packing process.

They’re crafted from easy to dry materials that are light in weight, making it easier to cope in the event of a splash or water encounter. As their demand rise so is their craftsmanship, brands, and color finishes which have resulted in an overwhelming variety in the last century. Following this, it takes twice as much dedication to get just the right garment.

You’ve to research and compare extensively; brand to brand, feature to feature etc. Feeling depressed? Don’t! In this write-up, we will provide guidelines on how to choose the best quick dry pants and an in-depth review of the top-rated ones in the market today.

So, what exactly is the “best” pants?

No doubt you’re looking for a gear that will work tremendously well on the trail alongside making you stand out among your peers. Unfortunately, that’s challenging as the chasm between performance apparel companies and casual clothing manufacturers have no Venn diagram with a bit of overlap. To overcome this, you may have to select some features at the expense of others as getting a pant that has all your needed features 100% is entirely impossible.

Features of Quick Dry Pants

Type of pants

As you purchase a quick to dry pants, consider whether to go with pairs that roll up into capris, convertible pants that zip off into shorts or just stick to long pants and traditional shorts. Your decision will highly influence the packability and weight of your backpack alongside the comfort and warmth of your legs. Thus, take it seriously.

Traditional pants aren’t versatile enough to cope with hiking demands. Much as they help keep you warm in wintry conditions, protect your legs from excessive sun exposure and abrasions by plants and rocks, they do not offer a solution in the event of a heat build-up.

Convertible pants are versatile. They have zippers slightly above the knee which allows easy conversion from pants to shorts and vice versa. Their versatility makes them popular among thru-hikers as they not only lighten the backpack but also make your outdoor activities more easy and fun.

For example, you can unzip the lower part; for ventilation, cleaning and drying purposes or just use it to tie around the ankles as a gaiter. However, keeping on zipping and unzipping the lower part can be annoying especially if you have to remove your footwear each time. Also, the convertible zipper does add extra weight on the pant not to mention other downsides resulting from low- quality zippers e.g. the chafe of a zipper flap.

Roll up pants on their side provide you with the option of converting pants into capris by rolling and buttoning up the pants bottom without any extra weight. Nonetheless, some are restrictive i.e. you can’t be in a position to roll up your pant as high as you may like. With this knowledge, it’s up to you to choose a pair that best suits your needs.

Sizing and mobility

Go for a pant that best fits you. I.e. Pairs that aren’t too constricting or too baggy as too large pants result in extra materials wagging around (which can be annoying when on a long trail hike) while too tight pairs being restrictive can cause chafing on your legs. Keep in mind that, pants tend to loosen and stretch after use and your weight is bound to fluctuate in pursuit of outdoor activities. You should, therefore, purchase pairs with belt loops, drawstrings or integrated belt that’ll help customize your fit.

In addition, go for models with gusseted crotches and articulated knees for mobility and comfort purposes while walking. Pairs with stretchable materials e.g. a percentage of Spandex will result in a comfortable fit and allow for ease of movement.

Climate and destination

Considering the climate at your intended destination is paramount. For example, when hiking in a desert during summer, that desperate heat may inspire you to forgo pants altogether and just hike in shorts. However, you still need that protection from the wind, the sun, and sharp stickered foliage. In such a case, you can go for lightweight convertibles or breathable traditional pants.

When at high elevations, make use of pants that offer protection against cold. Roll up pants can do as they provide a solution on how to be cool when heat build-up too. It’s also critical to rely on the weather forecast. This will help you determine whether you’ll require protection against wet conditions as well. In which case, you should go for pairs that are quick to dry and those made of water resistant materials to avoid any cases of hypothermia.

Weather protection

As you pursue your trail activities, you require protection from the wind, rain, and solar radiation. To achieve this, go for pants that are waterproof, windproof and UV resistant. Waterproof pants make use of water resistant membranes or laminates such as Gore Tex or eVent.

In some cases, a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) coating is applied on the outer surface to repel moisture. DWR is less effective on its own as the coating is highly washable which calls for frequent reapplication. Windproof pairs make use of wind resistant technology. They are made of materials with an air permeability of less than 5l/m2/s.


The color is an overlooked consideration when it comes to purchasing of outdoor gears, but that doesn’t make it less important. It has a great influence on how you feel in your pants in different conditions. Don’t consider color while selecting the brand or the pair to buy but take it into account once you’ve chosen the perfect pant for your needs.

Experts recommend white, beige, tan or other light colored gears when in warm climates while black and other dark-colored pants when in higher altitudes or colder seasons. Why? Light colors tend to reflect sun rays keeping you less sweaty and cooler in hot conditions while dark colors absorb solar radiation keeping you warmer and drier in cold weather. With this knowledge, it’s up to you to select a garment whose color will ensure you are comfortable in your pursuit of wilderness activities at your intended destination.


Pants material matters. Quick dry pants are mainly made of synthetics such as polyester, nylon, tricot and spandex. Each of the material has pros and cons, so select accordingly. It’s advisable for you to avoid garments made of cotton but rather go for those lined with fleece to avoid soaking effects in case of a downpour.

In addition, acquire pants made of quick to dry materials that are soft and ‘quiet’ to prevent rustling sound. This allows for finer wildlife viewing alongside getting rid of side irritation to your ears.


Pants are highly abused. They’ll have twigs and thorns snapped against them, be dragged on rocks, and still be used to travel miles upon miles. Following this, a low-quality pant can result in unpleasantness when out on the ride such as popped off buttons, spring-leaking pockets, ripped pants etc. You don’t want to experience this, do you? Well, just purchase garments with high resistance to abrasion and a higher spandex percentage to boost their durability.

Weight, Belts

Go for a pant that errs on the lighter side regardless of your outdoor activity. This will save you a great deal if you find yourself stranded in the woods or on an off trail.

Some pants come with an integrated belt, others with belt loops or drawstrings. You should select accordingly based on your personal preference. E.g. if you love permanently attached belts on garments, you can for integrated belts but if you prefer detachable one, consider purchasing pants with a belt loop.

Elastic waistbands, Pockets

Most outdoor pants have elastic waistbands. They ensure that the pants are useable under any weight variations and that you can walk comfortably with few to no restrictions. Some individuals dislike them though for personal reasons and therefore, elastic waistbands’ selection is based on personal preference.

All pants have two pockets, minimum. Be it traditional hand-warmer or larger cargo pockets. The latter are indispensable when it comes to storing small snacks, cell phones, wallets, sunglasses, lip balms, sunscreen, maps etc. However, they add in extra weight and are less fashionable. You should, therefore, consider their location and bulkiness before purchase based on your needs.


While in pursuit of your activities, sweating is bound to happen; the amount based on how vigorous your activity is. In light of this, you should select a breathable pant, one that allows sweat vapor to escape rather than accumulate lest risk feeling like a trash bag.

Well, let them say you’re picky but don’t just buy a pant for the sake of it. Consider the points outlined above and be sure to acquire a pair, just the right pick for a fun hike in deserts of Utah or the mountains of Colorado.

Reviewing the best quick dry pants in the market

Whatever activity you put your mind into, there’s a pant out there that will best fit your needs. Are you open to recommendations? Here are the experts’ top picks, high quality pants that are worth your while.

Makino Lightweight Quick Dry Pants

Makino Pants

Weight: 14.1 ounces

Dimensions: 16.7 x 11.6 x 1.2 inches

Features: 4-inch elastic waistbands, 4 safe zip pockets, waterproof construction, quick to dry technology, spandex (7%) and sunscreen-treated polyester (93%) materials, anti-pilling, anti-static fabric

Best use: Running, trekking, hiking, rock climbing, camping, mountaineering

Some claims that the skinny calf design clings to your leg in the event of excessive heat. Nonetheless, wearing this thin and soft Makino Lightweight Quick Dry Pants will keep you dry in rainy weather, cool in the blazing sun and warm in the cold wind. Its sunscreen-treated polyester fabric protects your skin from sunburn by isolating UVA and UVB lights.

The 4-way spandex, anti-pilling, and anti-static fabric combine to boost the durability of the pant making it ideal for rock climbing. Its waterproof construction and quick to dry materials together ensure you’re dry and comfortable all day long. The waistbands being elastic up to 4 inches allows for comfortable movement while the 4 zip pockets provide a safe storage for your valuables e.g. wallet, maps etc.

Check the price on Amazon

UnionBay Chino Pants

Union Bay Chino Pants

Weight: 3.2 ounces

Dimension: 40 x 32 inches

Features: Classic flat front, stretchable materials (94% nylon, 6% spandex), mesh-lined pockets, UPF 50, quick drying and lightweight

Best use: Hiking, trekking, climbing, backpacking

Much as the pant wrinkles easily, it’s an ideal design for wilderness activities following its high-rated performance. Its stretchable fabric is lightweight, water resistant, and quick to dry and has a UPF value of 50. This ensures you remain dry and comfortable while being protected from harmful sun radiation.

The mesh-lined, side leg and back pockets have a zip closure for a secure storage while their deep depth increases their storage capacity. Planning for a thru-hike in rugged Alpines? Just slip on this UnionBay Chino Pants for a fun hike.

Check the price on Amazon

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant

Columbia Cargo Pants

Weight: 12.6 ounces

Dimension: 31 inches (center back)

Features: Omni-wick advanced evaporation, Omni-shade UPF 50, adjustable waistband, gussets, tight weave construction, Zip-closed security pocket, straight leg design, UV absorbers and reflectors

Best use: Hiking, camping, climbing, running, trekking, scrambling

Made from 100% nylon, this durable Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant can handle any rugged trail. It’s a straight-leg design with belt loops around the elastic waist for a comfortable fit regardless of the selected size. The rear flap and side cargo pockets provide adequate room to tote snacks or incidental tools.

Omni-wick advanced evaporation, UV reflectors and absorbers, and Omni-shade UPF 50 combine to keep your legs cool, warm, dry, comfortable and protected from harmful solar radiation. In addition, this Columbia pant converts to 10-inch shorts with a quick zip, so whether you’re fording a stream, venturing into a soggy cave, or exploring marshland; the silver ridge pant has you covered.

Check the price on Amazon

prAna Stretch Zion Convertible Pants

Prana Convertible Pants

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimension: 32 inches

Features: Quick dry material (97% nylon, 3% spandex), stretchable Zion fabric, all weather finish, ventilated inseam gussets, zip-off legs, streamline adjustable waist

Best use: Trekking, hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, working

This Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pant is action-packed with abrasion resistance necessary to handle your toughest demands. It’s made with a quick drying, ultra-resilient material that repels water, and has a breathable inseam gusset that allows complete freedom of movement. Zip-off legs and streamlined adjustable waistband provide adequate versatility for wherever the trail leads you.

In addition, its all-weather finish ensures you remain dry in wet caves, cool in the blazing sun and warm in the cold wind. Are you ready for an impromptu bouldering? The stretch Zion pant got your back.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Outdoor Ferrosi Pants

Weight: 12 ounces

Dimension: 9 x 10 x 6 inches

Features: Nylon & spandex materials, 2 slash front pockets and 2 zippered back pockets, button and zipper fly design, tricot lining, low profile waistband, drawcords ankle adjustments

Best use: Climbing, hiking, backpacking, scrambling

Planning to go for an off-trail hike in Bryce Canyon? This ideal hiking soft-shell pant with a tricot lining has you covered. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants never allows excessive heat build-up but always block light rain and shiver-inducing wind to keep you warm and cozy.

Its lightweight, rugged, quick to dry and highly breathable, with stretchable fabric for smooth movement regardless of the trail. In addition, its zippered pockets provide room for snacks and essential tools’ storage.

Check the price on Amazon

Jessie Kidden Convertible Pants

Jessie Kidden Pants



Features: Zipper closure, stretchable fabric, zip-off legs, water repellant and UV protection fabric

Best use: Running, camping, hiking

Made from stretchable fabric, this durable Jessie Kidden Convertible Pants is designed to take on rugged Alpines and rocky environment. The water repellant and UV resistant fabric are indispensable when it comes to keeping your legs dry, comfy and protected from harmful sun rays.

Its zipper closure makes it easy to slip on and off the pants. In addition, Cargo pant easily converts to all-purpose short thanks to the zip-off legs. When hiking the Sweetwater Creek State Park, wear this pant and save your day significantly.

Check the price on Amazon

White Sierra Inseam Convertible Pant

White Siera Inseam Pants

Weight: 3 oz

Dimension: 32 inch

Features: UPF 30, 100% nylon, zip-off legs, adjustable leg openings, removable webbing belt, lightweight and water repellant fabric, hook & loop secure pockets, elastic pant sides, rip-and-stick adjustments tabs

Best use: Camping, hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, traveling

In need of a more lengthy pair? White Sierra Inseam Convertible Pant has got you covered. With ease, White Sierra zip into a 32-inch inseamed short, rendering you suitable to meet any trail demand. Crafted from high-valued UPF fabric, it provides protection against hazardous sun rays.

A side panel with a removable webbing belt and an elastic waist provide you with full range mobility. The pockets offer plenty of storage space for on-the-go essentials while rip-and-stick adjustments tabs allow you to secure the cuffs around the ankles to keep dirt, mud, and debris off your pant legs. In addition, its cuffs’ vertical side zippers allow the garment to slip off with ease over footwear.

Check the price on Amazon

Makino Convertible Quick Dry Pants

Makino Convertible Pants

Weight: 13.6 ounces

Dimension: 15.8 x 10.8 x 0.8 inches

Features: Zipper closure, zip-off legs, adjustable waist, waterproof and quick to dry fabric (100% polyester), Omni-shade UPF 50

Best use: Hiking, camping, trekking, rock climbing, traveling

This hiking pant converts into an 8-inch short rendering you fit to take on a trail on marshy and swampy areas. Its quick dry and water-resistant fabric keep you dry all day long. This straight hip pant has an elastic waistband that stretches up to 4 inches for a personalized fit.

Having a lightweight and a breathable fabric, Makino Convertible Quick Dry Pants ensures you feel cozy throughout the trail. In addition, its Omni-shade UPF 50 prevents you from having sunburns. Are you a field worker? Slip on this pant and work your way up regardless of the prevailing weather condition.

Check the price on Amazon

Wait, that’s it?

Yes, that’s all. It can be difficult to obtain just the perfect pair that suits your needs. But, following the guidelines outlined above on what to consider as you purchase quick drying pants; you’re guaranteed to acquire the best fit. Again, if researching and comparing is too much of a hassle for you, try the options recommended above and travel your way around the globe in a style.

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Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.