Findy your pair of perfet hiking pants with this hand guide. 

Are you going on a hiking trip soon? Well, one of the most important things to have on your list of hiking gear is a pair of great hiking pants. Before you go out and get your self a pair, you want to make sure you have done your research. That way, you get a pair of perfect hiking pants for your adventure. Here are some of the top features to look for when you set out to select the perfect pair of hiking pants. 

1. Know What Type of Hiking Pants to Shop For

When it comes to picking out the perfect hiking pants, you need to know what it is that you are shopping for. There are different types of hiking pants on the market that you can purchase. Let’s go over some of the most popular pairs of hiking pants there are. That way, you will be one step closer to finding the perfect hiking pants for all your adventures.

Standard Hiking Pants

perfect hiking pants - Standard

Credit: Amazon

Standard hiking pants are exactly what the name implies. Standard hiking pants are long and they reach right past your ankles in most cases. They are well, the standard. A majority of standard hiking pants are held up at the hip by a constricted opening. You can secure them with an attached drawstring, or in some cases a belt. Standard hiking pants can also range in styles depending on what season they were made for. There are different types of standard hiking pants that are designed specifically to fight off the cold and others that are designed to keep you dry in wet conditions. Because standard hiking pants typically do not convert into shorts, know that if you pack along standard pants as part of your hiking gear, you will also need to pack along shorts too.  

Convertible Hiking Pants

perfect hiking pants - Convertible

Credit: ​Amazon

This next pair of hiking pants is known as convertible pants. They are easily recognizable and for many of you traveler’s, you may have come across a pair or two during your adventures. For the less traveled, these interesting looking pants are also known as dad pants in some part of the world. One of the main things convertible pants have going for them is their ease and versatility. Let’s explore.

Typically speaking, convertible pants do just that. They convert. You can wear them in a couple of ways. Start of wearing them as normal pants that will typically stretch right past your ankle on hiking trips that require extra coverage. If you find yourself in need of something more cooling and comforting, then you can convert your pants into shorts. Simply unzip the zipper and you have got yourself a pair of shorts.

The zipper on most convertible pants is located just above the knee. And more often than not, the zipper is concealed by a zipper flap. Convertible hiking pants make hiking easy and effortless because right away you are eliminating the need to carry several pairs of pants. Another cool feature of convertible pants is the fact that you can unzip them to just about halfway if you need some ventilation. For hikers who tend to get muddy, convertible pants off for the ease of cleanliness too. Simply unzip your pants legs and wash them in a nearby creek or river and leave them to dry. You can keep yourself comfortable and clean without having to take off your whole pair of pants.

Although they are incredibly versatile, some hikers do find them a little bit annoying. Having to unzip and zip up the pant legs back on can become tedious and frustrating. This is especially true if you are on a long hike. Not only that but the zippers do have a tendency to add to the weight of the pants. This can make your hiking pants more weighed down and uncomfortable to walk in for long stretches of time. Another downside of convertible hiking pants is the fact that sometimes the zipper flap can chafe your skin. If you are walking in compromising climates, the zipper can cause some irritation that is less than pleasant.

Finally, if style is one of your must haves on a pair of hiking pants, then convertible pants may not be the best for you. The seam of the zippers may not be appealing to some travelers because in some pairs they are likely to stick out or pop out a little bit more. Overall, because convertible pants can quickly change from pants to shorts, some hikers are quick to deem convertible pants as the perfect hiking pants every traveler needs.

Roll Up Pants

perfect hiking pants - Roll Up Pants

Credit: Amazon

If you want to narrow your search of perfect hiking pants, then you may want to consider roll up hiking pants. Roll up pants do exactly what their name suggests. They roll up. There is a unique feature that makes roll up pants what they are. Roll up pants come with a button placed on the lower leg. Just about a foot above your hiking boots. This button allows you to roll up your pants and then strap on the button so that your pants do not unravel. Roll up pants do offer some convenience because they easily attached with the snap of a button. This is a unique feature that not many hiking pants can offer. A great pair or roll up pants are the Prana Stretch Zion Pants. Check these perfect hiking pant out for optimal comfort. 

While some hikers might enjoy this, other hikers might find this to be a bit of an unnecessary add on. Regardless, one thing is certain. Roll up the pants have the ability to keep you cool by increasing ventilation. Not only that but you never have to worry about your pants unrolling either. If you are trekking through wet conditions and you do not want your pants to soak through in the bottom, roll up pants might be a great solution.

2. Make Sure Your Perfect Hiking Pants Fit Right

perfect hiking pants - Fit Right

Once you have figured out the type of pants you want to wear, the next thing that you need to consider is how they fit on you. You want to make sure that your hiking pants are not too tight. When your pants fit comfortably and snug, you can have the full range of motion that is necessary on any hike. If you are scrambling through rocks or climbing up mountains, you want to make sure that your hiking pants will be able to withstand all the movement.

When you are shopping for the perfect hiking pants, you want to look for models that have articulated knees and gusseted crutches. These will be the freest and comfortable pair of hiking pants when you are trekking around in nature. To help increase their mobility, you want to shop for hiking pants that are made out of the material that is somewhat stretchable. Consider the amount of spandex added in your hiking pants. Be sure to always to read the label to see that there is an adequate amount for you. A great pair of standard pants are the Men’s Columbia Silver Ridge pants. They are nice and strechy and offer a great amount of mobility. 

3. Know Your Hiking Environment

perfect hiking pants

One of the most crucial parts to finding a pair of perfect hiking pants is by figuring out what your environment is going to be. When choosing your hiking gear, you will always want to consider the elements.

Hiking in a Dry and Hot Climate

If you will be hiking in a hot and dry climate,  you can expect to come into contact with a lot of sun and heat. If this is the case, you may want to opt for light fabrics that have a good range of coverage. You don’t want your hiking pants to weigh you down either, so keep that in mind. One of the main factors in regards to your hiking pants and a dry environment is whether or not your hiking pants are breathable. So be sure to keep that in mind too.

Hiking in a Moist or Moderate Climate

In a moist or moderate climate, you can keep cool for the most part by hiking in shorts. Shorts offer optimal breathability and ventilation. But do keep in mind that circumstances may arise where long hiking pants are what would best suit your needs. For instance where your environment is mostly mild but may change, convertible hiking pants would be your best bet.

Hiking in a Cool or High Elevation Climate

Finally, in cool or high elevation hiking destinations, the number one feature you want in your hiking pants is heat retention. Finding perfect hiking pants that will keep you covered from the cold can make a big difference. Not only that, but it can impact how much you enjoy your adventure. Because of this, you may want to consider a pair of hiking pants that can easily adapt to your environment.  For cool or high elation environments, we recommend a warm pair of hiking pants that can also adapt. After all, if you do feel a little overheated in a cool or higher elevation hike, you can always roll up your hiking pants. For this sort of environment roll up pants would probably be your best bet.

4. Consider the Color of Your Pants

perfect hiking pants - Color

This might seem kind of silly, but the cover of your pants will make a big difference on your hike. For example, if you opt for a darker colored pair of pants and are hiking in the desert or low elevation areas, you may face overheating. This is especially true if you are in an area where there is little coverage from the sun.

Dark colored hiking pants can draw in additional heat making your hike a little too moist and uncomfortable. You might also want to consider issues such as whether or not you want to blend in with your in your environment. In that case, you may want to select an appropriate colored pair of hiking pants that won’t make you stand out.

5. Protection From Wet Environments 

perfect hiking pants - Protection from Wet

If you find yourself in an environment that is really wet (think the tropics or the jungle), you will want to think about your hiking pants selection carefully. For wet and humid climates, the number one key in any perfect hiking pants is water resistance. You want to make sure that your hiking pants will be able to withstand water penetration. This way you can be warm and dry throughout your travels. Some of the best options to go with when it comes to wet climates are water resistant pants. If you can not get your hands on a pair of waterproof pants, then aim for pants that offer quick dry performance.  

6. DWR Coatings 

perfect hiking pants - DWR Coatings

Overall, it is a safe bet to have a pair of hiking pants that have a DWR coating. Simply put, DWR coatings are durable water repellent coatings that get added to the outside of many outdoor articles of clothing. For the most part, DWR coatings are applied to the clothes by the manufacturer. When it comes to hiking pants, the primary goal of DWR coating is to help protect your pants against moderate water absorption. Now while you can not expect to stay one hundred percent dry (think heavy rains or wading through a stream), DWR coated clothing can be beneficial in helping you avoid accumulated moisture or soft rains.

Clothes that are treated with DWR needs to be maintained appropriately. Over time, the DWR coating will eventually fade and become ineffective. However, there are options such as the Nickwax Direct Wash Spray. This is a spray that will help maintain the water resistant capabilities of your clothing. One application of this coating will help add a new layer of water repellency to your hiking pants. Your pants may or may not already be treated with DWR. It all depending on which pair of hiking pants to go with. If it is not, you can simply add the repellent on yourself.

7. Consider UPF Ratings

perfect hiking pants - UPF Ratings

When it comes to protection from the sun, a UPF rating is something that you will want to understand. UPF and SPF ratings are two different things that somewhat mean the same thing. UPF’s or Ultraviolet Protection Factor are used to describe the amount of time it takes for your skin to burn. You usually find SPF in personal hygiene products such as sunscreen and makeup. UPF rating, on the other hand, stands is a rating designed for clothing. This is a rating given to clothing to measure how much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation actually gets into to your skin. Just because you have a layer of clothing on does not mean that you are protected from the sun. Rays can still reach your skin through the fabric. A UPF rating will help you understand just how much.

When you consider SPF and UPF, the higher the SPF and UPF rating, the better. Some common UPF ratings can range from 15 UPF to 50+ UPF. To really understand this, one of the best ways to look at this rating is through a percentage form. Take this next analysis for example. If a garment is made with a 25 UPF rating, then this means that 1/25th or 4% of the sun’s rays will be able to seep in through the garment. A UPF rating of 50 or more will ensure that less than 2% of the sun’s rays will be able to seep through. Different things can impact the rating. Such things include the material used, the dyes used (not the color) and other elements all affect the UPF rating. 

Whether you knew it or not, many hiking pants come with a UPR rating. UPF ratings come especially in handy when you plan on hiking at high altitudes, dry and hot climates like the desert, and during the summer in general. One of the most important features you need to look out for when shopping for your perfect hiking pants is the UPF rating. This is especially important if you have a sensitivity to overexposure in the sun. When you are shopping for your pair of perfect hiking pants, you will want to keep in mind the UPF rating. A good rule of thumb is to opt for a pair of hiking pants that offers a UPF rating of 50 or more.

8. Insect Shield Technology

perfect hiking pants - Insect Shield Technology

Believe it or not, your perfect hiking pants just might be the pair that has bug resistance capabilities. Yes, you heard it right. Some hiking pants are built with the capabilities of ensuring that bugs do not attach on to you and tag along on your adventures. If you are traveling to a location where you might be exposed to ticks or other creepy crawlies, then you may want to consider this.

9. Pockets

perfect hiking pants - Pockets

Another feature that you may want to include in your hunt for the perfect hiking pants is pockets. Pockets are invaluable when it comes to hiking. And let’s be honest, for most travelers, there is no such thing as having too many pockets. Hiking pants come with a range of options to choose from. Especially with the demand of pockets being a popular feature in most pants nowadays.  

You may want to opt for standard pockets that are on the sides of your hips for convenient and easy access. If you need a little bit more storage, then you may want to consider hiking pants that have pockets attached to the side of the knees. One such pair that we love is the White Sierra Trail Convertible Hiking Pants.  These pants offer a great amount of storage that comes in handy in any trail. If you like that convenience, just be aware of the following issue. Packing your pockets that are located on the sides of your knees can become tedious throughout your adventures. Not only that, but you may be more likely to feel weighed down because of them.

Be sure to also consider what kind of closure you want on your pocket. If any that is. Many travelers appreciate a good pair of hiking pants that have zip up pockets. That way, all your contents can be safe and secure. No matter where you end up hiking to.

10. Price Point

perfect hiking pants - Price Point

You also need to consider the price point that you want to stay within when it comes to the perfect hiking pants. You do not want to go above your budget and you certainly do not want to play it cheap and go below your budget either.

Find the right fit for you by considering all the features of a pair of hiking pants. Start by making a list of what are some necessary features you are looking for. Once you have figured this out, then you can start shopping for the type of hiking pants that prioritize the features you want. Work out what the average price comes out to. Once you do that, you should be able to find a baseline as far as what a good price point should be for the pair of your perfect hiking pants

Final Thoughts

With any purchase, you need to do some research first. Once you have decided what your need is, you will be able to put together an idea of what your perfect hiking pants should do for you. One thing is for certain. Once you are out there exploring, you will be glad to know that your hiking pants will be up to the challenge! Here’s to happy trail in comfortable pants.

Related Article: Best Hiking Pants For Men: Summer to Cold Weather Style.

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