What Pants To Wear Hiking?

Are you new to hiking and trying to figure out what to wear? Well, it is important to wear proper clothes for hiking. That is because the wrong clothes can take a fun hiking trip and make them miserable. You need to make sure the clothes fit, as well as match the trip you are going on.

All your clothes matter, especially shoes and pants. You can find more information on what shoes to wear hiking in other parts of our site, but in this article, we are going to focus on what pants to wear hiking. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the different kinds of pants that are available for hiking and the advantages and disadvantages of each kind.

What Pants To Wear Hiking?

What Pants To Wear Hiking?

Qualities to look for.

So, hiking can throw you into all kinds of different situations. That is why you need to have pants that can handle a variety of situations. You want pants that will be protective but also allow your legs to breath. You want pants that are flexible, but also durable. You want something that is lightweight, but also rugged. These qualities can be hard to find in normal everyday pants. That is why it is highly important to consider getting pants designed for hiking known as hiking pants.


You may be thinking, well jeans are durable, rugged, and comfortable when broke in and yes these things are all true, but for long periods of wearing and a lot of movement blue jeans aren’t the best. The reason is even when broke in blue jeans tend to not have a lot of giving. Also, blue jeans don’t have many pockets. Pockets can come in major handy when hiking. The real reason though why blue jeans aren’t good for hiking is they are heavy. When walking long periods every little bit of weight adds up. If you are wearing heavy jeans, then you will get tired quickly. Also, blue jeans don’t allow for breathing. This means you will get hot and sweaty faster. Due to these things, it is best to avoid blue jeans when hiking.


So, you want to stay cool while hiking, well then what about shorts? Shorts are something to consider because they don’t restrict movement as much, but they also don’t offer as much protection. Most shorts have a lot of pockets which is nice and most are lightweight. Some are more lightweight than others. The thing with shorts as hiking pants really depends on where you are going to be hiking.

If you are going to be hiking on clear trails or out in the open, then shorts can work just fine. However, if you are going to be hiking in dense woods or areas where your legs might brush up against something, then you might want to consider long pants. They actually make hiking pants that are convertible to shorts. These are your best options if you want shorts because they can be pants if you need them to be.

Athletic Pants

Okay, so you want to hike in long pants to protect your legs, but you also want something that is lightweight and cool, well what about athletic pants then? This is getting closer to what good hiking pants are because athletic pants are lighter material, but most don’t have the pockets that you would want from a good pair of pants to hike in. Also, most athletic pants can be real nosey when walking in them, especially the polyester ones. Not all are nosey though. Athletic pants do breath and stay dry, but they aren’t as durable as good hiking pants. They can rip easily because the woods are not what they are designed for. If you thought of athletic pants though, then you are on the right track of what to be looking for in hiking pants.

Hiking Pants

The best type of pant to wear when hiking is hiking pants. That is because they are designed for hiking and will give you everything you need. They have a lot of pockets and also offer your legs protection. However, they are generally made out of material to make them more lightweight and flexible than jeans. Most hiking pants are made out of a type of nylon, so they are actually even lighter-weight then cotton shorts. On top of this, the nylon that they are made from is quiet. This means that you won’t scare animals if you are trying to see them. Cotton and polyester can make noise when walking swiftly when it rubs together. With hiking pants, you can avoid this.

Another benefit to hiking pants is they will keep you cool while still offering leg protection. They breathe which prevents sweat from being trapped. The material is also strong enough to protect your legs from getting cut or scratched by branches. If it is really hot though, like has been mentioned, you can get hiking pants that convert to shorts. These are better than actual shorts though because they only uncover the bottom third of your leg. That still keeps a lot of you protected and they are lighter weight than normal shorts. On top of all these hiking pants are comfortable. They are flexible and allow for quick movement that is unobstructed.

The last benefit to hiking pants that we haven’t really touched on is they dry fast. Since the material is thin it will dry off fast if you get wet. This shouldn’t be a surprise since they don’t hold sweat. Also, if it is just a little bit of water it will run off of them. Due to all these benefits of hiking pants, they really are the best kind of pants to wear while hiking. If you are going to be hiking regularly then it is worth the investment. Hiking pants can be worn in any environment making them the best option for hikers. It doesn’t matter if it is hot or cold hiking pants are the best outer layer you can get for the woods or mountains for your legs.

Cargo Pants

If you don’t want to get real hiking pants though, then the next best alternative is a decent pair of cargo pants. They offer lots of pockets and are rugged. They will protect your legs and keep them safe in any environment. They are hotter than real hiking pants though because most cargo pants are cotton and heavy. They don’t breath as well as hiking pants would. Cargo pants are typically comfortable though, and most don’t restrict movement too much. They are looser than jeans would be. In a lot of situations, especially if it isn’t really hot, then cargo pants would work. If you are new to hiking and just want to see if you like it, then cargo pants will give you an experience that will allow for a good trip to see if you have fun or not.

Other things

A few last things that you should consider when buying hiking pants is if you can wear a belt with them if they have an elastic waist if they are waterproof, and how many pockets they have and the size. These things will vary on the person and you will want to find what works for you. The key is that quality matters and you get what you pay for most of the time when it comes to hiking pants.


So, now you know all the different types of pants that you might consider to wear when hiking and the pros and cons to them. You know that you should look for lightweight and breathable pants that will protect your legs. You know the best option are pants that are made for hiking, but if you don’t want to invest in hiking pants right away than cargo pants would work. Also, cargo shorts are a good third option depending on the type of hiking you are doing. Now you know the best pants to wear while hiking and what makes them the best pants.

Tom Chandler

"When your hands hit the floor, they get cut up. When mine hit the floor, they slide with ease"

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