When hitting the great outdoors, a pair of the best walking trousers are your best friend. So put those tracksuit bottoms or (eek) jeans back in the drawer – they're not going to cut it. Today's best hiking trousers for men and women are flexible and fast-drying, lightweight yet tough, and come with pockets for all your valuables and even knee zips to let you air out your lower legs when/if the sun comes out. Pick up a pair and you'll never look back. This guide rounds up some of the top options from our favourite outdoors brands.
Whether you're headed out on a strenuous multi-day trek or a casual stroll in the country, or even if you're just planning some sightseeing that requires comfortable attire, a pair of the best walking trousers is a good choice. Add a pair of the best hiking boots and a quality waterproof jacket and you're all set for a comfortable, protected trip. This guide covers walking trousers for both men and women, but if you want something closer fitting, try a pair of the best hiking leggings instead.
- Browse the best women’s walking shoes or the best women's hiking boots
- And these are the best men's walking shoes
The best walking trousers to buy right now
Yes, they're expensive, but the Fjallraven Keb hiking pants will see you right on any outdoor adventure. In fact, if hiking and hillwalking is your thing, you'll probably already know about these best-selling award-winners. Up close the first thing you'll notice is the use of two completely different fabrics. The main one is a polyester/elastane mix that gives you silky stretch where you need it, with Fjallraven's own G-1000 Eco fabric (made with recycled polyester) toughening-up the legs, bum and knees, the latter cleverly articulated, which makes ascents so much easier. There are also ventilation zips along the thighs and calves, to let air in on hot days. However, it's the thigh pockets we love most; one popper, one zipped, they're the perfect place to store a phone (and maybe a small hip-flask) when hiking. Technically speaking, the Keb trousers are at the peak.
Head to our Fjallraven Keb hiking trousers review to find out more – we tested out the 'Curved' version, cut specifically for women's bodies.
While many of the best walking trousers have some kind of contingency for inclement weather build in – be it a quick-dry fabric or water-resistant finish, sometimes a properly waterproof pair of kecks will do. Our pick for the best waterproof walking trousers to buy now are the Resolve from The North Face. These employ DryVent technology to keep the wind and rain securely out whilst still letting the air in, so your legs won't end up cooking on your wet-weather hike. Adjustable velcro cuff with knee-high zips mean you can pull these on over your boots and get the fit sung once they're on. An elasticated waist and two zippered hand pockets round out the offering.
For a pair of women's walking trousers that are perfect for the summer months, Arc’teryx's Alroy hiking pants are definitely worth investigating. They're designed to be cool and flexible on warm weather adventures, and made with comfort and breathability in mind. They weigh in at just 225g, they're water-resistant enough to repel light rain and they feature five pockets, including a thigh pocket that's ideal for holding your phone.
There are three colourways available – black, navy and khaki – and they're smart enough to wear when you're not out walking as well as being tough enough to be scrunched up into a bag and not need ironing afterwards. Our one question mark is around the sizing; in our Arc'teryx Alroy walking trousers review, we found them to be far too big, and a lack of belt loops means you can't hitch them up if they're too roomy for you. We'd advise you to try before you buy (or at least order a range of sizes to see what suits you.
Jack Wolfskin's softshell Overlands make their way into our best hiking trousers guide thanks to their flexible fabric and versatile design. Available in women's and men's cuts and colourways that range from the understated to 'wouldn't miss you on a mountainside', these include pretty much everything you need from a pair of hiking trousers. The fabric is breathable, lightweight and stretchy, for good freedom of movement as you hit the trails (although we found the cut on the women's pair was a little tight around the thighs).
Should the sun emerge halfway through your trip, there's a zip-away option to free your lower legs, as well as the standard UV protection to stop you burning. There are also lots of useful pockets, including one on the leg. If you're heading off in the warm weather and want something lightweight and flexible, these are a great shout.
Heading somewhere hot? If you're planning an active trip to foreign climes you're going to want practical clothes. Cue the Maier Sports Nil Trousers, which provide no less than five zipped pockets for storing valuables, including one passport-sized and another 'secret' pocket inside for keys or a credit card. They stop short of having more zips to convert them into shorts, but do have roll-up legs that fasten below the knee.
However, what we love most about the Maier Sports Nil Trousers is that they let you move and breathe. As well as being water repellant, the Dryprotec fabric is super-thin and stretchy, so perfect for ascending mountains as well as for general travel in humidity. That fabric is also windproof so works well in cooler conditions, too. Lightweight, quick-drying and with bags of stretch and security, these are the best walking trousers for active adventurers.
For the cooler months it’s important to have genuine all-rounder clothing, that’ll deal with the more challenging weather. The Creston AR Pant is a great example of fast-drying, breathable and relatively weather-resistant material, brushed on the inside for comfort and extra warmth. An understated but ingeniously cut style (articulated knees and stretch gusset are present, but invisible) mean that your movement is not restricted on the hill too. Finally, a good range of storage is present, importantly a zippered thigh pocket that’s essential when wearing a rucksack, as waist pockets are sometimes hard to access due to the hipbelt. The understated design but premium finish will serve you well for years to come, wherever and whenever you need them to. In short, these are well worth the investment.
The Salomon Wayfarers are hard to not recommend. A tapered leg minimises material around the ankle – a godsend if you’re wearing crampons or cycling – as well as reducing the ability of the trousers to snag on passing rocks/branches. This minimalism extends to flattened seams throughout, as well as neat touches like reflective highlights that add safety without a weight penalty. The four-way stretch fabric will flex rather than tear in most rough-and-tumble situations, as well as being pretty windproof, while a DWR coating will shrug off light rain and damp in general. In short, the Salomon Wayfarers may not be technical trousers, but they’ll do a fine job in most outdoor situations without breaking the bank.
Sometimes simplicity is best, and the Ineo trousers showcase that perfectly. Made from Mala Stretch fabric, these slim fit leg trousers earn a place in our best hiking trousers guide by delivering not only offer comfort, durability and weather resistance, but also a practical, streamlined aspect that minimises snagging opportunities and weight. That streamlining delivers a host of benefits, not only stopping trousers getting wet and muddy, but also keeping the hem out of the way when mountain biking, for example. Mala Stretch is both wind resistant and water repellent, and comfortable next to the skin, while a pair of zippered hand pockets offer storage opportunities. In short, these are the type of trousers that will deliver the goods in most outdoor environments – from trekking to hiking, these have you covered.
Proper old-school materials give away the game here, a blend of cotton and nylon delivering durability and reliability for the long haul, with a touch of spandex for flexibility. There are solid design touches too, with a gusseted crotch and articulated knees providing plenty of movement over complex ground, as well as extra reinforcement around the hand pockets and back ankle panel.
In addition, the back of the waistband is seamless to prevent rucksacks from digging in, and the thigh pocket is not only the best place to keep a phone, but has been specifically designed to fit one. Nepal inspired trims soften the tone a little to make these perfect for all-season, all conditions outdoorsing - especially at the harsher end of the spectrum, where the durability here will pay dividends.
Pordoi SO Pants won't be for everyone, but if the cut suits, these could be your go-to outdoor trousers for all seasons. Wind-defeating softshell will come in handy all year round, reasonable rain-deflection without wetting out or chafing, and slim cut around the ankles along with a gusseted zip will minimise flapping in hoolies. Mammut has deployed a technology it calls Mammut Phase Weave, which minimises seams, as well as combining fabrics for the best performance, but without the bulk of layering. As with the Arc’teryx Russet walking trousers, pockets here are positioned to avoid fouling a climbing harness, and Mammut has added a flat waistband to enhance all-day comfort under a harness or rucksack hipbelt.
What are the different types of walking trousers?
Also known as trekking trousers, this type of active clothing can be split into sub-categories depending on the fabric they’re made from, the fit and the features.
Softshell walking trousers, for example, are commonly made from synthetic fabrics. They’re often windproof and rain-resistant, but not fully waterproof. You can buy them with a mesh or fleece lining, and wear them over base layer leggings in winter. People tend to wear softshell trousers during winter walking and hiking.
You can also buy hardshell walking trousers, which are hard-wearing and breathable, providing impressive protection from wind, rain and rough and tumble. These tend to be worn during winter, or in environments when you’re susceptible to harsh weather and need a sturdy extra outer layer over your base layers.
The best hikinh trousers are usually made from blended fabrics, and are suited to pursuits such as backpacking, hiking, trekking and robust outdoor walking where you’ll be encountering varying terrain and surroundings.
Common materials here include polyester or polyamide and cotton, which are used to construct trousers that are tough yet feel soft against the skin. You can buy walking trousers that are resistant to thorns, brambles and even mosquito bites, while any with a wax coating put in a good water-repellent performance.
Due to their lightweight design, walking trousers can be rolled up and stashed neatly away in backpacks, making them the ideal choice of lightweight clothing for backpacking holidays, hiking trips and general adventuring.
How to choose the best walking trousers for you
From walking trousers with zip off legs that convert longs to shorts in seconds, through to multi-pocket trousers that have a space for every outdoor gadget, this activewear hero is a game changer when it comes to trekking.
When choosing, consider what weather and terrain you want to wear your trousers in. Also, think about how you want them to fit and how important style is to you, as well as how many pockets you need. For example, are you hoping a wealth of pockets will suffice in place of a backpack?
There’s also the question of breathability. Highly breathable hiking trousers are great for keeping you cool when trekking in hot weather or for long periods, but this isn't always necessary. We mention this feature in particular because it can increase the cost of trousers, so you might be spending more than you need to.
Fit and style are down to personal preference, but the majority of walking trousers are styled on the looser side – when striding in the wilds or clambering up hills, you want to feel as comfortable as possible. And remember, you can tighten up the belt fastening on your trousers, but you can't magically make them bigger.
Another big consideration is budget, and exactly how technical you need your trews to be. Serious hikers should consider technical walking trousers from the likes of Fjӓllrӓven, Vidda Pro, Montane and Arc'teryx. Their use of the latest tough, weatherproof yet breathable fabrics – as well as features like articulated knees and stretch gussets – put them a cut above, though they're generally expensive.
For more casual walkers and hikers, check out brands such as Jack Wolfskin, Maier and Saloman. Even these more basic walking trousers are much better than a pair of jeans – which become heavy and uncomfortable in rain, but are often more casual in design, with everyday wearable credentials.
For travellers and adventurers after something they can wear around the world, it's still difficult to look past styles like the Royal Robbins Men's Bug Barrier Active Traveller Stretch Zip 'N' Go and Berghaus Explorer Eco. Trousers that convert into shorts are something of a backpacking cliche, but there are good reasons for that. If you've either a small budget or you're trying to build a capsule wardrobe for a long trip and still be ready for anything, these two-in-one garments are worth their weight.