Best walking trousers 2019: trek, ramble and hike in comfort

Enjoy protection from the rain, wind and harsh sun during your next outdoors adventure with these top walking trousers for men and women

Best walking trousers a man walks along the top of a steep, grass covered hill

The best walking trousers provide a winning combination of breathable and/or weatherproof tech, comfort and flexibility. Together, they ensure that your legs as protected as possible when out walking, hiking or trekking.

You'll find the best men's and women's walking trouser designs enable you to handle a variety of outdoor terrain without worrying about the damage to your clothing or the discomfort – for instance, soggy jean legs – that can add a literal dampener to your outdoor pursuits.

One of our favourite walking trousers even converts into walking shorts. This is good news for anyone who has a small budget (or wardrobe) yet wants to own a quality pair of walking trousers and durable outdoors shorts. It also means one item of clothing will take you from spring/summer to autumn/winter without skipping a beat.

Our expert pick:

  • While any quick-drying trouser will let you explore the outdoors safely, there are times when bad weather rolls in, or the sun really starts beating down. During those kinds of scenarios, you’ll be glad you’ve got proper clothing on. 
  • When it comes to the best walking trousers, the Arc'teryx Russet Pant is pretty hard to beat and as conditions-proof as you can get without staying in the car. These technical walking trousers are ideal for all-weather walking outside of peak summer when you might prefer to be in shorts.

Best walking trousers: a person stands at the edge of a glacial lake dressed in walking trousers and a waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Simon Migaj)

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 walking 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.

The best walking trousers 2019: a group hike up a dusty mountain in the heat

 Choosing 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 browsing our list below, 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 walking 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.

Below we’ve rounded up the best walking trousers for men and for women, based on durability, performance and their ability to help you feel comfortable in the great outdoors.

The best walking trousers to buy right now

The best walking trousers: Arc'teryx Russet Pant

1. Arc'teryx Russet Pant

The best walking trousers overall (and they're pretty stylish, too)

Specifications
Best for: All-round hill competence and style
UPF: 50+
Material: nylon stretch canvas - 96% nylon, 4% elastane
Pockets: 5
Reasons to buy
+Technical cut+Comfort

Arc'teryx's Russet is a nylon trouser that's well-suited to long hikes or quick jaunts. The canvas material has a soft feel, similar to cotton, that will help keep you comfortable, even as the miles build.

There are many reasons why these are our current top pick of the best walking trousers crop... Articulated patterning and gusseted crotch means even the most energetic moves won’t cause them to ride up or restrict your movement. 

Similarly, ankle closures mean that your feet are always unobstructed, and not obscured by fabric, which is particularly useful when covering more technical ground. 

Four pockets and one zipped one (good for car keys) give plenty of storage, while they’re also located to not foul a harness, a neat touch if you ever need to don one. 

The best walking trousers: Kathmandu Federate

2. Kathmandu Federate

Ideal travelling/trekking pants for big outdoor adventures

Specifications
Best for: travel trekkers
UPF: 50+
Material: Polyester and Cotton
Pockets: 6
Reasons to buy
+Available in range of colours+Organic cotton

The rather fetching Kathmandu Federate are not only highly comfortable slim-cut trekking trousers, they have a surprise up their leg... There's a hidden stash pocket, lined with an anti-RFID material, to keep your credit card and passport safe from both real-world and virtual attackers.    

A close second in our best walking trousers buyer's guide, the lightweight and slim-cut Kathmandu Federate is arguably the ultimate trekker-traveller’s trouser. A water-repellent finish should keep you safe from passing showers, and a sustainable material construction adds a degree of environmental credibility.

The best walking trousers: Salomon OUTspeed Pant

3. Salomon Outspeed Walking Trousers

The best walking trousers for advanced sweat-wicking

Specifications
Best for: Fast and light walking adventures
UPF: 50+
Material: Polyester
Pockets: 3
Reasons to buy
+Understated+Lightweight

The Salomon Outspeed are an excellent entry-level walking trouser, with many of the features of their more technical brethren, but without the premium pricing. Salomon have gone for highly robust double weave material that resists water, but still allows plenty of breathability. 

Rather grandly named ‘AdvancedSkin Shield technology’ essentially serves to wick away perspiration to the surface of the weave, keeping you warm and dry underneath. Another fabric trick is the 4-way stretch, which prevents your movement being hindered when moving at speed. 

The Outspeed’s also incorporate a flat waistband to prevent chafing under a rucksack belt, as well as zippered pockets to keep your phone and car keys where you left them. In short, they  won’t get you noticed, but for all the right reasons.

The best walking trousers: Mammut Pordoi SO Pants

4. Mammut Pordoi SO Pants

Durable enough to wear climbing as well as adventuring

Specifications
Best for: UK hillwalking in all weathers
UPF: 50+
Material: Softshell, 86% polyamide, 14% elastane
Pockets: 3
Reasons to buy
+Weather resistant+Rugged

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.

The best walking trousers: Fjallraven Vidda Pro

5. Fjallraven Vidda Pro

The best walking trousers for Bear Grylls wannabes

Specifications
Best for: Hardcore trekking
UPF: n/a
Material: Polyester & Cotton
Pockets: 7
Reasons to buy
+Durable+Fully waterproof

The key selling point of Fjallraven's Vidda Pro trousers is the G-1000 Original fabric, which offers formidable protection against the elements. It makes this pair of walking trousers a great choice for those engaging in more serious outdoor activities, like hiking in dense bush. 

The Vidda Pro have also been designed with additional bum and knee support. That means slipping and sliding down banks, tripping over tree roots or scrambling around on your knees aren’t so much of a rip hazard. 

There's a mammoth amount of pockets on these trousers too – seven in total! – all of which have their individual uses and can be securely stuffed with survival gadgets and supplies.  

Best walking trousers: Jack Wolfskin Wicken Fen in deep blue

6. Jack Wolfskin Wicken Fen Trousers

Smart-looking water-repellent softshells for day hikes and rambling

Specifications
Best for: Lightweight day hikes
UPF: 40+
Material: FlexShield X-Lite UV
Pockets: 3
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

These Wicken Fen trousers by Jack Wolfskin,  released in collaboration with the National Trust, have been crafted from water-repellent and wind-resistant material, so should withstand impromptu showers whilst protecting your legs from biting winds. 

They’re also breathable, helping you feel comfortable for longer when you’re pushing yourself on a trail, and have a decent amount of stretch. That’ll come in handy when hiking, where you’ll be needing a greater freedom of movement.

We also love how the material features a 100 per cent recycled membrane and 100 per cent PFC free fabrics, making the Wicken Fen an eco-friendly choice. 

With some walking trousers there’s often a trade-off between technical performance and style. Thankfully, the Wicken Fen, available for both men and women, rock a plain yet smart design that won’t make your eyes bleed. Huge bonus: by buying a pair you’ll be helping the National Trust protect the natural world.

The best walking trousers: Berghaus Explorer Eco

7. Berghaus Explorer Eco

These rainproof walking trousers magically convert into shorts

Specifications
Best for: Comfort
UPF: 50+
Material: Nylon
Pockets: 5
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable fit+Eco-friendly manufacture

For those times when comfort and durability takes precedence over everything else, you won’t get much better than the Berghaus Exporer Eco. These trousers have a generous fit and a non-elasticated waistband, so no digging into your flesh whenever you move or bend.

The design is minimalist, so they can be paired with pretty much any technical jacket, base layer or summery tee. Speaking of summer, you can zip these walking trousers off at the knees, transforming them into shorts when you're exploring in hotter climes. 

There are five pockets in total, with two  designed purposefully for warming your hands during cold weather walks. Add to that the eco-friendly manufacturing process and you can be satisfied that you’re doing your bit for the environment, just like with the Jack Wolfskin's further up. 

The best walking trousers: Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers

8. Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers

Budget walking pants with more stretch than a yoga instructor

Specifications
Best for: Ease of movement
UPF: 50
Material: Nylon & Elastane
Pockets: 4
Reasons to buy
+Great for multi terrains+Suitable for rock climbing

Looking for durable walking trousers on a budget? Do you mostly do recreational walking? Then try the Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers.

While they are waterproof and wind-resistant, the Chockstone's aren’t the most heavy duty design on the market and therefore work best on day walks rather than multi-day off-road adventures.

That said, for recreational walkers looking for more stretch than their normal trousers offer, these are a great middle weight option that will last a long time.

The best walking trousers: Montane Terra Ridge

9. Montane Terra Ridge

Fast-drying, tough and totally up for a Three Peaks challenge

Specifications
Best for: Sports
UPF: 50+
Material: Granite Stretch
Pockets: 4
Reasons to buy
+Fast drying fabric+Reinforced for extra strength

These women’s walking trousers are primed for mountain hikes. However, they don't feature the strongest waterproofing, so save these for when the mountains are green rather than covered in snow. 

Lightweight yet tough, these are a solid choice if you’re planning on attacking the Alps or hiking the Highlands when the weather is warm. And let’s not forget the side vents incase you need to air yourself out a little. 

If you are heading off on the 3 Peaks Challenge and want a pair of walking trousers that are comfortable and low maintenance, you won't go wrong here.

The best walking trousers: The North Face Women Venture 2

10. The North Face Women Venture 2

The best walking trousers designed especially for women

Specifications
Best for: Wet weather walks
UPF: n/a
Material: 100% polyamide
Reasons to buy
+Totally water and windproof +Elastic waist for extra comfort

If you’re looking for stronger waterproofing than the Montane Terra Ridge can offer, we’d recommend the North Face Women’s Venture 2 walking trousers. 

They offer maximum waterproof protection, including a seam-sealed shell and velcro ankle tabs to keep you dry right down to your hiking socks. As well as being waterproof, the fabric is windproof so you'll be fine on blustery, wet weather walks too.

The final word:

We’re fans of the Arc’teryx Russet Pant. These weather-proof walking trousers help you stay cool in the sun and dry in the rain, and manage to do it whilst looking pretty stylish. Wear them with hiking boots, walking shoes, or, if the sun is out, your favourite walking sandals (just ditch the socks first).

If your budget needs to cover both walking trousers and durable outdoors shorts, you're in luck with the versatile Berghaus Explorer Eco. They zip off at the knees to be converted into shorts for summer walking and hiking trips.