When hitting the trails, a reliable pair of the best walking trousers are your legs' best friend. So put those tracksuit bottoms or (eek) jeans back in the drawer – they're just not going to cut it. The hiking trousers listed below – for both women and men – are flexible and fast-drying, lightweight yet tough, won't chafe or fall, 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.
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 couple of the best hiking boots and the best waterproof jacket, and you're all set for a comfortable, protected trip.
Best walking trousers to buy right now
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New for A/W 2022, the Fjällräven Keb Agile are the best walking trousers for men. They're a lighter-weight version of the original Keb trousers (below), and come with a similar mix of fabrics to deliver comfort as well as toughness. The majority of the Keb Agile trousers are made from stretch fabric, with a gusseted groin area allowing for impressive freedom of movement, while reinforced patches on high-wear areas like the knees ensure you don't wear through these immediately. The Agile version is pitched as three-season and is slightly wind-resistant, with vents to prevent overheating.
Read our full Fjällräven Keb Agile trousers review.
The Columbia Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Walking Trousers can be considered niche and general appeal hiking clothing. On the one hand, they are best suited for summer hikes when the weather is all over the place; on the other hand, the 2-in-1 design enables you to use the trousers in a variety of situations and makes them especially well-suited for ultralight hiking when you don't want to pack more than what's absolutely necessary.
We wish you could pull the trousers tighter around the ankles, but if you have taller hiking boots, you can always tuck them in to prevent any issues that might arise from bugs crawling up your legs. It might not be the most fabulous look, but as long as it works, who are we to criticise the technique...
The Fjallraven Keb hiking pants are available in men's and women's cuts (whereas the Keb Agile, above, is currently men's only). They're heavier weight than the Agile version, but they're still outstanding walking trousers. 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.
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.
Read our full Fjallraven Keb hiking trousers review.
While many of the best walking trousers have some kind of contingency for inclement weather built-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 is 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 means 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.
Pick up a bargain using one of our The North Face discount codes
If you can cope with the truly terrible site, the Charge trousers from military-inspired extreme outdoors brand ThruDark look like they'll be able to take on just about anything. They feature knee panels that have been reinforced with a special fabric that promises toughness yet elasticity, while four-way stretch around the crotch and thighs allows for a full range of movement. Two hip pockets are positioned for easy access while wearing a climbing harness, and there are useful bellow-style pockets, with velcro fastening, lower down for stashing more stuff. An adjustable ankle tightener and internal boot hook round out the impressive features list. The non-too-cheap pricing and fairly 'intense' styling means these aren't for just walking the dog, though.
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 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).
Read our full Arc'teryx Alroy walking trousers review.
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 standard UV protection to stop you from 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.
How to choose the best walking trousers for you
From walking trousers with zip-off legs that convert longs to shorts in seconds to multi-pocket trousers that have 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.
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 hiking 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.