The best walking trousers 2019: trek, clamber and climb in comfort

Feel cool and comfortable, and protected from rain, wind and harsh sun, during your next outdoor adventure with these top walking trousers for men and women

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Ah, so you think your jeans will serve you well on a big outdoors walk? Perhaps, but if you’re wearing a pair of proper walking trousers you won’t have to worry about getting them covered in mud, sheep poo, grass or the like. 

The best walking trousers, which come in designs for men and for women, aren’t just a glorified pair of chinos. On the contrary, they can be highly technical, using a range of materials and technologies to ward off the wind and rain.

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.

The best walking trousers: a woman hikes through woods

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)

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

A fantastic option when heading outdoors, whether for a multi-day hike or a wander round the local beauty spot, the Arc'teryx Russet is a nylon canvas trouser with a soft, cotton-like feel for all day comfort. 

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 adventures

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: North Face Impendor

3. The North Face Impendor Pant

The best walking trousers for alpine excursions

Best for: High-level alpine walking and mountaineering
UPF: 50+
Material: Elastane Woven Double Weave Four-Way Stretch/Ripstop
Pockets: 3
Reasons to buy
+Orange! In case you hadn’t noticed+Super technical

If ever there was a pair of ‘alpine trousers’, these are the ones. Super-technical slim cut and an entire catalogue of fabrics conspire to make these overkill for nipping up the pub, but on more serious outings there’s a lot to be said for the well-monikered The North Face Impendor.

The lack of bulk around the ankle and zippered ankle gusset will combine to reduce the chances of tripping over generally, and especially when wearing crampons. Ripstop fabric on the inside leg will protect your legs from ham-fisted cramponage, while the reflective details will increase visibility on those dark, early alpine starts.

DWR will keep damp at bay for a while, especially when moving fast, and the zippered ankle closures should also keep spindrift out of your socks.

The best walking trousers: Mammut Pordoi SO Pants

4. Mammut Pordoi SO Pants

Comfy, water-resistant, and they also provide UPF protection

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

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: Salomon OUTspeed Pant

5. Salomon Outspeed Walking Trousers

Understated legwear for fast and light excitement

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

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: Berghaus Explorer Eco

6. Berghaus Explorer Eco

These rainproof walking trousers convert into shorts

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, which means no digging into your flesh when you move or bend.

The Berghaus Explorer Eco sport a minimalist design, so they can be paired with pretty much any technical jacket, base layer or summery t-shirt. Speaking of summer, you can zip these trousers off at the knees, transforming them into walking shorts when you're exploring in hotter climes. 

There are five pockets in total, with two of them 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 whilst also enjoying the outdoors. 

The best walking trousers: Fjallraven Vidda Pro

7. Fjallraven Vidda Pro

The best walking trousers for keeping cool during hardcore trekking

Best for: Hardcore trekking
UPF: n/a
Material: Polyester & Cotton
Pockets: 7
Reasons to buy
+Extremely durable+Incredibly waterproof

These are serious walking trousers for Bear Grylls wannabes. Thanks to the G-1000 Original fabric, you won’t be getting wet or cold any time soon regardless of what weather you chuck at these trousers. 

What’s also good to know is they’ve also been inbuilt with additional bum and knee support - so slipping and sliding down banks and tripping over tree roots aren’t so much of a rip hazard. With 7 pockets, all of which having their individual uses, you know these trousers aren’t messing about.  

The best walking trousers: Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers

8. Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers

This technical walking pant has excellent stretching abilities

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

If you like a fitted trouser, then these are the ones for you. Keep in mind that one of their main selling points is the stretchiness, so you don’t need to worry about being restricted. 

While they are waterproof and wind resistant, these Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trousers aren’t the most heavy duty on the market - so if you’re planning on going right into the wilderness, perhaps step it up a gear and opt for the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers. 

But, for an avid hiker who likes the odd rock climb or scramble, these are a great middle weight trouser that will last years.

The best walking trousers: Montane Terra Ridge

9. Montane Terra Ridge

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

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

These women’s trousers are primed for mountain hikes.  Featuring GRANITE STRETCH Dynamic fabric, they dry faster than you can say ‘raindrop’. But, having said that, 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 should be your first 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, these are the ones.

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

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 even down to your socks! As well as waterproof, the fabric is 100 per cent windproof. 

Recommended for all weather types, including snow, these comfortable, casual trousers are one of the best walking trousers available for women right now. 

Looking to kit the kids out or your next hike? Check out the best walking boots for kids to ensure you have a whole team of happy campers!