Hiking in the summer is one of life’s little pleasures. The sun is shining, you’re soaking up that vitamin D, and your load is so much lighter without all those heavy layers.
But there is one struggle most hikers face when the heat starts rising: the endless battle to keep cool. Particularly when it comes to pants; finding a pair of pants that are lightweight, moisture-wicking, but which also offer durability and sun protection can be tough.
While it can be tempting to break out the shorts, there are a few things that make it wiser to keep your legs covered, such as limiting your exposure to the sun, insect bites, and even protecting your legs when you’re walking through bushes or overgrown areas.
What if we told you that it is possible to have the best of both worlds; ie. a pair of pants that offer you all of the protection advantages of winter pants (and more) while also being moisture-wicking, sun-protective, lightweight, and comfortable enough to wear in hot weather?
Yep, they do exist. And we’ve done the hard work for you: we’ve dug around for the best hot weather hiking pants on the internet, so you can spend less time sweating over what to wear hiking, and more time taking in those breathtaking views…
Short on time?
Find our top pick below.
Top 5 Best Hot Weather Hiking Pants
OUR TOP PICK
These Columbia convertible pants are 100% Nylon for optimal durability and offer Columbia’s advanced Omni-shade technology which has UPF 50 to block out UVA and UVB rays and breathable, moisture-wicking fabric which pulls moisture away from the skin to keep you cool and dry all day long.
You can convert these trousers from shorts to pants instantly thanks to the zipper on the knees, meaning they’re great for unpredictable weather, offering you the comfort of shorts for extreme heat combined with full protection from UVA rays and bugs.
These pants also offer a range of handy features, such as a one zip-closure security pocket for your valuables, side pockets with a hook and loop closure, and mesh pocket bags for ultimate convenience and security while hiking.
There are a few other features that help these pants stand out, such as a partial elastic waist for structure and comfort, and gusset detail for superior range of movement.
- 100% nylon for durability
- UPF 50 with Omni-shade technology
- Plenty of different types of pockets
- Convertible - unzippable knees
- Moisture-wicking fabric
- Partial elastic waist
- Limited stretch
These stretch-woven fabric cargos are stretchy and lightweight, providing ultimate comfort while you hike.
They also offer UPF 50+ and provide great protection against UV rays, making them perfect for hiking in warm weather. The moisture-wicking fabric will also keep you cool all day long, plus, they're water-resistant, meaning you’ll always be prepared for those sudden showers.
If you’re a regular hiker you’ll know that it’s the little things that can really make a difference in hiking pants. These from MOCOLY have zipper-closure pockets that are deep enough to hold your cell, wallet, and keys, plus the YKK zippers are smooth and reliable so these won’t get stuck on your first few hikes.
These pants have great versatility, thanks to their adjustable cord lock around the cuffs to keep bugs out when hiking, or to loosen the hem for greater comfort and convenience when tackling difficult terrain.
The elastic waistband allows for a more tailored, snug fit, while the 4-way stretch fabric makes these pants ideal for a range of activities: not just hiking but cycling, camping, fitness, fishing, rock climbing, and general everyday wear.
- UPF 50+
- Water-resistant and moisture wicking
- Deep, YKK zip-closure pockets
- 4-way stretch fabric
- Adjustable hem
- Elastic waistband for a snug fit
- Range of colors
- These run small.
Columbia Flex ROC Pants are made of 98% cotton and 2% elastane and are incredibly light and flexible for an extended range of movement.
These pants also offer added versatility thanks to their relaxed yet professional style which makes them suitable not only for hiking but for general casual wear, too.
With UPF 50+, these pants will keep you protected in hot temperatures and are quick-drying, too. The added flex is perfect for steep terrain while the two side-by-side backside belt loops are a nice attention to detail, allowing your belt to stay in place while you’re active.
Zip-closed security pockets are great for storing your wallet and keys, while a knife pocket is also handy. These pants are machine washable and you can trust that they’ll be built with Colombia’s trademark durability.
- Built-in stretch
- Lightweight and comfortable cotton material
- UPF 50+
- Zip-closed security and knife pocket
- Side-by-side belt loops on rear
- Affordable price point
- Versatile - great for hiking and general use
- Cotton is not the best for moisture-wicking
- No DWR coating
Capri pants can provide the breathability of shorts with that little added protection.
These athletic-style capri pants are great for female hikers who want a pair of summer pants that offer all-round performance. The Ferrosi Capri does not disappoint, offering water-resistance, wind-resistance, and UPF 50+, so you’ve got protection from whatever elements are thrown at you.
These pants have a lightweight feel and are breathable and moisture-wicking. They’ve got a tricot-lined waistband which is also harness-compatible, and have articulated knees and movement-mirroring stretch for ultimate comfort and optimal range of movement.
They’ve also got plenty of pockets, which is always an important feature in a pair of hiking pants, and these have front jean-style pockets and zipper thigh and back pockets, along with belt loops and a dual-snap zipper fly.
- Water and wind resistance
- UPF 50+ for sun protection
- Lightweight and breathable
- Multiple zipper pockets
- Articulated knees and movement-mirroring stretch
- Belt loops and harness compatible waistband
- Sizes tend to run a little small.
The main thing you want in a summer hiking pant is a high UPF rating. These Marmot Arch Rock Pants have UPF 50+ for keeping your skin safe and protected from harmful UV rays, all day long.
That’s not to say they’re not prepared for a shower or two, though. Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating allows you to shed light moisture and ensures the fabric dries quickly if you get caught in the rain. These also have a DriClime® interior waistband for moisture-wicking comfort.
We love these pants for their built-in stretch that allows you to take on any hike, from a gentle stroll in the hills to more challenging terrain.
The gusseted inseam also provides a wider range of motion so you can push yourself that little bit further, and the articulation at the knees is a great touch as it lets you bend without feeling restriction from the fabric.
The zip-close security pocket on the right thigh is perfect for storing your cell, while slash pockets on the front are deep and easily accessible, and a belt loop allows you to tailor the fit or hang your keys.
These pants are made from durable 94% nylon with 6% elastane for that added stretch and comfort.
- UPF 50+ for sun protection
- DWR coating
- Gusseted inseam provides a wider range of motion.
- Articulation at the knees lets your knees bend without restricting them
- Multiple pockets, including zip pocket on thigh
- 94% nylon, 6% elastane for durability and comfort
- Machine washable for ease
- They’re a little on the expensive side
Best Hot Weather Hiking Pants Buying Guide
When it comes to buying season-specific hiking pants, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for to ensure optimal comfort, protection, and fit.
Here’s our handy buyer’s guide so you know what to focus on before you click "buy"…
This is probably the most important element of hot weather hiking pants, as hiking in the warmer months means often being exposed to harmful UV rays for hours at a time. It’s essential to look out for a pair of pants that have UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) built into their fabric.
It’s worth knowing that UPF 50 means 1/50th, or 2%, of the sun’s UV rays can reach your skin, while UPF 20 would mean 1/20th, or 4%, would get through. For hot weather hiking pants, you’ll want a UPF of at least 50 for peace of mind.
It’s also a good idea to find a pant that offers water resistance, too, as there’s not much worse than getting caught in an unexpected shower and having to remain in wet pants for the rest of the day.
You don’t want heavy, waterproof pants during the summer, so your best option is a pair with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, which is pretty common in hiking pants generally.
These aren’t completely waterproof but will help you shed water and prevent water from soaking through. This coating can wear off in time and with washing, however, so it’s a good idea to reapply it yourself after a certain time.
For hot weather hiking pants you'll want to avoid heavy materials, instead prioritizing lightness and breathability.
Look for a moisture-wicking fabric that will help keep sweat at bay and keep you cool throughout your hike. Synthetic is one of the best materials for breathability, while some pants may also incorporate mesh paneling into their pants for improved ventilation.
Pockets are also an important feature of hiking pants. It’s good to have pockets deep enough to store items such as your smartphone and keys, while a zipped security pocket can provide additional peace of mind when trekking on rough terrain where your valuables can easily slide out.
The more pockets, the better, and zippers are always preferred in terms of security.
Some hot weather hiking pants come with zips on the knees so that you can easily convert them into shorts. This gives you the best of both worlds: wear them as shorts when it’s super warm, and zip on the bottoms when you want sun protection or want to cover your skin from pesky insects.
You can also get some pants that have adjustable hems that allow you to roll them up or down depending on your preference - these are also great for hiking in hot weather but give you that little bit extra versatility.
All hiking pants need to have some degree of stretch, especially if you’re hiking on uneven or challenging terrain. Without stretch, your pants are going to feel restrictive and uncomfortable.
Hiking pants are usually made out of a combination of materials and will contain some sort of stretch-promoting material, such as spandex or elastane. Cotton can also be pretty lightweight and easy to move in, while nylon is going to be tougher and more durable, but less stretchy.
Keep an eye out for extra features such as articulated knees, which make bending easier, and a stretch waistband for comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you stay cool while hiking?
It can be tricky to stay cool when you’re hiking in hot weather as you’re constantly on the move. The first step to staying cool is going to be wearing the right gear, and a pair of lightweight, moisture-wicking pants is a good place to start.
You can also ensure you begin your hike early in the morning before the sun is at its strongest, and it’s a good idea to pick a shaded hike if it’s particularly hot.
It goes without saying that you should stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and take regular breaks in the shade, and it’s also a good idea to wear a bandana or hat to keep your head covered.
What is a good temperature for hiking?
50 to 55 degrees F is an optimal temperature for hiking.
It’s been shown that once the temperature rises past this point, a hiker's performance degrades by as much as two percent for every five-degree increase.