When you first get into hiking, there are a few pieces of kit that are obvious: boots, a water bottle, and some snacks (the most important items).
But what about clothing?
Depending on where you live or the hiking trails you’re planning on heading to, you’re going to need specific clothes.
If you’re just hiking up a nearby hill, then you might find that your usual gym leggings or shorts will work well enough.
But, if you’re doing anything more energetic, you’re going to need something more durable.
Hiking pants are a great option as they are waterproof and can take a lot more action and exertion and will last a long time.
Specific kit for a sport or exercise can be expensive, but waterproof hiking pants won’t be much more expensive than your average pair of pants.
Top 5 Best Waterproof Hiking Pants
OUR TOP PICK
Our top pick are these TBMPOY men’s hiking pants. Just because you’re doing something outdoors and energetic, doesn’t mean you can’t style yourself well.
If you still want to look good while halfway up a hill, then these are the perfect hiking pants for you. They are available in a wide range of colors and styles, all of which come with a belt that compliments the color.
These hiking pants are, of course, waterproof but they are also windproof. They also feature a soft fleece lining so they will keep you both warm and dry. If you’re looking for something that is easy to move in, don’t be put off by the fleece lining.
These hiking pants are still lightweight and you even have a choice of thickness. This is a great option as you won’t have to worry about layering up underneath the pants or worry that you will become too warm once you get going.
The thinner pants are also quick drying which is great for cleaning them but also for hiking in wet weather. There’s nothing like being soaked to (literally) dampen your hiking trip.
The belt (which is included in the price) isn’t just decorative, it is functioning and is actually how the pants are fastened. You won’t have to worry about any buttons digging in as you’re hiking.
Along with the stretchy belt, these pants are partially made from spandex so they will fit closely and comfortably. But they will still stretch and not be too constricting for you to move freely.
- Available in multiple colors
- Choice of fleece thickness
If you need something that will see you through the winter months, then these polar fleece-lined waterproof hiking pants are perfect. They can be worn in temperatures as low as 14°F and are thickly lined but still breathable.
Wearing fleece-lined clothing can become uncomfortable, especially when you’re exercising in cold temperatures and beginning to sweat. These hiking pants counter this with a moisture-wicking material that will keep you at just the right temperature.
These pants also feature a belted elasticated waist which will provide extra comfort and fit well over layers. Although made from 94% waterproof polyester, these pants also have 6% spandex which will make them even more comfortable and fitting.
Currently only available in 2 colors, this isn’t a huge downside but there could be more variety. The size range (at the time of writing) is also very limited. The sizes are very small and even these are unspecific. The sizes come in paired ranges so it might be difficult to work out exactly what size you need.
- 6% Spandex
- Limited color range
- Limited size range
These hiking pants are a great choice as they can be worn as standard pants or converted into shorts.
Although they are only available in 2 colors, they are standard black or khaki and have a load of other great features to make up for this.
These pants are super waterproof and well-insulated but are still lightweight and breathable.
The surface of the pants has also been treated to be UV resistant and are UPF 50+ which is pretty impressive. You might assume that pretty much any clothing will protect you from the sun’s rays, but this isn’t necessarily true.
UV rays are incredibly powerful and, even if you don’t get a sunburn, being exposed to the sun is still damaging to your skin.
- Can be converted into shorts
- Specific size range
- UPF 50+
- Limited color range
These thick fleece-lined hiking trousers are great for winter adventures. As they are so thick, they aren’t really suitable for hiking in the warmer months.
But if you need something that will give you that extra layer of warmth then these are the pants for you.
Available in a range of 7 different colors, these waterproof hiking pants will make you look professional and right at home.
These waterproof hiking pants are also windproof and abrasion-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about them getting ripped on any branches.
The fleece lining will also keep you super warm and the zipper pockets will keep your valuables super safe.
- Available in 7 colors
- Only suitable for winter activities
These pants are also a BenBoy product, but this time these are for women.
When it comes to women’s exercise clothing (well, let’s be honest, all clothing), there is a tendency for manufacturers to focus more on how something looks instead of how practical it is.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking good while exercising or hiking. In fact, these pants are available in a range of colors and styles. But best of all, they are super comfortable and practical.
These hiking pants have multiple pockets and are waterproof, windproof, and abrasion-resistant. The pockets have zippers that are even more practical and useful for keeping important things close at hand.
As well as the two standard pants pockets on either side, there is also another zipper pocket on the thigh.
These pants have an elastic waist that is adjustable so you can add layers and tuck them in for extra comfort and warmth.
For extra warmth, these hiking pants are fleece-lined which is also super comfortable. This makes them great pants for cold weather but might make them a little too thick and warm for the summer months.
They also have patchwork knees for extra protection. They also have an elasticated waist for extra comfort and range of motion.
- Multiple pockets
- Patchwork knees
- Only suitable for winter hiking
Best Waterproof Hiking Pants Buying Guide
The majority of waterproof hiking pants will be made from polyester as this is a very waterproof material.
Most waterproof hiking pants are stretchy and will likely have an elasticated waist and potentially elasticated ankles. Some will even have a small amount of spandex (around 5%-10%) which will help with shaping and elasticity. The inclusion of spandex will make your pants more comfortable and easier to move around in.
You need to be able to move a lot during a hiking trip. Even if you are sure that you will be going on a clear tail, you don’t know what kind of uneven terrain you might have to go over.
A lot of waterproof hiking pants are also fleece-lined. This is great for comfort as well as warmth. Some pants will also be available in varying levels of thickness, so you need to make sure you get the right amount of fleece for your hike (read on or scroll down for some more info on this).
When considering what hiking pants to buy, you need to consider how waterproof they are, but how thick they are is just as important. Different hiking pants will provide different levels of thickness and many are often fleece-lined.
Fleece is a really nice material and is super soft and is also super warm. This is great if you like to hike in the winter or get to such high heights that you need some extra warmth. But what do you do if you hike in the summer and what if you hike all year round?
Some hiking pants will allow you to choose how thick they are or if they are lined or not. If you need some really warm hiking pants, then the obvious option is to buy the thickest pants. That’s easy.
If you only hike in the warmer months, then you obviously need the thinner pants. But don’t forget how variable the weather can be and, if you camp as well, temperatures will be colder during the night. The temperature will also lower the higher you get, so if you’re really going up high, then you might need something warmer.
If you hike all year round, then the best option is to buy a thinner pair of pants that have some space and stretch. Most hiking pants will have elasticated waists and many also have a small amount of spandex included in the material. Hiking requires a lot of movement, so you should be able to find some pants that will stretch enough.
With these stretchy pants, you will then be able to wear layers beneath them. You will need to wear at least one layer underneath most waterproof trousers, so layering up as and when you need to shouldn’t be an issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are waterproof hiking pants necessary?
This depends on how much hiking you do and in what climates and environments.
Waterproof hiking pants will (obviously) keep you from becoming drenched during a hike. This will make hiking a lot more enjoyable. Waterproof pants can’t keep you 100% dry, but they will make a big difference and also dry super quickly.
Doing anything in wet clothing is uncomfortable and just generally unpleasant, so keeping yourself dry is a must.
But why specifically hiking pants? There are lots of different kinds of waterproof pants for different sports and activities. One of the best things about waterproof hiking pants is that they will provide a lot of freedom of movement. Some waterproof trousers can be constricting and difficult to move in.
Waterproof hiking pants will also have a lot more pockets than other waterproof pants. Pockets are an absolute must in hiking as, although you might have a big backpack, there are some things that you need to be able to access quickly.
Do you need to wear clothes underneath waterproof hiking pants?
Yes, you do.
Waterproof hiking pants might look like normal pants, but they won’t have the same kind of feeling as normal pants. They are intended to be worn over other pants.
What do you wear underneath waterproof pants?
This depends on the kind of hiking you will be doing and where you will be going. As mentioned above, waterproof hiking pants are designed to be worn over other pants.
You can essentially wear whatever you like underneath your waterproof hiking pants. But, the best pants are ones designed for exercise such as gym legging or shorts. Shorts are a great option if the temperature is warm but the rainfall is variable.
Some waterproof hiking pants can be converted into shorts, but these aren’t standard or the most common.
Try to not wear anything too thick beneath your waterproof hiking pants. A lot of waterproof hiking pants will be fleece-lined which can be very warm. You don’t want to wear another thick pair of pants beneath fleece-lined pants as you might become too hot and not be able to do anything about it.
If you layer up, you will be able to change your clothing and become more comfortable. If your waterproof hiking pants aren’t very thick and you’re traveling to somewhere cold but don’t want to invest in a new pair then you can layer up.