Guide: Buying the right hiking pants for winter

Guide: Buying the right hiking pants for winter

Guide: Buying the right hiking pants for winter

Do you ever feel like this year is flying by?

Yesterday it was June, today it's October, tomorrow it will be December.

Maybe it's just because I'm getting old. But regardless, winter is on its way - and it's always a good idea to be prepared.

Especially if you're going hiking in colder temperatures.

So it's never too early to start looking for the best winter hiking pants.

The best hiking pants for winter

Men's Windproof Fleece-lined Hiking Pants

Men's Windproof Fleece-lined Hiking Pants

Fits Your Winter Boots — Adjustable Ankle with Buckle Closure, Mens snow pants can cover your boots
Men's Fleece-Lined Cold Weather Snowboarding Pants

Men's Fleece-Lined Cold Weather Snowboarding Pants

Soft Fleece — Warm and skin-friendly fleece, Our ski pants men can keep you warm and lock the heat in cold weather.
Women's Windproof Ski Snowboard Pants

Women's Windproof Ski Snowboard Pants

Warm, Windproof but Not Bulky — With inner polar fleece lined, will not bulky but keeps you always nice and warm without the noise.
Women's Warm Hiking Pants for Winter

Women's Warm Hiking Pants for Winter

Fits your Winter Boots -- With adjustable ankle hook and loop fastener straps fit your boots. Wide trouser legs cover the boots to keep warmth in and moisture out.


  • Size and style

Hiking pants come in all sorts of sizes and styles - as if you hadn't already guessed that.

It might be stating the obvious, but you need to make sure you order the right size when you buy.

Pay attention to both the manufacturer's sizing and measurements and, if possible, reviews and questions from other customers.

A product might fit you in your usual size - but it might be a little small or large in a different design.

Also consider the style of the pants.

Some people prefer a regular cut, others a slim or skinny fit, and still others like them roomy and baggy.

It all depends on personal preference, but be sure to check the pants pattern before you order so you know exactly what cut you'll be getting.

  • Material

As much as size and design will vary, so will the materials used in the construction of hiking pants.

In most cases, it will be a hybrid construction, with nylon, polyester and spandex being the usual candidates.

From time to time, Gore-Tex fabric will also be used.

Sometimes a proprietary, patented fabric is introduced that sounds impressive, but you've never heard of it.

You need to make sure that whatever the pants are made of, they will get the job done without being abrasive or uncomfortable against your skin.

  • Weatherproofing

It's a favorite topic of mine to remind people what this phrase actually means - and all the phrases that are a tributary of it.

Weatherproofing is the general, overarching term for how well a product can withstand the elements. This includes...

Windproof - How reliably does the product keep out the wind? This is especially important if you are going to be outdoors, in the high mountains, or in Chicago.

Water Resistant - Is a product that is water resistant to some degree, but will eventually get wet and soak whatever is underneath.

Water repellent - similar to hydrophobic - a product that repels water on its surface for a short time or a short volume of liquid.

Waterproof - Something that does not allow water to penetrate at all and can withstand a rain shower.

Learn and know these terms to prevent all kinds of headaches.

And make sure the hiking pants you are considering meeting the criteria you need.

  • Warmth and breathability

When it comes to winter or cold weather hiking, successfully staying warm will be an important factor in choosing the best clothing. But a word of caution is in order.

Sometimes the tradeoff for truly warm clothing is breathability - and you'll find yourself in a hot and sticky situation if you sweat in any way.

I mentioned many hiking pants in my blogs that can't necessarily be considered winter hiking pants on their own.

That's because they're breathable and versatile, and when used in conjunction with an inner layer or thermal underwear, they excel in almost any situation or condition.

Make sure the pants you choose wick moisture well away from your skin - sweaty chafing after ten minutes of hiking is not a good look or feel.

And if you choose pants that aren't already lined with fleece or insulated, be aware before the cold hits that you'll most likely need to add an extra layer.

  • Pockets

Where are they? How are they sealed? How many of them does the product have? How big are they? Will they develop holes once I fill them with change?

Good hiking pants have a decent selection of pockets (without going over the top) and without hindering your performance or movement in any way.

Personally, I prefer a combination of a zipper and Velcro pockets that are as deep as possible and well placed. Two on the hip, two on the back and at least one cargo pocket on the side of the thigh.

  • Other features

Almost all hiking pants - winter or otherwise - come with additional features and equipment to make life easier.

Adjustable hip belts, belts and/or belt loops, zippered side vents for breathability, anti-scuff cuffs, pulled cords/zippered bottoms, fly or button zippers...

All the bells and whistles you could ever need on a pair of hiking pants.

Just think about what's useful for you and leave all the rest out.

  • Cost

Finally, hiking pants prices always play a role in choosing the right product for you.

It's crazy how much they can vary, from less than $20 to as much as $300.

Always opt for the best you can afford - but that doesn't always mean spending a small fortune.

Sometimes the bargains can be had at a fraction of the cost of the big names.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions answered

  • What pants should I wear for winter hiking?

Well, I hope you have a better idea after all this!

But seriously, you should choose a good, sturdy, weatherproof trekking pants that will wick moisture away from your body.

And at the same time, they shouldn't hinder your movement or progress in any way.

It's up to you whether you want fleece-lined, thermally insulated trekking pants or if you prefer a lighter version to which you can add an inner layer.

Personally, I'd opt for the latter - you can always remove the layers if needed - and the pants are also more versatile for warmer conditions.

Being lightweight is key - easy to travel with. Just like a good camping stove. It's a very weak link, but look around anyway - it's good to eat a filling hot meal at the end of a long hike.

  • Are snow pants good for hiking?

No. At least not the super-insulated, heavy-duty ones.

They're designed for use on skis or a snowboard - with limited range of motion, because that's how you'll be traveling anyway.

But they will be way too heavy and a major hindrance when hiking any kind of trail. You'll be exhausted in no time, not to mention sweating like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

  • How do I layer pants for winter hiking?

First, you need to make sure that the hiking pants you've chosen actually have enough room for a base layer.

If you have trouble putting one pair of pants over another layer, your movement will be seriously limited, and it won't be very comfortable or fun at all.

It's up to you how many layers you think you'll need - and it all depends on the material of each layer, your chosen activity, and the current conditions.

But for cold weather hiking, I would be very comfortable with ankle-length thermal underwear and breathable, weatherproof hiking pants over the top.

This isn't rocket science. Just remember that these considerations are key:

Weather protection - movement - Breathability.


Prepare for the winter hiking season well in advance with these great hiking pants.

Hopefully, I've given you some ideas in this article about what to choose for your next pair.

Have fun hiking!

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