What Material Pants to Wear Hiking in Cold?

What Material Pants to Wear Hiking in Cold?

What Material Pants to Wear Hiking in Cold?

What really keeps us warm in winter? Fleece, cotton, wool, polyester: Cycorld does the big textile check and tested cold weather hiking pants

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.

1. Wool

Properties: Wool keeps us warm, retains heat in the body and is also breathable. Because it is a natural product and mostly comes from live sheep or also from the (cashmere, angora) goat, camel or (angora) rabbit, it is the perfect material choice for winter. The plucked wool of angora rabbit is sweat-absorbent and warming. The wool of the angora goat is called "mohair".

The best quality wool is marked with the seal "Pure new wool". Statements such as "Pure Wool" or "Wool" may indicate lower quality wool.


  • Wool is a heat retainer.
  • It absorbs moisture without feeling damp.
  • It hardly creases, you do not necessarily have to iron it.
  • Unlike synthetic fibers, it does not absorb odors (sweat, grease, smoke, etc.) as much.


  • With inferior yarn quality, friction from jackets or pockets can result in small knots and lint ("pilling") - for example, at the hem or under the arms.
  • High-quality wool clothing is not only expensive to buy, but also to care for. Instead of the washing machine, dry cleaning is often recommended.

Keep warm factor: very high.

2. Cotton

Properties: Clothing made of cotton fibers is said to have existed for thousands of years. The cotton plant is nowadays planted and harvested mainly in China, India, Pakistan and the USA. The well-known white cotton ball appears after the seed has matured in a capsule and this bursts. Cotton is mainly used to make basic shirts and sweaters, jeans, and underwear. However, the natural material is more suitable for summer than for winter, as it is airy, but not warm.


  • Cotton is a relatively inexpensive and renewable raw material and is therefore popular with industry.
  • Clothing made of cotton is well tolerated, so it is also suitable for allergy sufferers.
  • The material is particularly suitable for leisure wear.


  • Cotton clothing takes a very long time to dry and wrinkles a lot.
  • Often cotton is treated with many chemicals.
  • Cotton does not warm properly.

Keep warm factor: low.

3. Fleece

Features: Fleece fabric is mainly used in functional clothing, as it keeps warm and fleece lined hiking pants protects from all weather vagaries. It is a synthetic material made of polyester, for example from recycled plastic bottles.


  • Sweaters, jackets, gloves, hats and scarves made of fleece keep cozy and warm, as do blankets made of the fabric.
  • The material is easy to care for, dries very quickly and does not wrinkle.
  • Fleece is very soft and does not scratch the skin.


  • Fleece is a synthetic material that takes on odor easily, and you sweat quickly in it.
  • It becomes statically charged, hair "flies" and it crackles when you take it off.

Keep warm factor: high.

4. Polyester

Properties: polyesters are plastics used to make textiles in addition to plastic bottles and packaging.


  • Clothing made of polyester keeps warm when combined with other fabric, and is therefore used as a lining in many jackets, as well as a lining for sleeping bags.
  • The fabric is inexpensive, easy to clean, does not wrinkle and, unlike cotton, dries quickly after washing.


  • The production of synthetics is not environmentally friendly because petroleum oils are used.
  • You sweat a lot in polyester clothes and bedding.
  • Although polyester clothing dries very quickly, it is not breathable. As a result, moisture accumulates, unpleasant (sweat) odor can develop, as well as skin irritation.

Keep warm factor: medium.

5. Animal fur

Properties: The oldest form of clothing is the fur of animals. Even in the Stone Age, people covered and warmed themselves with the fur. Nowadays, the production of clothing with and from fur and fur is often associated with terrible tortures that the animals have to endure.


  • It keeps you warm and brings all the good qualities that animals benefit from in nature. Means: fur is insensitive to dust, dirt and water.
  • Fur dries quickly.
  • It is expensive to buy, but can last a lifetime if well cared for.
  • Fur never goes out of style in the winter.


  • While fur dries quickly, it often leaves behind a strong odor.
  • Depending on which fur is used, you should be aware of how it is made. Often animals are cruelly tortured and killed to obtain their fur. To avoid this, one should pay attention to the origin of his fur. For example, you can buy fur from sheep that have already died, which can be considered morally acceptable.

Keep warm factor: very high.

6. Down

Properties: Down is fine feathers taken from geese to make blankets, pillows and jackets. The softest down feathers come from the eider duck.


  • Down is warming and has a great cuddle factor outside (jacket) and inside (comforter).
  • With good care, a high-quality jacket can be worn for decades.
  • Down jackets are uncomplicated to wash in the washing machine. When drying, add two tennis balls to the drum, so the feathers are fluffed up again and do not stick together.


  • When wet, down sticks together and loses its thermal ability.
  • Feathers are obtained not only from animals that are already dead, but also from live animals. Animal protection organizations repeatedly point out the agonizing plucking process, which causes stress and pain for the geese. If one decides for a piece of clothing with down, one should inquire about the origin and attitude of the animals, and treat its piece of clothing carefully, so that one has something from it for many years. In the case of the eider duck, one collects its already lost feathers from the nests.

Keep warm factor: very high.


Related Reading: What Kind of Pants to Wear Hiking - Pros and Cons of Each Type of Hiking Pants

how to choose winter cold weather hiking pants


Especially if you want to go out in the snow, a waterproof feature of winter pants is essential. There is probably nothing more unpleasant than a creeping wetness that spreads on the skin and can later cause the body to cool down. But even outside the snow, such waterproof insulation is worth its weight in gold. Because, as is well known, sufficient moisture in winter can also come from above.


Especially for skiing or at higher altitudes, windproof properties should also be considered. The body can cool down extremely quickly due to wind and cold air. And then it is very quickly over with the fun.


Once the winter pants are well insulated, it is important to find the optimal thermal protection. Here it is particularly important with which material the pants are lined. There is a choice of natural or synthetic materials for winter pants. Pure new wool, for example, is a popular lining material that also keeps the body nice and warm. This natural product warms particularly well and can still provide the necessary heat even when wet.


Despite all the insulating and warming properties, the best winter hiking pants are of no use if you are almost stewing in your own juices after just a few minutes. Good winter hiking pants not only protects you from the cold, it also ensures optimal heat balance. This means that despite the wind and waterproof properties from the outside can still get a little air to the body, which ensures that air circulation occurs. This creates an optimal climate inside, which can even improve the wearing comfort.

In addition, with the help of such air circulation, moisture can also be carried outside. Thus, the clothing also does not become damp and undercooling of the body is prevented.

If you take into account the right size and personal material preferences, nothing will stand in the way of the next excursion. When choosing a size, however, it is important not to choose pants that are too tight, so that functional underwear can still be used if necessary, should it ever be significantly colder than planned. But even then it can go without hesitation out into the open air and off into the winter adventure.


The hiking pants should guarantee enough freedom of movement, even with larger steps, as they are often necessary, for example, when climbing. Pre-shaped knee sections and a resulting slightly crooked cut facilitate this. For sufficient freedom of movement, the pants should also be relatively elastic in the relevant regions.

How tight should hiking pants fit?

In general, the cut of hiking pants undercuts the cut of everyday pants.
Tight-fitting hiking pants generally chafe less against the skin, while airier-fitting hiking pants are simply more relaxed to wear and provide a bit more ventilation. This is where it comes down to personal preference....

Also make sure that the pockets, even if you stuff them full, don't restrict movement or rub uncomfortably. The same goes for zippers on zip-off pants.

To ensure that the zippers are in the right place, there are sometimes special sizes for men and women with very short or long legs, or even trekking pants that can be individually adjusted to the leg length.

Last but not least - the waistband. With an adjustable waistband, you can always readjust the optimal fit of the hiking pants, so that the pants do not sit too loose or too tight and always offers the optimal freedom of movement.


For me, the pockets of trekking pants are a criterion not to be underestimated, because they are incredibly practical or it is incredibly impractical if you have too few / they sit in the wrong place.

In my opinion, at least two pockets should be closable with a zipper, so that you can also safely store a few (valuable) items.

Best winter hiking pants

Men's Windproof Fleece-lined Hiking Pants 06
Men's Windproof Fleece-lined Hiking Pants 06
Robust and lightweight men's winter hiking pants for hiking and mountain tours

A fully trekking suitable windproof winter hiking pants - The hiking pants shine in the test thanks to their thin fabric and smart workmanship with optimal climate and wearing comfort and is, in terms of price-performance ratio, a very good investment for winter hiking and trekking adventures!

Especially suitable for: Hiking and trekking tours in winter

  • Material: 100% Polyester
  • Features: Fits Your Winter Boots, Keep Warm, Water Resistant & Windproof, 3D Cutting Design, Zippered Pockets.

“These pants are very comfortable and warm. I wore them in the rain and they repelled the rain very well. I also recently wore them on a fishing trip. It was very cold outside, and super windy. These pants not only repelled any water that I got on myself, but also blocked out the wind. These are definitely worth the purchase.” one shopper wrote.

Click to buy $43.99

Women's Warm Hiking Pants for Winter 06
Women's Warm Hiking Pants for Winter 06
Stretchy and extremely comfortable women's winter hiking pants for long hiking tours

Made of polyester fabric, it provides protection from wind and moisture without compromising freedom of movement or functional properties. With excellent wind protection and optimal weather design, it is popular with hikers and cyclists in late autumn and winter.

Especially suitable for: Especially on wet and cold hiking days, the elastic softshell women's winter hiking pants keep you dry and warm and promise maximum comfort.

  • Material: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex
  • Features: 4 Secure Zippered Pockets, Elastic Waist & Belt Loops, Fits your Winter Boots, Water Resistant and Warm.

“These pants are a dream! The fit is very flattering, not at all bulky even with the fleece lining. They are so comfortable, you’d swear you were wearing sweatpants. I love the cut, the adjustable Velcro cuff at the ankle, and the extra zippered pockets. Seriously, I cannot say enough about these pants!“ one shopper wrote.

Click to buy $43.99


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