What pants are good for hiking?

What pants are good for hiking?

What pants are good for hiking?

Do I really need hiking pants?

Should you really buy expensive hiking pants or can you start the hike with jeans? Admittedly, high-quality hiking clothing and hiking pants are quite expensive, and beginners, in particular, are wondering whether it is really necessary to stock up on all the expensive equipment at the beginning when they don’t even know whether they will be doing this sport for a long time. As an alternative, you could just hike in jeans, right? After all, hiking isn't that different from everyday running. And the jeans are already hanging in the closet anyway. Then why should you spend money on extra sports pants? I'm sure many people think so. You will get the answer after reading the article.

Is there a difference between hiking pants and jeans?

In the rain and wind Through the mud  Convertible pants legs
Hiking Pants Keep your legs dry in the rain and warm in the wind. Most hiking pants have dirt-repellent protection. In addition, it doesn't matter if these trousers are no longer and absolutely stain-free since they are not worn daily. If you don't want the ends of your pant legs to come into contact with the mud, you can simply unzip your hiking pants and take off the legs.
Jeans The denim soaks up water and sticks uncomfortably to the skin. You're very likely to have a cold if it's still cold. The moisture also rises up the trouser legs of the jeans when hikers step into a puddle just once. Get very dirty and with a bit of bad luck these stains will never get out again. That won't work with jeans and especially with a tight fit, it's impossible to roll them up.

What properties are important in hiking pants?

These points can be important for you:

  • A  perfect, comfortable fit that gives you plenty of freedom of movement.
  • Depending on the area of use/temperature, rather airy or rather warm trekking pants.
  • A  hard-wearing, resilient material (especially in demanding terrain).
  • Good breathability (or good moisture transport) of the material, so that the pants dry quickly.
  • Depending on your wish/preference the elasticity of the material.
  • Material with UV protection.
  • If necessary, a mosquito-proof material.
  • Equipment that meets your needs.

What different hiking pants are there?

Here we give you an overview. The different hiking pants are presented in more detail in the following paragraph.

Softshell pants 

Elastic, very robust soft shell trousers  (made of pure synthetic fiber) for demanding, rather cooler use in alpine and high alpine areas or on long trekking tours worldwide.

mens fleece hiking pants

Synthetic pants     

Usually somewhat thinner and less "technical" pants made of pure synthetic fibers (or with a very high proportion of synthetic fibers). Differentiation from soft shells can be difficult and mostly they are elastic, sometimes not. Some of these pants can also be found in the softshell pants category (because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them from the right softshell pants), but mostly in the trekking pants category. These pants are suitable for many types of (even demanding) hikes, especially in warmer conditions.

men's hiking pants

 Zip-off pants/shorts

Most variants are also available for summer use as shorts, some as zip-off pants  (very good in changeable conditions). Most zip pants can be zipped off once but sometimes vary in length. Some become short shorts, some become Bermuda shorts and others become three-quarter pants. But there are also models that you can zip off twice: Usually once above the knee (shorts/Bermuda) and once below the knee.

women's convertible hiking pants

Waterproof pants

Waterproof trousers that are not cut as overtrousers. You can find these in our rain trousers section. Basically, in most conditions it is more practical (because it is more breathable and much more flexible) to combine non-waterproof hiking trousers with waterproof overtrousers only when necessary. But there are conditions where wearing waterproof trousers at all times may also be appropriate (Scotland or similar if you're having a bad time). You can find purchasing advice at rain pants.

women's fleece hiking pants

Which hiking pants are best suited for different conditions and purposes?

Here you will find the properties of the respective trousers explained in detail.


In addition to being used as trekking pants, softshell pants are also ideal for very movement-intensive and sometimes very demanding outdoor sports such as biking, alpine climbing, ski tours or cross-country skiing. Exactly where excellent function and durability are important. They are sometimes referred to as touring pants (high touring or ski touring pants).

  • Softshell pants are made of elastic, resilient, often stronger material. Due to the elasticity they have a very high wearing comfort  and offer you a lot  of freedom of movement.
  • The synthetic fiber material dries very quickly because it does not (or hardly) store moisture but instead transfers it to the outside. A process is known as  breathable. A huge advantage, especially when you are sweating on the go or you do not pull on the rain pants quickly enough. Polyester generally dries faster than nylon (polyamide), but nylon is a bit more robust.
  • The often soft inside provides additional comfort.
  • Depending on the material, softshell trousers are wind and water-repellent to varying degrees - up to 100% windproof (e.g. thanks to the Windstopper membrane). Depending on the area of ​​use/activity and the climatic conditions there, there are different requirements.
  • In the winter season there are also softshell trousers with a soft, warm fleece inside that keep you really warm.
  • The material often has UV protection.


These pants are made of functional synthetic fibers just like softshell pants, but less technical, usually thinner and less durable - after all, you don't always set out on the most demanding routes. They are usually elastic (but not necessarily). As already mentioned, the border to soft shells is fluid and sometimes difficult to draw.

These types of trousers are also popular as travel trousers due to their more "civilian" look and can also be used for hikes there without any problems.

These hiking pants are very suitable for most hikes. Always when you are not setting out on the most demanding tour but definitely need high-quality hiking pants.

  • Resilient (often) elastic material that ensures freedom of movement and comfort
  • Easy
  • Very quick-drying (breathable) due to the thin material 
  • Windproof
  • Often with UV protection

    Fit & Length: How should my hiking pants fit?

    The perfect fit of outdoor or hiking pants can be summed up in one word: comfortable. That means: the pants should be tight enough not to slip but also allow room for expansive movements and big steps.

    In terms of leg length, long outdoor pants offer better protection against leg injuries on more demanding tours in rocky terrain but also against solar radiation. The length should be chosen so that it ends at about the ankle or just below. Under no circumstances should the pants be so long that you step on them when hiking. This can certainly pose a safety or fall risk off-road and can also be prevented by width-adjustable leg ends,such as using elastic cords. On the other hand, outdoor trousers that are too short can slip impractically over the shaft of the shoe.

    Short shorts are certainly not out of place on the mountain for easy tours and summery conditions. If you want to be on the safe side, use a flexible zip-off model and pack the leg warmers in your backpack as a backup.

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