In our modern and sedentary world, it’s super important to try to stay in shape. We work a lot, sometimes to the point where we forget to eat. We spend hours of “recreational” time in front of our smartphones, TVs and computers. We take the bus or prefer to drive our cars instead of walking to our destinations. We eat lots of unhealthy food and forget to exercise. So if you’ve made it to this article, it means you’re into hiking and I want to congratulate you. Today, we’re going to talk about one absolutely necessary piece of clothing for everyone who is into hiking: best waterproof hiking pants.
- Types of hiking pants
- Sizing and fit
- Temperature options
- UPF rating
- Best Wateproof Pants for Men
- Best Wateproof Pants for Women
We’ve looked into some of the most recommended 2017 models for both men and women. But first, I’d like to walk you through the general characteristics of hiking pants.
Types of hiking pants
I’m sure you’re not surprised that hiking pants are different from one pair to another and from one manufacturer to another. Hiking pants can be divided into several categories, depending on their design and specifications.
Standard hiking pants – This is the most basic type of hiking pants that money can buy. Even in summer time, it’s recommended that you have a long pair of pants to keep your legs safe from abrasion from rocks and plants. They also keep your legs safe from nature’s elements, such as wind or snow. If you’re worried that these pants can sometimes be too much in the heat, you should know that a lot of them have a rolling up system so they can be turned into shorts.
Convertible hiking pants – As you may have guessed, convertible pants are pretty much standard pants that have a zipper on each leg, allowing you to turn them into shorts. This zipper is generally located somewhere above the knee and, when unzipped, it removes the lower part of the pants. These pants are extremely practical for people who plan to hike in the day and spend their nights in the great outdoors. They are very useful in all sorts of situations, such as when you have to hike in the sun and long pants would be extremely uncomfortable. If you ever get the bottom of these pants dirty, you can just remove them and wash them in a creek, while still keeping the upper part of the pants on.
Have you ever had to roll up the bottom part of your pants so you won’t get them wet while crossing a creek? Not anymore, not with a pair of convertible hiking pants! Even so, there are people who consider that the effort of taking off the bottom side of the pants is not worth it, especially if you have to remove your shoes to do so. Others consider that the zipper adds an unnecessary amount of weight to the hiking pants, in which case they prefer not to wear them.
Roll-up hiking pants – There is a special category of hiking pants which can be rolled up and converted into capris. The benefit of owning a pair of these is that you can roll up the bottom side whenever it’s too hot or you have to cross a creek and don’t want your pants to get wet. Rolling up the bottom pants doesn’t add any weight and while it’s true that you can perform this action even with a regular pair of pants, you’ll notice that their fabric doesn’t always let them say up. Roll-up pants are better at holding up the cuffs.
Sizing and fit
As with any piece of clothing and footwear, size and fit are important if you want to feel comfortable and have a decent level of mobility. With hiking pants, it’s important not to have one that is not too tight or too loose. If your pants are too tight, you will have a difficult time moving around, bending your knees (see the Game of Thrones reference I just made?) and climbing will turn out to be quite uncomfortable because of the movement restrictions. On the other hand, loose pants can be a problem as well. You will have lots of unused material flapping around which can eventually get caught in all sorts of bushes. So baggy pants are also out of the question.
One very important thing to mention is that most hiking pants will stretch out as you use them. Another important note is that even a pair of fixed pants can end up being baggy at the end of a hiking trip that stretches out over several days. This is because your weight will fluctuate, so they won’t be a perfect fit at the end of the trip, not like they were in the beginning. To prevent this, you may want to opt for a pair of pants with an integrated belt or at least one that has belt loops so you can add your own belt if needed.
It’s important to know that a successful use of the right pair of hiking pants is only possible if you are prepared for the weather you’re about to face.
If you’re about to hike in hot weather conditions, you need to be properly equipped. The first thought that comes to mind when you hear about “desert-like climate” is to wear a pair of short pants that allows your legs to breathe. But do they really? You will need to keep your legs protected from sun and wind. Convertibles are a great option in cases like these because you can go from long pants to short in a matter of seconds.
If your next hiking trip is in a place with moderate to cool temperatures, you should be inclined to opt for long pants. They will protect you against wind and low temperatures. In this case, having a single pair of pants is even more beneficial because you never WANT to carry too much weight around when you’re hiking.
It’s very important to consider wet climates as standalone climates that require special attention and preparing. In fact, during most of your hiking trips, you should never leave out the possibility of a thunderstorm, in which case, a pair of DWR coated hiking pants is a must-have. A pair of rain shell pants will do the trick. Do not neglect waterproof hiking pants because in cold climates, wearing a wet pair of pants can be a disaster to your health.
DWR coating is quite a common feature of waterproof hiking pants. This adds a durable water repellant to the clothes so they can become water resistant. DWR coating is very popular amongst outdoor clothing and durable footwear. Fabrics need to allow your skin to breathe and applying a coat of DWR is what helps them keep water away from your skin. If they are not treated, most fabric will simply absorb the water and leave your skin feeling both cold and uncomfortable. However, DWR coating do tend to wear out in time, especially in the area around the knees and lower thighs, so reapplication is definitely the best thing to do.
I’m sure that you are all familiar with SPF. SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor and it helps measure the amount of time that it takes for your skin to be burned by the sun’s rays. The SPF rating is commonly found on the bottle of sunscreens. The higher the SPF rating, the longer your skin will be protected. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and it’s a rating applied to clothing. Naturally, it measures the amount of UV radiation that reaches your skin through the fabric. The higher the UPF factor, the more protection it offers.
UPF is given to different pieces of clothing via treatments, dyes and construction. Nylon and polyester are the best fabric for protecting your skin against UV rays. One of these 2 fabrics is generally combined with a dense weave, for extra protection. The color of your pants won’t offer any protections, but if they are dyed, this can help prevent UV rays from passing through. There are also chemical treatments combined with dyes that can boost the UPF rating.
That being said, let’s see if we can find a pair of waterproof hiking pants more suitable to your liking. To make it easier, we made two separate sections, for men and for women.
Best Waterproof Pants for Men
Prana Stretch Zion Pants
If you want to purchase a pair of hiking pants for its level of comfort, the Zion is the best option you have. with a price tag lower than $100, it can keep you company for many hikes to come. Their fabric is soft and it will be a pleasant feeling it against your skin. They snuggle tight enough as not leave room for bagginess, but they are still loose enough to provide you with the level of mobility you need when you go hiking. You won’t feel any constraints even after long hours of wearing them and they also perform well when it’s a bit cold outside. The only downside could be the rather short crotch zipper, but few people will find this annoying enough to not purchase this because of that.
There is one chapter where the Zion will perform better than any other pants option you might be considering: versatility. They are useful in a variety of climates and even if you’re walking in the sun, you won’t feel a high level of discomfort as other long pants would create. There is almost nothing you can’t do in these pants, as they are suitable for hiking, biking, walking and even running.
In terms of breathability, these are not the best pants. The thinner pant sleeve is somehow incapable of allowing a decent amount of airflow to circulate beneath the fabric. One thing that should be praised though, is the fact that the crotch area comes with breathing holes which are sewn into the fabric. These pants are surprisingly hot considering the fabric is so thin.
The durability of these pants is also quite impressive. You can use them for intensive climbing, they are resistant to abrasion. The knees area will show little amount of wear even after a few days of hiking. Now let’s talk weather resistance. As I mentioned earlier, these pants seem to be suitable for all sorts of climates, which means they perform pretty well in humid areas. They come with a DWR coating which seems to work quite well when you have to face rain. You can even perform a shower test before taking them out for a spin. Water absorption is kept to a minimum, but you will see they soak in areas with high abrasion, such as the knees. Even if water reaches your skin, the pants themselves don’t really absorb water. That means they won’t become heavy enough to drag you down and you won’t feel the cold you usually feel with wet material rubbing against your skin. The fabric also dries super-fast, which is a huge plus when your pants get all wet.
I felt like the Zion’s have a sufficient number of pockets for a pair of hiking pants. There are 3 front and 2 rear pockets, which I truly recommend you don’t begin stuffing with all sorts of items. It’s never a good idea to have your pockets full when you’re hiking. The open front and rear pockets will provide you with quick access to important items, but they are still deep enough to make sure something doesn’t fall out. The mesh netting is a plus in terms of breathability.
There is a zippered pocket located on the front, which is super valuable for holding important items, such as money or keys. While the 2 front pockets are conveniently placed to carry around small items, it seems to drag down the classiness of the pants, making them look more rugged and army-ish. The Stretch Zion Pants are offered in 10 waist sizes and 4 lengths and come in 9 different color options.
prAna Men’s Stretch Zion Convertible
We couldn’t speak about the prAna Stretch Zion Pants without covering their convertible big brother. The Zion Convertible waterproof hiking pants seem to have what it takes to become our top choice for this year, but a breakdown will tell us more.
From the first moment you try on these pants, you’ll be convinced that comfort can never be an issue with this item. The soft material is like a gentle hug on your skin and you’ll never want to try on another pair of hiking pants ever again. Since they aren’t too tight or too loose, these pants can easily fit most body types and are great for wearing in a multitude of situations. You can wear these pants for more than just hiking, but we’ll talk about versatility a bit late.
There is a minor downside as far as comfort is concerned, but I do have to admit that it’s almost unnoticeable since there are so many pros when wearing these pants: the convertible seam, where the zipper lies, rubs a bit on the lower thigh and knee when hiking in them. The zipper doesn’t really touch your skin, but the materials that protect the inside does. However, this is quite a common problem amongst convertible hiking pants, so we can’t really consider this a downside of the Zion Convertible pants, but rather a downfall for every type of convertible pant that you buy. To some people, the crotch zipper may seem a bit too short, which can be kind of annoying in certain situations.
If it’s versatility you’re worried about, this is probably the most versatile pair of waterproof hiking pants for men in 2017. You can wear them when hiking, climbing, trekking, walking, running, jogging, doing yoga and many more. The fact that they are convertible, makes the Zion Convertibles ideal for every season. They will handle warmth and cold with fierce determination. However, breathability is not the strongest point of these pants. Even if the fabric is very soft and comfortable, the thickness of the pants won’t allow your skin to breathe unless you convert them to shorts. Even if these pants do come with a set of holes placed in the crotch area, they won’t do a very good job if you’re walking for hours in July’s hot sun.
Durability is always important when you’re looking for a pair of pants to withstand strenuous outdoor activities. Some of the stitching may come undone after months of heavy usage, but it would take a lot of mountain climbing and bushwhacking before that actually happens. But can these pants keep your legs dry if water’s-a-coming? One thing is for sure, light rain is a breeze. The DWR coating may be able to protect your legs from water, but the water absorption capacity of these pants is limited. In areas where your pants wear first (such as the knees), you will notice water soaking through after a while.
Even if they also do a good job in keeping your legs protected from the wind, the holes located in the crotch area (the ones designated to ventilate in warm temperatures) will also allow some wind to pass through and your crotch is not exactly the most comfortable place for cold temperatures.
There are a lot of features that make the Zion Convertible pants the ideal pair for your next hiking trip. First, the total number of 6 pockets: 4 located on the front and 2 in the back, offer more than enough space for you to store several items. The open front and rear pockets are large and deep and suitable for storing larger items, such as your wallet or your phone. The mesh netting of the pockets is also a plus in terms of breathability. The zippered front pockets are suitable for carrying around your most valuable items since they can be secured shut with ease.
The North Face Men’s Paramount Trail Convertible Pants
You probably saw this coming, since we rarely have reviewed outdoor waterproof clothing items without the name The North Face coming up. The relaxed straight fit of the Paramount Trails pants, combined with the $80 price tag is what makes these pants a best buy. I have to mention from the head start that this pair is designated for people who plan on hiking in cool weather conditions. Even if you have a variety of sizes and lengths to choose from, these pants tend to be a bit baggy. Even so, they seem to do a good job for hikers, because of their high level of comfort. In fact, they are surprisingly comfortable for a pair of pants made entirely out of nylon which is not the most fabric when it comes in contact with your skin.
There are 2 very important things to mention while we’re talking about fit. The bagginess of these pants will allow you to wear them with some extra layers of clothing for when temperatures outside get really rough. However, since the pants are not tight enough, they won’t allow a waterproof shell to fit over the top. Even if they’re baggy, the pants do come with an elastic waistband and a belt. The conversion seam (which allows the pants to be unzipped and turned into shorts) may cause some discomfort on your legs because of the abrasion, but this is quite a normal problem with almost every pair of convertible pants. The fact that the pants are made out of nylon doesn’t really help either. The overlapping fabric does a great job in covering the zipper, so there’s a win on this side.
Some people believe that versatility is a very important factor when picking hiking pants. Truth be told, when you spend $100 for a pair of pants, you want to know if you can use them in other situations as well, not just when you’re hiking. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, these pants will support you in chilly weather. That means that every time you plan on wearing them in slightly warmer climates, you’ll often find yourself unzipping the lower side of the pants and turning them into short. The thickness of the material will make you feel uncomfortable if you wear them on a crowded bus, for instance. Since they are quite baggy, they won’t be much of use in performing outdoor activities, so I’d just buy them for the sole purpose of hiking.
If these pants weren’t convertible, I’d give them a 3 out of 10 as far as breathability is concerned. Since the material is very thick, it doesn’t really allow your skin to breathe. While we do have to give props for durability, these pants are way hotter compared to other similarly priced models. In warm climates, the sweat will become unbearable, but if you’re camping out at night in the middle of a cold wood, they make a wonderful companion. And while we’re here, let’s talk durability. I love the fact that these pants have really well-made pockets and their stitching is one of the best you’ll see on a pair of hiking pants. Since it has such a high trust in its own products, The North Face offers lifetime warranty against product defects. Even more, you can repair worn out zipper and Velcro at prices next to nothing.
Thanks to the thick material, the pants offer a decent amount of wind resistance. They also a DWR coating, but a heavy rain test could show that they are not as effective as other similar pants when it comes to repelling water. However, nylon is known to be one of the most efficient materials in terms of waterproof capabilities, so the Paramount Trail won’t absorb as much water as you’d think. A plus is the UPF 50 sun protection, but I really have to wonder if it’s worth withstanding the discomfort caused by heat in these thick pants.
The pants come with 2 deep front pockets, a zippered front pocket, and 2 real velcro pockets. If you’re looking for a short hike during the day, you may not even need a backpack, unless you want something to carry a water bottle in. I believe it’s always better to have a light backpack with you when you’re hiking because stuffing all sorts of items in your pocket will eventually drag you down, but if you’ve set up camp someplace and are looking to explore the surroundings, these pants provide just enough space for you to secure your valuables and take them with you.
This pair of convertible pants also comes with vertical zippers located on their bottom side, which can provide some extra breathability when needed. Overall, these pants are solid for hiking and backpacking when it’s chilly outside, but we don’t really recommend them for the daily activities you perform in town, like going to work.
Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants
The first thing that you’re gonna love about these pants is how they stretch. They fit so well, they literally take the shape of your body and move alongside with you. Sadly, they only give you the option to choose your waist size. Another downside is that they don’t come with their own belt and there are high chances you’ll need to purchase one separately. If you have really long legs, the pants may run a bit short and this can be a downside in cooler climates. Even if they are tight, the elastic material will never cause discomfort that tight pants usually cause.
This is not the most versatile pair of waterproof hiking pants that money can buy. You may think that this pair of pants is not as worthy as the others since it’s not a convertible one. You’d be wrong. The pants are thin and allow your skin to breathe enough to be considered as a hiking companion in warmer climates. You can also roll up the cuffs and secure them in place with the drawcord. However, if you want to wear a long pair of underwear, you may need to opt for a more baggier pair of pants.
And while we’re here, let’s talk breathability. The light and stretchy fabric will allow a sufficient amount of airflow to pass through, so you won’t have to worry about feeling to hot when you’re hiking. While they are not the ideal choice for wearing in the sun, they are your best options if you don’t have a pair of convertibles at hand because they are the most breathable non-convertible pants that money can currently buy. Unfortunately, they are not the most durable option out there. If you take hiking to the next level and end up climbing some rocks, you will notice scuffing on the knees. Even so, they are a great choice for mild hikes, we just don’t recommend them for something too aggressive.
And now we move on to the main point of interest: weather resistance. It’s important to mention that because of their thinness, we don’t recommend these pants for hiking in cold climates. If they weather is too windy, you may feel the chills on your skin. They come with a DWR coating, which seems to do a very good job at keeping water away from your skin. However, exposing them to rain for a longer period of time will cause this coating to wear out. Luckily, there is always the option of reapplying the coating. Even if you fail to do so when the coating wears out, you will notice that they barely absorb any water and they dry out super-fast.
In terms of design, these pants don’t offer anything special. They have quite the minimalist design, which is awesome for traveling light. They feature a drawcord and buckle tightener in the cuffs. The cinch buckle is hidden by a tiny flap, which means that you can hide it under pant leg and it won’t be visible. There is a total of 5 pockets on these pants: two of them are located in the back and come with zippers, two of them are front hand pockets and there is also a vertical zip side pocket. The front hand pockets are super small which could be a downside if the pants weren’t already tight enough for you to avoid carrying too much inside them.
Overall, the Ferrosi pants are great for spring and fall hiking and even for mild summers. Their sun protection will keep your legs safe while providing the breathability you need in warm temperatures.
Best Waterproof Pants for Women
Marmot Women’s Lobo’s Convertible Pants
Welcome to my personal favorite pair of women’s waterproof hiking pants. Made 94% out of nylon and 6% out of elastane, these pants are abrasion resistant and provide a 50 UPF. They are certainly one of the most comfortable waterproof hiking pants for women. Comfort is not really the strong point of nylon clothing, so I’ll “blame” that on the added elastane. I think that the inner fleece waistband is a super neat feature because it provides extra comfort around your hips. As much I’d love to say these pants deserve a 10 out of 10 for comfort, they do have their downsides. Since they are quite a tight fit, the zippers around the convertible area will cause some discomfort. Even if the zippered is covered in material, the area does feel a bit bulky and it’s definitely noticeable when you move around. This difference is noticeable especially when you sit down or perform any activity that stretches the upper side of the pants.
Thanks to the elastane, the pants do pretty well in terms of mobility. The material is able to stretch in any direction, so climbing won’t really be much of an issue when wearing these.
They are also great for women who are looking for a versatile pair of pants. Not only can they be turned from long pants to shorts and vice-versa when needed, but they are also very solid in terms of waterproofness. They have a DWR coating which does a great job in waterproofing these pants. They are great for light rain and they will keep big puddles on the surface for a decent amount of time. If you perform a water spill test, you will notice that the water bounces right off the surface of the pants. Another interesting thing to mention is their ability to dry out super-fast. If you completely soak them in water, it only takes 20 minutes of sunlight exposure for a full dry.
Thanks to the thin and light materials, these pants perform pretty well when it comes to allowing your skin to breathe. Even with their full length, you can still enjoy a hike in the sun. If things get a little too hot, just unzip the bottom side of the pants and there you go!
There are a lot of other things I really liked about these pants. For once, there is the button closure for the crop conversion which adds a nice fashion sense to them. There are 2 conveniently placed back pockets which are stitched to the pants interior and their low profile is highly appreciated when you’re sitting down or riding a bike. There are also 2 front pockets, but they are not deep enough for you to fit your hands all the way through. Anyway, I doubt that hiking with your hands in your pockets is the way to go anyway. There is also a side pocket, secured with a zipper, which allows you to carry some important valuables, like keys and money.
As a conclusion, it’s safe to say that these pants can be worn with confidence for a variety of outdoor activities. Not only are the recommended for hiking, but do to their water repellant coating, they can be safely used when rafting or kayaking.
The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pant for Women
The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pant is made of a 96% Nylon/4% Elastane blend with a DWR finish. In other words, they comfort, durability and waterproofness should not be very different from the Lobo’s we reviewed earlier. In fact, there is quite a number of resemblances between this pair and the Lobo’s themselves. just like with the Lobo’s, you will have to get used to feeling the placement of the zipper on your mid-thigh, even if there is material wrapped around it. However, these pants aren’t as mobile as you might think. They seem to be a little restrictive when you bend the knee (I’m really good at Game of Thrones references this week, aren’t I?).
Just like most convertible pants, this pair also comes with a high level of versatility because you can turn them from long pants to short and vice-versa. Even though there is no crop option, that won’t prevent you from rolling the bottom side of the pants up your legs. They are also one of the most breathable pairs of hiking pants out there. Even if you find yourself hiking in portions where shadow can’t protect you, these pants seem to do a great job in hotter weather conditions. Due to their good construction, durability won’t really be an issue here. The material is very resistant to abrasion and it will be a while before you can see scraping around the knees.
There is no doubt that these pants are extremely water resistant. The DWR coating seems to have made peace with the exterior of these pants because every time you try to get them wet, the water beads up and basically rolls down from their surface. However, as is the case with any waterproof pants, the more you wear out the material, the less waterproof it becomes. If a strong rain eventually catches up to you, a full 20 minutes in the sun should dry these babies up completely.
Is it pockets you’re interested in? A cool feature that should be mentioned at this point is the color coding of the zippers. The 2 zippers located on the right leg are red and the other 2 located on the right leg are blue. The deep hand pockets are a nice feature, not only because your hands go all the way down inside, but also because they allow you to carry something as large as your smartphone.
Even if they are not thick enough for winter hikes, these pants will do a great job in every other season. Whether you’re hiking, trekking, camping and even canoeing, you can stay assured that these pants will make for great companions even if there’s water danger ahead.
prAna Women’s Sage Convertible Reg Inseam Pant
prAna really seems to have stepped up its durable clothing game and the Sage Convertible is the right item to prove just that. These pants are made of 95% Nylon and 5% Spandex blend with a DWR finish. We have to admit, wearing these nylon pants can feel a bit weird at first. They make a “swish” sound every time you move and in places with extreme silence, that noise can turn out to be very annoying. Due to the fact that the legs are cut fairly close, there’s is much room left for the convertible leg zipper. This results in discomfort caused by the zipper area constantly rubbing against your legs. However, the feeling is even stronger as you sit down rather than move around, which means these pants aren’t really ideal for hiking trips where a lot of driving is required.
The inner drawstring is always a nice touch to have because it helps your pants stay on your waist without the need to attach a belt. Even if the material is stretchy, it won’t stretch out as you hike, That’s generally a good thing, but even so, the Sage Convertible pants are not your best option when it comes to comfort and mobility.
The fact that these pants have a high breathability ranking, they also score high in versatility as well. They are a great pair of hiking pants for those looking for a little summer adventure. Thanks to their lightweight material, the pants over great breathability even when temperatures get a little high. They also score very well in terms of durability. The ripstop nylon seems to be quite tough and the weaving pattern which is meant to reinforce the material will make sure that no snags will spread if they happen to occur. The front snaps are well-secured, but also easy to pull apart because they don’t put a lot of strain on the fabric.
Since this is a waterproof blog, it’s important to talk about how these pants can handle water. Thanks to the generous coating of DWR, water will bead up on the surface of the pants and it rolls right off, ensuring your skin stays high and dry. Even if this coating will last a generous amount of time and it will take more than just a drizzle for the material to get wet, I do have to mention that it takes longer than usual to get these pants completely dry. In general, most of the pants we’ve reviewed in this article require about 20 minutes of full sunlight exposure to dry completely, while the Sage Convertibles take about 45 minutes. This is why we don’t recommend this particular pair of pants if you’re into some water-related activities, like canoeing or kayaking. Another bullet point that I must emphasize is that due to their lightweight and extremely durable material, these pants almost no wind protection. Oh, and they don’t have a UPF rating either.
These pants are packed with features, and who doesn’t love a pair of hiking pants that know how to this and that? First of all, you should know that he bottom side of these convertible pants can be taken off over your hiking shoes (doesn’t work with boots on, though). This means that your long hiking pants can be converted to short without the additional effort of having to take off your shoes. This feature is extremely convenient and quite rare. Since these pants have a hard time in staying up when you roll them, the strap and snap crop is a great feature. If you like carrying around a bunch of things with you when you hike, the number of pockets on the Sage Convertible is quite satisfying. The back pockets are secured with buttons on either side of the flap. While button generally reduce the chance of your pockets opening by accident, we’re not sure how comfortable it is to sit on them, especially on rough surfaces The front pockets are not that deep, so unless you have really small hands, you won’t be able to fit your hand all the way up to your wrist. The side pockets will fit your smartphone and other valuables that you really want to keep your eyes on.
Long story short, the durability and breathability of the Safe Convertible hiking pants make them a great companion for summer hikes.
prAna Women’s Regular Inseam Halle Pant
I really considered picking just one pair of prAna hiking pants for this article, but the Halle really caught my attention. From the first moment I read about it, I knew this is one of the most comfortable hiking pants option of 2017. The soft combination of nylon and spandex is so soft, you can wear these pants an entire day without feeling any restraint. The mid-waist fit is about as comfortable as it gets. Even if the material is bound to stretch a bit after a few hours of hiking, it’s important to mention that the internal drawstring is quite the champ at adjusting the pants around your waistline without feeling the need for a belt.
The mobility that these pants offer is off the chart. It doesn’t really matter if you want to hike, climb, run or walk, you will feel free to do any of these as you please. Even if they don’t feature a gusseted groin, you’ll feel extremely comfortable and able to take huge steps with no restraint at all. The combination between the straight leg design on the articulated knees will allow for maximum mobility even when you’re climbing vicious rocks and boulders.
It’s true that these pants won’t score that much in versatility since they are not convertible. However, they do make a wise choice for hiking and climbing, while still being cool enough to be worn around town. As far as breathability is concerned, I must warn you: these are not hiking pants for hot summer days. They do perform extremely well in moderate to cool temperatures because the material is quite thick. Since they are not convertible, you won’t be able to turn them into short and this is a huge disadvantage for someone looking to hike in the hot season.
Even if these pants are durable, you will notice that the material does pill in high wear areas, such as the knees. The front buttons aren’t really sewn on properly, but if they do come off, they can easily be sewn back on.
Even if these pants have a DWR coating, they are not our top choice in terms of waterproof hiking pants. That’s mainly because the DWR coating doesn’t seem to be able to handle rain and the material quickly becomes saturated. Another downside is the fact that, compared to its competitors, this pair of pants takes longer than 20 minutes for a complete dry. If you are ever in a situation where you simply can’t afford to get and stay wet, you should opt for something with a more durable waterproof coating.
Since they lack a convertible option, these are not the most featured pants we’ve reviewed. However, there a couple of things that make them stand out from the crowd of hiking pants on the market. First, there is a drawstring cinch that will come really in handy and it’s something we haven’t seen on the earlier versions of these pants. Second, there is a zippered thigh pocket where you have plenty of space to hold even a small digital camera. The front pockets are not what I expected because they aren’t deep enough to fit things like your wallet or your phone. The roll-up convertible options can easily be secured thanks to the tabs on either side that will secure the material into place.
As far as men are concerned, worry not. We have found the ideal waterproof hiking pants for you. The prAna Zion Convertible was our primary choice, mostly because they rank high in almost every aspect. With their middle-range price, they are ideal for both the jogger and the climber inside you. Since they have a no-questions-asked return policy, you can be confident that you won’t lose any money in case these pants don’t completely satisfy you.
As for the ladies, we do recommend the Marmot Lobo’s Convertible pants. Since you pay less than $100, you basically get a pair of shorts and a pair of long pants at the same time. They are suitable for any backpacking trip unless there is a severe storm coming your way. The combination of high water resistance, durability and versatility, make these pants a real bang for your buck.