expert advice / Trekking


1. How to choose hiking pants

Hiking pants are an important part of your hiking or trekking wardrobe, especially for multi-day hikes. Finding the right pair that’s comfortable and suited to the kind of hiking you do, can make such a difference. So it’s worth spending some time considering what kind of pants to choose.

2. What pants to wear hiking?

What kind of hiking will you be doing? If you’re a regular hiker and tend to only hike in the mountains, then a sturdy pair of hiking pants is a wise choice. You’ll want them to be abrasion resistant to withstand contact with rock, for instance. Consider how long you will be hiking. Planning a multi-day trekking trip?

As a general rule, nylon fabrics absorb much less water than cotton and dry significantly faster. We recommend our Durastretch fabrics, for their tough, lightweight freedom of movement and weather protection options.

5. How long should hiking pants be?

On hot days, you might want to just hike in shorts – they do offer great breathability and freedom of movement. However, exposing your legs directly to the sun, wind, and spiky plants can sometimes leave you wishing you had a pair of pants on. Higher capris-style pants can be a nice summer option. And zip-off hiking pants are obviously a good solution here.

We design many of our pants with buttons or drawcords on the lower legs to enable you to roll them up in hot temperatures – or to see your feet better when you’re climbing. They’re often much less hassle than having to constantly adjust convertible pants.

6. What is the best fit for hiking pants?

Choosing a pair of trekking pants with a more regular fit will mean you can fit thermal underwear underneath them during the colder months. Stretch fabrics, such as our proprietary Durastretch make a big difference to comfort levels and layering adaptability. Pre-shaped knees are another detail that many hiking pants offer and which increase your range of movement and comfort. Alternatively, closer fitting legwear traps air closer to the body, and automatically offers more insulation. We offer hiking pants in a wide range of fits.

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3. What pants are best for hiking

There are different pant designs that offer different functional characteristics:

  • Conventional hiking pants
  • They keep you warmer than shorts and protect your legs from rain, wind and sun – plus abrasion from rocks and thorns and mosquito bites. They offer good versatility for mountain use, including cool, wet conditions or heat and sun exposure.

  • Convertible pants
  • Many hikers like the additional versatility convertible pants give you – they save space and help to reduce the weight of your pack as there is no need to carry a separate pair of shorts.

  • Tights
  • Functional tights are becoming more and more popular for both women and men. Close-fitting pants work well in alpine terrain, where looser pants might get snagged – and they are great to climb in.

4. What material to choose for your hiking pants?

  • Cold weather
  • In winter and colder climates, heavier-weight fabrics and softshell hiking pants are a good option. Softshells are woven functional fabrics that combine windproofing, water resistance, and high stretch. Some use a combination of layers with insulating material on the inside and weather protection on the outside. Softshells are not generally waterproof. However there are now fully waterproof softshells available. Salewa alpine pants and trekking pants have a water-repellent coating.

  • Water repellency
  • Bear in mind that hiking in autumn or spring might mean a wide range of conditions – including wet weather and colder temperatures. If there is any possibility you might get caught out in these conditions, then water-repellency is a must. Look for legwear with a reliable durable water repellent (DWR) coating (PFC-free if possible) as well as nylon fabrics.

  • Rainy weather
  • Obviously, if the weather report is poor and you expect regular rain and cold weather, we recommend you pack fully waterproof rain shell pants or overtrousers – the additional protection they offer from cold and wind can also help protect against hypothermia.

  • Summer use
  • If you live or hike in a warmer climate however, then you might want to use more lightweight, moisture wicking fabrics. Consider the breathability of the fabric: thin hiking leggings or hiking pants in technical wicking fibres will keep you dry no matter how hard you hike, or how hot the weather is. Lightweight nylon is fast-drying and functional, but natural fabrics, such as cotton or hemp hybrid blends are often cooler and more comfortable in hotter conditions. Sun protection (built-in UV protection) is also an important factor for backcountry summer adventures.

7. What hiking pants details are worth considering?

  • Pockets
  • Helpful for keeping smaller items close at hand, like your sun cream, phone, map, etc. Zips make them more secure, especially when you are climbing. Thigh pockets at the side won’t get in the way of a climbing harness, but tend to add to the overall weight of the pants and make the fit more bulky when full.

  • Leg ends
  • It’s often down to personal preference as well as the environment you hike in. The footwear you’ll be wearing is also a factor here. You might want adjustable cuffs that will fit over boots and then cinch down when you’re wearing low-cut hiking or trekking shoes. Many of our hiking pants have handy zips at the cuffs that can accommodate different types of footwear.

  • Waistband
  • An elasticated waistband is more flexible and comfortable on longer hikes than a fixed waist with a belt. Many of our hiking pants have an integrated, built-in belt. Consider whether you’ll be carrying a heavy pack and how this might affect comfort around the waist. The fewer seams, the better. Over time, even a light load can start to rub at the lower back.

  • Packability / weight
  • If you’re planning a multi-day hike or thru hike, then every gram you carry really counts. Although you need your hiking pants to be hardwearing and maybe even weather resistant, you’ll also want them to be lightweight and pack down small inside your backpack.

  • Visibility
  • Reflective elements are a good idea for hiking in low light for dawn starts or when continuing at dusk.