Do Hiking Pants Really Make a Difference? Pros and Cons

Person stand on the peak in rock empires park and watching over the misty and foggy morning valley to Sun. Silhouette of man body.

When going on a hike, you need to wear the right clothing and bring the right gear. However, many people don’t wear the right type of pants and don’t even know that there is such a thing as hiking pants. However, do hiking pants really make a difference?

Hiking pants do make a difference in the experience and amount of enjoyment a hiker gets out of a hike. Hiking pants are lightweight and durable, and some of them can be converted into shorts when the weather is warm or a hiker becomes overheated. They also are made to dry quickly.

To find out more about hiking pants and the pros and cons, keep reading.

Do Hiking Pants Make a Difference While Hiking?

Hiking pants often make a difference in your hiking experience because they are lighter and more breathable than many other types of pants that you may choose to wear while on a hike. (Source)

However, how and if they will affect your experience will vary depending on how long your hike is and where you hike. The length of the hike you are going on will definitely affect whether or not you should wear hiking pants because the longer your hike is, the warmer you will become and the more your body will sweat, including your legs.

Hiking pants, sometimes called trail pants, are lightweight pants that are typically quite loose. They have a lot of pockets and some have a zipper at the knee so you can make the pants into shorts when you become too warm. They are also made of breathable materials like nylon, polyester, or spandex.

One of the main scenarios where you especially want to wear hiking pants is when you plan on crossing a body of water like a river or stream, as there is always a possibility that your pants will get wet. The last thing you want is to be hiking with wet pants, even if the ankles are the only wet parts. Even if you get hiking pants wet, they dry extremely quickly, so you won’t have to suffer for long.

The pockets on hiking pants are especially useful, as there are many and they often have zippers, so your items won’t fall out as you are hiking. The pockets may eliminate the need for you to bring a backpack or fanny pack with you, but that will depend on how much you want to bring and how long your hike will last.

Hiking pants protect you from bugs and plants including ticks, mosquitos, spiders, poison ivy, and more.

Hiking pants are extremely durable, so they will last longer than normal pants would if you wear them hiking often. Even though they are durable, the fabric is lightweight and doesn’t make a lot of noise as you walk. (Source)

Hiking pants are made to be loose, but not too loose. This means that you will never have to go on a hike in tight pants again if you purchase a pair of hiking pants. The loose fit of hiking pants ensures that your blood can flow freely and you can hike in comfort. Also, many hiking pants have draw-string waistbands, so you will never have to worry if the button on your pants has opened while you are hiking.

Hiking pants are extremely comfortable because of how loose, lightweight, and breathable they are. They allow you to be flexible while hiking, so you will never have to struggle to climb over rocks, branches, and other debris because of your pants again. (Source)

Hiking pants are extremely breathable, so your sweat won’t get trapped inside. This will help your legs stay cool and avoid chafing.

Are Hiking Pants Better to Wear than Jeans While Hiking?

Couple of Young Happy Travelers with Backpacks Hiking in the Mountains at the Evening. Man Helping Woman to Climb to the Top of the Rock. Family Travel and Adventure Concept.

Hiking pants are better to wear than jeans while going on a hike if you are planning on crossing a body of water, are worried about chafing, are going on a long hike, are going to be hiking while it is raining, the weather is going to be extremely hot, or you need to be extremely flexible while hiking. (Source)

Hiking pants are also better to wear on a hike than jeans if you go hiking often, as hiking pants are oftentimes more durable than jeans and are reinforced.

However, if you don’t go hiking often or aren’t planning on going on a long hike, it doesn’t really matter if you wear jeans or hiking pants. Jeans will keep your legs warm and may be easier to access, but they can also cause chafing, which will cause you to suffer for at least a few days after your hike. (Source)

Hiking pants are more comfortable than jeans because of how soft they are and because they are loose rather than tight.

Pros and Cons of Hiking Pants

Hiking pants are great, but they aren’t perfect. Here are the pros and cons of hiking pants.


Many pairs of hiking pants have a zipper at the knee and can be made into shorts. This is extremely helpful when you are crossing a body of water or are hiking in extremely warm weather. Many people like and take advantage of this feature. (Source)

Hiking pants dry extremely quickly so if they ever get wet or your legs sweat, your legs won’t start to chafe and you can hike in comfort. With most pants, it takes them a long time to dry, which is why many people choose to wear hiking pants while on a hike rather than other pants.

Hiking pants are extremely durable and soft, so they are more comfortable than many other types of pants.

Hiking pants have plenty of pockets so you can bring all of your essentials with you on your hike without bringing a heavy backpack.

Sometimes, hiking pants only cost between $15-$60, which is relatively cheap for a specialty type of pants. They can be found at many stores, including Amazon, Costco, and Walmart. (Source)


Although some hiking pants are relatively cheap, high-quality hiking pants cost between $90-$200, which is very expensive for a pair of pants.

Although convertible hiking pants are great, some people find the zippers annoying because of the way it hits their knees. Also, many pairs of hiking pants can’t be made into shorts. (Source)

Hiking Pant Alternatives

Explorer young woman with backpack going up on hill outdoor.

Although hiking pants are great, sometimes you don’t have a pair that is easy to access. Luckily, you have plenty of other pant options to wear on your hike, including:

  • Jeans
  • Capris
  • Shorts
  • Basketball Shorts
  • Running Shorts
  • Leggings
  • Yoga Pants
  • Cargo Pants
  • Hunting Pants

Although each of these options are great, keep in mind that you will want to avoid wearing cotton pants when going on a hike. Cotton absorbs water, including sweat, and becomes heavy. Cotton pants don’t dry quickly and may weigh you down. If you walk through a body of water and your cotton pants get wet, the water held in your pants will cause you to become cold and cause your skin to chafe. (Source)

Athletic clothing is a great alternative to hiking pants as they are lightweight, oftentimes durable, and extremely breathable. Also, most athletic clothing dries quickly and won’t wear down quickly if you wear them often.

Best Hiking Pants

Listed below are the best hiking pants for men and women.

Best Hiking Pants for Men

Haggar Men’s The Active Series Free Trek Straight Fit Cargo Pant

The Haggar Men’s The Active Series Free Trek Straight Fit Cargo Pant costs $45 and is rated 5 stars. They have a comfortable waistband and are made out of extremely stretchable fabric. You can easily throw them in the washing machine when you want to clean them. In total, there are 5 pockets that can be zipped closed. They are made of cotton, polyester, and elastane.

Wrangler Men’s Outdoor Zip Cargo Pant

The Wrangler Men’s Outdoor Zip Cargo Pant costs $23 and is rated 4.6 stars by consumers. They come in four different colors: earth green, asphalt, black, and fallen rock. They are made of nylon and spandex and have a total of 7 different pockets for you to use. They are also extremely durable, especially because the stitching throughout these pants is reinforced.

prAna Stretch Zion Pant

The prAna Stretch Zion Pant is highly recommended by people on multiple forums, so you know that they are some of the best hiking pants on the market. Many forum users said that these pants lasted a long time and they have bought them repeatedly. These hiking pants cost $90 and have an adjustable waistband. They are made to dry quickly and are abrasion-resistant.

The hem of these pants can easily be rolled up, and there are snaps you can close to hold the hem of your pants up as you cross a body of water or simply want to wear shorts instead of pants.

Best Hiking Pants for Women

Ripstop Pants with Pockets

The Ripstop Pants with Pockets are the best hiking pants for women. They cost $35 and are rated an impressive 5 stars by consumers. They have elastic cuffs on the bottom so twigs and bugs will be kept away from your legs. They also come in 4 different colors: black, mountain green, true navy, misty merlot, and purple taupe. They have two pockets, an adjustable belt with an elastic waistband, and are made of polyamide and elastane. They are extremely durable and water-resistant.

Women’s Warm Hiking Pants for Winter

The Women’s Warm Hiking Pants for Winter cost $50 and are rated 4.6 stars. They come in 4 different colors: navy, dark grey, grey, and black. There are 4 different pockets on these hiking pants that can be zippered closed. There are belt loops so you can use a belt if you want to, but they also have an elastic waistband, so it is unlikely that a belt will be needed.

Although these hiking pants are technically made to be used during the winter, they can be worn during spring, fall, and summer. However, they are warm and lined with fleece, so you likely will only want to wear them during winter and spring. They have an adjustable ankle hook so you can secure them to the inner part of your snow boots.

BALEAF Women’s Hiking Pants

The BALEAF Women’s Hiking Pants are rated 4.5 stars by consumers and cost $34. They are made to dry quickly and come in 11 different colors: black, deep gray, navy blue, pond, steel gray, army green, blue-gray, glacier gray, light green, shark, and suntan. They are made out of polyester and spandex and are extremely lightweight and breathable. There are 4 pockets that can be zippered closed and these pants have an elastic waistband. There is a drawstring so you can make them fit your waist extremely well.

Northface Aphrodite 2.0 Pant

The Northface Aphrodite 2.0 Pants cost $69 and are rated 4.5 stars. They are made out of nylon and elastane, so they are comfortable and will dry extremely quickly if they get wet. These hiking pants come in 6 different colors: Twill Beige, Asphalt Grey, Aviator Navy, goblin blue, new taupe green, and TnF black.

They are lightweight and have multiple pockets so you can bring all of your essentials with you easily. At the waist and hems of these pants, you can use the drawcords to make them fit close to your body, although you don’t have to if you are comfortable with how these hiking pants fit you.

Overall, hiking pants are not required when you are planning on going hiking, but they ensure that you will be comfortable for the entire trip and won’t end up with chafing on your legs. If you go hiking often, invest in a pair or two of hiking pants. If you don’t go hiking often and enjoy wearing jeans or another type of pants when you go hiking, feel free to avoid hiking pants altogether. Hiking pants are great products that are essential for every avid hiker.

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