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Comfortable, durable walking trousers are a must in any rambler’s wardrobe. Wondering why you can’t get away with just wearing jeans on a walk? Well, on a short, casual ramble, you probably could.
But if you’re spending hours out hiking or you’re planning an active walking holiday, a good pair of walking trousers will be the more comfortable choice - they’re designed to be lightweight, stretchy, loose and breathable however many miles you cover.
Best hiking trousers at a glance
- Best for hot weather: Arc’Teryx Alroy trousers
- Best for long days in the outdoors: Fjallraven Keb Curved trousers
- Best on a budget: Quechua Trekking Zip Off trousers
- Best zipaway trouser: Jack Wolfskin Overland Zip Off trousers
- Best hiking tights: Fjallraven Abisko tights
- Best for active summer hikes: Craghoppers Women’s pro stretch sport trousers
- Best for style points: Acai Skinny Outdoor trousers
- Best for versatility: Revolution Race Nordwand trousers
Are walking trousers the same as waterproof trousers?
Walking trousers are worn next to the skin and aren’t usually waterproof, but it’s easy to pop waterproof trousers over the top if a storm is looming. That said, some walking trousers are water repellent, which is enough to withstand light rain. If they do get wet, good walking trousers are usually quick to dry, which is also useful when travelling with a limited wardrobe.
What should you look for in walking trousers?
Think about when you’ll wear your new trousers. On summer walks, look for trousers that use a breathable fabric in to keep you cool. In winter, a thicker, insulated pair will be the best choice.
There are different styles on sale, too. Slim, stretchy walking trousers are often called tights and feel more like wearing leggings – a good choice if you don’t like wider trousers that can flap around in wind.
Do walking trousers look - well - cool?
Walking trousers used to score pretty low on style points, but that’s changing fast – we’ve included a few smart, chino-like trousers that would work everywhere from the mountains to the office. Many pairs of walking trousers can also be converted into shorts by unzipping lower sections, which is convenient in changeable weather and a good space-saving choice on backpacking trips.
What do you need from hiking trousers?
We always rate trousers with reinforced knees and ankles (the former for sitting on rough ground, the latter for wearing with crampons), plentiful pockets and a slightly stretchy fabric, for added comfort and ease of movement.
Try trousers on in person if you can - they should have enough stretch to let you squat, and feel comfortable around the waist. If they’re zip-off trousers, check the zips don’t rub against your knees.
Get kitted out for your camping and backpacking adventures.
We have detailed guides to the best backpacking tents for your adventures here. Want to steady your stride? These are the best walking poles for hiking.
Keep it comfy with the best camping folding chairs, and sleep on the best air beds around, as listed here. And keep things illuminated with a great camping head torch.
Feeling the heat? Arc’Teryx’ Alroy trousers were the coolest and most breathable pants we tested out – if you’re going hiking in a tropical climate and still need to protect your legs from insects and the sun, these are a great pick.
We also liked the five wide pockets, the light weight of the fabric and smart neutral colours, which make the Alroy suitable for daily use as well as for hiking.
The only thing to watch out for is sizing – we recommend going a size down in the Alroy, as the waistband is on the wide side. A shorts version is also available.
When the going gets tough, pull on a pair of Fjallraven’s Keb walking trousers.
These rugged walking trousers double up as work pants thanks to reinforced knee and rear panels, which make them ideal for setting up camp and for gardening and outdoor jobs as well as for hiking.
The Kebs have roomy pockets and useful ventilation zips, and come in straight or curved versions – the curved is a great choice for women with wider hips, and is nicely fitted to the female form (unlike many walking trousers on the market!)
Beautifully made, and worth the investment if you spend all of your time outdoors.
Our best on a budget at just under £25, these simple but comfortable walking trousers deliver good quality without the premium price tag, and also zip away into shorts – everything we’d expect from Decathlon’s cheap and cheerful own-brand, Forclaz.
On test we liked the stretch panels of the Trekking trousers for good ease of movement, and the lightweight fabric is cool to wear and quick-drying if you encounter rain.
The zipped-off shorts are comfortable and flattering – these versatile trousers would make a great spare pair to pack for a summer trekking holiday.
Why just buy walking trousers when you could get shorts thrown in too?
If you’re looking for great quality in a zipaway trouser, Jack Wolfskin’s Overland is a sound investment.
The trousers sport good zippered pockets and a comfortable high waistband, and have a water repellent finish that withstands light rain.
It’s quick and easy to zip off the bottoms of the trousers when you’re on the go – ideal if you set off on a chilly morning but the weather warms up mid-hike.
These trousers are PFC (or poly-fluorinated chemical, harmful chemicals sometimes used to waterproof clothing)-free too, so they’re an environmentally-friendly choice.
If you’re after slim, stretchy hiking tights rather than wide walking trousers, read no further: Fjallraven’s Abisko tights are popular for a reason. These legging-style walking trousers may be close-cut but they’re so comfortable and stretchy that you’ll immediately forget you’re wearing them – great for long days of trekking.
The Abiskos stay in shape wash after wash, have a large map pocket and a zippered pocket, fit perfectly under waterproofs and have thick bum and knee panels that are great when you’re sitting around camp after a hike. They may be expensive but you’re paying for long-lasting quality.
As the name implies, these trousers are super-stretchy – great if comfort is at the top of your shopping list. That stretch is also brilliant for moving fast when hiking or climbing on mountain terrain, and Craghoppers’ Pro Stretch trousers will keep up with you without impeding your range of movement.
We like zipped pockets, the slim cut and the water-resistant finish, which will repel light rain. The fabric of the Pro Stretch is thin and breathable, so these trousers are best for summer use. At under £30 these are a bit of a bargain, too.
A favourite with the Instagram hiking community, Acai’s slim trousers are designed to appeal to the fashionistas of the walking world.
They look great on, with a comfy high waist and flattering back pockets, are available in no less than 12 neutral shades and look so smart they would double up as regular leggings or even work trousers when you’re off the trail.
There’s enough stretch that you can move freely in the Skinnys, and the fabric is reasonably breathable, too. A good pair to choose if you don’t like the wider cut of traditional walking trousers.
Revolution Race are proud of how versatile their Nordwand trousers are, reckoning they work for ‘hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting, camping, mountain biking and dog sports’.
We’d have to agree – these tough but flexible trousers make a great quiver-of-one choice if you want to invest in just one pair of pants for all your adventures.
The stretchy knee and rear panels make the Nordwands comfortable even over long distances, and they also fit nicely over base layer bottoms - doubling up like this makes the Nordwand work for winter, too.