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Best walking trousers 2022: The best walking and hiking trousers for your next outdoor adventure

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A good pair of walking trousers will keep you comfortable on a long hike, dry in bad weather and cool if things heat up

As anyone who has ever tackled Ben Nevis in a pair of jeans will testify, heavy cotton makes everything harder work on a hike. They get heavy when wet, take ages to dry and can often rub, creating unwanted and often painful friction. It’s time to invest in a pair of walking trousers – but thankfully, with prices from just £30, you don’t have to bust the budget to enjoy the benefits.

There are many styles and types of outdoor trousers, each designed to suit different weather conditions, activities and body shapes. The most common types of outdoor trousers are classing walking/hiking designs that use durable performance fabrics to create lightweight garments that dry quickly, wick heat away from the body and don’t chafe. Many also have water-resistant coatings and also protect from harmful UV rays.

If you’re looking to explore at higher altitudes and in more extreme environments, mountaineering trousers are made from rugged materials, designed to withstand contact with rock faces and extreme weather conditions.

Most walking, hiking and mountaineering trousers are made from a nylon and elastane mix, but look out for brands using recycled materials to help reduce your impact on the environment.

READ NEXT: The best walking shoes


Best walking trousers: At a glance

  • Best walking trousers for dry weather: Arc’teryx Palisade Pant | Buy now
  • Best convertible walking trousers: Montane Terra Convert Pants | Buy now
  • Best value walking trousers for men and women: Quechua MH500 | Buy now

How to choose the best walking trousers

How do I get the best fit?

All the brands featured here have detailed size guides on their websites to help you make a decision, and they also offer a range of fits depending on activity and style. Fast hiking and free-running trousers tend to be very slim fitting, while more traditional designs for casual walking are more relaxed.

In our tests, most brands were very true to size, so you can often choose your usual size. But do also remember that most feature stretch material, which can be quite forgiving if you’re between sizes. However, this stretch is really for easier movement when scrambling and climbing, rather than letting you squeeze into a more flattering size!

What features do I need?

Waist

Look for soft chamois-covered waistbands as they feel much nicer on the skin over a long walk. Many designs come with nylon webbing belts, or adjustable straps to adjust waist size, too, and if you’re planning on carrying a backpack, look for lower profile designs that sit below the waist strap.

Pockets

Pockets are useful, and at the very least you need a couple of hand warming pockets and one zipped pocket for storing valuables. Check you can get to the pockets when wearing your rucksack, though. Large cargo style pockets are ideal for carrying a map, too.

Ventilation

A common feature on mountaineering trousers, zippered vents help let heat escape quickly. Some standard pockets also have mesh liners to do the same thing while keeping the lines of the trouser clean.

Hems and cuffs

Most walking trousers will either sit over your boots and have a small clip that attaches to laces to prevent them riding up, or they’ll be slimmer in the leg and sit on top of your boot. Look out for drawcords in the hem that can reduce the size, or even roll them up when the sun shines.

Durability

Walking trousers should be built to last, and to laugh in the face of rocks and brambles. Look for designs with reinforced panels on the knee and backside, and try to choose trousers with double seam stitching as it will last considerably longer than single.

Climate

In hotter climates, you’ll need lightweight, light-coloured trousers with excellent breathability. If conditions are likely to be wet and windy, a water-resistant and windproof trouser is best, although if torrential rain is forecast you may still need waterproof trousers.

The best walking trousers for you

1. Arc’teryx Palisade Pant: The best walking trousers for dry weather

Price: £125 | Buy now from Arc’teryx

There are more rugged hiking trousers available, with reinforced panels and extra-thick fabric for climbing technical routes, but the Palisade is the ideal all-round pair for walking, hiking, travelling and even everyday use.

They’re available in both male and female fits, and the fabric – something called TerraTex stretch nylon – is lightweight, quick-drying, impressively breathable, and has just enough stretch to be supremely comfortable all day. They also pack down small and have a slim, but not skinny, fit that gives a stylish chino silhouette. From a distance, you’d never guess they weren't just casual trousers.

But the pockets do give away the fact these trousers are designed to work hard for you. They all have zips for security, and impressively they’re angled so they are still easy to access even when wearing a backpack with waist strap.

Available in seven colours (four men’s, three women's) they also boast a soft chamois-covered waistband that sits comfortably against your skin, and the metal clasp belt remains tighter for longer than all others we’ve tried. Do remember, however, they don’t offer any waterproofing, so pack a pair of over trousers if the weather is wet.

Key specs – Weight: 300g; Waterproofing: N/A; Material: 94% nylon, 6% elastane blend

Buy now from Arc’teryx


2. Montane Terra Convert Pants: The best convertible walking trousers

Price: £90 | Buy now from Montane

While they might remind you of noughties gap-year travellers, there’s no denying the practicality of convertible walking trousers. By unzipping each leg at the knee you save weight in your pack and have the bliss of shorts when the weather heats up.

Montane has adapted its excellent Terra Pants, which use Vector Lite nylon fabric that is impressively fast drying, lightweight, offers 50+ UPF sun protection, and feels soft to the touch. The zips are easy to get on and off and the fit is relaxed and very comfortable.

As a trouser, we like the added poppers on the hem that gather the fabric together – great if you’re on a bike or climbing, for instance – while the top half has an abundance of great pockets, including deep and zipped designs for added security. Yes, your phone will stick out, but we’ve yet to find a pair of walking trousers that can cope well with the bulk of the modern smartphone.

But it’s as shorts these really excel, being relaxed and comfortable like cargo shorts and with enough give to be forgiving if you’re scrambling up steep ascents or even bouldering.

Key specs – Weight: 320g; Waterproofing: DWR; Material: Nylon Vector Lite

Buy now from Montane


3. Adidas Terrex Zupahike Hiking Trousers: The best walking trousers for people who hate walking trousers

Price: £85 | Buy now from Adidas

With the fashion-forward Terrex range, Adidas has been consistently producing high quality, high-performance outdoor gear that looks a world away from ‘traditional’ mountain wear. Designed to appeal primarily to a younger audience that loves the outdoors, but doesn’t want to look like their parents while they do so.

And the Zupahike trousers tick all these boxes thanks to the durable weather-resistant fabric that laughs at passing showers, but has plenty of stretch for when you want to scramble up rocky paths (or trees!) without restriction.

The front-facing fabric is rain and wind-resistant, and cleverly, Adidas has included highly breathable panels on the back made from 90% recycled polyester to help you dump heat when your effort levels increase.

The cargo style has two generous zipped hip pockets plus standard jean style pockets, and a relaxed tapered fit. They’re not as skinny as you might imagine, and incredibly comfortable, and the tighter fit at the hem will sit on top of rather than over your boots. We would actually recommend the black colour to anyone who wants a modern fitting, high-performance outdoor trouser, while the Brown Malt is a more fashionable option. Either way, they’re the sort of trousers that are so comfortable you never want to take them off.

Key specs – Weight: N/A; Waterproofing: DWR; Material: 83% Polyamide, 11% Elastane

Buy now from Adidas


4. Quechua MH500: The best value walking trousers for men and women

Price: £30 | Buy now from Decathlon

The days of Decathlon being sniggered at by outdoor industry snobs are over because it now has the buying power and expertise to produce high-quality kit at a fraction of the price of its competitors. There’s a reason it’s the world’s largest outdoor brand.

And with the MH500 trousers, it has designed a pair that works far harder than the price would suggest. Available in male and female fit, they’re light (300g for men’s including a metal clasp belt) and boast a clean, slim-not-skinny fit. With 15% elastane there’s plenty of give, too, and we even wore them climbing and were very impressed by the bi-stretch fabric.

Like the Arc’teryx, they lack any serious waterproofing, and without air vents they do run a bit hot if you’re working hard or the sun is shining, but for the price we really can’t grumble.

Key specs – Weight: 300g; Waterproofing: N/A; Material: 85% Polyamide, 15% Elastane

Buy now from Decathlon


5. Fjallraven Keb Agile Trousers: The best walking trousers for summer

Price: £185 | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

Anyone familiar with Fjallraven’s outdoor clothing will have come across the fantastic Keb trousers, made from super-tough waxed cotton. They boast durability rarely found on walking trousers and when the weather turns cold again, they're highly recommended.

But in warmer climates, they’re just too hot, which is why we’re only too happy to recommend the Keb Agile, a new addition to the Fjallraven family that boasts the same versatility but in a much lighter, more breathable fabric.

With a generous amount of stretch from the G-1000 Lite Eco Stretch panels, these are incredibly comfortable trousers for all-day wear, they have a generous number of pockets, including two big enough to stash a map. Just like the thicker Keb trousers, the stitching is reassuringly tough – not always the case with lightweight walking trousers – so we fully expect these to survive years of abuse.

Yes, they’re expensive, but you do get what you pay for. Fit is true to size, if not a little generous, and the tapered leg looks good with walking boots, and can be cinched in. But possibly our favourite feature here is the inclusion of two air vent zips on the thigh, which help you dump heat when working hard.

Key specs – Weight: 414g; Waterproofing: N/A; Material: G-1000 Lite Eco 89% polyamide, 11% elastane

Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor


6. Haglofs Rugged Flex Pant Me: The best slim fitting walking trousers

Price: £140 | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

These all-season, ultra-durable pants from Haglofs are some of the most comfortable and versatile we’ve tried. The four-way stretch polyamide fabric has extra-stretchy panels where they're needed most – around the bum and knees – which just adds to the comfort.

While not technically waterproof, the fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment means the occasional shower happily runs off and has the benefit of staying cleaner for longer as splashes of mud will slide off.

The fit is trim, verging on the skinny, with a tapered cuff, but they don’t feel or look overly tight. Any excess material on the hem can be reined in with Velcro straps, which is handy if you’re cycling. Pockets are all zipped, which isn’t especially comfortable if you’re someone who likes to mooch with your hands in your pockets, but these are meant for adventure.

Key specs – Weight: 410g; Waterproofing: DWR; Material: 95% polyamide, 5% elastane

Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor


7. Berghaus Men’s Ortler 2.0: The best for staying cool when working hard

Price: £75 | Buy now from ASOS

This is a solid pair of walking trousers from a classic British outdoors brand that offers superb levels of breathability thanks to two generous air vent zips. They also benefit from a DWR waterproofing layer so you should stay protected from all but the most severe of downpours.

Don’t underestimate the benefit of the ventilation zips, which really can make all the difference if you’re moving fast when the sun shines.

Other benefits here include a nice level of stretch, articulated knee sections, so you won’t be restricted when scrambling over stiles, or up trees for that matter. While the classic jean pockets are quite shallow (too small for your phone) there is a handy zippered security pocket for small valuables. One tip though, while they are true to size, if you’re at the upper end of that range, we suggest going up in size as there’s only a popper fastening rather than a button or clasp which might pop open if the trousers are snug.

We also love the fact that Berghaus offers free repairs on all of its products, even those that have been handed down, and if it can’t repair it, it will offer a discount on a replacement.

Key specs – Weight: 284g; Waterproofing: DWR; Material: Bluesign Nylon

Buy now from ASOS


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