Hiking Trousers And Walking Trousers Guide
1 – Introduction To Walking & Hiking Trousers
A more recent development in hiking equipment are hiking trousers or walking trousers. Many people make sure that their upper body parts are protected. However, some don’t consider the fact that their lower body parts also need protection. Protecting your lower area is also important.
Most people know that they need to protect their feet but not all consider protecting their legs. Getting your legs wet will make you feel very uncomfortable and could change how you feel about your hiking trip.
Walking or hiking trousers are different from regular leg wear in that they are specifically designed to give a comfortable fit and provide protection against the elements together with other benefits. You could wear any trousers that you want and reach your destination, but you may not be very comfortable and it may take longer.
In good weather during low level hiking you could get away with wearing casual trousers or a tracksuit bottom. However, on longer hiking journeys they may rub and irritate you in ways they don’t during normal use.
Even when the weather is good you may be tempted to wear shorts. We suggest that you also take a pair of long hiking trousers with you in case the weather changes for the worse.
Contents On Trousers For Hiking & Walking
Use the following guide to aid you in your choice of hiking trousers or walking trousers:
- 1 – Introduction To Walking & Hiking Trousers
- 2 – Why Use Special Trousers For Hiking & Walking?
- 3 – Features Of Trousers For Hiking & Walking
- 4 – Some Brands Of Trousers For Hiking & Walking
- 5 – Summary On Walking & Hiking Trousers
2 – Why Use Special Trousers For Hiking & Walking?
Walking or hiking trousers are designed to provide the following benefits:
2.1 – Comfortable Fit
Consider the key areas before making your purchase:
- Leg – The best or ideal fit is where your hiking trousers are loose enough in the leg area to enable easy movement, but at the same time, not too loose or baggy so that they will flap around in the wind or cause mud to be rubbed up the inside of your leg. If you choose a fabric with more stretch in it then you can afford to choose a pair that has a snugger fit and still allows ease of movement.
- Waist – The waist area shouldn’t dig in but it needs to fit snug enough to make sure they stay up, even more important if you keep tings in your pockets. Hiking trousers that have elastic panels and a webbing belt that you can adjust, or at a minimum, loops for one, are more versatile.
- Knees – Some hiking trousers come with pre-shaped, or articulated knees which makes them easier to hike in.
- Leg Length – The bottom of the hiking trousers should not drag on the ground excessively as they could trip you up.
- Bottom Of Leg – The hiking trousers need to be wide enough at the bottom to go over hiking boots.
2.2 – Protection
If you want to feel comfortable on your hiking trips then consider hiking trousers with the following beneficial attributes:
- Water Resistance – Hiking trousers should repel light rain so you don’t get wet.
- Quick Drying – Hiking trousers should have a wicking action that enables them to dry quickly so you don’t stay wet too long if they do get wet.
- Wind Resistance – Hiking trousers should provide an insulation barrier against cold wind.
- Scratch Resistance – Hiking trousers should protect against abrasions like rubbing up against a tree or a rock. They should also protect you from getting scratched by thorny bushes, nettles and brambles.
2.3 – Fabric benefits
For hiking trousers to be comfortable the trouser fabrics should have the following beneficial properties:
- Lightweight – The lighter the material of the hiking trousers the less you will feel weighed down and the more energy you will conserve.
- Breathable – Hiking trousers should allow moisture and heat to pass through the material so that you don’t become overheated when wearing them.
- Durable – Strong, abrasion resistant material will last longer as will reinforced knees and seat. Hiking trousers should resist tearing on sharp rocks to thorny bushes.
3 – Features Of Trousers For Hiking & Walking
Walking and hiking trousers these days can be a little more complex than you think. Consider the following features before you purchase your next pair:
3.1 – Style
This can be either the Ordinary type or the convertible type, also know as zip-Offs:
- Ordinary – These usually look a bit smarter, are a little lighter, and not as expensive as convertibles.
- Convertible – These are more versatile as you can switch between shorts and long hiking trousers as conditions change between hot and cold temperatures. However, be careful of the fit. Make sure the zipper of the zip-off isn’t located mid thigh as this can be very uncomfortable if you are muscular and your legs are flexing when going uphill. Also, you could misplace the zip-offs, and if you regularly wash the shorts section without the zip-offs attached, you could end up with two-tone hiking trousers!
3.2 – Material Type
The two major choices here are:
- Technical Synthetics Or Poly-Cotton Fabrics – Synthetic fabrics tend to provide the best performance but some people feel that they are a little too plastic to the touch. A poly-cotton blend can work well if treated with a good DWR (durable water resistant) finish that will keep light rain off. Insect repellent and/or a sun protection treatment can be useful if you venture into hot climates.
- Cotton – Jeans are made from cotton but are not recommended for walking or hiking as:
- They Restrict Movement – They are usually a snug fit and usually made from non-stretch fabric which results in restricted leg movement and discomfort, particularly when climbing over stiles or when hiking on steep ascents or steep downhill sections.
- Wet Cotton Is Heavy – Jeans become very heavy if you get them wet and take a very long time to dry out. As a result, you would feel cold and clammy even after a light shower. They also become stiff and difficult to move in.
- They Cause Chafing – Apart from when getting your jeans wet, on hot sweaty days, the normal tight fit of jeans can cause unpleasant chafing.
3.3 – Pockets
Pockets are great for storing items you want to access quickly. If like me you carry a lot of personal items on you at all times then an important criteria is to have lots of pockets for separate storage of these items. There are a range of pockets available:
- Open Topped – Open topped pockets, either on the hip or seat of your hiking trousers are considered standard but are not very practical as you can’t keep much in them when walking and they are no secure.
- Security Zipped – Having as least one zipped pocket to keep your valuables like keys secure is highly recommended. These may be on the hip or on the seat of your hiking trousers.
- Cargo – These are large pockets on the leg for keeping items like a map, guidebook or other larger items readily available to use.
3.4 – Reinforcements
There are areas of hiking trousers where extra material is provided for more durability and protection and include:
- Knees and Seat – The knees and seat are the obvious areas of hiking trousers that get the most wear so they should be reinforced if you want them to last longer.
- Ankles – Some hiking trousers feature reinforced inner ankles to protect the hiker, for example, when using crampons during winter conditions.
3.5 – Vents
Some hiking trousers are provided with vents, usually zipped. These vents enable the hiker to release heat when walking conditions get too hot.
4 – Some Brands Of Trousers For Hiking & Walking
There are a plethora of walking or hiking trouser choices, from up market and trendy brands to your basic models.
There are a number of well known brand names that produce hiking trousers such as Craghoppers, Montane, Rab, Berghaus and Helly Hansen.
Other brands include: Regatta, Rohan, Royal Robbins, Mountain Hardware, Hawkshead, Peter Storm, Merrell, GoLite, The North Face, Paramo, Kathmandu, Lowe Alpine, Salomon, Patagonia, Mammut, Sprayway, Trespass and Marmot.
Whatever brand you choose, base your decision primarily on comfort, protection and durability, not just style or colour.
For a highly durable pair of hiking trousers, take a look at our article on Montane Terra Pants. If you want a great pair of all round hiking trousers then take a look at our article on Craghoppers Kiwi trousers. Take a look at our list of hiking trouser brands in our post entitled Best Hiking Trousers Brands.
5 – Summary On Walking & Hiking Trousers
Hiking or walking trousers are especially produced for people who love hiking or walking outdoors in all types of weather conditions and who want to remain comfortable and protected, that is, stay dry in wet weather.
Comfort and protection are very important and can influence the quality your outdoor experience. Ensuring you have the right hiking or walking trousers is a good initial step to ensuring you have a fun and relaxing time. If you prefer water resistance and greater breathability in your hiking trousers then the fabrics will cost more.
Also, the more pockets with zippers you have the greater the cost of the hiking trousers. Features also play a role in the choice of hiking trousers with security pockets and cargo pockets being great additions.
Walking or hiking trousers are growing in popularity and are the best way to protect your legs so include them in your hiking equipment list when planning your next hiking trip.