The Best Hiking Pants of 2024: Staff Picks

Whether you’re mountain climbing in the rain or urban hiking, these are the nine best hiking pants according to REI Co-op staff and members.

Ryan Wichelns|Updated March 11, 2024

Four hikers walk through rocky terrain in New Mexico

The pants you wear hiking should be a pretty forgettable piece of gear: You want them to feel like they’re one with your body instead of distracting you from the trail by bunching or snagging on branches. 

The best hiking pants will move with you as you crank out the miles, keep you comfortable and protect you from the elements. But there are a lot of hiking pants out there to choose from. We talked to the experts on our team and scoured member reviews to build the definitive roundup of the best pants to hike in, no matter where they take you.

The Stretch Zion II Pants from prAna have been a trail staple for years. The latest version is still flush with those loved details—lightweight material, stylish design, slim fit, office-friendly wrinkle-resistance—but now with a new, bluesign®-approved recycled nylon ReZion™ construction that's upped the durability and sustainability ante. These Stretch Zion II Pants are light and airy, perfect for warm days and shoulder-season hikes, but they're not flimsy: The recycled nylon is abrasion-resistant enough to take on the burliest bushwhacks. "I wear the Stretch Zion Pants Daily," says Kenny Duong, a planning assistant for REI Co-op merchandising. "Great for climbing, backpacking or daily wear. I can backpack and wear these pants for roughly three to five days straight and not worry about changing."

River crossing in your future? The pants are durable-water-repellent-treated and have leg snaps that make it easy to roll up the cuffs, which is equally useful on hot days. (They're also UV-protective, with a UPF 50 rating.) A closure at the waist makes it easy to tighten the Stretch Zion IIs down as needed, but the plastic buckle lays flat and doesn't get in the way of your backpack's hipbelt. According to REI Co-op members, these are some of the best pants anywhere. "Each detail impeccable," says one reviewer. "Best pants I've ever owned. Comfy and strong. Replaces all my jeans."

Comfortable, versatile, fabulous: These throwback bibs are our favorite women's hiking pants thanks to their expanded sizing, and unisex stylings make them crowd pleasers for all genders.

These rugged, relaxed-fit coveralls are ready to take on any trail twist or turn. The double-layer, reinforced cotton-poly-spandex blend ensures flexibility and durability in the knees and thighs, and the fab, quick-drying fiber will make these your go-to pants in all kinds of conditions.
"After buying two pairs in two weeks, I somehow convinced my coworkers to buy their own REI Co-op Trailsmith Hiking Overalls and now they're our team uniform," says Heather Young, senior manager of product copy at REI. "I like that the legs are slightly fitted/tailored—they still fit athletic thighs and calves, but they don't feel sloppy. Indoors, the stretchy straps make them comfortable when you're seated. Outdoors, they obviously excel. The double-layer knees hold up to gardening chores and I love them for chilly fall and winter walks because they keep my torso warmer without adding another bulky top layer." (You may want to size up to allow room for wearing a base layer if you're hiking, gardening or camping in cooler weather.)

Adjustable, elastic shoulder straps allow you to move freely and make taking these pants on or off a snap. A multitude of pockets, including one on the chest flap, offer ample space to stash your phone, headlamp or snacks, keeping your hands free to help you traverse varying terrain. (Also available in men's.)

Day hiking requires clothing that can go from town to trail and back. Enter the RecTrek pants from Outdoor Voices. These trousers are windproof, comfortable and durable thanks to moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch nylon-spandex fabric, making them ideal for hiking, climbing and camping. But these comfy mid-rise pants are stylish enough to wear while meeting up with your crew off the trail. They're also low-wrinkle, so they're the perfect travel companion. "They don't stretch out with multiple days of wear," says one customer, who bought a pair for traveling through Germany and Switzerland this winter. "Spills beaded up and blotted off easily," they add, though they warn the pants have "a bit of snow-pants swish when you walk."

The roomy, slightly cropped straight-leg pants feature an internal drawstring so you can easily customize your fit. The best feature may be the deep zippered pockets, which are useful (unlike other women's cut pants, with pockets that often don't even hold your keys) and can secure a larger cell phone.

Best Hiking Pants for Multiday or Technical Hiking

Fjallraven Keb Trousers Curved

Fabric 65% recycled polyester/35% organic cotton; stretch fabric 63% polyamide/26% polyester/11% elastane (women's), 80% polyamide/11% elastane (men's)

Sun-Protective Fabric No

Sustainability Features Contains recycled materials, contains organically grown materials

Add the Keb trousers from Fjallraven to your kit if you're looking for lightweight trekking pants that can handle any conditions. The durable, double-woven fabric offers extra protection for your legs whether you're doing multidays over rough terrain, bouldering or light canyoneering (and they feature openings for optional knee pads if you need a bit more cushion). The stretch fabric and zippered hip-to-knee openings allow for more comfort, ventilation and freedom of movement.

The organic cotton-recycled poly blend is light enough for summer treks, but can be worn over longies in the colder months. (Fjallraven suggests men consider sizing up, and women may want to refer to the size guide to determine fit, especially if this is their first pair of the brand's pants).

A maximalist design includes knees and cargo side pockets made from G-1000 Lite Eco Stretch material, which are a hit with functional-clothing fans. "I've worn them hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, in snow and rain and winter desert and they performed great in all of it," says one customer of the women's Keb trousers. "I was really surprised that even the stretchy fabric is so water resistant. It doesn't hurt that they also look great—I've worn them to work or even just around town in bad weather."

The men's standard cut has a sleek tapered leg, while the boot-cut women's model has been updated with a curved fit; both have removable boot hooks and are adaptable with Fjallraven Greenland Wax water repellent (sold separately). The women's Kebs are also loaded with extra features, like loops for attaching straps or stirrups and an attachment zone for suspenders.

Trekking is hard work, so having a rugged pant that can keep up is a must. For those moving fast or in hot weather, a sleek legging may be preferable. Those may sound like two different pairs of pants, but in a pair of Abisko Trekking Tights HD from Fjallraven, you don't have to sacrifice comfort for durability. These light but hard-wearing tights have reinforcements where you need them most: the bum and the knees. "I love the reinforced coverage on the seat—I feel like I can plop down anywhere without worrying about the fabric thinning or staining," says one reviewer after nearly a year of use.

The durable, double-knitted recycled-polyester stretch fabric wicks away moisture, and a nonfluorinated water-resistant finish keeps you dry rain or shine. A comfortable waistband with an inside drawcord offers comfort, adjustability and easy movement. Two generous leg pockets—one zippered and one with an envelope closure—keep items accessible and secure whether you're scrambling over rocks or sitting by the campfire at the end of the day.

Wallet-friendly and high-quality: That's what you get with a pair of lightweight, breathable Trailmade pants from REI Co-op. They're made from a durable, nylon-spandex blend that holds up even if you get snagged by a branch or stumble on rocky terrain. The durable water repellent-treated fabric also offers UPF 50+ protection. The articulated knees and gusseted crotch make movement easy and double-layer kickplates (reinforcement sewn in at the hems) at the ankles add durability. And they were designed to fit every body: Like the rest of the Trailmade collection, these hiking pants were made in collaboration with a diverse range of testers and partners to create a line that fits from XS to 3XL.

"As a petite girl, it's difficult to find pants in general that fit in length without tailoring. These do," says Christina Miller, a marketing program strategist for REI Co-op. "They also fit looser in the thigh, which is a struggle to find in outdoor gear for women to begin with. But these fit a thicker thigh and small waist without a gap."

In addition to easy-reach trouser-style hand pockets and drop-in back pockets, a zippered thigh pocket is plenty deep to secure items like your phone, headlamp or other trail essentials you want handy. An internal drawstring lets you tailor your fit, and leg bungees can be adjusted to accommodate your favorite hiking footwear. Clip your keys or sunglasses to the cord loop at the waistband. No wonder one reviewer from Massachusetts (who owns a pair in four different colors) calls them "the best pants ever!"

"This is the best trouser I ever wore in my entire life and the best one ever made in the history of trousers," raves one customer about the versatile Open Air pants from alder—and many members agree. These soft, stretchy slacks come in sizes XS to 6X and are thoughtfully designed by and for women who enjoy outdoorsy adventures. The flattering high waist and tapered, slightly cropped leg fit deliver durable comfort and flexibility for whatever activity you enjoy. "Most pants are either too small through the thighs or too large in the waist," says one customer. "I am 5' 8", 150 pounds, and the size L fits perfectly. The wide waistband and extra room in the seat and legs make these really comfortable." The Open Air pants are as stylish as they are functional, easily transitioning from rambling along the trail to sipping a post-hike mocktail. "I've worn them to both professional events and hiking," one customer says.

Cleverly placed pockets give you ample storage. Use the two front hand pockets to stash your cards or cash, while two zippered back pockets securely hold a phone or wallet. (Unzip them to reveal reflective strips.) The thigh pocket is a gamechanger for accessing the items you use most on the trail. Clip keys to the D-ring at the waist and you'll never have to rummage around in your backpack to find them again.


In June 2022, alder was the first recipient of direct equity investment through REI Co-op Path Ahead Ventures, which is part of the broader REI commitment to build a more inclusive, affirming and welcoming co-op, industry and society.

When you're looking for versatility and comfort on warm-weather hikes, zip-off convertible pants are hard to beat. Because they transition from pants to shorts easily, they're great for days that start cool and warm up with the sun; for hikes that vary in intensity level; and for water crossings. The Sahara Convertible Pants from REI Co-op are at the pinnacle of pants-to-shorts innovation thanks to vertical zip-up, vent-able legs that meet easy-use zippers above the knees. The pants have color-coded zippers to guide you in reattaching the right and left legs, and the women's Sahara Guide pant legs feature a zip-together feature that allows you to attach and store the two bottom pieces in your backpack.

A superlight nylon and spandex fabric is extremely breathable in hot temps and has a DWR coating for water-resistance. (The pants dry quickly if they get drenched). To keep the sun's harmful UV rays at bay, the material features a UPF 50+ rating. The Men's Sahara Convertible Pants feature front hand pockets, back pockets and two cargo pockets, one of which is zippered. The Women's Sahara Guide Convertible Pants have spacious, patch hand pockets, back pockets and a zippered right-side thigh pocket for extra storage without the bulkiness of cargo. (This pocket is only useful when they are worn as full-length pants.) The trousers are lightweight but durable and pack down to a stuffable size, making them ideal for traveling as well as for shoulder-season hiking.


We've all had those days where the rain never seems to end. Waterproof rain pants like the Stormline Stretch from Black Diamond can make adventures far more manageable even in a rainy slop. Black Diamond uses a proprietary BD.dry™ waterproof-breathable membrane (along with DWR coating) to stop the rain from getting in without making you feel clammy or damp while you're moving in them. "Excellent in hot climate," raves one member-reviewer. "Still can't believe how breathable they are on hot, humid days." The fabric includes elastane to provide a little bit of stretch—something that's sorely needed in rain pants, which are typically quite uncomfortably structured and rigid. The Stormlines move with you instead of against. Both legs feature a ⅓-length zipper at the hem, making them easier to get on over most hiking boots (a critical feature when the rain starts suddenly).

Note that you'll want to consider your layers as you size rain pants, as you'll be pulling them on over your other clothes: Some member reviewers found that they needed to buy the Stormline Stretch pants slightly larger for a more comfortable and protective fit.

Another best-in-class detail is the portability of the Stormline Stretch Pants: They pack down to just 8.3 ounces and stuff into their single back-right pocket, which means you can carry them anywhere just in case the sky opens up.

Buying Advice

Two hikers wearing Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights hike through rocky terrain.

You have a huge range of hiking pants to choose from, and you might want to consider having a collection in your wardrobe that will meet various missions at-hand. Start by thinking about fabric, fit and other features like sun protection and water resistance. 

Fabric

Most hiking pants are made from a combination of a few different synthetic fabrics including polyester and nylon, which are most pants’ core materials, as well as elastane and spandex. Nylon and polyester are both quick-drying and water resistant (though polyester often does a slightly better job, and increases resistance with a higher thread count). Nylon is often slightly more durable and absorbs fewer odors than polyester. Polyester dries more quickly than nylon and also retains slightly more heat, making it better for cold climates, but slightly warmer on hot days. Most hiking pants also feature some amount of elastane or spandex to provide a little bit of stretch. These two materials are very similar, so rather than seeking out one or the other, pay attention to how much is in the fabric blend to get a sense of the give and flexibility it will have. 

Cotton-based pants, such as denim, aren’t recommended for any but the shortest hikes: Cotton fibers absorb moisture, which can both chill you quickly and weigh you down. Read What to Wear Hiking for more detailed information about apparel fabrics and materials. 

Fit

Fit is extremely personal, and the best way to judge how a pair of pants will feel on your body is to try it on. To narrow down your preferences, check the description of how the pants are designed to fit. You’ll often see pants described as having a standard fit, a “relaxed” fit (baggier, looser) or a slim fit (closer-fitting and tighter). 

Aside from personal preference, consider how you’ll be using the pants. A slimmer fit might be preferred for activities like climbing or bouldering where you don’t want excess fabric getting in the way of your movements or visibility, while more relaxed pants might offer more comfort and breathability on technical or multiday hikes. Same with length: Longer hiking pants can offer extra protection against ticks and scratchy underbrush, while ankle-length or convertible pants can be more versatile in a range of temperatures and/or provide greater range of motion.

Features

When you’re choosing pants, consider features like pockets (their location, size, closure style, etc.), weatherproofing such as water- and wind-resistance, adjustability in cuffs and waistbands, whether or not the fabric has a UPF rating and sustainability features such as recycled materials or bluesign®-approved fabrics.

Your needs will vary based on the distance, duration and terrain of your hike, which is why many outdoorsy people prefer to have at least a small variety of options for pants. Top features don’t need to come at high cost, however, so always check the specs to learn more about how they are designed to perform.

Methodology

We huddled with a REI Co-op staffers and member-testers to crowdsource their favorite hiking pants across a range of categories, then used our internal expertise to whittle that list down to the selections you see here, our favorites.