Whether you’re planning a long hike out in the wilderness or are trying to ramp up your hiking wardrobe game, investing in a quality pair of waterproof hiking pants is a must. Not only will the best waterproof hiking pants keep you warm and dry while out on the trail, but they’ll also protect you from the elements to help ensure bad weather doesn’t slow you down.
Keep reading for a thorough waterproof hiking pants buying guide, plus the best waterproof hiking pants you’ll be itching to add to your gear for your next grand adventure.
Here’s what you need to know about shopping for waterproof hiking pants.
As with any type of hiking apparel, the first step in the process of shopping for the best waterproof pants is to consider what your usage will be. Then, you can decide what waterproof pants are best suited to your hiking needs.
For example, what sort of climate do you plan on hiking in? Are you going to be hiking and climbing in heavy rain? Or, do you simply want your waterproof pants to provide an extra barrier of warmth and dryness in case you run into some unexpected showers? Perhaps you’re going to be hiking a snowy mountain and need an extra barrier or protection?
There are different types of waterproof hiking pants to meet an array of user needs. There are waterproof pants that are designed to be standalone pants, while there are others that you can easily wear over your regular hiking pants.
For ease of use, you might prefer an all-in-one pant that will serve as a durable hiking pant on the road and keep you dry from the rain and other weather elements. However, the choice is ultimately a matter of personal preference.
The fabric is a very important factor to consider when shopping for the best waterproof hiking pants. You want to ensure that the fabric itself is sufficiently waterproof to guard against inclement weather, but it also needs to be light and breathable enough that you won’t feel weighed down on the trail.
The best waterproof hiking pants sport ventilation features to let air through and ensure sweat doesn’t gather. If a pair of waterproof hiking pants have insufficient ventilation, you’ll likely end up getting wet, sweaty, and just downright uncomfortable.
The fit is another key aspect to bear in mind when on the hunt for the best waterproof hiking pants. Of course, you want to pick the right size, but the fit itself is an important aspect to consider. The best waterproof hiking pants will offer an excellent fit at the waist, while still being loose and breathable enough in the legs that sufficient air flows through.
For moderate to heavy hikes, you’ll probably be wearing your hiking boots, which will create added bulk. The best waterproof hiking pants will fit over your hiking boots without excess bunching.
As a rule of thumb, your waterproof pants should fit nicely over your regular hiking gear, with an elastic band that cinches at the waist but is expandable enough to give you breathing room.
Weight is also a critical aspect of shopping for the best waterproof hiking pants. You should be able to pack your waterproof hiking pants without issue, and they shouldn’t weigh you or your pack down. Not all waterproof hiking pants are created equal, and some are definitely bulkier than others, so keep this in mind when shopping for the right pair to meet your needs.
Remember, layering is essential, and your waterproof gear is the outside layer to protect you from any weather elements you come up against. If you’re going on a long hiking trip and might be dealing with some stormy weather, you should always keep your waterproof pants in your pack. That way, you can easily grab them to layer on at a moment’s notice if need be.
Side zips are a very important feature to look for, as they make pulling your waterproof pants on and off over your boots a total breeze. If you purchase waterproof hiking pants designed to be worn over your regular hiking pants, those side zips can make all the difference and save you a little extra time to boot.
If you run into an unexpected raincloud, you’re probably not going to feel like doing battle with your waterproof pants just to pull them over your gear. Alternatively, some waterproof hiking pants feature buttons rather than side zips, which are also great for user-friendly access.
Ventilation is another key feature you want to see when hunting for the best waterproof hiking pants. Most of the time, long side zips or buttons are going to provide the ventilation you need, so you can close the sides of your pants all the way or leave them slightly open at the bottom to let air through.
Here are the top 5 waterproof hiking pants you’ll want to consider for your gear.
These best waterproof hiking pants by The North Face are not only highly durable but very affordable as well. They are super lightweight, which makes them a great choice for activities ranging from moderate hikes to snowboarding and skiing. We liked the zipper that runs halfway up each pant leg, so you can pull these on and off over your hiking footwear with ease.
The seams are 100% taped while the pants offer a relaxed fit to give you plenty of freedom of movement. The pants sport 2 zipper pockets and a comfortable elastic waist with a drawcord. A huge plus for us was the fact that these waterproof pants weight just 8.1 ounces. That said, they are a bit bulky so they could take up extra space in your gear.
We liked that the North Face Men’s Venture 2 Half Zip Pant dries quickly and is highly resistant to wind elements. These pants look really stylish without sacrificing user functionality, with an added cut at the knee for further mobility.
The next best waterproof hiking pants on our list are these Torrentshell Pants by Patagonia. If you want a simple, waterproof pant that will be easy on your wallet but still get the job done, these could be just what you’re looking for. They are very breathable and light to wear, weighing in at a mere 10 ounces. We love the elastic waistband and quality regular fit that will serve you well for many outdoor excursions.
We like that these pants feature articulated knees for a more comfortable fit and water-resistant side zips that run from the cuff to the thigh. You’ll have no problem slipping these waterproof hiking pants over your regular hiking pants and boots. We also really liked the dual zip pockets that offer extra space for storage or to keep your hands warm if you need to.
One thing we would say is that these pants are a bit noisy, with an interior that feels very much like plastic despite being manufactured from ripstop nylon. However, for newer hikers or anyone who wants a more affordable option, the Patagonia Mens Torrentshell Pants could be for you.
The Marmot Minimalist Pant lives up to its name, with simple yet functional features to suit a wide range of hiking needs. These pants feature taped seams, dual zipper pockets, a handy elastic waist, and a quality regular fit that will be nice and comfortable when you’re out on the trail.
We loved the durable Gore-Tex material of these pants, that are very resistant to wear and tear but super breathable too.
These pants will give you plenty of mobility when you’re in the great outdoors, without looking overly baggy. One element we noticed is that the elastic in the waist region is only installed in the back. There also aren’t any belt loops built into the pants, so depending on your preference that could cause annoyance.
Another important thing to note is that while you can pull these pants on and off over hiking footwear, you won’t be able to do so with larger hiking boots. So, if you tend to wear smaller hiking footwear on the trail no problem, but you’ll have to take the time to pull bulky hiking boots on and off if you want to wear these waterproof pants.
The next best waterproof hiking pants selection on our list is this lightweight pair by Outdoor Research. Manufactured from durable, yet breathable Gore-Tex material and weighing in at just 11 ounces, can you easily slip the Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Pant into your pack, no problem.
We really liked the elastic waist with a drawcord that ensures the pants are fitted but loose enough to give you plenty of breathing room on long hikes. These waterproof pants are easy to slip on and off as you need to, designed from high-quality 50D face fabric that will keep you nice and dry. We loved the attachment features on the waistband that you can attach suspenders to if you so desire (suspenders are sold separately).
These pants feature a waterproof zipper that runs up three-quarters of each pant leg, which means you can slip these on and off over your regular hiking pants without issue. We also liked the back-zipper pocket that gives you a little extra storage space and the pant seam tape for additional waterproofing. The cuffs of these waterproof pants feature a closure with a hint of elasticity to give you plenty of wiggle room.
The final best waterproof hiking pants selection on our list is the Helly Hansen Men’s Legendary Ski Snow Pant. No matter what kind of damp conditions you’re facing, whether it be rain, sleet, or snow, these waterproof pants will see you through.
They are manufactured from the Helly Hansen proprietary Helly Tech Performance material, featuring a waterproof layer that can withstand a water column up to 10,000 mm.
The bottom portion of the pants features a tougher material that is resistant to wear, tear, and weather elements. We really love the fully taped seams and adjustable waistband with belt loops for extra functionality. These pants sport mechanical ventilation too, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuffy or clammy when wearing them.
The Helly Hansen Men’s Legendary Ski Snow Pant is a highly dependable choice that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. They are also not too bulky, so you won’t feel weighed down when scaling that lofty mountain or rugged peak.
Each of the 5 best waterproof hiking pants on our list offers something for every hiker, novice and expert alike. In our opinion, after careful research and reviewing, the final winner from the list would have to be the Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Pant.
These waterproof hiking pants met all our key criteria, from a lightweight design that you can easily fit in your pack to quality 50D face fabric to three-quarter length waterproof zippers for ventilation and functionality.
The elastic waistband and seam tape incorporated into the design is another huge plus that provides hikers with comfort and long wear durability. For comfort, convenience, and compactness, the Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Pant is an easy win.