There are so many pairs of pants in the outdoor market, and it can seem like an endless venture to try and find a good pair. I have drank countless cups of coffee, spent so many hours researching, and trying on pairs of pants in the field. Some pants performed well and others not so much. In this article I am using those hours of research and on the field testing to create this list of the 6 best hiking pants for men in 2023.
Over the last couple years and counting I have researched and physically tested 9 pairs of the top hiking pants on the market. I make it my mission to continue to test and update this list as needed. I spend time analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each pair out on the trails and perform some controlled “lab” tests to challenge the features of the pants.
When creating this list I focus on hiking pants that I find to have good value to performance ratio. And that works well on the trail with the best comfort, durability, features, and wear in various temperatures.
Unfortunately, when it comes to hiking pants, everyone has different needs and there is not a single pair that works for everyone. So, to help you find a pair that will fit your needs I have put my favorite pants into categories that they excel in.
Best Hiking Pants for Men at a Glance
6 Best Hiking Pants for Men in 2023
Hiking pants can really make a hike more or less enjoyable. I have tried pants that just plain out didn’t fit right. And some that were just way too hot and not breathable enough. In this list is what I believe to be the best hiking pants you need to consider making your outdoor venture more comfortable.
Outdoor Research Ferossi
Best for Hot Weather
- MSRP: $99
- Weight: 10.1 oz (size 32/30)
- Fabric: 86% nylon, 14% spandex 90D ripstop
Try Outdoor Research Ferrosi
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is all around one of my favorite pairs of pants when it comes to durability, comfort, and breathability. The pants are the best so far in breathability making it our top pick for hiking in hot weather. Recently the Ferrosi Pants went through an update which has improved these pants compared to previous years.
The new updated Ferossi pants are made with improved fit although I did find the front pockets to be a bit more shallow than before (minor con). The fabric is now made more sustainable and has improved durability compared to the previous pair. Fabric is still highly breathable which makes this still a great pair of pants to wear in hot weather.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are incredibly comfortable, offer a high degree of mobility, and keep you cool. They are made of durable ripstop fabric and incorporate a good amount of spandex that make them very mobile. We found that they provide high mobility for hiking and backpacking trips. They are also very light, thin, highly breathable, and have drawcord cinch cords that allow the pants to be rolled up during hot weather.
Read more: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants review
REI Co-op Activator 3.0
Best Winter Hiking Pants
- MSRP: $99
- Weight: 14 oz (size 32/30)
- Fabric: 63% nylon, 26% Polyester, 11% Spandex
Try REI Co-op Activator 3.0
The REI Co-op Activator 3.0 is an excellent pick for those early spring, winter, and late fall hikes. The Activator 3.0 really performs well due to its durability, warmth, and useful features. I found the fabric blend for these pants to work pretty well. The pants did not restrict movement though felt a little heavy compared to others on this list.
I was most impressed by the features on these pants, I really liked the angled front pockets which made it easier to pull out items from the pockets. Although I enjoy these pants, I often find that I am somewhat limited to their use to only cooler temperatures due to how warm they can get. In warmer temperatures they do have cinch cords at the legs to roll up this does help with the ventilation some. Overall, I have found this to be my favorite pick for winter and shoulder season hiking.
Best for Trail to Town
Try Kuhl Deceptr
The Kuhl Deceptr hiking pants are an awesome lightweight pants with a modern tapered fit and multiple pockets that work well for the outdoors. I found these pants to be super comfortable and highly stretchy. In fact, these are probably the most stretchy pants I have worn which allow for minimal restrictions for ascents and functional movement.
The pants are a little rough feeling this is due to the ripstop material. But the ripstop also adds durability to the pants. There are multiple features on these pants. I really found the side drop pockets to be useful for my phone and other personal items. Overall, the Kuhl Deceptr are an awesome pick for multiple situations and make a useful trail to town hiking pants.
Read more: Kuhl Deceptr Pants Review
Columbia Royce Range Pants
Best for a Budget
- MSRP: $65
- Weight: 10.8 oz (size 32/30)
- Fabric: 96% Nylon, 4% Elastane/spandex
Try Columbia Royce Range Pants
An excellent pair of pants for when you are on a budget. The Royce Range pants by Columbia are lightweight with a modern tapered fit. I found them to be very comfortable with a good stretch. The elastane blend provides good stretch minimizing restrictions for ascending up inclines and various terrain.
I found these pants to be fairly breathable and an excellent choice for three season weather. The pants are not the most durable though but they have been able to resist wear and tear on fairly groomed trails. These pants are more in the minimalist style with few features: front, back pockets, and small coin/watch pocket. Overall, the Royce Range is my favorite for a budget hiking pants and I have used them as a trail to town pair also.
Read more: Columbia Royce Range Pants Review
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro
Best Cargo Pants
- MSRP: $90
- Weight: 12.2 oz (size 32/30)
- Fabric: 94% Nylon, 6% Elastane/spandex
Try Eddie Bauer Guide Pro
The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants are tapered fitting hiking pants with a loose fit from the knees to the ankle. I found the pants to be made with a good fabric blend comparable to other pants on the market. The pants do fit on the more loose side but comfortable. If you are someone who has bigger thighs or just wants a more loose fitting style pants the standard Guide Pro pants would probably work for you.
The fabric blend allows these pants to be fairly breathable, durable, and not restrictive. I found the pocket features to be the biggest plus, with two large side zip pockets for plenty of storage. Overall, the pants are a great value to performance especially those looking for ample storage options.
Read More: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants
Kuhl Renegade Rock Pants
Best for Scrambling
Try Kuhl Renegade Rock Pants
The Renegade Rock pants by Kuhl are hands down my favorite for scrambling on the trail or climbing. I find that these pants stay comfortable while also remaining resistant to wear and tear. Just like other pants on the market these pants offer basic weather resistance with a DWR coat and UPF 50+ rating.
Overall, I am surprised by the features of the Renegade Rock pants. When it comes to carrying space on these pants there are a lot of options. I found the side zip and side drop pockets super useful. And when I got warm, I would just cinch up the bottom of the pants for added ventilation. Minor cons are that these pants are limited mostly to 3 seasons use and a bit snug for layering due to the tapered fit.
To evaluate hiking pants I look at multiple metrics such as: mobility, breathability, versatility, weather resistance, and overall features. I challenge and test these metrics with on the field testing in various conditions. I also do further “lab” testing in which I conduct a spray test to further challenge the weather resistance. Movement testing conducted to further challenge mobility. Though I do mostly rely on the field testing because it correlates more to real application.
When I look at mobility I am assessing how well the hiking pants will move with the body. This is easily one of the most important factors because a pair of pants that causes restriction with mobility will ultimately be uncomfortable. Thus will probably ruin your experience out on the field.
In my field testing I want to really feel whether the pants ride up, rub at the thighs or waist, or feel restrictive. While most hiking pants with a fabric blend with spandex or elastane tend to be more minimally restrictive. I have found this to not always be the case. Pants style and fit also play a big role in the mobility of hiking pants making hands on testing the best way to really test function.
When it comes to comparing the best men’s hiking pants, breathability is a critical factor to comfort and function. Depending on the use of the pants, having good breathability is an important factor when wearing a pair of pants in the warmer months. Breathability is what makes the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shine in hot weather.
Pants that have good breathability have features that improve ventilation such as lightweight fabric, mesh pockets, and cinch cords at the ankles. All these added features are critical if you are planning on wearing a pair of hiking pants in the heat. When I evaluate a hiking pants ability I do so by wearing those pants in field testing during hot temperatures and analyze the ability of the pants to wick sweat from the legs.
Other pants that have slightly above average breathability are the Royce Range pants and Kuhl Deceptr. They would also be good picks for warmer weather. I have used the Royce Range pants in up to 80 degree days without a problem. Though I usually prefer running shorts when it’s above 60’s the Outdoor Research Ferrosi is a great pick when you need more leg coverage
In regard to versatility this is the assessment of how well hiking pants can function in various conditions. When I look at versatility it is mostly how well the pants work for hiking to camping or even going into town. Most often the most versatile pants are able to look good while also being functional for outdoor wear and other activities.
When I look at how well a pants can perform, versatility is usually a specialty factor that I do not weigh very heavily. Most pants can work for most conditions. There are some pants that have features that make them better at functioning in various scenarios. For example the Kuhl Deceptr and Royce Range pants both do a good job at this. However, the Kuhl Deceptr excels with durability, excellent mobility, and a modern tapered design. Thus, making it a versatile pant for hiking, town use, and various outdoor activities.
When it comes to analyzing the best men’s hiking pants you want to make sure you will be protected in the elements. In tests I often focus on outdoor testing by wearing the pants in wet conditions as frequently as possible.
Then I resort to a more controlled test where I spray water on a pair of pants to see how the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating is performing. Ideally the DWR should be able to repel water forming beads and the beads of water should roll off. Note, that over time you will have to reapply the DWR.
Designing weather resistant pants can be tricky for most companies. Because ideally you want to provide some DWR but you do not want to make the hiking pants so water resistant that you sacrifice breathability. Overall, the majority of the hiking pants in the market should have at least a DWR coating and a UPF of at least 50+. This just tends to be the standard from what I have seen across the board for the top hiking pants.
Also, another factor to note is the DWR coating is designed to keep you dry enough in the instance of a downpour so you can put on rain gear. DWR is not designed to make the hiking pants waterproof or to replace rain gear when out in the backcountry.
Pants that really excel in weather resistance are the REI Co-op Activator 3.0. These pants are a bit heavier than others on this list and are a bit less breathable. But, with that tradeoff are more wind and water resistant. The added thickness provides a bit of extra durability as well.
When it comes to comparing the features of the best men’s hiking pants, features are like the cherry on top. Good and useful features can really maximize the user’s outdoor experience. Some common features found on hiking pants are; the number and type of pockets, built in belts, drawstring, belt loops, roll up snaps or cinch cords, mesh pockets, and ripstop fabric.
My favorite features are deep pockets that can fit my six inch phone. (I wish phones would get smaller but that is not the case anymore!) Pockets that I find useful are zippered pockets and drop pockets. I really like zippered pockets because they are more water tight. Also, roll up or cinch cord features are super useful in adding ability to ventilate pants in warmer weather.
Pants with the most pocket features on this list are the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants and Kuhl Renegade Rock pants. They have multiple pockets and both feature two side zip pockets on both sides which are super useful for storage. The Ferrosi, Kuhl Deceptr, and Co-op Activator 3.0 are a little more minimal with one zip pocket. The Renegade Rock, Co-op Activator 3.0, and Ferrosi all have cinch cord bottoms which are helpful for added ventilation. Out of this list the most minimal hiking pant is the Columbia Royce Range that has very few features.
Hiking Pants vs Shorts
It can often be hard to pick shorts or hiking pants. Wearing hiking pants will offer many advantages such as sun protection. And, also protection against abrasion from branches, brush, and/or rocks.
Shorts are great for those trails without a lot of brush or branches. They offer much more mobility and breathability during warmer hikes. But, during those in between seasons or temperatures it can be hard to pick between shorts and hiking pants.
During these in between seasons or temps. Layering becomes an effective solution which allows for the best of worlds. Though, if you tend to get hot or don’t like the layer idea. You may benefit from convertible hiking pants. Which works great since you can easily swap between styles.
Hiking with Jeans
Most people ask about hiking in jeans, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with hiking in jeans. Most modern jeans are a blend of cotton and elastane so offer good durability and movement. For the most part you could definitely hike in jeans and be comfortable on a short hike with good weather.
Before synthetic blended pants people hiked in jeans all of the time. If you are planning to hike in jeans. I would recommend not hiking in cold/wet weather. Also, I wouldn’t recommend hiking in jeans for long strenuous trails. But, short hikes with good weather jeans would be alright but, not hiking pants will be the best option.
It can be difficult to decide on a good pair of hiking pants due to how many exist on the market these days. But, I hope that this guide of the best men’s hiking pants will make deciding a lot easier for you. Look forward to seeing you out on the trails!