How to Choose Hiking Pants

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyIf you’ve ever hiked in blue jeans, you know that they just weren’t made for the trail. Jeans are heavy, restrictive, they don’t breathe well, and they’re uncomfortable while hiking. And that’s before they get wet. Here is some information that can help you know how to choose hiking pants.

Material

Material is arguably the most important thing to look at when it comes to choosing hiking pants. As a general rule of thumb, you want to choose synthetic materials and avoid cotton (which includes denim and khaki).

Synthetic is the way to go for hiking pants as it is fast drying and comfortable. Hiking pants are made from many different synthetic textiles that offer a wide range of features.

Virtually every outdoor clothing brand has their own special blend of fibers that they claim makes the best material for hiking pants. The best way to choose the fabric that’s right for you is to get your hands on a few different pairs of pants and try them on.

Features

Different pairs of hiking pants boast different features such as windproofness, water resistance, four-way stretch, cinch closures at the cuffs, zippered pockets, etc.

Some of these features may matter more to you than others, so it’s important to take a close look at these details.

UPF is often listed as a feature on hiking apparel. It’s good to realize that all garments offer some type of protection from UV rays, even if it doesn’t have a UPF rating.

Design

Look for design elements that may improve mobility, comfort, or otherwise improve the pants.

  • Gusseting greatly improves range of motion.
  • Reinforcement in high-wear areas increases durability.
  • Pocket placement, or the number of pockets, may be important to you.
  • Convertible hiking pants have detachable pant legs which allow you to switch to shorts if the temperatures start to rise.

Weight

Season has a direct influence on the weight, or thickness, that you want in your pants for hiking.

A summer weight pair of pants is going to be lighter and more breathable than a winter weight pair of pants. This will greatly affect how comfortable you are while hiking.

Wearing winter weight hiking pants in the summer will be stifling, and summer weight hiking in the wintering will leave you shivering.

Fit

Fit is another important factor to consider. Almost every pair of hiking pants used to be baggy and loose-fitting. This has been changing over the years as many prefer a slimmer fitting pair of pants.

If you’re not used to wearing baggy pants, you may feel uncomfortable in loose pants on the trail. Similarly, you want want to stuff yourself into a skinny pair of trail pants if you’re used to having more room in your britches.

Again, the best way to choose hiking pants is by trying them on. Looking for a place to buy hiking pants in Northwest Arkansas? Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters and check out our selection of hiking pants, hiking apparel, and hiking equipment!

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