A regular pair of hiking pants is fine for most conditions, but if you find yourself needing to do some serious hiking in some serious rain, hiking rain pants are a great idea. They’re not likely to breath as well as something like a standard pair of hiking pants, but then they will keep your legs and feet dry, unlike a pair of regular hiking pants. Just be sure that you have a good rain jacket to go with your hiking pants, and maybe an insulating layer to wear under your hiking rain pants as well.
Hiking Rain Pants
What to try and find from hiking rain pants.
Waterproof – Obviously, you want your hiking rain pants to be waterproof, or at least water resistant. As with any waterproof garment you need to pay special attention to what kind of fabric or coating is being used to provide waterproofing, because some will work a lot better than others.
Breathable – Anyone that has worn too warm an insulating layer on their legs knows that your lower body can overheat quickly. Which is why it’s a good idea to get hiking rain pants that are also breathable, so that your legs don’t overheat. It’s the combination of waterproof and breathable that is often a problem.
Best Hiking Rain Pants
Some of the very best hiking rain pants, for both men and women.
Patagonia Torrentshell Pants (Women's Version) - First up a great pair of cheap hiking rain pants. They're made with Patagonia's own H2No fabric, which will both keep you dry and breath well. Three zippered pockets are good for a few essentials, and zippered lower legs will help you get these on over top of boots. And when you don't need them, you can stuff them in to the back pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack, for easy storage.
Arc'teryx Alpha SL Rain Pants (Women's Version) - If you're looking for something a little more dependable, the Alpha SL pants are a great choice. They're made with Gore Tex Paclite, which is the 2.5 layer, more breathable version of Gore Tex. Like the Torrentshell pants above these have a long lower leg zipper so that you can get them on without taking your boots off. So another very good pair of hiking rain pants, especially if you would prefer Gore Tex.
Rab Drillium Pants - The Drillium pants are waterproof, but uses eVent, a fabric that doesn't get as much love as it should. What's good about eVent is that it's very breathable, which will help your legs stay free of sweat. Like the other two pairs they have a lower leg zipper, so that you can get them on over top a pair of boots or shoes. So a high quality pair of hiking rain pants, especially if you like to go at a good pace and need something breathable.