A good pair of winter hiking pants is not an easy piece of gear to find. One the one hand they need to be able to keep up with rain, snow, mud and the other ugly conditions that you often find in the winter. But they also need to be comfortable, and to do a half decent job of breathing, so that you don’t end up overheating. Finding that perfect pair of winter hiking pants can be hard, but it’s certainly not impossible, and there are some definite good choices out there.
Winter Hiking PantsWhat you will likely want from a pair of winter hiking pants.
- Waterproof – Depending on the conditions you’re hiking in, it might be a good idea to look in to waterproof winter hiking pants. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the snow, for instance, or if you’re in a part of the world that experiences a lot of rain during the winter, then waterproof might be a good idea.
- Ventilation – Any time that you get clothing that is waterproof or even water resistant, you run in to breathability problems. So if you get winter hiking pants that are waterproof or water resistant, it would be a good idea to get pants that have some sort of ventilation option as well, so you don’t end up overheating. Breathable fabric, at a minimum, is something that you will want.
Best Winter Hiking PantsSome of the very best winter hiking pants, for both men and women.
Men's Winter Hiking Pants
- Arc'Teryx Alpha SL Rain Pants - If you want a well built, solid pair of winter hiking pants that will definitely keep you dry, the Alpha SL pants are a good choice. They're made with Gore-Tex Paclite, which is one of the more breathable versions of Gore-Tex. The knees and seat are both highly articulated, and the bottom of each leg has a long zipper so that you can take the pants on and off without taking your boots off. An all around great pair of pants, especially if you want Gore Tex.
- Patagonia Torrentshell Pants - The Torrentshell pants are more of a budget option, though still a good option for winter hiking. They're nylon, with a DWR finish, which puts them in the water resistant or semi-waterproof category. One benefit of this is that they are at least very breathable. They also have zippers on the lower legs, for easy on and off without having to take your boots off.
Women's Winter Hiking Pants
- Arc'Teryx Alpha SL Rain Pants - A very good option if what you want is the dependability of Gore Tex. These use Paclite, which is one of the more breathable version of Gore Tex, and a good choice for hikers who don't want overheated, sweaty legs. The knees are highly articulated, which is a nice feature to have for hikers who are moving around a lot, and the bottom of the pants have a zipper, so that you can put these on as a shell without having to take your boots off to do so.
- Patagonia Torrentshell Pants - These are slightly less than waterproof, being made of nylon with a DWR, or durable water repellent coating. But less waterproofing typically means more breathable, so if you want something that's water resistant and breathes well, these are ideal. And being just a DWR coated nylon, these are quite a bit cheaper than the Gore Tex option above. They also have a zipper on the lower leg, to facilitate taking the pants on and off without taking your boots off.