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Large pants blog

Gear Review: Hiking Pants

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Overwhelmed by all of the gear choices? Discover Outdoors guide Kevin Cafaro spends some time in a local gear shop trying to find the perfect hiking pants. Here he reviews a variety of pants from Prana, Eastern Mountain Sports, Mountain Hardware and Rab. Moral of this gear review? Never wear denim.


Since cold weather is finally here, and jeans are a no-no on the trail, now's a good time to invest in a solid pair of hiking pants.

Last week, I hit up Eastern Mountain Sports to pick up my own pair and learned a few things.

The biggest thing to consider is what you're going to use them for and how versatile you want them to be. I plan on doing hiking, skiing and climbing in them and want to wear them more than just in the winter.

Overall Winner
Prana Pants for men or women, accompanied by an under layer of spandex and a waterproof shell are a great option for winter hiking.

For men I recommend the Prana Men's Stretch Zion Pants. These basic pants are water resistant, quick dry, light, comfortable and a little stretchy. For women, I recommend the slightly heavier but equally comfortable Prana Women's Maya Pants.

Best Convertible Pants
A more affordable option is the EMS Camp Cargo Convertible pants for men or women. Personally, I didn't like the way they fit, but people seem to love them. In my books, the best convertible pant is the Mountain Hardware's Mesa pant. It's a slimmer cut than the Camp Cargo and there are more pockets for all my extras!

Winter Hiking / Ski Pants
I also spent some time looking at thicker pants like Mountain Hardwear's Returnia and Rab's Exodus. These types of pants are great for cold weather hiking and skiing. However they are more expensive and won't make it far into the spring, forcing you to drop bills on another pair as it warms up. Especially this winter, a thick pant like these is probably not going to be necessary.

What Not to Wear
As overwhelming as it might seem to figure out which pair of pants is the one, the bottom line is make sure you have a good pair of outdoor pants. Steer clear of denim and cotton. These will absorb water and chill you down on the trail. Synthetic and wool materials are the way to go. Also make sure that the pant has a scotch guard equivalent to repel water.

If you need more suggestions feel free to reach out to us at and we'll help you find the perfect pant.

Submitted by Discover Outdoors guide Kevin Cafaro.

Categories: Gear