Let’s get straight to the answer. The best waterproof hiking pants are Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Pants. I love those for portability and protection. They are super comfortable to wear and are super durable. My second pick is Helly Hansen Legendary – they are super stretchable and comfortable to wear during hiking and bouldering as well.
Hikers have to deal with an unforgiving terrain and persevere harsh weather conditions to get to high peaks – sometimes even when it rains heavily.
For this, a standard pair of pants is just not going to cut it. That is why every serious hiker should get waterproof hiking pants.
Unlike regular pants, waterproof hiking pants are lightweight and breathable. Please read the sections below to see our top selections of waterproof hiking pants.
Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Pants – Our Pick!
We had to feature these pants at the top because they genuinely deliver portability and protection. Made with 40-denier nylon ripstop unlined fabric, they are lightweight and have an adjustable waist to fit any adult body size.
Each leg’s bottom has a zipper that allows you to fit the pants snug around your foot, thus preventing any water drops from finding their way inside.
The interior features PACLITE® Plus tech and is reinforced to increase durability.
The fly below the waist is zippered and snaps into place to ensure that it is sealed securely every time.
Helly Hansen Legendary – Also Great!
When it comes to comfort and freedom of movement, the Helly Hansen Legendary pants are the pants to go for. They come in a wide variety of colors. As such, you will find a color to match your terrain regardless of whether you hike in the woods, snowy mountains, or sandy desert hills.
These thoroughly seamed pants will protect you against water while the insulation works excellent to give you extra warmth during cold days. The breathable blue sign fabric enhances airflow during the hot days, making this pair of pants the ultimate hiking gear for unpredictable weather.
The pants are made with 2-layered, 2-way stretch fabric and feature thigh ventilation zippers. Both legs come with spacious side pockets for storage while the back has extra pockets to help you carry everything you need for your hiking trip. Users enjoy the sensation of optimized mobility with well-articulated kneepads on these pants.
The Outdoor Research Foray pants live up to their name. Designed for use in the tough outdoor conditions, you get these pants in color choices of brown for dusty outdoor grounds and black or grey for hilly climbs.
The 100% polyester fabric that is used to construct the Foray pants is machine washable and breathable for quick drying. The seam is fully taped while the legs feature laminated construction to make the pants windproof.
These pants have articulated knees and an elastic cord around the waist that allows them to fit snug on any waist size. Both legs’ exterior features ¾ length side zippers that allow you to open up the legs to increase breathability during hot days, and zip up to trap in body warmth during cold weather.
These pants feature a patented technology called OMNI-Tech that is unique to Columbia pants. The pants boast of fabulous air-permeable fabric, which is both waterproof and breathable.
The exterior features 100% water-resistant nylon while the interior has 100% polyester for warmth and comfort. Water is locked out from getting to the interior while air is allowed in to ensure you remain dry even during the sweltering afternoons.
You will love the handy features on these pants because it helps them adapt to the conditions outside. First is the drawcord-adjustable waist that allows the waist to fit tight on any waist size.
Then there is the bottom, which features adjustable cuff tabs to open up the bottom for extra breathability and lock the bottom of the legs to keep out nasty elements.
This is another splendid pair of pants from Outdoor Research. They come in black, brown, and grey colors, just like the Outdoor Foray pants.
These pants work great for hiking the outdoors during the day and night. The reflective logos and shiny helium body announce your presence in the dark, making sure you are not mistaken for a shadow by your hiking companions.
The 100% nylon fabric used on the exterior is both water and wind-resistant. The elastic waist guarantees extra comfort with drawcord and a gusseted crotch that fits varied body sizes.
The bottom features ankle zippers to fit the pants’ legs tight above the shoes while the back has spacious pockets to hold small hiking gear that you would like to access with ease.
The Marmot Precip pants will impress you with the ease of use you get when hiking with them. The 100% nylon fabric on the exterior is made with NanoPro™ technology that locks out large water droplets. It also releases moisture locked in the interior in the form of vapor keeping you dry.
The interior is lined with 100% polyester to keep warmth inside during the cold and rainy days. During hot afternoons, you can pop open the buttons at the bottom quickly to boost airflow in and out of the pants and to keep your legs drier and more relaxed.
The waist also has an enclosed elastic band that allows the pants to adjust to any adult-sized wearer’s waist size regardless of their waist size.
These pants are designed for men who like engaging in rigorous outdoor activities. Like the Women’s Storm surge pants, these pants feature the patented OMNI-tech technology that makes the 100% nylon fabric used on the exterior waterproof and breathable.
Because male hikers are more hands-on than female hikers, they require extra storage space in their gear and hiking clothes.
The Columbia rebel Roamer male pants come with zippered side pockets on both sides and extra open pockets at the back to hold any additional hiking accessories that don’t fit inside your hiking backpack.
The pants are available in multiple sizes, so you are sure to get a size that fits you without compromising on comfort.
The North face freedom pants are constructed for a wide range of uses. The multicolor options that you get when buying the pants allow you to pick the perfect color to go with your hiking environment.
The exterior is made using a dry vent shell that works hand in hand with the full seam design to lock out moisture and allow water vapor to escape from the interior. The interior features Heetseaker Eco recycled insulation, ensuring that you never have to worry about the cold weather when wearing these hiking pants.
Breathability is enhanced by the TNF Chimney Venting system used on the interior, which has excellent airflow for ventilation and optimized temperature control. The bottom has elastic grippers and gaiters that will keep snow and debris out of your boots.
Anytime your hiking takes you to snow-covered highlands, take these pants with you to experience uninterrupted hiking.
Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants are all-weather pants made to protect hikers throughout the year. Gore-Tex 3-layer laminate is used to make these pants water and snow proof. The extra padded seat, kneepads, and instep patches make the pants ideal for hikers who take on brutal terrains.
Fewer seams on the pants work to increase durability by protecting users against abrasion and chafing, while the easily adjustable inbuilt belt allows both small and large-waisted hikers to fit the pants.
With this pair, you are sure that you will never have to deal with the embarrassing open fly moments. This is because it comes with a welded front fly and adjustable nylon-webbing belt that fit your hiking pants tight.
With so much to love about these pants, you might find their price to be out of your budget. We recommend the Zeta SL Rain Pants from the same manufacturer, which come at a lower price.
Marmot has designed these pants with long-distance hikers in mind. They easily fold away into a convenient to carry size and effortlessly unfold when needed during rainy weather.
Made with 100% polyester GORE-TEX® Paclite fabric, these pants keep out moisture and have effective airflow design to keep the interior cool and dry.
The elastic waistband keeps the pants wrapped in place all day while the zipper with a snap-in enclosure guarantees that you are always covered.
The articulated knees give your legs the freedom to move naturally, while the covered zip pockets on both sides allow you enough holding space for all your small-sized hiking tools.
Ankle zippers ensure that you receive extra protection from flying water droplets that result from stepping on a puddle or huge raindrops.
The North Face Venture pants are constructed with optimized wind repelling and water-resistant capabilities.
The DryVent shell on the exterior complements the full seam design on the interior to completely lock out moisture and allow humidity inside to escape in the form of vapor.
An Eco-friendly approach has been used to select the 100% recycled nylon material. The exterior has been finished with a durable, water-resistant seal to allow you to walk in the rain without getting your legs drenched.
You can adjust the fit of the waist to your liking with the enclosed elastic waistband and increase breathability around the ankles by opening up the adjustable ankle tabs.
And when it rains, you can keep the droplets from getting inside your hiking shoes and socks by locking the ankle tabs, which snap into place to create a waterproof seal.
You will love the Mountain hardware four-way stretch pants if you love carrying your hiking accessories in a place that you can easily reach for them.
These pants come with the standard hand pockets on both sides that securely store the pocket contents behind a zipper and an extra-long zip-up pocket located on the right thigh.
The side zippers on the exterior of both legs go all the way from the waist to the bottom for comfortable wearing and removal. You will also have the option of securing the zippers in place at the waist with the Velco tab or at the ankles with the snap tab.
The Stretch Ozonic pants allow you freedom of movement with the four way stretch fabric and articulated knees that boost your range of motion. You don’t have to worry about the pants falling off.
The adjustable webbing belt secures the pants on your waist with a super comfortable fit.
The Torrentshell pants from Patagonia are for hikers who want to spend little time putting on hiking gear.
They have a comfortable stretch elastic drawcord waistband that allows a simple pull-on style. The elastic waist snaps right into place, holding the pants up during rigorous climbs.
The 2.5 nylon fabric used on the exterior is sealed using a durable water repellant finish to keep away water droplets and moisture while its breathable design pattern promotes sufficient airflow to keep you dry.
Articulated knees and soft fabric allow you to have unrestricted movement while the twin hand pockets on both sides keep your hands warm during the cold weather. The lower legs have adjustable hook lop cuffs to lock out water droplets from your shoes.
These pants are self-sustaining in terms of portability because they fit inside the left pocket with a lock-in clip.
Types of waterproof hiking pants
There are many types of hiking pants and knowing which pants to get for your hiking activities largely determines the experience you will get.
Look out for gender-specific pants that are made either for men or for women. While many manufacturers make unisex pants that can be worn by both genders, some pants, such as the Columbia Women’s Storm Surge featured above, are specifically made to fit female hikers only.
You also need to consider the hiking conditions when selecting the type of pants you want to buy. Insulated pants are suitable for hikers who are not stopped by the cold fall and autumn weather. Summer hikers may not find the insulation feature on hiking pants useful, but if they do come in handy when the night falls and finds the hiker outside.
Depending on your preferences, you can choose to go with lightweight, water-resistant pants that go over regular pants, or you could select hiking pants that have a waterproof exterior attached. The latter is more expensive for obvious reasons but will save you the trouble of putting on two pairs of pants when you are headed out for a hike.
How much you are willing to spend on the waterproof pants will determine the pants you finally buy. As such, it is good to scroll through online stores so that you get an idea of where the price for a quality pair of waterproof pants ranges. The bottom line when considering the budget is to know that quality and durability do not come cheap.
This, however, is not to say that you should buy the most expensive pants you find. You need to balance between the price and the features that the pants promise to deliver.
Remember that there is no need to spend so much on a pair of pants with features that you do not necessarily need in your hiking.
The material used to make waterproof pants is a crucial factor to consider when buying hiking pants. After all, the material influences comfort in a significant way.
The best materials for hiking pants should be breathable. This means that the material should allow the free flow of air in and out. The free flow of air reduces the build-up of sweat by allowing your body to cool.
The material also affects how the pants’ surface reacts to water. Waterproof materials used on hiking pants allow you to walk in the rain without getting soaked.
The quality of the pants you intend to buy should concern you before spending any money on a pair and not after. To do this, check out the quality of the seams that hold the fabric together. Well-stitched pants will serve you for a long time without tearing, while poorly stitched pants rip easily.
An excellent way to know if you are purchasing a quality pair of pants when shopping online is to peruse through user comments. Many positive reviews about a particular pair of pants will point to the pants being of high quality. Disregard pants with many complaints or low ratings on the online stores where they are sold.
Clothing brands that have been providing outdoor gear for a long time are ranked top by hikers, bikers, and skiing enthusiasts. Known brands, such as Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and Columbia, feature prominently among the most popular clothing brands for hiking pants.
Buying clothes from the top brands assure you of getting value for money. Be keen to avoid cheap knockoffs that try to mimic top quality brands. The easiest way to be sure that you are getting the right pants is to shop directly from the brands or through trusted stores like Amazon.
You should look out some additional features for when buying waterproof hiking pants, including ankle fasteners and side zips along the exterior sides of the pants’ legs. The ankle zips enhance water resistance capability by locking out droplets.
The side zippers allow you to put on the pants and remove them without forcing you to take off your shoes.
Lastly, consider the portability of the pants. Portable pants that easily fold into a small size are a great backup when your hiking is interrupted by rain.
The ease of carrying such pants allows you to carry them along without adding to your hiking gear’s weight and only use them when it rains. If you prefer hiking with pants, built-in waterproof seals, portability is not an issue for you since you wear the pants throughout.