Updated April 2017
Preparing for Spring hiking this year, we updated this review to continue bringing you comprehensive analyses of the best pants for hiking and general outdoor activity on the market. Two award-winning pants, from The North Face and Arc'teryx, have been updated to new versions. We highlight the differences between the models we reviewed and their successors in their respective individual reviews. Furthermore, each performance metric described in this review is now accompanied by charts to quickly compare and display the differences between products.
Best Overall Hiking Pants
Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
Versatile for hiking
Sports or casual wear
Great pocket options
Stitching gives way over time
Seam stitching not top notch
Crotch zipper too short
The returning champion was not unseated this year. Our favorite pant for hiking or backpacking remains to be the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible
, winning our Editors' Choice award for the second year running. These pants excel in pretty much any outdoor activity. The material is stretchy and comfortable, and thick enough to keep us warm in chilly weather. When temps heat up, unzip the lower leg section and you get a functional, stylish pair of shorts. These pants are designed to be durable, breathe well, and resist water, and our testing confirmed that these targets were met. The Stretch Zion Convertible scored the highest of any pant in our laundry heap and was the model we kept wearing on a daily basis. If you aren't into transforming pants into shorts, check out the pants-only version, the Prana Stretch Zion Pants
Read full review: Prana Stretch Zion Convertible
Best Bang for the Buck
The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible
Warm in colder climates
Good features and pockets
Baggy fit and lack of stretch
Convertible shorts a bit short (10")
The North Face confirmed that the Paramount Trail Convertible has replaced the Paramount Peak II Convertible, the latter of which we previously reviewed in hand. The design changes are minor, and we describe in detail the differences between both models in the individual review.
Ringing in at $70, The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible
pant combines high-performance with affordability. What it has that the other, less expensive pairs don't is durability, good weather resistance, and unique features. For these reasons, we award it our Best Buy Award. Whether you are hiking in warm or cold, dry or wet, the Paramount Trail Convertible has the versatility to keep you comfortable. While they are heavier than some of our other favorite models, these pants will last you the length of a thru-hike without coming undone at the seams. If you want the most durable pant for the least amount of money, then the Paramount Trail Convertible is the right choice.
Read full review: The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible
Top Pick for Wet Weather
Arc'teryx Gamma LT
Most water resistant
Not very versatile
Arc'teryx recently update the Gamma LT. The main changes are to the fabric, belt buckle, pockets, and length. We expect performance to be essentially the same, if not better, in this new version. See the individual review for details on the differences between the newer and older models.
While the Arc'teryx Gamma LT
pant may be one of the least versatile pairs tested, there is no doubt this pant will protect you the best for hiking, trekking, or backpacking through inclement weather or wet climates. For that reason, we are happy to give it our Top Pick Award for Wet Weather. The thin, stretchy nylon and elastane feels slick, like a rain shell, and performs similarly. The DWR coating is durable and helps shed water, while the nylon weave is non-absorbent. They dry out fast after a shower, too. No pant had more attention to quality than the Gamma LT; they have proven to be among the most durable pants you can buy. For the right conditions, we think this pant is worth every penny.
Read full review: Arc'teryx Gamma LT