After walking boots, walking trousers are the next item of outdoor kit to have on the gear list. While it’s true you can go out walking in any old pair of trousers, for true comfort and protection from the Great British Weather you need dedicated walking trousers.
Why? Well, for starters proper walking trousers are made from materials which are both lightweight and waterproof – meaning you’ll be dry whatever the weather throws at you. And unlike jeans, which get very cold, stiff and heavy when wet, walking trousers dry remarkably quickly and still retain their shape and comfort.
Walking trousers are characterised by a seemingly infinite number of pockets – essential for storing the things all walkers need to have close at hand. Zipped pockets are best, and the more advanced trousers will have flaps over the tops of pockets to keep out the rain.
Some have articulated knee sections to aid movement – especially up and down mountains – and many now have built-in sun protection, sometimes up to factor 50. Craghoppers and Rohan actually have trousers which repell insects – great if you’re unlucky enough to be bitten every time you’re out and about. These trousers have been put through their paces in the British countryside and most are available in men’s and women’s versions.
1. Craghoppers Women’s NosiLife Pro Trousers: £60, Craghoppers
Imagine an item of clothing which actually repels insects – well, that’s the claim from Craghoppers’ NosiLife range, of which its Pro Trousers are a part. And it does seem to work – testing on days my wife would have expected to be bitten to death, wearing these did stop the bugs getting her. They are very decent trousers in other regards, too: lightweight, waterproof and sun-protective. Choose from charcoal or beige and there’s also a version that zip off to capri pants. There are men’s versions available in the NosiLife range too.
2. Sprayway All Day Rainpant Waterproof Trousers: £67.50, Go Outdoors
Here is some more quality gear from the British outdoor specialists. These are available in both men’s and women’s versions, and they share the Hydro/Dry AWP fabric base – breathable, waterproof lining and outer – along with two zipped pockets and a semi-elasticated waist. They’re waterproof enough for most walks and the seam-sealed lining helps keep out any water through potential gaps. Generous proportions on the women’s version will help many feel more comfortable on a medium-length trek.
3. The North Face T-Chino Pant: £37.50, The North Face
Possibly the lightest of the trousers in this review, these are incredibly well designed. Mesh inserts in the zipped pockets, a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish and legs which are designed to be rolled-up in hot weather all make these excellent explorers’ trousers. The stretch panels on the inside of the knees are also great for increased mobility.
4. Royal Robbins Men’s Traveler Stretch Convertible Pant: £65, Royal Robbins
The spelling of Traveler should give you a clue as to where these Royal Robbins come from. With heritage in the Yosemite Valley, USA, you can understand why these have a UPF sun protection of factor 50+. They are lightweight, stylish and more resistant to creasing than others in this list. And the zip-off legs convert these trousers into shorts when the temperature soars later in the day.
5. Sherpa Men’s Khumbu Pant: £56, Khumbu
Sherpa’s gear is made in Nepal and there’s little to fault on these Khumba trousers. Made using a four-way stretch fabric, they are both tough and lightweight, and being very quick-to-dry makes them perfect for multi-day hikes. It’s a fact highlighted by the gusseted crotch and articulated knees – comfort and mobility are priorities for the Khumbu. Of particular note is the lined waistband, which is the comfiest of all the trousers on test.
6. Montane Terra Ridge Ladies Trousers: £55, Montane
I’m a big fan of Montane gear, and these trousers feel as if someone has really thought out their design. They are made using two types of “Granite Stretch” – Montane’s own fabric – which as well as being waterproof, is light and hard-wearing. Popper ankle adjustments and articulated knee areas all mean these are trousers you’d be happy to wear in the mountains as well as in the country park.
7. Berghaus Explorer Eco Pant Trousers: £60, Berghaus
Berghaus once again raises the bar with its Explorer Eco range, made from its own ECO nylon fabric which is more environmentally friendly to manufacture, is DWR treated and offers sun protection of UPF 50+. Available for both sexes, the women’s version has six pockets, against the men’s five – and seems to have a more flexible fabric mix. Very comfortable on, they’re certainly suitable for long treks in most places in Britain.
8. Rohan Trailblazers: £89, Rohan
Craghoppers isn’t the only one with a range of anti-insect clothing – Rohan has its insect shield, which is built into these Trailblazers trousers. Rohan gear is made with the everyday in mind, so they are the most like normal trousers you could go out to the pub in – while still enjoying factor 40 sun protection, numerous pockets and the comfort of Rohan’s multiflex fabric. Also, they seem to be the quickest to dry after washing.
9. Bergans of Norway Breheimen Neo Pants: £201.82
Bergans is another of the Nordic gear brands making some fantastic kit. These are serious hiking trousers made from a two-layer Dermizax material – basically that makes them very windproof, waterproof and breathable. The material makes them perhaps not the quietest to wear – there’s lots of rustle – but they are comfortable. Zipped pockets and adjustable ankles are welcome features, too. These are a pair to invest in.
With a range of different styles on offer, each with different features – and with some available only men’s or women’s versions, it’s difficult to suggest a Best Buy. After all, you won’t go far wrong with any of these – they’ll all keep you dry, carry many items in their numerous pockets and last for a long time if washed per the manufacturer’s instructions. The Best Buy for me at the moment are the NosiLife Pro trousers from Craghoppers. They’re lightweight, comfortable and stretchy, yet waterproof, fast-drying, with added sun protection and anti-insect – in one package, that’s fairly unbeatable.
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