Lockdown hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Not figuratively speaking at least. With gyms closed, group sports off limits and general reasons to leave the house at an all time low, walking and hiking have become the nation’s new favourite ways to keep fit and get outdoors.
Everyone knows the importance of a good pair of walking boots, but something that’s often overlooked is the impact the right or wrong trousers can have on your adventures. That’s where a proper pair of walking strides comes in handy.
Unlike jeans, chinos or jogging bottoms, these purpose-built pants are designed with the great outdoors in mind. That often means they’re made with quick-drying technical fabrics, pre-shaped for greater articulation in the knees, and include functional extras like integrated belts, extra pockets and reinforced high-wear areas.
With that in mind, we put several pairs of walking trousers through their paces while out hiking in the Cheviot Hills. We were on the lookout for durability, comfort and a good fit, and for us, the options below tick all three boxes.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Arc’teryx gamma LT pants
Having been wearing Arc’teryx’s gamma LT pants on an almost daily basis for the best part of a year, we feel very confident in saying that they’re the best all-round walking trousers on the market right now. The stretchy, lightweight fabric, combined with the elasticated belt to the waist makes them the sort of trousers you can just pull on in the morning and then forget all about. They’re supremely comfortable and, in classic Arc’teryx style, they look absolutely fantastic too.
We’ve put the gamma LT pants through their fair share of challenges – multi-day treks in the Cairngorms, epic day hikes in the Lakes – and they always performed brilliantly. We also did plenty of lockdown lounging in them too, and found them to be a good compromise between a jogging bottom and an everyday, casual trouser. In other words, the perfect lockdown pants.
One of our favourite parts was how Arc’teryx tackled the waistband. It’s lined with a soft, velvety fabric and held secure by a canvas belt, which is elasticated at the back to give it just the right amount of stretch. Elsewhere, there are two zip pockets at the sides and one zip cargo pocket to the right thigh. We found this to be just the right amount of storage, and also found the drawstring cuffs useful for adjusting the fit and sealing out bloodthirsty ticks in the Scottish highlands.
Klattermusen Misty 2.0 trousers
If you’re not already familiar with Klattermusen, allow us to bring you up to speed. Meaning “climbing mouse” in Swedish, Klattermusen is a forward-thinking outdoor lifestyle brand from northern Sweden, with a commitment to using environmentally friendly materials. The brand’s garments are unique, eye-catching and often feature quirky, asymmetric design elements while keeping functionality front and centre.
These stylish, durable hiking pants are one of the label’s best sellers, which is understandable from the moment you pull a pair on. They’re a slim-fitting pant that fits close in the seat and thighs without feeling restrictive. The bluesign-approved softshell fabric is stretchy, wind-resistant and is reinforced at the knees and backside with a special surface treatment that increases durability without adding any seams or layers of fabric.
We liked everything about these hiking trousers but there were a couple of features that really stood out. Firstly, the horizontal, elastic-trimmed pockets succeeded where traditional slanted pockets so often fail. They were great for holding loose odds and ends without the risk of things slipping out when sitting down on a rock for a spot of lunch. We also loved the exposed elastic adjusters to the ankles. Combined with the integrated lace hooks, they worked really well for holding the trousers in place against our hiking boots, and have the added bonus of looking pretty cool too.
Adidas terrex hike trousers
The terrex hike trousers from Adidas’s outdoor-inspired Terrex line are great all-rounders. They’re made from a cotton-blend fabric that’s soft and stretchy but also feels durable and holds up well against scuffs and abrasion. This makes them great, not just for the trail, but also as a casual, everyday trouser.
What we liked most about them was the fit. These pants are cut roomy in the seat and thighs, and tapered from the knee to the ankle. Walking feels relaxed and completely unrestricted, and there are adjustable press-stud tabs at the hems which are useful for dialling in the fit with different types of footwear.
The side pockets are not zippered, which may be an issue for some people. However, just below each is a zippered cargo pocket, concealed behind a fabric flap. We found this useful for things like phones, wallets and a face mask, while the fleece-lined side pockets were great for warming cold fingers on the move.
Montane terra pants
With its headquarters only a stone’s throw from where we conducted our testing, Montane is a Northumbrian brand with a knack for making lightweight hiking and mountaineering gear. The terra pants are one of the label’s best-selling items and, having put ours through their paces, it’s not hard to see why.
These trousers are super-lightweight, comfortable, stretchy and breathable. The fairly thin fabric means they’re certainly not a winter trouser but are roomy enough to be worn over a pair of thermal leggings when temperatures take a nosedive. Get too hot, and there are ventilation zippers at the sides to increase airflow.
At the waist, there’s an integrated belt with a plastic buckle fastening which, coupled with the adjustable ankles, allows the wearer to dial in the perfect fit. We also found the zip pockets handy and enjoyed the freedom of movement offered by the loose cut.
The North Face diablo II trousers
For those who like their legwear slim and flattering as opposed to roomy and relaxed, finding walking trousers that fit the bill can be rather tricky. The North Face’s diablo II trousers fill that particular gap in the market while offering all the functionality and performance of their loose-fitting counterparts.
The trousers are cut from a stretchy, fleece-backed, softshell fabric which is comfortable, warm, and windproof. In fact, we found them to be warm enough on even the coldest, windiest days the Northumbrian coast could throw at us.
The elasticated belt enabled us to get the fit just right, and while we usually prefer an adjustable cuff, the leg openings were narrow enough that the absence of a drawstring, velcro or press studs wasn’t really an issue. If your primary goal is a slim fit but you don’t want to sacrifice function for form, these are the walking trousers for you.
Fjallraven vidda pro ventilated trousers
If durability is your primary concern, these tough-as-nails trekking pants from Fjallraven won’t disappoint. They’re made from the Swedish brand’s famously hard-wearing G-1000 cotton-blend fabric, which can be waxed to increase water repellency and they’re reinforced in high-wear areas like the knees and the seat.
Of all the trousers we tested, this pair felt the most like what you might call a classic hiking pant. Most outdoor brands are relentlessly looking for the next big fabric or design innovation, whereas with these trousers, it feels like Fjallraven knew it had something good and has stuck to it. The vidda pro pants have been a core product for the label for a long time, with very little having changed. However, one key difference with this pair is that they now feature ventilation zippers on the sides to keep air flowing during high-output activities.
Something else we loved was the sheer amount of pockets. In addition to the two side pockets, there are three cargo pockets and a smaller pocket for a knife or hatchet. Canvas straps at the hems allow the leg openings to be adjusted, and there are even openings in the pre-shaped knees for inserting knee pads.
Craghoppers kiwi classic trousers
If you’re after well-made walking gear that won’t leave you bankrupt, Craghoppers should be your first port of call. The kiwi classics are the brand’s best-selling walking trousers and offer a surprising amount of technical features for their relatively low price tag.
The first thing to note is the fit. Where a lot of modern hiking and walking trousers feature a slim profile, these ones take a more relaxed approach. The cut is roomy with a very slight taper to the legs and there’s an integrated belt with a plastic buckle to secure them at the waist. There’s also a rather impressive grand total of nine pockets, including a zip pocket and one designed to hold a mobile phone.
What we liked most was the fabric. It performs very well for the price and is versatile enough to use all year. It’s insect bite-proof, water-repellent and offers UPF 40+ sun protection for the summer months. The trousers also come with a lifetime guarantee, which equates to excellent value for money at just £20 for a pair.
Patagonia men’s point peak trail pants
New for spring/summer 2021, Patagonia’s point peak trousers are great for all-round hiking use and are packed full of features we love. They have a slim cut with a tapered leg and plenty of stretch in the recycled nylon-elastane fabric to allow for a full range of motion.
One of our favourite things about these trousers was the adjustability in the waist. Instead of an integrated belt, Patagonia has gone for an elasticated, Velcro tab to each side allowing you to dial the fit in in seconds. There are also belt loops in case you want to lock things in place, but we found the velcro alone to be more than sufficient. You’ll find velcro adjusters at the leg openings too.
There are four zip pockets – two to the backside and two to the front of the thighs – and two open hand pockets. We found the latter to be a little oddly shaped, which could potentially lead to a lost phone. Still, this is exactly what the zipped front pockets are designed for, so stick to using those for valuables and you’ll be fine.
We also liked the extra-rugged material used in the front of the lower legs and the seat, which provides valuable peace of mind when marching through thick undergrowth or sitting on a particularly jagged rock to eat lunch.
Montane mode pro pants
The mode pro is a brand-new style from British mountaineering brand Montane that’s perfect for anyone on the hunt for lightweight, low-profile hiking or climbing legwear. The super-slim fit and stretchy fabric puts them somewhere between a classic trekking pant, a jogger and a pair of leggings, which equates to completely unrestricted movement and unparalleled comfort.
The pants are reinforced in high-wear areas and we found them to be highly abrasion resistant. There are two slanted zip pockets to the sides and one horizontal zip pocket to the right thigh which is a good size for a mobile phone. Adjustment at the waist is provided by a drawstring but isn’t necessary at the ankles due to the extreme slim fit.
We found the mode pro pants to be very comfortable on long hikes in mild, dry weather. They’re also well suited to being used underneath a pair of waterproof trousers or more substantial trekking trousers in colder, wetter weather. However, the cut won’t be for everyone. If you’re not a fan of slim-fitting legwear you may want to look elsewhere.
The verdict: Men’s walking trousers
It’s difficult to beat Arc’teryx when it comes to high-performance outdoor gear and men’s hiking trousers are no exception. The Gamma LT pants are the best we tested and will happily take everything from strenuous climbs to pottering around the garden in their stretchy stride. We’ve barely taken them off since testing. For a more affordable alternative, the Adidas Terrex hike trousers were one of our favourites in terms of fit.
Looking for shelter your can rely on for your next adventure? Here’s a roundup of our favourite backpacking tents
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.