The Best Hiking Pants Review For Men

Which pair of hiking/outdoor pants provide the best overall performance?

During a six-month journey through Central America we tested seven of the top men's outdoor hiking (and general purpose) pants on the market. Whether we were hiking, slacklining, camping, doing yoga, roaming the urban jungles of Panama or relaxing on the beaches of Costa Rica, our trip put these design to the test across a range of climates, activities and uses. We focused on many metrics of performance, boiling our analysis down to rating comfort/fit, versatility, durability, weather resistance and features. Read on to find out which ones might best fit your lifestyle and needs.

Read the full review below >

Review by: Brian Blum ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab September 9, 2013

Top Ranked Hiking Pants Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
Read the Review
Video video review
Prana Stretch Zion Pants
Prana Stretch Zion Pants
Read the Review
Video video review
North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants
North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants
Read the Review
Video video review
Kuhl Revolvr Pants
Kuhl Revolvr Pants
Read the Review
Arc'teryx Perimeter Pants
Arc'teryx Perimeter Pants
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award     
Street Price Varies $51 - $85
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $47 - $85
Compare at 9 sellers
Varies $34 - $75
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $69 - $70
Compare at 7 sellers
Varies $87 - $119
Compare at 6 sellers
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Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Comfortable, versatile for sports or casual wear, great pocket options, great fit.Comfortable, versatile for sports or casual wear, great pocket options, great fit.Water/wind resistant, warm in colder climates, durable.Durable, Comfortable, Stylish, WarmStretchy, comfortable, versatile, stylish and very usable.
Cons Stitching gives way over time, slightly baggy on some.Stitching gives way over time, not for extreme warm or cold temperature ranges.Baggy fit and lack of stretch not ideal for active sports, dry slowly.Lack of security pockets and additional features. Poor water proofingEuropean fit limits comfort for some, no pocket space, limited weather resistance, no convertible legs, expensive.
Best Uses Everything outdoors from yoga to climbing to hiking and travel (except extreme weather).Everything outdoors from yoga to climbing to hiking and travel (except extreme weather).Hiking, backpacking, travel.Everyday wear, single-pitch climbing, coffee shop excursionsClimbing, active sports.
Date Reviewed Sep 05, 2013Sep 08, 2013Sep 06, 2013Jan 07, 2014Sep 06, 2013
Weighted Scores Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants Prana Stretch Zion Pants North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants Kuhl Revolvr Pants Arc'teryx Perimeter Pants
Comfort - 25%
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8
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9
10
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5
10
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7
10
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6
Versatility - 25%
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5
Durability - 20%
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7
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Weather Resistance - 15%
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Features - 15%
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Product Specs Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants Prana Stretch Zion Pants North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants Kuhl Revolvr Pants Arc'teryx Perimeter Pants
Color Khaki (of 3) Charcoal (of 5) Asphalt Grey (of 6) Khaki (of 5) Nubian Brown (of 3)
Sizing (waist, length options) 6 W (XS-XXL), 3 L (30-34) 6 W (XS-XXL), 3 L (30-34) 6 W (S-3XL), 3 L (S,R,L) 12 W (28-42), 4 L (30-36) 6 W (28-38), 3 L (30,32,35)
Material 97% nylon, 3% spandex, woven 97% nylon, 3% spandex, woven Durable abrasian resistant nylon. 177 g/m² 100% nylon faille 74% cotton, 26% nylon 89% nylon, 11% polyurethane; stretch
Sun All weather finish All weather finish UPF 30 Excellent Excellent
Water DWR (durable water resistant) DWR (durable water resistant) durable water repellant finish, quick drying quick dry fabric moisture wicking, quick drying
Drying Quick Dry Quick Dry Quick Dry Quick Dry Quick Dry
Company Prana Prana The North Face Kuhl Arcteryx
Convertible yes (12" inseam) no Convertible (10" short), hidden zipper no no
Pockets Back 2 open (smaller) 2 open (smaller) 2 velcro 2 open 2 open mesh lined
Pockets Front 2 open mesh, 1 zip 2 open mesh, 1 zip 2 open mesh, 1 zip (secure), 2 velcro 2 open (+ cell phone pocket) plus open slot 2 open mesh lined, 1 zip
Waist Strap / Fasten No belt, but tightening system (no elastic). Button fastener (a little difficult to use) No belt, but tightening system (no elastic). Button fastener (a little difficult to use) Elastic waistband, Click belt, snap, zipper Free Ryde Waist, Fiochi snap, zip fly, snap, no belt, static waistband
Other Features Ventilation Holes buttons to hold cuffs up (nice for slacklining). Ventilation holes Verticle zip legs Scuff-guard (double layer at cuffs and pockets), gusseted crotch (more movement), articulated knees (full range of motion)
Warranty Full refund if you are not happy, any time Full refund if you are not happy, any time Lifetime Warranty against product defects. Other damage repaired at nominal cost warrantee for defects at discretion of company, repairs at nominal charge

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product
We recognize that when it comes to outdoor wear every individual is unique in their needs. In our review of the top five men's hiking pants on the market we looked at many metrics of fit and performance to provide everything you need to select the best pair for you.

Criteria for Evaluation
Comfort/Fit
We strongly believe that if your mind is focused on what you are wearing, whether it is because they are too tight or are made of scratchy fabric, then you are not giving 110 percent to the task at hand. It is critical to be wearing clothes that are both comfortable and fit your body well enough to perform the activity in which you are engaged. While all five contenders in this review are made primarily of nylon, we found that the most comfortable pairs also have either spandex or polyurethane in them, adding a little bit of stretch that goes a long way.

The Prana Stretch Zion and the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible are slightly stretchy, soft, provide room for movement and generally provide an ideal fit for the outdoor enthusiast wanting to move freely in their clothes. The Arc'teryx Perimeter provides a very comfortable, stretchy feel, although their snug cut has a European fit and is more appropriate for a thin framed individual. This snug fit give the Perimeter a more formal, stylish look good for a night on the town.
Click to enlarge
View of the roll up and snap system on the Stretch Zion Pant. This feature has not changed.
Credit: Dan Sandberg

Versatility
On many adventures you will be traveling light, sometimes only having the luxury to take with you what you are wearing when you walk out the door. In this sense the more versatile a pair of pants are the better off you will be in general. Products are often are designed for a specific purpose. However, in our testing we looked for performance during every activity of every moment of our day.

The Prana Stretch Zion Convertible stood out as an extremely versatile buy as they were comfortable and stretchy enough to practice yoga, rock climb, go running or do just about anything in, and were stylish and warm enough to wear at night around the campfire or out at a bar. The convertible legs offered a shorts option when the weather became hot or it was time for a swim, and their general design worked across a wide range of activities. The Prana Stretch Zion offered almost all of the same benefits but without the conversion to shorts option.

Durability
While all of the products we tested were made primarily of nylon, we found through testing that not all nylon, and not all manufacturers, are treated equally. In our tests of durability we considered abrasion resistance, how well pockets and zippers held up to stretching and pulling, seam failure over time, and staining or how well the material cleans up after being washed. In general the more lightweight the material felt, the quicker we were able to wear holes in the fabric. While not directly factored into our ratings, we do recommend you take a look at the manufacture's warranty, especially if you are particularly rough on your clothing.

We found that the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible and the Prana Stretch Zion, as well as the Arc'teryx Perimeter's all performed extremely well in abrasion tests and held up well as we stress tested the zippers and pockets. Unfortunately, all three pairs had problems with stitching coming undone after only six months on the road. The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants generally held up very well, with the exception of small tears from abrasion on rock surfaces (therefore, not the best for climbing).
Click to enlarge
Testing abrasion resistance in the ArcTeryx Perimeter Pants while getting some coconuts for lunch
Credit: Brian Blum

Weather Resistance
In general we prefer options that are useful across the seasons and throughout a range of conditions. Ideally, the material should offer water resistance from light rain, breathability in hot climates, insulation in cooler conditions, protection from strong winds and UV protection from the sun. However, we recognize that something designed for extreme hot weather is not likely to perform well in extreme cold. Therefore we evaluated these contenders from the perspective of a moderate all-weather climate, meaning heat up to 90ish, cold down to 45ish, and weather from light rain to light wind. Beyond these conditions we recommend looking into specialized gear, as an all purpose option is not going to be sufficient for extreme conditions.

Of the five pairs evaluated we were particularly impressed with the North Face Paramount Peak Convertible' ability to repel rain and keep us warm and dry in the high tropical mountain ranges where the storms came from nowhere and brought heavy rain and high gusty winds. For more moderate temperatures and climates, the Prana Stretch Zion offers some weather protection and extra breathability, although they saturate relatively quickly and offer less in the way of warmth when wet. The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants are very lightweight and offer sun protection in much hotter climates.

Features
Part of a pants' function is what you can hold in your pockets as well as what other amenities offered that make your adventures go more smoothly. Whether bushwhacking through the jungle or walking around cities. we found that having a variety of easy to access as well as secure pockets became very convenient in a range of situations. Convertible legs and a belt that can easily be tightened up also play a part in overall performance when it comes to a great feature set. In general, more features were preferred over less, especially when adding very little weight or bulk and often adding a unique look and feel.

In the category of features the Prana Zion Convertibles outperformed the competition, offering two deep easy to access front pockets as well as two two-zipper front pockets that provide secure access from the top or side of the pocket (extremely convenient when sitting down). The easy-to-remove convertible pant legs and waist tightening system added to the overall functionality as well.
Click to enlarge
Columbia Silver Ridge, closeup showing zipper pocket flimsiness
Credit: Brian Blum

Editor's Choice: Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
The Prana Stretch Zion Convertible wins the Editors' Choice award as the go-to pair of pants for just about every sport, activity or social affair while traveling or adventuring outdoors. They offer an extremely comfortable fit with a stretchy material (nylon with a touch of spandex) allowing one to practice yoga or rock climb in them with no noticeable resistance. They keep you warm during cold fronts (long underwear fits comfortably underneath) and can be turned into shorts when the temperature bubbles up. They endure wear and tear in the roughest of conditions. Their design is practical and offers multi-access zipper security pockets along with well sized and positioned front and rear pockets. The waist tightens up with a simple tug on the adjustable waistband. They breathe, resist water and in general meet an outdoor enthusiast's every need. They are by no means waterproof, but fit well enough so that a waterproof shell can easily fit over them.
Prana Stretch Zion Convertable pants shown in Khaki. Also available in...
Prana Stretch Zion Convertable pants shown in Khaki. Also available in brown and charcoal.
Credit: Prana

Top Pick: North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible is our Top Pick winner for their specific application as a great product to travel and backpack in. They are a well made, well designed and are ideal for world travelers and seasoned hikers. These are not multi-purpose and good for all sports, but they handle well in inclement weather, are durable and if you are looking for something breathable and warm for your hiking and exploration of the world, are a great fit.
Getting a little too close to a long drop
Getting a little too close to a long drop
Credit: Brian Blum
Best Buy: Prana Stretch Zion Pants
The Prana Stretch Zion wins our Best Buy award as an extremely versatile, comfortable, durable multi-use option for a reasonable price. They provide everything we want, and more, in a general purpose hiking/outdoor pant, are stretchy and versatile enough to use in a range of sports and a variety of life situations, are reasonably durable, weather resistant and at $10 less than the convertible option, ofter significant value.
Click to enlarge
Side View of Alex Cross wearing the Stretch Zion Pant. Note the slightly baggy fit throughout the leg (Note: 2010 style).
Credit: Dan Sandberg
You might also want to check out all of our hiking gear favorites on our Dream Hiking Gear List.

Brian Blum
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