When hiking, you need to be prepared for the worst, and sometimes the worst is a rainstorm heading in your direction.
Any time you journey into the wilds you need to be kitted in durable clothing that can withstand the rigors of the trail, and your pants are no exception.
You’ll want pants that are rain-resistant so that they don’t get soaked through during your hike.
Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a shortlist of rain pants and written out their pros and cons so you can see their features at a glance.
We also included a buyers’ guide and an FAQ that’ll help you learn which features and design properties elevate ordinary pants into pants that are able to keep you dry on your hikes.
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We chose the Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Pants since they were reasonably priced while having all of the great features you should look for in hiking pants.
See what some of those features are below:
Constructed with NanoPro fabric protects against wet weather like rain and snow and layered with bonded storm flaps on either side, covering its zippers for added rain-resistance.
Side zippers on these pants make them easier to put on and take off, and there are zippers on the pockets too to keep your valuables safe.
These pants have an elasticated waist that should guarantee they’ll fit most people, and they’re also machine washable so they’re easy to clean and maintain.
Best Rain Pants For Hiking - Comparison Table
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Our first rain pants are from a reputable camping equipment manufacturer, Marmot, with the PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Pants.
These are made from NanoPro fabric that waterproofs these pants against all manners of wet weather, from rain to snow.
They even have taped seams built into them to make them functionally waterproof from the get-go.
The sides of these pants have long zippers that make these easy to put on and take off, but those zippers are also protected by bonded storm flaps that add some layering to the sides for more rain protection.
There are also zippers at the pockets, one on each side and one on the back, to help keep your valuables safe from both water damage and falling out during your hike.
The waist on these pants are elasticated, which means they should fit comfortably on most people providing you get the right size. They’re also machine washable so they’re easy to clean and maintain.
Overall, these pants are an affordable option compared to the later products you’ll see on this list, while having a lot of the capabilities we like to see in waterproof rain pants.
The second pair of hiking pants we have are the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants, pants especially made with DryQ active waterproof technology to make sure your legs stay dry, but they are also abrasion-resistant so that they can stand up to the other punishments of the hiking trail.
They’re also easy to wear, being breathable too so that your legs don’t get too warm during perspiration or warmer hunting weather.
The pants are made with stretch fabrication as well as enhanced knee articulation that allows a full range of motion for your legs, very useful for agile hiking and climbing.
The pockets in these pants are mainly located at the thighs and are zippered so that any valuables, like electronics, that get placed in these will never fall out and get damaged.
They’re also waterproof too, of course, so that rain won’t end up seeping in and getting to whatever is inside.
Speaking of zippers, the sides of these pants have full length zippers that make them very easy to take off. When putting them on, the waist of these pants also has adjustable webbing built into them that ensure the perfect fit.
The back of the waist is also elasticated to expand as need be.
The third pair of pants we have on today’s list are the Outdoor Research Helium Pants, shiny nylon ultralight storm pants that only weigh 5.5 ounces, affording you weather protection while not weighing you down.
This allows you to hike and camp without your clothing weighing you down unnecessarily.
These pants benefit from the YKK AquaGuard ankle zipper as well as full seam-taping to ensure that water isn’t making it into any openings.
They’re also windproof, making these the ideal pants to wear if you’re expecting a storm, as that AquaGuard tech protects from the water penetration that occurs when raindrops are sent flying in all directions by high wind speeds.
A balance between the waterproofing, lightweight flexibility, and the breathability of these pants is struck by their Pertex Shield protection, a 2.5l water-resistant coating on 100% 30 Denier ripstop nylon.
They’re also loaded with many design features such as reflective logos, elasticated waist with drawcord, and a back pocket for personal item storage.
The pants can come with longer legs than you may have anticipated so if you’re on the shorter side you may have trouble getting the right fit.
We’d recommend pinning the end up, but this is only really possible if the legs are slightly too long.
The next pants on this list are the Helly-Hansen Moss Rain Pants.
These are made mainly from durable polyurethane which, while already having waterproof properties, gets more waterproof capability thanks to their welded seams that physically prevent water from seeping in through vulnerable spots in the pants’ construction.
The waist of the pants is adjustable via cords at the front, allowing you to achieve an easy fit to your body.
You should be aware of the fact that they lack pockets though, so if you’re planning on hiking in these it’s best to have other parts of your outfit that are heavy in storage to compensate.
You’ll notice they come in a few designs, though we’d recommend the black or, our favorite, the green camo design since they’re the best colors for blending into your surroundings. These are especially useful if hunting or hiking near wildlife.
That said, we won’t judge if you want to go hiking in the luminescent yellow pants.
These last pants are the Amazon’s Choice product for ‘goretex pants’ searches.
They’re the Columbia Rebel Roamer Pants, and they use Omni-Tech technology for their waterproofing capabilities, as well as Columbia’s signature seam-sealed waterproof construction to stop water leakage at the more vulnerable points of the garment.
Despite all of this, the Omni-Tech features mean these pants are air-permeable, allowing them to breathe so that they don’t become too restrictive and warm inside.
The fabric that the pants are made of are also designed with comfort in mind, with nylon and elastane stretch fabric accommodating your legs.
These pants have no pockets, despite what the listing may say, and this doesn’t inspire much confidence in the rest of the product hence why it’s here at the bottom of our list.
Best Rain Pants For Hiking - Buyers Guide
How to choose the best rain pants for hiking
This buyers’ guide should help you to find the best rain pants that you can wear on your hiking adventures. By learning what makes certain pants better than others, you can be sure you’re choosing the best ones for you and your planned hiking routes whenever you make your purchases.
We can help you with this by breaking down each feature and property that you should look at, particularly their waterproofing, breathability, mobility, and ease of wear.
This one should go without saying but we’ll say, or write, it anyway. A lot of your hiking gear should be waterproofed since that’ll be the most common form of punishment that mother nature throws at you. You want your pants, particularly your rain pants, to withstand rain and preferably some more intense water damage too.
Look for fabric like polyurethane-coated fabrics that have water-resistant qualities, or ones with Durable Water Repellent finishes. In all kinds of pants, you should look for seams that are taped or welded and if they have zippers, they should be protected since that’s where water would leak in, if anywhere.
This is often done by waterproof storm-flaps that extend over those zippers.
The bottom of these pants also tends to be tighter so that any water or snow can’t find its way up into the pants through the bottom.
They do this via cuff closures, either using Velcro or elastic to keep the pants tight to your leg. If your chosen pair don’t have this then it’s no dealbreaker, just weigh up how much the bottoms of your legs will get exposed to wet areas.
A popular example of laminate or membrane fabric that is ubiquitous in the hunting and hiking markets is GORE-TEX, a very sought-after waterproof yet breathable laminate tech that carries with it a hefty price tag. Look out for other brand-specific versions of these such as NanoPro or DryQ when searching the market.
DWR coatings are chemical treatments that help water to bead and fall off of the outermost layer of your pants, the logic being that as long as your outermost layer doesn’t become too saturated then the garment is still breathable, which brings us onto our next property…
It makes sense that you’ll want your waterproofed clothes to be breathable since this determines how fast they can dry, but they also regulate the temperature underneath your clothes to keep you comfortable and focused on your hike or hunt. It’s not uncommon to sweat inside rain gear, and so you’ll want to keep as dry as possible by wearing clothes that allow for breathability.
This goes hand in hand with ventilation, which is when the pants let dry air in rather than wet air out. Mesh-bearing gear is often exceptional at this like what you’d see in some sportier-designed hunting boots, but it can be hard and expensive for these meshes to be waterproof too.
Most pants that are breathable should also be ventilating, however, as it tends to go both ways.
If you’re hiking then you’ll be moving, and if you’re the kind that’s up for a challenge you may even find yourself tackling steep slopes or climbing over a hill or two. This means you’ll want the full range of motion in your legs when wearing your pants. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many hiking pants restrict your movement somewhat.
First of all, make sure your pants fit as best as they possibly can. We understand sizing can be a nightmare between brands, but an appropriately sized pair of pants are your best friend if no other mobility features are present.
As for those features however, you should look for garments with articulated knees and stretch fabrics so your legs can move as freely as possible during your adventures.
Ease of Use
If you’re packing your rain pants as a provision for if it starts raining, then you’ll want to get them on pretty fast when you start feeling those first few raindrops. A popular solution to this is side zippers, since they expand the holes at the foot of these pants to allow for putting them on over your pants and while still wearing your boots.
You’ll also want an adjustable waist, too, since then the pants will have a more customizable fit in general.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are rain pants worn over regular pants?
That’s entirely up to you. If you’re expecting a rainy hike, then it may be best to just wear them as your ordinary pants if they’re comfortable and up to the challenge. Many hikers use rain pants as a secondary option since they’re lightweight and can be stashed away with ease, and then worn over your regular pants.
This is the best option for those who are hiking in temperate or warmer weather but want to be prepared in the event that rain can pass onto your hiking route.
How do you tighten pant legs?
If the pant legs on your chosen pair of rain pants don’t have built-in tightening mechanisms at the leg cuffs, then there are ways that you can jury-rig your pants to make the legs tighter. This makes sure that water can’t creep into them when walking in water or deep snow.
If you or someone you know are handy with a sewing machine, then you can taper the pants in the same way you’d tighten most others, by turning them inside out and pinching together areas where they can be tightened up. Pin them so they stay there, and then draw a line for the new seam.
Remove the old seam and then make the new one, preferably backstitching at the bottom for maximum durability. There are guides online that can help with this, but you may not be able to do this with all pairs of rain pants.
As for faster and less technical ways, you can get fabric bonding agents intended to replace stitching which can be used too, though they’d need to be able to withstand the same punishment you’ll be putting the pants through. Using these glue-like substances and securing them under an iron, it’s a permanent but faster way of tightening.