Last Updated on October 17, 2020
OUR TOP PICK – Best Winter Hiking Pants
We have found the best winter hiking pants and our top pick is the Meriwool Men’s Base Layer Thermal Pants for men and the Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings for women. They’re both stylish pants that are perfect for cold-weather hiking. These are made with high-quality materials that will keep you warm on your next winter adventure.
Read on for more information, or click the link below to read more reviews on Amazon.
Here are the Best Winter Hiking Pants that we have included in our review
Your choice of pants is crucial when it comes to hiking in winter. It can determine whether you will have a comfortable experience or a miserable one. Without the right pair of winter pants, you may find yourself in pain and freezing. Or worse, you may sustain some serious injuries or illnesses.
So before you head out to the great outdoors, make sure to arm yourself with the best winter hiking pants to have an unforgettable and more pleasant experience. To help you find the right ones, here are some of the most important things you should look out for when choosing hiking pants for winter.
Things to Remember When Choosing the Best Winter Hiking Pants
The first thing you have to remember is that a single pair of pants can’t usually provide you the protection you need, especially under extremely cold temperatures. When the weather is too cold, you will have to wear at least 2 pants at a time to keep your legs warm and comfortable.
For some, a base layer and a hard shell layer is enough. However, for those who tend to feel colder than others, adding a fleece mid-layer between can help. On the other hand, if you’re moving and performing high-intensity activities, a hard shell layer or softshell pant is more ideal. Some also choose the combination of a base layer and a softshell layer.
When it comes to pants, you’d have to determine your activity, the temperature, and the location of your hike. You also have to factor in your tolerance to the cold as well as your preference. But as your guide, here are the layers you may use while winter hiking:
- Base layer: This layer of clothes is responsible for wicking moisture and sweat from your body. It can also keep your temperature at bay. When it comes to choosing a base layer, you have to consider how much you tend to perspire.
For individuals who sweat a lot, a lightweight synthetic layer is a good skin base layer. But if you’re more sensitive to the cold, you might need a heavier and thicker base layer pants. Just make sure to choose a good material that can wick sweat. This can include nylon, wool, silk, and polyester.
- Mid-layer: This is a layer that can help keep you warm and retain your body heat. Usually, thicker fabrics are warmer. For efficient heating in cold weather, we suggest slim-fitting or tight fleece pants. This will keep you warm and dry during your hike.
- Shell layer: Here’s the layer that protects you from the snow, rain, and wind. You can either go with a hard shell or softshell pants.
If you’re likely to face wet snow, rain, and wind during your hike, you have to choose hard shell pants. They are completely waterproof and windproof. Thus, keeping you dry in any weather. When choosing hardshell pants, make sure they are breathable so your legs won’t be too hot. This will also help you stay comfortable and allow fast drying.
On the other hand, for high-intensity activities in a much forgiving weather condition, you can choose softshell pants. They are more breathable, and some are even insulated. However, they are only water and wind-resistant, so you may still need to take hard shell pants with you in case of high winds and precipitation.
Cotton is a no-no
Never wear cotton when hiking in the winter. This is because cotton can’t wick moisture and sweat. Instead, it absorbs water, making it lose its heating capabilities. Also, cotton takes too long to dry, leaving you cold and damp while in the trail. This can lead to a miserable experience as well as injuries.
Zips and Pockets
Pants with zips on the sides help with ventilations as it releases the extra heat from your legs. If it were full zips, it will allow you to take your pants off or put them back easily without taking your boots off. Also, having good multiple pockets will come in handy when hiking. This way, you can store and stash away your smaller items easily.
Now that you know what to look out for, let us help narrow down your options with our list of the best winter hiking pants.
Top 5 Pants for Cold Weather Hiking
Best Base Layer for Men: Meriwool Men’s Base Layer 100% Merino Wool Thermal Pants
Merino wool is one of the best types of fabric around, and it’s a great choice for outdoor activities as well. The Meriwool Merino Wool Thermal Pants, for example, is naturally wicking, resistant to odor, breathable, quick-drying, and extremely soft and comfortable. Thus, making it one of the best base layer you can wear for winter hiking.
This thermal pants can also be used as a mid-layer due to its capability to keep you warm. It’s light having a 250g/m2 weight. So it won’t weigh you down while hitting trails.
Best Base Layer for Women: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings
- Dual-layer fabric with an ultra-warm, brushed interior & a smooth, fast-drying exterior
- Material wicks sweat & dries really fast
- Welded seams eliminate chafing no matter how hard you work
- Super minimal encased elastic waist delivers a smoother, more streamlined silhouette
For women who are looking for a base layer that can perform well, consider the Under Armour Women’s ColdGear. As a base layer, these leggings can help you perform better by providing you support and comfort. It’s made of a dual-layer fabric that’s extremely warm, can wick sweat, and dries fast.
Best Mid-Layer for Men: REI Co-op Teton Fleece Pants
If you’re looking for a mid-layer that can perfectly go with your shell pants and provide you with great warmth, then consider the REI Co-op Teton Fleece Pants. It features an insulating polyester fleece that’s breathable, fast-drying, and sweat-wicking. It also has a low-profile seam that reduced bulkiness and minimizes chafing.
The company also offers the Teton Fleece Pants for Women.
Best Softshell for Men: Arc’teryx Gamma AR Pant for Men
- GAMMA AR PANT - Moving across rock, ice, or trail is dynamic.
- ARC'TERYX ESSENTIALS - Versatile high performance designs for diverse activities and conditions.
- GAMMA - Weather resistant mid or outer layers with stretch. Highly breathable and abrasion resistant.
- SOFTSHELL - Air permeable four-way stretch woven textiles with superior abrasion resistance.
The Arc’teryx Gamma AR Pants features a four-way stretch woven textiles, making it highly breathable and resistant to abrasions. This also makes it resistant to water and wind. Additionally, it’s paired with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), which helps stops water from seeping in and keeping moisture vapor out. This pant has 4 zippered pockets, and it’s really warm too.
Arc’teryx is a popular brand known for its high performing equipment and clothing for the outdoors. They are one of the go-to brands of climbers and hikers since their designs meet most activities, needs, and weather conditions. Just get ready to pay a premium price to experience their products.
Best Shell Layer for Women: The North Face Freedom Insulated Pants
- STAY DRY. Made with a DryVent shell, these all-mountain ski pants feature sealed seams and allows water vapor to escape for breathability.
- STANDARD FIT. These pants offer a straight fit from hip to hem for comfortable movement. Adjustable waist tabs provide a custom fit. Inseam: Short 30", Regular 32", Long 34". Belt loops.
- BREATHABLE DESIGN. TNF Chimney Venting system offers superior ventilation so you can maintain airflow while staying warm.
- BLOCK THE SNOW. StretchVent gaiters with gripper elastic help keep the snow out of your boots and legs. Reinforced kick patches enhance durability for lasting wear season after season.
If you’re looking for a shell layer that can protect you from the elements while hiking in winter, the North Face Freedom Insulated Pants is one of the best winter hiking pants. Featuring a DryVent 2L shell, it is waterproof, breathable, and can protect you from moisture. It’s lightly insulated too, making it perfect for extreme weather temperatures.
The North Face Freedom Insulated Pants also have gaiters with gripper elastic. This can help block the snow and prevent it from going to your boots and reaching your legs. There are also multiple zippered pockets to securely store your small items.
Best Hard Shell for Men: Marmot Men’s PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pant
- Lightweight men's rain pants are perfect for hiking, climbing, cycling, and other activities where rain is a concern
- Waterproof/breathable NanoPro fabric provides excellent protection in moderate rain, snow, and wind; taped seams provide ensure true weatherproofing
- Full length side zippers with bonded storm flap for easy layering and complete rain protection
- Elastic waist for a secure, comfortable fit
Since the weather can change quickly when you’re hiking, the Marmot PreCip Full-Zip Pant will come handy once the rain, snow, and wind start to kick in. It features a waterproof/breathable NanoPro fabric, which can provide you with all the protection you need against the harsh weather. To top it all off, it has full-length side zippers so you can easily and quickly wear or take it off when you need to.
There you have it. Remember, when it comes to hiking in the winter, it’s better to have light, multiple layers than not have enough. This way, you can adapt better to a wide range of conditions and temperatures. You can also remove layers as needed.