Best Budget Hiking Pants – 7 Top Picks

best budget hiking pants

If you are on a budget and are looking for a pair of good quality hiking pants, then you have come to the right place. A huge increase in competition, combined with improvements in fabric technology means that buying a pair of hiking pants no longer has to be a bank-breaking exercise.

In this article we have a good look at what you should be looking for, as well as covering some essential hiking pant-related information to round things out. With all that in mind, let’s dive in!

Here’s our 7 picks for best budget hiking pants:

1. REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pants

The good people at REI have designed these pants with bouldering, hiking and rock climbing in mind, so the gusseted crotch and articulated knees provide you with near-unrestricted movement. The fabric comes with UPF 50+ sun protection, while the DWR finish is efficient in repelling light rain and moisture.

The pants come with deep front cargo pockets, while zippered side pockets are handy for stashing all those things you will need easy access to on the trail (I’m thinking chocolate).

I love the double layer of fabric around the knees which provide extra abrasion resistance for all that scrambling you are likely to be doing.

Pros:

  • Deep front cargo pockets
  • Double-layer knee protection
  • UPF 50+ sun protection

Cons:

  • Sizes run small

Check price at REI.com

2. prAna Stretch Zion Pant

These pants – which feature a handy inbuilt adjustable waist belt – come in 12 different colors and are comprised of 97% nylon and 3% spandex. This means they both repel water and are quick-to-dry. They are stretchy and abrasion resistant too, making them excellent for hiking and outdoor adventure-related activities.

The pants come with an industry-leading UPF 50+ sun protection rating which provides an even greater safeguard for your skin than most sun creams. The pants feature roll up leg snaps and front mesh pockets; one on the rear and a cargo pocket on the left leg.

They come in 12 different colors as well, something that will appeal to all the fashionistas out there.

Pros:

  • They dry very quickly
  • Stretchy and abrasion resistant
  • UPF 50+ protection from the sun

Cons:

  • I am not a fan of the mesh pockets

Check price at AMAZON.com

3. Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo

If you are particular about the shade of your future budget hiking pants, then Columbia have you covered with 18 different variations to choose from. These lightweight cargo pants feature six pockets; including two pockets on the leg, and one of which can be closed by a zip.

You normally buy a pair of Columbia pants because they make high quality gear, and it is no different with these budget-friendly hiking pants. They scream versatility, and can be used for fishing, hunting, or any of your other outdoor recreational hobbies.

The outer fabric of the pants is designed to absorb moisture, which then spreads rapidly across the material, allowing it to dry in record time. It is just one of the things we expect from these giants of the outdoor clothing industry.

Pros:

  • Quick drying fabric technology
  • Six pockets to choose from

Cons:

  • Waist sizes do run a little bit small

Check price at AMAZON.com

4. CQR Tactical Pants

There are many great reasons why people are flocking to get their hands on a pair of these combat-orientated hiking pants from CQR. One of them is their cost-effective-yet-durable nature.

Coming in a crazy 37 different colors and styles, these cargo pants feature 8 different-styled pockets for a maximum range of uses. They feature longer pockets for your army knife, and different variations for tools and equipment.

The fabric is water, dirt, fade and wrinkle resistant, and comes with a comfortable multi-fit stretching waist band. There is a handy tactical belt designed exclusively for these pants, but they do not come as a set.

Pros:

  • Exceptional value for money
  • Eight different pockets

Cons:

  • The tactical belt must be purchased separately

Check price at AMAZON.com

5. Camel Quick-Dry Travel Pants

These pants from Camel fold away compactly into their own back zipped-pocket. Now, how cool is that? They come in three colors: black, grey and olive, and also feature two roomy pockets on the front.

These pants are ultra-lightweight – weighing in at 0.65 pounds – and as the name suggests, they are super-fast to dry (about 12.5% faster than their previous model, which in itself was pretty rapid). These two characteristics make these set of pants a great addition to you hiking inventory.

The 100D spandex makes them exceptionally comfortable, while the elastic waistband and drawcord design keep them exactly where you want them.

Pros:

  • The most compact pants in this list
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Super-fast drying time

Cons:

  • The sizes do run a little large

Check price at AMAZON.com

6. Free Soldier – Fleece Lined Cargo Hiking Pants

These highly sought-after pants are an excellent choice for those looking to hike in the colder winter months. The 94% polyester and 6% spandex makeup is complemented by a skin-friendly-and-super-comfy fleece lining, while a water repellent coating whisks unwanted moisture away from the surface.

Also read: What Pants Should I Wear for Winter Hiking?

The pants come with 6 thoughtfully-placed zip pockets to store all your necessities, while other thoughtful touches include side elastic waist bands and a drawstring.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally warm and comfortable
  • Six thoughtfully-placed pockets

Cons:

  • Not ideal for hiking in warmer climates / summer

Check price at AMAZON.com

7. Union Bay – Rainier Travel Tech Chino Pants

These chino pants are comprised of 94% nylon and 6% spandex, which means they dry quickly and provides at least UPF 50+ sun protection. It also gives them an added amount of stretchiness, something you may find endearing while striding up trails and bouncing from boulder to boulder.

Being mostly nylon, they are going to repel a fair bit of water. And they are chinos, so they are timeless, and you are going to look fashionable as well.

That pants feature two pockets – both zippered – one on the side and one on the back, and both are mesh-lined.

Pros:

  • Zippered pockets
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Stretchy material

Cons:

  • Could use some more pockets

Check price at AMAZON.com

FAQ

What makes up a quality hiking pant?

Hiking pants should be light, easy to move in and hold a certain amount of stretchiness. Without this you are going to start bursting seams when you are forced into an unnaturally large stride. And that is going to happen countless times when you are out on the trail.

Many hiking pants are made with mostly nylon due to its moisture-repellent nature, although look for the amount of spandex in a product as well, as this influences how stretchy they are likely to be.

Good hiking pants have thoughtfully-placed pockets to stash things that you will need continuously throughout the day. It would be annoying to have to drop your pack every time you needed to consult your map and compass, or to eat a couple of much-needed snacks while on the go.

Should my hiking pants be waterproof?

The fabrics that make up your hiking pants should be quick-to-dry and have some kind of durable water repellent (DWR) treatment. If the rain becomes heavy enough, it is likely you will need to don a pair of waterproof pants (as part of your outer shell), but good hiking pants should be made from water-wicking fabrics that repel water and keep you dry in light rain.

Convertible hiking pants? Yes!

Convertible pants are those incredible inventions that convert your trousers to shorts by unzipping the legs; usually around the knees. They are great to take with you on a hike, particularly if the day is likely to start off cold, before climbing up to sweat-inducing temperatures later in the day.

There are other benefits of convertible pants too. If you suddenly come across a swarm of insects that want nothing more than to suck the blood from ankles, then a quick change from shorts to trousers is an option for you. Legs starting to get burnt? Have you come across an overgrown section of trail that you could scratch your skin on? Just zip your pants back up again!

The more money you spend on the product means you are likely to get a better-quality pair of convertible pants, although there are some exceptions to this rule. However, generally speaking, placing a zip around the legs and making it work well does increase the cost of the product.

Hiking in jeans or cotton pants?

Hiking in denim jeans is never a good idea. If the weather unexpectedly turns nasty, those jeans are going to absorb moisture and become a heavy, soggy burden. This is likely to lead to chaffing of your sensitive skin in painful and uncomfortable places. On top of that, if it is cold and you are wet – then throw in a bit of wind – you could get yourself into trouble as hypothermia becomes a factor.

Cotton is a lot heavier than other materials used to make hiking products. It is heavy, and it absorbs water about as efficiently as your towel (and dries about as quick as well), so no, you should avoid cotton about as much as you would denim.

Summing Up – Hiking pants come in a huge range of prices, but it is no longer necessary to spend way too much money on some of the best brands. The pants included in this list are all made from quick-drying materials, and most have moisture-wicking technology that will keep your legs dry in light rain.

They also have a bit of stretchy material built in such as spandex, which means you can avoid potentially embarrassing situations (burst seams).

It is best to avoid certain materials, such as cotton and denim when you are choosing your pants. Even if they are your favorite materials, they have no place on a hiking trail, especially when the weather turns wet and nasty.

 

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