Hiking gear seems to have become incredibly expensive in recent years. Finding a quality pair of budget hiking pants has been increasingly difficult, with many products costing eye-watering prices.
Here at SnowSunSee, we believe that quality hiking gear doesn’t have to break the bank. During our research, we established that it is possible to find a great pair of hiking pants for a sensible price.
In this review, we analyse and compare the best budget hiking pants on the market. Each product offers the performance associated with a quality product, but costs a fraction of the price.
Ranking The Best Budget Hiking Pants
- Columbia Silver Ridge
- Eddie Bauer Guide Pro
- The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible
- Columbia Royce Peak II
- ATG by Wrangler Trail Pants
Best Budget Hiking Pants Comparison
Popular hiking pants that perform well in warmer conditions for a bargain price
Wallet friendly hiking pants with weather-proofing and comfort beyond their price tag
A good pair of budget softshell hiking pants that are capable in cold weather
Convertible pants that perform great warm weather and provide reliable durability
Comfortable hiking pants that perform well on the trail and look great around town
Breathable, quick-drying, comfortable during travel, good pockets, lightweight, UV protection
Cheap, DWR finish, stretch mobility, comfortable, durable for a budget pant, versatile
Water-resistant, comfortable fit, stretchy, articulated knees improve mobility
Convertible, durable, UV protection, belt included, DWR finish, quick-drying
Versatile, moisture-wicking, good fit, lightweight feel, comfortable, decent sretch
Thin materials lack durability, limited stretch
Impractical pockets, loud when walking
Lacking seam durability, not so breathable
Not built for winter, limited stretch
Thin materials could show wear over time
97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
96% Nylon, 4% Elastane
94% Nylon, 6% Spandex
Why Do I Need The Best Budget Hiking Pants?
If you love finding quality gear for below market price: the best budget hiking pants will suit your style. Each product in our comparison has the features required for a great time on the trail, without the eye-watering cost.
Many cheap hiking pants offer reduced performance that can seriously impact your experience. Thankfully, we have carefully analysed each option to find the best of the bunch.
In this guide, we aim to prove that comfort and quality doesn’t need to break the bank. The pants on this list are sure to last throughout your adventure, allowing you to maximize your time on the trail.
How To Choose The Best Budget Hiking Pants
Hiking pants are generally made from a nylon or polyester blend. Both materials are lightweight and durable, while they also have quick-drying properties.
Some kind of stretchy material will typically be added to improve comfort. Elastane or spandex are the most common options, which can be used in varying amounts to provide more or less stretch.
The amount of stretch fabric can vary greatly between products. Some pants can use upwards of 10% spandex or elastane for maximum flexibility, while others might provide no give at all.
It’s also possible to purchase ‘soft shell’ pants that are best suited to winter conditions. By using a polyester and nylon blend that is heavy duty and fully waterproof; they are ideal for cold and wet days on the trail.
The weight of your hiking pants can make a big difference to their performance. It can range from under 10oz for the lightest summer pants, to over 1lb if you need the toughest weather-resistance.
If you plan on hiking in the heat, it’s advisable to look for a lighter pair of pants. By using thinner fabrics and a generally breathable design; they are designed to keep your legs breathing.
Anyone that will be hiking in winter weather will likely need to look for something heavier. The use of thicker materials or a soft shell design can add additional weight, but it will also provide the weather-resistance you require.
Another key point is that reduced weight can often compromise durability. Heavier pants tend to use stronger materials and a more robust design, but this can vary between brands.
Hint: If you’re serious about saving weight, it might be worth reading our review of the best lightweight hiking pants.
The amount of waterproofing you require is dependant on the conditions you will most likely face.
The last thing you need is a hot and heavy pair of pants weighing you down during summer. Warm weather hikers should be looking to minimize waterproofing, due to its negative impact on breathability.
Anyone that’s facing winter or alpine conditions can start to look for waterproof pants. Despite their inherent lack of breathability, they will make sure you’re completely dry in wet weather.
It’s worth noting that even lightweight pants do a pretty good job of shedding water. The nylon fabrics used often come with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating that helps water to bead-up without penetrating the fabric.
Most breathable pants with a DWR coating are more than sufficient for light rain, making them the best choice for most hikers. However, it might be worth investing in a waterproof product if you’re expecting to face a downpour.
Pockets can be a handy place to store your essentials. However, they can also cause unnecessary bulk.
Most hiking pants will offer a couple of cargo pockets on the side of your legs. It’s an easy place to stash some lip balm or trailmix, but anything heavier could end up weighing you down.
The lighter pants in our review tend to favour a minimalist design, with just one or two side pockets providing storage. Many hikers find this more than sufficient, since they’re usually carrying a pack that has plenty of easy-to-access storage space.
Hiking pants can offer a variety of features aimed at improving fit, performance and practicality.
- Integrated belts offer a great way to get the perfect fit. It will often be lightweight, low profile and more practical than adding your own belt.
- Convertible pants have zips around the knees that allow them to be changed into shorts. They are especially popular amongst multi-season and summer hikers.
- Articulated knees are a great way to improve performance. By adding a diamond shaped piece of fabric around the kneecap, they allow you to walk without restriction.
Every pair of hiking pants will come with its own set of features. Some minimalist designs will not provide any, while others are more complex.
Getting the right fit is essential if you want to maximize comfort and performance. Some pants lean towards a looser fit, while others are tighter and have a more ‘athletic’ feel.
Many hiking pants are now using more of a ‘snug’ fit thanks to the prominence of stretchy fabric. It allows them to reduce bagginess without restricting movement.
Ideally; you will want to find some pants that fit well enough for casual wear, but also have the performance required for scrambling up steep terrain.
Best Overall Budget Hiking Pants
Columbia are a well-known provider of reasonably priced hiking clothing, so it’s no surprise to find them sitting at the top of our list. When constructing the Silver Ridge, they have managed to produce a well-rounded pair of pants that are extremely popular with budget conscious hikers.
The 100% nylon fabric used has excellent breathability on a warm day and feels lightweight at all times. It’s also incredibly quick-drying, which is a useful feature if you get caught in a sudden downpour or just find yourself sweating on a hot day.
In addition to moisture-wicking properties, the Silver Ridge naturally blocks UV rays to keep you safe under the sun. We also found the cargo pockets to be easy to use, with a zippered security pocket also proving to be useful.
The overall performance of the Columbia Silver Ridge is impressive when you consider the budget friendly price. Despite having limitations in winter weather, these pants are perfectly designed for day-hiking in moderate conditions.
- Breathable fabric
- Great overall summer performance
- Good pockets
- Can be worn for casual or travel
- Not the best for winter weather
- Limited stretch
- Thin fabric can lack durability
Best ‘Super Budget’ Hiking Pants
If you’re looking to save some serious cash; Wrangler’s ATG Trail Pants are a good option. We were impressed with the performance offered, despite costing considerably less than most of the budget pants in our review.
The nylon and spandex fabric blend provides a great amount of stretch mobility, which is rarely seen in a budget product. The fabric also offers great durability and feels comfortable enough to wear on the trail or in the brewhouse.
The trail pants also use a gusseted crotch and articulated knees to further enhance comfort and mobility. In addition, a DWR finish has been applied to the fabric so you can feel confident when facing light rain.
Considering their ‘super budget’ price; the ATG Trail Pants offer great performance that can withstand most day-hiking adventures. The freedom of movement they provide is superb and the durable design is certain to last a few years.
- Good fabric stretch
- Natural freedom of movement
- Water-repellent finish
- Durable design
- Versatile enough for casual wear
- Great value for money
- Not a great pocket layout
- Sound like ‘snow pants’ when walking
- Can feel warm during summer
Best Budget Winter Hiking Pants
Finding a good pair of softshell pants for a budget price can feel like an impossible task. However, the Columbia Royce Peak II are a great choice for anyone planning a winter hiking excursion.
The pants use a nylon and elastane fabric blend that provides ample stretch for alpine adventurers facing steep scrambles. The material is also designed using Columbia’s ‘Omni-Shield’ technology, making them water-resistant enough to withstand the occasional downpour.
The overall feel of the pants is comfortable, with articulated knees further enhancing freedom of movement. They are also well-set for sunny days in the outdoors thanks to a UV protective coating that will make sure you’re safe.
If you’re looking for a budget pair of hiking pants to get you through the winter, look no further than Columbia’s Royce Peak II. The weather-resistance and comfortable fit offered will serve you well when hiking across wet and windy alpine terrain.
- Stretchy fabric
- Natural mobility
- Comfortable feel
- UV protection
- Good fit for most hikers
- Super price for a softshell hiking pant
- Not suited for summer use
- Seam durability can be an issue
- Not very breathable
Best Convertible Budget Hiking Pants
Convertible pants are a great way to stay comfortable and protected from changing weather and terrain. If you’re looking for adaptability on a budget, then we highly recommend The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible.
The pants use a 100% nylon fabric that has been finished with a water-repellent coating that can withstand occasional light rainfall. The material is also incredibly quick-drying, while it also comes with UV protection for sunny days.
The easily convertible design of these pants makes them the most adaptable option in our review. The integrated belt is also a great addition that makes them a comfortable fit for most hikers.
Anyone looking to combine the freedom of shorts with the protection of pants will be happy with The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible. The design will allow you to combat the elements and remain comfortable in a range of conditions.
- Easily convertible
- Good integrated belt
- Water-repellent finish
- Durable fabric
- Comfortable fit
- Ideal for summer hiking
- Not water-resistant enough for heavy rain
- Lacking stretch
Best Budget Hiking Pants for Travel
Finding a budget pair of hiking pants that are versatile enough for travel will allow you to get the most from your investment. Upon review, we found the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro provided a comfortable fit and the look required to be worn around town.
The pants use a nylon and spandex blend that provides plenty of stretch and mobility. The fabric also comes with a DWR finish to withstand light rainfall, while the UPF50+ sun protection is great for summer hiking.
The breathability and moisture-wicking ability of the Guide Pro was also a standout feature that will keep travellers comfortable. The overall fit of the pants was comfortable yet casual, with a look that will suit summer garden parties.
The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro is an excellent choice for those looking to more than just hike. Whether you’re in the town or on the trail; these pants will make sure you’re comfortable and stylish.
- Travel friendly design
- Stretchy fabric
- Water-repellent finish
- UPF50+ rated
- Comfortable fit and feel
- Thin fabric can show wear and tear over time
- Will probably struggle during winter hikes
Finding the best budget hiking pants becomes a lot easier once you know how to assess the options. Be sure to assess the key features to find the product that suits your style.
Every pair of pants has its own unique pros and cons, making them ideally suited to a different type of hiker. However, each option on this list is more than capable of performing on the trail without breaking the bank.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.