Best Lightweight Hiking Pants

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants: Top 5 of 2021

Hiking pants that make you feel fast, light and free is something that can improve the quality of any adventure. The last thing you need is heavy clothing restricting your sense of freedom.

Wearing lightweight hiking pants is a great way to feel fast and light on your feet. It will give you a freedom of movement required for comfort and help to regulate your body temperature throughout the year.

Here at SnowSunSee, we know that finding reliable hiking clothing can often feel like a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, comparing the best lightweight hiking pants that will improve your time on the trail.

Ranking The Best Lightweight Hiking Pants

  1. Arc’teryx Lefroy
  2. Patagonia Quandary
  3. Arc’teryx Gamma LT
  4. Montane Terra Pack
  5. Marmot PreCip Eco

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants Comparison

Name

Price

Overview

Super lightweight hiking pants with exceptional breathability and weather-resistance

Super comfortable and stretchy pants that are incredibly lightweight

Ultra lightweight hiking pants that offer supreme mobility when scrambling

Fully waterproof hiking pants that are lightweight and packable

Softshell hiking pants that can cope with alpine weather conditions

Best For

Overall

Comfort

Ultralight

Waterproof

Winter

Pros

Lightweight, breathable, durable, high stretch, good protection, attractive design 

Super lightweight, comfortable, flexible, good water-resistance, cheap

Ultra Lightweight, stretchy, breathable, packable, comfortable, adjustable fit

Waterproof, lightweight packable, comfortable, good fit, durable

Water-resistant, wind blocking, comfortable, versatile, attractive design

Cons

Expensive, not for cold weather

Lacking pockets and features

Questionable long-term durability

Lack breathability

Expensive, could breathe better

Overall Rating

Material

Nylon, Elastane

Nylon, Spandex

Stretch Nylon

Nylon

Nylon, Elastane

Weight

10.2oz (289g)

9.5oz (269g)

8.4oz (238g)

8.1oz (230g)

11.3oz (320g)

Why Do I Need The Best Lightweight Hiking Pants?

If you’re fed up of feeling weighed down by heavy clothing, you need the best lightweight hiking pants. Designed from thin but strong fabrics; they give you a sense of freedom and flexibility that is essential for a successful adventure.

Many traditional hiking pants can feel heavy and restrictive. Although they might be successful at keeping you warm during winter, they often lack the breathability to keep you cool in the heat.

Wearing a lightweight pair of pants is essential if you want to keep your legs breathing. It will also make you feel lighter every step of the way, which can greatly improve your hiking experience.

The pants we have included in this review are each designed for a specific type of hiker. Take the time to assess the conditions you will most frequently face on the trail to find the pair that best suits your style.

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants
Wearing lightweight hiking pants is sure to improve your trail time

How To Choose The Best Lightweight Hiking Pants

Weight

Since this is a review of the best lightweight hiking pants, it’s probably not surprising that weight is a key consideration.

Finding a lightweight pair of pants will make them feel portable in your pack. It will also make you feel lighter on your feet, something that is desirable for anyone looking to hiker further or faster.

The use of thin but tough fabrics has allowed the weight of hiking pants to reduce drastically in recent years. Many quality hiking pants now weight under 1lb, with the lightest options weighing significantly less.

It’s worth noting the lightweight hiking pants can sometimes lack the winter weather features of their heavier counterparts. However, it’s still possible to find pants that will keep you warm and dry without adding significant weight.

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants
Top-quality pants provide durability without excess weight

Material

Hiking pants are usually made from a synthetic nylon blend. It’s a strong fabric that has great natural wind and waterproofing capabilities.

The nylon is usually blended with a ‘stretchy’ material, such as spandex or elastane. The added stretch gives you freedom of movement, which is essential when scrambling up steep terrain.

Some pants, like the ever popular Outdoor Research Ferrosi, use a super stretchy blend of 14% spandex. Others are significantly less stretchy, with options like the Columbia Silver Ridge using no stretch fabric at all.

It’s also worth noting that some of the more ‘weather-resistant’ pants use softshell fabric. It’s also made from synthetic fabrics, but is specifically designed to cope with cold and wet alpine conditions.

Breathability

If you plan to wear your hiking pants during the summer months, breathability is essential. It will allow hot air and moisture to escape your skin, making it vital if you want to keep your cool.

It should come as no surprise that lightweight hiking pants generally offer the best breathability. The use of thinner fabrics makes it easier for heat to escape.

Some pants will also use stretchy panels in areas that tend to produce the most heat, such as the thighs and crotch. Others will use a fabric weave that specifically allows space for sweat to be drawn away from the skin.

If your primary objective is to find a ventilated pair of pants for hot weather, we have also reviewed the best summer hiking pants. They are all designed to be ultra-breathable or include specific features that can keep you cool.

Water-Resistance

If you enjoy hiking during the winter, you already know the importance of staying dry. You never know when a sudden downpour is going to strike, so having the right clothing is essential.

Most hiking pants have a pretty good level of natural water-resistance. The use of nylon fabrics means they’re less likely to soak up water, making it a popular year-round choice.

In addition, many of the best lightweight hiking pants come with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating. It helps the water droplets bead up and roll off the surface, making sure your pants don’t get soaked through.

It’s also possible to get truly waterproof pants that are specifically designed for wet weather outings. They are viewed as an essential backpack item for many, although they often lack the breathability to all-day use.

Pockets

If you’re already carrying a hiking backpack, you probably don’t need too many pockets. However, having a few useful places to stash your essentials can make your life easier when you’re out on the trail.

In general, lightweight hiking pants use a minimalist design that minimizes bulk. A couple of cargo pockets are often enough to create decent storage space before things start getting heavy.

The design of each pocket can also have a big impact. If you want to make sure your gear is secure, look for zippered compartment pockets that can make storage simple.

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants
Having plenty of pockets can come in handy

Best Overall Lightweight Hiking Pants

Arc’teryx Lefroy

Arc'teryx Lefroy Lightweight Hiking Pants
  • Material: Nylon (86%), Elastane (14%)
  • Weight: 10.2oz (289g)
  • Water-Resistance: None
  • Sun Protection: None
  • Belt Included: Yes
  • Retailers: Amazon, Backcountry
  • Alternate Versions: Lefroy Short

Weight

Comfort

Breathability

Water Resistance

Sun Protection

Durability

Pockets

Features

Mobility

Style

Overall

Arc’teryx are a technical brand that have consistently proven their ability to make high-quality hiking clothing throughout the years. In our opinion, their Lefroy pants are the best option for weight-conscious hikers looking for reliable all-round performance.

The Lefroy are Arc’teryx’s lightest hiking pants, using a ‘summer specific’ design that weighs in at just over 10oz. The high-stretch nylon and elastane fabric blend uses ‘AirPerm’ technology that ensures breathability on the hottest trails and desert pursuits.

As you might expect from the 14% elastane content, these pants allow an excellent amount of mobility that can support your scrambling and stretching desires. The overall fit gives just the right amount of space for comfort without looking too baggy, making them a versatile option that is suitable for travel.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the reliable durability and design features offered by the Arc’teryx Lefroy. It can be challenging to find challenging to find true long-term quality in a lightweight pair of pants, but the Lefroy was the standout choice for our top pick.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Stretchy
  • Breathable
  • Good looking
  • Great fit

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Best used during the summer

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants For Comfort

Patagonia Quandary

Patagonia Quandary Lightweight Hiking Pants

Weight

Comfort

Breathability

Water Resistance

Sun Protection

Durability

Pockets

Features

Mobility

Style

Overall

The Quandary are billed as Patagonia’s lightest and most ‘travel friendly’ hiking pants. As soon as you put them on, the supreme comfort and flexibility they offer instantly proves their versatility for use on and off the trail.

The tough but lightweight nylon fabric has these pants weighing in at little over 9oz, with a gussetted crotch and articulated knees making sure that durability isn’t an afterthought. The inclusion of spandex also makes for a high-mobility stretch fit, which is appreciated when scrambling up a steep path or relaxing in the brewhouse afterwards.

The pants come complete with a DWR finish that will keep light rain at bay and a UPF 50 layer for reliable sun protection. The tight knit fabric also does a decent job of cutting the wind, proving that these pants are for more than just summer pursuits.

If you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable pair of hiking pants that will serve you well across a variety of scenarios, we strongly recommend the Patagonia Quandary. The stretch fabric exceeded our expectations in fit, feel and performance; making it a standout competitor and one of our top choices.

Pros

  • Super Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Stretchy
  • Water-resistant
  • UPF50 sun protection
  • Light and mobile feel

Cons

  • Lacking pockets and features
  • Fabric a tad thin for cold weather

Best Ultralight Hiking Pants

Montane Terra Pack

Montane Terra Pack Lightweight Hiking Pants
  • Material: Stretch Nylon
  • Weight: 8.4oz (238g)
  • Water-Resistance: DWR
  • Sun Protection: UPF 50+
  • Belt Included: Yes
  • Retailers: Amazon
  • Alternate Versions: Terra Pants, Super Terra Pants

Weight

Comfort

Breathability

Water Resistance

Sun Protection

Durability

Pockets

Features

Mobility

Style

Overall

Montane have produced the Terra Pack as a trimmed down version of their incredibly popular ‘Terra Pants’. Despite their label as a reduced weight option, the Terra Pack pants are packed full of quality features that can improve your time on the trail.

Weighing in at just over 8oz, these pants are supremely lightweight and provide a great packable option for thru-hikers. The fabric is a ‘thin but strong’ high-stretch nylon that won’t hold you back when scrambling or setting up your tent at the end of a long day.

Another bonus point for the Terra Pack comes in the form of comfort, with a high level of mobility contributing to their athletic feel. The overall performance is capped by the inclusion of a DWR coating and UPF 50+ sun protection making them suitable for variable weather conditions.

For anyone serious about saving weight, the Montane Terra Pack poses an intriguing option. Comfortable, mobile and athletic feeling with a host of weather-resistant features; they are a good choice for ‘fast and light’ hikers.

Pros

  • Ultra Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • High mobility
  • Water-resistant
  • UPF50+ sun protection
  • Packable
  • Quick-drying

Cons

  • Some long-term durability issues

Best Waterproof Lightweight Hiking Pants

Marmot PreCip Eco

Marmot PreCip Eco Lightweight Hiking Pants
  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight: 8.1oz (230g)
  • Water-Resistance: NanoPro Waterproof Membrane
  • Sun Protection: None
  • Belt Included: No
  • Retailers: Amazon, Backcountry
  • Alternate Versions: PreCip Full-Zip

Weight

Comfort

Breathability

Water Resistance

Sun Protection

Durability

Pockets

Features

Mobility

Style

Overall

If you’re looking for a pair of hiking pants that can keep your dry without excess weight; the Marmot PreCip Eco is a great choice. Weighing in at just over 8oz and using an easily packable design, they are ideal for anyone needing something than can be worn over hiking pants in the event of a downpour.

The pants are constructed from fully waterproof nylon, using a ‘NanoPro’ membrane to make sure you’re protected from the elements. Every seam has also been fully taped to ensure they remain water-tight in the harshest weather.

The overall fit provides ample mobility through a slightly baggy yet well fitted shape. The simple looking design also features the reliable durability we have come to expect from Marmot products over the years.

Anyone looking for lightweight rain pants that can guarantee dryness in any weather will be satisfied with the Marmot PreCip Eco. Durable, comfortable and protective; they are a perfect addition to your winter pack.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Good fit
  • Packable
  • Fully waterproof
  • Seam sealed
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not breathable enough for all-day usage

Best Lightweight Hiking Pants For Winter

Arc’teryx Gamma LT

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Lightweight Hiking Pants
  • Material: Nylon (88%), Elastane (12%)
  • Weight: 11.3oz (320g)
  • Water-Resistance: DWR
  • Sun Protection: None
  • Belt Included: Yes
  • Retailers: Backcountry
  • Alternate Versions: Gamma LT Short

Weight

Comfort

Breathability

Water Resistance

Sun Protection

Durability

Pockets

Features

Mobility

Style

Overall

Softshell pants that have the attributes required for alpine usage are notoriously heavy. However, the Arc’teryx Gamma LT proves that it is possible to create high-performance winter hiking pants without adding significant weight.

The super tough and durable design is created using nylon fabric, which is predictably blended with elastane to provide a high-mobility stretch fit. The material has been finished with a DWR coating that worked well on test to protect against wet weather.

The mountain ready construction is flexible enough to allow for thermal underwear layering when the going gets cold. It also looks incredibly smart and casual, using a fit that holds its shape well and is versatile enough for a range of scenarios.

If you’re looking for a lightweight pair of softshell pants that can stand up to serious weather, the Arc’teryx Gamma LT is the perfect choice. The highly durable and reliable design can be put through the wringer and come through the toughest thru-hikes with flying colours.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Good mobility
  • Water-resistant
  • Windproof
  • Comfortable
  • Attractive design

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not the most breathable option

Summing Up

Wearing a pair of lightweight hiking pants can make a big difference to your time on the trail. It will give you the freedom of movement to maximize performance and make sure you’re comfortable in a heat wave.

Despite the wealth of products on the market, finding the best lightweight hiking pants can be a challenging task. However, every option in this guide is capable of providing outdoor performance without excess weight.

Take the time to assess each product to find the one that suits your style. If you stick to the pants on this list, you’re on the way to a successful hiking adventure.