Should Hiking Pants Be Baggy (And What To Wear While Hiking)

A person walking in baggy hiking pants.

In order to truly enjoy hiking, you should feel comfortable at all times. Hiking boots or shoes play an important role in securing that comfort. However, when it comes to comfort, hiking pants are equally important and often overlooked. Should hiking pants be baggy and what exactly should you wear while hiking?

Hiking pants shouldn’t be too baggy, as you might trip over them. They shouldn’t be too tight either, as they will chafe your legs. They should be baggy enough so that they don’t restrict your movement. Your hiking pants need to be comfortable and durable to ensure a hiking trip that your legs will enjoy.

Before we dive deeper into the topic of hiking pants and other items of clothing you should wear while hiking, take a look at our blog and learn how hiking boots should fit so your feet don’t become sore with all the walking.

Should hiking pants be baggy?

We are back on the subject of hiking pants. When it comes to hiking pants, it all comes down to these two types of baggy hiking pants you should consider investing in:

  1. Standard hiking pants – they cannot be converted into shorts and are therefore your ideal choice for hiking in colder climates, or when hiking in fall or winter. If you plan to hike in the evening, or even at night, when the temperature drops, standard hiking pants are your go-to item of hiking clothing.
  2. Convertible hiking pants – they are sensible when you plan to hike in various climates. Convertible hiking pants offer more breathability thanks to the zipper that enables you to remove the lower half of the pants. However, keep in mind that the zipper also adds extra weight when they are used as full pants.

When we say baggy hiking pants, we don’t mean bulky. Under no circumstances should your hiking pants hinder your mobility. That’s why it’s vitally important to try them out. Go for a walk in them around the store. To ensure you get just the right fit for you, move around in them, do squats and lunges and check whether they also feel comfortable in the back and knees.

Baggy hiking pants typically feature a couple of pockets on the sides. You can stow away your GPS, a lip balm, a pocketknife, etc. in your pockets and have these items within quick reach. Although pockets can come in handy when hiking, remember that all that extra material in your pockets shouldn’t weigh you down. Check out our complete guide on what equipment you need for hiking, so you don’t overload your pockets.

Why are hiking pants so expensive?

The price range of quality hiking pants is from $50 to up to $200. It may seem hefty but think of it as an investment. A sturdy pair of hiking pants can go a long way. Higher-quality hiking pants are made of higher-quality nylon. Check out our outdoor equipment guide to find out if you can hem nylon pants.

Quality nylon is more durable, while also lightweight. It is quiet when rubbed together and it wicks sweat from your skin. All these factors greatly affect the price. Also, take the following factors into consideration when deciding how much you are willing to pay for a pair of hiking pants:

  • Convertible of standard hiking pants – your choice here should come down to the type of weather you expect to encounter.
  • Waterproof pants – if you plan to hike in wet climates, you are well-advised to invest in a pair of waterproof pants. It is worth paying extra for a waterproof layer of Gore-Tex.
  • Elastic waistband or traditional belt – it is a matter of personal preference. Elastic waistbands are lighter than traditional belts. On the other hand, traditional belts offer more security in case your pockets are bulging with heavy equipment.
  • Pockets – the amount and type of pockets on baggy hiking pants vary. You should choose the pockets according to your needs. It all depends on how much gear you want to have easy access to. Hiking pants should match your style and be within your price range.

Is it better to hike in pants or leggings?

This question poses a difficult dilemma for many hikers. Personal preferences play a major role here, as well as the type of hiking you will be doing. Leggings, aka tights or yoga pants, can be a sensible choice for an easy day hike, provided that they are not made of cotton. For multiday trekking or rugged terrain, hiking pants are a much better option.

Check out our detailed blog on whether to wear compression leggings when hiking. These are some pros of hiking in leggings:

  • Comfort – they are super comfortable and non-restricting.
  • Lightweight – they don’t feature bulky zippers or heavy buckles and are comfortable when hiking in summer.
  • Prevent chafing – chafing is a real problem seasoned hikers are all too familiar with.

What are hiking leggings?

You might be the type of person who enjoys wearing leggings everywhere, from yoga classes to Zoom calls. Nevertheless, you probably wouldn’t like to see your beloved yoga pants destroyed while brushing up against branches or leaning against rocks. That is why you should consider buying actual hiking leggings.

Hiking leggings offer all the comfort of your yoga pants while being more durable and tailor-made for outdoor conditions. Here are some additional features of hiking leggings:

  • Durability – they are tougher than your everyday tights. The durable fabric of hiking leggings features abrasion resistance.
  • Moisture-wicking – as opposed to your yoga pants, which are oftentimes made of cotton, hiking leggings are typically made from polyester or other moisture-wicking fabric. This type of material will keep you dry and prevent funky smells.
  • Sun protection – some hiking leggings have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). This factor will protect your skin against harmful UV rays and is essential if you plan to be in the sun a lot.
  • Durable water repellent – if you often hike in places where the weather is fickle, or even notorious for downpours, look for pants that are treated with DWR or some other water-resistant finish.

A man wearing baggy hiking pants, an orange backpack and a hat, looking at the mountain.

What to wear while hiking?

When you venture into the wilderness, your hiking clothing is vitally important for your overall hiking experience. These are some factors you should pay attention to when choosing what to wear while hiking:

  • Comfort – make an informed decision on what to wear before you go hiking to ensure the most comfortable hiking experience.
  • Safety – think about safety first, protect yourself against insects, especially these 11 bugs you should worry about, and put on sensible clothes that offer protection against wind or rain when needed.
  • Versatile clothing – since quality outdoor gear and clothes can be pricey, make sure that you buy articles of clothing that can be used for multiple purposes.
  • Season – your hiking outfits will change a lot by the season, but remember that certain items, such as denim or cotton tees are to be avoided. Cotton is the number one material to avoid when hiking, as it soaks up sweat, leaving you wet and cold. Denim doesn’t breathe well and will leave you feeling uncomfortable and hot.

Next are some items of hiking clothing that should definitely find their place in your wardrobe.

#1 Proper footwear

In addition to durable hiking pants or comfortable hiking leggings, footwear is another item that will greatly determine the quality of your entire hiking trip. You can choose between hiking boots, shoes, or even hiking sandals.

Always consider the weather conditions, the type of terrain, as well as your personal preferences when choosing proper hiking footwear. Your hiking footwear has to provide you with protection, support, and traction on all types of surfaces.

#2 Polyester, nylon, and merino wool items

All next-to-skin items of clothing, such as undies, bras, socks, and tees should be made from these materials. We can’t emphasize enough that cotton is to be avoided because it holds onto water. It will either make you feel sweaty in summer or chill you in winter. Either way, it’s a bad choice of material for hiking.

#3 A rain jacket

This is one of the must-have hiking items. It offers protection against rain and wind. If you expect seriously soggy weather, you can pair a rain jacket with waterproof and breathable rain pants. Always choose a jacket that you can easily pack in case you need to remove it along the way.

#4 A hat

An often overlooked item of clothing, a hat is a versatile and sensible item that you can wear in every season. It keeps your head dry in rain and protects it from the sun. A brimmed hat paired with sunglasses keeps rain and sun out of your eyes. Read our blog for tips on how to choose the right hat for hiking.

Conclusion

When you set off on your next hiking trip, we hope that our article will come in useful so you know exactly what to wear. We answered how baggy hiking pants should be, as well as what other items of clothing you should consider investing in. Remember that sensible hiking clothes will ensure a comfortable and safe hiking experience.

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