Hiking 101: Pack Your Bag

Luckily for us hikers, very little of the gadgetry and technical clothing is actually necessary for a safe, enjoyable hike, and even the essentials don’t need to be expensive to be trail-worthy.

Mount Challenger by Buff Black.jpg

Taking a well deserved break a top Mount Challenger. Photo by Buff Black.


There is a wide variety of hiking footwear out there to choose from — each with their own unique benefits. For some folks, hiking boots may be the best choice thanks to their ankle support and ability to handle uneven terrain. Others may prefer trail running shoes because of their comfort and low weight. Some hikers swear by hiking sandals (like Chacos or Tevas) for their breathability and quick-dry factor. Your footwear only needs to be as technical as the hikes you’re taking them on, so you might want to ask yourself a few of these questions before make your first purchase:

  • More New to hiking resources
  • Hiking 101: Hiking Safely & Politely

What kind of weather will I be hiking in? Do I plan to hike in wet or cold conditions?

What will the terrain be like while I’m hiking? Will it be slick? Is traction needed?

Am I prone to ankle injury?

Remember, fit is critical, so try on lots of styles! If it’s not comfortable in the store, it certainly won’t be on the trail. You may also want to look into alternate lacing techniques to help your boots feel even better.


You’ll need a few clothing basics to stay safe and comfortable on trail, some of which you might already have in your closet. While you don’t need the most expensive gear, you should avoid cotton: it’s a poor insulator when wet, making you feel colder and increasing your risk of hypothermia. Opt for synthetics or wools materials instead.

Base layer: If you’re hiking in warm weather, this usually means a synthetic t-shirt and shorts. In colder weather, this will include long thermal underwear.

Warm, insulating layer: Do you have a fleece jacket? How about a comfy wool sweater? Both of these work great as a insulating layer that provides warmth if it gets chilly.

Waterproof layer: This includes both rain/wind jackets and hiking or rain pants. The jacket will keep you warm and dry on windy ridges and rainy days, and the pants will keep you warm and protected from brush and mud.

Socks: Hiking-specific socks offer more cushioning and breathability than cotton socks and protect them from blisters (particularly important on long hikes).

Photo by Emma Cassidy.jpg

Photo by Emma Cassidy.


As with the first two items, your backpack only needs to be as technical as the trails you’re hiking. For a day hike in a local park, your basic backpack just needs to be big enough to comfortably carry your food, water, extra layers and a few other safety essentials. If you’re venturing out a bit farther, you may want to invest in a small daypack. These packs are specifically designed with hiking in mind, so they will be much more comfortable for longer days on trail, particularly if you are prone to back pain.

The TEN Essentials

Before you hit the trail, make sure your backpack is loaded with the Ten Essentials. These include navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first aid, fire starter, multi-tool, nutrition, hydration and emergency shelter. While hiking, you are responsible for your own safety and any one of these ten items may help to save your life. Carry each one and know how to use them.

A few other considerations

In addition to these, there are a few other things you may want to pack to make your hike more enjoyable. Insect repellent, whistle, watch, emergency blanket, duct tape (great for repairing anything), gloves, extra socks, and an orange vest (during hunting season). Trekking poles can be incredibly useful while hiking somewhere with steep ascents or descents, of it you have joint problems. A camera and pair of binoculars are useful for recording memories and learning more about the natural world around you.

Do You Need Rain Pants For Backpacking?

Do you need rain pants for backpacking?

Every backpacker has thought about ditching their rain pants. It doesn’t matter what pair of rain pants I wear, my pants always get wet! I didn’t realize how much I would sweat in rain pants until I started wearing them. What’s the point of rain pants if you still get wet? Do I Need Rain Pants For Backpacking?

You should carry a pair of rain pants for backpacking, but they won’t keep your hiking pants dry! Rain pants are designed to keep you warm by blocking wind and keeping out cold exterior moisture, but you will have to deal with sweat and condensation. You may also want to consider lighter options like ponchos, rain kilts, rain chaps, hiking umbrellas, etc.

I have mixed feelings about rain pants. They cut down on rain/wind, make me warmer, but rain pants won’t keep you dry. They’re great at blocking out rain, but they’re just as good at trapping sweat and condensation.

So why bother wearing rain pants if they don’t keep you dry? Here’s a hint: it’s all about conserving body heat. Let’s go over why I think rain pants are a necessary piece of backpacking gear, even if they don’t keep you dry.

Table Of Contents

Are Rain Pants Necessary For Backpacking?

Honestly, 99% of the time rain pants aren’t necessary. There’s definitely a time/place where it’s nice to have rain pants, but you can usually tough it out and keep hiking without them. If conditions become unbearable, stop to set up camp early, and make up time the following morning.

Rain pants may actually cause more problems than they solve backpacking on hot days with light/moderate rain. Waterproof rain pants are great at blocking out rain, but waterproofing works both ways. They also trap sweat, since it can’t evaporate through waterproof fabrics, and cause condensation issues.

Temperatures drop as it rains and your body temperature will warm up the inside of your rain gear. It won’t take long for condensation to form on the inside of your rain gear. This usually leads to your clothes getting soaked worse than if you hadn’t worn rain gear at all.

With that being said, there are times where it makes sense to carry rain gear. You should always wear rain gear in cold/windy weather or when you’re expecting heavy rain. I always carry some form of rain protection (even if I don’t always use it). It might be necessary to carry rain pants backpacking in hot weather, but it’s nice to have something (like a cheap disposable poncho).

I was surprised to learn that the purpose of rain gear isn’t to keep you dry! Rain pants trap body heat by blocking wind and cold exterior moisture. Sweat and condensation inside your rain gear won’t be comfortable, but it’s warmed up by your body heat. Your clothes will be wet, but at least you won’t be cold.

Check out my post Hiking In Rain Pants Post for more information. It goes over reducing sweat and condensation so you’ll be more comfortable on long hikes. You may also want to check out my ultimate guide to camping in the rain!

Are rain pants worth it? Why wear them if I still get wet?

Yes you will definitely want to carry some type of rain protection. It doesn’t specifically need to be rain pants/jackets, but you need some way to preserve body heat. You can choose lighter options like ponchos, chaps, rain kilts, etc (compactor bags work in a pinch).

Read Post  How Much Toe Room In Hiking Boots Is Enough for Perfect Fit?

Even a cheap disposable poncho will be better than nothing. They’re lightweight, compact, and ridiculously cheap. I don’t always carry rain gear in the summer, but I keep a 2oz poncho in my first-aid kit for emergencies.

Water resistant moisture-wicking hiking pants are good enough on warm days with light/moderate rain. Most of the rain will land on your pack/shoulders and your hiking pants will dry fast if they get damp. Just make sure your hiking pants are made out of a synthetic nylon/polyester blend (I wear these) that resists moisture (never wear cotton).

There are definitely times when you should carry a waterproof jacket and rain pants. You will want the added warmth of rain pants when day time temperatures drop into the 60°F range. Temperatures drop by about 10°-15°, wind picks up, and it will feel seriously chilly without rain gear.

Features To Look For In Backpacking Rain Pants

Not every pair of rain pants will be the same. Look for features that make your rain gear easier to use, while adding in ventilation. A cheap pair of Frogg Togg Rain Pants are better than nothing, but I wouldn’t want to hike all day in them.

Adding ventilated zippers, adjustable ankles, and other features increases the price, but they’re far more comfortable. I would rarely wear my cheap poorly ventilated rain gear, but now I toss on my Marmot Full Zip rain pants whenever there’s a chance of moderate/heavy rain.

  • Vents Offer More Flexibility: I wouldn’t buy a pair of rain pants that don’t have ventilated side zippers. They add a few oz of weight to your rain gear, but they’re way more comfortable. Leave the zippers open in light/moderate rain to help with sweat and condensation and zip them up in heavy downpours.
  • Adjustable Ankles or Baggy Opening: Look for pants with adjustable ankles since it can be annoying hiking in baggy pants. These aren’t entirely necessary, but it’s nice to have clean lines that won’t catch on everything.
  • Drawstring or Sewn-In: I might be weird, but I prefer the drawstring that wraps all the way around my waist. Drawstrings last longer, and give you cushion after losing or gaining weight. Sewn-in elastic bands are more convenient, but the elastic degrades over time making them sag.
  • Shoe Removal: Can you put on the pants without taking off your shoes? You shouldn’t have to take off your shoes to put on rain pants. Putting rain pants on over your shoes is easy with ventilated side zippers, but you can also go with pants with adjustable or baggy ankles.
  • Pockets: It might seem ridiculous, but cheap rainpants rarely have pockets. Look for a pair of pants with seam sealed zippered pockets to protect your phone and important gear.

As you reduce the overall weight and add features like ankle/full-length zippers, rain pants can get seriously expensive(over $150). I went with the Marmot’s Precip Full Zip Pants (pictured above), because they’re the cheapest full zip pants I could find. They weight 12oz so there are lighter options available, but plan on spending $50+ to save 2-3 oz of pack weight.

If you can’t afford to by ventilated pants Frog Toggs Ultralight Rain Pants are better than nothing.They don’t have fancy features like ventilated zippers, but they’re lightweight (5 oz) keep you warm and are seriously cheap. Plan on spending at least $100 on well ventilated pants with zippered ventilation panels.

You will be more comfortable spending the extra money to get side venting, but don’t blow your budget on rain gear. The main point of rain pants is to keep you warm and any pair of waterproof rain gear can accomplish that task.

Table Comparing Different Pairs Of Rain Pants

Check out the following table to compare the different brands of rain pants. I decided to sort them by my perceived value in relation to their price, weight, and zipper style. Weights will vary depending on pant size, but this should give you an idea of the different options.

Just remember that it doesn’t matter how much money you spend, your clothes will get wet. There will always be sweat and condensation even in expensive rain gear. Staying completely dry is a losing battle on rainy days so come up with a way to dry your backpacking clothes.

Check out my post explaining how to dry clothes while camping and backpacking for more info.

ModelWeightZip Length
Marmot Precip Full Zip Pants
(Affordable Full Length Zipper)
12 ozFull Length$$
Frog Togg Ultralight Rain Pants
(Budget Option)
5 ozNone$
Marmot Precip Eco Boot Pants8.1 ozAnkle Length$$
Montbell Versalite Pants
(Lightest Available Rain Pants)
3.2 ozNone$$$$
Enlightened Equipment Visp
(Lightest Zippered)
4 ozAnkle Length$$$$
Montbell Stretch Full Zip10.8 ozFull Length$$$$
Arc’Teryx Beta SL
(Most Comfortable)
13.2 ozFull Length$$$$$
Outdoor Research Helium6.7 ozAnkle Length$$$$

When Should You Put on Rain Pants?

Nobody can tell you when to throw on your rain pants. There’s a fine line between when you should or shouldn’t wear rain pants. You can’t wait until you get cold, but putting them on early leads to sweat and condensation.

It might sound counterintuitive, but I wait until my pants are soaked before putting on rain pants. Store your rain gear at the top of your pack so it’s easy to grab in the rain. I may take the time to put on a poncho, but I rarely wear traditional rain gear in light/moderate rain.

You’re probably asking yourself a simple question: why should I wait until my clothes are wet to put on rain gear? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of rain gear? There’s no way to avoid sweat and condensation so it’s usually better to wait until you’re already wet or feel cold.

Rain pants aren’t meant to keep you dry! They’re designed to trap in body heat and keep out the cold outside moisture and block wind). Your backpacking clothes will always get wet in the rain, so conserving body heat is all that matters.

Wear Your Rain Pants Over Regular Hiking Pants

Personally, I recommend wearing rain pants over regular hiking pants. Your hiking pants will get wet from sweat and condensation, but they should dry fast once it stops raining. Just make sure you wear a pair of synthetic or merino wool underwear to prevent inner thigh chafing.

Some people keep their hiking pants dry by stripping down, but I think it’s uncomfortable. The nylon/polyester fabric feels wet and clammy against your skin. It feels like your thighs are wrapped in plastic cling wrap like you’d use on sandwiches.

If you want to keep your hiking pants dry, I recommend wearing a pair of merino wool base layer pants under your rain gear. Merino wool can absorb 35% of it’s weight in water without feeling wet, dries fast, eliminates chafing issues, and won’t feel uncomfortable if it gets soaked in sweat/condensation.

I like Smartwool base layers, but they can be expensive. Meriwool and Merino.tech pants are a much cheaper option if you’re on a budget. They’re not as durable, but they’re good enough for most people!

Your Upper Body and Pants Block Most of The Rain

You can usually fight a moderate storm without needing to put on rain pants. Rain usually starts off slow so your upper body and backpack should block most of it. I’ll rely on my hiking pants/shirts moisture-wicking properties in light rain, use a rain jacket in moderate rain, and toss on the rain pants when the weather starts to get bad or I feel cold.

Why wouldn’t you want to put on rain pants? Sweat and condensation are a big issue, but it’s also because rain pants aren’t comfortable. It’s like wearing one of those sauna suits that I used as a high school wrestler. You sweat like crazy, they feel humid/clammy on your skin, and it’s so much hotter inside rain gear.

It Really Depends on The Temperature

Temperature is another important factor that you need to consider. Generally speaking, you really don’t need rain pants in warm weather. It doesn’t matter how hard it rains, your body won’t feel cold.

Just keep an eye on the temperature, because rainstorms usually bring a 10°-15°F drop in temperature. It all boils down to personal preference! You’re the only person that can say if it makes sense to put on rain gear. Some people get cold in moderately chilly weather and others can wear a t-shirt in 40°F weather.

Read Post  Can You See Cathedral Rock Without Hiking?

It’s all about figuring out your comfort level. Do you usually get cold when your legs get wet? Then slow down your pace to minimize sweat and put on your rain pants. I go most of the summer without rain gear, but I’m like a human radiator that rarely gets cold.

Alternatives to Rain Pants

Consider using a cheap rain poncho, kilt, rain chaps, or waterproof gaiters instead of backpacking rainpants.

A lot of people don’t like wearing rain pants. They just get hot making you feel uncomfortable. Plus they just feel baggy, almost like trying to hike in snow pants. Luckily, there are a few alternatives that you might want to consider.

  • Rain Kilts: Rain kilts are basically just a long waterproof poncho that goes over the top of your pants. They keep out water while allowing air to flow in reducing sweat, but they can be cold in windy weather.
  • Rain Chaps: Rain chaps run high up your legs stopping just below the butt. These are basically just long gaiters that block the water in tall wet grass and keep your thighs dry in moderate rain.
  • Ponchos: I almost always carry a cheap poncho to throw over my clothes. They can be a pain to deal with in the wind, but they provide excellent airflow so you won’t sweat. A cheap Frog Toggs Poncho or disposable poncho (like these) will get you through 99% of storms.
  • Waterproof Gaiters: Think about where your pants usually get wet backpacking in light/moderate rain. My upper body and pack blocks 90% of the rain, but my ankles always get wet walking through tall grass. Waterproof gaiters are the perfect solution to this problem and you won’t have to deal with sweat/condensation.

You Might Want to Try Wind Pants

Wind pants are a great option in warmer weather. They’re usually made out of water-resistant nylon/polyester blends so you get 90% of the benefit of backpacking rain pants without the sweat.

Wind can have a similar effect to rain and it can quickly strip heat away from your body (Strong Wind=Cold Body). Wind pants are a great alternative to dedicated rain gear when you’re not expecting rain, but you should probably carry a cheap poncho to deal with heavy downpours.

Wind pants are a great option for light/moderate rain, but you might get chilly in colder early spring or late fall weather. Pair them with moisture-wicking synthetic hiking pants for water-resistance without the sweat and condensation.

Related Posts

What are d rings used for on backpacks?

What Are D Rings Used For On Backpacks?

  • by Justin
  • May 26, 2022

Does your backpack have small rings shaped like the “Capital Letter D”? D Loops are commonly found on outdoor camping, climbing, and hiking packs, but… Read More » What Are D Rings Used For On Backpacks?

Does Merino Wool Shrink After Washing?

Does Merino Wool Shrink After Washing?

  • by Justin
  • May 26, 2022

Merino wool is often considered one of the most comfortable fabrics. It’s warm, soft, moisture-wicking, breathes well, and has antimicrobial properties. However, some people are… Read More » Does Merino Wool Shrink After Washing?

What are backpacks made of?

Backpack Materials Guide: Choosing The Right Backpack Material

  • by Justin
  • May 20, 2022

A backpack seems like a simple accessory. It’s just a simple fabric bag, with straps, and a few zippers. You may be surprised that there’s… Read More » Backpack Materials Guide: Choosing The Right Backpack Material

Hiking Authority

About The Site Owner

Hi, I’m Justin the owner, content manager and primary writer on TheHikingAuthority. I grew up in a small Ohio town just outside of Cleveland. My parents started me off right and I’ve been camping/backpacking since before I could walk.

Throughout the years I’ve spent countless hours researching gear and perfecting my backpacking setup. Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you. Feel free to ask me questions by following the contact us page below.

Amazon Affiliate Disclaimer

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”


report this ad

Best Rain Pants for Hiking of 2022 (Guide & Reviews)

Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

Nothing can dampen the mood (literally!) on a hike quite so much as an unexpected burst of rain showers when you’re out on the trail. If you’re going to be hiking in a variety of weather conditions, it’s best to be prepared and ensure you choose the right hiking rain pants, so you don’t end up drenched and frustrated.

Today, we’re going to walk you through what you need to look for when selecting the best rain pants for hiking, plus our top 5 picks to consider adding to your hiking wardrobe.

The top 5 rain pants for hiking we recommend for 2022:

The Best Rain Pants for Hiking Reviews

Here are the top 5 rain pants for hiking to keep water out and ensure you’re nice, warm, and dry when stormy weather hits.

Marmot Men’s Precip Pant

Marmot Men’s Precip Pant on white background

Marmot Men’s Precip Pants have fully taped seams to lock moisture out with full-length zippers to make it easy to layer your clothing to stay dry and warm.

  • Sealed seams
  • Sturdy nylon
  • Reliable polyurethane coating
  • Adjustable waist and cuffs
  • User-friendly boot zippers
  • Sizing tends to run small
  • May not be ideal for heavy storms or very rugged terrain

The first selection on our list are these 100% nylon pants by Marmot. Featuring the all-important waterproof coating, plus multiple pockets for handy storage, these pants are simple and comfortable to boot. The Marmot Men’s Precip Pant is highly durable and easy on the wallet, making it a great selection for long wear use.

Top Brands up to 40% OFF on Backcountry.com

We really liked the polyurethane coating inside these rain paints with the durable nylon outer layer to keep you warm and dry on blustery, rainy days. We were also pleased to see that these pants feature a handy boot zipper so you can slip them on and off without too much fuss. Even better, these seams are sealed to perfection, so you won’t have to stress about getting soaked if you run into a storm cloud.

Another cool feature we liked about the Marmot Men’s Precip Pants is that they feature velcro cuffs, allowing you to adjust them as needed based on the type of footwear you have on. The ultra-comfortable elastic waist is just another reason why these are some of the top rain pants for hiking available today.

Marmot Men’s Precip Pant on white background

Arc’teryx Beta SL Pant

Arc’teryx Beta SL Pant on white background

Arc’teryx Beta SL Pants feature a minimalist design that reduces weight without taking key features away, and this makes them perfect for hiking and mountain climbing.

  • Large boot zippers
  • Highly durable Gore-Tex fabric
  • Comfortable yet fitted elastic waistband
  • Very resistant to wear and tear
  • Pants tend to run long
  • Knees may wear out quicker for more frequent hikers

The next pants we chose are these breathable waterproof hiking pants by Arc’teryx. The waterproof breathable design is ideal for longer outdoor adventures, while still being lightweight enough that you won’t feel too warm or bogged down. We love the handy boot zippers, plus the added fly zipper is a functional touch.

These pants sport highly durable Gore-Tex fabric, which further secures the hem, lower leg, and instep areas. These pant regions are the areas that will bear the brunt of intense hiking and outdoor elements, so you can depend on the Gore-Tex design to see you through many a rough terrain.

We also liked the comfortable elastic waistband on the Arc’teryx Beta SL Pant. They are fitted enough to ensure secure wearing but not so tight that you won’t have plenty of room to move around.

Arc’teryx Beta SL Pant on white background

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants on white background

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants have an athletic design that keeps you dry and comfortable while you backpack, hike, or take part in any outdoor activity.

  • Stylish yet functional fitted design
  • Full-length zippers on pant legs
  • Strong seams to prevent water creeping through
  • Waterproof breathable fabric
  • Only one storage pocket
  • Might be too fitted for some preferences

The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants feature 4-way stretch fabric that is ideal for long climbs and hikes in the great outdoors. There are full-length zippers on each pant leg, plus a secured seam to ensure no water slips through to your skin during a torrential downpour. We also really like the style of these pants, since they are just as attractive as they are functional.

Best gifts under $50 on REI

These hiking pants are designed to be more fitted rather than loose, so if you are looking for a pair that combines both durability and style, you may have found your match. These pants are designed from waterproof breathable fabric to ward off moisture.

The side zippers made getting these pants on and off over any type of hiking footwear a total breeze.

Read Post  How To Train For Mountain Hiking

One thing to note is if you like to layer your pants in colder climates, these rain pants are a bit too fitted to allow for much if any layering underneath. We were pleased to see the elastic waistband for comfort with a webbed nylon belt to secure it.

Unfortunately, these pants only feature 1 pocket situated at the mid-thigh, so you won’t have much storage space for little extras while out on the trail. The pants do sport a fly zipper though, which is a helpful bonus.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants on white background

Outdoor Research Men’s Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Men’s Helium Pants on white background

Outdoor Research Men’s Helium Pants are an ultralight rain pant that keeps you dry when you get caught in a downpour in the backcountry.

  • Light and breezy, weighing just 5.9 ounces
  • Very comfortable
  • Boot zippers
  • Waterproof seam tape
  • Not ideal for off the grid, rugged terrain hikes
  • They tend to run small

These rain pants by Outdoor Research are super light, weighing in at just 5.9 ounces. So, if you want to pack a pair of rain pants without noticing a difference in your gear, these could be for you.

We like the handy boot zippers and were pleased to see the waterproof seam tape design. These pants are manufactured from 100% nylon for a weightless, breezy pant you can depend on when hiking in different types of weather.

Outdoor Research Men’s Helium Pants on white background

Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pant

Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pant on white background

Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pants feature a durable softshell design that locks moisture out while preventing you from sweating and keeping you dry and comfortable.

  • Simple, sleek design
  • 70 denier nylon fabric
  • Non-breathable waterproof design for total waterproofing
  • Very affordable
  • No fly zipper, pockets, or zip cuffs
  • The material is a bit heavy

Our final pick are these 100% nylon ones by Columbia. The first helpful feature we noticed was the leg openings that you can adjust for user-friendly ease. If the affordable design of non-breathable waterproof pants is your preference, these could be for you. They are a simple, no-frills option but they get the job done and look great as well.

The 70-denier nylon is highly durable, with a comfortable adjustable elastic waistband to give you plenty of freedom of movement. The Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pant is lacking in terms of a zipper fly, pockets, and zip cuffs, but this mainly comes down to a matter of personal preference.

If you don’t care too much about pockets and would prefer to store all your essential items in your pack, you probably won’t miss those pocket features too much. While these pants are missing a fly zipper, the elastic waistband is easy to loosen and tighten as you need to when out on the road.

Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pant on white background

How to Pick a Rain Pants for Hiking

Here’s what you need to know to make sure you pick the best rain pants for all your outdoor needs.

Different Kinds of Fabric

The first key aspect of selecting the right hiking rain pants is to understand the different kinds of fabric available and which are best to suit your outdoor needs. There are many varieties of waterproof fabric available, and they are certainly not all created equal.

Rain pants are often designed with layers of waterproof fabric. Typically, the outer layer is made from polyester or nylon, which has to be treated with a special Durable Water Repellant to stay light and breathable.

30Th Anniversary Sale 20% Off on Moosejaw

The inner layers of rain pants are an overlay of fabrics that offer space for air and evaporated moisture to move through. There are both waterproof non-breathable fabrics and waterproof breathable fabrics, with breathable options typically being a much costlier selection.

In general, non-breathable fabrics are best for lighter hikes, while breathable fabrics are going to be a good option for longer excursions and warmer climates.

Non-breathable waterproof fabrics, in particular, come in a few different styles, with the most cost-effective options typically being those with polyurethane coating. The choice between breathable vs. non-breathable waterproof fabric is partly a matter of personal preference, but it is important to note that the latter will not allow even the slightest hint of condensation or air in or out.

That said, non-breathable fabrics are usually much lighter than breathable ones, only using a single fabric layer with water repellent coating. Breathable pants with more layers tend to be more durable though, which is reflected in their often-higher price point.

Fabric Coating

Many of the rain pants for hiking, especially the waterproof breathable kind, are usually treated with Durable Water Repellent or DWR. DWR is a chemical that helps fortify the overall water-impervious design of these pants and reduce wear on the exterior.

When hiking pants become wet, the DWR treatment helps to keep the pants dry and avoid any moisture seeping through to your legs. Non-breathable rain pants are so impenetrable in nature that they do not require DWR coating.

Patagonia: Can this t-shirt help stop climate change?

Another fabric coating option is a polyurethane coating. The right rain pants coated with polyurethane are usually very cost effective and easy to find. Polyurethane is not typically as durable as DWR coating but combined with the built-in nylon shell layer, you can expect a highly waterproof pair of pants.

Just know that polyurethane coated rain pants for hiking are not typically as durable and will not last as long if you are a frequent hiker. In general, you can expect to get about 2 to 3 seasons out of a pair of polyurethane rain pants with extreme use, and potentially longer with less recurrent use.

Seam Tape

Seam tape is a very important component to look for when selecting a hiking rain pants. Seam tape keeps your waterproof rain pants together and functions as an adhesive strip over the natural seams in the garment’s fabric. The tape protects the stitching on your pants so it doesn’t fray or let water seep through if you hit a downpour.

We cannot stress enough how essential seam tape is — you should never purchase a pair of rain pants that don’t have this adhesive protectant.


Of course, when you’re carrying your heavy gear and a rainstorm hits, the last thing you want to worry about is being bogged down by your rain pants! Weight is another key consideration to take into account when hunting for a rain pants for hiking.

Lightweight options with a few, powerful layers and sufficient seam tape are going to serve you much better out on the trail than bulky options that just weigh you down.


The time of year that your rain pants are going to be most appropriate is during the spring, fall, and into winter. During these periods, you’ll probably also be outfitted with heavier hiking boots or similar footwear for added stability and warmth in the great outdoors.

If an unexpected rain cloud appears and you find it’s time to put your rain pants on, boot zippers are a handy feature to have. Not all of the pants include these, but boot zippers make it easy to slip your rain pants on and off as needed without having to take off your footwear and endure freezing feet.

The Final Winner

While each of the options listed above will suit a range of hiker needs, in our humble opinion, the best rain pants for hiking would have to be the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants. These rain paints really ticked all the key items off our checklist, with features from taped seams and stretch fabric to full-length zippers and a lightweight design.

We love that you can wear these pants with just about any type of hiking footwear, making them a useful addition to your outdoor wardrobe for many seasons. We were also drawn to the fitted, sleek design that we didn’t see as much of with the other products listed. For functionality, long wear use, versatility, and durability, you can’t go wrong with the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Outdoor Pants.

Geartrade Wear It Out - Gear With Lots of Live to Give

I’m passionate about all things outdoors, bridging the gap between generations and sharing my passion for hiking and camping. My goal is to spread the endless benefits of being outside, always striving for better performance, new challenges, and ways to explore responsibly.

We are a family-run site with a team of outdoor experts who strives to inspire and motivate people of all ages to venture outside with confidence.
A little more about us.

Source https://www.wta.org/go-outside/new-to-hiking/hiking-101-1/hiking-101-part-2-selecting-clothing-and-gear

Source https://thehikingauthority.com/do-you-need-rain-pants-for-backpacking/

Source https://www.outdoorsgenerations.com/best-rain-pants-for-hiking/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *