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Adding an extra waterproof layer is especially helpful to protect heavier under layers, and can be quicker-drying than conventional hiking trousers or materials such as denim. They also provide extra flexibility, warmth and wind protection, which is often a must when journeying into the hills.
What type of waterproof trouser should I buy?
Generally, there are two types of waterproof trousers to consider, ones that go over whatever you’re wearing underneath, and ones that are constructed as hiking trousers, which aren’t worn over anything and are trousers in their own right, but provide a greater degree of elasticity, comfort and breathability than conventional trousers.
We’ve reviewed both options in this article.
You will see that there are some trekking trousers, day-to-day waterproofs and more all-round hiking trousers in this list – to suit a range of budgets.
Many waterproof trousers are quite universal, so have a think about what’s important to you. Remember, some over-layer ones don’t have waterproof pockets, and if you’re looking for trousers with insulation, be prepared to compromise slightly in terms of weight and speed of flexibility and movement.
Get kitted out for your camping and backpacking adventures
Key Specs: Fabric: 2-layer Hydroshell, Pockets: 0, Adjustable? ¾ length zips with snap fasteners and side waist adjustment, Weight: 374g
A good over-trouser option, we found these to be a good day-to-day option and very handy for having in the rucksack just in case.
They perhaps don’t have as many features as the more expensive hiking trouser options elsewhere on this list, but they’re comfortable, offer ample adjustment to fit over thicker underlayers and are lightweight enough not to restrict movement.
Key Specs: Fabric: Omni-Tech breathable waterproof fabric, Pockets: 1, Adjustable? Elastic waistband, ¾ length zips, Weight: 380g approx
Another over-layer option with leg vents, an adjustable waist and a fully seamed-sealed breathable fabric for water protection.
We especially liked the zip pocket on this version, which protects your valuables whilst active and would perhaps make them a good option for cycling around town or weekend mountain biking adventures.
Key Specs: Fabric: 100% polyester with Aquadry Membrane & insulation, Pockets: 3, Adjustable? Adjustable hem and heel tape, Weight: 535g
These stretch performance waterproof trousers are a great bet for hikers.
We really liked their comfort and their look – they have a smart, flattering appearance and you get a lot for your money, with three fully waterproof zipped pockets, an insulated element providing cold-weather protection from the wind and an AquaDry membrane with neat little features like heel tape for a snug fit around your boots.
A great option.
Key Specs: Fabric: GORE-TEX, Pockets: 0, Adjustable? Ankle adjustment, leg zips, ankle zips and waist adjustment, Weight: 214g
A slightly more expensive option but one that features Montane’s excellent 30 Denier GORE-TEX waterproof fabric, fully taped seams, articulated knees for extra flexibility when walking and generous leg, ankle and waist adjustment.
We liked them for their lightweight functionality and packability – a great option for taking on longer backpacking trips.
Key Specs: Fabric: 91% polyamide, 9% elastane, Pockets: 4, Adjustable? Adjustable leg endings, Weight: 380g
These are fully technical-spec trekking trousers that won’t let you down in any conditions you can throw at them.
Made for unlimited movement and flexibility in steep terrain, their comfort and durability are impressive as is their weather-resistance and day-to-day comfort.
Certainly, made for the mountaineers amongst us, but these trousers are an impressive technical option.
Key Specs: Fabric: 92% Polyamide, 8% Elastane Pockets: 2,, Weight: 385g
The Softshell fabric with DWR treatment offered us comfortable protection from nippy weather while enjoying a coastal walk.
The stretchy material’s 4-way stretch function and knee articulation meant that our motion wasn’t limited when tackling steep and rocky terrain.
The casual everyday look means these pants are a great look on the hill, and in the refugio, bothy or pub which you’re hunkering down in post-hike.
Key Specs: Fabric: Pertex Shield, Pockets: 0, Adjustable? 3-way side zips with dual internal storm flap system, Weight: 319g
Another stretch option which we liked for their comfort and range of motion.
These are trousers geared towards colder weather and Alpine environments, with excellent knee articulation and a decent range of flexibility, including compatibility with winter boots.
They feature under-boot cord attachment loops and plenty of space for baselayers to be worn underneath.
Key Specs: Fabric: 85% Polyamide, 15% Spandex, Pockets: 2, Adjustable? N/A, Weight: 296g
Made for lightweight comfort and allowing speed of movement over rough terrain, we were really impressed with these four-way stretch waterproof trousers.
One of the most comfortable pairs we tested, with a stylish cut and an especially useful side zipped pocket large enough to place paper maps. Very light, packable and quick-drying too.