Some have elasticated waists and others have belt loops – or both. Another feature to look for is soft linings, which are very comfortable but may get a bit sweaty when the going gets hot. Check the design, too, as some offer a low-profile cut that sits neatly under a rucksack.
Plenty of pockets are useful, but their sizes and locations will vary. A larger pocket is ideal for storing a map, as long as you can still access it while wearing a rucksack hip-belt. And zipped pockets are good for extra security.
All the trousers tested here are made with fabrics that stretch, to give as much comfort and freedom of movement as possible. But the amount and direction of stretch will vary, so it’s worth trying them on. Check the cut to see what suits you best. They shouldn’t rub or irritate on long walks, and they should be fast-drying in case you encounter the odd shower or bog.
Vents on trouser legs and mesh-lined pockets help to cool you down and make warmer trousers more versatile.
They need to fit over boots but not flap around or get caught on anything. Drawcords at the hems are useful to adjust to your footwear and help prevent dirt and debris getting in.
Consider the conditions you’ll be walking in. In hotter climates your main concern will be breathable, lightweight fabric that draws moisture away from your skin. If conditions are likely to be wet and windy, a water-resistant and windproof trouser is best. If you plan to walk in wintry terrain, a built-in gaiter will help keep the snow and water out.
For extra protection, some trousers have reinforced panels on the knees, seat and ankles – the last is especially useful if you are going to be using crampons. Check the seams, as double-stitched seams hold up
better than single stitched. Also pay attention to the zips, as poor-quality zips can easily break.
Although largely an aesthetic choice, it's worth remembering that lighter colours reflect the sunlight and can keep you cooler.