Ultimate guide to the best walking trousers and shorts

Our gear testers, Jen and Sim Benson, test dozens of walking trousers and shorts for comfort, durability, style and storage to help you find the top bottoms for your summer rambles

Walking trousers are an essential but often overlooked piece of kit. Get them right and you'll barely notice they're there. But a walk can be ruined by trousers that are too tight, too warm, or worse still, lacking in pockets!

To help find the perfect pair, remember the three Fs: fabric, fit and features. 

Fabric

The weight and breathability of a fabric determines how it performs under different conditions, from the weather to your activity level. The most versatile trousers strike a balance between offering sufficient protection from sun, wind and even a little rain, with a pleasant, breathable environment for your skin.

Fit

Too loose a fit can feel baggy and unsupportive. Too tight is uncomfortable and restrictive. Along with choosing the perfect size, look for trousers made with articulated panels and stretch fabric for freedom of movement.

Women's trousers

 

Woman wearing trousers

Alpkit Teleki Zip

RRP £49.99

alpkit.com

Lightweight, stretchy, packable and protective, these zip-off summer walking trousers quickly and easily convert into smart, longer-length shorts. Alongside handwarmer and rear pockets, there's a smartphone-sized zipped thigh pocket for secure storage. Some users report tightness around the zip, so try before committing. Great value and versatile.

Women's trousers

Rab Incline Pants

RRP £90

rab.equipment

These versatile trousers are light and packable enough for summer trips, but protective enough for year-round walking. With articulated panels for great fit and movement, the softshell fabric is stretchy and unrestrictive, comfortable all day long, and dries quickly. There are three good-sized zipped pockets, a double-snap closure at the waist and drawcord adjustment at the ankles. The roomy fit at the waist may not suit all.

Women's trousers

Salewa Alpine Hemp Light Pant

RRP £115

salewa.com

Light, breathable and flexible for rock climbing, these smart-looking trousers are ideal for hiking, scrambling and travel. The main fabric is an innovative hemp ripstop with a linen-like feel (hemp is a more sustainable crop than cotton), while Durastretch knee panels allow unrestricted movement. The fit is slim but comfortable. Features include drawcord adjustment at the waist and ankles, and four pockets, two zipped.

Women's trousers

Klattermusen Grimm Pants

Walk magazine Best in Test

RRP £209

klattermusen.com

These lightweight trousers are made from a soft and stretchy yet hardwearing organic cotton/elastane-mix Oxford fabric. The result is a superb balance of breathability, protection and comfort, with a good range of pockets. Double-layer fabric on the front thighs and knees plus Cordura edging add durability. Not cheap but they'll last a lifetime.

Women's trousers

On Running Pants

RRP £135

on-running.com

Designed for running, these versatile, technical pants are also great for warmer weather hiking or just walking the dog. The lightweight, windproof fabric is comfortable against the skin. Knee vents provide breathability and freedom of movement, and zipped ankles easy on/off. There's a drawcord waist for a secure fit, two pockets - one with a zip - and reflective details for extra visibility.

Women's trousers

Sherpa Kalpana Tight

RRP £65

sherpaadventuregear.com

With a high, wide waistband and light all-over support, these are incredibly comfy. The fabric is heavier and more durable than running tights, with UPF50+ and HeiQ Fresh odour control. Two zipped thigh pockets and a hidden key pocket offer great storage. The fit gives good protection against biting bugs, though we'd like a drawcord at the waist.

 

Men's trousers

Men's trousers

Patagonia Point Peak Trail Pants

RRP £140

eu.patagonia.com

A heavier-weight softshell fabric means these are warmer and more protective than other trousers on test, but breathable so suitable year-round. The weather-resistant material is recycled nylon with a little elastane for stretch. The cut is slim but articulated for movement and there are six pockets. Fair Trade Certified sewn.

Men's trousers

Craghoppers Kiwi Classic Trousers

RRP £65

craghoppers.com

Kiwi trousers have been around since 1996, a testament to their value and function. The relaxed fit, integrated belt and size range means most walkers will find a comfortable pair. The fabric is a soft, breathable Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) cotton and recycled polyester mix; reinforced on the cuff, knees and seat. Nine pockets include one that fits a map.

Men's trousers

Fjallraven Keb Agile Trousers

RRP £185

fjallraven.com

These tough, lightweight trousers are protective enough for winter and cool in the summer. The organic cotton/polyester mix fabric is reinforced at the knees and cuffs; it's breathable, comfortable, weather resistant and should last for years. Apply Fjallraven's Greenland Wax for extra weatherproofing. Features include two handwarmer pockets, two zipped pockets, thigh vents, belt loops and adjustable cuffs. The priciest men's style on test but justified by their details and performance.

Men's trousers

Inov-8 Venturelite Pant

RRP £110

inov-8.com

Inov-8's first foray into lightweight trousers is designed for fasts hiking. The lightweight nylon/elastane mix fabric is weather resistant without being too warm. We like the athletic cut, but belt loops would be welcome for a perfect fit. There are two zipped pockets while zipped cuffs allow you to get them on over shoes (not boots). Overall, comfy and versatile.

Men's trousers

Sprayway Comfort Combi Pant

RRP £70

sprayway.com

Zip-off trousers offer versatility and value, as you also get shorts for your money. Made from a durable lightweight nylon/elastane mix fabric, these have enough stretch for comfy movement. The fit is relaxed, with an elasticated waist, three zipped pockets and Velcro rear pocket. Fair Wear Foundation certified.

Men's trousers

Jack Wolfskin Glastal Pants

Walk magazine Best in Test

RRP £95

jack-wolfskin.co.uk

These great-looking trousers are a brilliant mix of lightweight, durability and packability, with a good set of pockets and a relaxed fit. The weather-resistant Texashield Core softshell fabric is a stretchy nylon/elastane mix that feels tough yet light and breathable. Bluesign and Fair Wear Foundation certified, they come in a range of sizes.

 

Women's shorts

Women's shorts

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

RRP £55

eu.patagonia.com

These brilliantly designed, sustainably made shorts look and feel great to wear. The super-soft, lightweight, stretchy nylon-mix fabric is airy, dries fast and packs small. They're highly practical, with drawcord adjustment at the waist and a good range of pockets.

Women's shorts

Salomon Bonatti Trail Shorts

RRP £75

salomon.com

A bit niche, but these super-lightweight waterproof shorts are ideal when it's both warm and rainy, or if you need extra weather protection over your usual shorts/tights. The minimalist design has drawcord adjustment at the waist and reflective details for visibility.

Women's shorts

Fjallraven Abisko Short Tights

RRP £100

fjallraven.com

Based on Fjallraven's popular trekking tights, these fitted, longer-length shorts are a superb choice for warm-weather walking. Offering great comfort and support, with a high, wide waistband and drawcord adjustment, they're also very practical, with two smartphone-sized thigh pockets.

 

Men's shorts

Men's shorts

Helly Hansen Quick-Dry Cargo Shorts

RRP £65

hellyhansen.com

These knee-length cargo shorts have a slim cut that works brilliantly with the slightly stretchy nylon/elastane mix fabric. They're durable, light and quick-drying, with cargo pockets, normal pockets and a zipped back pocket. Spot on for walking shorts.

Men's shorts

Columbia Titan Pass Shorts

RRP £65

columbiasportswear.co.uk

Techy and sharp-looking knee-length shorts with an active fit. The lightweight fabric is a stretchy and quick-drying recycled polyester/elastane mix, treated with a water-repellent finish. Features include three zipped pockets and an integrated belt.

Men's shorts

Smartwool 8" Shorts

RRP £69.99

smartwool.co.uk

A lightweight, soft-feel recycled polyester/elastane mix outer short with a wicking merino wool/recycled polyester mix lining. The just-above-the-knee cut is casual and pleasant to walk in. There are two front pockets and a zipped one at the rear.

 

Explore more 

Our gear testers, Sim & Jen Benson have a wealth of outdoor and walking experience.  They provide regular gear reviews and kit advice in Walk magazine, the Ramblers quarterly magazine that forms part of your Ramblers membership benefits. Join today from only £3.21 per month

Ramblers Members also receive a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoorhome to many of the outdoor brands featured in this article and a great place to get expert advice on walking gear. When this discount is used a percentage of the purchase price is returned to the Ramblers to help us look after the places you love to explore.   

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