Hiking in jeans might not be the most comfortable option. However, many people prefer wearing jeans hiking because of all the benefits that jeans offer.
As the most versatile clothing item, jeans are a safe choice for many outdoorsy enthusiasts because they are durable and strong but cozy at the same time.
So, if you like spending time hiking in nature, the only logical choice would be the most sustainable one – hiking jeans.
The short answer : YES, you can hike in jeans, for short hikes and walks and in good weather conditions!
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- 11 Best Budget Hiking Pants
Can You Hike In Jeans?
Yes you can hike in jeans. In fact, people have been doing it since their invention. It’s with the development of new materials and new hiking clothes that we also have more options.
So, for short hikes and walks and in good weather conditions, you won’t have any problems with hiking in jeans.
If you plan on doing it as a regular activity, investing in high-quality hiking pants is a good idea.
This is because there are some situations in which it is better to stay away from jeans, such as:
- In frosty weather conditions
- On rainy days
- On extensive and challenging hikes lasting several days
Pros Of Hiking In Jeans
The good side of hiking in jeans is that they are usually cheaper than investing in high-quality functional clothes or equipment. Since beginner hiking is not much different than everyday walking, why not wear something that is already in your wardrobe.
Denim as a fabric is strong and easy when dry. Not to mention all the useful pockets that come in handy!
Cons Of Hiking In Jeans
Unfortunately, there are many disadvantages of hiking in jeans that you should be aware of.
Denim is made of cotton and although cotton might be the best fabric for everyday use, when it comes to hiking, this is not the case.
Once wet, jeans don’t dry easily, they stay wet and stick to your legs because of the heavy material, so you might end up getting a cold. Moreover, your jeans can get dirty and grass stains are difficult to get rid of.
Another bad side of wearing jeans for too long is the friction on your thighs that they cause, especially if you like ‘skinny’ jeans. This of course depends on the seams and the fit, but the denim fabric is still strong.
And lastly, if the weather suddenly improves, you have to stay in your jeans although you would rather roll them up.
How Do You Wear Hiking Boots With Jeans
It is appropriate for most people to wear hiking shoes with jeans outfit during cold weather.
There are endless varieties and combinations of hiking boots that can be matched with jeans, but let’s focus on hiking boots and jeans only:
- ‘Worker boots’ such as Dr. Marten‘s are unbreakable and weatherproof. Plus, they are comfortable and safe in ice or snow.
- ‘Industrial boots’ such as Cat are slip-resistant and 100% leather, which looks good with jeans
- If you prefer the outfit hiking boots and skinny jeans, the ‘snow boot’ type of shoes can be worn on top of skinny jeans
- Or the ‘classic’ winter boots as the most stylish hiking boots
- The ‘advanced’ hiking boots with skinny jeans or leggings are a great option for a hike, but not so much for running errands
Best Hiking Jeans
These jeans are mixed with other materials such as rayon, polyester, and spandex, and are combined into a cotton stretch blend. This makes them fit well to different body shapes; it also makes them durable and comfortable.
2. Plus-Size Option
These plus-size jeans are a classic made with 2% elastane for a better fit. They go with any clothes or boots, so if you like looking fashionable while hiking, these are the jeans to go. It is a ‘tapered’ leg cut, so it is less likely for them to get messy at the bottom.
They are smooth to the touch and move easily with the body and they come with pockets which is a must for any hiking trousers.
If you like extra comfort, these instastrech luscious curvy jeans are for you. They are made of denim and polyester with a touch of spandex, which will make you comfortable all day hiking. Plus, they also have a double button front closure for additional support.
If the weather permits, another hiking option for a denim lover are these stretch denim leggings, which are jeans that look like leggings. They are also made of cotton, polyester and spandex, which means the stretch is perfect and covers the belly. If you like wearing hiking boots with skinny jeans, these leggings are something you will like.
Ariat women’s jeans are a wide leg fit that you wear over your hiking boots. The fabric is durable and flexible, which doesn’t shrink after washing and fits well without being too loose. It has pockets big enough for holding a smartphone.
What Kind Of Jeans To Look For
Out of all jeans listed, you might notice that the best hiking jeans consist of a denim-polyester-spandex mixture. So, ideally look for a fabric that has the benefit of being quick-drying, flexible, and resilient. To avoid insect bites, they should cover your leg in full.
Also, go for more loose and comfortable types, especially for longer hikes. Skinny jeans might look good in pictures, but you will feel a lot more relaxed in loose-fitting jeans.
Alternatives To Hiking In Jeans
Any alternatives to jeans include trousers not made of cotton. Since the synthetic fabric is a better choice for hiking, these are materials you should be looking for:
- Elastane/Lycra/Spandex is because of its properties used for manufacturing most sports clothes today. Fibers are strong and light at the same time, but also stretchable.
- Polyester is a material that is used for making pretty much all clothes from casual to business. The pros are that it’s cheap, wrinkle-resistant, and dries easily. However, do note that this material absorbs sweat.
- Nylon fabric is a synthetic polymer originally made for parachutes in WW II. It is cheap and versatile, resilient, and easy to clean. Nylon doesn’t absorb oil, meaning it feels clean longer. Most sports clothes today, including hiking pants, contain nylon. The bad side of the production is that it is not biodegradable and thus bad for the environment.
Best Hiking Pants
Mountain Hardwear Hiking Pants are 100% synthetic, waterproof, and scratch-resistant. Not only do they look good, but they also keep dry. You can wear them alone or over leggings.
Marmot Women’s Hiking Pants will keep you safe and dry in stormy weather. They are made of a recycled and breathable type of nylon. They also have full-length zippers which makes them easy to put on and of (you don’t have to remove your boots).
For summer hikes, these Mountain Hardwear Capri Pants will do the job. Made from lightweight nylon spandex fabric, they look feminine and still feel comfortable.
Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Pants prove that less is more. Besides hiking, you can use them for any everyday activity. They have a high waist and come in two colors. They are also lightweight but tough.
If you are looking for good-quality hiking pants on the pricier side, there are the Little Donkey Hiking Pants. These versatile cargo pants can be worn on hikes or other casual activities. The pro of these pants is definitely the number of pockets. They are water and UV-rays repellent.
The alternatives to hiking in jeans are endless. What type of trousers you pick will depend on the season, weather conditions, and the type of hike. For easy hikes, you might be covered with simple pants for walking or hiking jeans.
In more serious weather conditions, whether hot or cold, you will need softshell pants, which are durable and water-resistant.
For more demanding hikes you better pick hardshell pants. Because of the high level of protection, they are best suitable for hiking in extreme weather conditions.
How To Dress For Hiking
Whichever type of hike you plan on going, how you dress, and which type of clothing you pick will have an impact on your well-being during the hike.
If your shirt and trousers don’t fit well, if the underwear gets sweaty and sticky or your shoes are not the right size, all you will think about during your hike is – going home.
To avoid feeling miserable during your hike, here is a hike-proof list of all important clothing items with the description. Let’s start with hiking shoes as the most important hiking item:
- A good fit is a must – avoid tight-fitting hiking shoes because your feet will swell during the hike. A good fit hiking shoe is the one in which you can wiggle your toes. You also need some space for winter socks during cold months.
- Try out more shoe types such as day hiking boots, trekking or trail shoes, as some will not be suitable for your feet.
- Look for comfort rather than fashion
- Pick ‘over-the-ankle’ boots, to protect your ankles
- Look for breathable, but waterproof shoes, such as Gore-Tex
- Hiking boots are classified into 4 types: A (beginner easy hikes) to D (mountaineering). For everyday hikes, you will be fine with types A or B
- Wearing hiking boots and jeans is a great match
- Pick a loose fit and breathable material
- Polyester pants are more suitable for hikes, but you can also hike in denim or leather
- The length of your pants depends on the season and the type of hike, in summer you can wear hiking shorts
- Another practical option is the zip-off trousers
- Pick breathable underwear that dries quickly. Synthetic or merino wool works here better than cotton
- Full-cut briefs and a sports bra will do enough coverage and support without rubbing on your skin
- If you’re a girl with bigger thighs, a longer cut ‘boy shorts’ will do you more comfort and prevent inner-thigh chafing
- When it comes to socks, you will have to get used to synthetic materials even if you don’t like them, because it is the only way to keep your feet dry. During winter hikes it is also smart to add another layer of wool socks on top of it
- Wear a loose shirt with buttons, inside or outside of your trousers
- Or a lightweight long-sleeved hooded shirt
- For cooler temperatures it is best to pick a fleece hiking jacket, they are lightweight but keep warm
- Wool jackets are a safe outer layer, but not practical because of their weight. However, there are shirts and jackets with a mixture of polyester and merino wool
- If you prefer layered clothing, this insulated vest is a good option
- In extreme weather conditions, it is advisable to wear either a hardshell hiking jacket or a softshell one
Other Cool Hiking Stuff
- Ultralight Survival Tent – This world’s toughest ultralight survival tent fits two people and is compact enough for every hike. You should have it with you for emergency or unexpected weather changes.
- A great addition to the survival tent is the survival kit, equipped with all essentials for stressful situations.
- The smallest pocket blanket is a compact and foldable blanket, which is also waterproof and is a great place to sit during your hiking break.
- Taking a water filter is a must during long hikes. This filter can be combined with any wide-mouth bottle and filled with spring water during the hike.
- Rechargeable flashlight gloves last for up to 10 hours and are easier than holding a flashlight while hiking.
- Everything mentioned above fits well in this insulated backpack which comes with a 2L water bladder and storage.
- And in the end, a universal moisture balm is something everyone needs to avoid skin irritation and stay moisturized.
What Kind Of Pants Should You Wear When Hiking?
The best hiking pants are made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon or spandex. As opposed to jeans, which are strong and made of cotton, those fabrics are light, breathable, and easy to layer. They also protect from sudden weather changes.
For longer hikes, synthetic pants are better than jeans.
Is It Better To Hike In Jeans Or Shorts?
Between the two, shorts are a better hiking option, but only if the weather permits. They are lighter and cooler than jeans, which feels better and gives you more freedom of movement. However, both shorts and jeans should be avoided on longer hikes. A much better option are the zip-off convertible hiking pants.
In this article, we’ve sorted out all the benefits of hiking in jeans plus some other useful and necessary items.
While picking your hiking jeans you should be aware of the season and the weather conditions which will determine the clothes you need. One thing you shouldn’t ignore is the quality and durability of the material.
In addition, you shouldn’t only look for the best fit, but also think about whether it feels comfortable enough for long hikes.
We hope this article was informative enough for you to decide whether jeans are the right choice for your next hiking adventure.