Why Are Hiking Pants So Expensive? Let’s Break It Down

Are you wondering : Why are hiking pants so expensive? 

As you all know, I absolutely love the outdoors and hiking is one of my favorite things to do. Recently, I’ve been on the lookout for a pair of proper hiking pants but all of them were slightly over my budget.

I was a little shocked at how expensive a good-quality pair of hiking pants can be! 

If you are facing a similar situation, then you are going to love this article as I am going to walk you through why hiking pants are so expensive?

We will also be taking a look at alternatives to hiking pants if you’re not too keen to spend a lot of money on a pair of pants!

Here’s a quick summary on what we will be looking at:

  • Why Are Hiking Pants So Expensive? 
  • Best Affordable Hiking Pants
  • What Care Should Be Taken When Buying Hiking Pants?
  • Tips for Choosing Proper Hiking Pants
  • What Are Other Types Of Pants for Hiking?
  • What Other Gear To Bring When Hiking?
  • What You Should Not Wear When Hiking?

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What Are Hiking Pants?

Hiking pants are those that are worn specifically for hiking or other outdoor activities. 

These pants are usually lightweight and made up of materials that dry easily such as nylon, polyester, and spandex (elastane). 

Hiking pants are also usually equipped with plenty of pockets to easily carry small items with you on your hike.  

What are good hiking pants? 

Good hiking pants are usually those that are comfortable to wear and help you to move easily without restricting your movement at the groin, hips, and knees while hiking. 

Generally, hiking pants should be durable and should not absorb moisture easily. 

Why Are Hiking Pants So Expensive?

If you’ve ever walked into an outdoor sports store, I’m sure you have noticed the hefty price tags on hiking pants! 

Hiking pants are usually baggy-looking and may not exactly come across as looking very fashionable. 

Despite this, there are a multitude of reasons why hiking pants are generally quite expensive. These include:

  • The expensive material that they are made of; and
  • the processes that they go through to make them sufficiently durable and resistant to varying weather conditions

Let’s take a deep dive into exactly  why hiking pants are so expensive.

1. Material

Hiking brings you to different types of terrain and trails. 

Some trails may require you to climb or even slide down. Rainy weather would sometimes make the trails muddy and slippery.

Some hiking pants are suitable as warm weather hiking pants and some are more suitable to be worn in cold weather.

Hiking pants should be easy for you to move around in while you hike and brace yourself through the unpredictable weather as well.

That being said, it is important to note that hiking pants are not entirely waterproof. 

Most hiking pants are treated with Durable Water Repellent (DRW) during the manufacturing of hiking pants which acts as water repellent. This prevents water from being absorbed into the hiking pants.

There are different types of hiking pants materials that are available in the market.

Lightweight material hiking pants are suitable to be used during hot weather as they will be comfortable and breathable for the skin. 

Lightweight hiking pants will not feel very heavy when you sweat during hot weather as the general rate of sweat absorption is relatively low. 

PolyesterQuick-drying, flexible, comfortable, wrinkle-resistantSticky to sweaty skin, sensitive to high temperature and usually not sustainable
Spandex (elastane)/LycraStretchable, flexible, wrinkle-resistantNot skin breathable, bad odor due to material absorbing moisture.
NylonWater-resistant, durable, UV protectiveEasily shrinks, highly flammable, poor elasticity

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2. Style 

New hikers prefer hiking pants that look stylish. 

Who doesn’t want to look good in their hiking pictures with their stylish-looking hiking pants? 

Manufacturers spend a lot of time and effort to come up with a good design to make hiking pants look stylish or modern. 

Often, more time is spent designing the product than creating the product.

Some hikers also prefer printed designs over their hiking pants. 

The cost of producing a printed design is more as it involves more work which directly causes the hiking pants to be more expensive than usual.

These factors are undoubtedly core contributors to hiking pants being rather expensive.

3. Durability

Hiking is considered an adventurous activity. You would be climbing up and down a rocky hill or a muddy pathway. 

Some trails would be easy and some would be difficult. 

Therefore, the material that your hiking pants is made of should be strong and not easily worn out. 

Good material and durable stitching make hiking pants expensive. However, it may be worthwhile to spend the money on a good pair of hiking pants that will last you for a long time to come. 

Best Affordable Hiking Pants

After going through so many hiking pants options , I have listed down a few affordable and cheap hiking pants to make life easier for other hikers like me.

Cheap hiking pants aren’t necessarily bad in quality. 

1. PrAna Men’s Stretch Zion Pant

Why are hiking pants so expensive

These hiking pants come with more than 50 options with various sizes and 14 colors to choose from. It is made of original stretch zion fabric and woven with a durable water repellent finish.The shell fabric is durable and can handle a range of weather conditions.

It also comes complete with cargo pockets and UPF 50+ sun protection. Additionally, these hiking pants are also suitable as warm weather hiking pants.


  • Available in 5 inseam lengths which gives more options for those with different heights. 
  • It incorporates a durable water-repellent finishing which allows it to dry faster 
  • UPF 50+ sun protection to protect against UV radiation.


  • It is not insulated and so may not be suitable for hiking in cold weather

2. FREE SOLDIER Men’s Outdoor Cargo Hiking Pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

These hiking pants are suitable for all outdoor activities. It also comes with  a belt and multiple pockets. Made up of of 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex with DuPont Teflon coating, these pants will definitely serve you well in different hiking environments.


  • Flexible and comfortable as it is made with 4-way stretch fabric make the pants ultralight, breathable, quick-drying and elastic. 
  • Thes pants incorporate the advanced technology of DuPont Teflon Coating which effectively repels liquids and stains. 
  • Adjustable belt with a metal buckle allows for maximum comfort. 


  • Size might be too big
  • Not ideal for warm weather

3. CAMEL Men’s Hiking Pants Drawstring Sweatpants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

These hiking pants come with a special knee design and stretchy material to allow hikers to easily bend their knees and squat deeply if necessary. Now, how cool is that!

It is made of elastic nylon fabric and the pants are smooth to the touch, lightweight, and breathable. They come in two different colors and there are various sizes to choose from.


  • Elastic waist design offers comfort for those who are afraid of hiking pants being too tight. It also comes with a drawstring to provide extra support.
  • Utility pockets at the sides and rear for placing phone, wallet and other small hiking equpiment.The pockets are also zippered to keep your belongings safe.


  • Limited color choices

4. CQR Men’s Tactical Pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

It is one of the best affordable hiking pants and is in great demand due to its durability and affordable price.

It also comes with 32 color options which is great for those who want to purchase different colors with different patterns.

These hiking pants are made up of polyester & Cotton (Ripstop Fabric). Ripstop fabric has excellent durability as they are made from a combination of materials that are woven into a square pattern.


  • Multiple color choices
  • Elastic band and button closure which provides extra comfort for hikers.
  • Multiple pockets to allow the carrying of various tools and equipment while hiking.


  •  Exclusive Tactical Belt is NOT included
  • Not ideal for warm weather

5. Wespornow Men’s-Convertible-Hiking-Pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

These convertible hiking pants are a perfect choice for outdoor adventure lovers. It’s stylish and super comfortable to move about due to its amazing features.

You can roll it up as a capri when the weather becomes too humid and it can easily convert it into shorts as well.


  • It has an anti insect and anti-mosquito feature as it comes with a custom fit at the bottom of the pants for you to adjust accordingly.
  • Stretchy fabric as it is made of a 4 -way stretch woven outer pants.
  • Articulating design on the knee area and gusseted crotch which adds flexibility and mobility to allow a wide range of movement.


  • Size might be smaller than expected.

What Care Should Be Taken When Buying Hiking Pants?

There are so many types of hiking pants in the market that you might get confused about which to choose and what care should be taken when buying them.

Let’s take a look at some factors to be considered once you have made the decision to buy yourself some hiking pants!

1. Material

Choose a material that is lightweight and can dry easily for  hiking pants during hot weather. For hiking during cold weather choose a thicker material to retain more heat.

For hot weather hiking pants,  nylon and polyester would be a good choice as they dry faster.

You would also want to go for a stretchy material as it would be easier and more comfortable to move around in. 

The material that you choose should be waterproof or water resistant and dry fast.

2. Sizing

A good sized hiking pants is very important as you do not want to wear something too tight or too loose while hiking. The last thing you want on a hike is to stop every few minutes to adjust your pants! 

It should be easy to move in especially around the groin region and the knee region. 

Tight hiking pants can restrict your movement and restrict blood flow to your leg which may cause injuries and cramps.

Well-fitting hiking pants would fit comfortably around your waist without a belt.

Choose what is comfortable for you as different people have different preferences.

3. Length

Ideally, your hiking pants should cover the tops of your shoes. This is to protect your legs from getting scratched and prevent insect bites. Make sure that your hiking pants aren’t too long though. You don’t want to be tripping over them during your hikes!

4. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)

The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a rating system that measures how much UV radiation will penetrate the fabric.

It is important to take UPF into consideration when choosing your hiking pants as you will be exposed to the sun directly and for a long periods.

Anything above 30% UPF is recommended. The higher the UPF the higher the protection.

5. Pockets

Hiking pants with pockets will be very useful especially if you want to carry a lot of items with you. 

You can store things like maps, compasses, pens, mobile phones, torches, and more.

6. Color

Always keep in mind that dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect heat. Hiking in winter, dark colored hiking pants would be suitable as it will absorb heat and similarly light coloured hiking pants would be more suitable during sunny hot weather. 

Tips for Choosing the Proper Hiking Pants

  • Choose convertible hiking pants – You can easily change your hiking pants into shorts thanks to the zipper.
  • Purchase high-quality hiking pants as this will save you more money in the long run because good quality pants can last through years of use.
  • Test a pair of pants around the store before buying hiking pants. Make sure that you can move easily . Try to squat down and sit on a chair to make sure that they’re comfortable in the back and knees.
  • Look for pants with a gusseted crotch so they don’t chafe.
  • Go for pants with elastic waistbands. Elastic waistbands will ensure that you can tighten your pants if your pants start to slip down your waist.
  • Choose hiking pants material with durable water repellent (DWR) coating. 

What Are Other Types Of Pants for Hiking?

At times you make hiking plans and end up not having any hiking pants to wear. What should you do next? Grab the most comfortable pants you have in your wardrobe.

Let me give you some suggestions on other types of pants you can wear for hiking.

1. Yoga pants 

Why are hiking pants so expensive

Yoga pants are very comfortable and they also stretch and dry easily. It is also very flexible and is suitable for long hikes.

However, care should be taken as some yoga pants are made up of very thin material which can cause injury when you come into contact with trees or sharp branches.

2.  Golf pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

Golf pants aren’t just made for golfers. They are also suitable to be worn for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and fishing.

They are very comfortable to wear and provide warmth. The thick material can also provide protection to your skin against insects and bugs.

3. Tactical pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

Tactical pants are designed as workwear for emergency medical technicians and military use. They are specially designed to be lightweight, water-resistant, and easy to clean. They also come with multiple roomy pockets.

Tactical pants often have stronger stitching throughout the entire pants and elastic waistbands and cuffs to prevent wear and tear.

4. Wool hiking pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

Wool hiking pants might be slightly bulky. However they are a good choice for hiking as wool is naturally odor resistant and has antimicrobial properties. Additionally,  wool hiking pants allow the skin to breathe.

Hikers who wear  wool hiking pants also have the added advantage of wearing them for a few days without having to worry about smelly pants!

5. Rain pants

Why are hiking pants so expensive

Rain pants are not the ideal pants to be worn during hiking. However, if those are the only pants that you have, then they still can be used.

Rain pants are good to wear when you would want to hike fast in bad weather.

They are waterproof, wind resistant, breathable and are comfortable to be worn.

For better protection you can pair it with leggings underneath.

What Other Gear To Bring When Hiking?

Before planning on what gear to bring for hiking, there are some things to thinking about, including:

  • how far you plan to hike
  • how remote the location is
  • what the weather forecast is like.

The longer or more remote the hike is the more clothing, gear, food, and water you’re going to want to bring along with you. 

These are a few items that should be included in your checklist:

What You Should Not Wear When Hiking

The choice of clothing can determine how good or bad your hiking experience will be. Tight and uncomfortable clothing can ruin your hiking experience.

Choosing hiking clothes can be difficult, especially if you are a beginner in hiking.

Let’s take a look at clothing items to avoid when you are planning your hike.

1. Cotton 

Cotton can easily absorb water and sweat which can make the clothes very heavy during hiking. Cotton also takes time to dry. These factors make cotton entirely unsuitable to be worn during warm weather as hiking pants.

2. Denim

Denim does not interact very well with sweat and water. Additionally, this material is not exactly known for its flexibility, thus making climbing difficult during your hike.

Additionally, denim may also chafe your inner thighs. This is the last thing you need, especially when going for a long hike. 

That does not mean that you can’t wear jeans for hiking. 

Check out this detailed guide on the types of jeans that are suitable for hiking in the event you have no choice but to go hiking in jeans! 

3. No Show Socks

The type of socks you choose for hiking is very important. 

No show socks or ankle length socks are not very suitable to be worn during hiking as there will be some part of your foot that will be exposed and cause it to rub against your shoes. 

Stones, sands or tree branches can also cause injury to your foot or ankle. Some hiking trails will also have leeches that can easily get attached to your foot. As such, avoid flimsy socks at all cost!

4. Bulky Jackets Or Clothes

Try your best to avoid carrying bulky jackets or clothes with you as this might add extra weight while hiking. You don’t want to be lugging all these things with you especially if you’re going on a long hike!

5. Sweet Or Floral Body Spray

This kind of body spray or fragrance can easily attract insects and you may find yourself being swarmed by them during your hike. 

Additionally, these types of sprays may not interact well with your sweat during your hike and may cause you to experience redness and irritation. 

6. Slippers Or Sandals

This probably doesn need to be said but just in case – do remember to wear shoes that give you a good grip during your hike.

Good pair of shoes can prevent you from siding down and help you navigate slippery trails and pathways.


Why Are Hiking Pants Good?

Hiking pants are good because they are quick drying, lightweight and very comfortable. They are so light that they weigh less than a pair of cotton shorts, especially those that are made of nylon material. 

These features allow hiking pants to be very comfortable to be worn during longer hikes and they will make you enjoy hiking. 

Are Hiking Pants Supposed To Be Baggy?

Hiking pants are designed to be baggy and loose so that they do not restrict your movements. 

On the other hand, they should not be too baggy and too loose that the pants are hardly touching you and end up hanging from your legs.

It is okay if you prefer to wear hiking pants that are not baggy but make sure that it doesn’t restrict your movement or make you feel uncomfortable on hikes or when you are climbing a difficult path.

Some materials can be quite snug however very flexible in movement.

Choose your hiking pants according to your comfort levels and not according to style.

Are Hiking Pants Better Than Jeans?

Yes hiking pants are better than jeans to hike in. I would say that jeans are not ideal for hiking or any other outdoor activities. Jeans do not absorb moisture and are not very breathable. 

Jeans are also very prone to abrasion wounds if they come in contact with sharp objects along the hiking path, making them a bad choice for hiking.

Some find that their jeans are more comfortable than any other pants that they own while some find that jeans are too heavy for hiking and not comfortable enough.

Do Hiking Pants Matter?

Yes, hiking pants matter and it is definitely worthwhile to spend money on them if you are a regular hiker. More than  half of the hikers from the hiking community prefer to wear hiking pants over other types of pants. Hiking pants are preferable because they’re comfortable, lightweight, and dry quickly. 

The quality of hiking pants has much improved over the last decade. 

It’s much easier to find affordable hiking pants of good quality nowadays.

 Over the coming years, I am pretty sure there will be a better enhancement in the quality and features of hiking pants.

Choose your hiking pants wisely. Consider the type of hiking activity that you have planned and how much money you are willing to spend before making your decision.

Expensive hiking pants do not guarantee that they will be good hiking pants. 

Do take into consideration the points mentioned above before you choose your hiking pants. The most excellent hiking pants are the ones that make you feel comfortable.

Hope that this article has been useful for you! Let me know what your favorite hiking pants are in the comments below!

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