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Top 5 Pro Tips for Choosing the Proper Men’s Winter Hiking Pants

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The best men winter hiking pants tend to have a few things in common: they are highly breathable, have a softshell, and do a good job of preventing the accumulation of moisture or perspiration while hiking. These are the kinds of pants that would be great for mountain climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, or cold weather hiking.

While there are many excellent options in this category, winter hiking pants made of synthetic materials such as polyester and woven nylon tend to rank better. They are not only warmer but also more windproof. The best of them are treated with a DWR coating on the exterior, which helps them repel water even more.

Most alternatives are generally multi-purpose cold weather pants that can be used for various activities. Only a select few winter pants are specifically designed for hiking.

Let’s take a quick look at some tips on choosing the best winter hiking pants for men.


5 Pro Tips for Choosing the Best Winter Hiking Pants for Men

A lot has been said about choosing the best hiking pants for men. While it’s true that every man is different in terms of personal preferences, when it comes to something as practical as winter hiking pants, there are some common factors that you need to consider.

Here are some pro tips that will help you choose the best winter hiking pants for your specific needs.

Pro Tip #1: Choose Something With Excellent Weatherproofing

Whenever you want a winter hike, choosing winter hiking pants with high weatherproofing is best. This is by far the most important factor. Even if it isn’t snowing, the snow on the ground will hold some moisture, and walking through it means your pants will get wet.

If you don’t have snow pants that can stave off that moisture, then it will seep through the outer layer and onto your skin, making it uncomfortable to continue hiking and risk hypothermia.

Whenever you are shopping for winter hiking pants, keep an eye out for those that have things such as DWR coatings and GORE-TEX membranes.

Something claiming to be water-resistant may sound good and is effective when hiking in the fall, but aren’t the best option for hardcore winter hikes.

Water-resistant hiking pants keep water out but not entirely, which means some will slip through, and that’s how you get frostbite or hypothermia. Go for something weatherproof that can keep the elements at bay.

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Pro Tip #2: Consider Comfort

Comfort is another factor to consider when buying hiking pants because the comfort level will determine the quality of your experience.

If your hiking pants don’t fit you well or are too tight, too long, or too short, then they will hamper your hiking ability and overall comfort. This can sour the whole experience for most hikers.

Pro Tip #3: Go for Insulation

Insulation comes a close second to weatherproofing. It determines how warm your legs will remain even after hiking for an hour in the snow. When it comes to winter hiking pant insulation, you have many options.

You can buy fleece lined pants that are well-insulated and warm but a little bulky, or you could decide to play around with layering. Either way, there will be some tradeoffs because the more insulated the pants are, the bulkier they are, and the less range of motion you have. That little tradeoff is worth the warmth when hiking in subzero temperatures.

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Pro Tip #4: Choose Hiking Pants With Pockets

Even though your winter hiking pants don’t have to have pockets, it’s always a good idea to have a pair that do. Some gadgets are just easier to reach when you have winter hiking cargo pants.

For example, if you are a photography enthusiast who likes to take lots of pictures on the trail, then it’s easier to reach into your side pocket for your phone than it is to put down the day bag, unzip it, and reach inside for the phone. Pockets are simply more convenient.

Pro Tip #5: Consider the Design

While it might sound absurd to go hiking in shorts during the winter, stranger things have happened on the trail. It’s not unheard of for the weather to turn hot, especially if you are hiking in places that experience moderate winter temperatures.

If you are unsure whether you will need hiking shorts or that your winter hiking pants might end up being too hot somewhere along the trail, then you can cover all your bases by buying a convertible, detachable, or transformable hiking pants. These allow you to switch between hiking pants and hiking shorts by simply zipping and unzipping the necessary parts.

This way, you can go hiking knowing that you don’t have to suffer through extreme weather changes just because you have one pair of hiking pants that might become unsuitable as the weather changes.


Best Winter Hiking Pants for Men

With these pro tips in mind, here are some of the best winter hiking pants for men.

1. Best Weatherproof Option: Mountain Hardwear Cloud Bank GORE-TEX Snow Pants

Mountain Hardwear Cloud Bank GORE-TEX Snow Pants
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Windproof: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes

There’s this misconception that highly effective men’s winter hiking pants that are effectively weatherproof have to be bulky or uncomfortable. In many cases, this is true. However, these Mountain Hardwear Cloud Bank GORE-TEX Snow Pants are designed to be lightweight, making them some of the best and most convenient winter hiking pants on the market today.

Featuring seam-sealed GORE-TEX 2-layer fabric with a DWR coating to boot, these Mountain Hardwear Cloud Bank GORE-TEX Snow Pants are excellently weatherproof. Not only are they waterproof, but they are also breathable, making them ideal for hiking in any environment.

These men’s hiking pants can wick away moisture, keeping you safe from the discomfort that comes with sweat dripping down your legs or hypothermia.

These Mountain Hardwear Cloud Bank GORE-TEX Snow Pants also have an embedded RECCO reflector, improving your chances of being found using RECCO detectors should you need it.

Other than that, these pants have a low-profile waist with belt loops, zippered thigh vents for enhanced breathability, and side pockets (zippered hand and thigh pockets) for your convenience. These pockets are big enough to fit a beacon.

Finally, these pants have articulated knees and gusseted construction, which offer you comfortable and unrestricted movement.

Likes:

  • GORE-TEX and DWR coating
  • Reflector
  • Sizeable hand and side pockets
  • Zippered thigh vents

Dislikes:

  • Polyester tends to absorb odor

2. Best Pocket Option: 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo Snow Pants

686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo Snow Pants
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Windproof: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes

If you are a cargo pant enthusiast and want to combine that affinity with your love for winter hiking, then these 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo Snow Pants are the perfect option.

These 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo Snow Pants are polyester and feature infiDRY® 20k Duracore fabric, which is waterproof and breathable. They also have a DWR coating, which gives them outstanding water-repellent capabilities.

Regarding warmth and comfort, these pants have a removable fleece liner that is both stretchy and warm. This means that you will have a soft and comfortable fabric under the outer softshell of the pants and breathable material for when you over-exert yourself on the trail.

Since the fleece liner is removable, you don’t have to worry about getting too hot should the weather change. Furthermore, the pants have inner leg mesh-lined vents for better cooling on hotter days.

As far as pockets are concerned, these pants don’t go as wild as most cargo pants in terms of numbers. They have two side hand pockets, two thigh pockets, two back pockets, and a small pocket on one belt loop for things like car keys. Those are a total of 7 pockets within which you can stash your gear, much more than what most hiking pants offer.

Likes:

  • Lots of massive pockets
  • Fleece liner for warmth and comfort
  • Weatherproof
  • Tough
  • Hidden vents for breathability

Dislikes:

  • Quite pricey
  • When the waistband is adjusted, it may bunch up the pants

3. Best Comfort Option: Fjallraven Keb Trousers

Fjallraven Keb Trousers
  • Fabric: Polyester, cotton, and elastane
  • Windproof: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes

Designed for extreme comfort, these Fjallraven Keb Trousers come from a well-known brand in the industry. Made out of densely woven G-1000® Eco fabric, these pants have a host of built-in features that support stretchability and durability and give you ample freedom of movement.

These Fjallraven Keb Trousers have ventilation zippers (hip-to-knee), double sliders, and more zippers along your calves, ensuring maximum ventilation and breathability. As a result, this sweat wicking hiking pant is going to keep you nice and cool throughout your hike.

These men’s hiking pants also have knee openings that accommodate kneepads in case you intend to go rock crawling on the trail. These allowances aren’t standard with most hiking pants. That’s one of the main reasons why these Fjallraven Keb Trousers take the coveted most comfortable spot.

Finally, they have removable buttoned straps that let you adjust the leg openings and removable boot hooks to keep the legs in place while you make your way through the trail. It also comes with a host of pockets for your convenience.

Likes:

  • Comfortable design
  • It has knee pad allowances
  • Lots of pockets
  • Stretchable material

Dislikes:

  • Heavier than most pants

4. Best Design Option: Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant

Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Windproof: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes

If design is what you are after, then these Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants will make the perfect hiking pants. Not only do they have enough pockets, but they are designed so that you can turn them into hiking shorts if you need to. All you have to do is unzip them at the knees.

Made from 100% nylon, these Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants aren’t going to protect you against the winter cold, but they will protect you against any rain. They are breathable and easily wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry.

However, you have to wear these Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants with a base layer if you go hiking in the snow. That’s about its only downside. On the flip side, these hiking pants come with many adjustable features, such as zip-off legs, gusset detail, and a partial elastic waist for comfort.

Likes:

  • Lots of adjustable features
  • The nylon material is water-repellent
  • Lots of pockets
  • Affordable

Dislikes:

  • You need a base layer
  • Removable part of the pants do not have a zipper, so boots must be taken off to remove them

5. Best Insulation Option: Burton Men’s Cargo Snow Pants

Burton Men's Cargo Snow Pants
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Windproof: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes

Burton is a highly respected brand in the outdoor industry, and their Burton Men’s Cargo Snow Pants keep that good reputation. Designed to keep you safe and warm even when tackling the rough and rugged outdoors, these Burton Men’s Cargo Snow Pants have a number of features that set them apart from the rest of the competition.

For one thing, they have two layers of Dryride polyester twill weave fabric, which gives them exceptional waterproof capabilities. These pants also come with an exclusive thermoregulating Living Lining that goes a long way towards giving it an excellent balance between warmth and comfort.

Furthermore, there are mesh-lined vents along the pant legs, ensuring that you can stay cool when things get too hot.

Likes:

  • Articulated knees for comfort
  • Insulation with Living Lining for improved insulation
  • Mesh-lined vents for better cooling
  • Breathable
  • Weatherproof

Dislikes:

  • A bit heavy
  • May run small, so choose a size up

Even though every hiker has their own preferences, softshell hiking pants are often best for winter expeditions and hikes. This is mostly because the best of them are both breathable and weatherproof, making them perfect for this weather.

However, when it comes to this sort of thing, as is the case with almost every other piece of clothing you own, you have to try it out first to see just how suitable it is for you.

That being said, the options laid out above are all excellent. Now all you have to do is choose one and go.


FAQ’s

Are softshells any good for winter hiking?

Softshell pants are good for hiking in the snow because they have a host of weatherproofing features, such as a DWR coating on their exterior. This coating repels water while keeping the pants breathable.

Do you need to wear a base layer under your winter hiking pants?

This will depend on the prevailing weather you are experiencing that particular day. In many cases, softshell pants are quite warm.

At least it’s warm enough to keep you comfortable when hiking in the snow. This is particularly relevant when you consider that any physical activity, such as hiking, will cause your body to generate more heat than necessary.

You may not need to add another layer underneath your softshell pants. However, if it’s too cold, you might want to layer up to be on the safe side.

Should your softshell pants have pockets?

Not necessarily, but pockets are an added advantage when it comes to outdoor outfits. Softshell pants, in particular, tend to have zippered pockets on the front of the pants. They are positioned so you can easily access any gear you need during the hike.

These zippered pockets are also quite streamlined and less likely to become a hindrance if you intend to wear a climbing harness on your hike.


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Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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