Athleisure Wear

11 Best Winter Hiking Pants That Protect You From Snow and Freezing Temps Without Sacrificing Performance

Francesca Krempa

Photo: Getty Images/ andresr
While fall might be optimal hiking season (hello, fall foliage),  you can't let autumn have all the fun. Winter is also an excellent time to hit the trails—just as long as you have the right gear. Winter hiking pants are particularly important, as trekking through the snow slush can go south if you're not properly dressed. This winter, swap the leggings and summer tech pants for something warmer, so you can actually enjoy your winter hikes.

The best winter hiking pants to wear this season

These are the best of the best winter hiking pants that protect you from snow, sleet, ice, and extremely cold temps while simultaneously giving you top-of-the-line performance.

Best winter hiking pants for women

Kuhl, Frost Soft Shell Pant — $139.00

Snow, sleet, and slush are no match for these stellar softshell pants. The technical fabric is bonded to a micro-fleece backer that’s warm and weatherproof. Pay attention to the details, too, like the moisture wicking elastic waistband, which keeps you comfortable when things get swampy, and the zippered hem gussets, designed to expand over clunky winter boots. Available in black and burgundy.

What reviews say: “This is the second pair I’ve bought… Incredibly comfortable, perfect fit (I’m 5’2″, 115 lbs and got a 4 short). You can be outside all day in cool/cold weather and feel great. Love these pants and they wash beautifully.” – June H., Kuhl customer

Outdoor Voices, Rectrek Zip-Off Pant — $118.00

Remember the zip-off pants you showed off in elementary school gym class?

These are the cooler, adult version of those. Crafted of OV’s hardy TerraStretch fabric, they’re durable and water-resistant, perfect for crisp hikes in early autumn. If you start to warm up, there are two zippers at the calf and thigh, which then roll up in the packable cargo pocket. While you’ll want something warmer when the snow starts to fall, these cargos are a solid bet until then.

What reviews say: “I used these bad boys for hiking. I always wanted a good pair of zip offs just because I always end up having temperature changes throughout. These worked great! And I know it’s not a competition but I felt like the best dressed on the mountain.” – Kiana, OV customer

Prana, Winter Hallena Pant — $99.00

Wander out into the elements in these hardy, insulated trousers from Prana. Featuring a relaxed fit, they’re warm enough to wear on their own on winter hikes, but are still roomy enough to fit a base layer underneath, too. With ample pockets and articulated knees to allow better movement, the Winter Hallena pant is a winner. Available in black, grey, and olive green.

What reviews say: “Love these pants, live in the mountains and they are perfect for the harsh weather and cold, they transition from me giving massage[s] to teaching a yoga class to running up and being at the ski resort.” – Tamra G., Prana customer

L.L. Bean, Lined Vista Trekking Pants — $99.00

These baggy bottoms are affordable, an inexpensive investment that will last you all season. The lightweight ripstop nylon blend outer is foolproof against the elements, keeping you (and the fleece lining) dry and warm on your hike. There are a tons of pockets, a mesh-lined waistband, and drawstring hems that can be rolled in a pinch.

What reviews say:Love these lined trekking pants! Very comfortable, warm and windproof. Only wish more slim form fitting around calves and ankles, otherwise, these are awesome pants for hiking in colder weather.”- L.L. Bean customer


Best winter hiking pants for men

Patagonia, Simul Alpine Softshell Pant — $139.00

These Patagonia pants are a fan-favorite for protection in the elements without ever sacrificing movement, flexibility, or comfort. Each pair is crafted from weather-resistant materials that are all Fair Trade Certified sewn and largely recycled, fusing sustainability and function. Climbers will especially appreciate features, like the articulated knees and below-leg harness loops, while backcountry skiers and hikers will love the alpine-boot compatible cuffs.

What reviews say: “The leg openings fit over my boots snuggly in a way that keeps deep (2-3 feet) [snow] out of my boots if I posthole or step off trail. I’ve used them in high winds and near zero temps, snowshoeing, XC skiing, and spending a weekend hauling firewood.” – Eddie, Patagonia customer

Mountain Hardwear, Men's Basin Pant — $90.00

For less than $100, the Men’s Basin Pant from Mountain Hardwear are excellent and won’t break the bank. They’re ultra light and airy, featuring a durable, built-in stretch that’s perfect for running up trails and climbing down crags. Just note—they aren’t lined, so you’ll need something a bit warmer once temps really drop. But for late summer and early fall day hiking trips, they’re a solid bet.

What reviews say: “Theses pants were just what I hoped. Lightweight to throw on before dawn getting coffee started and after dinner to keep the mosquitoes off while sipping a cold one on next to the river.” – Michael C., Mountain Hardwear customer”

Free Soldier, Fleece Lined Outdoor Cargo Pant — $45.00

In a pinch for hiking pants? Order these bottoms from Amazon and get ’em delivered in a dash. They’re a best seller, with more than 2,500 5-star reviews for staving off the snow and icy winter winds—all at a fraction of the price of other pants. Between the flexible, ripstop fabric, polar fleece lining, and water repellant outer fabric layer, they’re a tough trouser that won’t break the bank.

What reviews say: “These pants happen to be really freaking good. Took them ice climbing and they held up. Warm but not hot. Wouldn’t be good for standing around in the cold but great if you’re moving… Can’t say enough good things about them so far…” -Amazon customer

Outdoor Research, Cirque II Pants — $150.00

These best-selling cold-weather climbing pants are built to withstand just about any winter weather activity. Whether you’re shredding powder in the backcountry or climbing up a glacier, these pants from Outdoor Research are about as good as they get. As for features, there’s a bit of everything, including a designated pocket for avalanche beacons, scruff guards from crampons, and hooks for boot laces to keep them in place.

What reviews say: “I have owned a lot of technical pants from a lot of brands over the years. These are hands down the best ones I’ve ever tried. They were clearly designed by people who actually use these pants in the real world… Good job Outdoor Research. 10/10.” – Keon, OR customer


Best cold weather hiking pants

Arc'Teryx, Men's Creston SV Pants — $215.00

Arc’Teryx just launched a premium winter hiking pants designed to handle whatever weather comes your way. Based on their best-selling CR Pant, the “SV” in the name stands for “severe weather,” so rain, sleet, and snow are no problem. The outer is shell is tough but breathable, while the brushed interior keeps your cozy as you climb. Available in black and grey.

No reviews yet ahead of the winter season.

The North Face, Women's Freedom Insulated Pant — $169.00

The North Face updated the Freedom Insulate Pant to be warmer and more weather-resistant than before. Designed as an all-mountain ski pant, the eco-friendly recycled polyester insulation keeps you cozy whether you’re ripping down runs or hiking up trails. Star features including venting for extra breathability, tear-resistant hems and edges, and gaiters to keep snow out of your boots. Available in black and grey.

What reviews say: “Love the bright color, super warm and extra length in tall size was perfect. I’m typically a medium (6/8) but went with large. A tad roomy but better than too tight when snowboarding.” -Amazon customer

Columbia, Women's Backslope II Insulated Pants — $160.00

Durable but never bulky, Columbia makes these waterproof pants that are insulated for comfort on even the coldest days. Both outer and inner fabrics are designed with stretch to move with your body, not hold you back. There’s also a snap gusset at the hem to fit over boots, and an internal leg gaiter to keep snow out.

What reviews say: “Absolutely love these. I live in Minnesota and sometimes you need snowpants just to go outside for a walk. These have a slim profile and are super warm.” – Dick’s Sporting Goods customer

What to look for in winter hiking pants

Unlike spring and summer when you want to hike in something breathable, winter is the time for bundling up. As the temps drop, you'll need to keep your body core warm while hiking through the backcountry. Snow adds a whole different variable, as the wrong fabric can easily get wet and bogged down with just a few flurries.

Warmth and insulation are the first things to look for in a winter hiking pant. Your pants should have some sort of insulation or lining, to keep body heat in and close to your body. Look for insulated pants lined with fabrics like fleece and flannel (and don't shy away from a good pair of thermal underwear).

Second, and arguably more importantly, is the waterproofness. Some winter hiking pants are "water-resistant," hardy enough to withstand flurries and drizzles, but not durable enough to stay dry in powder. Depending on your conditions, a full-blown snow pant might be your best bet or at something with Gore-Tex—just know what you're going to expect before you buy.

There are plenty of other features, like built-in gaiters, boot gussets, and pockets to consider, too. But if we were to narrow it down, warmth and waterproofness are the top priorities for buying a pair of winter hiking pants. Need some ideas? Below are 11 weather-ready options to shop before the first snowfall.

 

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