11 Best Winter Hiking Pants For Men And Women

By mattv


As the seasons change, it is time to reassess your hiking gear and hiking clothes.

Winter hikes demand some extra thought and planning. You require the best winter hiking gear and winter hiking outfits for your hikes.

Severe weather can be more of a threat to your well-being. A good pair of winter hiking pants and a hardshell jacket are essential to staying warm, dry, and comfortable on your snow hikes.

In this guide, we cover the important features of winter hiking pants that you should consider.

Then we will get into our top picks of the newest and best winter hiking pants for men and women.

Our picks below are high-performance pants for hiking in cold weather and snow.

Best winter hiking pants for men and women
Check out the newest winter hiking pants at REI.

What to consider when choosing a winter hiking pant

First, think about where you will be doing winter hikes, the climate, and the possible weather conditions you will encounter.

Will you hike up steep terrain or in deep snow?

Is the snow in your location wet or dry?

Will the temperature be extremely cold (below -10C/14F) or moderately cold (around 0C/32F) when you hike?

Also, think about how you hike.

Do you move fast or at a leisurely pace? If you move fast, you will sweat more than at a slower pace, and so ventilation and breathability are important considerations.

These factors will help you determine what type of hiking pants to buy.

Top features of winter hiking pants

Now that you have thought about what your winter hikes will be like let’s review the top features of winter hiking pants that may or may not make sense.

Weather resistance

Regarding weather resistance, there are several terms to know about.

Wind-resistant – Offers protection against the wind but does not block the wind.

Windproof – Material that blocks wind from penetrating your core.

Water-resistant – This will keep you dry in very light rain or wet snow, but not for extended periods, where the fabric will absorb and hold moisture.

Water repellant – Some garments are treated with durable water repellent (DWR), a surface coating applied to the fabric. DWR repels water and is water-resistant to light rain or wet snow.

Waterproof – This fabric will withstand heavier exposure to moisture in the form of wet snow or rain for extended periods. This is typically a waterproof breathable membrane like GORE-TEX sandwiched between other material layers. Some companies use their proprietary version of a waterproof breathable membrane.

Insulation (or not!)

There are winter pants that have insulation. These are best suited for cold weather activities where you spend some time sitting still, which can cause you to become cold.

We don’t recommend pants with insulation for winter hiking. Why? During your Winter hikes, you will encounter various terrain and weather conditions over the day. On steep terrain or in deep snow, you will be working hard. Insulation in ski and snowboarding pants or jackets often leads to overheating, sweating, and wetness. This can make you very cold and lead to the danger of hypothermia.

The best solution is to layer your hiking clothes by wearing a base layer, a mid-layer like a fleece jacket, and outer layers such as a hard shell jacket and winter hiking pants. If you get warm, take off a layer. If you get cold, put the layer back on. Super simple and way more comfortable!

Fit, style, and comfort

This may just come down to personal preference and body type. But it would be best if you kept a few things in mind.

Choose a pant that allows for enough freedom of movement and enough room to comfortably layer clothing underneath. Your winter hiking pants shouldn’t be too tight or too baggy.

An athletic, trim fit to your body is also a good idea. Look for features such as articulated knees or a gusseted crotch. They will improve your ability to move in deep snow.

If you are a man, get a pair of men’s winter hiking pants. And, if you are a woman, get a pair of hiking pants specifically designed for women. You want to get the best fit possible.

Breathable fabric

We recommend winter hiking pants that are made of breathable fabric so that you do not overheat and sweat too much. This is GORE-TEX fabric or equivalent.

Side zippers

To further improve the breathability of your winter hiking pants, look for a pair with side zippers. This allows for rapid ventilation. Zippers can help you to remove layers more easily.


Pockets are a very important feature. Pay attention to the total number of pockets, the location, the size, the size and quality of the zippers, and if the zippers are sealed or not, or if the pockets are secured by velcro.

D (for Denier) rating for nylon fabric

Products made of nylon fabric may show a D for Denier rating describing linear mass density. A lower D-number relates to a lightweight nylon material, and a higher D-number indicates a heavier weight and more durable material.

Best hardshell winter hiking pants for men and women

To stay safe, we think that it is super important to be wearing top-quality hiking pants on your winter hikes and in extremely cold weather.

We spent hours reviewing all the best winter hiking pants sold at REI, Backcountry, and the websites of the most popular brands.

These are our top picks for hardshell winter hiking pants. They provide superior weather protection and are meant to be worn as a layer over your base layer and mid-layer if necessary.

Black Diamond Sharp End Pants (MEN | WOMEN)

These pants are an excellent choice for frequent mountain adventurers. They will protect you in all weather conditions. They are very durable and are designed for active, fast-moving hikers.

  • GORE-TEX Pro 3-layer laminate is waterproof, windproof, and breathable
  • 80d nylon plain-weave face is very durable
  • DWR finish for extra weather protection
  • Full-length side zippers for quick ventilation
  • Articulated knees and gusseted construction increases your mobility
  • Removable waist belt
  • Instep patches increase durability
  • Two thigh zipper pockets
  • 650 grams (men), 610 grams (women)

Check Backcountry price: MEN | WOMEN

Arc’Teryx Beta AR Pant (Men | Women)

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is a super versatile GORE-TEX PRO pant. These winter hiking pants are durable, breathable, and provide the ultimate weather protection.

  • GORE-TEX PRO 3-layer laminate is waterproof, windproof, and super durable
  • WaterTight side zippers for quick and easy ventilation
  • Articulated patterning for superb mobility
  • 465 grams

Check REI price: MEN | WOMEN
Check Backcountry price: MEN | WOMEN

Black Diamond Highline Stretch Pants (Men | Women)

A premium, lightweight, stretchy, packable, 3-layer, waterproof shell pant that you can wear over a base layer and/or mid-layer.

  • 100% nylon face is durable
  • BD.dry laminated waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric
  • Empel Breathable Water Protection Technology water-repellent finish (PFC-free DWR finish)
  • DWR (durable water repellent) YKK zippers
  • Two hand zippered pockets
  • Snap-adjustable hem
  • DWR ¾-length side zips for quick ventilation
  • 279 grams

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II Pants (Men | Women)

The Trailbreaker II Pants by Outdoor Research provide great weather protection for snowy hikes and cold temperatures.

  • Waterproof lower legs (knees down)
  • Water-resistant from upper legs to the waist
  • Wind-resistant, abrasion-resistant, breathable fabric
    • Upper pant is made a 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% spandex blend, 90D rating
    • Lower pant is made of Pertex Shield 3L 100% nylon, 200D rating
    • 100% nylon scuff guards, 420D rating
  • ActiveTemp thermo-regulating technology helps manage body temperature and moisture
  • Avalanche beacon pocket
  • Zippered outer side vents
  • Hand and thigh zip pockets
  • Belt loops
  • Dual snap zipper fly
  • Articulated knees
  • Ankle zippers
  • 707 grams

Check REI Price: MEN | WOMEN

Patagonia Calcite Pants (Men | Women)

These pants are very light, durable, and packable shell pants that are waterproof.

  • 100% recycled polyester face with DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • 2.5-layer waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX Paclite Plus fabric
  • Adjustable belt
  • Zippered fly
  • Articulated knees
  • Full length side zippers for ventilation
  • Reinforced scuff guards
  • 312 grams

Check REI price: WOMEN
Check Backcountry price: MEN

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Pants (Men | Women)

The REI Co-op XeroDry GTX pants are a versatile, lightweight, durable, and packable shell that you can wear all year in a variety of conditions.

  • Polyester face with durable water repellent (DWR) finish
  • 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite waterproof breathable fabric
  • Gusseted under-leg and articulated knees increase mobility
  • Elastic waistband and drawcord allow for a custom fit
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Pants pack away into the left-hand pocket
  • Ankle zips and snaps for easy on easy off boots
  • Boot hook keeps pants in place
  • 284 grams

Arc’Teryx Zeta SL Pant (Men | Women)

The Arc’teryx Zeta SL pant is a super light, packable, and waterproof GORE-TEX hiking emergency shell pant. These are perfect for wearing in cold weather over a base layer and a mid-layer if necessary depending on the temperature. You can wear these pants all year as a protective layer.

  • GORE-TEX Paclite Plus Technology is waterproof, windproof, and breathable
  • Fast, lightweight, and durable pants
  • Trim athletic fit
  • Packs very small in your backpack
  • Fully articulated design for easy and efficient movement
  • Zippered fly and snap closure
  • 3/4 length WaterTight lower leg zippers for ventilation
  • 245 grams

Check Backcountry price: MEN | WOMEN
Check REI price: MEN | WOMEN

Best softshell winter hiking pants for men and women

This next set of winter hiking pants are softshell pants and are meant to be worn on winter days that are moderate in temperature (around 0C/32F) and when snowfall is not expected to be heavy.

Patagonia Simul Alpine Pants (Men | Women)

The Simul Alpine Pants by Patagonia are lightweight soft-shell pants that provide great protection in moderately cool to cold temperatures. These are perfect for a fast-moving hike in after the storm, snowy conditions.

  • Lightweight protective soft-shell pants
  • 100% polyester fabric with DWR finish is durable, stretchy, breathable
  • Zippered hand and thigh pockets
  • Zippered fly
  • Adjustable waist for a custom snug fit
  • Articulated design and gusseted crotch
  • 366 grams

Check Backcountry price: MEN

Outdoor Research Cirque II Pants (Men | Women)

These are the most popular durable softshell pants made by Outdoor Research that are best suited for power hikers that like to get out in cool to cold weather (not a snowstorm) hikes.

  • Breathable, abrasion-resistant, stretchy fabric
    • 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% spandex, 90D lightweight rating
  • ActiveTemp thermo-regulating technology helps manage body temperature
  • Water-resistant
  • Wind-resistant
  • DWR-treated zippers
  • Hand and thigh zip pockets
  • Gusseted crotch and articulated knees to improve mobility
  • Belt loops
  • 617 grams

Check Backcountry price: MEN | WOMEN

Patagonia Nano-Air Pants (Men | Women)

Do you like to move quickly or even run on the trails in the wintertime? Then, these may be a good pant for you. The Nano-Air pants by Patagonia are soft, breathable, and stretchy pants built for excellent mobility on cold days.

  • 100% polyester fabric (87% is recycled)
  • Spandex snag-resistant stretchy knit
  • PFC-free DWR finish keeps you dry in light rain or snow
  • 60 gram FullRange insulation (40% recycled) keeps you warm on colder days
  • Articulated patterning for superb movement
  • Alpine boot compatible
  • 278 grams

Arc’teryx Creston AR Pant (Men | Women)

This is a great multi-purpose hiking pant for hiking on cooler days.

  • Durable weather-resistant synthetic fabric
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • One zippered back pocket
  • Zippered fly
  • Stretch waistband with belt loops for a custom fit
  • 365 grams

Check Backcountry price: MEN | WOMEN

This concludes our review of the best winter hiking pants for this season.

What else do you need for snow hikes and winter hiking adventures?

Do you have a proper jacket to go with your pants? Read our guide to the best hiking jackets for the newest and best winter hiking jackets.

Take a look at our complete guide to winter hiking gear.

You will definitely require some top-quality footwear (including socks, gaiters, and microspikes) to keep your feet warm and comfy. So, check out our guide to the best winter hiking boots.

To stay comfortable and cozy underneath your winter jacket and pants, be sure to stock up on base layers, and consider a fleece jacket.

Protect your eyes with some sunglasses since snow can be super bright and blinding on a sunny day.

Finally, check out our complete guides to the best hiking gear and what to wear hiking for the newest and best essential items to take on your hikes.

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