Gear Review: Best summer walking trousers 2023

Walking trousers tend to get little attention in gear discussions compared to waterproof jackets or rucksacks, but they are a vital part of being comfortable out on the hill or in the woods. Here we take a look at a wide range of trousers suitable for summer wear in the UK – some very light for the hotter months, some aimed more at three season use.

The big advance in recent years is the improvement in fabrics, with stretchy, quick drying synthetics becoming the norm. Most offer good wind resistance, and durable water repellent coatings on some help with light rain showers but may make these slightly longer drying after a soaking. Note that many companies are still using a fluorocarbon-based treatment for this which has environmentally toxic by-products that persist in the environment, whilst others have switched to alternatives.

The review features trousers from under £50 to £179 – but remember as usual that the prices shown are manufacturers recommended prices only and some of the trousers may be discounted in the stores.

Alpkit Teleki Hiking Trousers

RRP: £49.99
Weight: 250g (Men’s M)

These lightweight trousers have a good amount of stretch, shaped knees and a wide waist band lined with mesh and with belt loops. Zipped fly with two press studs. Five mesh-lined pockets, two at the seat, two at the waist (too small for a phone) and a larger zippered thigh pocket although the zip size makes it difficult to get a phone in here easily. A more relaxed fit than some but not overly baggy allowing good movement. Very quick drying and packable. Excellent value for money, and a good range of sizes. A great option for summer walking.

Available in green or grey in 5 Men’s sizes 30 – 38 and 3 lengths and in grey Women’s sizes 8 – 18 and 3 lengths.

Rab Incline Light Pants

RRP: £80
Weight: 230g (Men’s M)
These are the lightest of the men’s trousers in this test, and the very stretchy, single-weave nylon fabric combined with the long gusset and articulated knees have contributed to them being very comfortable during Scotland’s recent uncharacteristic heatwave. The two zipped hand pockets are generously sized; there’s also a thigh pocket and one rear pocket – also both zipped. There’s a belt loop though no belt is included. The durable water repellent coating is fluorocarbon-free, which still seems quite rare. These are a top choice for hotter days, or for summer trips abroad; they look pretty smart for heading out in the evening afterwards too.

Available in 2 colours and 5 Men’s sizes (30″ – 38″ waist) and 3 colours for Women sizes 8 – 16 and 3 leg lengths for both men and women

Highlander Munro Trousers

RRP: £49.99
Weight: 310g (Men’s M)

Combining the reasonably lightweight, stretchy nylon – elastane fabric with some very stretchy side panels, the Munro trousers give excellent movement and I found them a comfortable fit. I found they generated a little static on first wear but this seems to have stopped after a couple of washes. They have a DWR coating to help repel the lightest rain. There are two well-sized hand pockets, plus one rear zipped pocket (what looks a little like waterproof zips is actually part of the styling). The waist has belt loops, but also elasticated sections to the sides. These perform great on the hill anytime outside of the winter, and provide excellent value for money at under £50.

Available in Men’s only, 3 colours and 6 sizes XS – XXL

Klättermusen Vanadis 3.0 Pants

RRP: £179
Weight: 350g (Men’s M)

Perhaps not familiar to many in the UK, Klättermusen are a Swedish-based brand founded in 1975, producing mountaineering gear at the high-end as with many Scandinavian brands. The Vanadis 3.0 are the latest iteration of their very solid-feeling general outdoor trousers for 3 season use; they are very wind proof. The WindStretch fabric is very stretchy but also feels robust; it is also largely made from recycled materials – both the fabric and the water repellent coating are PFC free. I’ve found the cut to be excellent giving great freedom of movement. The two hand pockets are unzipped, and there is a smaller rear zipped pocket. The ankles have draw cords which can be used to help keep ticks out. I’d have liked to have seen an included belt at this price point, but these do feel like premium trousers.

Available in 6 Men’s sizes XS – XXL and 6 Women’s sizes XXS – SL and 3 colours for both.

Montane Tenacity Pants

RRP: £100
Weight: 420g (Men’s 32 Reg)

As the name suggests, the Montane Tenacity are a very robust feeling trouser – definitely at least three season rather than designed for the hottest days. There’s no compromise from this on the comfort though, as the fabric has a good stretch to it too. The water repellent coating is PFC free, which is something more brands are thankfully moving to. There are two zipped hand pockets, plus zipped thigh and rear pocket. There’s an excellent integrated hook belt, which I really appreciate. The lower section of the legs have zipped gussets to increase volume – this is great for me as I wear a knee support and can easily put it on and off without removing the trouser.

Available in Men’s only 7 sizes (28 – 40), 3 lengths and 3 colours.

Berghaus Extrem Fast Hike Trousers

RRP: £100
Weight: 365g (Men’s 32 Reg)

The Fast Hike trousers nylon fabric has a little less stretch than most of the others in this test, but they are extremely solidly made. My thighs are quite wide compared to my waist and these are not so generously sized in the thigh area, which is something to bear in mind. There are two hand pockets – unzipped – together with one zipped thigh and one zipped rear pocket. I’m very glad to say that a good belt is supplied. There are velcro fasteners at the bottom of the leg to help keep ticks out. I tend to wear out trousers quite quickly – my ankles brush together slightly as a I walk; the Fast Hikes have been available for quite a few years now and I can say that I’ve not had any other walking trousers that have lasted quite so long as these, so I think they are well worth the price.

Available in Men’s only, in 28″ to 42″ waist, with three leg lengths.

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Lite Trouser

RRP: £175 men’s £180 women’s
Weight: 460g (Men’s 32 Reg)

These are the lighter version of Nordic brand Fjallraven’s popular Vidda Pro ventilated trousers which we’ve previously tested in winter. Although they are made from the Air Stretch version of Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric, the stretch is much less than rivals – though I’ve found them to be extremely comfortable. The fabric is unusual these days – it is 65% polyester but also 35% cotton; the fibres of the latter are treated with wax to prevent wetting out; I’ve found this works well, although even in this ‘Lite’ version these are the heaviest trousers in this test. G-1000 can be further waxed to increase water repellency further. The cotton is organic, the polyester recycled, and the trousers are PFC-free. There are two large unzipped hand pockets, plus a profusion of studded pockets on the thighs, but none at the rear. There are belt loops but no belt supplied. There is double fabric at the ankles containing a loop which can be used to adjust the openings. I tend to brush my ankles together as I walk, and find that this causes wear at the top of the doubled section which is a real shame given the otherwise durable construction, but this may not be a problem for people with a different gait.

Available in 4 colours and 10 Men’s sizes (27 – 42) and 3 lengths and Women’s 3 colours, sizes 6 – 20 and 2 lengths.

Sprayway Escape Slim Pant

RRP: £60
Weight: 240g (Women’s 10 Short)

A slimmer version of Sprayway’s Escape Pant this features a wide waistband with elastic at the sides and flat front panel with soft lining for comfort. Reducing weight and giving a more athletic profile the lack of fly does mean a bit of wrangling when you need to go for a pee. Excellent stretch in the fabric which is also has a water resistant finish. The two zippered side pockets are really large and mesh lined and there’s another zippered pocket on the thigh that can also be used as a vent. Also comes in a warmer version with a heavier fabric suitable for winter. Good range of sizes.

Available in Women’s only: sizes 8 – 18 and three leg lengths.

Mammut Runbold Light Pants

RRP: £90
Weight: 180g (Women’s 10 Short)

Incredibly light and packable, the high stretch fabric is very soft and comfortable. A fairly athletic fit, the knees are pre-shaped with so it’s important to get the leg length and fit right – luckily these trousers come in a great range of sizes and lengths both for men and women. The waist is elasticated at the back with no fly on the women’s (the men’s version has a fly and additional seat pocket that can be used to stow the trousers) but the waist band is wide enough to be comfortable, it’s just a very slight struggle to pull them down when nature calls! There are draw cords at the hem so they can be adjusted (useful for trying to keep ticks out). Coated with a PFC-free durable water repellent finish the fabric has easily shed the odd shower and been tough against abrasion although it does slightly rustle as you walk. The two zippered side pockets are adequate and accommodate most phones. There is a larger zippered pocket on the thigh but with the slim fit of these trousers I didn’t find it comfortable to put items in there (possibly because the short version meant this pocket reaches almost to my knee). Cool in hot weather but has also proved wind resistant. A great option for stowing in your bag as back up if wearing shorts.

Available in Men’s 4 colours and 6 sizes (28 – 38) with 3 leg lengths for sizes 30 – 36 and Women’s 3 colours and 6 sizes (UK 6 – 16 with 3 leg lengths for sizes 8 – 14).

Berghaus Lelyur Trekking Base Tight

RRP: £75 (currently widely on offer)
Weight: 240g (Women’s 10)

The robust, super-stretchy, material is thicker than some tights making these a good option for slightly cooler summer days or year round use. They shed water well as the fabric is water resistant and they also kept out cooler winds. Extremely comfortable to wear, the elasticated waistband isn’t too tight for the stated size and can be tightened with a drawcord. The zippered mesh pocket on the thigh will fit most phones. As with most close-fitting tights there is excellent freedom of movement but these have an added gusset panel and the seams appear very strong. Reinforcement at the knee should help reduce wear and whilst I expect them to be long lasting they come with a repair for life guarantee. I found them long in the leg so a shorter length option would be useful. Good range of sizes.

Available in 2 colours and sizes 8 – 20, women’s only

Keela Machu Trousers

RRP: £69.95 womens £74.95 mens
Weight: 235g (Women’s 10 Short)

The tough material of these trousers has a slight stretch, a UPF rating of 50 and is treated with an insect repellent. The partially-elasticated waist has a button adjustable wide draw cord and a zippered fly and popper fastening – wide enough to be comfortable it also has belt loops. Two large zippered side pockets are all that’s needed and the cut allows a good amount of movement. Keela say that the Insect Shield treatment should last for 70 washes and although I’m usually pretty sceptical of these kind of products, I am also a total tick and biting insect magnet and can report that I didn’t get any ticks wearing them on days when others in the group did. These trousers feel really well made, were quick drying and come in a great range of sizes and lengths (the fit is on the athletic side rather than relaxed). An excellent all rounder.

Available in 4 colours and 9 Men’s sizes (28 – 44) and 3 colours for Women sizes 8 – 20 and 3 leg lengths for both men and women.

Patagonia Quandrary Pants

RRP: £80
Weight: 280g (Women’s 8)

Stretchy fabric and a good design featuring an extra gusset panel and straight leg mean these trousers have a great range of movement and are comfortable. Fly with short zip and button fastening, the waist band is mesh lined and has belt loops. There is also a drawcord at the waist but this is very stretchy and narrow so cuts in if you need to tighten the trousers a lot and it’s fiddly to undo in a hurry so I’d rather use a belt. Two good sized side pockets, two seat pockets (one zippered) and smallish zippered thigh pocket. Can be converted to capri length by rolling up and securing with a fabric tab and popper – a useful summer feature. Slightly thicker weave material than the next two trousers, Patagonia says it has a SPF of 40+, the fabric also has a durable water repellent coating. Good range of sizes although the design still fits slim and medium builds best.

Available in 3 colours and 7 sizes for Men (28 – 40) and Women’s sizes 2 – 16 and two lengths (short and regular for men and women).

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