Not the most glamorous item of outdoor clothing, and a bad choice won’t matter that much, but they are still an important garment affecting comfort and weather protection on the hill. Some walkers favour tight and stretchy legging-style trousers like the infamous Ronhill Trackster, others a loose-fitting cargo-pant style….. Read Phil’s review of mens’ walking trousers
Here Helen tests 7 pairs of walking trousers for women.
Kathmandhu Mamora TrousersRRP £55
Made from very comfortable-feeling fabric with four way stretch and water repellent finish, these trousers have tabs and press studs to allow them to be rolled up to 3/4 length. The straight leg, slim fit won’t suit everyone and the lack of belt loops mean the elasticated waistband (which can feel hot in high temperatures) has to be a good fit to be comfortable. However the fabric stands up well to abrasion tests, is quick-drying, emerges uncrumpled from being packed, has 50 SPF against UV rays, and is reasonably lightweight at 310g (size 12). Two front hand pockets and a zipped security pocket on the thigh that is a little on the small side as it won’t take a GPS or larger phone. No way of tightening the ankle hem. Zipped fly is secured by two press studs. Available in sizes 8 to 16 and in black. Good value, all round trousers that could be worn throughout the year.
Fabric: 88% Nylon 12% Elastane
Paramo Atca Trousers RRP £60
Aimed at summer hiking and travel, these are well constructed trousers, with fairly relaxed fit, semi-elasticated waist and fabric belt. The use of the Parameta A blend of cotton and synthetics means it is very quick drying and performs well in hot weather, moving sweat away from the body. Zip and button fly, two mesh-lined front pockets, one with internal security pocket big enough for a credit card and some cash but not a passport. Legs can be rolled up and secured with a button-through tab to shorten to 3/4 length. UV protection to SPF 50. Even after several wears and washes the fabric retained a slightly stiff feeling and always looked crumpled after packing. However these are minor quibbles for hard wearing summer trousers that are also lightweight at 300g (Size S). Available in 3 leg lengths and in sizes XS to XL and two colours. A good choice for the hot weather which must surely reach Scotland soon?!
Fabric: Nikwax Parameta A Cotton+
Vaude Farley ZO IV Pants RRP £70
The wider-leg styling and articulated knees makes up for the lack of any real stretch in the fabric of these lightweight summer trousers. Despite the recent poor Scottish summers, I’m a fan of zip-off trousers to save having to carry and change into shorts for the few hours on the hill when the sun might be at full throttle. The main downside is that the zips sometimes rub on the inside leg, not a problem with these, but always worth trying on a pair first. The ankle hems can be tightened using a drawcord and slightly bulky toggle but the hem itself is not zipped or wide enough to go over large boots which will have to be taken off for the transformation to shorts. Colour-coded stitching helps to locate and fit the correct zipped-off section. 2 rear pockets, 2 front pockets including one with a small, zipped security pocket, and a zipped cargo pocket. Semi-elasticated waistband with belt loops and button secured zipped fly. The fabric has a soft, comfortable feel, is fast drying, fairly lightweight at 330g, and has UV protection of SPF 50. A versatile, good all-round pair of summer trousers, equally suited to hotter travel. Available in two leg lengths (Short and Regular) and sizes 34 (XXS) – 48 (XXXL), and 5 colours ranging from black, grey, two sandy shades and a mossy green.
Fabric: 100% Polyamide
Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Trousers RRP £45
Having regularly worn Craghoppers trousers in the past I was surprised to find such a slim, straight leg cut as their designs are usually a wee bit more forgiving. However the super comfortable stretchy fabric allows a lot of freedom of movement and they are the only trousers tested available up to size 20. Short zipped fly secured with a button, non elasticated waistband with belt loops. 2 zipped front pockets (one with attached glasses cloth which I initially thought ridiculous but actually found handy for cleaning sunglasses and phone if you can remember its there) and 1 zipped rear pocket, all cotton lined. No method of tightening the ankle hem but there is an ingenious reinforced hem designed to stop wear at this vulnerable point. The robust, water repellent fabric performed well, probably the stretchiest pair of trousers tested and they look smart enough for general travel or off-hill use. UV protection of SPF 40 and moderately quick drying. Available in two leg lengths (Regular and Long), sizes 8 – 20 and black, brown and khaki colours. Good value trousers, but I’d want to check the fit first – particularly that all important crotch to waistband measurement!
Fabric: 100% Polyamide elastane
Bergans Kikut Lady Pants RRP £64
These bombproof hiking trousers must be modelled on strapping Scandinavian six footers – shorter specimens will have to put up with spare fabric or turn ups. There are some nice touches, four spacious zipped pockets (2 front hand pockets, 2 thigh) and a small rear pocket, articulated knees, comfortable waistband with belt loops and a reinforced double section of fabric on the inner ankle where trousers tend to get worn. The zipped fly is secured with a press stud that I found a bit too stiff and this is all reinforced with Velcro so is very secure once done up. They show no sign of wear and tear at all after a number of outings including a few icy snow slides so the fabric does seem extremely robust and has a water repellent effect. However this adds weight (410g) and the cotton content means they are not particularly quick drying. Available in S to XXL and in five colours.
Fabric: 65% Polyester 35% Cotton
Montane Terra Ridge Pants RRP £75
These tick all the boxes and have quickly become my favourite walking trousers for all conditions. The comfortable feeling fabric has a good amount of two way stretch, water repellant effect, and is reinforced at the knees and inner ankles with tough rip-stop fabric. The fabric has held up very well to wear and tear (one snow sliding session saw my walking partner’s old trousers shredded while these remained in pristine condition) and is very quick drying. The cut is generous with articulated knees but not baggy and the fleecy liner on the waistband (non-elasticated) adds comfort. The ankles can be tightened to two more widths by using press studs and ankle zips allow the trousers to be put on or removed over boots or worn with high boots. There are two spacious zipped hand warmer pockets which seem easier to access than many, one with an internal sipped security pockets and a rear zipped pocket, all mesh lined. Whilst these can be used for venting there are two clever meshed thigh vents providing useful ventilation in hot conditions and easy to quickly undo or do up. There is a separate belt which can easily be undone in gloves and the zipped fly is secured with a button. Available in 2 leg lengths (Regular and Short), sizes 8 to 16 and three colours. Not the lightest trousers on test at 375g (Size 10) or the cheapest but I can’t fault them and have no hesitation recommending them.
Fabric: Granite Stretch Dynamic (93.5% Nylon, 6.5% Spandex) and reinforced areas Granite Stretch Tough (34.7% Nylon, 7.6% Lycra, 57.7% CORDURA)
Gelert Venture Trouser RRP £45
These comfortable and weather resistant trousers came a close second and are excellent value for money. With four way stretch, the lightweight fabric has a lovely feel, has UV protection of SPF 50, and is very quick drying. 2 mesh-lined front pockets which can be used for venting, and a useful-sized zipped thigh pocket big enough for phone or GPS but not map (none of the women’s trousers tested had a pocket that could take an OS map – if women are wearing the trousers might they also not be navigating?). Good freedom of movement from the stretchy fabric and articulated knee. The ankle hem can be tightened with a drawcord and toggle arrangement. Zipped fly is secured with a popper attached to a tailored waistband which has a nice fleecy lining, useful to prevent a pack rubbing, and slightly flimsy glued-on belt loops. The fit is definitely on the slim side, perfect for straight up and down beanpoles but others may want to try on before they buy. Available in three leg lengths and one colour, black.
Fabric: 85% nylon 15 spandex