Should Hiking Trousers be a Loose Fit?
Whether you’re picking out a pair of hiking trousers for the first time or a seasoned hiker looking for a wardrobe upgrade, making the right choice can be tough.
It’s important that you find a pair that suits you best, which means settling on the perfect mix of manoeuvrability, comfortability, and overall functionality. Skinny jeans are out of the question.
Your hikes will be infinitely enriched once you get hold of the right gear; there’s no use struggling with clothing that weighs you down and feels horrid on your body.
Here are some top tips to help you make sure your legs get the coverage and support they deserve.
The Bottom Line
Comfortability is ultimately the number one concern, there’s no way you’ll enjoy hiking to the fullest without it. This means your hiking trousers should be a nice balance, not too tight, but not loose enough to snag on the environment when you walk or get billowed out by a harsh wind.
Then again, you may feel more comfortable when opting for a slimmer fit of trouser, and that option is available should you want to go for it. Both the loose-fitting trousers and slim-fitting varieties have their pros and cons, so it’s worth taking a look at both.
It’s also important to think about the kind of material your prospective hiking trousers are made of, as this can influence their feel and functionality. Whether you’re hiking the pony track at Ben Nevis or exploring the frozen Canadian tundra, your trousers need to serve the right purpose at the right moment.
Context is everything, from the seasons to the time of day and the hemisphere you’re hiking in. The best trousers for you will be the ones that perform their purpose at the right moment. If you’re walking in the height of summer, you may need super lightweight trousers that can double as shorts.
If you’re hiking in the winter, you may need everything-proof trousers that can keep you warm, dry, and protected against the harsh winds.
You may want to go for an option that has a little mix of everything, but if you do this, be sure to give them a proper try-out around the shop first, or keep your eye on the returns process if you buy online. As long as you test them out before you stick them on for a 20-mile hike, you should be fine.
The slim-fit style of hiking trouser tends to be very snug compared to its loose-fitting counterpart. If you opt for a stretchy material like softshell (a combo of synthetic fabrics usually), you get a decent amount of leeway in your manoeuvrability too.
They’re also usually nice and lightweight, making them popular options for tackling hikes at a good speed.
A stretchy, slim-fitting walking trouser can be great activewear for taking on the elements, and they tend to look stylish at the same time, so they are ideal for hikers who are all about that Instagram view.
There are some potential setbacks, however, mostly regarding ventilation. While there are breathable slim-fit trousers thanks to materials like softshell and, more recently, Neoshell, they’ll still be a little stuffier than loose-fitting options, simply because your legs have less space.
If you’re going on super long hikes and you need to put your endurance to the test, you might be better off going for an option that gives your legs breathing space.
This depends on the destination and, of course, your personal preference. You might not care about this and prefer the added warmth and the snug feeling.
You’ll need to make sure that your articulation has room to get going; if your trousers are too slim, they could inhibit this and cause you some serious harm. This is very unlikely to happen with a modern pair of slim hiking trousers, so as long as you test them out and get the right size, you should be totally fine.
Loose-fitting trousers can allow you some great manoeuvrability, potentially allowing you a more relaxing hike when you’re exploring the great outdoors.
They also usually offer a good amount of ventilation, giving your legs a great opportunity to breathe when you start to feel the heat of the hike.
The looser style of fit can usually be taken off easier too, so if you’re sick of peeling wet skinny trousers off your legs at the end of a long and cold day, it’s worth thinking about this option.
A potential downside is that they may interfere with your hiking boots and get caught up on them if they’re too loose. Plus, there’s a chance that they’ll be too aerated if you err on the looser end of the loose spectrum, making them less than ideal in the chilly weather.
Bugs may also make an unwanted appearance, although this is unlikely if you’re able to get the right fit around the waist and the leg tapers in at the ankle.
However, the best offerings on the market today will be waterproof, windproof, bug proof, and even UV proof, so check out the details before you buy!
Key Details to Watch out For
Nowadays, hiking trousers are so incredibly versatile no matter their cut, so it may be more important to look out for some key features rather than whether or not they’re loose or skinny, but it’s up to you.
Here are some key elements to keep an eye out for:
- Waist – An elasticated waist is a good option as it can allow you flexibility and a bit of breathing space.
- Length – Make sure you cannot stand on the bottom of the trousers with your boots; this will likely lead to a nasty fall.
- Waterproofing – You can’t predict the rain on some of the UK’s best hikes, and having the waterproof feature is generally always handy.
- Stretch – If you’re planning on doing strenuous activities like gorge scrambling, abseiling, or rock climbing, you may need a fair amount of stretch in your trousers.
If you’re still unsure, why not try on your prospective trousers and take a quick jog right there in the store?
As long as your trousers feel comfortable and keep you safe from your surroundings, they should serve you perfectly. Don’t forget the number of pockets either!