If there was such a thing as universal clothing, then denim jeans would no doubt win first place. Whether you’re considering a casual look or a semi-formal one, jeans make you look good effortlessly. However, when it comes to hiking, the debate on whether jeans is actually a good option to consider or not is still open.
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The Pros and Cons of Hiking in Jeans
Investing in the right hiking gear can be expensive and one of the best things about jeans is that they are easily available in a variety of styles and affordable.
Secondly, denim jeans are made to endure rough and tough terrain or weather which means that the likelihood of you ripping your jeans while you’re on the trail is actually low.
Thirdly, thanks to the thick cotton, jeans do a really good job of protecting your legs from nasty insects, thorny bushes and the like. Fourthly, they are so comfortable to wear and a pair of jeans can even last you two full days or more on a hike.
On the flip side however, the very material that keeps you comfortable also absorbs water and sweat very easily. This means that if you sweat a lot on a hike (and you will especially in the summer), you are likely to find that your jeans become heavier on your body and make you uncomfortable.
After all, who wants to hike wearing clothing that sticks to the skin? In winter or in fairly cool temperatures, walking for limes while wearing wet jeans could put you at a really high risk of getting hypothermia.
That’s why experts suggest that the best seasons to wear jeans on a hike is during spring and fall because that is when the temperature is much milder. Hiking during these seasons will keep your body at the optimal temperature (neither too hot nor too cold) even if you choose to hike in jeans.
Surprisingly, hiking in jeans in a dry environment like in the desert is also a good idea because despite the heat, the jeans will help to keep you cool.
What Material is Best for Hiking Pants
The right material for hiking pants depends on a number of factors:
- Ability to absorb sweat
- Ability to keep you comfortable irrespective of whether it is hot or cold
- Is durable
- Is easy to wash and maintain
- Dries Easily
- Does not rip easily
- Helps you stretch as and when needed
- Is long lasting.
Keeping all these factors in mind, nylon and polyester fabrics have been found to give the best results when it comes to hiking. Sometimes, these fabrics are blended with cotton for added comfort and with spandex for extra flexibility. You’ll find that if you need to wear layers in winter, these pants will trap heat adequately without making you feel overheated and uncomfortable.
Should you wear long pants when hiking?
Although the thought of wearing shorts while you’re on a hike is tempting, experienced hikers say that it is important to be prepared while you’re on a hike and that’s why protection of your skin needs to be a priority.
No surprises then that wearing long pants on a hike is always advised irrespective of the weather conditions. Here are a few more reasons why long pants are your safest bet when it comes to hiking:
Protects Your Legs
Trails are full of tiny insects and thorny bushes that you may not always spot at first glance. Wearing long pants helps to minimize risk of injuries and insect bites.
Keeps You Warm
Experienced hikers will tell you that climatic conditions can turn very quickly while you’re on the trail and long pants keep you warm easily. Layering is another option you can consider if you’re feeling cold.
Your pants need to have pockets to hold multiple useful things like a compass, a knife, a map etc. You’ll find that long pants tend to have more pocket in them than shorts.
Long pants are more durable and offer better stretch especially if you find that you need to climb a rock or jump across a water-body. The chances of ripping a long pair of pants is very minimal.
You don’t have to wear your long pants only on a hike. When paired with a shirt or t-shirt, long pants make great casual wear too which can be worn anytime you want to be comfortable without looking overdressed.
What Pants are Best for Hiking
There are plenty of brands that are specialists in hiking wear but these 5 have bestsellers for both men and women as well as the highest reviews:
prAna – Clothing for Positive Change
The prAna brand is well known for its range of hiking wear that blend comfort and performance effortlessly. If you want hiking pants with extra stretch, then the ‘Stretch Zion’ is the right fit for you. It can be rolled up, has an adjustable waistband and spacious pockets too. Plus, it looks smart and can double up as casual wear also.
The ‘Ferrosi’ is the right pair of pants to pick up if you want an effective pair that is also light-weight on your body. The material is so comfortable that irrespective of the climatic conditions, you won’t feel too hot or too cold. There’s a vertical zipper right on the thigh pocket and it has many rear pockets too.
The Kuhl brand stands apart for its very easy-to-identify style but no doubt, it’s the fabric durability and smart zip design that makes this a favorite with hikers. The ‘Renegade Convertible’ is a mix of materials that are tough and will last for you for years besides the extra stretch and relaxed fit that sits easy on your body.
Looking for a fit that allows you to wear layered clothing comfortably? The ‘Gamma LT’ is your answer. You’ll love the brand-new look that these soft on the skin pants have, even after being worn for days together. The fabric also stretches nicely and is the right choice for wearing over thermal pants. If tough pants that will protect you in all sorts of weather is the priority, then this is the brand for you.
In the summer months, the best hiking pants to wear is one that doesn’t compromise on performance but which also takes care of your comfort. The ‘Quandary’ has a clean simple style, a 50+ UPF rating for sun protection and is also made from recycled nylon. You’ll love the chic athletic fit and besides, it’s been made using sustainable materials.