The Best Hiking Waterproof Pants   Recently updated !


Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

In a perfect world all hikes would be conducted in sunny dry weather, but rain and wind in itself should never put you off from doing a trail. In such conditions a pair of waterproof pants is a great addition to a rain jacket as it further reduces the wind-chill effect as well as the convective heat loss. However, not all waterproof pants are suitable for hiking and other high output activities (trekking, mountaineering etc.). To be efficient and comfortable for such activities, waterproof pants need to provide good breathability so that the moisture (perspiration) from the inside can pass through them to the outside. Therefore, modern waterproof pants use so-called waterproof/breathable fabrics (such as Gore-Tex and eVent). These fabrics prevent rain drops from penetrating, but at the same time allow moisture to escape from inside to the outside. In addition to breathability, hiking waterproof pants should be also lightweight and provide good durability and functionality.

In this review we selected the best waterproof pants in order to make your buying decision easier. Please note that all products in this review are normally worn over regular hiking pants.

In case that you don’t already have a good rain jacket for your outdoor adventures, you can also check out our reviews of the best 3-layer rain jackets and 2.5-layer rain jackets.

This selection was updated on the 19th of January 2017.

1. Buying Waterproof Pants – What is important?

Weight and Size:

Activities such as hiking, trekking and mountaineering require lightweight equipment so that you can do your trips faster and easier. Most waterproof pants are relatively light, but you can still eliminate some weight by wearing/carrying a pair of particularly lightweight ones. As waterproof pants are often carried in the backpack and only used in case of heavy rain, it is also important that they are well-packable. In this review we only included well-packable waterproof pants that weigh less than 300 grams.

Material:

High-quality waterproof pants are made of materials that do not only provide protection against rain and wind but are also breathable. However, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a completely waterproof fabric that is also breathable; there is always a trade-off between water-resistance and breathability. Nevertheless, some fabrics offer better breathability than others while maintaining a similar level of water-resistance. Popular manufacturers of waterproof/breathable fabrics are Gore-Tex, eVent and Pertex. Some clothing manufacturers develop their own high-performance waterproof/breathable fabrics such as Mountain Hardwear (Dry.Q), Marmot (MemBrain) and The North Face (HyVent). These fabrics differ by waterproof technology and design (fabric layers).

Waterproof Technology:

Currently there are two different waterproof technologies; laminates and coatings.

Laminates feature a membrane that prevents liquid water from passing through but at the same time allows vapor to pass through. These membranes are usually extremely thin (0.01 millimeters) and therefore they have to be sandwiched between two other layers for protection. They are usually made of polytetrafluoroethylene or polyurethane.

Coatings on the other hand are applied directly to the interior of a garment – a polyurethane layer is basically painted onto the interior of the fabric. As it is quite complicated to paint the polyurethane onto the fabric in an even layer, the polyurethane layer becomes relatively thick. The coating is made porous in the process of application by using an agent that creates tiny holes in it.

In general coatings differ from laminates by breathability and price. They are significantly less breathable but on the other hand they are also less expensive. Other properties such as durability and water-resistance depend more on the actual garment than on the waterproof technology that it uses.

In this review we included three products that use laminates/membranes and two that use coatings.

Fabric Layers:

Waterproof fabrics come in three different designs; 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer.

2-layer fabrics consist of an outer layer with a coating or a membrane and in some cases a loose liner might be added to the inside of the garment. 2.5-layer fabrics consist of a face fabric with a coating or a membrane and a non-fabric material on the inside (protective film). 3-layer fabrics consist of a face fabric, a membrane (with no coatings) and a liner.

The number of fabric layers has impact on the weight, breathability, durability and waterproof performance of a garment. In this review we decided to only include waterproof pants that feature 2.5-layer fabrics as products that use this design are the lightest whiles offering good weather protection. 3-layer design is primarily used by alpine climbers due to its superb durability and is significantly more expensive. Products that use 2-layer design are heavier while providing similar weather protection. For more detailed information about waterproof/breathable materials, please check the Hard Shell section in our article Comparison of Shell Materials.

Seams:

Waterproof pants should be equipped with waterproof taped seam in order not to leak where needle holes were created in the process of sewing the garment together. All products in this review are equipped with taped seams.

2. The Best Five Hiking Waterproof Pants

The Best Waterproof Pants

The Best Waterproof Pants

  1. Outdoor Research Helium Pants
  2. Montane Minimus Pants
  3. Marmot Precip Pants
  4. Montane Atomic  Pants
  5. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants

Comparison:

Feature/Product Outdoor Research Helium Montane Minimus Marmot Precip Montane AtomicMountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
Weight153 g145 g255 g195 g269 g
MaterialPertex Shield+Pertex Shield+NanoProPertex ShieldDry Q Active
Fabric Layers2.52.52.52.52.5
Waterproof TechnologyLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneCoating Coating Laminate/Membrane
Taped SeamsYesYesYesYesYes
Pockets1/2/1
Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

1. Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Outdoor Research Helium waterproof pants are super light (they weigh merely 153 grams) and therefore perfect for those who prefer lightweight hiking. Furthermore they also well-packable thus taking up very little space in a backpack (they pack into their own pocket). The pants are made of the 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ material which feature ae 30-denier ripstop face fabric and a polyurethane membrane. The Pertex Shield+ material has a hydrostatic head of 20000 millimeters and breathability of 20000g/m2/24hrs which are good indicators of the pants’ great performance. The Outdoor Research Helium waterproof pants have taped seams for increased weather protection and are equipped with an elastic waist which can be further adjusted with drawcord as well as ankle zippers, one zippered pocket, gusseted crotch and internal loops for instep lace. The pants can be packed into a pocket, which then can be easily attached to a backpack or other gear as it has a carabineer loop. The Outdoor Research Helium pants are highly popular among outdoor enthusiasts because they are super light and functional.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • Well-packable
  • Pack into pocket

Cons:

  • /

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Montane Minimus Pants

Montane Minimus Pants

2. Montane Minimus Pants

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Montane Minimus waterproof pants are like the Outdoor Research Helium pants made of a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ laminate and thus they offer similar waterproof performance and breathability. They are, however, slightly lighter than the Outdoor Research pants – they weigh merely 145 grams and so they are the lightest product in this review. The pants feature articulated knees which provide great freedom of movement when hiking uphill. The waist is elastic and allows precise adjustment with a lockable drawcord. There are ¼ side zippers at the end of the trouser legs that come in handy when you have to pull the pants over the hiking boots or trekking shoes. Additionally, the pants also have Velcro calf tabs so that you can tighten them in the calf area for better fit on technical terrain (to avoid abrasion). The hem is also elastic to fit better fit around your footwear. The Montane Minimus pants are indeed one of the best pants currently available – the only downside is that they don’t have any pockets.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • Well-packable
  • Freedom of movement

Cons:

  • No pockets

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Marmot Precip Pants

Marmot Precip Pants

3. Marmot Precip Pants

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Marmot Precip pants differ from the Outdoor Research and Montane pants above by using a coating instead of a membrane to achieve waterproof/breathable properties. Therefore, the pants are also heavier – they weigh 255 grams. The Marmot Precip pants are made of Marmot’s NanoPro fabric that uses a polyurethane coating along with a ripstop nylon face fabric. Marmot states that NanoPro fabric has a hydrostatic head of 10000 mm and a breathability of 11500g/m2/24hrs which are indeed good results for a coating. The pants are also equipped with taped seams, one zippered pocket and ankle side zips so that you can easily pull them over hiking footwear. The waist is elastic and can be further adjusted with a drawcord. The Marmo Precip pants are best for those who want a well-performing pair of waterproof pants for a lower price than the two previous pairs.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Functionality
  • Breathability (for coating technology)

Cons:

  • /

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Montane Atomic Pants

Montane Atomic Pants

4. Montane Atomic Pants

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Montane Atomic pants are another waterproof pants that feature a coating waterproof technology. They are made of a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield material which has a hydrostatic head of 10000 millimeters and breathability of 7000g/m2/24hrs. Otherwise the design is quite similar to the design of the Montane Minimus pants. The pants feature articulated knees, hook and loop calf tabs and an ankle adjustment system. The articulated knees increase freedom of movement. The hook and loop calf tabs allow you to reduce the pants’ volume around the calves in order to minimize the possibility of abrasion on technically difficult terrain and the ankle adjustment system allows you to tighten the pants against footwear to prevent heat loss. Additionally the pants are equipped with high-quality YKK side zippers which allow you to regulate the temperature and put the pants on without first taking off your footwear. The main downside of these pants is that they don’t have any pockets. However, it is a great pair of pants for the price.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Functionality

Cons:

  • No pockets

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Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic

Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic

5. Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic Pants

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic pants are made of Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q Active fabric which uses a 40-denier nylon face fabric and a polyurethane membrane. The Dry Q Active fabric combines waterproof technology with stretch materials and thus it offers great freedom of movement. The pants are equipped with full length side zippers for ventilation. The side zippers also allow you to easily put the pants on without first taking off your footwear. Additionally the pants feature an elastic waist, articulated knees and leg cuffs for better fit against the footwear. They come with an integrated and easy adjustable belt. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic pants are best for those who want a comfortable pair of waterproof pants for spending time in the outdoors.

 

Pros:

  • Stretch
  • Comfort
  • Functionality

Cons:

  • /

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3. The most attractive product in the review

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