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The Best Pants for Winter Hiking

From snowstorms to below-zero temperatures, these 10 pants will keep you trekking through the year's coldest months.

a collage of three hiking pants
Fjallraven, Patagonia, Outdoor Research

There are three things you need your winter hiking gear to do: keep you warm, dry and moving. Most of us can figure out the top between base layers and waterproof shells, but when it comes to the body part you’re driving most up a trail—your legs—bulk adds up fast. After all, no one wants to commit to another four miles to the summit when your layers have you waddling like the Michelin man.

The real key is understanding you don't have to have full protection in one outfit. Harsher conditions may call for snow pants, but adequate layering combined with softshell pants, rain pants and even hiking pants you'll wear in the summer will do the trick for many winter walks (throw on a set of gaiters to keep snow out of your boots). For the most part, the goal is to aim for a pair that's light, comfortable, mobile and weather-resistant. You can always stash a pair of rain pants in your pack if the skies open up while you're out.

What Makes a Good Winter Hiking Pant?

The best winter hiking pants are going to prioritize three features: abrasion resistance, water resistance and wind-roofing. Winter hiking conditions can range from dry, freezing cold temperatures to heavy rain to light-heavy snowfall, and as such, any winter hiking pant you consider should factor in wet and cold conditions, high winds and low temperatures. Picking a pant that is roomy enough to accommodate layering in baselayers without letting in too much airflow requires paying close attention to sizing and fit.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

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Best Overall Winter Hiking Pant
Patagonia Terravia Alpine Pants - Regular
Best Upgrade Pick
Fjallraven Keb Trousers
Best Budget Pick
REI Co-op Rainier Full-Zip Rain Pants
Best For Backcountry
Patagonia Stormstride Pants
patagonia stormstride
Brian Chorski

The Patagonia Stormstride Pants (third from right) holding their own during some snowshoeing in Telluride.

Most Comfortable
Outdoor Research Cirque II Pants
Best Lightweight Hiking Pant
Arc'teryx Alpha Pant
Best For Cold, Dry Climates
Roark Layover Pants - Women's
roark layover pants
Scott Seiver

Although the Layover Pants are supremely comfortable, our editor did discover they are not waterproof after a hike in the snow.

Best All-in-One Pant
Columbia Bugaboo IV Ski Pants
Best Heavy Duty Pant
First Lite Obsidian Merino Pants
Best Women's Insulated Hiking Pants
Lululemon Cargo High-Rise Lined Hiking Pant
Kuhl Radikl Outsider Pant
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