Outdoor Trousers: What are they and why do you need them?

Outdoor clothing comes in all shapes and sizes, from jackets, to boots, there can be an awful lot to consider, however perhaps one of the more easily overlooked items of clothing that many people often neglect when heading outside is their trousers!

In the same way that there’s a jacket for every occasion, so too is there a pair of trousers designed for your every need! Today we’ll be breaking down the main types of trousers and giving you some great examples on how and when to use them.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Why Do You Need Outdoor Trousers?

If you’ve ever tried hiking in jeans (especially on a wet day), you’ll already know the answer to this, but ultimately where every day trousers such as jeans and chinos are designed for daily living and lounging, when you’re moving your body a lot and dealing with varying weather or long exposure to outdoor climates, you’re going to want gear that is designed to tackle that!

You don’t have to be a mountaineer to feel the benefit of a good pair of outdoor trousers. If you even just enjoy the occasional walk exploring your local area, or find yourself outdoors on a weekly basis, then it is certainly worth investing in a pair of outdoor trousers.

The biggest difference between everyday trousers and outdoor trousers is their versatility.  Outdoor clothing generally offers an added level of comfort, stretch and protection that you need when facing the elements and trousers are no different. Fabrics like denim for example do not offer the same stretch and can easily irritate the skin after walking for long distances. This is magnified 10 fold when they become wet! Outdoor trousers however have been specially designed with the walker, hiker, climber and mountaineer in mind and utilise various weatherproofing and climate based technologies to help keep you safe and comfortable on your walk.

As with jackets however, no two pairs of trousers are designed with the same features or conditions in mind! You wouldn’t be wearing the same trousers in a desert as you are in snow covered mountains, so it’s important to learn the different types that are going to suit your needs. Here are a few of the most common types of trousers around today and that you’ll generally come across.

Walking Trousers:

Lightweight and durable, most walking trousers are designed to be free flowing and minimise friction between the skin to avoid chafing during long treks.  These fabrics are typically water resistant and use breathable fabrics to aid ventilation in order to allow perspiration and moisture to escape.

There are a few different materials used in walking trousers, but most are either polyester and cotton mix or lightweight nylon as these fabrics usually contain both wicking and antibacterial properties. 

A great example of an all all around walking trouser could be the new Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Trouser. Designed for everyday trekking, particularly in those spring/summer walks. Both fabrics are quick drying with good air circulation and zippers in the sides that release excess heat. Perfect for trekking and travelling when you need long trousers for protection against the sun, rough terrain or insects.

Mountain Trousers:

A little more rugged than their walking counterparts, but are essential when dealing with extreme weather or sharp and hard surfaces such as rocky outcrops. Most mountain trousers are made from a durable polyamide or cotton polyester mix to allow them to be durable whilst still flexible. These trousers often also contain added stretch panels to allow further freedom of movement when climbing.

Waterproof Over-Trousers:

These are the most common kinds of trousers people think of when they hear the word ‘waterproofs’. As the name implies these are trousers worn over an underlayer to keep you dry and warm.

Rab’s New Downpour Eco Pants are great examples of these and come with a few added features such as storm flaps to allow them to be easily pulled on over boots and the knees for quick put ons and to save you getting drenched!

A great tool for those walking in varying conditions – zip off trousers allow for varying level of trouser length and easy transitioning between shorts and trousers. Likewise, these are fantastic for summer walks where you want to wear shorts, but are perhaps expecting to encounter brambles or nettles on your travels. Zipped trousers come in various forms, some trousers simply have side zips to allow moisture to escape instead of pulling the leg off completely but ultimately the goal is always the same – to allow you to cool down in warmer climates.

Factors to consider when buying Outdoor trousers:

Now that you know about the types of trousers out there, we wanted to also break down the key features and things to consider  when buying your first pair. Always remember, it’s you wearing them so if they don’t feel right to you, they’re probably not!

Comfort and fit

As mentioned, trousers come in all kinds of fabrics and styles, so it’s important to review which fabrics you perhaps do or don’t want. A lot of trousers actually feature two layers – An inner soft later to allow breath ability, whilst the outer layer protects from the weather.
Something like a pair of Rab Kinetic Alpine Pants would be great here as they offer a close-fitting stretch waterproof pants a combination of knitted and woven fabrics where the inner quickly wicks away any sweat and moisture, while the outer protects you from the elements.

Be sure to check for any allergens or irritants you may have as some people do find that the inner layers can irritate skin.

Likewise, when it comes to fit, outdoor trousers will stretch to allow for free and natural movement.  move freely and naturally. Features like a gusseted crotch and articulated leg pads allow you to stretch each leg further, which makes them ideal for climbers.

Depending on your use, you might want to consider which fits and features will be right for you, for example, do you want an elasticated waist or ankles? Or added zips to hold your gear?

Another big thing many people need to consider when it comes to comfort is the weatherproofing of your trousers. Weather resistant does not mean waterproof and some of these technical fabrics combine exceptional waterproofing with wind protection to shield you from strong winds, allowing you to remain warm and comfortable. If you are looking to use your trousers for a certain expedition, it is important to check that the material is suited for your needs! You’ll never want to get caught in a storm to then discover your trousers weren’t fully waterproof after all!

Likewise, if it’s colder conditions that you’re expecting your trousers to work in, many trousers are designed with this in mind and use thermal fabrics which have layered constructions composed of air pockets to keep heat in.

Other Features

By now you’re probably getting a picture on the right kinds of trousers for you, however there are a number of other additional features that are worth considering. Things such as zip-off capability and pockets are all worth noting and can be tailored to your own needs. Elasticated drawcords to enhance comfort might also be factors to consider!

If you’d like any further information on any of our men’s or women’s trouser range, our team would be happy to help! Speak to us on live chat today!

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