Walking & Waterproof Trousers Buying Guide
Walking trousers and waterproof trousers are staples for many lovers of the great outdoors, ideal for rain or shine. These versatile trousers can be used for all sorts of outdoor activities, from walking and hiking to climbing or other sports.
But what are walking trousers? Why should you wear them over jeans or other sportswear? Well, Winfields is here to explain everything about walking and waterproof trousers. We’ll tell you how they’re different, how they work, why you’ll benefit from them and what to look for.
Read on to find out more about walking trousers and waterproof trousers…
If you’ve ever gone for a long walk or hike while wearing jeans you’ll know that they can be uncomfortable, causing chafing and irritation against your skin. Plus, they provide little room or stretch when walking and they hold a lot of water if wet, taking a long time to dry.
When you’re out walking, you should dress for the occasion. We all do this for our upper half with waterproof jackets but it’s often a different story for our lower half. It’s just as important to have the right pair of trousers.
Walking trousers are made with comfort and protection in mind for outdoor activities. They’re made to give you the stretch and flexibility you need for movement without chafing when walking, hiking, cycling or climbing.
What Makes Walking Trousers Different?
Standard trousers, such as jeans, do not provide the comfort, stretch or protection that you need in the great outdoors, even if you’re “just” walking.
Everyday fabrics you’ll find in trousers can restrict natural movement, which can seriously limit what you can do. The standard material we use for walking, like denim, can be rough on your skin which will rub while walking long distances.
The same can be said for when hiking or climbing because they offer minimal protection against wet, cold and windy weather. Outdoor trousers use weatherproofing technology and fabrics to ensure that you remain protected from the elements and stay comfortable.
- Walking Trousers: A like-for-like replacement for your jeans or tracksuit bottoms while walking, hiking or for almost any other outdoor activity.
- Waterproof Trousers: Can be an over-trouser or worn as they are – a fully waterproof walking trouser.
- Zip-Off Trousers: You’ve probably seen these before, outdoor trousers that can become shorts by zipping the bottom section off.
- Softshell Trousers: A bridge between trousers and leggings. More stretchy than trousers and ideal for spring and summer activities.
- Leggings: Ideal for being more active and guaranteed to help you push your performance thanks to a lightweight and active fit.
Walking Trouser Features
Walking trousers have features which allow them to deal with moisture, sweat and heat to keep you comfortable while outdoors. We’ve picked out some of the features on the diagram and gone into more detail.
- Elasticated Waist – This is for comfort but also for more free movement when hiking or even climbing. Some trousers may have a part-elastic waistband.
- Breathability – Made with breathable fabrics, they ensure you stay cool and comfortable while on the move.
- Sun Protection – This goes hand-in-hand with breathability, many walking trousers feature sun protection technology, called UPF, for when you’re in very hot climates.
- Water-Resistant – Not fully waterproof, they will prevent you from getting soaked thanks to a DWR, durable water-resistant coating. This will also include being stain-resistant.
- Comfort Stretch Fabric – Apart from being more stretchy than jeans, walking trousers will include more flexible fabrics at your knee for additional free movement.
- Zipped Pockets – You don’t want to be hiking or climbing and having your belongings falling out of your pockets, these will keep them in place.
- Durable Reinforced Panels – Some trousers have reinforced panels on the knees and ankles for extra protection.
- Ankle Cuffs – So your trousers don’t get caught on anything and fit over your footwear, some trousers will have adjustable ankle cuffs.
- Bug Repellent Material – Some trousers will feature technology that repels biting insects to help you stay comfortable and prevent bites.
How Should Walking Trousers Fit?
Walking trousers have a straight leg fit which gives a closer fit to reduce chafing. Finding the right fit is vital for any outdoor clothing, so your trousers must be comfortable so you can have fun and complete activities.
Most walking trousers have articulated knees. This means they are bent at the knees to move with the natural bend of your knees. As we’ve said, walking trousers have more stretch and the fit can be changed. Adjustable waists and cuffs allow you to change the fabric to suit your body shape.
When trying on walking trousers you should work out what your waist and leg size is before shopping so you find a pair which fits comfortably. Too tight and you will be too warm while moving. Too long and they will become a trip hazard – no matter how much you adjust them.
Walking trousers use performance fabrics that will be treated with water-resistant coatings to repel water and keep you dry.
Some technical fabrics will also have excellent wind protection to shield you from strong gusts, allowing you to remain warm and comfortable in most climates.
You will often find breathable linings and mesh sections to aid ventilation and improve comfort. This is all in aid of keeping you cool by drawing moisture from the skin but repelling rain.
How warm are walking trousers?
Some walking trousers are made using thermal materials with layered constructions composed of air pockets. They catch and trap heat to provide optimum warmth in cold conditions. Some may even have linings to improve cold-weather performance.
How to Choose Your Walking Trousers
Like all outdoor clothing and equipment, you need to have some considerations while buying, so we’ve picked out some key points to remember when buying walking trousers.
- Ask yourself what you’ll be using them for and whether they suit your activity
- Have you got the right fit? You don’t want them too tight or long
- Do they offer enough protection? This includes around your joints and from bugs like mosquitos
- Are they durable enough to last for hours again and again?
- Do you have enough storage?
- Can you adjust them to fit properly around your boots?
Essentially, if you want your lower half to stay dry while out walking or hiking, these are the trousers you need. They can be over-trousers that you can wear on top of shorts or trousers, however, they can be standalone trousers, too.
Waterproof trousers use performance fabrics which offer amazing rain protection and will also keep you warm with excellent windproofing. The fabric is treated with a waterproof coating which repels water to keep you comfortable and dry.
Waterproof Trouser Features
Besides obviously being waterproof, you should keep a lookout for these features on your waterproof trousers. We’ve highlighted on the diagram and gone into a little more detail about each one.
- Elasticated Adjustable Waist – This is for comfort and makes it easier to put them on or take them off, especially if they’re being worn over something else
- Breathable Fabric – Apart from being waterproof, they need to be breathable so you don’t too hot
- Adjustable Cuffs – Just like walking trousers, you want to adjust the cuffs of your trousers so they keep water off you and your socks but also so they don’t become a trip hazard.
- Side/Leg Zips – This makes it easier to put them on over your feet without taking off your shoes
- Mesh Lining – This will allow air to move around, giving extra ventilation to help keep you cool
- Packable – If they’re over-trousers, you want to be able to pack them away into your rucksack easily.
This is helpful, but you don’t want them so big that they could get caught on bushes, become a trip hazard or catch the wind, which is annoying and even dangerous. You should have enough space to move comfortably without having too much excess.
You can also find out our picks for the best waterproof clothing for men, women and children to keep your family warm and dry on your next adventure.