A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Great Wall of China
From strolling up mountain peaks to shimmying into village pubs, a good pair of trousers will take your from tours to trails in supreme comfort. Here are 8 of the best, including our Best in Test, and Best Value pair
The test: At the budget end of the scale comes this quick-drying, fast-wicking trouser with a high UPF of 50+.
The waistband is lined with a soft fabric for comfort, and the two open pockets at the front are mesh-lined, so you don’t get too hot.
Inside one of the front pockets is a hidden zipped security pocket. There’s also a zipped pocket further down the leg and two open back pockets.
The knees are articulated, to help you walk easier, and you can even roll up the legs and button them to allow for a three-quarter length. They were the lightest on test (248g; size 12), so luggage-friendly, but a little more stretch would have made them ideal.
The verdict: A good price for high sun protection and multiple features – at a good weight – mean this easily takes our ‘Value Buy’ accolade.
The knee is articulated, with panels for comfort, and the waistband is covered with a soft fabric.
There are two zipped pockets on the front and one on the back, which is handy, though not discreet (which is a shame for travellers).
There is also no UPF rating, although the weight of the fabric likely offers some protection, which brings us to the downside.
Tipping the scales at 448g (size 12), these are the heaviest on test by a fair way.
The verdict: A great low-priced option for hill-walking, but they do lack some basic features that would have made them ideal for travellers.
The test: These trousers have been dyed in a way that saves on water and uses fewer chemicals and less CO2.
With an impressive 50+ UPF, they also boast a good level of sun protection.
Two mesh-lined open pockets are found at the front as well as a zipped security one. There are poppered pockets on the leg (one) and back (two), though the studs can be uncomfortable.
There’s also a reasonable amount of stretch in the leg, while the fabric is durable and reinforced at the leg cuffs.
The waistband is partially coated and the knee is cut to allow movement, but these were the third-heaviest on test (327g; size 12).
The verdict: A robust pair of trousers with multiple pockets and good features for walkers – it’s just a shame that they’re on the heavier side.
The test: Another brand tried and tested with travellers, these are made from a cotton-feel nylon-and-spandex blend that is super stretchy, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying and comes with a UPF of 50+.
The waistband has a mesh strip, to help keep you cool. The two front pockets are also mesh-lined. It’s just a shame there wasn’t a discreet security pocket.
The stretchy fabric offers good freedom of movement, but the placement of the thick seam down the front of the leg is odd, making them less comfortable when kneeling. Weight-wise, they are the second-lightest (256g) on test.
The verdict: A soft fabric with some key features and a light weight – it’s a pity about the seam placement and lack of secure pockets, though.
The test: At the same price as the OEX model comes this super-stretchy offering from Craghoppers.
The use of stain-resistant, water-repellent and quick-drying fabric is a key feature. They also claim to have a ‘solar shield’ that offers sun protection (no UPF is supplied).
The waist is not coated but the stretch and cut of the knees is comfy.
All three pockets (two at the front, one at the back) are discreetly hidden in the seam and zip-closed, but not mesh-lined (one also contains a lens wipe).
All this comes in at a respectable 287g (size 12), making them third-lightest on test.
The verdict: There are some nice extra features for travellers here, though some small niggles combine to keep them from the top spot.
The test: These soft Nepalese-made trousers are a mix of cotton and nylon for durability, and spandex for stretch.
They also have a smarter look, making them ideal for moving from trail to town, and are robust as well as wrinkle-resistant. There is no UPF rating given, however.
They do have two open pockets at the front and one hidden zipped pocket on the leg (all mesh-lined). The seams on the back are tilted to help with comfort if wearing a backpack, and, as with all Sherpa gear, a cut of the sale goes to the Paldorje Education Foundation to help benefit Sherpa children.
But they do lose points for being the second-heaviest on test (337g; size 12).
The verdict: A smart-looking, well-designed pair of trousers with a nice backstory, though others here offer a few more features for less cash.
The test: The first thing you’ll notice is the fabric. Suitably robust, they hide a clever feature: its trademark directional design, meaning it wicks sweat away quickly, keeping you cool and dry – ideal for hot-weather hiking.
They also boast a UPF of 50+, as well as a design that allows unrestricted knee movement.
The legs can also be rolled up and secured using button down tabs to create a cropped trouser.
There are two open mesh-lined pockets at the front, one of which comes with a zipped security pocket.
Despite the tough fabric, they were the third-lightest on test at 285g (size 12).
The verdict: A handy convertible pair of trousers that are a great option in warmer weather, though some may prefer a lighter-feeling fabric.
£85 (**10% disount for Wanderlust members)
The test: You may pay more, but this trouser caters well for travellers. For a start, the fabric is stretchy, quick-drying, crease-resistant and durable, while remaining soft to the touch.
The knees are cut well (and comfy while hiking), plus the belt helps give a good, close fit.
There are two open mesh-lined pockets at the front (one with a zipped security pocket), as well as two zipped ones on the legs.
The fabric also offers good sun protection (UPF 40) and an Insect Shield to repel bugs, which lasts 70 washes (the expected lifetime of the trousers). But at 330g, they were third-heaviest on test.
The verdict: A combo of features for travellers and fabric perfect for days on the road make these the best in test, though you do pay more for it.
We asked gear manufacturers to submit the walking trousers they felt were most suitable for travellers, being easy to use, made from a lightweight and quick-drying fabric, and comfortable.
From the 16 we were sent, our editor, Phoebe Smith, took them out on the road to see which performed the best. The eight here are all ‘Wanderlust Approved’, with a ‘Value Buy’ and overall ‘Best in Test’ indicated.All are available in men’s and women’s fits, with the different names and prices indicated where applicable.
Ripstop fabric is always a great choice, and means the trousers won’t tear far if snagged. Also look for a good UPF rating, as this offers protection from the sun –15 is pretty decent but 50+ is the best.
When trying on trousers, it’s always worth seeing how they fit when both standing and sitting – make sure the waist doesn’t go down too low at the back when sat, and that the legs don’t rise up too far either.
You don’t want your trousers to weigh you down – literally – so look for a lightweight, durable non-crease fabric that rolls down small and dries quickly.
Great if you need them, heavy if you don’t – select the model with the right amount for you. You’ll notice some trousers have hidden security pockets that can be great if travelling to places where pickpocketing is a particular issue.
Some may come infused with insect repellent (as either a lifetime guarantee or for a limited number of washes), which can be a very handy feature.
With trousers, you want to make sure you have good freedom of movement. The knees should be articulated and cut in such a way to make this happen.
Pay attention to these, making sure your trousers don’t have any extra stitching in places that could rub against your skin when in hot countries or while out walking.
Main image: Hiker taking in the English countryside (Dreamstime)
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