How To Choose Trek Pants — The Ultimate Trekking Pants Guide 2023

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How To Choose Trek Pants — The Ultimate Trekking Pants Guide 2023


Category Gear Related Tip Clothing Expert Opinion

By Arjun Majumdar


Here is a guide on how to choose the perfect trek pants without losing your mind.

Buying trek pants can get confusing as they are not everyday wear. You can’t just buy them off the shelf. Why? Because not knowing what qualities to look for in a trek pants can keep you confused for hours

That’s where this guide on how to choose a trek pant comes to your aide. It’s a bit of a deep-dive, so stay on until the end. (And, bookmark it to save time later)

I also want you to know I am not a brand endorser of any of these pants. These are good pants used extensively by a group of people who mistreat them the most — our trek leaders. They put them through the ultimate test almost every day of their lives.

And for ease of navigation, here’s a quick table of contents that lists everything you will find in this guide:

  • How To Choose Good Trekking Pants
  • 3 Types Of Trekking Pants To Choose From
  • Trekking Pants For Women
  • 8 Best Trekking Pants From Decathlon
  • Most Commonly Asked Questions Around Trekking Pants

With that structure in mind, let’s start with the first section.

How To Choose Good Trekking Pants

A. Look At The Material

It’s important to know which material works for trekking pants. The wrong one will make you really uncomfortable on a trek.

Ideally, your trek pants must be made out of Polyamide. It is a wonder material that is a combination of fibers, either polyester+elastane if it’s stretchable or 100 % polyester for regular trekking pants. This combination feels like a God-sent answer to what we wanted in trekking pants. And I will tell you why.

Always refer to the trekking pants label. It has information of what material your trekking pant is made of.

Polyamides are specially designed for sportswear. They are incredibly durable and strong. If you don’t get polyamides, then a high polyester blend will do. But, how do you know if your trek pants are made of Polyamide? Look for the fabric material on the label. Moving on, there are four other things to look for — the material of your pants must be lightweight, quick-dry, easy to clean and breathable. Now, let’s see why they are important.

1. Lightweight: The wrong kind of pants will weigh you down on a big trip, like a trek. Here, even a few grams matter. So, weigh your options (literally) while choosing clothes for a trek. Don’t let your pants weigh more than 150 grams. That’s half the weight of your typical city trouser (250-500 grams)!

And that difference comes in because of the polyamides. They make your trek pants much lighter than regular pants and make them easier to carry. In fact, this is why Sandhya UC, Co-founder and COO of Indiahikes, loves her trekking pants and takes special care of them.

Arjun Majumdar

Founder, CEO, Indiahikes

I keep my trekking pants only for treks. I also use them for long-distance travels because they are so light. On my recent trip to Spain, my backpack for a 10-day trip weighed less than 7 kgs with 5 changes of clothes. That’s what lightweight clothes do to you. You can take more for less.

2. Quick-dry:Weather is unpredictable on a Himalayan trek. Dark clouds simply roll in unannounced and soak you in a surprise shower. Regardless of the season. If you’ve ever trekked in the Himalayas you will know this.

Your trekking pants will get wet while crossing a stream | Picture by Swathi Chatrapathy

More than that, there is always mud, slush and wet patches to negotiate on a trek. In times like these, wearing trekking pants that dry quickly is important. Good news — pants made of polyamide or high polyester do that beautifully. On the other hand, the surface of certain trek pants, like Men’s Mountain Trekking Trousers – TREK 900 are treated, so instead of getting absorbed, water droplets simply roll off. Apart from keeping you dry, the polyamides in trek pants can also keep you dry, shares Senior Trek Leader Dushyant Sharma.

Dushyant Sharma

Senior Trek Leader & Video Content Creator

Quick-dry pants have a unique quality — they are warmer than usual trousers or track pants made of cotton. See, cotton is designed to keep you cool, and that’s not favourable in cold, Himalayan temperatures.

THE PROBLEM WITH JEANS While I love jeans for their versatility in the cities, it’s necessary to point out that jeans are catastrophic on a trek. They are bulky and take an obscene amount of time to dry. Typical jeans weigh around 700 grams when dry, and a mind-boggling 2 kgs when wet! The elasticity of its fibres also gets affected and it’s difficult to comfortably trek in wet jeans because they restrict your movement. So, if you get drenched while wearing jeans on a trek, you will end up carrying all that uncomfortable extra wet weight. To top it, you will also spend days in damp bottoms that will expose you to the risk of catching a cold (or worse, hypothermia). So please, avoid jeans.

3. Easy to clean: Treks can get messy. Think dusty trails, horse dung, rolling in the meadows or sitting under a maple tree for lunch. All these will get dirt on your pants. And it’s wise to steer off materials that stain easily or absorb dirt. Like cotton.

To address this, good trek pants are made of stain and dirt-resistant fabrics. Again, polyamides are great at this. And Vishnu Benne, Head of FinOps at Indiahikes wears the Men’s Mountain Trekking Modular Trousers – TREK 100 on treks.

Vishnu Benne

Head of Operations

I like how the material of my trek pants is so super-easy to clean. Even when there is dirt, one splash of water, even without soap, the pants are cleaned.

4. Breathable: Now, here’s something you must consider when you are buying clothes for your trek — you will sweat, and you won’t get to take a bath while on a trail.

This means you might stink if you wear clothes that don’t allow your skin to breathe or the sweat to evaporate.

While cotton is great for this purpose, it is a bad choice for treks.

The next best choice is trekking pants made of polyamide/polyesters. Contrary to the popular notion, they are breathable and let your sweat evaporate easily. That’s how they keep you cool as well.

Note: And I must state the obvious here — waterproof pants (like the ones made of raincoat material) are not breathable. You’ll suffocate and sweat in them. Do not ever wear them on treks.

The only time you can wear waterproof pants is when you slip them over your regular trekking pants on monsoon treks. Basically when there is a downpour on. But waterproof pants are extremely bulky and weigh a lot. Even on big monsoon treks, I would not recommend taking them on treks.

TREK PANTS VS TRACK PANTS It is a common misconception that it’s okay to wear track pants instead of trek pants. Truth: I have done that and regretted it. For two reasons: 1. Track pants are predominantly made of cotton. I am already on the wrong foot here. They are not warm, they take forever to dry and lose shape quickly. 2. They are not snag-free (does not slide over other material and gets stuck) which makes it difficult to use for layering. But here’s a tip — if you have well-fitting track pants that are snag-free, use them as an inner layer on cold nights/days on a Himalayan trek. Nowadays you get good synthetic track pants. They really work well as inners.

B. Check For Fit

It’s a no-brainer that you will rough it out during a trek. And yet, we forget this crucial detail while choosing our trek clothes.

Remember, your trekking pants need to be 100% comfortable for a trek. There are no two ways about it.

The problem area usually is fitting at the crotch. So, do a full squat and see if it feels tight. If it does feel tight, don’t buy it.

Next, lift your knees to your chest. See how the material responds. Does it stretch easily? Are you comfortable with the stretch? Buy the pants only if the answer is a straight yes.

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT DEPENDS ON WHEN YOU BUY TREKKING PANTS Many will be surprised with this question — is there a right time to buy trekking pants? Well, if you want to get the fit right, then ‘yes’. Timing plays an important role. So, what is the right time to buy a trekking pant? A straight answer: 10 days before you start on your trek, says Arjun Majumdar, Founder and CEO of Indiahikes.

Arjun Majumdar

Founder, CEO, Indiahikes

I keep my trekking pants only for treks. I also use them for long-distance travels because they are so light. On my recent trip to Spain, my backpack for a 10-day trip weighed less than 7 kgs with 5 changes of clothes. That’s what lightweight clothes do to you. You can take more for less.

Arjun Majumdar

Founder, CEO, Indiahikes

About the author

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008 with a vision to explore and document new trekking trails. He wanted to solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking. His biggest dream was and still is that Everyone Must Trek, because Trekking Transforms Lives. Today, Indiahikes takes over 20,000 trekkers in the Himalayas every year and has changed the face of trekking in India.

Arjun is deeply respected for his expertise on trekking trails and entrepreneurship. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. He frequently talks at institutions about his journey, but his favourite topic is always the impact of trekking on the human mind, body and spirit.

Watch his TEDx talks here -
TEDx Sayajigunj University on how Trekking Impacts The Mind, Body and Spirit
TEDx IIM Bangalore on 3 Unusual Lessons In Entrepreneurship
TEDx IIM Sambalpur on Why Children Must Trek

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