How to choose trekking trousers and underwear

Published by Elena Feresin on

How to choose trekking trousers and underwear

After discussing hiking shoes, let’s keep exploring the technical clothing world by talking about… trousers.

It may seem obvious, but technical walking trousers must be comfortable (not all models are). 
With trousers, the temptation to retrieve your high school suit will be very, very strong. Which is not even such a bad thing, if you use it once in a while. The important thing is that you also have decent clothes that can make hiking comfortable.

What characteristics should walking trousers have?

Hiking trousers should be:

  • Comfortable: because you may have to climb rocks or pass fallen trees. I know that also high school jumpsuits are comfortable, but they don’t match the following criteria.
  • Breathable: because there are more comfortable ways to sauna than a pair of long nylon pants, on a trail, in August
  • Waterproof: In Italy, we say “March is crazy. When looking at the sun you also take an umbrella“. In the mountains, this sentence is valid all year round. Even the most technical trousers will fail if the weather gets too intense (but they will dry even sooner).

For years I have not kept true to these three essential characteristics.

Da Cima Sappada a Sorgenti del Piave, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italiy

What’s the right size for walking trousers?

As said, the trousers must be comfortable. Choose a larger size rather than a tighter one. Squat, raise, spread your legs, and make sure you can do all the movements smoothly.

If the model you have chosen is slightly too big (to me, for example, it was too large on the waist) and you rely on a specialized shop, they will surely be able to direct you to a tailor that also deals with technical fabrics. Or you can opt for a belt.

Is it worth it to buy expensive walking trousers?

Walking trousers are certainly an important investment. But it’s only worth spending a lot of money if you go to the mountains often and can amortize the cost.
If can maintain your weight, you can also consider them a long-term investment.

If you have to choose between spending the money on a pair of shoes or a pair of hiking trousers, choose shoes.
Cheap trousers are also fine, as long as they respect the above characteristics.

My experience with hiking trousers

The first hiking trousers I ever bought was a Decathlon winter model. Although cheap, they accompanied me on many hikes and when it was time to tell them goodbye, I went looking for an identical model.

Unfortunately, in the new models, I did not find the same comfort. So, given that I hike often, I chose a more expensive model. It was love at first wear. I felt so comfortable that I chose a similar model for the summer as well. I chose it with the zip to detach the lower part of the trousers.

Monte Cuar

For the summer model, with hindsight, it would have been better to immediately buy those with a higher price. Two out of three of the models I purchased were extremely uncomfortable and gave me an “annoying intimate itch”. I used them very little and I would have done better to use that money for a proper pair of trousers.

I admit that I still use leggings in the case of easy trails.

Monte Joanaz Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy

The trousers that you should never wear while hiking

Jeans are not hiking trousers.

  • They are rigid and do not allow you freedom of movement.
  • They are not insulating so if it’s hot you will feel hot and if it’s cold you will feel great winter in your legs. If they get wet, they don’t dry.
  • They are heavy in the summer. In winter they froze on you.

Do you need other reasons?

Technical Underwear?

Technical underpants are not essential to start hiking.

The essential rule is to use something that does not limit you in the movements. Stefano only uses technical underpants, I don’t like it and I prefer cotton ones (even if it’s not the ideal fabric).
Keep in mind that cotton ones tend to wet and stay wet more easily, especially on the back where you put your backpack. Depending on how cold and wind blows you suffer, then consider a change in your backpack.

Keep a change of underwear in the car in case you catch a downpour. Even the most technical pants in the world will sooner or later give way.

If you liked this article, keep reading here or read here how to choose trekking shoes.


How to fill the hiking backpack

How to fill in the trekking backpack? What is the right technique to fit all the things inside? Is there any trick? What really can't miss? The answers are in…

How to choose the hiking backpack

When we are in the mountains, the backpack becomes our home. How to choose it best? To answer, I got help from Matteo, the owner of Cityalps store in Udine.

Elena Feresin


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.