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Hiking is one of those activities that don’t set up high fences for you to climb to get started. With the proper gear, anyone can hop right in and enjoy the beauty of nearby natural terrains.
You want to ensure that your experience on the hiking trails is relaxing, injury-free, and enjoyable. Here comes the role of tactical pants! In this guide, I’ll help you pick the best pair to elevate your hiking game.
The 4 Best Tactical Pants for Hiking
1. 5.11 Tactical Apex Pants – Most Versatile
What I like the most about the 5.11 Tactical Apex pants is their minimalist design. They pack tons of pockets without tipping into the “over the top” territory, making them easily fit into my everyday life without raising too many eyebrows.
You’d ask why I want to use this pair of pants for more than just hiking. The answer is simple: the Apex pants are pretty awesome. They’re made of 5.11 Tactical’s signature Flex-Tac canvas, striking the right balance between durability and flexibility. For even more freedom, they come with articulated knees and gussets.
In terms of carrying capacity, such pants knock it out of the park with their cargo-style pockets fitted with high-quality zippers. I could easily fit all my valuables and hiking gear in those accessible pockets with zero issues.
Furthermore, the Apex pants are fitted with an enforced clip for your trusty utility knife and come with concealed pockets to store your sidearm and its extra magazines. You can rock these pants on your hunting and camping trips, delivering even more value to your purchase.
- A total of ten pockets
- Comfortable waistband
- The baggy design might not appeal to all people
2. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants – Lightweight Pick
If you’re looking for a pair of tactical pants to get you through the heat of the summer season, Columbia has got you covered with its Silver Ridge Convertible pants. Such lightweight and breathable pants come with a stretchable waistband for maximum comfort.
In terms of build quality, the Silver Ridge pants are made of nylon. There’s a lot to like here for casual hikers, and we’ll get to that shortly, but let’s make it clear that they’re not rugged by any means. So, they’re not the best option for heavy-duty activities like rock climbing.
The nylon fabric has a couple of tricks under its sleeves. Its wicking design helps pull sweat away from your body to keep you cool. Furthermore, Columbia integrated its UPF 50 technology into the fabric to block harmful UV rays and ensure you don’t end up with sunburns.
Finally, you can zip-off the Silver Ridge’s bottoms to convert the tactical pants into shorts seamlessly. It’s worth noting that even in this more compact shorts form factor, you still maintain access to all your different pockets.
- Integrated gusset design
- Perfect for hot weather thanks to its lightweight
- Zip-off bottoms
- Non-stretchable fabric
- The zippers don’t feel smooth enough
3. CQR Tactical Pants – Most Durable
Hiking can be as relaxing or as adventurous as you want it to be. If you’re one of the hikers craving for the adrenaline rush of stepping into uncharted territories, you can make use of durable tactical pants with plenty of pockets for all your tools. Here come the CQR pants with their military-grade performance and build.
The pants are made of a mix of polyester and cotton to deliver a tear-resistant fabric. Furthermore, a high-density metal alloy is used to make the CQR tactical pants’ different buttons and zippers. This ensures you get years’ worth of usage out of them without snapping or breaking on you.
When it comes to pockets, the CQR Tactical pants don’t disappoint. They come with eight cargo-style pockets enough to pack all your frequently-used hiking tools. The two front D-rings also come in handy to clip your flashlight, for example, and keep your hands free.
- Resistant to fading, shrinkage, and wrinkling
- Duratex fabric repels stains and liquids
- Excellent durability
Doesn’t come with a tactical belt
4. PrAna Stretch Zion Pants – Best comfort
I’ll wrap up my list with another low key tactical pants. The PrAna Stretch Zion is designed to look like any regular pair of pants while packing some exclusive hiking features under the hood.
Among the tactical pants I tested, I can comfortably say that this pair is the most stretchable. I found myself conquering uneven surfaces and climbing rocks without constantly having to loosen the pants around my knees.
Furthermore, the PrAna Stretch Zion pants are made of abrasion-resistant fabric capable of repelling water.
However, compared to other alternatives on my list, this pair doesn’t come with as many pockets. Nevertheless, I believe the side cargo-pocket offers enough room for the average hiker.
My only complaint is that the pants’ slim design makes them feel warm, especially in the summer. However, the elastic material allows you to roll up the legs, which is a nice way around the lack of breathability.
- Unmatched comfort and freedom of movement
- Liquid repellent fabric
- Excellent durability against abrasions
- Poor breathability
How to Choose Hiking Tactical Pants
For the most part, tactical pants share the same materials. They’re made of a fabric blend of nylon, polyester, and cotton. Depending on which component takes the upper hand, the properties of the hiking pants vary significantly.
It all boils down to personal preference; some people want as many pockets as possible to keep their tools within reach, while others are light packers and find the extra pockets unnecessary.
Hiking pants with articulated knees and gussets give a wider range of movement. If you’re planning to do tons of climbing, you can also benefit from a pair of stretchable pants.
Most hiking pants come with the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to keep you dry. This feature makes a huge difference, especially if you plan on hiking during the rainy season.
While all the hiking pants I reviewed have something unique to bring to the table, I find myself preferring the 5.11 Tactical Apex a bit more over the rest. Its minimalist design, tons of pockets, excellent durability, and flexibility deliver the ideal package that defines the best tactical pants for hiking.