The ultimate buying guide to the best waterproof trousers available on the market today.
5 of the best waterproof trousers for walkers
Any walker, climber or mountaineer that has had the pleasure (or displeasure) of slipping on a pair of walking trousers will be all too familiar with just how big of a difference quality makes in the adverse weather experience.
We’ve all slipped on a cheap pair of waterproof overtrousers only to have them disintegrate on the first bramble nick or rock-knock. When the rain is really coming down and your only pair of waterproofs have decided that they much prefer being in several parts, flapping freely in the wind, this is a total day ruiner.
The thing with waterproof trousers is that not all are created equally and although you could get a good deal with a cheap name-generated Amazon brand, the reality is much different. You only really need one pair of waterproof trousers, two maximum – it really pays to bite the bullet and invest in good, truly waterproof equipment.
Different types of waterproof trousers
There are two main types of waterproof trousers that should be in every serious hiker’s chest of drawers, overtrousers and wear-all-day trousers.
The former is the kind that, well, go over trousers – particularly useful to pull out of your pack when a shower hits and you’re out in the hills. The latter is the kind that you slip on in the morning when you know you’re in for a wet and wild (see: often miserable) day in the great outdoors.
We would recommend that every hiker has at least one pair of overtrousers and one pair of wear-all-day trousers in their kit cupboard, but any more is probably overkill. Instead, these two pairs of good, high-quality waterproof trousers should suffice for the bulk of hill walkers and weekend mountaineers.
So what should you be looking for when searching for the best waterproof trousers for walking?
What to look for in the best waterproof trousers?
Waterproof trousers come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, fits and qualities.
As a general rule, the general style of the trouser isn’t something that matters enormously in terms of performance, it’s the quality of the waterproof trousers that we really care about.
At their core, waterproof trousers have two main jobs – to keep and to be breathable to prevent any build-up of moisture inside the trouser. Depending on what you are intending to use the trousers for, typical areas to look out for include toughness, packability and insulation should be considered.
Waterproof trousers are useless if they don’t do job number 1 on the requirement list – to keep all of the unwanted water away from the under trousers, undergarments and legs. Poor quality trousers don’t function as well as you may want so it’s best to avoid the lesser-known brands when buying waterproofs that you need to rely on.
Breathability is job number 2 on the requirement list of waterproof trousers and helps to prevent moisture building inside the trousers. Legs work damn hard in the hills and if there’s no breathability to cool them down, chances are that you may end up just as soggy as if you’d avoided the waterproofs entirely.
The fit of the waterproof trouser is a surprisingly important part of what makes them tick. As a general rule, you don’t want a pair that refuse to budge when taking a step, nor do you want a pair of waterproof parachute pants that you have to sweet talk to come along with you.
Instead, a pair of waterproof trousers that fit neatly over your walking trousers without compromising movement is the goal. You want to be able to squat comfortably without fear that you’re not going to make it or that you’ll get lost in them on the way down.
The fabric is the secret sauce that gives waterproof trousers their mythical ability to hold off the elements. For waterproof overtrousers, a 2.5-layer should be the minimum and those harder wearing all day trousers should be made of 3-layer fabrics for ultimate confidence. You should find that taped seams and reinforced high-wear areas are included in the best waterproofs.
The toughness, linked causally with durability, is what we look for when we know our waterproof trousers are going to take a bit of beating. If you’re aiming to be navigating wild terrain and scrambling in the rain, the tougher trousers are going to be the best bet. Beare that these do come with a little extra weight to bear in your rucksack.
Speaking of the rucksack, the packability of the waterproof trousers, particularly the overtrousers, is an important factor to consider. If you’re trying to keep the pack size and weight down, a highly packable pair of trousers is what you should be searching for.
Other areas to look out for
Aside from the usual walking jargon, waterproof trousers may also offer zips (to get them on easily), lined waistbands, thigh vents and the gold tier of water-resistant pockets. Each brand will offer its own unique selling points, it’s your job to make the decision as to which is best for you.
Best waterproof trousers by category
Reading in a hurry? Have a look at our list below to find the best waterproof trousers by category:
Berghaus Hillwalker Overtrousers
The Berghaus waterproof trousers are a great pair of overtrousers suitable for year-round walking.
The Gore-Tex fabric is top-notch and ensures that the trousers are not only fully waterproof but breathable too.
The trousers are available in men’s sizes XS-XXXL with 3 different leg lengths and women’s sizes 8-20, again with 3 different leg lengths.
- Totally waterproof Gore-Tex construction
- Tailored articulation for mobility
- Full-length zips for easy access
- Elasticated drawcord waistband
- No boot cuffs
- Men’s sizes: XS to 3XL
- Women’s sizes: 8 to 20
- Leg sizes: 3
- Weight: 450 Grams (Men’s M)
Craghoppers Steall II Waterproof Trousers
The Craghoppers Steall II are the second version of the top waterproof trousers from the best-selling brand.
Craghoppers have been synonymous with walking trousers for as long as memory serves and their waterproof trousers are some of the best available. With a Bluesign® approved AquaDry membrane, the waterproof trousers are breathable and fully waterproof.
A stretchy fabric and hook and loop fastening hem adjusters make for a great fit and a flexible trouser that’s offers good mobility.
- Bluesign® approved AquaDry membrane
- Stretch fabric offers good movement
- 3x zipped pockets
- Elasticated waist, hook and loop fastening hem adjustment
- No different leg sizes
- Men’s sizes: 30 to 40
- Weight: 535g
Jack Wolfskin Unisex Rainy Day Waterproof Trousers
The Jack Wolfskin Rainy Day waterproof trousers are a great solution for those looking for a lightweight, packable pair of waterproofs that don’t break the bank.
The Jack Wolfskin quality that we all know and love rings true with these trousers, offering good waterproofing with the brands own Texapore fabric. There are, unfortunately, no zips with these trousers, making them a little difficult to pull over boots in a downpour.
The unisex trousers offer a range of different sizes ranging from S to 3XL with the M size weighing just 170g.
- Unisex with great size options
- Lightweight with good packability
- Good budget-friendly option
- No zips, making them difficult to put on
- Unisex sizes: S to 3XL
- Weight: 170 Grams (Size M)
Berghaus Maitland GORE-TEX® Overtrousers
The Berghaus Maitland waterproof overtrousers are one of the top picks for a good pair of waterproofs and are the Blacks top pick for the DofE recommended list.
Thanks to an articulated fit and zip adjustable ankles, walkers will find these waterproof trousers to be the perfect fit. Plus, with a range of sizes between S and XXL with an elasticated waistband, every hiker can be sure that the rain stays away from the walking trousers beneath.
The Maitland can be found in both men’s and women’s sizes at Blacks.
- Fully waterproof with GORE-TEX® technology
- Articulated knee for good movement
- Elasticated waistband and zip ankles
- Breathable with additional ventilation
- Not recommended for big mountain use
- Men’s sizes: S to XXL
- Women’s sizes: 8 to 20
Montane Minimus Waterproof Hiking Pants
The Montane Minimus waterproof hiking pants are some of the best lightweight trousers available for UK hikers.
The waterproof trousers work with a Pertex shield, ensuring that they keep the weather out whilst remaining breathable in those humid conditions. There’s YKK hardware, offering top-quality in the zippers and fully taped seams prevents any moisture from sneaking through the trousers.
Walkers will be pleased to find an elasticated waist with an adjustable, lockable drawcord to keep a snug fit that we look for in a good pair of trousers.
- Pertex shield – waterproof and breathable
- Articulated knee for good mobility
- Taped seams throughout
- Elasticated waist and lockable drawcords
- Not great for heavy-duty use
- Unisex sizes: XS to XXL
- Weight: –
FAQ: The best waterproof trousers for walkers
Have a question that you’re searching the web for the answer to? Hopefully, we can help with our frequently asked question (FAQ) section below:
Waterproof trousers aren’t typically used as a fashion statement and as a result, most buyers go for something dark and plain.
Companies have obviously taken note of this and limited their colour options accordingly. Some mountaineering trousers do use nice and bright colours, although this is for the top-level trousers.
All of the waterproof trousers on our list offer a unique selling point and are best suited to specific outdoor fanatics.
For the majority of walkers and hikers, we would recommend the PRODUCT.
Waterproof overtrousers are best for those days where the odd shower is expected whereas all day trousers are for those bad weather days unlikely to let up.
We would recommend every serious hiker to have at least one pair of each, although overtrousers are the best place to start if you’re dipping a toe for the first time.
Not managed to solve the issue? Don’t fret, reach out to us on our socials or send us an email with your questions and one of us (a real-life person) will get back to you to help out the best we can!