Gear Guide: Best Pants for Outdoor Adventure

Eight new pairs of outdoor adventure pants to keep you comfortable, safe, warm, dry and, yes, even looking good.

Credit: David Webb

Eight new pairs to keep you comfortable, safe, warm, dry and, yes, even looking good.


Columbia OutDry EX Platinum Pant ($250)

Everyone makes waterproof-breathable gear the same way—until now. These rain pants ditched the usual sandwich of protective face fabric, waterproof-breathable membrane and interior lining. Instead, Columbia used a super-tough membrane (OutDry) on the outside, all by itself, then lined it with a wicking fabric. Even the seam tape is on the outside. The result is better waterproofing, awesome breathability and less clamminess. And with no DWR, the performance should last longer.

Ibex 3/4 Knicker ($170)

Pants and bike-chains don’t always get along, so for cool-weather bicycling, a mid-calf knicker is the best for keeping knees covered. This one’s made from a blend of merino wool, nylon and Spandex for just the right amount of warmth, moisture management and stay-in-place-ness. I found them ideal for temps from freezing up to 15 degrees. Plus, the bio-mapped seat padding and abrasion-resistant design kept me comfortable on an early season three-hour marathon. 

Outdoor Research Prusik Pant ($165)

Slipping on these soft-shell pants, I instantly felt a little more badass. They are soft next to skin and super stretchy, but also lightweight (396 grams) and I emerged from a blackberry bramble and a dustup on a rock-climb unblemished. The secret sauce is a mix of heavy-weave nylon, ballistic Cordura, polyester and Spandex. My favourite feature: the ankle draw-cord does double duty, sucking up the extra inch of inseam and holding my pants snug to my boots, even while post-holing in snow.

Duer L2X Relaxed Fit ($140)

Performance denim may sound like an oxymoron, yet in the case of the L2X, it’s the truth. To the observer they look identical to any pair of on-trend jeans. But wearing them is a different story. They’re stretchy, so the pants never limited high-stepping at the crag or pinched or restricted, even hours into an international flight. Lighter than denim, they also dry far faster, shaking-off a rainy walk faster than a Labrador. Plus, the front pockets are woven with silver fibres, reducing exposure to cellphone radiation.


Pearl Izumi Bioviz Fly Tight ($100)

In the neon lights of a city, even a reflective safety vest can blend into the background—but that’s less likely if the eye-catching colour actually moves. That’s the thinking behind the placement of the reflective zones on the Fly Tight. Bright hits of yellow and reflective accents are on the lower leg, the part of the body that moves the most while running. Part of a collective of “Bioviz” pants, the Fly Tight is a full-length, next-to-skin pant that will blend, well, nowhere. When it comes to being seen, that’s the point.

Helly Hansen Enroute Hybrid Shell Pant (from $140)

Half yoga-pant, half soft-shell and the best of both. That’s what our female testers said after wearing these for everything from cool-weather hikes to winter trail-running. Helly Hansen used a soft-shell material on the front and back of the legs, where the pants take the most abuse. On the sides, they used a stretchy, cooling material. It keeps the pants snug, out of the way of bike chains or trailside branches, and adds breathability. Testers liked the flattering, wide and stretchy waist and the hidden zip-pocket. 

Toad & Co. Jelite Pant ($88)

The most casual pant on this page, don’t let their trendy tapered-cut and lightly textured look overshadow handy performance. For instance, the polyester, with a hint of Spandex, breathes well, is soft next-to-skin and, with the help of a water-repellent treatment, beads light rain. Testers found it never felt clingy, rather hanging comfortably, even when the thermometer climbed into the 20s. A nice bonus, the fabric is UPF-rated for sun protection.

Mountain Hardwear Metropass Pant ($85)

Another adventure-ready pant in disguise. They resemble a pair of good-looking slacks, but rather than cotton, they’re made from a stretchy nylon and coated with DWR. Not only will they resist stains, but they’ll also deflect rain showers. The simple design fits in just about anywhere, from a restaurant to backpacking trail. And the thigh zipper-pocket kept coming in handy. They’re the do-everything pant.