“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is an age-old maxim that is just as truthful as the lesser-known adage “nobody ever had any fun in soggy trousers”. And the last place you ever want to hear a condescending friend recite either to you is halfway through a weather-battered hike.
Luckily, you never have to be on the receiving end of such as lesson. Why? Because you are prepared for downpours and having fun, stomping your way up a hill in a pair of waterproof trousers.
The outdoor adventure world’s biggest and best brands all offer a great selection, but we’ve been through the lot and pulled out our favourites. From a solid pair at the bargain price of just £8.99 to all-singing, all-dancing, all-hiking techy wizards for £220, there’s a pair waiting for you. Check them out below, and get out there – no matter what the weather’s doing.
Montane Minimus Waterproof Pants
These lightweight pants are built for fast hiking or trail running, and pack down into a tiny pouch for easy portability in small rucksacks or large running belts. Montane even has a picture of them next to an apple to drive home how small they are when packed – if you have space to carry an apple, you can carry these. The trousers have quarter-length side zips so they can be pulled on quickly over trail-running shoes or hiking shoes (though it might take a bit more finagling to get them past a full boot), and they are highly breathable so your higher-intensity activities don’t result in sweaty legs.
Rather than epic hikes in the mountains, these overtrousers are designed for city cycling, with their key feature being the large amount of reflective detailing. There are patterns and patches placed carefully to ensure you can be seen from all angles when on your bike: the two panels on the back of the lower legs are especially good for making you visible to drivers from behind. The trousers have an ankle strap so you can cinch them tight to avoid catching on your chain, and there’s a back pocket for easy access to your keys or ID card when you arrive home or at the office.
Buy from Proviz (opens in new tab) | £54.99
Mountain Warehouse Pakka
While they’re not designed to withstand hours of hiking in a downpour, these lightweight overtrousers will shrug off light to moderate showers, and come with a stuff sack so you can stow them in a rucksack neatly. They also come in a choice of three colours, which is exciting. Although those colours are black, khaki and navy, which is not so exciting.
Buy from Mountain Warehouse (opens in new tab) | £25.99 (currently reduced to £14.99)
Fjällräven Karl Pro
Sure, Fjällräven’s G-1000 Silent may sound like it came right from The Terminator cutting- room floor, but this is in fact the brand’s hardwearing, windproof, waterproof pride and joy – less sent from the future and more treated with Greenland Wax. Fjällräven reckons it has created “one of the world’s best outdoor fabrics” with this, so go out there and put this claim to the test.
Buy from Cotswold Outdoor (opens in new tab) | £130 (currently reduced to £110)
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OEX Baru Tech Softshell
Lunge, jump, leap and high-kick until your heart’s content, as OEX’s four-way stretch fabric leaves you unrestricted for all manner of movement. On top of that, you’re getting a durable water-repellant finish, big pockets and a tasty two-tone colourway with a flash of blue, too.
Cragghoppers calls the cut of these trousers “active fit”, which translates to a closer fit with details like a stretch-fabric waistband that sits on your hips. They’re designed with the all-weather hiker in mind, and once you’ve donned them you’ll be the streamlined guy romping through the hills that’s all business.
Quechua Waterproof Overtrousers(opens in new tab)
They might not be as breathable as some of the pricier options on this list and they don’t pack down super-small, but Quechua’s trousers will get the job done when you’re caught outdoors in a sudden downpour. They have fully taped seams to ensure the elements are kept out and there are zips at the bottom of each leg to make it easier to pull the trousers over your walking boots in a hurry.
Peter Storm Packable Pants
Thirteen quid. Doesn’t get you much these days, does it? Well, what it does get you in the waterproof trousers game is tough nylon waterproof fabric, an elasticated waist, breathability, packability and Peter Storm’s promise that these pants are absolutely ideal for a spot of exploring in unpredictable weather.
Buy from Blacks (opens in new tab) | £29 (currently reduced to £15)
Arc’teryx Beta SL
The deluxe option for those who want the best of the best when keeping their legs dry. These trousers are lightweight, use Gore-Tex fabric to ensure breathability while still being wind and waterproof, and pack down very small to stuff into your backpack. They also have a long zip up the side which makes it easy to pull them on quickly over your hiking boots and trousers – essential when the rain is sheeting down and you don’t want to take so long getting your waterproofs on that your legs get drenched anyway.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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