What Pants Work Best Outdoors

What Pants Work Best Outdoors | The American Outdoorsman

The weather is changing, and we’re all thankful for these warmer and longer days. As a new outdoor season approaches, many are anticipating extended time outside and organizing their gear. 

Although we all like focusing on the actual gear, like fishing poles, sleeping bags, and hunting rifles, sometimes preparing for the outdoors starts with the basics. With ever-changing weather conditions and unpredictable environments, it’s vital to have the correct clothing, starting with the bottoms: pants.  

Activity & Material

What you wear depends a lot on what activity you’re enjoying. Pants equipped for the outdoors come in all different kinds of materials. Depending on your sport or activity, choosing the right fabric can make all the difference. If you’re fly fishing, you need water-proof waders. If you’re trail running, you probably want something breathable and lightweight. If you’re hunting and sitting in damp conditions for hours, you need some durable layers. 

Hiking & Running

A lot depends on what bottoms you wear when hiking and running. Assessing the terrain, temperature, and weather is essential, as well as considering how long you plan to walk or run. But in general, it’s best to wear layers. If you’re hiking in colder weather, you may want to start with a wool thermal layer, then a water-proof or water-resistant pant on top. It’s essential to protect your legs from animals (like snakes and ticks) plus scratches from the underbrush. But in warmer temperatures, hiking shorts will suffice.

For running, you’ll exert more energy, so wearing breathable, lightweight pants or shorts is crucial. Breathable materials will allow more energy to be released and keep your body fresh. But if you’re running in the winter—particularly trail running—then a thermal compression pant will keep you warm while still wicking moisture from the body.


Fishing is a very particular sport that requires specific clothing. For bottoms, many fishers prefer to wear water-proof bib waders. These are especially necessary when fly fishing, as you’ll stand in the water for long periods, so you need to stay dry and warm. If you’re fishing from a boat, it all depends on the weather and temperature. Many people can wear casual shorts when fishing, especially in the hot summer months. Other conditions require durable, water-proof pants, especially when deep-sea fishing or when it’s cold and rainy.  

Camping & Hunting

When you’re camping and hunting, you tend to stay in one place for more extended periods. For camping, you’re relaxing, stoking the fire, or sleeping. When hunting, you’re quietly observing and waiting for an animal to pass. Because these activities have periods of little movement, your body temperature can drop. Therefore, it’s important to layer your bottoms with a thermal base layer followed by durable material. Wool on the bottom will keep moisture away from your skin while the top layer insulates heat and keeps you dry. 

Skiing & Winter Sports

Winter sports tend to require specific clothing, including snow pants when skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, or snowshoeing. The common factor is that weather conditions tend to be cold and extreme, so you need a bottoms layer that will keep you dry and warm.