The 5 Best Walking Pants of 2021

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When gearing up for walking, hiking, or exploring the outdoors, your instinct may be to reach for the first pair of running shorts or leggings in sight. However, not all workout apparel is made the same, and you'll feel better with specialty walking pants. 

A solid pair of walking pants features a combo of ventilation to keep you comfortable for miles, water resistance in case of unexpected weather, large pockets for your essentials, and even the versatile ability to convert into shorts. When you're shopping, keep in mind the weather and terrain of outdoor environments you frequent as well as your activities. 

Below, the top walking pants that’ll keep you comfortable for year-round outdoor adventures.

Our Top Picks
Best Women's Overall:
prAna Women's Halle Pant at Amazon
They hold their shape, yet are flexible and comfortable.
Best Men’s Overall:
prAna Stretch Zion Pant at Amazon
They get top marks for durability, comfort, and performance.
They come in an assortment of colors and have zip-off legs.
Have a good amount of stretch for a variety of activities.
Include two cargo pockets and an external knife pocket.

Best Women's Overall: prAna Women's Halle Pant

prAna Women's Halle Pant

For comfort, style, and functionality, prAna checks all the boxes with aplomb. These are the pants you’ll reach for over and over again, wondering what exactly it was that you wore before you found them. Made of 97% nylon and 3% spandex, they hold their shape, yet are flexible and comfortable to walk in for miles. With a trouser styling and a snap front, they look great with everything from t-shirts to tanks and sweaters.

Water-resistant, with reinforced knees, they’ll stand tough against the elements for hiking, climbing and any other adventure on which you may embark. They come in an array of colors and in sizes from 0-18 with a choice of regular, short or tall inseams. Customers say they’re comfortable, breathable and perfect for a variety of outdoor recreational activities.

Best Men’s Overall: prAna Stretch Zion Pant

prAna Stretch Zion Pant

As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and in this case, Prana tops the lists of walking pants for both men and women. Made of 97% nylon and 3% spandex with a water-repellent finish, they get top marks for durability, comfort, and performance. They have ventilated patches in the inseam to keep air flowing when temperatures warm up and mesh pockets to carry keys, a phone, or other small items.

They come in a variety of colors and sizes with inseams in varying lengths. Dressier-looking than other pants made for exercise, they look great with t-shirts, sweaters or button-down shirts on top. Customers rave about them. “The best pants I have purchased ever,” wrote one customer. I have slept in them, I have hiked in them, I wear them for day-to-day casual wear. ​Perfect and well thought out.”

Best Women’s Plus Size: Columbia Women's Plus Size Saturday Trail ii Pants

Columbia Women's Plus Size Saturday Trail II Pants

Nothing ruins your exercise attempts like pants that are too tight or otherwise uncomfortable. These walking pants from Columbia come in sizes up to 24 and in a variety of lengths, so nearly anyone can find a perfect fit. They come in an assortment of colors and have zip-off legs to convert into 10-inch inseam shorts for the ultimate in flexibility.

Made of 96% nylon and 4% elastane, they’re soft, stretchable and breathable. Overall, customers say they wear them everywhere from work to the hiking trails and find them lightweight and comfortable. A few wish the pockets were deeper, and some did note that the zippers can be tight around the thighs.

Best Men’s Plus Size: Columbia Men's Big-Tall Silver Ridge Stretch Pants

Columbia Men's Big-Tall Silver Ridge Stretch Pants

Big and tall men can find a comfortable fit with these pants from Columbia. Made of 95% polyester with 5% elastane, they have a good amount of stretch in them to make them comfortable for a variety of activities. Made with the company’s Omni-Shade technology to protect legs from the sun and Omni-Shield technology to wick away moisture, the pants are ready to go.

They also are equipped with cargo pockets and a zippered security pocket to keep items safe. The pants come in several colors and in sizes up to 54” x 34.” Customers say the lightweight fabric is great for hiking and other activities in warm weather. Some note, however, that these pants run big.

Men’s Most Versatile: 5.11 Tactical 74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant

5.11 Pants

These pants beat the, well, pants off of others when it comes to versatile pants for men. From hiking to outdoor work and simple everyday wear, these pants are tough, stylish and functional. Made of 65% polyester and 35% cotton ripstop, they’re also treated with Teflon and have double-reinforced seat and knees to make them extra tough.

There are pockets galore—eight in all—including two cargo pockets and an external knife pocket to hold all of your things. This version is lighter than the traditional 5.11 Tactical pants, making them easier to move in, while still maintaining a stylish look. In addition, they come in 11 colors and in a variety of sizes and lengths.

Final Verdict

The prAna Women's Halle Pant (view at Amazon) easily matches with any outfit, features water resistance and reinforced knees, and is available in various inseams. For men's, the prAna Stretch Zion Pant (view at prAna) is a solid option, complete with pockets to keep you hands-free and ventilation to keep you cool.

What to Look For in Walking Pants

Purpose

You want walking pants that feel comfortable and work for any type of terrain. Whether you are a neighborhood walker on flat roads or prefer walking up hills, you need pants that move with your body and keep you dry.

Necessities

If you use your phone and hang on to your keys while you walk, you probably want walking pants with pockets to keep your hands free. You also might want a zipped pocket for a small item like a driver's license if you drive to a walking location and don't want to leave your identification in the car.

Comfort

You want material that will wick sweat away from your legs to keep them dry and blister-free. You also might prefer walking pants that are thicker for cool weather and made with a mesh material for warm months.

Fit

Look for pants that fit well in the upper thighs to avoid your thighs rubbing together and chafing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are walking pants different from regular pants?

    According to the American Heart Association, walking apparel allows you to stay dry as it contains synthetic wicking fabrics; these move sweat away from your skin to keep you dry.

    Regular pants are often made from cotton or denim, which absorbs your body's moisture and can leave you feeling wet, cold, and prone to blisters on your legs, especially if it's raining or snowing.

  • Can you wear walking pants for hiking?

    You can wear walking pants while hiking as long as you avoid pants that contain cotton. The pants should also be extra comfortable, as hiking requires more range of motion in your legs.

    You also might want to consider walking pants that aren't as loose and contain a compression element to aid with recovery. Sticking with walking pants that are made with wicking fabric will also keep your legs dry while hiking.

  • How do you prevent chafing with walking pants?

    Taking preventative measures are the most helpful way to avoid chafing with walking pants. Those include:

    • Choosing the right fabric. Chafing can be caused by damp skin. Walking pants with wicking fabric will move moisture from rain and sweat away from your legs.
    • Wearing properly sized pants. Ensure that the pants cover your thighs, as a lot of leg chafing occurs from your inner thighs rubbing together.
    • Use chafing cream. Rub a chafing cream on your legs before you start your walk, especially if you sweat often.
    • Protect wounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends covering up skin cuts and wounds with clean and dry bandages. Rubbing of wounds can exacerbate chafing.
  • How do you determine what size walking pants to purchase?

    The size you choose is based on preference. You should make sure the pants are loose, comfortable, and cover your thighs to avoid chafing. You don't want anything too large, as you will need to keep hiking up your pants as you walk, and too small can lead to chafing and discomfort.

  • Can walking pants be placed in the dryer?

    You can usually place walking pants in the dryer (but check the label on your garment to be sure). First, wash in hot water at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a bleach-based product to kill any germs that you picked up on your walk.

    You can then dry your walking pants in the dryer or hang to air-dry.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Julie Evans is an editor and writer covering health topics for Verywell Fit. You'll find her work in publications such as USA Today, SheKnows, and CafeMom. Specializing in parenting, health, and wellness, she regularly tests fitness products and apparel and brings this learned knowledge into her writing. She received her master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.


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4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For Athletes. Updated January 31, 2019.

  4. National Health Service. Can clothes and towels spread germs? Updated August 8, 2018.