The quick answer to the question “are hiking pants necessary?” would be:
No, hiking pants are not necessary, but they are highly recommended. Especially for longer and more difficult hikes, the need for true hiking pants becomes greater.
Why are Hiking Pants Recommendable?
Hiking pants have a couple of characteristics that make hiking in them so much more pleasant.
First, they are lighter, more flexible, comfortable, breathable, and dry faster than other pants.
One of the biggest counterarguments is often that hiking pants are expensive. While I understand that first reaction, I will counter that by stating that there are budget-friendly hiking pants that are actually high quality. (The linked article also has the best information about what to look for in good hiking pants).
From my research and personal experience, you can find good quality hiking pants starting from $30, maybe even a bit cheaper. If you intend to do more than some short and easy walks, it really is worth it.
Are Hiking Pants Waterproof?
Even though hiking pants are usually water-repellent, they are not waterproof. This means that you won’t get wet from a couple of water drops, but you will get wet when it’s properly raining.
The reason for this is that hiking pants have to be very breathable, waterproof, and breathable is not a realistic combination.
That said, good hiking pants are quick-drying. Meaning that even when your pants are soaked they will soon enough dry themselves. If you have ever been absolutely soaked on a hiking trip, you understand how important this is. I can’t imagine wearing jeans, these will soak up lots of water, become very heavy and uncomfortable and it will take ages before they dry.
Comfort is one thing, but if you hike many miles in these wet conditions, you could get rashes. Once again, getting hiking pants might not be absolutely necessary, but it is really worth it.
What Pants Can be Used for Hiking?
If I haven’t convinced you by now, I guess you will never be convinced. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to hiking pants. Not all pants are equally bad for hiking.
Even though people are often wearing jeans when hiking in the movies or in photos, this is not a realistic picture. Jeans are definitely not made to use for hiking.
They are heavy, not flexible, take very long to dry, are not breathable… In other words, jeans are one of the worst pants to wear while hiking.
That said, for shorter and easy hikes, you can basically wear what you want.
Jogging pants can be an acceptable alternative to hiking pants if they are made from synthetic material.
These pants dry fast, are very flexible, and are comfortable. However, they are usually not very durable and are not made from a ripstop material. Meaning that you can easily damage the pants when climbing over rocks or getting stuck behind branches in the forest.
However, when it comes to wool jogging pants, the verdict is a lot worse. Even though these types of pants are comfortable, they are also heavy, not breathable, and dry very slowly.
Let’s Conclude: Are Hiking Pants Necessary?
Theoretically, I cannot answer this question with yes. However, it’s so recommendable that I really want to make the statement that hiking pants are necessary.
The real verdict is simple: Hiking pants are not necessary, but they are highly recommendable.
Hiking work and pants are breathable, lightweight, durable, and won’t rip as easily, flexible, and comfortable. And no, they don’t have to be very expensive.
If you are wondering whether hiking pants are worth it, the answer is loud and clear: Yes!
Are you looking for more information about hiking? take a look at this article: What Muscles Do Hiking Work.