The Best Hiking Waterproof Rain Pants of 2024

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

In an ideal scenario, every hike would take place under clear, sunny skies. Yet, the elements—rain and wind—shouldn’t deter us from embarking on our adventures, provided they don’t compromise our safety. In rainy weather, complementing a rain jacket with a pair of waterproof pants isn’t just a good idea; it’s a game-changer. They  ensure our lower bodies remain dry. However, it’s crucial to recognize that not all waterproof pants are cut out for hiking or other vigorous activities such as trekking and mountaineering. For these endeavors, pants must offer excellent breathability to allow moisture from sweat to escape, ensuring you stay dry from both external and internal sources.

That’s where modern waterproof/breathable fabrics come into play. Materials like Gore-Tex and Pertex are engineered to repel raindrops while permitting internal moisture to evaporate, striking the perfect balance between protection and comfort. Beyond breathability, the ideal pair of hiking waterproof pants should also be lightweight, functional, and built to last.

To assist in narrowing down the options, we’ve curated and reviewed a selection of the best waterproof pants available, aiming to simplify your purchasing decision. It’s important to note that the products featured in this review are typically worn over standard hiking pants and are intended for use when confronting rain or significant wind. For those seeking water-resistant pants designed for direct skin contact, we recommend exploring our selection of softshell pants.

Updated Content

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

Expert Selections

We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.


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1. Our Picks of  Waterproof Pants for Hiking

The Best Waterproof Pants

The Best Waterproof Pants

  1. Outdoor Research Helium Pants
  2. Outdoor Research Foray Pants
  3. Marmot Precip Eco Pants
  4. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pants
  5. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants

2. Comparison of Waterproof Pants for Hiking

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Feature/Product Outdoor Research Helium Outdoor Research Foray PantsMarmot Precip Eco Patagonia Torrentshell 3L PantsMountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
Average Weight5.4 oz.10 oz.8.3 oz.11.8 oz.9.5 oz.
Average Weight (Metric)153 g302 g225 g335 g269 g
MaterialPertex Shield Diamond Fuse 30D ripstopGore-Tex PacliteNanoPro™ Eco 100% Recycled Nylon RipstopH2No® Performance Standard shellDry Q Active
Fabric Layers2.522.532.5
Waterproof TechnologyLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneCoating Laminate/MembraneLaminate/Membrane
Taped SeamsYesYesYesYesYes
Length of side zipsTo kneeMid-thigh (3/4 length) To kneeTo thighFull-length
Inseam lengths32 in./81 cm31.5 in./80 cm Short (30 in./76 cm), Regular (32 in./81 cm), Long (34 in./86 cm)Short (30 in./76 cm), Regular (32.5 in./82.5 cm)Short (30 in./76 cm), Regular (32 in./81 cm), Long (34 in./86 cm)

3. The Selection

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

1. Outdoor Research Helium Pants

The Outdoor Research Helium waterproof pants are a great choice for those who prioritize lightweight gear. Weighing in at a mere 5 ounces, these pants are a dream for lightweight hiking. Their ability to pack down into their own pocket is equally impressive, ensuring they occupy minimal space in your backpack. Crafted from 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ material, they boast a 30-denier ripstop face fabric coupled with a polyurethane membrane. This combination delivers outstanding performance with a hydrostatic head of 20,000 millimeters and breathability of 20,000g/m²/24hrs, offering excellent protection against the elements. The design of the Helium pants features taped seams to enhance weather resistance, ankle zippers for easy wear over boots, a single zippered pocket for essentials, and a gusseted crotch for added mobility. The inclusion of internal loops for instep lace and an adjustable elastic waist with a drawcord ensures a secure and customizable fit. Their lightweight nature, coupled with superior weather protection, makes the Outdoor Research Helium pants ideal for a range of activities beyond hiking, including backpacking, trekking, and even casual travel or everyday use. What we like about this pants is their reliability without the bulk.

Women's Version: Available - Outdoor Research Women's Helium Pants

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.



  • Super lightweight (5 ounces) makes them ideal for those who prioritize minimal weight
  • Packable into their own pocket, saving valuable space in a backpack
  • Made of 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ material, providing excellent waterproof and breathable performance
  • Features like taped seams, ankle zippers, and an adjustable elastic waist enhance functionality and comfort
  • Versatile for various activities beyond hiking, such as backpacking and traveling


  • Only one inseam length (32”/81 cm)
  • The lightweight material may not be as durable as heavier options against rough terrain or extended heavy use
Outdoor Research Foray Pants

Outdoor Research Foray Pants

2. Outdoor Research Foray Pants

In our quest for the ultimate rain protection, we’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Outdoor Research Foray Pants, which are ingeniously crafted from Gore-Tex PacLite material. This fabric choice not only renders the pants wonderfully lightweight and compact for packing but also ensures their durability without unnecessary bulk. The Gore-Tex PacLite is distinguished by its minimalist two-layer construction: a resilient face fabric paired with a specialized membrane. This membrane benefits from a protective layer imbued with an oleophobic substance and carbon, a clever design that obviates the need for a heavier lining, thereby lightening the load without compromising the garment’s longevity. In our experience, the Foray Pants excel in mobility and comfort. The articulated knees are a game-changer, offering remarkable freedom of movement, particularly on challenging uphill hikes. The adjustable elastic waist, equipped with a drawcord, allows us to customize the fit to our liking, while the generous ¾ side zippers make slipping the pants over boots a breeze, a feature we’ve found incredibly useful in the field. From our perspective, the Outdoor Research Foray Pants are among the best waterproof options on the market today. Their thoughtful design details and functional features have consistently provided us with reliable protection against the elements, making them a staple in our outdoor gear collection for facing the unpredictability of nature head-on.

Women's Version: Available - Outdoor Research Women's Aspire Pants

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.



  • Utilizes Gore-Tex Paclite technology for lightweight, packable, yet durable waterproof protection
  • Articulated knees and adjustable waist improve mobility and fit
  • ¾ side zippers for easy layering over boots
  • Effective for a wide range of activities thanks to its balance of protection and breathability


  • Only one inseam length (31.5”/80 cm)
  • Two-layer construction might be less durable than three-layer pants in abrasive conditions
  • Higher price point due to Gore-Tex technology
Marmot Precip Pants

Marmot Precip Eco Pants

3. Marmot Precip Eco Pants

In our search for eco-friendly gear that doesn’t compromise on performance, we’ve been drawn to the Marmot Precip Eco rain pants. Distinguishing themselves from the Outdoor Research offerings through their waterproofing approach, these pants opt for a unique coating rather than a membrane. Utilizing the brand’s innovative NanoPro Eco fabric, the Precip Eco pants are crafted with a polyurethane coating and complemented by a ripstop nylon face fabric. Marmot’s NanoPro Eco fabric has a hydrostatic head of 10,000 mm and breathability of 17,000g/m²/24hrs which is indeed good for the coating technology. In our experience, the practical features of the Precip Eco pants, such as taped seams, a zippered pocket, and ankle side zips, have made them incredibly user-friendly, especially when it comes to slipping them over hiking boots. For those who value ease of access, a full-zip version is also available. The elastic and adjustable waistband, with its drawcord, allows for a snug and comfortable fit. What truly sets the Marmot Precip Eco pants apart for us is their commitment to sustainability. Made from 100% recycled Nylon Ripstop and treated with a PFC-free DWR, these pants represent the most sustainable option we’ve come across. This aligns with our values of supporting environmentally responsible products while still benefiting from high-performance rain protection.

Women's Version: Available - Marmot Women's Precip Eco Pants

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.



  • Utilizes NanoPro Eco fabric with a polyurethane coating for good waterproofing and breathability
  • Made of 100% recycled Nylon Ripstop, offering an environmentally friendly option
  • Features such as taped seams, ankle side zips, and an adjustable waist enhance usability
  • PFC-free DWR treatment adds to its eco-credentials


  • Coating-based waterproofing may wear out faster than membrane-based solutions
  • May not offer as much breathability as some competitors for intense aerobic activities
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

4. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pants

The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pants differ significantly from the other options we’ve explored, thanks to their 3-layer construction. This includes a 100% recycled nylon ripstop face fabric, a waterproof membrane, and a tricot backer, which together contribute to their status as the heaviest yet most durable product in our review. Patagonia’s commitment to environmental and ethical standards shines through with their bluesign-approved H2NO Performance Standard shell fabric and Fair Trade Certified Sewn label. The Torrentshell pants come equipped with fully sealed seams, two zippered handwarmer pockets with stormflaps, and two-way welted side zips that run from the ankle to the thigh, greatly simplifying the process of slipping them over boots. The adjustable drawstring waist and partially elasticized cuffs ensure a snug and comfortable fit. We’re also impressed by the availability of two inseam lengths and color options, catering to diverse preferences and needs. In our experience, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pants stand out for their durability, sustainability, and thoughtful design, making them a preferred choice for our more rigorous outdoor adventures.

Women's Version: Available - Patagonia Women's Torrentshell 3L Pants

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.



  • Three-layer construction offers excellent durability and waterproofing
  • Made from 100% recycled nylon, supporting sustainability
  • Fair Trade Certified Sewn, ensuring ethical manufacturing practices
  • Versatile with fully sealed seams, zippered pockets, and adjustable waist and cuffs


  • The heaviest option, which might not be ideal for ultra-light hikers
  • Pricey due to high-quality materials and ethical manufacturing
Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

5. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants

The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic pants are a testament to Mountain Hardwear’s innovative approach, crafted from their Dry Q Active fabric. This fabric not only offers waterproof protection but also incorporates a stretchy component thanks to the 40-denier nylon face fabric paired with a polyurethane membrane. This combination ensures the pants don’t just keep you dry; they move with you, offering unparalleled freedom of movement that we’ve found invaluable on more active adventures. The Stretch Ozonic Pants come with full-length side zippers, a feature we’ve found incredibly useful for both ventilation and practicality. These zippers mean you can easily slip the pants on or off over your boots—a boon when the weather changes unexpectedly. The inclusion of an elastic waist, articulated knees, and adjustable leg cuffs further enhances the fit, ensuring these pants stay comfortable and secure, no matter the terrain. Additionally, the integrated and easily adjustable belt means you can fine-tune the fit to your liking on the go. From our experience, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants are the go-to choice for those seeking a comfortable and flexible option for their outdoor pursuits. Whether you’re caught in a downpour on a mountain trail or navigating through wet brush, these pants have consistently provided us with the protection and mobility we need to enjoy our time outdoors fully.

Women's Version: Available - Mountain Hardwear Women's Stretch Ozonic Pants

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.



  • Dry Q Active fabric offers stretch for superior freedom of movement
  • Full-length side zippers for ventilation and ease of use
  • Equipped with an integrated adjustable belt for a perfect fit
  • Good balance between waterproof protection and breathability


  • Some may find the fit a bit too snug

4. Buying Waterproof Pants – What is important?

Weight and size:

Aerobic activities such as hiking, trekking and mountaineering require lightweight gear. Waterproof pants are usually light, but you can still eliminate some weight by wearing/carrying a pair of particularly lightweight rain pants. Read more about why it is important to use lightweight gear for hiking in our article Why hike lightweight. As waterproof pants are often carried in the backpack and only used in case of heavy rain, it is also important that they pack small. In this review of the best waterproof pants we only listed lightweight products which pack very small.


High-quality waterproof pants are made of materials that do not only provide protection against rain and wind but also breathability. However, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a completely waterproof fabric that is also breathable; there is always a trade-off between water-resistance and breathability.

Nevertheless, some fabrics offer better breathability than others while maintaining a similar level of water-resistance. Popular waterproof/breathable fabrics are Gore-Tex, eVent and Pertex. Some outdoor clothing brands develop their own high-performance waterproof/breathable fabrics, like Marmot (MemBrain).

The level of water resistance is measured by the hydrostatic head while the “breathability” is measured by MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate). Check out our article Rainwear: Hydrostatic Head and Breathability (MVTR) to learn more about these two parameters. Waterproof fabrics differ by construction and waterproof technology.

Waterproof Technology:

There are two different waterproof technologies; laminates and coatings.

Laminates feature a membrane that prevents liquid water from passing through from the outside but at the same time allows vapor from the inside to pass through. These membranes are typically extremely thin (0.01 millimeters) and therefore they are sandwiched between two other layers for protection. They are usually made of polytetrafluoroethylene or polyurethane.

Coatings on the other hand are applied directly to the interior of a garment – a polyurethane layer is basically painted onto the interior of the fabric. As it is quite complicated to paint the polyurethane onto the fabric in an even layer, the polyurethane coat becomes relatively thick. The coating is made porous in the process of application by using an agent that creates tiny holes in it.

In general, coatings differ from laminates by breathability and price. They are significantly less breathable but on the other hand they are also less expensive. Other properties such as durability and water-resistance depend more on the actual garment than on the waterproof technology.

In this review of the best waterproof pants we listed both products that utilize laminates/membranes and a product that utilizes a coating.

Fabric Layers:

There are three different types of waterproof fabrics; 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer waterproof fabrics. Note that the layers are very thin and bonded together and thus you can’t see them with the naked eye.

2-layer fabrics consist of an outer layer with a coating or a membrane. 2.5-layer fabrics consist of a face fabric with a coating or a membrane and a non-fabric material on the inside (protective film). 3-layer fabrics consist of a face fabric, a membrane and a liner.

For more information about waterproof/breathable materials, check out the Hardshell section in our article Comparison of Shell Materials.

Regardless of fabric type, waterproof pants for hiking are always treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) on the surface, which will eventually be washed off with long-term wear and tear. You can, however, reapply DWR to re-waterproof them – read how here.


Waterproof pants for hiking should be equipped with taped seams for maximum weather protection. All products in this review have taped seams. Learn more about taped seams in this blog post from Trespass.

Pockets and Zippers:

If you are caught out in a rainstorm in the blink of an eye, you will want to pull on your waterproof pants very fast. Therefore, it is a must that they are equipped with zippers from the ankle and up, so you don’t have to take your boots off when putting the waterproof pants on. Some waterproof pants have side zips which extends all the way up to the waist band. The side zips can also double as vents.

Pockets are not a must on waterproof pants, but they can be convenient for quick access to small essentials. If the pockets are zippered, they should be equipped with water-resistant zippers and/or storm flaps to prevent the rain from entering.

5. Questions and Answers

What are hardshell pants?

Hardshell pants (also called rain pants or waterproof pants) provide protection against rain, wind and snow while they are also breathable, so you won’t get soaked in your own sweat. Hardshell pants are typically worn over regular pants because they are made of very thin and hydrophobic fabrics.

What are waterproof pants made of?

Waterproof pants are made of so-called waterproof/breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex, eVent, Pertex etc. These fabrics utilize a membrane or a coating which allows the moisture (perspiration) from inside to pass through but blocks the water drops from the outside.

What is the difference between hardshell and softshell pants?

Hardshell pants provide better protection against the rain and are lighter than softshell pants. They also pack smaller. However, softshell pants provide better breathability and are more comfortable to wear – the fabric is less stiff.

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Author Information


Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.

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