If you’re busy planning wild rambles and epic hikes this season, you’re going to need some pretty epic walking trousers to match. I think the holy trinity of hiking kit are a reliable waterproof jacket, sturdy boots and comfortable, durable and breathable walking trousers that’ll match you stride for stride in the mountains – once you own all three, you’re set for the great outdoors. My guide with Fjällräven, Swedish purveyors of the finest outdoor equipment, to the best walking trousers covers exactly what features to look for in a great pair, and I’ve picked my favourite high-performing Fjällräven walking trousers to suit any weather conditions.
How to choose the best walking trousers
Comfortable, durable walking trousers are a must in any rambler’s wardrobe. On a short hike you can get away with normal trousers or leggings, of course, but trousers specifically for walking are designed to be lightweight, flexible, breathable and often weather-resistant. They’ll protect you from the elements and move with you as you hike, even if you’re walking all day or scrambling up rocks. They’re definitely worth investing in – here’s what I look out for in a great pair of walking trousers.
STYLE: I always rely on two styles of walking trousers – slim-fitting walking leggings (often also referred to as tights), and tough, weatherproof walking trousers. The former are wonderfully flexible and lightweight on warmer days, and fit well under waterproofs if there’s a sudden shower. The latter are more tough and hard-wearing, and can be worn in colder weather, or in light rain or snow.
USEFUL FEATURES: Walking trousers should be as versatile as possible – after all, you’ll probably also use them for camping, travelling and other adventures. Look for trousers made from a tough, durable material, ideally with reinforced knee, rear and ankle panels that make it easy to kneel, sit and use crampons on rocky ground without tearing the fabric. Zip-open vents are a great design feature for helping to regulate your temperature, and plentiful roomy pockets are a big plus for carrying maps and other essentials.
FIT: Finding the perfect fit is absolutely key – there’s nothing more annoying on a long hike than uncomfortable trousers that dig in or restrict you. Check that you can move freely in a new pair of trousers (try sitting and squatting), and make sure they feel comfortable at the waist – I always prefer high-waisted trousers for both comfort and warmth. Ideally, take your hiking boots with you when trying on walking trousers, to check the trousers are the right length, and if you’re planning to wear waterproof shell trousers over the top of a new pair of leggings, check they both feel comfortable when worn together. If you don’t always fit standard sizes, look for a company (such as, you guessed it, Fjällräven), who offer different length versions of their walking trousers.
SEASON: The weather you’re hiking in will also make a big difference to what trousers you choose. In summer, I tend to keep cool by wearing shorts such as Fjällräven’s Abisko shorts, but I always carry walking leggings and waterproof trousers in my rucksack. On the coldest winter days or in Arctic conditions, you may need to sling on some insulated trousers such as the Fjällräven Keb Touring Padded trousers. The rest of the time, I swap between lightweight trekking tights and tough, weatherproof walking trousers, and also carry waterproof shell trousers, such as the excellent Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell trousers, to pull on in heavy rain.
Pick the perfect Fjällräven walking trousers
The best walking trousers: Fjällräven Curved Keb trousers, £195
Meet the Goldilocks of outdoor trousers. Fjällräven’s Curved Keb is just right for hiking, with a fantastic, flexible fit and more than enough weather protection to deal with a shower. These tough trousers are the perfect marriage of stretch and durability, and make ideal adventure companions.
The Kebs have been given a revamp for 2019, and the new fit has clearly been designed with women’s bodies in mind. The Curved Kebs hug your legs in all the right places without ever feeling restrictive, and I love the high waist, which keeps you warm and is comfortable even when you’re hiking hard all day. Unlike some trousers, the Kebs have a slim fit on the leg, which traps in warmth and gets rid of any extra fabric flapping around. They may have a closer fit, but you’ll never overheat, due to well-placed zippable leg vents on both the calf and thigh, to regulate temperature. I also love the zippable and adjustable bottom cuffs, which make it easy to pop boots on and off. And you can never have too many pockets – the two large zippered pockets on the front of the Kebs are protected with poppered flaps and are perfect for popping small bits of kit or tools into for easy access.
The Keb trousers also have a seriously useful extra feature – there are openings in the fabric that allow you to slot in the thick knee pads that come included, making them perfect for working outdoors, doing chores around camp, or even for outdoor photographers.
Stay eco savvy: Fjällräven’s ethos lies in making their outdoor clothing as sustainable as possible, and the new incarnation of the Curved Keb is made with G-1000 Eco, a densely woven material made from recycled polyester and organic cotton. It’s easy to render G-1000 Eco weatherproof by using Fjällräven’s Greenland wax, a mix of paraffin and beeswax, to create a water-repellent finish, and waxing your trousers is an ecologically sustainable way to keep them stormproof.
The best walking tights: Fjällräven Abisko Trail Tights, £145
I’m rather obsessed with the Abisko tights – and they’re one of the bits of gear I get the most queries about on Instagram, so they obviously look the part on the trail. I’ve worn them on countless walks, and I love them so much I just invested in a second pair. These slim-fitting leggings are so comfortable and stretchy you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them, especially as they have a wide, high-waisted waistband that fits perfectly. The Abiskos are surprisingly durable, too, and keep their shape even if you wear and wash them regularly. That slim fit makes it easy to pull waterproof trousers on and off if the weather turns. There are deep side pockets to hold a map and a phone, and tough, reinforced knee and rear panels make the Abiskos ideal for easy kneeling or sitting when you’re setting up a tent or keeping an eye on a campfire. The Abisko tights come in a lighter trail tight or a heavier trekking tight version, depending on the weather you’re planning to wear them in.