Hitting the hiking trail is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. When gearing up, your pants are an important choice.
You’ll often see serious hikers in synthetic pants or cargo pants made specifically for the outdoors.
But what about just throwing on a pair of comfortable joggers and hitting the trail? Here’s an in-depth look at whether jogging pants are suitable for hiking.
At first glance, wearing your jogging pants hiking may seem like a convenient option. After all, most joggers are lightweight and allow free movement.
However, when comparing the design and features of joggers versus purpose-made boys’ hiking pants, some key differences emerge that are important to consider.
To determine if joggers work for hiking, let’s compare them across some essential criteria:
- Durability – Joggers are usually made from a cotton/polyester blend or lightweight sweatpant material. This makes them prone to ripping when snagged on branches or brushes. Hiking pants feature rugged, ripstop synthetic fabrics.
- Weather resistance – Sweatpant joggers soak up moisture and offer no protection from wind or rain. Hiking pants have water-resistant coatings and better wind resistance.
- Leg coverage – Joggers typically have an elastic ankle cuff. Hiking pants have longer legs that prevent debris and insects from getting inside.
- Storage – No pockets or very minimal pockets are common on joggers. Hiking pants have multiple large, zippered pockets to securely store trail essentials.
- Sun protection – Standard jogging pants don’t offer UV protection. Hiking pants often have UPF ratings to block harmful rays.
- Insulation – Basic joggers lack insulation to retain heat in cold weather. Some hiking pants have inner linings or can accommodate long underwear when needed.
Joggers may work fine for short day hikes close to home on clear trails and moderate weather.
But the lack of durability, weather resistance and storage make them less than ideal for more rugged hiking scenarios.
For challenging trails, changeable weather, or multi-day backpacking trips, purpose-designed hiking pants are a better bet for comfort, protection and convenience on the trail.
That said, some hybrid “hiking joggers” now exist that blend the comfort of joggers with technical features like zippered pockets and DWR coating.
These can make a great compromise option when you want a casual yet capable hiking pant.