Best Winter Hiking Pants For Snow & Cold [2024 Edition]

When the cold weather kicks in, your regular hiking bottoms are likely to leave your legs feeling a little chilled. In this guide, discover the best winter hiking pants for your winter adventures, as well as expert advice on how to choose.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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A successful winter hiking trip starts and ends with having and wearing the right gear. Often, a lot of thought goes into dressing your upper body, with the lower half left to deal with the cold in shoulder season clothing. That said, investing in a pair of high-performing pin-warmers is essential if you plan to do some winter hiking.

To help you choose we’ve reviewed the 7 best hiking pants for winter hiking. Winning our editor’s prize was the Outdoor Research Cirque II, with the Arc’teryx Creston AR, Rab Vector, REI Co-op XeroDry GTX, Arc’teryx Beta AR, Columbia Snow Gun, and the Mountain Hardwear Yumalino all deserving a mention as well.

To find the perfect pair for your preferences and style, we’ve included buying advice focusing on features such as weather-resistance, insulation, breathability, and fit. We also discuss when to opt for softshell or hardshell pants in cold weather.

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What Are The Best Mens Hiking Pants For Winter?

Below are our top picks for the best winter hiking pants for men, with the Outdoor Research Cirque II emerging as the overall winner.

  • Outdoor Research Cirque II
  • Arc’teryx Creston AR
  • Rab Vector
  • REI Co-op XeroDry GTX
  • Arc’teryx Beta AR
  • Columbia Snow Gun
  • Mountain Hardwear Yumalino
Outdoor Research Men's Cirque II Pants, Black, Medium (R)

Outdoor Research Cirque II

Editor’s Choice

The Outdoor Research Cirque II is a versatile pair of breathable softshell pants that excels in chilly environments, earning our editor’s choice award.

Built from stretchy 90D double-weave nylon with a reinforced lower leg, the OR Cirque pants are durable enough for regular use in wintery environments. It also comes with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, which allows for plentiful wind and water-resistance in damp conditions.

Meanwhile, Outdoor Research crafted this pant with zippered hand and thigh pockets for extra hiking gear storage on the go. One of the pockets even comes with a clip for an avalanche beacon to ensure that you don’t lose your most valuable piece of gear when traveling in avalanche terrain.

When it comes to keeping you warm and comfortable, the Cirque II also features a brushed tricot-lined waistband with moisture-wicking ActiveTemp technology. It also has a gusseted crotch and articulated knees for improved fit and range of motion on the trail.

Although this model is a little too thick for warmer winter conditions, overall, the Cirque II is a solid layer if you need hiking pants for mountain adventures.

  • PROs

    • Durable, yet stretchy fabric with DWR treatment
    • Reinforced panels around the ankles
    • Zip pockets at the hand and thigh
    • Gusseted crotch and articulated knees improve range of motion
  • CONs

    • Somewhat thick for mild wintery conditions

Bottom-Line: The OR Cirque II is one of the best pants for cold weather and winter hikes thanks to its durability and exceptional comfort.

Arc'teryx Creston AR Pant Men's | All-Round Cool Weather Hiking Pant. | Carbon Copy, 36

Arc’teryx Creston AR

Best For All-Season Hiking

The Arc’teryx Creston AR is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a single pair of versatile cold-weather hiking pants that can be worn in any season.

Featuring Arc’teryx’s abrasion-resistant Wee Burly™ double-weave stretch nylon and polyester fabric, this model is rugged, yet comfortable enough for extended days in the alpine all year long. Arc’teryx even built the Creston AR with a low-profile seam construction to reduce the likelihood of chafing as you charge uphill.

For added comfort, these softshell trousers have a fully articulated patterning and a low-profile stretch waistband. Their slim fit around the lower leg also limits your chances of damaging your gear with a rogue crampon as you hike.

Furthermore, the Creston AR comes with a full set of zippered pockets on the thigh and the back, as well as handwarmer pockets for stashing small bits of gear. Despite all of these extra features, these trousers weigh only 12.9oz (365g), so they’re light enough to take on any trip.

While we’d argue that the Creston AR is a bit pricey for a set of non-waterproof winter pants, it’s a versatile option that’s ideal for year-round excursions.

  • PROs

    • Stretchy, comfy, and durable fabric
    • Slim fit reduces the risk of damage with crampons
    • Fully articulated patterning for comfort
    • Lightweight and suitable for year-round use
  • CONs

    • A bit pricey for a non-waterproof option

Bottom-Line: For all-season pin protection without skimping on performance, the Arc’teryx Creston AR won’t disappoint.

RAB Vector Pant - Men's Black Medium

Rab Vector

Best For Mild Winter Weather

The Rab Vector should be at the top of your list when milder winter temperatures have you eager to hit the trail.

Rab engineered these soft shell trousers using their Matrix™ breathable double-weave nylon stretch fabric, which has a textured face on one side for enhanced abrasion-resistance. At the same time, the Vector is still lightweight and cozy enough for everyday use and for adventuring in mild conditions.

As far as features go, the Vector comes complete with a set of 4 zippered pockets (thigh, hand, and rear) as well as an integrated belt to help you get the perfect fit. They also have ample stretch as you move thanks to the articulated knees.

Meanwhile, the Vector also has a set of buttons along the bottom hem so you can adjust the width of the lower pant to match the size and shape of your hiking boots. They also come with a reinforced instep for added durability in the mountains.

Although some folks might find that the Vector’s relatively thin nylon fabric isn’t warm enough for use in chilly temps, for mild conditions, it’s a sure bet.

  • PROs

    • Highly breathable and stretchable fabric
    • All pockets have zippers for securely stashing gear
    • Includes a built-in belt
    • Adjustable hem with a reinforced instep for durability 
  • CONs

    • A bit thin for frigid conditions unless used with a mid layer underneath

Bottom-Line: When heading out in mild wintertime conditions, the lightweight and oh-so-comfy Rab Vector is an outstanding choice.

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

Best For Wet Conditions

The REI Co-op XeroDry GTX excels in wet winter conditions, ensuring you stay warm and dry during your outdoor adventures.

These outer shell pants for men and women are made with a polyester face fabric and waterproof 2 layer Gore-Tex Paclit technology to help keep you dry in foul weather. Plus, they even have a DWR coating on the outer fabric to shed rain, snow, and other mixed precipitation.

Unlike many other outer shell trousers, though, the XeroDry GTX has fully articulated knees and under-leg gussets to ensure freedom of movement as you hike. Moreover, they have an elastic waistband, as well as a set of hiking boot lace hooks to help you get a dialed-in fit and maximum water-resistance on the trail.

For added convenience, REI designed the XeroDry GTX using a set of zippered hand pockets. This pair of pants actually packs into its left-hand pocket should you need to stash them in your pack mid-adventure.

Even though these trousers’ lack of insulation means that they’re not quite as warm as snow pants, they’re still a great choice for wet conditions and cold weather use. This is especially true if you couple them with a base layer to keep you warm.

  • PROs

    • Fully waterproof construction
    • Gusseted crotch and articulated knees improve freedom of movement
    • Packs into its own pocket
    • Elastic waistband and boot laces offer a better fit
  • CONs

    • Not warm enough for use without mid layers or base layers

Bottom-Line: If staying dry in a wintery mountain environment is your top priority, the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX is worthy of your consideration.

Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Men's (Black, X-Large)

Arc’teryx Beta AR

Best For Alpine Adventures

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is our top choice for alpine pursuits.

These fully waterproof trousers are made with Arc’teryx’s lightweight N80D Most Rugged fabric for increased durability in rough environments without adding weight to your pack. Additionally, they feature Keprotec™ instep patches on each pant leg to protect your gear from damage while trekking with crampons or snowshoes.

For waterproofing, the Beta AR is made with a wind-resistant and fully water-tight 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro membrane. It even comes with tiny GORE seam tape and Nu water repellant to ensure water can’t sneak in during blizzard conditions.

Each pant leg on the Beta AR also comes with side zippers so you can quickly ventilate during high-octane pursuits in alpine environments. Plus, these side zips boast WaterTight zipper construction to keep you dry when not in use.

Like most pieces of Arc’teryx gear, the Beta AR doesn’t come with the most budget-friendly of price tags. But, if you want a set of the best winter hiking pants for a wide range of alpine pursuits, these are truly hard to beat.

  • PROs

    • Gore-Tex Pro waterproof membrane
    • Fully seam-taped and DWR treated
    • Side zippers for increased ventilation
    • Reinforced instep for durability
  • CONs

    • Very expensive
    • Limited selection of pockets

Bottom-Line: Alpine escapades in foul conditions are no match for the lightweight and fully waterproof Arc’teryx Beta AR.

Columbia Men's Standard Snow Gun Pant, Black, Medium

Columbia Snow Gun

Best Value

The Columbia Snow Gun were designed to be budget-friendly and stands out as the top choice for great-value winter hiking pants.

These snow pants made it onto our list of the top models on the market because they offer a waterproof construction and plenty of insulation for cold temps. In particular, we like that they come with 60g of synthetic insulation, plus Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology to help keep you warm and dry when the mercury drops.

That being said, unlike many other insulated winter hiking pants, the Snow Gun also features Omni-Tech, which allows for ample breathability as you cruise your way to the summit. They also come with vents on each pant leg for added ventilation, as well as internal gaiters to help you stay dry.

Furthermore, you can tell that these trousers are made with comfort in mind because they have an adjustable waist and articulated knees for freedom of movement. Their list of features also includes 2 zip pockets for gear storage on the move.

Although synthetically insulated snow pants do have their limits on the trail during periods of balmy weather, in frigid locales, the waterproof Columbia Snow Gun is a sure bet to keep you toasty warm. 

  • PROs

    • Warm enough for use in cold climes without the need for mid layers
    • Feature a layer of waterproofing for wet conditions
    • Vents on each pant leg for airflow
    • Internal gaiters prevent snow from entering each pant leg
  • CONs

    • Insulated trousers aren’t ideal for warmer conditions
    • Fairly heavy and bulky

Bottom-Line: The Columbia Snow Gun is your go-to layer for any conditions where you need to stay warm without breaking the bank.

Mountain Hardwear Mens Yumalino Fleece-Lined Pant for Cold Weather Outdoor Activities - Dark Storm - 34W x 32L

Mountain Hardwear Yumalino

Best For Warmth

The Mountain Hardwear Yumalino, with its cutting-edge and water-resistant design, takes the lead as our top choice for functional warmth.

As far as versatility goes, this pair of pants best meets the needs of cold-weather hikers with its unique mix of warmth and durability-focused features. It boasts a stretchy nylon face fabric with a DWR finish for protection from the snow, as well as UPF 50 protection for those bluebird days.

If that wasn’t enough, the Yumalino comes fully lined with microfleece throughout the inside of each pant leg for increased insulation from the cold. Plus, despite being warm enough for chilly outdoor escapades, these trousers also feature enough stretch and use a full-length inseam gusset to ensure plenty of freedom of movement with each step.

Overall, even though this pair of pants may be a bit too warm and heavy for light and fast missions in the mountain, they’re a nice choice if you want an outer shell and a mid layer all in one set of trousers.

  • PROs

    • Built-in microfleece insulation for warmth
    • DWR finish for weather protection
    • Stretch fabric has UPF 50 protection
    • Full-length inseam gusset for freedom of movement
  • CONs

    • Most pockets don’t have zippers
    • Too heavy and warm for lightweight trips

Bottom-Line: When warmth is key in the winter environment, it’s hard to imagine a more functional choice than the Mountain Hardwear Yumalino.

What To Look For in Hiking Winter Pants?

When searching for the best winter hiking pants, consider the key factors listed below.

  • Weather-Resistance
  • Insulation
  • Breathability
  • Fit


When selecting winter hiking pants, you’ll need to choose between a waterproof or water-resistant model, depending on your personal needs and the conditions you expect to face. If you frequently hike in extremely wet or snowy conditions you may need to opt for waterproof pants; however, this choice may involve a compromise on breathability.

Alternatively, for general winter trekking, water-repellent trousers may be better. That’s because waterproof cold-weather pants are almost always less breathable than their water-resistant cousins, which means more sweat during high-octane hikes. Gross!

If you decide that a waterproof model is what you need, you’ll want to look for trousers with a number of key features, such as:

  • A waterproof-breathable membrane (e.g., Gore-Tex, BDry, eVent)
  • A Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating/finish
  • Waterproof or water-resistant zippers
  • Built-in gaiters, boot laces, or adjustable hems

Combined, all of these features work together to keep you from getting soaked when the weather’s doing its worst.

hiker in the fog with the red backpack in rainy weather intext


Contrary to common belief, maximum insulation isn’t always suitable for winter hiking. Non-insulated trousers are often more practical, allowing you to add base layers or mid-layers as needed for additional warmth or moisture control. Otherwise, wearing insulated trousers in milder winter weather conditions can lead to excessive sweating.

That being said, if the mercury is dropping fast or you live somewhere that’s particularly cold, a bit of insulation might be the better choice.

male hiker in warm clothing hiking in snowy forest


In cold weather, breathability often takes a back seat in people’s minds. However, considering the likelihood of sweating during outdoor activities, it becomes crucial to prioritize hiking pants with ample airflow. Breathability is influenced by the fabric type, the level of water resistance, and the choice between an insulated or non-insulated model.

In general, models that are waterproof or well-insulted aren’t very breathable, so look for ventilation options like side zippers for added comfort on the trail.

three hikers in snowshoes hiking across snow field


Concerning fit, be sure to consider sizing up if you might wear a base layer under your gear. This is particularly important with shell-type models, like the Arc’teryx Beta AR, which aren’t very comfortable to wear on their own.

The bottom of your trousers should also be large enough to fit over boots, but they shouldn’t be so large that they can get caught on crampons or snowshoes as you walk.

Moreover, don’t forget to consider selecting a model with comfort-focused features like articulated knees, a gusseted crotch, and stretchy fabrics, which allow for plenty of freedom of movement.

Are Softshell Or Hardshell Pants Better For Cold Weather?

For cold-weather activities, the choice between softshell and hardshell pants depends on the weather, hiking conditions, and the type of activity being pursued. 

A pair of softshell pants are great for high-intensity activities such as hiking or climbing since they offer breathability and flexibility. They also provide some insulation and are water-resistance, making them advantageous in cold and damp conditions.

On the other hand, hardshell pants are more durable and provide superior protection against extreme weather, such as strong winds and heavy precipitation. They boast greater waterproofing than softshell pants, making them the preferred choice for activities in wet and snowy environments.

Last update on 2024-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Gaby Avatar

Gaby is a professional polar guide, wilderness medicine instructor, and freelance writer with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She splits her time between the northern and southern hemispheres, chasing the midnight sun and helping others get outside to experience some of the world’s most beautiful places.

As an outdoor educator, Gaby is passionate about making the outdoors as accessible as possible for anyone looking to get into the mountains or out on the water. She is a certified Polar Guide, an AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Course Provider, a NOLS instructor, and an accomplished climbing guide with a penchant for telemark skiing.

When she’s not hanging out with penguins in Antarctica or scouting for polar bears in the Arctic, you can find Gaby backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range or drinking debatably excessive amounts of espresso and reading French existentialism in a quirky café.

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