Stay dry with the best waterproof trousers and overtrousers for men and women

Chris Haslam
23 May 2022

Shield your legs from the elements with the best waterproof trousers for hiking, cycling and more

Whether you’re walking around the local park (again), hiking, cycling, or all of the above, the best pair of waterproof trousers will make all the difference. There’s nothing worse than damp jeans at the start of a long walk, or getting to a meeting sopping wet, so an extra waterproof layer is an essential part of your wet weather wardrobe.

The best waterproof trousers will be comfortable, durable and lightweight. At the very least they should provide protection from an unexpected downpour but depending on your needs you’ll also find designs that will keep you dry even when it buckets down all day. They also need to be able to dry quickly and pack down small, especially if they’re overtrousers.

We’ve chosen the very best waterproof trousers available, including all-season mountaineering trousers that laugh in the face of bad weather without making you overheat; inexpensive waterproof overtrousers for first-time dog walkers and ramblers; and even jeans that’ll look good and keep you dry from the pavement to the pub.

READ NEXT: The best waterproof jackets to buy

25% off these Berghaus Gore-Tex Paclite overtrousers

In Wiggle’s current sale, you can save 25% on these lightweight, versatile and packable Berghaus waterproof overtrousers, with a completely waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex Paclite shell – down from £120 to £89.
Was £120
Now £89

Get a pair of Pakka waterproof trousers for as little as £15

At £26, these are already an affordable pair of waterproof overtrousers. But right now, you can get them at a discounted price from Mountain Warehouse. The men's Pakka waterproof trousers are down to just £15, while the women's trousers now cost £20.
Mountain Warehouse
Was £26
Now £15 (men's), £20 (women's)

Best waterproof trousers: At a glance

  • Best budget waterproof trousers: Decathlon NH500 IMPER Overtrousers | Buy now
  • Best for commuter cycling: Chrome Industries Storm Rain Pant | Buy now
  • Best waterproof trousers under £30: Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers | Buy men's | women's
  • Best for all-weather hiking: Berghaus Men's Gore-Tex Paclite Overtrousers | Buy now
  • Best waterproof trousers for cycling: Proviz REFLECT360 | Buy men's | women's

How to choose the best waterproof trousers for you

How do I get the right fit?

Think about why and where you’ll be wearing your waterproof trousers. If they’re designed purely as overtrousers you need to make sure they are roomy enough to fit over your trousers or jeans without restricting your movement . Good designs come with long zips to make it easy to get them on without taking off your boots. Tapered and slim leg designs are more practical for cycling.

Most waterproof trousers tend to come up a little large to accommodate layering but look for adjustable waists, straps and integrated belts that help you find a comfortable all-day fit. Basic trousers often have drawstrings.

If you’re looking for all-purpose outdoor trousers as opposed to overtrousers, make sure they have plenty of stretch around key areas, especially the knees and seat (bum). Basic trouser shapes can be rather utilitarian, so ladies’ specific cuts take into account higher waist and hips. We can’t promise high fashion, but they will be more comfortable than overtrousers and keep you dry.

What key features should I look out for?

For basic overtrousers, the key to reliable performance is having taped seams to ensure better waterproofing. The ability to unzip the leg is also a must for pulling them over walking boots, but remember, the zips need to be waterproof or very well protected to avoid leaks in prolonged heavy rain.

Like waterproof jackets and hiking boots, all waterproof trousers have a durable waterproof coating (DWR) applied to the outside of the fabric. This coating prevents water soaking into the fabrics – you’ll see the rain simply beading and rolling away. This is the bare minimum level of protection your trousers need, because over time, and in particular after washes in a washing machine, this DWR coating wears out. You can refresh this layer, however, with a specialised cleaning product such as Nikwax’s Tech Wash.

How waterproof should they be?

To ensure your waterproof trousers remain impervious to rain for years to come, you’ll need to invest in a pair with a waterproof layer sandwiched between the inner fabric and outer DWR layer. The most recognisable name is Gore-Tex, but there are many great alternatives including Polartec NeoShell, Nikwax Analogy and Columbia OutDry Extreme.

Check the label or description to see the level of waterproofing of a pair of trousers. This is often described as the hydrostatic head and is labelled in millimetres. As a guide, ignore anything up to 1,500mm as it is only water-resistant; 1,500mm-5,000mm is waterproof and good for typical downpours while 10,000mm and above is highly waterproof and found on the best hiking and mountaineering jackets.

Won’t they feel hot and sweaty?

It’s also worth factoring in breathability to prevent feeling like you’re wearing a bin liner. Cheap waterproof trousers can’t breathe, so you will get sweaty after a few miles, especially in the summer months. If you’re walking any distance or hiking up hills, Gore-Tex or the equivalent, will help you stay cooler. One quick way to quickly dump hot air and regulate your temperature is to find a pair with zip vents.

Are there any other features I need to know about?

Pockets are handy to have on any pair of trousers, but many waterproof designs lack them as they create weak points and they’re hard to guarantee the contents won’t get wet. More expensive mountaineering designs have sealed pockets, even warm pocket liners, but on cheaper designs you may be disappointed. Look for conveniently positioned slash pockets that give quick access to the pockets in your regular trousers.

Packability is another important feature of a good pair of waterproof trousers, so we recommend looking for designs that come with a small stuff sack. Many can stuff down to a size not much bigger than a tennis ball, which is great for storing them at the bottom of your bag.

How much should I spend?

If all you need is a pair of plastic trousers to keep your legs dry when walking the dog or going out for a stroll, you can find great options for under £20. But remember, at the budget end of the market the fit won’t be as stylish – think crinkly bin bag – and the level or waterproofing and breathability will be significantly lower.

With £50-£100, you’ll be treated to good quality materials including performance fabrics like Gore-Tex. Fit should also be true to size. You’ll also start to find adjustable belts and waistbands and some stretch fabrics that make hiking longer distances more comfortable.

Spend over £100 and you’ll be buying a pair of overtrousers that will survive a deluge, dry quickly and pack down small. Walking trousers are also available with good waterproofing, meaning you’re protected whatever the weather, without the need to stop and layer up when the heavens open. You also won’t rustle on your walk, which can be vital if you’re out wildlife spotting.

READ NEXT: The best walking shoes for men and women

The best waterproof trousers to buy in 2022

1. Berghaus Men's Gore-Tex Paclite Shell Overtrousers: The best waterproof trousers for all-weather hiking

Price: £120 | Buy now from Wiggle

These brilliantly versatile overtrousers offer light, breathable and packable performance no matter how damp the conditions get. The secret is the use of Gore-Tex Paclite, a 100% waterproof membrane that is bonded directly to the hard wearing rip-stop outer nylon shell. Having two rather than three layers might make them a little less durable for mountaineering or climbing, but it means they are very light and pack down to a tiny ball.

Unlike many overtrousers, they have a slim-cut profile so don’t feel baggy. There are thigh-high zips on each leg to allow even the largest walking boots swift passage through. In wet stomps through Epping Forest, the Berghaus Men's GORE-TEX Paclite Shell overtrousers never failed.

They come with a small mesh bag, meaning they can live in the bottom of a rucksack ready for when you need them.

Key features -Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Paclite; Main material: Nylon; Weight: 228g

Buy now from Wiggle

2. XHEAD: Rab Kangri GTX: The best waterproof trousers for total protection

Price: £200 | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

They’re not the lightest or most breathable waterproof trousers available, but if we find ourselves stuck on a hillside and the weather turns nasty, there’s no pair we’d rather be wearing. The Kangri GTX pants are made from three layers of 70D – code for seriously tough – Gore-Tex, and the waterproof rating of 28,000mm HH means that they will keep out torrential rain almost indefinitely.

We love the fact that the outer face fabric is constructed from 100% recycled material but this in no way compromises the performance. The fit is generous without being baggy and, similar to a quality pair of ski-touring trousers, the waist can be adjusted using a couple of velcro fasteners. The full length waterproof AquaGuard zips make pulling them on over boots easier, and you can also unzip from the top for added ventilation and easier access to your trouser pockets.

If you’re climbing mountains in the summer they will get a bit too warm – and you will appreciate the ventilation – but given the changeable nature of the English weather we’ll take clammy over absolutely soaked. Wherever you are and whatever time of year you’re there, these trousers will keep you dry.

And if you like your kit to match, we highly recommend the equally impressive Rab Kangri GTX jacket.

Key features -Waterproofing: Gore-Tex 3L, 28,000mm HH; Main material: Recycled Nylon; Weight: 435g

Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

3. Chrome Industries Storm Rain Pant: The best waterproof trousers for cycle commuting

Price: £126 | Buy now from Chrome Industries

Cycling in the rain isn’t fun, especially if you’re going to work, but these superb overtrousers will make the commute more bearable. The three-ply, 100% waterproof fabric has enough stretch to give you a full range of movements on and off the bike. The seams are fully taped, and the seat is reinforced to improve durability.

Tested on the sodden streets of East London, they kept me dry and warm during a three-hour cycle, and thanks to the water-resistant pockets I was able to keep my phone close at hand for directions. The Storm Rain Pant has a relaxed fit and feel with tapered legs that won’t billow. This style, and the fact they’re matte black – aside from some subtle reflective strips - means they can just about pass for a pair of chinos if you’re running late.

Those with big feet might struggle to get them on without removing shoes, but the added comfort means it’s a compromise you may be happy to make.

Key features - Waterproofing: 3-layer 10,000mm; Main material: Polyamide; Weight: 370g

Buy now from Chrome Industries

4. Best waterproof trousers under £30: Pakka Waterproof Overtrousers

Price: £26 | Buy men’s | women’s from Mountain Warehouse

These waterproof overtrousers aren’t designed to withstand a heavy downpour. However, in “light to moderate rain”, they’ll do the job at a reasonable price, thanks to IsoDry fabric, which has been tested to be waterproof against 1,500mm of rain within a 24 hour period.

Velcro openings on the ankles help you get them on easily, and they come in a choice of three colours. These lightweight overtrousers also come with their own handy ‘stuff’ bag, so they can be tidily packed away when the sun finally comes out.

Key features - Waterproofing: 1,500mm IsoDry; Main material: Nylon; Weight: Unspecified

Buy men’s from Mountain Warehouse Buy women’s from Mountain Warehouse

5. Fjallraven Kaipak Curved: The best waterproof hiking trousers for women

Price: £121 | Buy now from AlpineTrek

A welcome change for those used to unflattering womens’ walking trousers, the Fjallraven Kaipak blend high performance, durability and freedom of movement, with a contoured fit for hips and waists.

Available in five colourways, with the smaller cut out patches being stretchy for improved movement, something that will be especially appreciated when climbing over stiles and messing about in the forest. These patches are also more breathable than the main fabric, helping to regulate temperature.

The main fabric is G-1000 Eco, a traditional hardwearing eco-friendly organic cotton and recycled polyester blend (made from old plastic bottles) that has been waxed for enhanced weather protection. They’ll not be troubled with a heavy shower and stay warm even in strong winds, but they will saturate eventually (which is where a pair of overtrousers come in).

They’re expensive, but take care of these and they will last for years – you can also re-wax if the waterproofing starts to fade. This does make them a bit heavier than the Gore-Tex equivalent, but they’re so comfy you won’t notice

Key features - Waterproofing: G-1000; Main material: organic cotton, recycled polyester; Weight: 400g

6. Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers: The best waterproof trousers for adventures

Price: £155 | Buy now from Paramo

Thanks to their Nikwax Analogy waterproofing, these trousers from Paramo manage to keep you dry and cool without that crinkly feeling you get with a membrane fabric. Indeed, because the twin fabric layer isn’t bonded together, it is super soft and feels very different to a traditional pair of walking trousers.

During testing, I found them comfortable and they offer a nice slim fit with no billowing. While they don’t look like they will repel a shower, on several sodden dog walks they kept me dry and protected from the wind. They also dried faster than any others on test.

They come with venting zips to help cool you off, and the Nikwax Analogy waterproofing system does a brilliant job pushing any internal heat out through the fabric membrane, so condensation doesn’t build up inside. The trousers have reinforced materials on the knee and backside, and Velcro cuffs at the ankles, and there are two generous hand-warming zipped pockets.

Key features - Waterproofing: Nikwax Analogy; Main material: Nylon; Weight: 392g

Buy now from Paramo

7. Best waterproof trousers for cycling: Proviz REFLECT360

Price: £55 | Buy men’s | women’s from Proviz Sports

As well as keeping dry, visibility is crucial when it comes to cycling in a downpour. From bold strips on both the upper and lower legs, to reflective logos and piping, these waterproof cycling overtrousers from Proviz have plenty of reflective detailing to ensure that you’ll be seen on the roads.

Not only that but the REFLECT360 overtrousers are also 100% waterproof and breathable, with a 30cm lower leg zipper for ease of dressing and ankle straps to avoid any snagging on your bike.

Key features - Waterproofing: 5,000mm WX Plus; Main material: Unspecified (WX Plus fabric); Weight: 300g

Buy men’s from Proviz Sports Buy women’s from Proviz Sports

8. XHEAD: Fjällräven High Coast Hydratic Trousers: Best waterproof trousers for walking and cycling

Price: £180 | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

It’s a premium brand better known for its fashionable casualwear but Fjällräven also makes some of the most practical and hard wearing outdoor gear we’ve tested. These trousers will be ideal for many people – assuming your budget is generous – as they are equally suited to hiking and cycling. On each leg there are two velcro fasteners (both with reflectors) that allow you to gather in any extra material at the ankle and calf. It’s simple but super effective, and eliminates the risk of getting caught in your drivetrain.

The trousers are cut generously – they’re verging on the baggy – so the velcro straps prevent flapping when walking and create a nice tapered silhouette. They are also available in regular (32”) and long (34”) lengths which will suit taller people. This reviewer wears a 32” length leg in standard trousers and found the regular High Coast Hydratic trousers to be on the long side, especially when worn with larger walking boots.

The face fabric is 100% recycled polyamide with ripstop weave and a PFC-free waterproofing impregnation. It’s a great quality 2.5-layer fabric boasting 10,000mm water column and 6,000g/m2 breathability which is ideal for warmer months, and the two-way zips help with ventilation. Pulling them on and off is also super easy once the zips are fully opened.

Key features -Waterproofing: 2.5L, 10,000mm HH; Main material: Recycled polyamide; Weight: 267g

Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

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