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Buying Guide: Walking Trousers

Walking and hiking trousers are often overlooked or not understood; but once you’ve tried them, you’ll never want to walk without them. There are loads of great outdoor trousers to choose from at Millets. Here is our expert guide to buying a pair that works for you.

Walking Trousers

What are Walking Trousers 

If you’ve ever gone for a long walk whilst wearing jeans you’ll know, it can sometimes be uncomfortable causing chafing and irritation against your skin whilst also giving you little room and stretch when walking. If this has ever been you then a pair of outdoor trousers will suit you perfectly.

When you’re out walking you know that you should dress for the occasion. We do this for our upper half with wicking tops and waterproof jackets. However, it’s just as important to have the right pair of trousers as well. Walking trousers are made with comfort and protection in mind; Constructed in a way that will give you the stretch you need for high steps and fast movement that will not chaff when walking. Outdoor trousers are also made with abrasion resistant materials understanding when you're outside you need trousers that can stand-up to whatever you put them through ensuring you have comfort and protection     

Types of Outdoor Trousers


Waterproof trousers are going to be to your most outer layer serving as long-lasting protection from wind and rain, these trousers will continue to offer the breathability when out on the hills. Waterproof trousers come in two types 2+ layer trousers or overtrousers; 2+ layer trousers have a waterproof outer which will keep water from seeping through and is made with a highly durable and breathable fabric that prevents abrasion letting you wear these during any activity from walking to scrambling and they won't let you down. Whilst the inner fabric will insulate your legs with a mesh or fleece lining. The other type is waterproof overtrousers these are a great addition to your walking pack, being able to pack down small in your pack and can be worn over any trousers when the rain starts for complete waterproof protection.


Walking trousers are your basic trouser, fit for function and will get the job done, as long as you're not planning on using them over the winter, we'd recommend avoiding that. The whole point is to make you feel comfortable and unrestricted as you trek through the outdoors. Most pairs will be lightweight and functional, boasting plenty of practical features such as articulation at the knees, for complete freedom of movement, a water-repellent treatment that actively beads water off the surface to keep you dry. Most of the walking trousers that we have available online and in-store are made from strong, hard-wearing materials that can take a beating without adding weight, so you can feel confident the walking trousers will keep intact, as well as keep you comfortable from start to finish.


Offering fantastic versatility, zip-off trousers give you the option to have a pair of trousers that can become shorts or capris. Perfect for those on-the-go changes when the weather looks like it will be quick to change as well. These trousers will also include additional pockets for maps, snacks and essentials. The fabrics used will be water-resistant, moisture wicking, letting you wear them for multiple days hiking when you're away travelling. Useful in hotter climates and want to save on weight and space when outdoors.


Most of our softshell trousers are best for winter and early spring conditions, you’d be far too warm wearing them out on summer walks. Most outdoor trousers will feature some sort of extended range of movement, but our softshell trousers take that step further with stretch fabrics. Stretch isn't just the cut or shape of the trouser, it's the fabric itself that can move and expand to provide a fantastic custom fit specific to you. They all have some form of water-repellent technology protect you from light showers and stains. It's not just the rain you need protecting, many of these trousers also feature reliable sun protection.


Designed for those who want to keep active whilst looking good, they have a great selection of features that are guaranteed to help you push your performance. They are lightweight and active fit, offering an unrestricted fit that can be shaped specifically to you, whilst also keeping your legs covered from the cold temperatures. Most leggings are highly breathable and wick moisture away from the skin at a rapid rate. This level of breathability, functionality and all-around versatility is beginning to form a trend that shows more people wearing active leggings for outdoor activities beyond running and the gym.

Walking Trousers

Which Trousers to wear when Outdoors?

Deciding on the right pair comes down to what activity you are heading out to do. You don’t want to get the wrong pair and end up overheating or be ill prepared. Below is a breakdown of activities and what trouser would be suitable:

  • Lowland walking – Distance should be considered when dressing for the walk. If it’s going to be a short walk (3 miles or less) then you would be okay to head out in jeans. If you are going for anything longer then a pair of walking trousers are best suited for comfort.
  • Hiking – Comfort and durability will be important when hiking and where the terrain changes in elevation and conditions. A pair of walking trousers will suit you perfectly. If bad weather seems likely on your hike you should instead wear a pair of waterproof trousers or pack a pair of waterproof overtrousers in your bag.
  • Scrambling – A pair of softshell trousers will work for scrambling giving you the stretch and movement you need for climbing. Softshell trousers also have great abrasion resistance so they will last you on many outings to come.
  • Winter Walking – When heading out in colder conditions you need to stay warm. Softshell trousers have insulated lining to keep in the warmth. Softshell trousers also have wind-resistant outer material which keeps the wind off and helps retain heat.
  • Travelling – When travelling you want to be able to keep your packing light and be prepared for anything. So if the weather is to ever change you can easily adjust into shorts when the temperature increases and vice versa if it becomes colder.

How should they fit

Outdoor Trousers will be some of the best fitting trousers you’ll ever try on. These trousers have a straight leg fit which gives a closer fit reducing chaffing. With a gusseted crotch, you have additional stretch in an area which experiences the most movement and will also reduce fabric tearing and abrasion. Most of the walking and hiking trouser have articulated knees which means they are bent at the knees that accommodate with the natural bend of your knees. These trousers have adjustable waist and cuffs, with the adjustable cuffs you can easily get them on and off even with boots on, you can also tighten them to help prevent water and stop cold seeping in.

Walking Trousers

How to wash walking trousers?

Washing walking trousers are simple and easy. Most are machine washable; we would recommend washing at 30 with a non-bio detergent. You should always check the care label of your trousers to follow the steps. If you have waterproof trousers and want to revitalise the water-resistance, we recommend using Nikwax TX-Direct when washing to bring the back to good as new.  

We hope this guide will help you with the decision making process when choosing what the right trousers are for you. Take a look at Men’s and Women’s trousers and choose the perfect for your next adventure.

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