Some of the trousers on test had venting features

Some of the trousers on test had venting features

If you’re going for a stroll around the park, then an comfy pair of old trousers might fit the bill, but walkers stepping up to a longer excursion or venturing into the hills need to give their legwear a bit more consideration.

The best outdoor gear is that which you put on and forget about.

Try walking any distance in the pouring rain in a pair of jeans and you’ll soon learn the misery of inappropriate gear. They’re cold when wet, don’t dry out and cling to the legs making every step an effort.

Anyone who’s going to spend a good amount of time hoofing it in the great outdoors will benefit from forking out on a proper pair of walking trousers.

All five pairs we tested did the job admirably and will enhance your comfort on Britain’s hills and moors.

They vary from modestly priced lightweight trousers to full-on softshell models that will serve you well on winter excursions into the hills.

Although all the trousers tested have a little water repellency, it’s important to note that they are not waterproof trousers. In prolonged wet weather, you will need either a pair of waterproof overtrousers or specially designed waterproof walking trousers. These are detailed in a separate grough test.

The trousers featured were supplied to grough by the brands.

Bergans Geita Pants

Bergans Geita Pants

Bergans of Norway Geita Pants
Colour: black
Weight: 508g (size M)
Price: £ 179
Material: polyamide (nylon) 74 per cent; 20 per cent merino wool; six per cent Elastene
Country of manufacture: China
Recommended wash: 30C wool wash; cool iron

We’ve been consistently impressed by the clothing from this Scandinavian brand, and these trousers were no exception.

The Geita Pants were the most expensive in the test, but are a serious bit of kit that will protect your lower half in cold and windy weather. The trousers are softshell, with a thin backing of merino wool, which gives them a great windblocking performance.

The durable water repellent treatment will bead off a few showery raindrops, but if the rain is anything heavier, it will start to soak through.

Comfort was exceptional, with the four-way stretch allowing unhindered walking and scrambling. The trousers are an athletic cut, which means they hug the body and legs and there’s virtually no flapping about in wind.

There is extra protection in the backside and knee area with a waffle-weave reinforcement. The cut of the knees is complex, with several panels and tucks. What this means is there is no resistance to the natural movement of the leg no matter what sort of terrain you’re tackling.

It’s clear a good deal of thought has gone into the design of the Geita Pants.

At the ankle, there is more reinforcement on the inner side where boots are likely to rub, and there is a zipped gusset with three poppers at different places to customise the fit around your boot. There is also an elasticated cuff with a rubbery plastic strip that grips boots. What this means in practice is that you can pull the trouser bottoms down over the top of the boot and they’ll stay in place, keeping the mud and stones out.

The waistband is elasticated in parts and has belt loops. There are two zipped hip pockets, the liners of which are stretchy fine mesh to maintain breathability. There are also loops to attach braces. Neither belt nor braces are supplied.

The Geita Pants are very breathable too and were great performers when working hard uphill. They performed superbly on cold windy days though, on hotter days were definitely on the warm side, due to their thick material and the merino lining.

Definitely a choice for days when the temperature drops.

Performance 28/30
Comfort 27/30
Warmth 8/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 13/20
Total score: 84/100

Berghaus Ortler Pants

Berghaus Ortler Pants

Berghaus Ortler Pant
Colour: grey
Weight: 456g
Price: £65
Material: 90 per cent polyester, 10 per cent spandex
Country of manufacture: China
Recommended washing: cool machine wash; no fabric conditioner; cool iron

The Berghaus Ortlers are also stretchy and are described as three-season by Berghaus.

Less thick and warm than some of the trousers in our test, they would double up as trekking trousers as long as things didn’t get too hot.

There are mesh-backed ventilation zips on the outer thighs and the legs are not cut too snug, which does allow for some circulation of air.

It does mean, though, they can be a bit flappy in the wind and we found our boots catching on the lower legs on a couple of occasions.

There are belt loops and two unzipped hip pockets, one of which has within it a smaller zipped pocket. A rear pocket fastens with hook and loop fabric.

The ankles can be cinched in with a drawcord so you can tighten them round the boot tops to keep out gravel and the odd raindrop.

Knees are articulated though we did feel a little drag when stepping high on scrambly routes.

The Ortlers are good all-round trousers that will serve in all but the most demanding situations.

Performance 22/30
Comfort 24/30
Warmth 5/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 12/20
Total score: 70/100

Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers

Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers

Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers
Colour: black
Weight: 342g
Price: £45
Material: 96 per cent polyamide (nylon); 4 per cent Elastene
Country of manufacture: China
Recommended washing: cool machine wash; cool iron

Though the cheapest trousers in our test, the Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers performed well.

They’re stretchy, like most of their rivals and the fabric is quite thick. Comfort was good, with the articulated knees helping though there was just the hint of resistance to high steps over scrambles.

There is no venting; nor is there any means of cinching in the bottoms of the trousers, though the legs are cut fairly snugly so we didn’t encounter a problem out walking with boots catching on flapping legs.

There are two zipped hip pockets, one of which has a bit of cloth which is, apparently, for wiping your sunglasses on. There is tape reinforcement at the back of the trouser bottoms.

There is a zipped rear pocket and also a long-ish zipped pocket on the outside of the left thigh. It’s wide enough to take a full laminated OS map, but not long enough, so if you choose to use it for that it will stick up out of the top. It would be ideal though for an A4 route card or map.

The Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers also have belt loops.

For those worried about overexposure in the sun, the trousers have UPF 40+ Solarshield protection.

They represent excellent value for general-purpose walking trousers

Performance 21/30
Comfort 23/30
Warmth 6/10
Quality 5/10
Value for money 16/20
Total score: 71/100

Fjӓllrӓven Karl Trousers

Fjӓllrӓven Karl Trousers

Fjӓllrӓven Karl Trousers
Colour: brown
Weight: 466g (after cutting to length)
Price: £105 (plus £8 for Greenland Wax)
Material: polyester 65 per cent; cotton 35 per cent
Waterproofing: Greenland Wax has to be applied by user and impregnated into the G1000 fabric using heat (iron, hair dryer or stove)
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Recommended washing: 40C and cool iron

The Karl Trousers were unlike any other trousers in the test.

Styled in a very traditional Scandinavian way, they are essentially a tough poly-cotton pair of outdoor trousers to which you can apply wax to make them water-resistant to varying degrees.

They won’t be fully waterproof but you can use the special Greenland wax selectively to make some areas more rain- and wind-resistant. The pay-off is that it reduces breathability the more you apply.

It also makes the trousers feel slightly stiffer too.

To treat the Karl Trousers, you rub the block of wax over them to leave a thin coating, then use an iron or hairdryer (or heat from a stove – carefully in the field!) to melt the wax into the fabric.

Don’t expect to slip straight into the Karls. The legs are long ‘raw’ length, which needs to be cut to your desired length and then hemmed.

The Karl Trousers are well endowed with pockets, with two hip ones, two rear pockets with flaps and press-studs, a knife pocket on one leg, a zipped pocket big enough for, say, a smartphone, and on the other leg a large map pocket with press-stud.

The trousers have belt loops.

Although the knees are shaped, we found they still dragged against the legs a little, especially when stepping high.

The material breathed well and resisted the wind, and even when they do get wet, they dry out very quickly.

The G-1000 material feels absolutely bomb-proof, and we can imagine a true outdoorsman wearing these while chopping wood, hunting Snark and prospecting for gold before going on a 10-mile hike.

The Karls are mainstream enough to wear as everyday trousers if the style is to your liking, and just technical enough for UK walks, though we wouldn’t recommend them for true mountain excursions.

Performance 21/30
Comfort 21/30
Warmth 7/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 13/20
Total score: 69/100

Keela Scuffer Trousers

Keela Scuffer Trousers

Keela Scuffer Trousers
Colour: black
Weight: 540g (including supplied belt)
Price: £69.95
Material: 85 per cent nylon; 15 per cent spandex
Country of manufacture: unknown
Recommended washing: 40C in pure soap and cool iron

The Scuffers have a softshell feel; the material is quite thick which makes for a warm walk out on the hill. The trousers also have a tough feel to them, while retaining softness on the inner faces, and should cope with most things the British outdoors can throw at them.

Windstopping properties were excellent and the trousers are stretchy, though not as stretchy as some in the test.

The trousers are not as leg-hugging as the Bergans, but they have zipped bottoms with a hook and loop fastener which enables them to be tightened around the ankle.

On the inner ankle of each leg is a ‘scuffer’ welt of reinforced plastic material to guard against the inevitable wear from boots or even crampon spikes.

Knees are articulated and there is no impedance to normal walking or stepping up on to scrambling holds.

Ventilation is provided via mesh-backed zips on the outside of the thigh area.

The seat area is also reinforced and the Scuffers have belt loops and were actually supplied with a webbing belt.

There are two zipped hip pockets, one of which has an extra zipped pocket within it. The trousers also have a zipped back pocket.

The Scuffers offered excellent comfort on extended walks. Great in all but summery weather when they are a bit too warm. A good price too for the features.

Performance 25/30
Comfort 26/30
Warmth 7/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 16/20
Total score: 81/100

The Bergans of Norway Geita Pants are the Rolls-Royces of this test, able to stand up to full-on harsh conditions and still offer comfort and warmth, with the usual Bergans excellent quality.

The Keela Scuffers, while not quite in the same league, offered great value for a pair of walking trousers with features you might expect to pay a lot more for.

The three other pairs all performed quite satisfactorily, with the Fjӓllrӓvens offering something different for walkers who want to experiment with different waxing levels.

But for those on a tight budget, the Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers would be our choice.

Best in test: Bergans of Norway Geita Pants
Recommended: Keela Scuffer Trousers
Best budget buy: Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch Active Trousers.

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