Best hiking jeans – tried and tested
Love walking... but hate sporty walking gear –? Then why not hit the trail in a pair of hike-friendly and fashionable jeans... we test out three new styles, for men and women
Traditional jeans make pretty lousy walking trousers. Denim can be heavy, restrictive and hot. Once damp from sweat or rain the fabric stiffens, rubs on your legs and takes forever to dry.
On the other hand, there’s a growing market for versatile outdoor gear that looks good on hilltop and high street alike, driven partly by those for whom technical-looking outdoor gear is a turn-off.
So we tried out some of the new breed of hiking jeans – and here's what we found...
Acai women's Outdoor Slim Fit Jeans (RRP £110)
Walking clothes that are also stylish can be hard to find, but Acai’s range of outdoor jeans really do look like normal, fashionable jeans.
Acai, a British brand “created by women for women”, has a wide range of walking clothing that is both practical and stylish. I tried the Outdoor Slim Fit Jeans, which had a close-but-comfortable fit around the waist while not being too tight on the legs.
They are not made with classic denim but from a thin, breathable and lightweight material. Designed with ISKO’s Blue Skin technology, the fabric is just under 70% cotton combined with 22% polyester; the rest is Elastane, to allow for maximum movement.
The fabric also has a water-resistant coating which copes well with light showers. Heavier rain will soak in, but the fabric dries faster than normal jeans, drawing moisture away from the skin – although not as fast as the fabrics used in most specialist hiking trousers.
I often worry about stretchy jeans going baggy at the knees, too – but these have kept their shape after several wears, with lots of walking, crouching down and sitting. These jeans are so versatile they will take you from the office to hiking in the outdoors to an evening meal at the pub afterwards. LP
• The Outdoor Slim Fit Jeans are out of stock as we published this – but Acai say they will be back in stock soon. Meantime, check out Acai's other denim style, the Skinny Outdoor Jeans.
BAM 73 Zero denim straight leg jeans (rrp £100)
BAM clothing specialises in creating sustainable clothing with fabric made from bamboo. With removable buttons, these jeans are easily recycled when they come to the end of their life – so if properly disposed of, they won’t contribute to the 73% of clothing that ends up in landfill (hence the name ’73 Zero’). These fashionable jeans will take you from a hike to the pub for a meal afterwards in style. The website recommend you size down in this style. I did this and found they fit really well. The two options for length also help you find the right fit.
These Jeans are part of BAM’s active range specifically for walking and hiking. The material is strong and durable yet soft and supple. They are made up of blend of organic cotton, recycled cotton and a yarn made from bamboo – relatively eco-friendly materials. The result is that the 73 Zero requires 74% less water to make compared to conventional denim jeans. I chose black but they also come in indigo blue, colours chosen to be environmentally friendly as they require no bleach-washing.
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Unlike normal denim jeans, they are Incredibly stretchy, and did not restrict me in any way. Climbing and walking was very comfortable. I wore these on a balmy afternoon when felt they a little too warm, but they are perfect on cooler days.
They don’t have any waterproofing features, so soak up the rain pretty quickly, and the thick material is unlikely to dry quickly, so are best worn on dry days – or take some waterproof over-trousers.
They have nice little features like embroidery on the back pocket showing the rise in global temperature and all care information is found on the inside of the pocket, eliminating the use of extra material for a label. Overall, these are really high-quality jeans for a good price and all whilst easing the effects of fast fashion on the planet.
Styles for both men and women are available. LP
Duer men’s Performance Denim trousers, £105-110
Would these ‘Performance Denim’ trousers from Canadian brand Duer deliver on the trail?
They certainly feel like soft cotton denim – but there are some discreet little tweaks to improve comfort on the trail. Their principal asset is that they are five times stretchier than pure cotton denim, allowing you excellent freedom of movement even on steep climbs. That’s thanks to a fabric that blends cotton, Tencel and stretchy Spandex.
Of course, there are other stretchy jeans on the market – many at a much lower price than these. So what else do they offer to justify the outlay?
The main gain is that are also cut rather cleverly for comfort. To speak frankly, the great asset of these jeans is the stretchy gusset, which keeps you striding freely, with no tightness or discomfort below the belt.
Further innovations include a silver ion treatment to help keeps odours at bay – so they should stay fresh for a few days on holiday, for example.
And when pushing hard uphill, perspiration did not feel uncomfortably damp. That’s because the fabric also contains Coolmax, synthetic fibres designed to wick moisture away from the body. Having said that, there are limits: these jeans are definitely not for hot-weather hiking – and technical walking trousers perform much better.
One or two minor gripes included the fact that the pocket linings rumple the outer fabric slightly. All round, though, I was pretty impressed; they look pretty stylish, and perform rather well in cooler weather.
Reviews by Laura Phillips and Joe Pontin
Laura is the Deputy art editor at BBC Countryfile magazine. She runs the Instagram page and co-picks our favourite Photo of the Day across our social media channels. In her spare time she enjoys nature walks in her local area, as well as being ukulele playing, roller skating and silversmithing.