8 Durable Hiking Pants With Reinforced Knees Reviewed [2021]

Do you worry about clicking knee joints? Are you tired of replacing hiking pants because the knee region constantly shows wear-and-tear?

After many years of avid hiking, I realized the solution to reducing knee stress without continuously blowing your budget - invest in quality hiking pants with reinforced knees.

Whether you do a lot of kneeling because of campsite cooking, squatting because of laborious hiking or require better support for existing knee problems, seek out long-lasting and comfortable wear!

And in this well-researched article, we bring you just that!

Our expert team has check-listed important criteria such as material, fit, water resistance, and ventilation to shortlist 8 of the best hiking pants with integrated knee pads.

Our extensive research included:

  • Investing 16 hours of thorough analysis
  • Studying more than 40 bestselling hiking pants
  • Testing and comparing some of the models ourselves
  • Intensive research via online reviews and unravelling little-known information (trust your fellow hikers for their honest feedback!) 

To further narrow down the most suitable pair of knee-reinforced hiking pants for your needs, we created an informational buying guide, packed with tons of useful information.

Without a further ado, let’s dive in.

Our Top 3 Picks

Best overall value
With the acclaimed quality of Under Armour, the improved Tactical Patrol model brings innovation, long-lasting comfort on the trail, and impressive functionality.
FEATURES:
  • In-house storm technology that efficiently repels water
  • Anti-odor technology ensures prolonged usage
  • Reinforced at the crotch too for durability
  • Very stretchy and at the same time not baggy
Runner up
We tested these pants on a technical terrain and they wowed us with extreme comfort, proven weather protection, and plenty of adjustability options.
FEATURES:
  • Perfect for alpine hiking and technical terrains
  • Wee Burly™ weave reinforcement on the knees and seat provides insane durability
  • DWR coating for rain and mud protection
  • Elastic, ergonomic, and with very adjustable webbing belt for ultimate fit
Best budget choice
Hikers are crazy about these pants and for a reason. Who wouldn’t appreciate a pair of high-quality outdoor pants at the cost of a few beers?
FEATURES:
  • 4 deep pockets provide generous storage
  • Quick-dry and breathable
  • Windproof and water-resistant
  • Adjustable fit

The 8 Best Hiking Pants With Reinforced Knees Compared

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
guh-table__imageUA Tactical Patrol Pants II
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Pant fit: Regular
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.
  • Highly water repellent and with an anti-odor technology
Check Price At Amazon →
guh-table__imageArct'eryx Sigma FL
  • Fabric: 88% nylon/12% elastane
  • Pant fit: Slim
  • Weight: 13.1 oz.
  • Has reinforcements in the seat too and extremely stretchy
Check Latest Price →
guh-table__imageCarwornic
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Pant fit: Slim
  • Weight: 14.1 oz.
  • With wide belt loops to attach gear
Check Price At Amazon →
guh-table__imageTacvasen
  • Fabric: Nylon and spandex
  • Pant fit: Slim
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Light, breathable and cheap
Check Price At Amazon →
guh-table__imageFjallraven Vidda Pro
  • Fabric: 65% poly/35% cotton
  • Pant fit: Regular
  • Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
  • With built-in knee pockets and tough G-1000® fabric
Check Latest Price →
guh-table__imageLittle Donkey Andy
  • Fabric: Nylon and spandex
  • Pant fit: Slim
  • Weight: 11.2 oz.
  • With UPF 50+ sun protection
Check Price At Amazon →
guh-table__imageGouxry
  • Fabric: 90% polyamide/10% spandex
  • Pant fit: Slim
  • Weight: 4.48 oz.
  • Classic look
Check Price At Amazon →
guh-table__imageTru-spec 24-7 Ascent
  • Fabric: 65% poly/35% cotton
  • Pant fit: Regular
  • Weight: 10 oz.
  • Multiple pockets and YKK® zippers
Check Price At Amazon →

#1 Under Armour Tactical Patrol Pants II

under armour tactical patrol pants

Looking for a durable and dependable addition to your hiking gear? The Under Armour Men’s Tactical Patrol Pants II guarantee long-lasting wear without sacrificing breathability and comfort. Featuring moisture-wicking, anti-odor technology alongside a stretch-engineered waistband and reinforced knees – it is perfect for long hikes where you have to pack light.

Pros:
  • Features extra durable ripstop fabric for long-lasting wear
  • Treated with anti-odor technology to keep you fresh
  • Reinforced knees but also crotch for extra durability and support
  • Generous pocket storage (6 pockets)
Cons:
  • Front pockets too small
  • A little too thick for hot climates

Under Armor is a trusted brand when it comes to craftmanship and durability. Made out of 100% polyester, these hiking pants are designed to stretch, flex, and keep you well-ventilated.

This is an upgraded version of the previous model – Tactical patrol pants I. Here, the fabric is more durable and stretchier.

Still treated with UA storm technology, the fabric repels water to keep you clean and dry – who says you can’t go hiking during light drizzles?

Tag in the ultra-durable ripstop material used for the reinforced knees and crotch and your pants can survive rough terrain, wide range of movements and long days out.

Unlike the fabrics used on cheaper models such as the Tacvasen, for example, the material on the Under Armor Patrol Pants II doesn’t provide that next-to-skin feeling that often feels awkward and restricts your leg movement.

This is something you feel when wearing pants made of lightweight polyester or any lackluster imitation.  In this case, the polyester is of super high quality and feels great on your legs.

What about the inevitable deluge of sweat?

Aside from moisture-wicking properties, anti-odor technology steps in. You don’t have to bask in your sweat-scent. These pants are a great option if you’re on a week-long camping trip into the wilderness.

Don’t worry about fit either, as the stretch-engineered waistband plies you with even more comfort and no restriction in movement. The good fit extends to the straight cut pant legs, which go over boots easily.

I also love the loose-fitting waistband. You can easily expand it or tighten it up.

About that, you will most probably need several days to break in those pants. Also, another thing I like is the fact that you can roll them up and down without the fabric wearing down or damaging easily, like is the case with cheaper brands.

Do you want to know what’s especially cool?

You can actively wear those pants for days without the need to wash them. The material and the coating are that good!

We also noted a useful detail.

The massive side cargo pockets come with an internal elastic band. This means you can hold even radios and flashlights without fear of them falling out or having to sacrifice grappling ability.  

The inseam runs between 30 to 36 inches while the waist comes in at 30 to 44 inches.

With this super lightweight 10.6-ounce hiking pants, you slither up mountains anywhere!

#2 Arc'Teryx Sigma FL

arc'teryx sigma fl pants with protected knees

Tested and approved by our expert team! Lightweight and with a clean silhouette, this renowned Arc’teryx model is built for fast and light movement on rocky and alpine routes. With reinforced seat and knees, as well as a gusseted crotch, you can move comfortably during steep climbs. The adjustable webbing belt and pant cuffs slide neatly into harnesses and under backpacks – you’ll be up that crag in no time!

Pros:
  • Seat and knee reinforcements made with 4-way stretch fabric for good mobility
  • The slim and tapered pant style is perfect for walking on difficult terrains or climbing 
  • Easily adjustable to secure the fit
  • Designed to be harness-friendly and allows cord attachments
Cons:
  • Sizes run small. Bulkier people may struggle with finding the right fit
  • A bit too wide at the bottom

Arc’teryx are largely known for making quality gear. With these technical outdoor pants, they hit the sweet spot between robustness and amazing functionality.

I bought a pair for the sole purpose of creating a more comprehensive review and went on a hike. It was a fantastic sunny day. Until it started to rain…

Our test revealed that the Sigma FL model is perfectly ready to meet the demands of strenuous hikes on technical terrains.

I hiked 10 miles on a strenuous mountain terrain that involved climbing on rocks and crawling on wet soil.

I have to tell you that these slim fitting pants delivered and then some. Sure, I have some quibbles that I will mention later. So keep reading.

From bushwalking to wet, winter usage, these will hold up against the elements thanks to a DWR finish. The water beads off the fabric and it doesn’t get soaked at all.

Like I said, my hike day started off sunny, but it started to rain in the afternoon. I didn’t feel wet on the legs and my pocket essentials stayed dry.

The 82% nylon and 12% elastane blend works to be durable and geared towards mobility. What I especially like is that Arc’teryx used a 4-way stretch Fortius™ 1.5 material in the body, so you can bend in all the ways.

Very comfortable for brusque, flexible movements. And I did plenty of those on my mountain hike.

Having personally tried these hiking pants with reinforced knees, I must say the material mapping is really well done.

They use these Wee Burly™ Double Weave reinforcements on the seat and knees to provide extra padding. It really helps when you are alpine hiking and have to sit on rough rocky terrain.

To complement its protective qualities, the tapered lower legs reduce snag and loose fabric. You don’t have to worry about getting your pants caught on jutting surfaces!

Likewise, the gusseted crotch contributes to freedom of movement. We guys especially need that, if you ask me. I found the area at the waist a bit long. You will notice that too, but don’t worry. They don’t feel uncomfortable because of that.

It’s quite the opposite.

Because they are designed for hiking and climbing, that’s a benefit when it comes to freedom of movement.

I bet you will also appreciate the adjustable integrated webbing belt. You don’t have to worry about bulky waistlines when you’ve got a backpack to carry.

The zippered pockets also ensure that harnesses and straps don’t get caught on your pants.

You can even also install gaiter cords via the cuff grommets to seal off-the-cuff entry point when you’re traipsing through snow.

These hiking pants come in a range of sizes ranging from XXS to XXL Tall. Do consult the sizing guide before purchase. The inseam for S size is 32 inches and S Tall is 35 inches.

I’m 5’7”, 163 lbs., and the pants fit me very well. They don’t feel baggy at all, which is something that I like very much.

I mentioned that I have some quibbles and here they are. First, I find them to be a bit wide at the bottom, even though they are advertised as tapered or tight fitting around the ankle. Not a deal breaker, though.

Second, they might be too hot to wear in hot climates. Some of you might find them too well insulated. It’s not really a problem for me, though, because I usually hike in high mountains where the temperatures are cool. On the good side, they are perfect for winter and late autumn.

They are on the pricey side, but you get what you pay for. The quality is stunning. I’ve read reviews at REI of people stating they have used them for years without a sign of tear and wear. I will update this post in three years and let you know how it goes. Seriously.

Weighing 13.1 ounces, those are relatively lightweight given their sturdiness.

#3 Carwornic

Carwornic cargo pants with knee pads

Maximize your outdoor performance with CARWORNIC outdoor hiking pants! Functionality was definitely priority as these pants were made to be flexible and durable. Water-resistant properties make it versatile to wear, while double-stitched seams keep it sturdy. There are also deep zippered pockets for convenient phone storage – so you can whip it out and capture your hiking look of the day. And that price is just unbelievable…

Pros:
  • Super affordable
  • Patchwork knees are durable and flexible
  • 4 zippered pockets – generous and secure storage
  • Adjustable waist and belt for perfect fit
Cons:
  • Fit on the smaller side – make sure to check the sizing guide
  • The side pocket design is a bit run of the mill

As you may have gathered from the reviewed pants so far, material is the key to a pair of good hiking pants – especially with reinforced knees!

CARWORNIC’s hiking pants are a good example of multi-functional fabric. Its 100% polyester build means hiking, fishing, camping and cycling are all A-okay.

Thanks to the way polyester wicks sweat off your skin while feeling smooth to the touch, you can spend your hike in comfort. Shake off that clammy, sweaty feel!

Quick to dry and highly breathable, you don’t need to experience after-sweat chills or after-being-rained-on colds.

Since light rain and liquids run off the fabric, it’s suitable to wear in summer, spring and fall. I’ve worn these through severe weather changes and they held up perfectly. They aren’t baggy like other cheap hiking pants on the market.

Durability doesn’t just come from material though – I want to point out the double-stitched seams that hold it all together.

In particular, the reinforced patchwork knees are a great combination of said stitching plus 3D cutting! Enjoy flexible movement during outdoor sports while being protected from impact and rough surfaces.

For comfort, the elastic waist and braided belt ensure the waistline fits perfectly. It’s designed for function too. The zipper and button closure as well as wide belt loops allow extra clip-on gear.

To keep your stuff safely where you need them, the 4 security pockets come with zippers. Deep enough to hold cell phones, wallets, pocket knives, and cards.

There’s even a thigh pocket for smaller tools. It has a pocket lining made of nylon. It resists wear and tear without being too heavy.

At 14.11 ounces, it’s not the lightest option out there but definitely not the heaviest and for sure they are super sturdy for its low price. Don’t expect the long-lasting quality of Fjallraven or Arc’teryx, though.

#4 Tacvasen

tacvasen reinforced hiking pants with knee protection

Go hiking totally worry-free with this popular pair of pants, designed for both outdoor leisure and work. They are lightweight for cross-seasonal use, crafted out of nylon and spandex. The multi-functional material is quick-dry, water-resistant, and highly breathable. Factor in the reinforced knees and you have a durable go-to! Check them out!

Pros:
  • Durable, but lightweight suitable for multi-seasonal use
  • Blended material that is water-resistant and dries quickly, keeping you comfortable and dry when outdoors
  • Easy to maintain and clean, machine washable
  • Quite affordable and come in different colors – you can look good and feel good!
Cons:
  • Dual-layer knee doesn’t wrap around the back

When it comes to material choice for dependable hiking pants, these pants are a great example.

Nylon’s natural moisture-wicking and quick-drying qualities mean you’ll stay dry and comfortable when on the trail.

It also waives away stains (from grass or muddy terrain), meaning you can wear these pants for extended time outdoors. The spandex element gives the fabric extra stretch for ease of movement. Isn’t it exactly what you need when on the trail?

The reinforced knees extend slightly up the thighs and down mid-calf. That’s awesome because you can kneel to climb or crawl without any worries. The black patches also add an aesthetic touch to these tactical pants!

These hiking pants are relatively form-fitting to provide maximum comfort without compromising your line of sight when hiking on technical terrain.

Furthermore, the straight pant leg style offers you a full range of movement and just enough airflow to keep you sweat-free as long as possible.

When it comes to the fit, you don’t want your pants to dig into your guts. An elastic waist allows the pants to fit snugly, but comfortably. You will feel that freedom of movement that we hikers seek in any good outdoor garment.

But there’s more.

There are plenty of pockets for storing loose items as well. 2 slant zipper pockets on the front, 1 on the thigh, and 2 more at the back allow you to keep your phone and ID close and secured.

Sizes run from US 30 – 40. Color options include black, green, navy, grey and khaki – your wardrobe doesn’t have to be drab!

Machine washable, they are extremely easy to clean and maintain.

I have a friend who bought those for hiking and he complained that after three months of vigorous use, some buttons fell off. Also, the fabric got punctured easily when he was climbing a bushy tree.

Still, for its price those are completely worth it, especially if you take a good care of them.

#5 Fjallraven Vidda Pro 

fjallraven vidda pro

If you’re trying to look the part of a ranger, there’s nothing better than the olive and dark grey combination of Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants. Reinforced at the knees, rear and crotch, these hiking pants are built to last. Bulldoze through thorns, slide down rocks, and conquer those crags. The G-1000® fabric holds strong. You can even net extra protection by sliding knee pads into the in-built knee pockets. Planning on rough use? This is the solution.

Pros:
  • Built to be ultra-durable; wax-coated against thorns and wet weather
  • Articulated knees to promote full range of movement
  • With knee pad pockets for inserts
  • Adjustable bottoms with elastic leg ending for stability
Cons:
  • Runs small at the seat and crotch area
  • Not that breathable – may not be suitable for hot summer wear

We are big fans of Fjallraven and know that they produce high quality outdoor pants. Especially outdoor leggings. I even included some of their models on our list of the most durable hiking leggings with pockets.

A high-quality option, our team found the Vidda Pro hiking pants to be well-constructed and meticulously designed. To be both durable, yet soft on the skin, the pants are made of 65% polyester and 35% cotton.

Don’t worry, though. Even though there’s cotton involved, they are far more comfortable to wear than jeans. At least for outdoor purposes.

Because the G-1000® fabric is waxed to offer high levels of water-resistance, the mid-rise and straight pant leg design is meant to offset the thickness with some space between skin and material for ventilation.

If you’re a fan of Fjallraven, then you know that G-1000® is their signature fabric. It is designed to be robust and very breathable. Plus, it uses Greenland Wax to provide the material multi-seasonal qualities.

You can wear the Vidda Pro in versatile ways. You can layer thin heat tech inside during the winter months to get more mileage out of it. Or combine with a base layer of cold-weather hiking leggings. We happen to have a thorough buying guide here.

Alternatively, the elastic leg ending lets you draw the pant legs up during hotter weather, or seal off the cuff when entering wet territory.

Mobility isn’t an issue at all – the pre-shaped knees mean you can kick, kneel, and even climb up trees with ease!

To keep essential items within convenient reach, simply make use of the efficient storage options. The pants come with 2 hand pockets, knee pockets for inserts, a map pocket, multi-tool pocket and internal phone pocket.

There’s no need to rummage through the backpack every time you need something. Instead, you can store it within close reach in your pants. I like that a lot when hiking.

But that’s not all.

These pants even come with an inverted hook that holds the legs in place by attaching to your boot laces, all the while ensuring you don’t snag your toes when putting them on!

Make sure to check the sizing chart before purchase; the inseam runs from 31 to 33 inches at intervals of 0.5 inch.

The only thing I don’t like about these pants is their weight. Weighing 1lb. 4.8 ounces, they are definitely on the bulkier side. Still a solid choice for technical terrains and winter backpacking.  

#6 Little Donkey Andy

Little donkey andy hiking pants

Little Donkey Andy is a versatile choice that also looks cool – the inverse front and back sides make your hiking outfit a tad less dull! Geared to be mobility friendly, the material is stretchy, durable, quick-dry. Plus, it shields you against the sun. Ripstop fabric wraps around the knee for additional support while protecting you against the elements. Read on for more detail.

Pros:
  • Made of nylon and spandex blend; quick-drying with built-in sun protection of UPF 50+
  • Ripstop fabric used to reinforce knees and make it scratch-resistant
  • Features zip fly and hook snap button enclosure for security
  • Proven to be comfortable and adjustable
Cons:
  • Size runs a little large
  • Pocket design not the best – items in front pocket tend to move towards the inner thigh.

To keep you cool and collected, the nylon spandex fabric features built-in sun protection of UPF 50+ – say no to harmful UV rays!

To be honest, years ago I thought that this is the least important feature that a pair of hiking pants could have. Until I suffered severe sun burn once, hiking extensively in rocky open space under the hot sun.

Now I like my pants to have any kind of sun protection, even though it’s not as important for me as other features.

Additionally, the 4-way stretch feature allows you to move freely whether climbing, fishing or doing outdoor work.

We always recommend quick-dry and breathable fabrics. Not only should you aim for all day comfort. Staying sweat-free and dry goes a long way in preventing colds, especially if you’re tramping through snow.

The reinforced knees are made with ripstop fabric to provide extra durability. The partial elastic waist and zipper/hook snap combination closure offers extra comfort and security. The fit at the waist really affects your comfort, so make sure there is some give.

Of course, zippered storage is a must! These hiking pants come with 2 front pockets and 1 rear pocket for convenient item storage.

While the size range isn’t the most tailored, we found the pants fit just fine. Refer to the sizing guide to see where you fit within the S to XXL offerings.

If lightweight is a priority for you, you’ll love these hiking pants. They come in at 0.71 ounces – it’s like wearing air.

Definitely the most lightweight pants on our list, as compared to the monstrously durable Fjallraven Vidda Pro, for example.

#7 Gouxry 

gouxry outdoor pants

Simple is sometimes best. And that’s exactly the case with the budget-friendly Gouxry hiking pants. The streamlined silhouette and closely tapered pockets endear it to all occasions. Comfort isn’t far behind either, due to the ergonomic design and breathable fabric. Best of all, it wicks away sweat to keep you fresh all day.

Pros:
  • Smooth to touch, breathable and quick-drying thanks to polyamide and spandex material
  • 4-way stretch fabric for enhanced movement
  • Ergonomic design so you can bend the knees and squat easily
  • Simple and classic outline to wear on various occasions
Cons:
  • Front pockets are open and can’t carry much weight

What makes these Gouxry hiking pants so in-demand is their classic look – streamlined, simple and presented in neutral colors to match everything, it’s a no-fuss solution to outfit coordination.

Unlike other pants on our list, they are not two-toned. One color, clean and simple. I like that.

That’s not to mention its functionality!

Its versatility isn’t just a by-product of a straight leg cut. The polyamide spandex fabric makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

The 4-way stretch fabric keeps it lightweight while promoting a wide range of movement. Inherent quick-drying properties mean liquids disappear within minutes. There’s no need to worry about accidental spills or if you’re hiking in light rain.

High breathability is always a plus because keeping your skin dry and cool is a huge comfort factor. It also reduces post-hike chills, since sweat won’t be a problem.

What makes this one of the best hiking pants with protected knees in its price range, however, is the ergonomic design.

Articulated knees with 3D tailoring make you a deep squat champion. The draping technique means the fabric molds to your movement easily.

I like those articulated knees because, essentially, the pants are insulated at the knees and the fabric doesn’t bunch behind your knees.

That gives you nice protection, insulation and flexibility. There are two layers at the knee – the outer protective layer and the inner with an elastic liner beneath it. 

Think we’re done?

Don’t forget the elastic waist which adjusts to your dimensions.

You can also keep certain items at hand thanks to two large front slant pockets. I recommend using the side pockets for bigger objects as they’re packed closer to the leg.

Smaller valuables are better secured in the zippered rear pocket, which does a great job for that.

The inseam measures 29 inches for S size; 31 inches for XXXL. Refer to the sizing chart for proper fit.

It weighs a pack-appropriate 4.48 ounces – light enough to bring on longer hiking trips. It stores nicely in a backpack.

#8 Tru-Spec 24-7 Ascent

tru spec backpacking pants

Looking for lightweight ascent pants that don’t look like tactical wear? The Tru-Spec has outdone themselves with the 24-7 series when it comes to comfort and versatile wear. The classic silhouette is highlighted thanks to the fitted (but elastic) waistband and cotton blend fabric. Best yet, there’s plenty of hidden storage – even knee pad pockets for optional protection. If you need to hop between outdoor work and professional indoor settings, these stain-resistant pair of hiking pants may be exactly what you need to stay clean.

Pros:
  • The cotton blend material makes it extra comfortable and breathable
  • Embedded with stain and water-repellent properties to keep you dry and clean, perfect also for daily wear
  • Gusseted crotch and stretch fabric ensure high mobility
  • Plenty of pockets for both storage and knee pad inserts
Cons:
  • Inconsistent fit. Get a pair which is one size longer to avoid the pants flopping around your ankles.
  • Front pocket is too loose

Sleek and soft, these hiking pants with discrete reinforced knees are the perfect example of outdoor wear that makes you look both casual and professional.  

The 6.5 oz. polyester cotton blend is soft against the skin. The only thing that gives it away as tactical pants is the textured grain of the micro rip-stop fabric.

Well-ventilated thanks to roomy legs, the DWR coating nevertheless keeps the pants stain and fade resistant. You can kneel in wet soil and come away clean.

The streamlined appearance also contributes to the lightweight feel! The reinforced knees are discrete. We had to touch it to feel the dual layers.

Another thing that I like a lot about those is that they have high-quality zippers that don't stuck. The YKK® zippers are with big pulls. Quite convenient.

It’s also outfitted with internal knee pockets, so workers who need extra protection and support have the option for knee pads.

Utility pockets are a go!

From a reinforced knife/flashlight front pocket to easy "DropN" access pockets behind cargo pockets – there’s no end to the type of storage you get. Heck, you can even fit the kitchen sink in these pants.

There’s even a concealed pocket that acts as a badge holder so you can keep cards within reach. Engineered to fit your shape, the slider waistband is designed with a mechanical stretch to be snug but not choking.

You can thank the gusseted crotch for unbelievable levels of comfort too! These pants won’t ride up uncomfortably, whatever you do. The inseam runs from 30 to 34 inches, meaning you can size up and tuck into boots if necessary.

About that, we found these hiking pants are either too tight or flop around the ankles. Other verified Amazon buyers report that as well. So do yourself a favor and order one size longer than usual.

We highly recommend these for light hiking or camping trips, or even used as daily wear to stay clean and fresh.

Benefits Of Hiking Pants With Knee Protection

Have you noticed how often we bend our knees?

Whether we’re simply walking, kneeling to cook at camp or sitting on a log, our knees are constantly flexing! This means our pants do a lot of work as well. And our knees.

backpacker on a mountain top

Our friend Martha likes great views and dependable pants with knee pads.

The benefits of reinforced knees are multiple:

  • Increased life span of your pants. Such pants last against abrasion and frequent flexing motion from bending the knee.
  • Better mobility since most pants with knee protection have articulated knees.
  • Protect the knee joints from temperature fluctuations and other impacts. That’s true, especially if you hike on technical terrains where your knees have regular contact with rough surface.

According to a recent study, the most common injury during hiking is impairment in knee-joint position sense.

Having pants with reinforced knees won’t do miracles in preventing that issue. There are many other factors to consider and steps to take to mitigate such problems when on the trail.

However, this is a significant step in protecting your knees when hiking.

So, to summarize, the main benefit to have knee pads on your pants is protection. If you suffer from bad knees, it’s also advisable to have such pants.

I have a friend who’s always rock climbing when hiking. He can’t imagine going out without his knee protective pants.

You don’t have to be a rock climber to have pants with reinforced knees, though. They will serve their purpose well to protect your knees when you’re hiking on a demanding trail.

How to Decide On The Best Pair of Hiking Pants With Reinforced Knees

Like always, we’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide. It will help you narrow down your choice. Moreover, it reveals what you should look for in a good pair of hiking pants with knee caps.

outdoor cargo pants for backpacking

By the end of it, you will have a deeper knowledge of what features could make or break your investment.

When it comes to choosing the most suitable pair of hiking pants, you should prioritize personal comfort and functionality.

Understand that your pants don’t just protect you against the elements. They also regulate your body temperature and support mobility, among other things.

Here’s what to look after.

Material

The fabrics define the durability of your pants to a larger degree. Sure, the craftmanship is also important, but when you’re buying online, touching and feeling the material is not an option. So you need to rely on brand reputation and reviews.

Depending on climate and the type of terrain you’ll be exploring, your hiking pants material should have:

  • sun protection - look for UPF rating 50+. The Little Donkey Andy model on our list has a very high UPF rating.
  • Water-resistance/DWR coating – While it won’t keep you dry in torrential downpour, pants treated with durable water-resistant coating will see you through light rain, misty conditions, and wet terrain. Staying dry reduces risk of catching colds. Often, this type of coating also contains stain-resistant qualities for easy cleaning.
  • Quick-drying qualities - keeping you cool, clean and dry no matter the weather. A moisture-wicking fabric wicks the moisture to the outer layer of the textile and dries quickly.
  • Breathability and ventilation – For both general comfort and skin health, breathable fabrics is a must! Stay cool despite the sweat-provoking activity due to hot weather.

The most common materials used on hiking pants are:

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Spandex

The best and most durable material is a blend of nylon and spandex. Most pants on our list are made of such fabric combination.

11 Funkifabrics facts about Spandex/Lycra

 

From Visually.

This mixture is abrasion-resistant and lightweight. Often it offers natural high UPF ratings. It’s moisture-wicking and quick-drying as well. The spandex gives the material more stretch.

Last but not least, the combination of nylon and spandex provides highest level of durability. Plus, it resists tear and wear longer.

Sometimes you will see that some hiking pants contain cotton. You may think cotton is not the best fabric for outdoor wear. And you’d be right.

I wrote an entire article on why you shouldn’t hike in jeans. Long story short, it’s because they are made of 100% cotton. We all know cotton absorbs moisture, but it doesn’t evaporate it. This makes you soaked and cold, which might have even a fatal outcome in the wilderness.

But don’t worry.

Most hiking pants with knee pads that contain cotton (we have two models on our list) contain only a small percentage of this fabric.

Cotton has its positive qualities. Sportswear manufacturers take advantage of them, and that’s why you see cotton on some outdoor garments.

Namely, cotton is hypoallergenic, durable, and skin-friendly.

Fit

Prioritize a comfortable fit! A no-brainer, right?

woman trekking

Generally, we recommend more form fitting styles to minimize snags and tearing. Because hiking pants loosen up after a few wears, you don’t want excess material that will balloon in heavy winds.

You don’t want your pants too tight, however – a slightly relaxed fit will reduce chafing and rubbing. Here are the most common type of pants based on their fit type.

  • Tapered pant legs – Reduces snags and offers better footwork visibility. Best for conquering crags and rugged terrain.
  • Straight pant legs – Better ventilation and allow increased mobility. Can look for models with drawstrings to cinch in if necessary.
  • Gusseted crotch – An extra patch of fabric where the crotch seems meet; making the high-flex area more durable and allowing wider range of movement without seams cutting where you don’t want them to!
  • Adjustable webbing belts and integrated straps – Help you tailor the fit if you’re between sizes.

Always refer to the sizing chart for each brand! The best way to guarantee correct sizing is by measuring your inseam.

Calculate the length from the bottom of your ankle (where the hem hits) to right below your crotch. You can also check the inseam measurements of your most comfortable pair of pants.

No matter if you prefer slim-fitting pants or loose-fit pants, make sure that your trousers are neither too tight or baggy. Also, if you’re hiking in blackberry winter, consider that you will be probably wearing a base layer of leggings.

4 Additional Useful Features To Look After

Here are some really handy features that I like my hiking pants to have no matter if they’re with reinforced knees or not:

  • Adjustable pant cuffs – usually adjustable using drawstrings, these make sure your pants don’t get caught in anything and will help retain heat when necessary. You can also loosen them up for extra ventilation when resting.
  • Elasticized waist – some pants come with part-elastic waistbands and others with full-elastic waists for both comfort and easy movement.
  • Zipped pockets – ensure your loose belongings don’t fall out on the hike or climb. Some pants on our list such as the Under Armour Tactical Patrol Pants II have 6+ pockets!
  •  Convertible pants – these come with zippers so you can transform long trousers into

Criteria for Reinforced Knees

When it comes to the design of reinforced knees, the ideal hiking pants should feature a combination of:

  • Articulated knees – Following the natural shape of our legs, articulated knees allow you to bend at the knee without straining the fabric. They may look like patches (slightly curved, hollowed out or made out of different material) or simply delineated by extra seams.
  • Stretchy fabric for ease of movement.
  • Scratch-resistant fabric (i.e Ripstop fabric) with extra durability.
  • Panels for knee pad inserts.

Note that not all hiking pants with protective knees come with obvious knee patches! We recommend ensuring of material quality by reading the manufacturer’s specifications as well as customer reviews thoroughly. 

How to Properly Take Care of Your Pants With Reinforced Knees

Since materials will differ between pants, check the manufacturer’s washing instructions first! General method of cleaning looks like this:

  • Empty the pockets; close all zippers and Velcro.
  • Put your pants in the washing machine but make sure it’s not packed in! Leave some space.
  • Use either normal liquid detergent (mild) or special cleaners for waterproofed membranes. Do NOT add fabric softener.
  • Set your wash cycle at low temperatures (30⁰C) and with a slower spin cycle.
  • If there is soap residue after the first cycle, rinse and spin again.
  • Let it air dry naturally by laying it flat on rack or hang straight. Don’t wring the fabric; it will stretch. You can also tumble dry on low setting.

Hiking pants with waterproofing material can be wiped down with a damp cloth. But once you can smell the sweat, rain, and anything unclean – be sure to wash it properly!

You may have to reapply the DWR coating at some point. In such case, you can opt for wash-in or spray-on DWR. If you have a waterproof tent that you treat with a similar spray, use it on your pants.

Another way to reactivate the DWR properties is by putting your pants in the dryer and tumbling it with low heat.

Alternative Knee Care Solutions For Hikers

I’ve had experiences where I liked a pair of hiking pants, but they didn’t have the reinforced knees I’ve been looking for.

Fortunately, there are viable replacements!

Enter knee pads.

Knee pads (a.k.a pad inserts) are reinforced “patches” designed to cradle your knee – they’re intended to offer extra protection and support.

Made out of EVA foam padding, molded caps, and sturdy materials like neoprene, they sit over your knees as an extra barrier.

Many tactical pants have pockets for knee pad inserts, with hook-and-loop fasteners to keep them secure. You can also use external knee pads, which generally feature two adjustable straps to fasten above and below the knee.

If you prefer more permanent solutions, we suggest adding your own knee patches to the front of your pants.

Final Verdict

Now that you’d read through our nifty guide, you should have no problems picking out the perfect pair of hiking pants with knee protection for you!

Once again, based on our tests and research, the best hiking pants with reinforced knees are Under Armour Tactical Patrol II.

Best overall value
With the acclaimed quality of Under Armour, the improved Tactical Patrol model brings innovation, long-lasting comfort on the trail, and impressive functionality.
FEATURES:
  • In-house storm technology that efficiently repels water
  • Anti-odor technology ensures prolonged usage
  • Reinforced at the crotch too for durability
  • Very stretchy and at the same time not baggy

Remember to prioritize fit and material – these are key factors that define comfort and protection levels. Durable materials aren’t just about lasting longer. They’re also meant to protect you from injuries and unpleasant weather. Getting the fit right will also minimize discomfort and risk of injury.

Of course, prioritizing functionality doesn’t mean you can’t look good! You can opt between that rugged hiker vibe or seek out more classic styles. Tactical pants can be extremely versatile, so if you slide frequently between indoors and outdoors – no one will look at you funny.

Let us know what your top picks are!

best winter hiking hats

Asen Stoyanchev

Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.

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  • April 24, 2021
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