Kay Rodriguez - Chief Adventurer

Kay Rodriguez

Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow.

As one of the most popular national parks in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park has no shortage of things to do or trails to explore. One of the most fun and rewarding ways to explore the park is on foot – hiking in Rocky National Park offers limitless possibilities with a network of interconnected trails you can explore for days on end. At just 1.5 hours from Denver and 1 hour from Boulder, this national park is accessible to hikers of any experience level. From easy strolls to challenging summits, we created this guide to the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park so you can plan an incredible adventure!

Photo Credit: Jim Liestman (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sprague Lake

  • Trail Length: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

One of the most accessible (and beautiful) easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is Sprague Lake. Situated on the banks of its namesake lake, this trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and emerald pine forests. Additionally, there are benches and picnic tables for those wanting to stop and eat lunch or enjoy the gorgeous scenery. It’s especially beautiful in the early morning and around sunset, when the water is still and you can see the reflections of the mountains.

This short, easy trail is made largely of packed dirt so it’s accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, and there are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath. I’d especially recommend this trail for those who are short on time, families with kids, and anyone who needs wheelchair/stroller access.

Glacier Gorge & Alberta Falls

  • Trail Length: 1.6 miles+
  • Elevation Gain: 252 feet

The Glacier Gorge trailhead is one of the most popular trailheads for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, as it winds through a scenic gorge to many of the park’s most beautiful viewpoints. Because of this, it’s a fantastic spot to begin your adventures in the park.

If you want to do a shorter hike, the first main stopping point on the Glacier Gorge trail is Alberta Falls, which is about 1.6 miles round trip from the parking lot (0.8 miles one way). These falls are beautiful and the trail to get there is accessible to hikers of all levels, and there are lots of areas to stop and have a snack or enjoy the views. For those wanting to tack on a bit more of a challenge, this easy trail continues on to the more difficult, steep hike up to the Loch and, finally, Sky Pond (see below).

Note that since this is one of the most popular trailheads, the small parking lot nearby fills up extremely early in the morning during peak season. I recommend getting there early (6 AM or earlier) or prepare to take the shuttle from either the Bear Lake trailhead or the satellite lot.

Photo Credit: Christian Collins (Flickr CC)

Bear Lake

  • Trail Length: 0.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Another extremely popular trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Bear Lake trailhead. As its name suggests, the Bear Lake trail is the one closest to the parking lot that wraps around a scenic lake surrounded by mountains. If you want to experience the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park without doing any strenuous or steep hiking, Bear Lake is a great option.

This short, easy hike is great for families with kids or those who are crunched for time, but the gravel trail unfortunately isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. Because it’s so easily accessible and beginner-friendly, the Bear Lake trail does get quite crowded during peak times/seasons. If you don’t plan on going early in the morning or later in the evening, you may need to park in a satellite lot and take a shuttle to the trailhead.

Dream Lake

  • Trail Length: 2.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 426 feet

Beginning at the Bear Lake Trail, Dream Lake is another picturesque lake accessed by one of the easier hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. At 2 miles in length, this trail is a little bit longer than some of the other easy hikes I’ve mentioned, which is perfect for those wanting a longer adventure without any difficult terrain.

On this trail, you’ll pass by Bear Lake and continue through a mostly wooded trail to Dream Lake. There’s a gentle elevation gain on the way up, but the trail is really well-maintained and the scenery is gorgeous. En route to Dream Lake, you’ll pass Nymph Lake, another spectacular alpine lake surrounded by mountains and trees.

Finally, you’ll arrive at Dream Lake after about a mile of hiking, and it’s a good place to stop and eat a snack, catch your breath, and admire the jaw-dropping scenery of the Rockies.

Photo Credit: axbecerra (Flickr CC)

Bierstadt Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 626 feet

As another longer easy trail for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Bierstadt Lake Loop Trail is a 3.2-mile gem in the heart of the park. Surrounded by – you guessed it – snow-capped mountaintops and bright green forests, it’s a popular place for photography in the early morning and a lovely place to take a leisurely hike at any time of day. There is a bit of an uphill hike to get to the lake, with some gentle to moderate elevation gain, but once you arrive you’ll have plenty of space to roam around and enjoy the views.

Moderate Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Four Lakes Loop

  • Trail Length: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 702 feet

Hilariously enough, the “Four Lake Trail” is a misnomer, as this trail actually passes five lakes: Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Haiyaha Lake. And if you’re up for a little bit of a challenge, this is probably our favorite of the moderate hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Like I mentioned, this trail starts at Bear Lake and passes five stunning alpine lakes, each with its own glassy water and mountainous views.

At 7 miles, this half-day hike is a great way to explore the area surrounding the Bear Lake trailhead. There are a few spots of moderate elevation gain, especially in the switchbacks leading to Haiyaha Lake. I’d recommend getting to the trail early in the morning, as parking does fill up around Bear Lake by mid-morning. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to take a shuttle from the satellite lot.

Pro tip: When I last hiked this trail, it was very clearly marked except around Haiyaha Lake. When you approach the banks of the lake, it can get a little dicey. Once we (my friend and I) got there and perched ourselves on a rock for a while, we actually couldn’t figure out where the trail to leave was. After some climbing through trees and looking at Google Maps, we eventually found the trail again, but we’d strongly recommend taking a mental note or using an app for returning back to the trail.

Photo Credit: Harrison Walter (Flickr CC)

Gem Lake

  • Trail Length: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 990 feet

Gem Lake has to be one of the coolest and most unique hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. While I didn’t get to do this hike during my time at the park, it’s really high on my list for next time. This 3.4-mile trail takes you through the forest and up to a scenic lake surrounded by otherworldly rock formations, sandy shorelines, and strange, knobby trees. You’ll often see photographers in the area during the earlier hours of the day trying to capture this fascinating lakefront area.

As the shortest moderate hike on our list, we’d recommend Gem Lake for hikers on a time crunch who want to tackle a little bit of elevation gain and still see something cool.

Deer Mountain

  • Trail Length: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet

Another RMNP hike I didn’t get to do but wanted to is Deer Mountain. As one of the more accessible summits in the park to beginners and leisure hikers, this trail offers beautiful, sweeping views of the park’s valleys and the mountains around them. Additionally, at 6 miles, it’s a bit of a longer hike you can enjoy in a half-day or more, and the summit is a great spot for lunch or a break to admire the panoramic views.

Photo Credit: Brandon Bombaci (Flickr CC)

Hard Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

These are some of the most incredible spots for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, but are only for hikers with lots of experience hiking rough, steep terrain. Additionally, certain times of year pose a significant risk of avalanches and dangerous conditions, so check with local authorities and proceed with caution.

Sky Pond

  • Trail Length: 8.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,761 feet

Among many hikers, Sky Pond is a crowd favorite of all of the hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Beginning at the Glacier Gorge trailhead, it’s got a little bit of everything, from waterfalls to gorge views to lake views and mountain peaks. It’s no surprise that this is also one of the most popular hard hikes in the entire park, attracting lots of ambitious hikers every day.

Most of the ascent is actually moderate as you pass by Alberta Falls and the Loch. However, once you pass the Loch area and begin climbing up a steeper ascent, you’re in for a real challenge. There’s a sizeable waterfall you’ll pass to your left, then a rocky scramble for several minutes until you get to Glass Lake. From there, you’ll continue to climb over the rocks to get to the hike’s final destination: Sky Pond. The peaks up here look like spires against the sky, and if it’s not too windy, you may even catch their reflection in the pond.

Pro tip: Even if it’s warm at the trailhead, bring gloves and a hat for the top. We went unprepared and were freezing at Sky Pond, even though the ascent was in fairly warm weather.

Photo Credit: Ralph Earlandson (Flickr CC)

Chasm Lake

  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,601 feet

Another one of the most popular hard hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is the trail to Chasm Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake that has stellar views of the rocky peaks and formations nearby, including Longs Peak. With 2,601 feet of elevation gain over 9.4 miles, this hike is strenuous and is suitable for experienced hikers only.

On the way to the top, you’ll traverse through moderate terrain at first, and then the trail gets significantly steeper as you work your way to the lake. The final push to the lake is a rock scramble with a very steep ascent, so be prepared. Once you arrive, you can stop for a snack and a break at this scenic lake, or continue on to summit Longs Peak (see details below).

Photo Credit: Let Ideas Compete (Flickr CC)

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

  • Trail Length: 10.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,293 feet

One of the most beloved summit hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak hike, which spans just over 10 miles and 3,293 feet of elevation gain. This challenging trail is a fantastic way to get panoramic park views without attempting something quite as hard as Longs Peak.

Summiting two peaks in one hike, you’ll get access to several different viewpoints as you traverse this scenic trail. Note that the trail can get extremely windy and cold above the tree line! The last push to the summit of Hallett Peak requires some scrambling, and you may need crampons, microspikes, or snowshoes if you intend to hike during the late fall, winter, or early spring. As always, check in with local rangers to determine if there’s significant avalanche risk before hiking.

Longs Peak

  • Trail Length: 14.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 5,039 feet

If you’re an experienced hiker looking to bag a Colorado 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak is your only choice. A 14.8 mile trail with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain, this hike is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart. The trail to the summit is rated a Class 3 on the Yosemite Decimal System, which means there’s significant scrambling and climbing involved to get to the summit. However, if you’re prepared and choose to tackle this thrilling trail, the rewards and views are second to none.

For those who want to do this hike, we recommend arriving at the trail head well before sunrise, as this hike will take a very full day to complete. Most hikers begin around 4 AM – some earlier. The hike to the ascent is quite steep, with the most difficult scrambling and climbing occurring after you reach the Keyhole rock formation. The views from the top are some of the best in the park – well worth the effort to get there!

Additional Resources

What to Bring Hiking

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

Trekking poles are a hiker’s best friend when it comes to strenuous, rugged trails. For long hikes, steep inclines, and slippery conditions, the best trekking poles will act as an extra support system to help you keep your balance. Not all hiking poles are created equal, and it’s important to get a solid pair that won’t give out while you’re on the trails. We evaluated dozens of products and created this guide to help you choose the best trekking poles for your outdoor adventures.

Click here to jump to our list of the best trekking poles

How to Choose a Pair of Trekking Poles

Since every hiker is different, there are several factors that go into choosing the perfect trekking poles. These are the criteria we used to evaluate each pair of trekking poles on our list, and the things we’d recommend you consider when making a purchase.


One of the most important criteria we considered when evaluating different models was weight. If you’re hiking or backpacking long distances, the last thing you want is for your trekking poles to weigh you down. Lighter, more portable poles are generally more practical than heavier ones (as long as you aren’t sacrificing durability – see below).

What largely determines a trekking pole’s weight is what it’s made of. The most common materials used to construct poles are aluminum and carbon fiber. Generally carbon fiber is much lighter, but can also be more expensive and less durable. Aluminum is sturdier, but it’s heavier and prone to bending.


Durability is another factor that’s important to consider when purchasing a pair of trekking poles. Aluminum poles are generally known to be more durable than carbon fiber (but weighs more, too). Similarly, the design of the poles can contribute to their durability, as locks and twists provide additional opportunities for a pole to snap or get damaged.

While no pole is going to be indestructible, you’ll want to choose the right materials and design to match your hiking style and preferences. Minimalist hikers and backpackers typically want to opt for a carbon fiber option, even though it’s less durable, because it weighs less. On the other hand, more serious mountaineers or those that typically hike in steep, rocky terrain may want to opt for heavy duty aluminum options.

One other thing to look out for with durability is a manufacturer’s warranty. These warranties and guarantees ensure that your equipment will be repaired or replaced if it breaks within a set timeframe. We typically opt for equipment that has a guarantee of at least one year, even if it costs slightly more.


Modern hiking poles are often designed to collapse into a small space, either via a telescoping system with locks, or using elastic cords within the poles that can come apart and fold (Z construction). Non-collapsible poles are bulky and inconvenient to transport. We love poles that can be collapsed into a small, lightweight bundle to carry in a backpack or travel with – that’s why you won’t find any options on our list that don’t collapse.


Trekking pole length depends on your height and on the design of the poles. Telescoping poles are adjustable and can accommodate many different heights, while foldable poles need to be bought at a specific length based on your height. REI has a great guide on choosing trekking poles that walks through the appropriate size for your height.


Most of the “comfort” aspects of a trekking pole are highly subjective and are based on what the grips and straps feel like in your hands. Grips are often made from spongy material or cork and should feel padded yet firm in your hands. Avoid any poles that feel slippery or irritating when you hold them – those feelings will be 10x worse out on the trails!


While we try not to let price play too much into our assessments of products, we know it’s a huge consideration for most readers. You’ll definitely want to choose a pair of trekking poles that fits your budget, which is why we’ve included several affordable options in addition to the best-in-class choices.

Below, we’ve grouped the hiking poles into categories as such:

  • $ = Under $100
  • $$ = $100 to $150 per pair
  • $$$ = $150+ per pair

Best Trekking Poles for Any Hiking Adventure

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
Overall Best Trekking Poles

  • Cost: $$
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Weight: 17.2 oz (1 lb, 1.2 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Comfortable cork handles, more durable and burly than carbon fiber

A favorite among intense hikers and hobbyists alike, the Black Diamond Ergo Cork poles are some of the best trekking poles in the industry. With an all-aluminum construction and an adjustable length telescoping design, these poles are an all-around fantastic value for the price. The cork handles are the perfect balance of firm and cushioned, and we really like how they feel in our hands.

Moreover, because they’re aluminum, they’ll be a bit more durable in the long term than any carbon fiber option. We absolutely love the comfort and design of the Ergo Cork grips, and have enjoyed their slip resistance during long hikes or in wetter conditions.

The Black Diamond Ergo Cork was a serious contender for our Best Overall spot, but narrowly missed out because they’re heavier and less portable. At 17-18 ounces per pair, these are considerably heavier than our lightweight choice, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z. And while the adjustable telescoping length is a nice feature, they’re still quite long (27 inches) when collapsed all the way down, making them a little more difficult to travel with or pack inside a bag.


Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
Best Lightweight Trekking Poles

  • Cost: $$$
  • Materials: Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Why They’re Awesome: Super light, very compact, designed specifically for athletic hikers, durable

For an ultra light, sturdy, and absolutely awesome hiking companion, we recommend the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z trekking poles. These are the carbon fiber version of the Black Diamond Distance Z, pairing the Z folding design with a lighter construction for a pretty ideal hiking pole.

We love these poles (and use them as our go-to poles) because they’re so light and portable, you can toss them in a bag and take them literally everywhere. At 10-14 ounces per pair, you really won’t find a lighter pair of poles. The folding Z design of the Distance Carbon Z poles is super travel-friendly, meaning you can bring these poles easily in backpacks, work bags, road trips, airplanes, and just about anywhere else. Backpackers and thru-hikers especially love them because they provide lots of support without adding much extra weight.

If your poles are faulty (which some reviewers have mentioned), you can rest assured that they’re backed by Black Diamond’s 1-year warranty. Additionally, the height of these poles is not adjustable, so make sure you get the correct size before heading out on the trail with them.


Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles
Best Budget Trekking Poles

  • Cost: $
  • Materials: Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 16 oz (1 lb)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Very budget-friendly, light construction for the price, come in multiple colors

For hikers on a budget, the Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles are an excellent choice. These are some of the cheapest carbon fiber trekking poles you can get, and they hold up just fine for most hikers. With a telescoping length and various colors to choose from, you can customize these poles a bit more than other models on our list. Additionally, they come with extra tips, baskets, and other accessories so you can use them in just about every kind of terrain. Not bad for less than $50!

The drawbacks? They’re less durable than some of the higher-end models, which is to be expected from a cheaper construction. If you’re looking for a pair of trekking poles for a few hikes here and there, these are great, but if you’re going to be hiking regularly or on more rugged terrain, we’d recommend investing in a higher-quality pair of poles.


LEKI Micro Vario Carbon
Best Splurge Trekking Poles

  • Cost: $$$
  • Materials: Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 17 oz (1 lb, 1 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Speedlock 2 system, compact and lightweight, durable

LEKI is another trekking pole manufacturer that makes some of the absolute best poles on the market. The LEKI Micro Vario Carbon is one of their most popular products, and for good reason: it’s lightweight, compact, and versatile for any outdoor adventure. We love these poles because, unlike the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z, they combine their telescoping SpeedLock 2 system for on-the-go adjustments with the folding construction to provide the best in portability.

The downside? The LEKI Micro Vario Carbon poles are the most expensive on our list, and they aren’t exactly the lightest. Because of their dual construction, there’s added weight, which can make a difference on long hikes or when traveling with them. And again, carbon fiber is more prone to breakage than aluminum (although LEKI does provide a 1-year warranty for its carbon fiber poles). However, for sturdy, all-around fantastic trekking poles, the LEKI Micro Vario Carbon is a great investment.


MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon
Best Four-Season/Alpine Trekking Poles

  • Cost: $$
  • Materials: Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 17-18 oz (1 lb 1 oz to 1 lb 2 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Sturdy and durable, come with snow-friendly accessories, great price for four season poles

If you’re an all-season adventurer, you’ll probably want a pair of sturdy yet lightweight trekking poles that can hold up in mud, ice, and snow. The MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are our pick for four-seasons trekking poles that can withstand just about anything. We like that the MSR Dynalock Ascents come in a folding “Z” design with a telescoping flick lock for the option to adjust your pole height on the fly. Whether you’re winter hiking, snowshoeing, or splitboarding, these poles are a great four-season companion on any trail.

They’re probably not for everyone, though. Because these poles are carbon fiber, they can break more easily than an aluminum construction, although MSR offers a generous 3-year warranty for this. Also, they’re a bit too heavy to be considered “ultralight,” and they’re probably overkill for casual hikers or those who only hike in warmer conditions. However, if you’re looking for a fantastic all-season trekking companion that can hold up in winter conditions, the MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are our pick.


Helinox Passport FL120 Trekking Poles
Honorable Mention

  • Cost: $$
  • Materials: Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 10.2 oz
  • Why They’re Awesome: Ultralight construction, adjustable length, 5-year guarantee

Helinox is know for its lightweight camping chairs and equipment, but it also makes lightweight, durable trekking poles. The Helinox Passport FL120 Trekking Poles are a lesser-known product, but are beloved by Helinox fans and serious hikers alike. The telescoping design makes the length adjustable on the go, and they’re backed by the most generous guarantee of any brand on our list – Helinox’s 5-year warranty.

These poles were a close contender for our “Best Lightweight” title because they’re almost exactly the same weight as the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z’s and have an adjustable length. They’re also a bit less expensive. However, the Helinox Passport FL120s haven’t been tested long enough for us to know how durable they are in comparison to the Black Diamonds. We’ll definitely be updating our rankings accordingly based on what we find!


REI Co-op Trailbreak
Honorable Mention

  • Cost: $
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Weight: 17 oz (1 lb, 1 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Budget-friendly, strong aluminum construction, adjustable telescoping design

For hikers on a budget, the REI Co-op Trailbreak trekking poles are another fantastic option at just $60 a pair. These poles are great for casual hikers who only need poles occasionally, or those wanting to get their hands on a pair of good aluminum poles at a lower price point. With a telescoping design, you can adjust the height to your preferences (or share them with friends) and an aluminum construction means they’re less likely to break than a carbon fiber pair.

While the REI Trailbreak poles are a great value, they’re not built to last like some of the other products we recommend. They’re also a bit heavier than their lighter carbon counterparts. Plus, they’re a little more expensive than our pick for the best budget poles, the Cascade Mountain Tech poles (above), which is why those ultimately won our “Best on a Budget” title.


Black Diamond Alpine Cork
Honorable Mention

  • Cost: $$$
  • Materials: Carbon
  • Weight: 17 oz (1 lb, 1 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Very sturdy, comfortable cork handles, adjustable telescoping design

For rugged, four-season adventurers, the Black Diamond Alpine Cork trekking poles are an absolutely fantastic option. The telescoping carbon shaft provides a versatile, lightweight pole, and the cork grips feel high-quality and sturdy in our hands. Because they’re both lightweight and extra sturdy, they’re a wonderful balance for serious four season adventurers.

The downside? They’re overkill for most hikers, catering specifically to the serious backcountry mountaineer or winter adventurer. During warmer seasons or on less rugged terrain, you definitely won’t need a heavy-duty pair of trekking poles like these. They’re also considerably more expensive than our recommended “Best Four Season” poles, the MSR DynaLock Ascents. However, if you’re an avid adventurer with a bit of extra cash, these are a great choice.


LEKI Makalu Lite Cor-Tec
Honorable Mention

  • Cost: $
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Weight: 17 oz (1 lb, 1 oz)
  • Why They’re Awesome: Sturdy telescoping aluminum construction, great price point for value, comfortable cork grips

As a sturdy aluminum option, the LEKI Makalu Lite Cor-Tec poles are worth considering as well. These poles offer one of the better prices on our list, have a lot of the best bells and whistles available, including cork grips, adjustable length, and a decently light construction.

Many reviewers mention that these poles aren’t as durable as some of the other models above, which is unexpected given their aluminum construction. We’ve heard better things about the similar Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork’s durability over many miles and long periods of time. However, at this price point paired with LEKI’s 1-year warranty, the LEKI Makalu Lite Cor-Tec poles are a solid option.


Additional Resources

There are few things hikers dread more than a painful blister on the trail. While modern sock designs and materials help alleviate the issues that contribute to blisters – excess moisture, bumps and knots, and skin chafing – sometimes this isn’t enough for the most blister-prone hikers. Sock liners are a simple and effective option for blister prevention that many hikers swear by. We created this guide to the best hiking sock liners that you can pair with socks for comfortable, blister-free hiking.

What are Sock Liners?

Sock liners are exactly what they sound like: a thin, breathable sock worn underneath lightweight, midweight, or heavy weight hiking socks. These are usually made of breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that provides extra comfort while hiking long distances. Sock liners can reduce sweat and moisture, provide additional warmth, and offer additional cushioning underneath your main hiking socks.

Why Should I Wear a Sock Liner?

Whether you choose to wear a sock liner is a personal decision, but they can help you feel drier and more comfortable on the trails. Hikers typically wear sock liners for a few reasons:

  • Blister prevention: Sock liners can help mitigate the formation of blisters by wicking moisture and reducing chafing and friction in areas where the foot comes in close contact with your boots like the toes and heels. Moisture softens the skin on your foot, making it more prone to painful blisters. The best liners for blister prevention are made from comfortable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Warmth: Certain types of sock liners can provide an additional thermal layer underneath hiking socks during cold weather hikes. These thermal liners can keep your feet dry and warm in icy, frigid temperatures.
  • Extra cushion & comfort: While most hiking socks are designed to be super comfortable, some hikers do prefer to bring a pair of sock liners along for extra comfort and cushioning on multi-day hikes or backpacking trips.

Choosing the Best Hiking Sock Liners

Hiking socks are kind of like an invisible force – the best ones are the ones you never have to think about. If a pair of socks is painful, irritating, or constantly damp, it becomes an annoyance and hazard on the trails. On the other hand, if your hiking socks are dry, warm, and comfortable, you won’t think twice about how you feet feel on your hike. With that said, there are a few main factors that contribute to a sock’s comfort and performance in most trail conditions. Each of these criteria factored into our evaluation of the socks in this guide (and should factor into your purchasing decisions, too!).

Materials & Weight

What a liner is made of is the #1 most important aspect to consider when choosing a pair. The best hiking sock liners should be made of very lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics. Fabrics like cotton are a no-go for hiking sock liners because they promote moisture buildup which can cause chafing and blisters.

Instead, opt for moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics like the following:

  • Merino wool (our favorite)
  • Silk
  • Polypropylene
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Spandex

When you wear the sock liner, it shouldn’t add much additional bulk to your foot. Instead, the liner should fit line a glove inside the sock and the two should hug your foot seamlessly, without lumps or wrinkles. Some people prefer the feel of certain fabrics more than others, so we’d recommend trying out a few different materials before deciding.

Design, Length & Comfort

Next, you’ll want to consider the sock design. While it might seem to make sense to purchase hiking sock liners that are shorter than your socks, this can pose annoying issues later if you need to adjust the liners. Because of this, we actually recommend purchasing liners that are the same length or slightly longer than your socks so you can adjust them on the move.

Additionally, you’ll want to avoid sock liners with too many obvious seams or other bumps that can rub against your skin. The simpler the sock liner, the better!

The sock liners should feel lightweight and comfortable on your feet. The last thing you want is something that’s itchy, uneven, or uncomfortable in any way. The best hiking sock liners you can put on and forget about!


Lastly, you’ll want to consider durability. This is fairly self-explanatory, but your sock liners should be durable for those tough hikes and miles of trail. Choosing a sock liner company that provides a lifetime guarantee (or at least one that lasts several years) is a great way to ensure you’ll always have a pair on hand – and the company will replace any products that don’t meet your expectations.

Best Hiking Sock Liners for Any Adventure

Injinji Liner Crew
Overall Best Hiking Sock Liners – Tie

  • Materials: 75% COOLMAX, 21% Nylon, 4% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Toe sock construction offers additional protection against blisters, liners are thin and ultra lightweight

When I first heard about toe socks for hiking and running, I scoffed and said, “yeah right.” But before I knocked Injinji’s toe socks completely off my radar, I decided to give them a whirl on a few hikes. Needless to say, after trying out these unique hiking socks, I was hooked.

That’s why we think the Injinji Liner Crew socks are the absolute best out there for moisture reduction and blister prevention. With your toes separated by the COOLMAX fabric blend, these liners are even more effective than normal socks at ensuring your feet stay dry, chafe-free, and comfortable. Blister prevention isn’t the only pro of these toe sock liners – Injinji claims its socks offer a whole host of benefits, like better foot utilization.

While we were pleasantly surprised by the toe sock design, it’s not for everyone. Some people may find that the liners feel strange on their feet or are difficult to put on, especially in humid or wet conditions. That’s why the Injinji tied for Best Overall with the REI Silk Sock Liners (below). However, if you haven’t hiked in toe socks before, we’d recommend giving them a try!


REI Silk Liner Crew
Overall Best Hiking Sock Liners – Tie

  • Materials: 51% Silk, 47% Nylon, 2% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Ultra lightweight, excellent moisture-wicking properties

For a thin, sturdy, moisture-wicking sock liner, the REI Silk Crew Liners is our other pick for the best hiking sock liners. It’s not common to find silk in outdoor gear because it has a reputation for being fragile, but the silk blend found in these REI’s liners makes them considerably more lightweight than other blends made from wool or nylon.

We love these because they fit into our hiking socks effortlessly, and the thin but sturdy construction doesn’t add extra bulk to our feet. The silk and nylon blend wicks moisture really well, minimizing the risk of moisture buildup, chafing, and blisters. At less than $15, these liners won’t break the bank and are backed by REI’s 1-year quality guarantee.

While most customers don’t have any problems with durability, there have been some reports that these silk sock liners are less durable than nylon or wool liners. In our view, this is a trade off we’re willing to make because they’re thinner and more breathable under our socks, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. Overall, these sock liners are our favorites and make a fantastic companion to any pair of your favorite hiking socks.


Wrightsock Adventure Crew Hiking Socks
Best Hiking Socks With Built In Liners

  • Materials: 78% Polyester, 16% Nylon, 6% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Hiking socks with built in liners combine the best of both worlds

Why have separate liners and socks when you can get both in one product? The Wrightsock Adventure Crew Hiking Socks are dual-layer hiking socks with built in, moisture-wicking liners that were designed specifically to prevent blisters and chafing on the trails. All of Wrightsock’s products boast blister prevention qualities, and these socks – created specifically for tough hikes and backpacking trips – are a fantastic option if you’re looking for a built-in liner. Many customers rave about the comfort and warmth provided by these socks, and we think they’re especially great for those who prefer plush socks to hike in.

While the socks are great, reviewers say that Wrightsock’s customer service is not. Multiple people expressed dissatisfaction about not receiving orders for weeks and receiving no assistance from the company. While this is usually a deal breaker for us, the fact that you can order from REI and Amazon (and receive shipments from them directly) makes us feel a little better about recommending them. Proceed with caution!


Icebreaker Liner Crew
Best for Cold Weather

  • Materials: 55% Merino wool, 43% Nylon, 2% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Merino wool blend effectively manages moisture and odor in all temperatures, soft and comfortable for long hikes

One of our favorite all-season hiking sock liners is the Icebreaker Liner Crew. Made of Merino wool, these super breathable sock liners perform well in hot weather as well as colder climates. The soft, sturdy fabric blend helps to wick sweat and moisture, while also managing odors for hours on end. While you can use these year-round, they’re the best on our list for cold temperatures because the wool provides additional warmth that the other products on our list do not.

A few users have complained of durability issues with the Icebreaker liners, but they’re covered under the lifetime sock guarantee, so you can always request a replacement if yours wear out.


Fox River X-Static Ultra Lightweight Crew Liner
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 60% Polypropylene, 20% Nylon, 19% X-Static nylon, 1% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Silver coated nylon provides extra temperature regulation

Created to be extra effective at moisture and odor reduction, the Fox River X-Static Ultra Lightweight Crew Liners are many hikers’ go-to sock liners. Using a polypropylene fabric blend, these ultra thin socks will help your feet stay super dry in your hiking socks. Many people love the feel of these liners with and without hiking socks on top.

One of the biggest drawbacks of these sock liners, in our opinion, is the fact that you have to hand wash them. As active hikers, we don’t always have the time to hand wash (and dry) our gear, so this added step feels irritating and time-consuming. Additionally, reviewers have complained that these socks are not durable and can wear out quickly if you hike too hard in them. Because of this, our preference for sock liners lies elsewhere, but these are a great, super light option.


Wigwam COOLMAX Liner
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 62% Coolmax, 37% Stretch Nylon, 1% Spandex
  • Why It’s Awesome: Least expensive of all liners on our list, Coolmax fabric helps with temperature regulation

For budget-conscious hikers, the Wigwam COOLMAX Liner is a decent choice and is the most affordable on our list. These are no-frills sock liners made of Coolmax to prevent moisture buildup and stretchy fabrics to enable a wide range of motion. The Wigwam COOLMAX liners are also some of the longer ones on our list, making them easier to adjust while wearing hiking socks on top.

These socks are a good value for the price, but there are a few drawbacks. First, they’re less snug than the other options on our list, and some customers have complained about discomfort from bunching or from the ridges of the fabric. Second, they only come in white, which can get dirty really easily when tackling dusty or muddy trails. However, we’d still recommend these as a good budget sock liner option.


Additional Resources

Every hiker knows that dry, cushioned feet are the happiest feet. A few high-quality pairs of hiking socks can mean the difference between having sweaty, painful feet and being ready to tackle miles of trails ahead. This may come as a surprise to some, but not all socks are created equal, and the best hiking socks have a few critical qualities that are required to keep feet dry and blister-free in your hiking boots.

To narrow down our selection of the best hiking socks, we went through a rigorous research and testing process. Our investigation started with a list of dozens of different socks and brands. Using a mixture of professional review websites, customer reviews, product pages, and our own hiking experiences and standards, we used a very informed and practical approach to narrow down our list and create this guide. We hope it helps you find the best hiking socks for your budget and preferences!

Choosing the Best Hiking Socks

Hiking socks are kind of like an invisible force – the best ones are the ones you never have to think about. If a pair of socks is painful, irritating, or constantly damp, it becomes an annoyance and hazard on the trails. On the other hand, if your hiking socks are dry, warm, and comfortable, you won’t think twice about how you feet feel on your hike. With that said, there are a few main factors that contribute to a sock’s comfort and performance in most trail conditions. Each of these criteria factored into our evaluation of the socks in this guide (and should factor into your purchasing decisions, too!).

Materials & Breathability

What a sock is made of is the #1 most important aspect to consider when choosing a pair of socks for hiking. You may notice that there are exactly zero hiking socks on our list that include cotton as part of the fabric. Cotton absorbs moisture and dirt and doesn’t wick sweat, so we’d strongly recommend to steer very clear of any “hiking socks” that have cotton as an ingredient. Instead, opt for moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics like the following:

  • Merino wool (our favorite)
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Spandex

Breathability comes as a result of purchasing socks made from the right materials. While the weight and design (see below for more information on these) do play a role in a sock’s breathability, you can be confident that any socks made of the above materials are breathable enough to stay dry and comfortable on the trails.


“Weight” is a term used to describe the thickness of a sock. Lighter weight material is typically thinner and less cushioned, while midweight and heavy weight socks offer more cushion (and are typically larger and bulkier). Lightweight, midweight, and heavy weight socks are useful in different scenarios. During hot summer days or shorter, less technical hikes, a lighter weight sock is usually our go-to. For longer, more strenuous hikes or backpacking trips, we’d generally recommend a midweight or heavy weight sock.

Your hiking boots may also play a role in which sock weight you should choose, as certain boots may fit more comfortably with certain sock weights. Because of this, we always recommend trying on socks with your hiking boots (not on their own, or with different shoes) so you can get a feel for how they’ll perform.

Design & Comfort

A sock’s design and fit on your foot are an essential component to its performance on the trails. Generally, when it comes to hiking socks, the “less is more” trope rings true. Socks with too many bells and whistles can be cumbersome and downright uncomfortable at times. However, some sock manufacturers have mastered their sock designs to add more cushion where it matters, like near the toes, the ball of your foot, and the heel.

Design, combined with materials and weight, usually dictate how comfortable a sock will feel. You always want your socks to be snug and fit comfortably around your foot, without any bumps or sagging fabric. A good sock design can also help prevent blisters and foot pain, a huge plus for avid hikers who spend hours on the trails each day!

Although it may seem trivial, a sock’s color or visual design can also factor into your purchasing decisions! Personally, I like bright colors and fun patterns, so if all other elements are equal, I’ll usually choose a pair that’s fun and bold. Most sock brands do offer multiple colors in each product line, so you’ll often have lots of choices when you go to pick out a pair.


Lastly, one of the final things we considered when determining the best hiking socks was durability. The last thing you want is for your socks to start falling apart or tearing a hole while you’re in the middle of a long hike – ouch! Spending a little bit more and reading customer reviews to get a tough, durable pair of socks is always worth it in the long run.

We also love it when a brand stands behind their products. All of the brands on our list offer some kind of warranty on their products, which is fantastic in the event that your socks do get damaged or aren’t functioning/fitting properly. Some brands, like Darn Tough and Smartwool, even offer a lifetime guarantee on their products! If you’re an avid hiker, these warranties and guarantees are absolutely something to consider when choosing the best hiking socks for you.


While we try not to let price factor too much into our evaluations, this is a very important consideration for you hikers out there. While hiking socks generally aren’t too expensive, you’ll typically need a few different pairs for your adventures. At $15 to $30 per pair, these costs can quickly add up!

Because the differences in price are fairly negligible across the different brands, we don’t recommend basing your entire decision on price alone. Just keep it in mind as you evaluate the options.

Best Hiking Socks for Any Trail or Adventure

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew
Overall Best Hiking Socks

  • Materials: 58% Merino Wool, 39% Nylon, 3% Elastane
  • Notable Features: Majority Merino wool blend, thoughtful and comfortable performance design, outstanding durability

Hands down, our pick for the overall best hiking socks are the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks. Made of a merino wool blend, these socks do it all: wick sweat and moisture, keep your feet clean and protected, and offer lots of cushion in the areas where your feet need it the most. Smartwool makes versions of this sock for women and men so you can find the perfect fit no matter your foot size. We like the lightweight (Light Crew) version for all-around hiking, but the PhD line also has a midweight crew option for more strenuous excursions.

Smartwool’s PhD line stands for “Performance to the Highest Degree,” and we’d agree that these socks outperform nearly every other sock on our list. Featuring extra durable Indestructawool technology, as well as a Virtually Seamless™ toe, Smartwool took all the best parts of every sock to create the perfect companion for any hike or adventure. While we also love our runner up – the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew socks – the Smartwool PhD line won our hearts (and feet) because the merino wool blend is just so freakin’ comfortable.

In addition to their incredibly tough Indestructawool materials, Smartwool’s socks are backed by their 2-Year Guarantee, which means they’ll replace defective/damaged gear within two years of purchasing. While not quite as generous as the Darn Tough Lifetime Guarantee (see the next section for more information), I’ve never actually had to use this guarantee because my Smartwool socks are the most durable I own. I’ve taken my Smartwool socks on hundreds of miles and 5+ years of adventures, so these socks are here to stay.


Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew
A Very, Very Close Runner Up

  • Materials: 54% Nylon, 43% Merino Wool, 3% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Darn Tough’s Lifetime Guarantee, thoughtful design, exceptional durability

Our runner up is only second place in name – the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is one of the absolute best hiking socks out there. For years, I’ve used these socks interchangeably with the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks for virtually all of my day hiking adventures. While the materials of the Darn Tough socks are slightly different, they’re still incredibly high-performing (and comfortable) hiking socks that wick sweat and provide cushion in all of the most important places. There’s a reason why almost every review site names Darn Tough socks as the best hiking socks on the market!

We love the snug fit and breathability of Darn Tough’s Light Hiker Micro Crew socks. They’re not too bulky, but they still provide the right amount of cushion to nurture your feet after miles and miles of hiking. Personally, I’ve taken these socks out on long day hikes and even a few overnight adventures, and they’ve held up without a single hitch. Additionally, Darn Tough socks come in a super wide variety of colors and designs, which means it’s always a fun experience to pick out a brand new pair!

Founded in Vermont, Darn Tough’s brand and products are built for tough terrain and miles of trails. Their Lifetime Guarantee isn’t something you see too often in the outdoor industry anymore, and it’s literally as good as it sounds – free replacement for damaged products, for life. While we prefer the softer, Merino wool heavy blend of Smartwool’s socks, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tip our hats to Darn Tough for making arguably the best outdoor socks on the market today. Again, I’ve never had to actually use my Lifetime Guarantee, because years later my Darn Tough socks are still kicking just as strong as the day I got them!


Farm to Feet Damascus Hiker
Best Backpacking Socks

  • Materials: 52% Nylon, 44% Wool, 4% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Targeted cushioning, snug fit, made of 100% USA locally-sourced materials

While any of our favorite hiking socks would be suitable for multi-day hikes, few were created specifically for backpacking. The Farm to Feet Damascus Hiker socks were designed specifically for thru-hikers on major US trails, like the Appalachian Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and more. Inspired by the beautiful public lands in the USA, these socks are a testament to exploring the wilderness on foot.

Farm to Feet’s unique proposition is that their products are 100% sourced and made in the United States from local farmers and manufacturers. Their Damascus socks, named after a well-known stop along the Appalachian Trail, is a favorite of serious hikers, backpackers, and backcountry aficionados alike.

Our favorite thing about the Damascus socks is their lightweight construction, with a snug fit and really comfortable cushioning on the toe and heel area. They feel super sturdy and tough, but they’re also quite comfortable and the slight compression is a welcome addition. For backpackers, the lightweight feel, breathable materials, and thoughtful cushioning make the Farm to Feet Damascus socks a perfect companion.


Darn Tough COOLMAX Hiker Micro Crew Midweight
Best Synthetic (Non-Wool) Hiking Socks

  • Materials: Women’s – 39% Nylon, 34% Coolmax® Polyester, 19% Acrylic, 5% Polyester, 3% Lycra® Spandex; Men’s – 55% Coolmax® Polyester, 37% Nylon, 5% Acrylic, 3% Lycra® Spandex
  • Notable Features: Plush midweight feel, stretchy materials and construction, lots of colors

As someone with sensitive skin, I know wool blends aren’t for everyone. Luckily, there are some fantastic performance hiking socks that are made entirely synthetic materials, like the Darn Tough COOLMAX Hiker Micro Crew Midweight socks. These midweight socks look and feel similar to Darn Tough’s other midweight options, but are meticulously designed for comfort and moisture-wicking. Made with COOLMAX materials designed for optimal breathability and moisture wicking in hot environments, these are outstanding four-season socks that rival some of the Merino wool options out there.

Because Merino wool reduces odors and naturally wicks moisture, don’t be surprised if these non-wool socks are a little smellier at the end of the day than their woolen counterparts. Additionally, the materials are a little tougher and less cushy that Darn Tough’s Merino blend socks. However, if you’re in the market for wool-free synthetic hiking socks, it’s hard to beat the Darn Tough COOLMAX Hiker socks.


Meriwool Unisex Hiking Socks
Best Budget Hiking Socks

  • Materials: 75% Merino Wool, 15% Nylon, and 10% Elastic
  • Notable Features: Soft merino wool construction, very affordable

If you’re a hiker on a budget who is deterred by the $20+ price tag of the other socks on our list, the Meriwool Unisex Hiking Socks are a fantastic option. For the price – 3 pairs for $19 at the time of writing – you can’t beat these 75% Merino wool hiking socks. Cushioned, odor-crushing, and comfortable, the Meriwool socks are the best truly budget Merino wool hiking socks we’ve found thus far. The Amazon reviews speak for themselves – nearly 3,200 customers have left reviews for these hiking socks, and 93% of those reviews were 4 or 5 stars.

While the Meriwool socks are a great value, there is a bit of a sacrifice in quality and fit. Because they’re 75% Merino wool, these socks are much bulkier than some of the lighter options on our list. They also get hot and damp much more quickly, and we would not recommend using these in warm or humid weather. There have been lots of concerns from customers about durability, but given that you get 3 pairs of these socks for around the price of one pair of any other socks on our list, the Meriwool hiking socks are still a fantastic budget option.


Injinji Trail Midweight Crew
Best Hiking Socks to Prevent Blisters

  • Materials: 39% COOLMAX, 58% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Unique toe sock design helps toe chafing and blisters, well-cushioned and breathable, lots of fun colors and styles

When I first heard about toe socks for hiking and running, I scoffed and said, “yeah right.” But before I knocked toe socks completely off my radar, I decided to give them a whirl on a few hikes. Needless to say, after trying out the Injinji Trail Midweight Crew socks, we are total converts over here!

These strange-looking socks are made of COOLMAX and other synthetic fabrics, so they’re suitable for wool lovers and wool-free folks alike. The Injinji Trail Crew socks are the best hiking socks to prevent blisters because they separate your toes and prevent skin chafing. Pair that design with the moisture-wicking, cooling properties of the COOLMAX fabric and you’ve got a perfect setup for blister-free hiking.

Blister prevention isn’t the only pro of these toe socks – Injinji claims its socks offer a whole host of benefits, like better arch support and foot utilization. They also come in a lot of fun colors and patterns, perfect for showing off your snazzy toe socks to the rest of the hiking world.

While we ended up enjoying the toe sock design, it’s not for everyone. Some people may find that the socks feel strange on their feet or are difficult to put on. We also wouldn’t recommend them for especially wet hikes or stream crossings – the socks can be even more difficult to take on and off when wet. However, if you’re looking for a fantastic alternative to the traditional sock design, Injinji toe socks might just be your new favorites.


REI Merino Wool Hiking Socks
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 79% Merino wool, 20% Nylon, 1% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Very soft and comfortable, thick cushioning, budget-friendly

Our first honorable mention is one near and dear to my heart – REI Merino Wool Hiking Socks. These are the very first hiking-specific socks I ever bought, and I still have the very first pair I purchased all those years ago. REI has some of the best hiking socks on the market, and while they’re relatively no-frills, they’re great for easy hikes and backcountry treks alike. REI’s socks come in a variety of weights, colors, and lengths, so you can pick and choose a specific model based on your hiking preferences and difficulty level.

What we love the most about the REI Merino Wool Hiking Socks is that they’re really, really comfortable, and they keep your feet cushioned and odor-free all day on the trail. In fact, the REI Expedition Hiking Crew Socks I bought for my first multi-day hiking trip are still some of the comfiest I own. They also cost considerably less than the $20+ socks offered by other brands, making them more budget-friendly and affordable for a high-quality offering.

While I’d be the first person to recommend the REI Merino Wool Hiking Socks, they are a little bulkier than some of the other brands and lightweight products we have on our list. If you aren’t extra careful about sizing, you may find that the socks bunch up around the toes, since these socks are less fitted than others. Additionally, some of my pairs have become a little threadbare over many miles of hiking (while my Darn Tough and Smartwool socks still look basically new).

With a 1-year guarantee, REI doesn’t offer as much generosity for replacement as some other brands, but if you’re in the market for high-quality, budget-friendly hiking socks, these are a fabulous option.


Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light No-Show Tab
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 46% Nylon, 25% Wool, 25% Tencel, 4% Spandex
  • Notable Features: No-show construction is perfect for trail runners or low-cut hiking boots, can pair as running socks

With the rise of more minimal hiking footwear like trail runners and low-cut boots, socks like the Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light No-Show Tab are a great no-show sock option for the trails. These ultra lightweight socks are best used for shorter or more relaxed hikes, and offer great comfort and stretch on the trails. The biggest draw of the Feetures Merino 10 socks aretheir thin, minimalist design, which many casual hikers love, especially in warmer seasons and climates.

Because the Feetures Merino 10 isn’t a true “hiking sock,” it’s not a great option for long, strenuous hikes or multi-day treks in the backcountry. We also wouldn’t recommend these in colder climates or during the winter. However, for a lightweight, versatile summer hiking sock, we’d recommend these to anyone.


Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 90% Merino wool, 10% Nylon
  • Notable Features: High percentage of Merino wool, lightweight, wacky colors and patterns

Patagonia is at it again, this time with the Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew socks. We love Patagonia gear because it’s functional and durable, and these Merino wool socks are no exception. Stylish, fun, and practical, the Lightweight Merino Performance Crew socks are one of the top contenders for the best hiking socks because they tick all the right boxes. We especially love these socks because they’re versatile enough to wear for hiking or for daily use. With a whopping 90% Merino wool blend, these socks wick moisture and sweat, feel super soft, and won’t stink even on hot, humid days.

While the Patagonia socks have all the necessary requirements for great hiking socks, they don’t excel in any one area. These socks are a little less form-fitting and specialized than some of the more performance oriented socks on our list, but a little less cushy than the heavier weight ones. The Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew socks are simply a great all-around hiking/everyday sock, and we’re totally okay with that.


Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew
Honorable Mention

  • Materials: 61% Merino wool, 37% Nylon, 2% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Backed by a lifetime guarantee, soft and breathable material

No matter the season or the terrain, the Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew is a fabulous choice for hiking socks. While they’re less well-known than the big names in hiking socks – think Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Patagonia – these socks pack a real punch on the trails and are beloved by many. As a lightweight option, these socks are super soft and breathable, and the Merino wool blend nips odors and sweat in the bud.

While these are great all-season socks for day hiking, we wouldn’t recommend them for longer, more strenuous hikes or backpacking, as the cushion is a little thinner than other models on our list. Additionally, some reviewers have complained that these socks begin to stretch and lose their shape over time. If this happens, no worries – you can simply send them in under Icebreaker’s Lifetime Sock Guarantee and get yourself a brand new pair.


The Bottom Line: Which Hiking Socks Should You Pick?

The beauty of socks is that you can have several pairs of them! If it were up to us, we’d tell you to get a pair of each of these fantastic hiking socks. While we strongly recommend the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew and Darn Tough Light Hiker Crew socks, we’d encourage you to try on and purchase a few different pairs that you can use for any climate, conditions, or occasion.

Additional Resources

Every hiker knows that the right clothing and gear can mean the difference between an incredible hike and a miserable one. A solid pair of men’s hiking pants can provide comfort and breathability for your legs, which work very hard on tough trails. Not all hiking pants are created equal, and having a few high-quality pairs can enable countless fantastic hikes in all different kinds of terrain and climates. We created this guide to the best hiking pants for men so you can find the perfect pair for your next outdoor adventure!

See Also: Best Hiking Pants for Women for Comfort on Every Trail

To narrow down our selection of the best hiking pants for men, we went through a rigorous research and testing process. Our investigation started with a list of dozens of products and brands. Using a mixture of professional review websites, customer reviews, product pages, and our own hiking experiences, we used a very informed and practical approach to narrow down our list and create this guide. We hope it helps you find the best pair of men’s hiking pants for your budget and preferences.

What to Look for In Hiking Pants for Men


In our opinion, one of the most important aspects of any men’s hiking pants is their breathability. A high-quality pair of hiking pants is always made of materials that allow airflow and prevent hot air from getting trapped next to your skin. Otherwise, your legs will get sweaty while hiking and that moisture will build up inside of your pants, which feels gross and uncomfortable.

There are lots of different materials that are breathable – some of our favorites include hemp fabrics, synthetics like nylon or polyester, and Merino wool (for colder conditions). Our best recommendation when choosing hiking pants for men is to avoid cotton fabrics and instead opt for a material that touts “sweat-wicking” or “moisture-wicking” properties.


Another important trait of any men’s hiking pants is stretchiness. Any decent pair of hiking pants needs to provide a full range of movement without ripping or coming apart. This will enable you to scramble over rocks, hop over downed trees, or climb steep trails without feeling like your pants are preventing certain movements. Similar to breathability, certain fabrics like Spandex are better for this, but the best way to determine stretchiness in any pair of men’s hiking pants is to try them on.


So you’ve found a pair of pants that’s breathable and stretchy. Awesome! The next thing you need to look for is durability, because the last thing you want is to buy a pair of men’s hiking pants that gets destroyed immediately after a few tough hikes. The best pair of hiking pants should last you for many, many miles of hiking.

You won’t be able to test this when you try on a pair of pants, but reading online reviews and asking friends for recommendations can absolutely help. Additionally, many companies (REI, PrAna, etc.) offer guarantees on the quality of their gear and will allow returns if it fails to hold up on the trails.

Comfort, Fit, & Style

While highly subjective, comfort, fit, and style should absolutely factor into your purchasing decisions for hiking pants. Any pair of gear you buy should feel amazing on your body and fit in with your preferences and desired aesthetic (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!).

Here are some of the style and fit elements men may consider:

  • Design (e.g., straight leg pants, cargo pants, leggings, etc.)
  • Baggy or slimmer fit
  • Comfort of the materials
  • Number of pockets and storage areas
  • Color and patterns

Some of these might sound silly, but if you’re going to spend money on some of the best hiking pants, you should absolutely find ones that look and feel great on your body.


While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual pairs of hiking pants for men, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a pair for yourself. The best hiking pants aren’t always the most expensive. Typically, we’ve found that high-quality men’s hiking pants range from $50-100, but there’s a lot of variability within that range.

For the purposes of this review, we’ve grouped these hiking pants into three price tiers:

  • $ = Under $60
  • $$ = $60 to $100
  • $$$ = $100+
walking along trials and listening to podcasts is one way to get inspired for your next outdoor adventure!

Best Men’s Hiking Pants for Any Budget

PrAna Brion Pants
Best Overall Hiking Pants for Men (Tie)

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Stylish, slim fit, adjustable waist belt, extra cargo pocket, lots of colors to choose from

Whether you’re hiking, climbing, or simply wandering around your city’s urban trails, the PrAna Brion Pants top our list for the best hiking pants for men. Made of nylon and spandex, these pants offer superior comfort, stretch, and durability on and off the trail. The Brion pants’ stylish fit and design make them nearly indistinguishable from normal pants you’d wear out with friends or in a “business casual” setting.

Everyone who has a pair – including some of our own team members – raves about them. Many customers even have several pairs in different colors in their closets, a testament to their versatility and durability. One customer we spoke with remarked, “they fit great, they look like normal pants I’d wear out, but they’re also super tough and don’t wear easily. I wore mine for several days in the backcountry and they looked as good as new.”

Like any pair of hiking pants for men, the fit won’t be perfect on everyone. Some men complain that the pants are a little too wide at the bottom for their tastes (although, in some cases, the non-slim fit can actually be helpful in wearing with hiking boots!). Additionally, our in-house reviewer commented on the fabric’s tendency to attract things like dust and pet hair. The darker colors seem to be worse for this than others, so choose accordingly.


Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Runner-Up for Best Men’s Hiking Pants

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Made from recycled materials, lots of color options, fantastic multi-use pants,

If you’re an avid hiker who hasn’t heard of the Coalatree Trailhead Pants yet, you’re missing out. Our favorite thing about the Trailhead Pants? They’ve got 12% spandex, which is one of the highest percentages of stretch material of any pants listed on here. We chose the Coalatree Trailhead Pants as our runner up for the best men’s hiking pants because of their comfort, versatility, and durability.

While Coalatree is a newcomer in the outdoor gear industry, customers rave about their products for any kind of outdoor activity, especially out on the trails. Created to fit a variety of body types and sizes, the Coalatree Trailhead Pants are unisex and come in two fits, Slim and Regular. They’re also designed to be packed and stuffed into one of the front pockets so you can stash them easily in a weekender bag or backpack. It’s clear that Coalatree took every piece of hiker feedback and designed the Trailhead Pants with the details in mind.

With that said, there are a few things to note about the Trailhead Pants. Because the pants are unisex, they can take a few tries to get the sizing right. Based on reviews, there doesn’t seem to be a single pattern of fit problems, but rather that people ordered the pant size they normally order and experienced either too snug or too loose of a fit. If it’s your first time ordering these pants, don’t be surprised if you have to go through a trial and error process. Additionally, the design of the pants is a bit unique, with a baggier look that includes ankle ties. For some, this style is great because it enables movement, but it might not be for everyone.


Columbia Silver Ridge Pants
Best Budget Hiking Pants for Men

  • Price: $
  • Materials: 100% Nylon
  • Notable Features: Convertible zip-off design that can be worn as pants or shorts, lots of pockets, included waist belt

If you’ve read any of our other gear guides, you’ll know that we love Columbia gear for its durable construction and budget-friendly prices. The Columbia Silver Ridge Pants are some of the best hiking pants for men that you can get at an affordable price point. These convertible hiking pants – made of sweat-wicking nylon – double as shorts during warmer weather. With a large variety of sizes and colors, Columbia always makes it easy to find a pair of pants that fits any body type.

While the Silver Ridge pants are a fantastic companion, they’ve got a couple of traits to be aware of. Because they don’t have any spandex, these pants are considerably less stretchy than some of the others on our list, like the Coalatree Trailhead Pants. Additionally, some reviewers complain that the materials are slightly thinner and less thermal than those made of higher-quality materials, so they don’t provide much warmth during cold weather. Lastly, the zip-off style isn’t for everyone, so if you prefer a more “street-ready” style, the Columbia Silver Ridge pants may not be the best choice for you.


Patagonia Terrebonne Joggers
Best Lightweight Men’s Hiking Pants

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 100% Stretch Polyester
  • Notable Features: Jogger pant style, stretchy and lightweight, durable water repellent finish

For those seeking ultra light hiking pants, the Patagonia Terrebonne Joggers are possibly the best option on the market. Don’t be fooled by these ultra light pants – they’re made of stretchy polyester for optimal movement and wick sweat and moisture during warm and cold weather. Men love these pants because they’re super comfy but also perform well on hikes, trail runs, and other outdoor activities. They also double as great travel, work from home, or loungewear pants because they look and feel so great.

Because these pants are so lightweight, they aren’t quite as durable as some of the tougher hiking pants on our list. They also aren’t the best crossover pants for climbers because the material is a bit thin for the movement required. Otherwise, there aren’t many drawbacks with these pants at all, and many reviewers state that they’d buy these pants again in a heartbeat.


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Slim & stylish fit, very stretchy, lots of colors, ankle drawstring

Guys who hike and climb will enjoy the stretchy, breathable Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants. These are some of the stretchiest and most breathable hiking pants for men, with a whopping 14% Spandex fabric blend with plenty of pockets and room to move in any direction. They’re also very lightweight, perfect for longer hikes or backpacking trips. Many customers love these pants so much that they own multiple pairs, and with Outdoor Research’s variety of color options, you can mix your hiking wardrobe up.

The OR Ferrosi pants were actually contenders for our “Best Overall” category, but lost out to the PrAna Brion Pants and the Coalatree Trailhead Pants because of durability issues that several reviewers cited. While the slim fit may be appealing to some, it may feel too constricting to others, and a good number of reviewers have claimed that these pants didn’t fit properly around the waist area. These are absolutely a great option for hiking pants, but for extra tough hiking or backcountry activities, you may want to consider a different pair.


Arc’teryx Lefroy Pants
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: Aequora AirPerm fabric
  • Notable Features: Proprietary technical materials, slim fit, stretchy and durable design

Known for its top-quality outdoor gear, Arc’teryx is one of the most well-known brands in the industry. In terms of hiking pants for men, the Arc’teryx Lefroy Pants are a fantastic choice that many warm weather hikers absolutely love. The slim yet non-constricting fit combined with Arc’teryx’s proprietary Aequora AirPerm fabric provides a stretchy, breathable hiking pant that wicks sweat and moisture effortlessly. These pants are very durable and are suitable for shorter hikes and longer backcountry adventures alike.

Like any pair of men’s hiking pants, the Lefroy pants have a couple of drawbacks. In our view, the most staggering con is the price tag. Although the Arc’teryx Lefroy pants are really high-quality, we don’t think they’re worth the price for most hikers. You can get an absolutely fantastic pair of hiking pants for much less than the cost of one pair of these pants. Additionally, there are no back pockets, which many reviewers find annoying for daily use. Additionally, the material is designed to be used in warm weather only, so these pants don’t perform as well as others on our list in cooler or wetter conditions.


Kuhl Deceptr Pants
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 76% Nylon, 9% Polyester, 15% Spandex
  • Notable Features: Slim, minimalist fit, versatile, stretchy and breathable materials

If you’re a guy who likes the look and feel of slim, tapered pants, the Kuhl Deceptr Pants are one of our favorite picks for the best hiking pants for men. These are some true “street-ready” pants, which you can wear directly from the trails to a table at your favorite restaurant. Don’t be fooled about these pants’ minimal look – they’ve got six pockets for storage and super stretchy fabric that promotes a wide range of motion. The Deceptr Pants’ stylish fit, ikers who always want to be ready for the ‘gram

These are some of the slimmest pants on our list, so if you prefer baggier styles, these probably aren’t a great fit for you. Most of the complaints we read from reviewers were about the very slim fit, which is a pro to some and a con to others. Some men have also commented that the front pockets stick out or are quite visible through the pants, which may be a detractor for some.

*Note that return shipping if you buy directly from Kuhl is not free – it’s $7.50 and is deducted from the refund amount. We’d consider purchasing from a place like REI or Backcountry, which allow free returns.


Patagonia Quandary Pants
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: 95% Nylon/5% Spandex
  • Notable Features: 65% recycled materials, stretchy,

Another contender for the best hiking pants for men are the stylish and slim-fitting Patagonia Quandary Pants. These stretchy, breathable pants are great for hiking, scrambling, and climbing, but are also sleek enough to wear out for drinks or dinner afterward, too. One reviewer even said they were stylish enough to wear to a beach wedding! Patagonia’s unrivaled designs bring together style and pragmatism to bring the Quandary Pants, and it’s no surprise that these are a customer favorite.

Hikers that like having a lot of large, useful pockets in their pants may be disappointed at the size and slightly awkward positioning of the pockets in the Patagonia Quandary Pants. Many users complain that the side pockets are shallow than the average pair of men’s pants. Additionally, the pants are fairly slim-fitting, so if that’s not your jam, we’d recommend considering a different pair of men’s hiking pants.


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