Hiking in Jeans: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives – May 2023
Hiking in jeans is a controversial topic.
How often have we climbed to the peak of a mountain, covered in sweat and there is a guy sitting wearing skinny jeans munching on a bread roll?
Benefits of Hiking in Jeans
When it comes to hiking attire, jeans might not be the first choice that comes to mind, but there are actually several unexpected advantages to hitting the trails in denim.
Jeans Are Extremely Durable
One of the undeniable benefits of hiking in jeans is their exceptional durability.
Jeans, particularly those made from heavyweight denim, are built to withstand rugged conditions and tough environments.
The sturdy construction and tightly woven fabric make them resistant to tears, abrasions, and snagging on branches or rocks along the trail.
Whether you’re trekking through dense forests or scrambling up rocky slopes, you can count on your jeans to hold up against the elements.
With their long-lasting nature, you won’t have to worry about replacing them frequently like you might with other hiking pants.
Jeans Are Cheaper Than Most Hiking Pants
Opting for jeans can be a budget-friendly choice.
When compared to specialized hiking pants, jeans tend to come with a more affordable price tag.
High-quality hiking pants with technical features can be quite expensive, especially from well-known outdoor brands.
On the other hand, a good pair of jeans can offer you durability and functionality at a fraction of the cost.
If you already own a pair of jeans that fit comfortably and allow for freedom of movement, why not put them to use on the trails?
By choosing jeans over pricey hiking pants, you can save money without compromising on performance.
In saying that, if hiking is a hobby of yours, REI do have reasonably priced hiking pants.
Properly Fitted Jeans Will Be Very Comfortable and Breathable in the Right Conditions
The key is to find a pair that allows for freedom of movement without being too tight or too loose.
When you have jeans that hug your body in all the right places, you can enjoy a comfortable hiking experience.
Also, Jeans made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton blends or stretchy denim, can help regulate body temperature in the right conditions.
They allow for airflow and ventilation, preventing excessive sweating and keeping you cool and comfortable on the trail.
Of course, it’s essential to consider the weather and temperature before opting for jeans, as they may not be suitable for extremely hot or cold conditions.
Jeans Look Good
jeans have a timeless style that can’t be denied. One of the benefits of hiking in jeans is that they simply look good.
The rugged and classic aesthetic of denim has a way of effortlessly blending with the outdoor environment.
Whether you’re exploring nature’s wonders or capturing breathtaking views, a well-fitted pair of jeans can add a touch of style to your hiking ensemble.
They have a versatile appeal that works well with different types of tops and footwear, allowing you to express your personal style while enjoying the great outdoors.
So, if you want to feel confident and put together on your hiking adventures, don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of jeans.
Disadvantages of Hiking in Jeans
While there are some benefits to hiking in jeans, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks that come with this unconventional choice of attire.
Once Jeans Get Wet, They Become Heavy, Abrasive, and Lose Any Insulation Properties
Once they get wet, whether, from rain or sweat, they can become heavy, abrasive, and lose any insulation properties they might have had.
When denim fabric absorbs moisture, it retains it, making the jeans feel increasingly burdensome and uncomfortable as you hike.
As well as that, the wet fabric can rub against your skin, causing potential irritation and discomfort.
So, it’s important to be mindful of the weather conditions and choose appropriate moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials for your hiking adventures, especially in wet or rainy environments.
Jeans Take Forever to Dry
One of the downsides of hiking in jeans is their extended drying time.
If your jeans get wet during your hiking adventure, whether from rain, crossing streams, or even excessive sweating, they can take what feels like an eternity to dry.
Unlike specialized hiking pants made from moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics, jeans, especially thicker denim varieties, tend to retain moisture and stay wet for a prolonged period.
This can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, as the damp fabric can stick to your skin, causing chills and discomfort.
Additionally, carrying around wet jeans can add unnecessary weight to your backpack.
So, if you anticipate encountering wet conditions during your hike, it’s wise to opt for quick-drying hiking pants or consider bringing a spare pair of lightweight pants to change into, ensuring your comfort and avoiding the hassle of dealing with soggy jeans.
Jeans Are Much Heavier Compared to Hiking Pants
One thing that becomes apparent when hiking in jeans is their considerable weight compared to specialized hiking pants.
Jeans, particularly those made from thick denim, can be quite heavy, especially when they get wet.
Carrying around the extra weight can make your hiking experience more tiring and strenuous than necessary.
In contrast, hiking pants are designed with lightweight materials that prioritize comfort and ease of movement.
They are typically made from synthetic or blended fabrics that offer durability without adding unnecessary bulk.
In Winter, Jeans Will Freeze
When it comes to winter, to hike wearing jeans can pose a particular challenge as they have a tendency to freeze in cold weather conditions.
The moisture trapped in the fabric can turn into ice, making the jeans stiff and uncomfortable.
Not only does this restrict your movement, but it also leads to a loss of insulation properties, leaving you susceptible to cold temperatures.
In contrast, specialized winter hiking pants are designed to provide warmth and protection against the elements.
They often feature insulation, water-resistant or waterproof materials, and windproof properties, ensuring you stay comfortable and dry during your winter adventures.
On Longer Hikes, You’ll Start Chafing, Especially in Hot Weather
When it comes to longer hikes, the decision to wear jeans can lead to uncomfortable chafing, particularly in hot weather.
The friction caused by the denim rubbing against your skin, combined with sweat and heat, can quickly result in irritation and soreness.
Chafing can be a real nuisance, affecting your overall hiking experience and potentially causing discomfort that lasts even after the hike.
On the other hand, hiking pants made from lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable fabrics are designed to minimize friction and provide better ventilation, reducing the likelihood of chafing.
Investing in a pair of specialized hiking pants can make a huge difference in your comfort, allowing you to fully enjoy those longer hikes without the annoyance of chafed skin.
What Kind of Pants Should You Use Instead of Jeans for Hiking?
If you’re considering alternatives to jeans for your hiking adventures, you’re on the right track. Choosing the right kind of pants can greatly enhance your comfort, performance, and overall hiking experience.
Synthetic Hiking Pants
- Lightweight and quick-drying: Synthetic material such as nylon or polyester are designed to be lightweight, allowing for ease of movement during hikes. They also dry quickly, preventing discomfort caused by wet clothing fabric.
- Moisture-wicking capabilities: These fabrics excel at wicking away moisture from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable even during intense hikes or in wet conditions.
- Durability: Synthetic hiking pants are known for their durability, withstanding rough terrains and potential snagging on branches or rocks.
Merino Wool Leggings
- Natural temperature regulation: Merino wool has exceptional temperature-regulating properties, keeping you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather.
- Moisture-wicking properties: Merino wool naturally wicks away moisture from the body, helping to keep you dry and comfortable during your hikes.
- Odor resistance: Merino wool has inherent anti-microbial properties, minimizing the development of odors, even after prolonged use.
Stretchy and Breathable Pants
- Flexibility and freedom of movement: Stretchy pants provide a greater range of motion, allowing you to tackle challenging terrains with ease.
- Breathable fabrics: These pants are designed to provide ventilation, allowing for better airflow and preventing excessive sweating and discomfort.
- Durability and comfort: The combination of stretchy and breathable materials ensures a balance between durability and comfort, making them ideal for a long hike.
How Do You Wear Hiking Boots With Jeans?
Finding the right balance between style and practicality is key.
Let’s explore some tips and tricks on how to wear hiking boots with jeans for a comfortable and fashionable hiking experience.
Let Your Jeans Slide Over the Boots
One popular way to wear hiking boots with jeans is to let the jeans slide over the boots.
This casual and relaxed style allows you to showcase your boots while keeping the lower part of your legs protected.
Simply tuck your jeans into the boots and let the excess fabric naturally drape over the top.
This method works well with straight or bootcut jeans, as they provide enough room to accommodate the boots.
Not only does this look effortlessly cool, but it also ensures that your jeans stay in place and prevent debris from getting inside your boots.
Cuff Your Jeans
Another stylish and practical way to wear hiking boots with jeans is by cuffing the jeans.
This method allows you to show off your boots while adding a touch of personality to your outfit.
Simply roll or fold the bottom hem of your jeans to create a cuff that sits just above the top of your boots.
This not only prevents the jeans from dragging on the ground but also adds a trendy and tailored look to your hiking ensemble.
Cuffing works well with slim or skinny jeans, as they offer a streamlined appearance.
It’s a versatile option that allows you to customize the length of your jeans based on your preference and the height of your boots.
Tuck Your Jeans Inside the Boots
For a more classic and functional approach, tucking your jeans inside your hiking boots is a tried-and-true method.
This technique ensures that your jeans stay securely in place and provides extra protection against dirt, debris, and potential snagging.
Simply tuck the bottom hem of your jeans into the boots, making sure they sit comfortably and snugly.
This method works well with any style of jeans, from straight to skinny, as long as the fabric is not too bulky.
Tucking your jeans inside the boots offers a clean and polished look, allowing you to navigate the trails with ease.
This also helps to prevent your jeans from getting wet or muddy, keeping your legs dry and protected.
My Take on Hiking in Jeans
When it comes to hiking in jeans, I have to admit that it’s not my preferred choice!
While jeans do have some advantages, I’ve found that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits in most hiking scenarios.
One of the main issues I’ve encountered is the lack of breathability.
Jeans are made of cotton fabric, which tends to trap moisture and heat, especially in hot weather or during intense hikes.
This can lead to discomfort, excessive sweating, and even chafing.
I’ve learned the hard way that hiking in wet jeans is a recipe for disaster.
Once they get wet, they become heavy, abrasive, and lose any insulation properties they may have had.
Another concern I have with jeans is their slow drying time.
If you happen to encounter wet weather or accidentally step into a stream, your jeans will take forever to dry, leaving you with cold, clammy legs throughout the hike.
This not only affects your comfort but can also pose a risk to your overall well-being, particularly in colder climates.
If you liked this article, you may also like 8 Best Hiking Boots for Ankle Support & Comfort, The 6 Best Hiking Boots for Plantar Fasciitis, The Best Hiking Boot for Wide Feet in 2023 (Ranked)
A commercial analyst by day, and an outdoor/adventure blogger by night.