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Can You Hike In Sweatpants? Should You?

When preparing for a hike, there’s more things you should think about than the footwear you have on or whether the conditions are good enough. You also need to consider the other clothes you’re wearing. This may leave you wondering if you need hiking pants, or if you can hike in sweatpants.

You can hike in sweatpants. They are lightweight, soft, and inexpensive, and they can be very comfortable, even on long hikes. Spring and fall are the best times to wear sweatpants hiking, but they can be used as layering in the winter or something for cool summer nights.

Despite the comfort and value of hiking in sweatpants, there are a few things to consider before purchasing a pair for your next hike. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of wearing sweatpants on a hike so you can determine if they’re right for you.

Should You Wear Sweatpants On A Hike?

Sweatpants are certainly something you can consider wearing when on a hike. They offer some real comfort, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable with what you are wearing when hiking. After all, if you are struggling with a hike, do you really want to add to that by wearing something uncomfortable?

However, at this point you just need to know that there’s nothing wrong with wearing sweatpants on a hike. They could easily be the best option out there for you in some ways. Even experienced hikers wear them. Sweatpants are just comfortable and an excellent way to get you out there in nature. But there are some circumstances in which sweatpants are not good for hiking.

Are Sweatpants Good For Hiking?

Sweatpants are good for hiking in many cases, although they are obviously not the best choice in exceptionally hot weather. There are certain limitations to hiking in sweatpants, but that shouldn’t mean you eliminate them as a possibility for every hike you could venture on.

Short Hikes Are Best

Short hikes are best when it comes to sweatpants, as they can get quite warm on longer hikes. Also, you should stick to well-maintained trails if you plan on wearing sweatpants. This is because they don’t offer much protection, especially when compared with dedicated hiking pants. A short hike on a good trail means you shouldn’t run into these issues.

Comfort And Movement

Sticking to these short hikes, you will quickly realize that sweatpants are a comfortable option. Think about why they are designed in the first place. Their aim is to be worn for hours and to not be irritating in any way.

Also, sweatpants are not too “clingy,” so that adds to the feeling you can move around in sweatpants without them cutting into you. Walking in sweatpants is easy. They won’t irritate your skin, and you will feel as if you can enjoy your hike in peace.

Is Hiking In Sweatpants Safe?

Hiking in sweatpants is safe in most cases. However, there are also times where they may not offer the best solution, with the main cases being during very hot weather – as you may overheat – and on extremely rough terrain or in thick vegetation, as they don’t offer much protection.

You should not wear sweatpants if you know you will be crossing a river during the hike. They just become far too waterlogged, and that adds so much weight. That’s not going to be safe as they weigh you down. You will also stay cold if you are hiking in poorer weather conditions or when the temperature is low, as they don’t have good moisture wicking properties.

Also, they are not as tough or as well-fitting as other pant options. Sweatpants aren’t the safest of options if you have to scramble over rocky terrain. They can catch on rocks and rip, leaving you with holes, and that increases the chances of you picking up all sorts of injuries. If you’re hiking in thick vegetation, they also don’t offer much protection against scratches or poisonous plants.

Finally, they are not the best option if you hike in hot conditions. They will make you overheat, and that can be extremely dangerous on a hike.

4 Pros Of Hiking In Sweatpants

1. They’re Perfect For Spring And Fall

Sweatpants offer substantial insulation without being overbearing. That means they are the perfect solution for transitional seasons such as spring and fall where the weather is neither too hot, nor too cold. They’ll keep you comfortable both in terms of temperature, and in terms of how they actually feel to wear.

2. They’re Made With Soft Materials

Sweatpants are designed with comfort in mind, and that is why they’re usually made from softer materials than hiking pants. That is perhaps the main draw for people wearing them when hiking. They just tend to feel better against your skin, and who wouldn’t want that?

3. They Have A Good Waistband

Sweatpants tend to come with a good waistband with a lot of elastic. That means they stretch more than other pants to give you better range of movement. It also means everything feels easier to do when wearing them and you won’t feel as if your sweatpants are hindering you when it comes to flexibility.

4. They Are Less Expensive And Easier To Purchase

Sweatpants are everywhere, and it’s very easy to get your hands on a pair at any point. There are lots of options out there, and you should have no difficulty finding a pair that fits. Also, sweatpants are generally more affordable than other types of pants. Of course, you can splash out some cash on an expensive pair, but there’s really no need.

4 Cons Of Hiking In Sweatpants

1. They Aren’t Good For Long, Technical Hikes

Sweatpants aren’t recommended when it comes to long, technical hikes, and this is for obvious reasons. Long hikes carry so much more unpredictability when it comes to the hiking conditions, and this can be a problem for sweatpants. If it suddenly gets too hot or too wet, sweatpants become very uncomfortable very quickly.

2. They Aren’t Good With Water

Sweatpants take a long time to dry once they are wet, and that poses problems, especially if you must hike across streams or are caught in the rain. If they get wet, sweatpants will hold onto the water making them heavier. That’s never going to bode well for your hike. That also means there’s a very real need to be aware of the weather forecast if you do plan on wearing sweatpants for hiking.

3. They Aren’t Rugged

Sweatpants aren’t made from rugged material like jeans or hiking pants are. They are designed with softness and comfort in mind, so the material is not as tough as other options. That means your sweatpants can be damaged with surprising ease. They can catch and snag on pretty much anything, and then you have some ripped pants to contend with during your hike.

4. You Can Overheat

If you typically hike in warmer conditions, then you shouldn’t wear sweatpants. They are not designed to be breathable, so there’s a good chance you will overheat in next to no time. Even though they don’t contain a huge amount of insulation, they trap the air between the fabric and your skin, which clearly isn’t ideal.

Sweatpants vs Hiking Pants

Comparing both sweatpants and hiking pants will make it easier to determine which option is best for you. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but as always, you should wear whatever you feel is most appropriate for the type of hike you are going on.

Where Sweatpants Win

Sweatpants are better than hiking pants when it comes to cost, availability, and comfort. Sweatpants are usually cheaper than hiking pants. You can pick them up in so many different stores that it’s exceptionally easy to find a pair that fits. Finally, they will undoubtedly be comfier as comfort is what they are designed for.

Where Hiking Pants Win

Hiking pants are more durable and rugged than sweatpants. This is due to the fact they are constructed in such a way that makes it harder for them to be damaged by whatever nature throws at them. Of course, it’s impossible for them to be 100% damage proof. However, they won’t rip the same way sweatpants do from thorns and nettles.

Also, hiking pants are better when it comes to dealing with rain or moisture. They dry faster and are designed to not hold moisture the way sweatpants do. That’s a huge advantage. It means you don’t have to worry if you need to cross a stream, or if the weather changes. It also means they are the better option when it comes to longer hikes.

Finally, they tend to have more pockets, soyou can carry other items while hiking. Hiking pants have loops and zippers to secure your hiking accessories. Sweatpants don’t have these features, with many not even offering pockets. A good pair of hiking pants may be more expensive, but they’re more durable and more versatile than sweatpants.

Final Thoughts

You can wear sweatpants when hiking, but you should understand there are limits as to when they should be worn. They are a comfortable, affordable option, and can be easily found in stores or online. However, sweatpants are not as durable or as breathable as hiking pants.