Many factors involved in selecting hiking pants come down to personal taste, and if the hike is going to be of short duration in very safe terrain, the type of clothing and gear you choose is of less importance. For longer hikes, however, these choices can sometimes be a matter of survival. It is a good idea to choose hiking pants that are durable and can provide protection against environmental elements and that can accommodate fluctuations in temperature.
When choosing your clothing for hiking, you should purchase pants that are adaptable to both day and night. Temperatures at night can often plummet, and you should be sure your clothing offers ample protection. Many styles of hiking pants come with lower leg sections that can be removed with zippers or snaps. During warmer temperatures, these pants can be worn as shorts, and when the air begins to cool, they can quickly transform back into pants. In many cases, this type of convertible clothing costs a bit more, but because of their versatility, purchasing this type of hiking pants may actually save you money in the long run.
Durability of construction is another important factor in choosing hiking apparel. Check to be sure that most of the seams are double stitched. Double stitching helps reinforce seams, and this is especially true for seams exposed to a lot of stress. For instance, when climbing, squatting, or even taking long strides, the inseam of pants absorbs most of the physical pressure, and good-quality hiking pants will have an inseam with double stitching. Pockets and center back seams are also areas that absorb a lot of stress and consequently should be reinforced.
Though natural fiber fabrics often offer a greater degree of comfort, in practical terms, synthetic fabrics are typically much better suited for hiking apparel. You should look for hiking pants made of fabric that will resist moisture and tears. If you are caught outdoors in the rain, wearing water-resistant clothing will help to protect you from the elements and the risk of developing hypothermia.
Finally, comfort and practicality should not be overlooked. Hiking pants should ideally be a good, comfortable fit, neither too tight nor too loose. Since you will likely find yourself in various bodily positions, test the fit of the pants while standing, sitting, and squatting. If they are uncomfortable in any of these positions, it is a good idea to select a different size or style. For practical purposes, hiking pants should have as many pockets as possible, with at least two of them having zippers or snaps for closure.