Can You Hike in Jeans? Or You Should Buy Hiking Pants?

Hiking is a phenomenal activity. It is good for both your body and mind, so you are bound to feel a huge difference in your life once you start hiking. Still, this is not the easiest activity, and in most cases, you will need to get some specialized gear to do it. Among all the things, you will eventually want to get hiking pants.

But do you need hiking pants, or can you also hike in jeans? I am asked this question often, so I decided to tell you all about this in today’s guide. After all, we all have a pair of jeans in our home that we do not use that often. So, they might come in handy when you need to go on a hiking trip and do not have anything else to wear.

Still, you need to know a few things related to comfort, breathability, durability, and waterproofing before you hike in your jeans. If you want to learn more about this, stick around for your guide, and let’s get right into it whenever you are ready!

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Is It Weird to Hike in Jeans

Is It Weird to Hike in Jeans?

Hiking in jeans can be weird for some hikers, but it is not unusual. If you go on any hiking trail, you are bound to come across someone hiking in jeans. While I do not prefer hiking in jeans, I can see why some people would want to do that.

Jeans are convenient as people have many pairs of them at home. I cannot say the same for hiking pants because they are not used for many activities aside from hiking. Even some experienced hikers might not have them because they can be quite expensive in most cases.

Since Levi Strauss created his first pair of jeans, they have come a long way. Now, they are a part of everyone’s wardrobe and are popular worldwide. No wonder people like hiking in them – they are the first thing you see in anyone’s closet. So, if you are thinking about hiking in jeans, I say go for it.

You will never know if you like something or not if you do not try it. So, do not let anything stop you from taking a pair of jeans on a hiking trail. Find ones that feel comfortable but do not take your favorite pair. There is a lot of dirt and shrubs on trails that can damage the jeans, so stick to an older pair that you will not miss if damaged.

Also, make sure that your first hike in jeans is not too long or too demanding. Try a short day hike to see if you like hiking in jeans. Only after you are up for the task can you start hiking longer and more demanding trails in regular jeans.

Advantages of Hiking in Jeans

Even though I have mentioned some of the advantages of wearing jeans when hiking, I want to get into each characteristic more. These characteristics can help you decide if you should be wearing jeans on your hiking trips or not. So, let’s get right into the list and see what you need to know:

Look good

Jeans give that classic look. They are quite different from hiking pants because they do not have that typical outdoor look. The hiking pants have many pockets. They are usually made with polyester and nylon, so they might not look as good. They also come in limited colors like black, dark green, or khaki color. If those colors do not look good, you might want to wear jeans instead.

Cheaper

In most cases, jeans will be much cheaper than hiking pants. If you want to wear hiking pants, you will need to invest a lot of money. The hiking pants might be of better quality, but you can get much cheaper jeans and still be able to use them on most hikes.

Also, you might have a pair of denim jeans that you can use on a hiking trail that you already have at home. That means you will not need to invest any money to be able to hike. My only recommendation is to leave skinny jeans at home and take jeans with a regular fit on the hiking trail.

Convenient

Jeans are also most convenient. More stores sell them; there are more models you can go for, more colors, more fits, and so on. If you want to get any hiking gear, you will have to visit a specialized store and choose from the limited models they offer. So, keep that in mind too.

Protection

Most jeans have a very thick material all over. This material does not damage or rip easily. What this means is that you will be able to wear the jeans on hiking trails and avoid getting cuts or scratches from grass, shrubs, or anything else.

The same cannot be said for hiking pants that do not come in the same materials as jeans. So, if you want to feel more protected, I recommend wearing jeans instead of hiking pants.

Comfortable

Finally, some jeans can feel quite comfortable. The cotton fabrics on stretchy jeans can feel nice against your skin. Hiking pants do not offer the same comfort in some cases as the materials used can be quite scuzzy. So, if you have a pair of jeans you feel comfortable in, I recommend that you stick to them.

Disadvantages of Hiking in Jeans

Now that you know all about the advantages of hiking in jeans, I want to get into the disadvantages of it. You must know these things before heading out on a hiking trip, so let’s get right into them and see what they are all about:

Heavy material

Some jeans can feel quite heavy when you put them on, especially if the material used is thick. I would recommend sticking to lightweight pants instead of heavy ones for hiking. With the heavy backpack and all the things you need to carry, the last thing you need is for the pants to add to the weight. So, if possible, avoid heavy jeans or pants and stick to lightweight ones.

Not waterproof

The waterproofing on jeans is non-existent. If you try walking into a stream or are caught by some rain, your jeans will inevitably get soaked very fast. This can be a problem, especially hiking in the cold.

You can stay soaked for the entirety of your trip, so I recommend taking an extra pair of pants if you have your mind set on hiking in jeans. If not, go for a pair of hiking pants that are waterproof and always pair them with water-repellent shoes.

Not fast-drying

While jeans are not waterproof, they are also not fast drying. So, they will get wet and stay wet for a while. My recommendation is to wear the jeans only in dry weather. If you suspect it will rain, either stay home or switch to other types of pants. It is always a good idea to invest in a pair of rain pants you can wear whenever you need to, so consider doing that if you can.

Not always comfortable

Jeans are also not always comfortable. You might have a pair you love wearing regularly, but you might find that they are not quite suitable for the hiking trail. Especially if you want to take longer hikes, I would have to recommend that you get proper hiking gear that you will take on your trips.

The jeans can even cause skin irritation if they are too tight and you wear them for a long time. If the weather is too hot, wearing jeans on a hike might be a bad idea. All that sweat combined with thick material against the skin can lead to abrasion, which is never good. 

Not that durable

Some jeans can be durable, but they are not indestructible. If you happen to run into a shrub with stronger branches and one catches on to your jeans, you will get a tear or two. Once you get those tears, you might as well throw the jeans out immediately.

Not suitable for cold weather

Finally, I have to say that jeans are never a good idea for hiking in colder weather. Running into a bit of rain or snow will cause the jeans to become wet, and they will likely remain wet for the entire trip. This means that your body will feel cold from the moisture, eventually leading to you getting a cold. People can hike in jeans during dry, warmer weather, but never in humid, cold weather.

What Kind of Jeans Are Best for Hiking?

After learning all the advantages and disadvantages of hiking in jeans, you might have your mind set on trying to hike in jeans. In that case, I will have to tell you more about the best beans you can take on hikes.

First, make sure that the jeans combine cotton and spandex materials. The spandex will make the jeans stretchy, helping you stay comfortable even if you need to push yourself. Then, get regular-fit jeans because the skinny ones can rub against your skin and cause abrasions.

If you can get breathable material, that would be perfect too. But remember – there are no perfect jeans for hiking. The hiking pants, as expensive as they might be, are the best type of pants for longer, more demanding hikes. The jeans can work well in some cases, but in most cases, they will turn out to be a sub-par option.

If you want to go hiking often, make it a goal to get yourself a pair of hiking pants. It can be rain or walking pants, soft-shell or hard-shell pants. Depending on what you need the pants for, get the pair you like best.

Hiking Pants vs. Jeans

There is no clear winner in the debate of hiking pants vs. jeans. You will have to make the final decision based on your preference and experience. If you have the chance to try hiking in both hiking pants and jeans, I recommend that you take it. Only trying them out on the trail will help you decide which option is better.

My personal preference is hiking pants. I say this because the pants are waterproof, breathable, more comfortable, and have pockets that make storage quite convenient. There are hiking pants suitable for hiking in all weather and on all types of trails. You can take the pants even on longer hikes, which cannot be said for the jeans.

The jeans can be a great option for shorter, less demanding hikes in hot weather. But they are not a long-term option as many hikers eventually replace them with real hiking pants. The jeans will do perfectly fine in the beginning. Still, you should always consider investing in special hiking gear as soon as possible.

Wrap-Up

Thank you for sticking with me through this guide. I hope you learned a lot about hiking in jeans and hiking pants. There would be nothing better than trying out both options and seeing which one you like best. There is no right or wrong option – which you like best depends on your preference.

Have you ever hiked in jeans? Tell me how that went or if you have not tried it out, tell me if you would be willing to try hiking in jeans. I cannot wait to read all your comments, so do not hesitate to share your stories with me!

Andrew Mullen
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