Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
TravelDestinationsNorth America

What pants should I get for a three-day summer backpacking trip?

I’m going on a three-day backpacking trip in the Catskills in upstate New York this summer and need a pair of pants for the trip. Something light and breathable, yet tough for abrasion resistance on scrambles. I would also like a bit of water resistance, and a quick dry time if they do get wet. Lastly, I would like something that can pack small if I decide to also carry a pair of shorts with me.
Woodstock, NY

Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.


The thing is, Sam, pants aren’t apt to be that comfortable in a northeastern summer. It’s likely going to be hot, humid, and sticky—hardly weather for pants that are heavy enough to keep out brambles and protect legs during scrambles.

The Continental Pant

Still, there are two routes you can go. One is a fairly light pant that affords you some leg protection and water-repellency but doesn’t weigh you down. Patagonia's Continental Pant ($75) is made from a durable polyester/nylon blend that’s light but tough. These pants have a water-repellent treatment so light rain will bead up and run off. And of course they offer excellent sun protection. A good all-around summer pant.

Another nice light pant is the ExOfficio Nio Amphi Pant ($70). A bit lighter than the Continentals, but they still offer decent abrasion protection, along with water-repellency and good breathability. Plus they have cargo pockets.

On the somewhat heavier—and more expensive—end, take a look at Arc'teryx’s Gamma LT pant ($169). These are a light soft shell pant, which means they are warmer than a pant such as the Continental. But they’re remarkably breathable, and super-comfortable when scrambling or engaging in other activities that require a lot of agility. Plus they are tough as nails. Nice pants.

Hope that helps. Have a great trip!

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: New YorkPants
Lead Photo: courtesy, Patagonia