Hiking in the wild is undoubtedly a difficult task, you have to be physically fit to climb mountains through dense forest, unpaved, rocky terrain and sometimes even climb to high altitudes. So, to make your hiking trip comfy, you need to pack yourself with the proper clothing. There is an ongoing debate among several hikers about which is the best fabric for hiking pants. Which one is more suitable and comfortable: nylon hiking pants or polyester hiking pants. If you are also confused about which one to buy for your hiking journey, we at Trekkearth are here to guide you. There is a reason why hikers are confused with both these fabric materials due to their various similarities. In this article, this debate is going to end and you’ll have the chance to make the best decision of choosing hiking pants material.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Hiking Pants
Choosing the right clothes for your hiking trip is mandatory, as they will decide how comfortable your hiking trip is going to be. But before deciding on any fabric material- nylon or polyester, you must know what things to look for while buying hiking pants.
These things include:
Rainfall is a very common thing you’ll encounter when you go hiking. The weather in hilly areas is unpredictable, and from my personal experience, it is always good to choose waterproof clothes for hiking. With wet hiking pants, it will be very difficult to trek and there is a high risk of getting cold. So, always make sure when you buy hiking pants or any other hiking clothing, look for a waterproof mark on the clothes or choose waterproof fabric for hiking pants.
Although waterproof clothes, especially waterproof hiking pants are expensive, due to the extra layers to keep water out. But in the end, waterproof hiking pants are worth every penny.
During hiking, you’ll be carrying the additional weight of your hiking gear, hiking clothes, food, water, etc. And this will decrease your movement in hiking trails. If you are not carrying any weight, still without a comfortable outfit it is going to be hard.
One of the important rules of hiking is “pack light and what’s necessary”. So it would be a wise choice to choose a lightweight fabric material for your hiking pants. With lightweight clothes, you’ll have more room to carry additional weight and also you have more room for body movement.
Pockets and their Size
Many hikers think that packs are necessary for hiking pants as they are mostly carrying things in their backpacks. Well, they are the wrong pockets are necessary for hiking pants as hiking can be dangerous. So, keeping a backpacking knife in your pocket is a wise option for an emergency.
But it doesn’t mean, you have got a pair of hiking pants with 5 or 6 pockets and the size should be deep. If your hiking pants have lots of nig size pockets, they are going to add weight to your trouser. You may need to feel the weight, but when weight is not closely attached to your body, it becomes way heavier.
Comfort and Durable Material
It doesn’t matter which fabric clothing you chose nylon hiking pants or polyester hiking pants, you should always give priority to good quality hiking pants.
As you know, hiking can be rough, and there is a very good chance of tearing up your clothes. So whenever you go for hiking pants, check the material for toughness, durability, and comfortable for hiking. Do not compromise in this category ever.
Tight around the ankles
During hiking, you’ll be in the wild which is filled with unknown smalls insects and dangerous animals. Small insects like ticks can easily get inside your hiking pants if you have a wide leg room hiking pants around your ankles. So, check for hiking pants that are tight around the ankles.
If you don’t have these hiking pants, you can also tuck hiking pants in your hiking boots. This can only apply with you have high ankle hiking boots.
Now, let’s move on and see which one should you go for – nylon hiking pants or polyester hiking pants?
Polyester Hiking Pants: Strength and Weakness
Polyester and nylon are both similar materials, and they both are good for hiking. But each fabric has its own strength and weakness. Here is an overview to give you a general idea of what these fabrics are like.
Although both fabrics show water-resistant properties, according to scientific evidence polyester is better than nylon. Polyester is oleophilic or able to absorb oil and not water. In addition, the absorbing capacity of nylon is superior to polyester. Nylon is almost at 4% absorbing capacity, while polyester is at 0.4%. So due to this fact, we can say that polyester is more water-resistant than nylon. Also, you might need additional layers to keep water out.
Polyester Dries Fastly
As you know polyester is Hydrophilic, it absorbs less water. So, when a fabric absorbs less moisture, it also dries faster. If you compare it to nylon hiking pants takes almost 5 minutes less time to dry. So polyester hiking pants could be the right option in the rainy season.
Due to this it not absorbing water properties, it also acts as additional heat support to your legs during winter. If you are in the winter season, also pack a good pair of polyester hiking pants, as nylon feels colder when wet and stays wet longer.
Despite its strengths, there is some weakness to polyester hiking pants. These include:
Although it doesn’t absorb water, it absorbs oil. And just so it happens, the human body emits oil through sweat. This sweat is later bound with polyester material and creates an everlasting smell. I’d you are in summer days, it will be a lot worse, as when temperature elevates, the fabric becomes warmer and begins absorbing more oil. So, after some time, the stink will be too much, sometimes it will be hard for you to wear the clothes.
Although after you laundry the polyester hiking pants, they will be as new, after some time, you’ll face the same issue.
Less Durable Than Nylon
During hiking, durable material is required as hiking is a rough exercise. According to facts, nylon fabric is more durable and versatile than polyester. So if your hiking includes rough terrain, it is better to choose nylon hiking pants.
Nylon Hiking Pants: Strength and Weakness
Nylon is most commonly used in hiking gear. You can nylon t-shirts, hiking pants every season on hikers. But, is it the right clothing for every hiking trip in every season. Take a look at the strengths and weaknesses listed below!
Nylon hiking pants provide numerous benefits during hiking such as:
Water-Resistant and not oleophilic
Nylon is a water-resistant material like polyester. Although polyester is considered more water-resistant, but nylon is not oleophilic. It means that it doesn’t absorb the moisture or sweat from your body. So, you’ll never have to worry about getting wet while trekking.
One of the best benefits of nylon hiking pants is how water-resistant they are. So, if they get wet while trekking they’ll probably resist the water and dry up faster than other fabrics.
When you wear polyester hiking pants, you can easily feel them on your skin. It irritates some hikers as they do not have proper breathability, but on the other hand, nylon hiking is very breathable. It means whenever a hiker wears nylon hiking pants, the pants will not stick to the skin, looser, comfortable and provide more airflow to the legs. This will reduce sweating a lot, so people with sweat issues should always opt for nylon hiking pants.
One of the prime features of nylon hiking pants is that they are highly durable. Hiking is a rough sport, and it is earlier to tear your clothes if you are not careful. So getting a good pair of hiking pants with extra durability is a wise choice. Nylon hiking pants are a one-time investment, and you can wear them for many years.
One of the problems with polyester hiking was that they stink a lot, but it’s the problem with nylon. As nylon fabric doesn’t absorb body odor or sweat. So no matter how much you sweat, your hiking pants will not stink. Although, sometimes they stink due to poor quality material or a lot of sweat, but after a laundry, it will not show any bad smell or stink.
No matter how perfect it seems nylon hiking pants aren’t always the right choice.
Not Good during Winter
Nylon is the perfect choice in summer but wearing nylon hiking pants is not a good option. It is due to the fact that nylon doesn’t provide warmth as compare to polyester. Also, if nylon Hiking pants get wet it is going a take a lot of time to dry. So, avoid wearing nylon hiking pants in winter.
Longer Time to Dry
As we previously mentioned, nylon takes a lot of time to dry as compared to polyester. Even though nylon has excellent moisture absorbing capacities, it is still less compared to polyester hiking pants.
So, keeping in mind the above things, you can make a quick decision!
Nylon Hiking Pants or Polyester Hiking Pants: Which One to choose?
Now we have gone through the strength and weaknesses of both materials: nylon hiking and polyester hiking pants, the ultimate question is left. Which one to choose? Well, it depends on your requirement, weather conditions, hiking terrain.
For instance, you can choose polyester hiking, if you hiking in the winter season or rainy season. As in the winter season, polyester hiking will provide warmth and in the rainy season they will dry up faster.
On the other hand, if you choose nylon hiking, when you are on a rough hike, nylon material is versatile, durable, and can withhold harsh terrain surfaces so you don’t have to worry about tearing up your hiking. Also, nylon hiking pants can be a good choice in summers as they are extremely breathable, stretchable, and thus, offer more comfort.
Additionally, if you have an excessive sweating issue, always go for nylon hiking pants, as they do stink as polyester hiking pants do.
To conclude, choosing hiking pants is all about comfort. So, no matter which one will you choose both materials are good for hiking, just keep in mind which one is suitable for which weather conditions.
After all, your primary goal is to complete your hiking journey without any clothing issues!