The problem with camping in the countryside is that one day the sun is beaming down on you and the sweat is pouring down your face, the next, it’s cold and raining. If you want to stay dry, you’ll need a pair of waterproof trousers in your hiking bag, but how do you choose the right pair?
Below we have outlined what you should know when buying a pair of waterproof trousers. As you will see below, choosing a quality pair is important but choosing the right pair for your individual needs is essential.
The first choice you need to make is how waterproof you need your trousers. You may have noticed when buying waterproof items that they all have two ratings. The first is their waterproof rating, the second their breathability.
For waterproof, anything below 5,000mm will keep you dry in a light shower, while you should be looking at above 16,000mm to guarantee you stay dry in everything the UK weather has to throw at you.
One point, DWR is not waterproof rating. DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent which stops outer-layer of your fabric from getting saturated by water, but it’s not designed for consistent rain.
Next to the waterproof rating, the trousers should have a second breathable rating expressed between 0 g to 20,000 g. This tells you how much vapour can pass through your trousers in a 24 hour period; essential if you want your legs to stay dry and free of sweat, you need to aim for a higher number as possible.
Typically for a mid-range jacket, I would be aiming for a breathability level in the 10,000 to 15,000-gram range, however for trousers, you can get away with slightly lower.
Types of Waterproof Trousers
Some of the most common types of waterproof trousers include downpour trousers, spray trousers, and pakka trousers.
- Downpour Water Proof Trousers – With a breathable and waterproof rating on the high end of the scale, downpour trousers are the most waterproof trousers of the three. These are the trousers you would buy if you were hiking through South East Asia during the rainy season.
- Spray Water Proof Trousers – If you are on a short hike or out cycling you would probably be better off buying a pair of spray waterproof trousers. They won’t help you a great deal in torrential rain, but they will protect your underclothes from the spray that leaps up from the puddles as you cycle through then. In addition, they are designed for rigorous activity; the mesh lining keeping the air circulating around your legs.
- Pakka Water Proof Trousers – While Pakka Water Proof Trousers only have a waterproof and breathable rating of 1,500 – by far the lowest rating of the three – you ignore them at your peril.
Lightweight, and easy to pack (they come with a pouch you can stuff them into) they are not only the perfect addition to anyone going on a local hike in nice conditions but also anyone going on a more challenging hike in foreign conditions. We don’t suggest you take them as a replacement for the above two. But we do recommend you have them in case anything happens to your spray proof or downpour pair of trousers. They may be waterproof, but neither are rip-proof.