Best Waterproof Trousers

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Waterproof trousers are essential for those people that are tackling the outdoors in all weathers. There are many benefits to wearing waterproof trousers including the most obvious…that they are more practical as they will be able to keep you dry and be washable when they inevitably become dirty. Not only this, but they will also be able to work towards keeping you healthy, as being in wet clothes for any length of time can increase your chance of catching a chill and can lead to chafing if out walking.

But some pairs of waterproof trousers are far from the heros we are making them out to be – they can leave your legs wetter than they would be without the pants (whether it be due to the lack of water resistance or the build up of condensation it can be hard to tell!) and they can be awkward, heavy pieces of clothing that do not inspire you to be outdoors for any length of time! This is why it is so important that you know what you are looking for when purchasing the best waterproof trousers…all you need to know is right here in this article!

What to Look For in Waterproof Trousers

The main things that you need to consider when purchasing waterproof trousers is that they are going to be waterproof but also that they are going to be comfortable and breathable! Here is all the information you need to make sure you buy the best waterproof trousers for you.

Types of Waterproof Trousers

There are two main types of waterproof trousers: overtrousers and everyday trousers. Overtrousers are basically waterproof trousers that you pull on over the top of the trousers that you are already wearing. Everyday trousers (otherwise known as wear-all-day trousers) are ones that you wear instead of normal trousers – so they will go against your skin!

Overtrousers are perfect for if the weather is rather unpredictable, as you can take them on and off whilst you are walking depending on what the weather is doing at that minute – because let’s be honest, we know how unpredictable the British weather can be! But they can be heavier and bigger, making them more uncomfortable to walk around in if you end up wearing them all day.

Everyday trousers will be much better designed in terms of their style, and will be comfortable and flexible enough to be worn all day. However, they do tend to be more expensive than overtrousers, due to the extra effort that has to go into the design and the materials. They are also rarely as comfortable as normal walking gear (unless you are really willing to push the budget) which means that if you opt to wear them for a walk that then turns dry, you could regret putting them on in the first place – but you are then committed to wearing them all day!


The fabric that you choose for your waterproof trousers will have a massive impact on the experience that you have with them! It is important to opt for a lightweight fabric as this will greatly improve your experience whilst out and about – remember that once your waterproof trousers are wet they will become heavier so you don’t want them to be heavy from the beginning! Although, heavier fabrics are usually more durable so will offer greater warmth and protection from the elements when you are outside. If you know that you are going to be climbing and coming into contact with some rough surfaces then you may be better going for a thicker fabric.

Waterproof Ability

How waterproof your waterproof trousers actually are will determine what conditions you are able to wear them in. Water resistance is measured using a score known as “hydrostatic head” – the amount of water a piece of fabric can withstand before it starts absorbing the water instead! If you know that you are only going to be using your waterproof trousers in light showers then you can obviously get away with this score being lower (anything around 2000 will be sufficient) but we would always recommend opting for the best waterproof trousers that your budget will allow!

Look out for well known waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex as you know that these are tried and tested against all weather conditions!


Many decent quality waterproof trousers will actually be made of more than one layer. The reason for this is to increase the breathability of the trousers, so that you are not walking around feeling like you are in a plastic bag! The outer layer will be there to protect against any precipitation or mud that comes your way, with a membrane applied to the outer fabric to do this. Then the inner layers of the trousers will wick away moisture from the inside of the trousers.

Some of the best waterproof trousers will even be made up of three layers for added comfort and protection from the weather that you are fighting against. It is more likely that overtrousers will have the inner layer using a mesh to offer increased air flow, whereas everyday waterproof trousers will use different types of membrane and fabric with larger pores to wick away the moisture.       


The size of your waterproof trousers is important because not only do you want them to be comfortable if you are wearing them all day, but from a practical point of view you don’t want trousers that are too long or too baggy as these will get in the way when you are trying to move around and could even cause an accident.

There are many waterproof trousers that advertise themselves as uni-sex trousers, which will usually be cheaper, but you will tend to find that they are too big for the average woman to wear and too small for the average man – this could leave you with an uncomfortable day out walking! We would recommend opting for a size that is the same as (or possibly one size bigger) than what you would normally purchase for your trousers.

Extra Features to Watch Out For!

Now that you know all the main features to consider when purchasing your waterproof trousers, there are some extra features that are worth keeping an eye out for when shopping around! If you are going to be wearing your waterproof trousers regularly then you want to get the best out of your purchase!

  • Elasticated waistband – This will largely depend on the type of waterproof trousers that you opt for. But, if you choose overtrousers then you will need to make sure that they have an elasticated waistband so that they are easy to take on and off over the top of your normal trousers!
  • Braces – Some waterproof trousers come with braces, but it is really down to personal preference whether these are right for you or not. They will reduce the pressure and bulk around the waist of the trousers but obviously increase the pressure around your shoulders slightly. They are best for if you are buying uni-sex trousers and cannot guarantee the exact fit.
  • Side zip – Another fantastic feature that should most definitely be included on overtrousers! Side zips at the base of your overtrousers will allow you to leave your walking boots on while you take the waterproof trousers off! This is crucial for when you are out walking, as we all know how long it takes to get your walking boots on and off and fastened!
  • Packaway trousers – Again, if you are opting for over-trousers then it is worth making sure that they are lightweight and can be packed away. Some even come with a small storage bag, so that even if they are wet and muddy they can be packed away and won’t be getting the rest of the things in your backpack muddy!
  • Durable instep fabric – Most of the best waterproof trousers will provide more durable fabric on the instep of the trousers. This will offer both the trousers and you added protection against rubbing when walking so that you know the trousers are not going to become worn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do if my waterproof trousers stop being waterproof?
Unfortunately, there will come a time when your waterproof trousers stop being waterproof. Sometimes this can be due to a buildup of dirt and grease that actually makes the trousers absorbent but other times this could be due to the trousers needing reproofing. This can be done simply with either a spray or a liquid reproofer that can be added to your washing cycle.

Will washing my waterproof trousers stop them from being waterproof?
Most definitely not! It is a longstanding myth that washing waterproof items stops them from being waterproof! In actual fact, washing your waterproof trousers will actually help them to keep being effective in keeping you dry, as when waterproof trousers have a build-up of dirt and grease they can start to absorb water instead of repelling it!

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