Did you know that May is National Walking Month? Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. But unfortunately the Great British Weather likes to keep us on our toes, often surprising us with that unexpected rain shower, even in the summer months.
Waterproof trousers, or overtrousers, are designed to keep your legs and regular trousers dry when out in the rain. They may not be the most fashionable items of clothing, but you’ll be thankful for them when the heavens open. But with a whole range of waterproof trousers on the market, how do you know which ones are right for you? We’ve put together a list of the best waterproof trousers to keep you dry and comfortable this season, whether you’re walking, cycling or doing any other outdoor activity on a rainy spring or summer’s day.
What are the benefits of walking?
Walking is a simple, free and accessible form of exercise. It’s one of the easiest ways to be more active, lose weight and become healthier. And there are lots of other benefits too:
- Strengthen the heart: Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can significantly reduce your risk of coronary disease.
- Eases joint pain: Walking helps to lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Walking can also help to prevent arthritis, and may provide benefits for people living with arthritis.
- Boost your energy: If you’re tired, going for a walk may be a more effective energy boost than drinking a cup of coffee. Walking increases oxygen flow through the body, and it can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine - the hormones that help elevate energy levels.
- Burn calories: Walking can help burn calories, helping you to maintain or lose weight. The number of calories you burn will depend on several factors, including: walking speed, distance, terrain, and your weight.
- Can help lower your blood sugar: Taking a short walk after eating may help lower your blood sugar, so why not consider making a post-meal walk a regular part of your routine?
- Boosts immune function: Regular walking may reduce your risk of developing a cold or the flu. And symptoms are often lessened if you should get ill.
- Improve your mood: Walking and taking in fresh air can help your mental health too. It can help reduce anxiety, and depression, and it can also boost self-esteem.
- Tone your muscles: Walking can help strengthen and tone the muscles in your legs. For a more intense workout, walk in a hilly area, and combine with other cross-training activities like cycling or jogging to further tone and strengthen your leg muscles.
Just walking for 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. Before you start walking, check you have comfortable footwear - your shoes need to be supportive, without causing blisters. For long walks, you may want to take some water, sunscreen, a sun hat and a small backpack to carry your belongings - including your waterproof trousers!
What makes a good pair of waterproof trousers?
A good pair of waterproof trousers needs to be...urm...waterproof! But they need to be lightweight and packable too, so you can shove them in your backpack when you’re not wearing them.
When the bad weather does hit, you’ll want to be able to pull them on easily - ideally without the inconvenience of having to take your shoes off. And if you’re walking or outdoors in the summer months, you’ll want your waterproof trousers to be breathable too.
Unfortunately, living on an island means wet weather is always a possibility, so we want to stay dry, but also cool. These are all factors to consider when choosing a new pair of waterproof trousers.
Let’s look at some of the features which make a good pair of waterproof trousers:
- Fabric: Generally, super lightweight fabric is used for waterproof trousers that are designed for use in emergencies. They often aren’t very durable, but they will be light and easy to pack in your bag on a hike. At the other end of the spectrum, heavyweight fabrics are more durable and offer greater protection from the elements.
- Seams: All waterproof trousers should have taped seams, meaning they are sealed. This is to ensure water doesn’t work its way through the stitch holes in the fabric.
- Breathability: In order to stay dry and comfortable when wearing waterproof trousers, they also need to be breathable. Breathable fabric allows perspiration to escape, without letting rain water in. A mesh lining also allows air to circulate, giving extra ventilation to keep you cool on a warm day.
- Waistband: There are many different waistband options on waterproof trousers, and this usually reflects the activity they are intended for. An elasticated waistband can be pulled on over the top of other trousers easily. Some have a zip and a button, or rip-tab fastenings, and others have a bibbed front and braces to keep them up (creating less bulk around the waist).
- Fit: When buying a pair of waterproof trousers, it’s important to get the right fit. Some are sized slightly larger so that they fit comfortably over another pair of trousers, but make sure they’re not so big that they flap around on your legs. You should have enough space to move comfortably without having too much excess material.
- Zips: Having a zip on the side of your waterproof trousers can make it easier to get them on and off without having to take your shoes or boots off. Some trousers have a simple ankle zip, and others have almost full length two-way zips for extra ventilation.
- Packable: Some waterproof trousers will pack away into a stuff sack so you can take them everywhere, and some aren’t designed to be packed down at all. You need to think about what you’ll be using them for before deciding which pair of trousers is best for you. If you only want them as a back-up in case you get caught out by bad weather, then you need light, packable overtrousers. If you’re planning to wear them all day, then durability and protection are more important.
For more advice, check out our article on how to choose the perfect hiking trousers.
What are the different types of waterproof trousers?
There are generally two types of waterproof trousers to choose from: ones you pull over existing clothing (overtrousers), or ones with a tougher waterproof membrane, similar to heavy-duty walking or hiking trousers which are designed to be worn all day. Both types have their uses, so which type you go for really depends on the activity you’re doing.
Overtrousers tend to be a little easier on the wallet, and they’re great for pulling on over existing clothing to keep you warm and dry, but heavy-duty walking or hiking trousers tend to be made of more durable materials, and have more flexibility in the right areas.
To get the maximum waterproof protection, you need to be looking at 10,000mm or above – the best trousers out there often feature 20,000mm protection. And when combined with a waterproof jacket, they offer ultimate protection from the elements. See the table below for a little more information on waterproof ratings:
Manufacturers typically describe the waterproof and breathability ratings of fabrics using two numbers, often separated by a backslash. The first number is waterproof, the second is breathability. The higher the rating, the more waterproof, and the more breathable the trousers are.
What are the best waterproof trousers?
At Decathlon, we have waterproof trousers to suit everyone, whether you’re hiking, simply enjoying the great outdoors or playing golf. Here’s our list for 2021's Best Waterproof Trousers:
1. Best budget waterproof trousers
At under a tenner, these waterproof overtrousers are perfect for slipping into your bag in case the weather turns. They offer protection from the rain, and they’re breathable too, keeping you cool in the warmer months. They also have an elasticated waistband and zips on the ankles, making them easier to get on and off.
We love them because:
✓ Great price
✓ Light & breathable
✓ Zipped ankles
2. Best waterproof walking trousers
These softshell stretch trousers are ideal for regular hikes in cold and snowy conditions.
They’re super comfy and warm, and the water-repellent material allows water to simply run off the fabric without getting absorbed. The windproof fabric is brushed on the inside for good thermal protection, and the lower leg has a drawcord fastening to stop the snow from getting inside.
We love them because:
✓ Super comfortable & stretchy
✓ Windproof fabric
✓ 2 colours: Black & khaki
3. Best waterproof overtrousers
These waterproof 3-layer trousers have a 10,000mm waterproof rating for ultimate protection from the elements. They’re breathable and lightweight, and will take up very little space in your bag. They fold into their own storage pocket so they don’t make your belongings wet when you put them in your backpack. And they have an elasticated waistband and a zip rising above the knee to make it super easy to put the trousers on/take them off without removing your shoes.
We love them because:
✓ 3-layers, 10,000mm waterproof rating
✓ Long zips rising above the knee
✓ Storage pocket
4. Best technical overtrousers
These stylish two-tone highly waterproof trousers are ideal for mountain trekking. They have a 20,000mm waterproof rating so you can trek in rainy weather and stay completely protected. And they use a combination of a lightweight, breathable fabric and a sturdy fabric to help protect you from the elements. They have full length side openings with waterproof double-slider zips which help regulate body temperature, and pre-shaped knees, with reinforced areas for added protection and durability.
We love them because:
✓ Very high 20,000mm waterproof rating
✓ Robust fabric with reinforced areas
✓ Breathable material & side zips
5. Best waterproof golf trousers
These comfortable waterproof trousers are ideal for a game of golf in the rain! They’re available in men’s, women’s and children’s styles, and they can also be worn over your usual golf trousers thanks to the stretch fabric and adjustable waist. The waterproof fabric is designed to keep you dry for up to four hours, and the 3-layer lightweight components allow your skin to breath so you don’t get too hot on the course.
We love them because:
✓ Lightweight & breathable
✓ Keep you dry for up to four hours
✓ Adjustable waist for comfort
6. Best waterproof trousers for cycling
Never get caught out again by the rain or puddles on your daily bike rides with these overtrousers. Specially designed for cyclists, they’re durable and have built-in shoe covers to keep you dry. Zips at the bottom of the legs also make them easy to pull on and take off.
We love them because:
✓ 100% watertight zips & seams
✓ Built-in shoe covers
✓ Can attach lights to your calves
If you’re looking to pair your waterproof trousers with a jacket for ultimate protection, we’ve got advice on how to choose a waterproof hiking jacket, plus check out our pick of the top 10 lightest waterproof jackets for 2021.