Why Jeans Are Not Viable Hiking Clothing

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Almost everyone has a pair of jeans in their wardrobe. They are strong and durable and easy to find. If you’re thinking of hiking you might reach for your jeans thinking the strong material makes them perfect for a hike. They are sturdy and have very few chances of ripping apart. But should you hike in jeans?

Unless you’re completely new to hiking, you would probably know that you shouldn’t hike in jeans if you have the choice. Jeans are made from cotton, which can trap water and moisture. Especially in cold weather, if your jeans get wet, they might even freeze and that can be dangerous in low temperatures. 

But there are plenty of people who love to hike in jeans and they swear by it. It can be okay to hike in them, in certain cases, for instance in the summer or on a short hike. But you should do your research before reaching for your jeans next time you run out for a hike. 

Happy senior couple walking with dog on a hiking trail

Should You Wear Jeans to Hike?

No, you should try to avoid wearing jeans while you’re hiking and never, ever wear them if you are hiking in colder temperatures. They can be uncomfortable, trap sweat and moisture, cause rashes, be heavy when wet, etc. and are overall a bad choice when it comes to hiking. 

The main reason why jeans are a bad option for hiking is that they are made of cotton. This brings with it several different problems. As you may know, cotton is very porous and traps moisture and water droplets. 

This can be problematic especially in colder temperatures. Suppose you are hiking in your jeans, thinking it’s going to keep you warm in the winter. You step into a puddle and your jeans get wet. Now since it’s made of cotton, the water from the puddle gets trapped in the jeans and your jeans take much longer to dry.

If temperatures are cold enough, these stuck water droplets can even cause your plants to freeze. If you’re on an especially long walk, wearing “frozen pants” obviously has consequences. You will lose a lot of precious body heat and can get a fever and it might even stop blood flow in extreme conditions. 

Even if the temperature is not close to freezing, wet jeans can still take away warmth from your body. This is why it’s very important not to wear jeans or sweatpants, or any similar moisture trapping clothes when you’re hiking in winter. Many hiking clubs will even ban you to wear jeans. Yes, it’s that serious. 

And if your jeans get wet by any chance, they become heavier and thus harder to hike in. This can cause hypothermia and cause serious health problems. Jeans will conduct heat away from your body 25 times more than dry clothes. 

Even during the summer, jeans can be a problem while hiking. They trap sweat from your body as well and will make you uncomfortable and smelly. The trapped sweat near your thighs can even cause rashes to appear. 

A lot of people also find jeans to be uncomfortable to wear for long periods anyway. A hike can be tiring, so you should be wearing comfortable clothes. So, if you have the choice, you should always steer away from jeans when hiking. 

When is it Okay to Wear Jeans to Hike?

Even though there are many problems with hiking in jeans, it doesn’t stop people from hiking in them. Chances are you won’t face any problems while hiking in jeans if you’re going for a short hike in summer for instance. If the weather is looking good, and you’re not planning to go for an intense session but something more like a nature walk, jeans are fine.

Hiking in jeans was very popular in the seventies and eighties. And even now, a lot of people still prefer to hike in their jeans. Due to the toughness of most jeans, a lot of people like them over other alternatives. They are less likely to rip even if you brush against random bushes or thorns or if you trip and fall for instance. 

Some also prefer that they are made from cotton, and they prefer the breathable material over synthetic alternatives. But even if there are people who like to hike in jeans, it’s still not the best idea. 

If you still want to hike in jeans though, there are special jeans that are designed for outdoor activities. You could think of investing in one of these special jeans. Or you can wear hiking appropriate boots that protect your jeans as well. Just make sure they don’t get wet and it’s a fairly sunny day. 

You could also pack in extra clothes in your backpack if you’re thinking of wearing jeans on a hiking trip. Just in case they do get wet, or if the weather gets cooler suddenly, you can change into a different pair of pants. This can be very difficult though, as finding a place to change when you’re on a hike is a bit unrealistic. 

Alternate Clothing Options for Hiking

Well if we can’t wear jeans then the next question is what pants to wear hiking then? There is a whole range of options out there and there are brands that are dedicated to making hiking appropriate clothing and gear. 

Anything made of fabrics that dry easily is a good idea. Keep an eye out for pants made of moisture-wicking materials. Hiking is an activity that will make you sweat. Your clothes should wick away any sweat or moisture stuck to your body and keep you dry. Sweat building up can be uncomfortable, smelly, and unhealthy. 

You could opt for spandex or nylon pants. They are very flexible and stretchable and make for great hiking wear. Polyester pants are also a great option. You can even get synthetic hiking garments made from recycled materials. These are great options for a greener hiker. 

Another great option especially for winter is merino wool. This material is great for moisture-wicking and dries very easily. It prevents blisters and rashes too. But this might be a little bit expensive. Fleece too is great for winter, though it isn’t waterproof or windproof. So, you’ll probably need an outer layer if it’s colder. 

You don’t even have to spend money on getting hiking-appropriate clothes either. You can easily wear leggings or any pants that are lying around the house. A pants that fits properly and is comfortable is a great option. But most importantly wear pants that will dry easily if wet. 

During summer you can also wear cotton shorts. While this is still cotton, since these won’t weigh you down or are less likely to get wet from puddles, shorts are a better option than wearing jeans. 

An ideal hiking pant should be breathable, comfortable, moisture-wicking, and preferably waterproof and even windproof. Just keep these factors in mind, while choosing your hiking wear and you should be fine. Chances are you will find something or other in your wardrobe that fits these criteria. 

Final Thoughts on Should You Hike in Jeans

While jeans are a common clothing option for most people and they are durable and tough, when it comes to the question of should you hike in jeans, however, they just fall short.

There are more cons than pros to hiking in jeans than pros and you should always try to wear more hiking-appropriate bottoms if you can.

Thanks for reading till the end. Hope this article has provided you the answer you were looking for. Until next time, farewell.

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