View Full Version : Any trail workers here? Which pants?

03-05-2014, 19:45
With another season of trails quickly approaching, I'm in the market for some new pants. Last year, Dickies were provided which suck for hiking and the crotches rip out. Something between an REI Sahara (for the movement) and the durability of Dickies would be great. Any suggestions for a pant that fits this bill? Kuhl pants seem a bit more rugged. With REI dividends coming out, pants found at REI would be a big plus :D What ya'll think?

03-05-2014, 21:02
A lot of the trail maintainers here wear Carhart pants. I wear their double knee work pants with foam knee inserts.

03-05-2014, 21:03
I use the Riggs workwear cargo pants for trail work. No they are not at REI but at places such as Cabela's and Gempler's. I love Sahara pants but they're for hiking not trail work. Riggs are considerably tougher and do fairly well at allowing movement, at the obvious cost of additional weight (and water retention if you get wet) compared to Sahara. I even have a pair of Riggs zip-offs - sometimes the trail work is on the other side of a fording from where you can get the materials to.

03-05-2014, 21:42
Thanks for the suggestions I'll look into them! I've got a cabelas near by.
Trying to strike a balance. It seems my issues have come from lack of movement versus durability, but still need something a little thicker.

03-05-2014, 21:53
It sort of depends on type of trail work. If I'm doing some fast "rake and run" maintenance over a long distance, there's nothing wrong with hiking pants. If I'm hiking a short way in to build a rock staircase or put in a gate, blue jeans work fine. If it's a combination or unknown, or I might get wet, I err on the light side and wear an old pair of hiking pants and take a chance. Or step away from the heavier work depending on the crew. Same thing with footwear and helmet, depending on who's leading the crew and whose jurisdiction.

The Cleaner
03-05-2014, 22:06
BDUs poly/cotton blend. I buy used ones so if torn up I'm not out too many $$.

03-05-2014, 22:30
I wore Dickies pants and shirt and never had an issue, but that was some time ago.

03-05-2014, 22:50
My go to pants are a pair of heavy weight nylon pants with double knees that I got at REI years ago. They are indestructible and dry faster than cotton. I have looked for another pair or something similar for years but haven't found them. For backup or when the nylon pants get too dirty, I use old cotton khakis or Carharts.

03-05-2014, 22:59
Nylon zip-offs, World Wide Sports from Bass-pro or Magellans from Acadamy or camp-mor brand.

03-06-2014, 08:30
Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm going to search for a lightweight pant with reinforced knees and butt. Perhaps even have something sewn over. This seems like the best balance.
My sahara pants held up surprisingly well hiking and bushwhacking through manzanita last season, and with the reinforced knees I'd think they could tackle rock work.
Keep em comin', this guy is going pants shopping :)

03-06-2014, 10:55
Arborwear Tech Pants. Not cheap, but they'll last several times as long as Carhartts. They are a high tenacity nylon, double knees, reinforced butt, and a crotch gussett designed for tree climbing. The fabric doesn't feel as rugged as it is, but in my work, I'm bushwhacking through vines, over rocks, pressing through thickets of multiflora rose, blackberry, greenbriar/bullbriar, etc. all day long, rain, sun, sleet, snow, etc. The thorns do get through, but they can't tear the fabric or the thread. I've got one set of tech pants that have been through roughly 6 years of this, and two other pairs with five or six years of this abuse on them. All are still completely serviceable.

Under similar conditions, Carhartts last me about 1 year. Standard BDU/ACU pants last a matter of months. The Fire Resistant (FR) rated ACU pants may not last a week and are terribly prone to torn out crotches.

Arborwear Tech pants retail for somewhere around 70 or 80 bucks, you can get them cheaper. But since they last several times as long as Carhartts or Dickies, it is not really that expensive. I wear mine days in a row until they get so filthy and salt encrusted they can just about stand up on their own, and they just keep on going. We are always wet, sweaty and filthy. We run chainsaws and other items all day long, so gas and oil spills on our clothing are pretty common. These pants stand up to it and ask for more. The owner of the company was a working arborist for many years, and designs his clothing to deal with the conditions arborists work under in trees, so they resist abrasion well, fit well, move well and last a long time.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm going to search for a lightweight pant with reinforced knees and butt. Perhaps even have something sewn over. This seems like the best balance.
My sahara pants held up surprisingly well hiking and bushwhacking through manzanita last season, and with the reinforced knees I'd think they could tackle rock work.
Keep em comin', this guy is going pants shopping :)

Tipi Walter
03-06-2014, 10:59
I do a lot of trailwork as I hike on my backpacking trips and have found my usual shorts to be excellent for both backpacking and trailwork. In bad clumps of crap I always throw off the pack and take my time to clip, prune and saw away whatever is ahead and blocking the trail. The Felco pruners work great for briars too.


Here's some other recent trip pics of typical trailwork-while-backpacking---

This one is on the Nutbuster trail of Upper Slickrock Creek, NC. Before and After.


Most of the hemlocks in NC and TN have died thanks to free trade with Japan (the woolly adelgid) and the majority of my work now is about clearing off these falling hemlocks. Point is, no pants needed---just go slow, be careful and wear shorts.

Lone Wolf
03-06-2014, 11:07

03-06-2014, 11:26
Tipi, good pictures! It's awesome you take care of that stuff out on your hike. What an example. I would LOVE to be able to wear shorts but it isn't allowed with the club I'll be working for. And nice hand saw. Reminds me of the "big boy" I used. For a tree that size I'd love to cut through with a single buck, but I don't imagine you want to carry one on your hikes, hah!

Thanks Iceman and LW. Hopefully I can find these in some stores. We all know we could try on 10 pairs of pants, all different sizes, and have them fit the same.


^ Enjoying a cool breeze from some ripped seams.

03-21-2014, 09:10

these look good..

Mountain Mike
03-21-2014, 09:44
I've had these for hiking pants for years http://www.railriders.com/men-winter-weatherpants-p-947.html?cPath=104_110 Reinfored knees & pants seat.

03-21-2014, 10:06
Mike, I was looking at those as well. I ended up ordering the Montane Terra Pants (got for $89 each with free shipping). But if the sizing isnt right I'm going to try the railriders as I've been reading good things as well.

03-21-2014, 10:22
+1 on Railriders - my go to pant, pretty indestructible

03-21-2014, 17:29
+1 on the Railriders and the Arborwear. Both are on the pricy side as others have mentoned, but are durable and don't get quite so heavy after several days of working in the rain. Cotton (like Carharts), just gets soggy and stays that way. If you are out daily for the whole summer, even the Railriders or Arborwear will probably be nearly worn out at the end of the season. If it's just a couple of weeks of crew, or when you are doing more episodic work they'll last for several years.


03-22-2014, 05:44
I wear my old Army ACUs. They fall somewhere between hiking pants and the older heaver BDUs.

03-22-2014, 07:36
I'll give another recommendation for Duluth.