Pants – Pants are generally made from nylon or polyester and even from a blend of polyester and cotton. Some are made of light weight nylon-based ripstop material. This material helps control rips in case they do happen. The two features that are very important when picking out backpacking pants are durability, and the ability to dry fast.
Your pants will go through it all with you (hopefully) so you want to know that they will be able to go through it all with you. They need to be tough enough to be able to take limbs rubbing or grabbing them. And you want to be ale to know that when you need to sit down and take a much needed break that when you get up the rocks will not have torn a hole in the bottom and showing off your behind!
Of course backpackers are going to be left out in the rain at times as well. Typically you will only have one pair of pants, so you want to know that they will dry out quickly in time of need. This is why cotton pants (blue-jeans) are not ideal while backpacking. They used to be worn as backpacking clothes, but now we have ultra light super strong fabrics that dry out super quick.
There are a few things in pants that may need to be focused on other than the actual material and the ability to dry quickly, the features. Pockets, elasticized waistbands, snap or button, zippers, color and even the ability to convert to shorts. All these things should be taken into consideration when picking out your hiking pants. Is there enough pockets, are they deep enough, do they close (by zipper or Velcro)? How comfortable is the waistband, does it stretch with you? Also, take into consideration, when hiking multiple days your waistline may shrink, so do you have a belt, or something to cinch the pants together? If the pants are closed with a sewn on button, do you have a spare in case the other one is lost? Does the fly zip closed, and if so how well does the zipper work? And are you sure you want that light color? They collect dirt really fast and makes you look really dirty walking into town. However, do you sweat your tail off in the darker pants? There is a balance. Lastly, do you want pants that convert? These allow double duty, which is a good thing, but they seem to be an issue for some.
With all pants, try them on and see how they fit. And if you can, even if you know which ones you are getting, if it’s your first time, try on a few different pairs to get different fittings, then choose. The many brands all fit very different. How does the material feel against your skin? How does the waist fit? Is the length ok for you? How about the seams, do they rub you, especially for convertible pants. Walk around in the pants, do the move with you, or do you feel resistance wearing them. Some pants are made to stretch a little bit to improve comfort and movement.