Model: Stretch Rain Pants
Our take We know: Nobody likes to hike in rainpants. But when you’re dealing with extended soakers or thrashing your way through wet brush, they can be the difference between a good day in the rain and a swift ticket to hypothermia. This Montbell pair is easier to wear than most: Slight stretch translates to unimpeded scrambling and striding, and full-length side zips make it easy to put them on over boots (the cut is on the slim side, so consider sizing up). Breathability of the proprietary three-layer fabric is passable: We only felt stuffy during on-and-off showers when temps reached the 60s. They pack into an included pint-size stuffsack (but testers wrestled to get them to fit inside it).
The details Drawcords at the ankles (pictured) can be deployed like gaiters: Pull the cord out, twist it once, and step into the loop. The cords hold the pants tightly across the ankles for a nearly impenetrable seal against rain. The top-to-bottom side zippers let us dump extra heat, but some testers struggled with getting the small zippers to catch.
Trail cred “They offer such superb weather protection and are so light and packable, it’s an easy decision to toss them in my pack,” says a Colorado tester. “They weathered 35-mph winds and freezing rain at 13,000 feet.”