Somewhere off the coast of Norway’s Lofoten Islands, I’m patiently waiting on the deck of a fishing trawler as an Arctic ice storm positions itself above me. If I wait it out and I’m lucky, I’ll catch one of the region’s prized cod, but so far, it’s been a waiting game made all the more charming by intermittent rain, ice, and, at times, a combo of the two. Despite the extreme weather, it dawns on me that not an inch of me is wet, cold, or uncomfortable, which is shocking since my body temperature generally runs five degrees cooler than most folks and I have difficulty keeping my legs and feet warm. At that moment, a massive gush of water splashes over the deck. “Welcome to nature,” I think to myself. Yet somehow, I barely feel a thing, and the drops roll right off what are probably the best hiking pants I’ve ever come across: the Norrøna Falketind Flex1 Softshell Pants.
I first discovered the brand Norrøna, which you see a lot of in Scandinavia, when I traveled to Antarctica and tested a fine smattering of cold-weather gear. I instantly fell in love with the brand because the Falketind Flex1 Pants and Lofoten Gloves kept me warmer and more comfortable than everything else I wore on the frozen continent. Now, these trusty pants have quickly become my go-to in an ever-growing arsenal of hiking and adventure travel gear. Norrøna boldly claims that these pants are made for “all seasons, any weather,” and I agree wholeheartedly since I’ve taken them all over the world with me at this point.
To buy: backcountry.com, $199
Earlier in the week, the Norrøna Hiking Pants accompanied me on an exhilarating sea eagle safari (another very cold at-sea day) and a wintery hike that brought me underneath hjell, the cod drying racks that dot the region on a multi-day itinerary to the Lofoten Islands. But one of the reasons I appreciated them the most is because they’ve also come along for the ride in many different occasions and climates, including late fall and early spring days in Colorado, when the temperatures can fluctuate wildly. Somehow, I always feel comfortable and can regulate my body heat in them.
Norrøna has a Lofoten line made with water- and windproof Gore-Tex, which is even more rugged and designed for big mountain skiing. I sometimes slip those pants over the Falketind pants, but I generally find that even in the cases where there is a lot of wind or extreme cold, I can usually just layer them with a merino wool base layer and avoid needing to double up on pants. This makes these particular hiking pants a must-pack item when I travel, regardless of the conditions I’ll be facing.
What’s more, these wondrous softshell pants are partly made of recyclable materials, including polyamide, polyester, and elastane, and are available for men and women (and currently on sale for the latter at $150). I own them in two different colors: indigo night (blue) and caviar (black), both of which are neutral enough to pair with any other clothing I might be wearing, but interesting enough that they’re not simply just another pair of blue or black pants.
As an avid skier and hiker (and just someone that likes to keep as active as possible, especially when traveling), ease of movement is paramount. And, the lightweight nature of the Falketind Flex1 Pants never makes them feel heavy, nor do they give me any resistance during more arduous activities like backcountry skiing. There’s also something special about how streamlined they are, and I find that all of Norrøna’s gear comes loaded with everything you could need for an adventurous activity, but nothing extra.
To buy: backcountry.com, $199
For starters, one of my favorite features of the Falketind Flex1 Pants is the adjustable (and surprisingly soft) hook-and-loop closure at the waistband, which can easily stretch to snuggly fit over a base layer. To ensure that they won’t ride up or down, the pants also have a double button closure at the top to keep them in place — and I admire the quality of the buttons, which are sturdy, snap well, and never come undone. At the same time, when it’s time to take them off, despite this sturdiness, it’s not like you have to yank hard at them as I do on other competitor pants.
I also find that there’s a lot of functionality built into these Norrøna hiking pants by way of pockets. Just below the waistline, two zip pockets go deeper than you’d expect and easily fit my iPhone 14 Pro and keep it in a perfect, upright position for quick access. Towards the mid-thigh, another single pocket can be found with an easy-to-open zipper, and inside it includes a smaller interior mesh pocket sewn into the larger pocket. I particularly appreciate this pocket-within-a-pocket because it allows me to stow away lip balms or other small, loose items like a goggle wipe. Another handy pocket can be found on the rear of the pants, and when things start to get sweaty, I like that I can unzip the vents located on the back of the legs just above the thigh for extra air circulation.
When I’m on the slopes and looking to expand these pants to fit over ski boots, the Falketind Flex1 Pants have convenient leg zippers and gussets to do so. Off of the mountain, they can also be tightened up to wear with a pair of cross trainers for après-ski or other outdoor fitness activities.
The seat of these pants is another one of its perks; it’s roomy and comfortable to move in without feeling baggy. I have a thinner frame — with a bit of junk in the trunk — and I find that the fit of the Falketind Flex1 Pants are exceptionally flattering and streamlined for my body type. Norrøna’s logo is discreetly embroidered into the fabric on the left thigh as well as below the waist on the back side of the pants, which is nice because they’re so neutral looking that I found myself regularly living in them rather than changing into jeans since they integrated well with my more fashionable wardrobe items, too.
To buy: backcountry.com, $199
In my experience and from what I’ve discussed with other adventure travelers, Norrøna’s gear is exceptionally long-lasting. The two pairs of pants I own still look as good as the day I unboxed them, despite washing them multiple times and wearing them across the globe. Though I’ve never had one of my Norrøna zippers break or a button snap, knowing that they have a repair process provides peace of mind, and I find their gear to be a sound investment since you can continue to repair and reuse it if need be.
That being said, if you’re looking for a superior pair of hiking pants ideal for all conditions and traveling, you’ll see that it doesn’t get any better than the Norrøna Falketind Flex1 Softshell Pants. Pick up a pair of the travel writer-approved hiking pants at Backcountry before your next adventure.
Though they’ll last you plenty of cold-weather seasons to come, at nearly $200, I know that the Falketind Flex1 Pants aren’t exactly wallet-friendly. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, keep scrolling to shop through the best men’s hiking pants you can find from across the web.
More Comfortable Men’s Hiking Pants
Tbmpoy Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants With Belt
To buy: amazon.com, $38 (originally $46)
REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Snow Pants
To buy: rei.com, from $104 (originally $149)
Free Soldier Softshell Fleece-Lined Cargo Pants With Belt
To buy: amazon.com, $39 (originally $44)
The North Face Freedom Snow Pants
To buy: rei.com, from $74 (originally $149)
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