An essential layer that needs to be comfortable and protective from both the elements and the environment.  Compromises as always between weight and thermal protection, and – as with so much in bushcraft – you get what you pay for.

If you are cost conscious, there are many choices available to you: opt for a base layer like thermal leggings under trousers and a ‘shell’ or waterproof trouser to go over the top if the weather turns nasty.  Always try them on before you buy them, and have a go at kneeling and climbing over stuff to check for range of movement and kneeling comfort.  Also listen for ‘russtlyness’, some cheaper brands are very noisy.

Features to look for:

  • Good knee-pads
  • built in padding for cold-weather trousers
  • Water-repellant
  • lots of quality, well-thought out pockets
  • zippable knees that turn them into shorts in very warm weather
  • Thorn-proof fabric

Features to avoid:

  • Bright colours, or non-natural colours
  • Cotton fibres

All-season trousers

  • Hard-wearing
  • Water resistant
  • Natural colours
  • Good knee protection
  • Can be very expensive – but price equals quality and durability
  • Not waterproof, will still need a shell layer in very wet weather
Stockists and Price

Outdoors clothing is another very large field, with brands like Craghoppers and Fjallraven being well known.  Go to a good shop and try on several pairs, go with what feels comfortable rather than a specific size and always opt for slightly on the larger size in-case you wear thermals underneath.  Decathlon do some very serviceable trousers for under £20, but they can be very noisy.  At the other end of the spectrum, Fjallraven produce arguably the best quality but they will set you back in excess of £150.

Insulated / lined trousers

  • Great in the winter
  • Tend to be more weatherproof than normal trousers
  • More comfortable for kneeling onn
  • Can be heavy and restrictive in movement
  • Can get sweaty if you’re working hard, unless they are of a very high quality breathable fabric, which can be very expensive.
  • if they get wet, they stay wet longer than normal trousers.
Stockists and Price

All online and high street outdoors shops sell a good range.  you get what you pay for, with a good quality pair costing over £50.  It may be more economical to get wool leggings and go for a cheaper pair of normal trousers, it also may give you more flexibility if the weather is changeable.

Cotton jeans

  • Fashionable
  • Generic, most people have a pair at home
  • Hard-wearing
  • Not at all water repellent or resistant
  • Very hard to dry properly – if you get wet they will chill you and chafe your skin
  • Poor knee protection
  • Restrictive in movement – can be tight around the crotch and waist
  • Not a natural colour – no good for blending in to the natural background to see wildlife
  • Pockets only really useful for small things
Stockists and Price

Leave the Jeans at home.

Terry’s favourite

“I tend to go for Craghoppers, or what’s a good price at my local outdoors shop.  Knee protection is a must, along with lots of pockets to carry all my gadgets and bits of kit.”

Adrian’s favourite

“I used to prefer lined trousers but have now moved to thermal leggings and a good value pair of trousers from Decathlon.  I will oneday splash out on a pair of Fjallraven trousers, they really are the best.”