During testing, we considered comfort, durability, and freedom of movement. We also looked at value, style, and clever features. After several months of researching the newest pants and putting them to the test, we’ve found the best options for every budget and use.
Luckily, we’re seeing an expanding list of hiking pants for women. And while there isn’t a single hiking pant to suit every woman, we’ve broken the list into useful categories to help you find the best fit.
The Best Hiking Pants for Women in 2023
- Best Overall Hiking Pants for Women: Patagonia Quandary Pants
- Best Budget Hiking Pants for Women: Columbia Saturday Trail Pant
- Runner-Up Best Hiking Pants for Women: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
- Best Women’s Hiking Pants for Versatility: Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pant
- Most Durable Hiking Pants for Women: Fjallraven Keb Curved Trousers
- Best Women’s Hiking Pants for Comfort: Coalatree Trailhead Pants
- Best Leggings for Hiking: Athleta Headlands Cargo Tight
- UPF 40 sun protection
- Perfect for women with curves
- Repellent finish to fend off light rain
- Shallow pockets
- Great price
- Articulated knees and gusset
- UPF 50 protection
- Water- and stain-resistant
- Pockets poorly designed
- Not enough functional pockets
- Lightweight and stretchy
- UPF 50 sun protection
- Mid-rise waist for harness and backpack compatibility
- Light material means pockets can get bulky
- Not as durable as some thicker pants in our lineup
- UPF 50+
- Roll-up pant leg
- Shallow pockets
- Reinforced areas
- Ventilation for warm weather
- Layering capabilities
- Incredible comfort
- DRW finish wards off water and stains
- Anti-microbial properties
- Pesky ankle leg ties
- UPF 50+
- Durable fabric resistant to snagging
- Durable water repellent
- Six secure-zip pockets
- Too thick for warm weather
- Higher rise waist
- DWR finish
- Could be less durable than previous version
- Flattering style
- Versatile pant
- DWR finish
- Restrictive in some areas
- Stretchy waistband
- Comfortable and flattering fit
- May be prone to snags and tears
- Reinforced high-wear areas
- Functional pockets
- Made from recycled materials
- Wide, stretchy waistband
- Made of breathable organic cotton
- Not water resistant
- Zipped pockets that secure items
- Breathable for hot hikes
- Not stylish for around town
- Wide, comfortable waistband
- Cinchable pant legs
- Not the most durable
Women’s Hiking Pant Comparison Chart
|Patagonia Quandary Pants||$89||10 oz.||96% nylon, 4% spandex||32″|
|Columbia Saturday Trail Pant||$70||11.2 oz.||96% nylon, 4% elastane||29.5″, 32″, or 34.5″|
|Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants||$99||9.5 oz.||86% nylon, 14% spandex, DWR finish||31”|
|Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pant||$99||4.5 oz/sq. yd||50% polyester, 50% new polyester||32″|
|Fjallraven Keb Curved Trousers||$235||1 lb. 3 oz.||65% polyester, 35% cotton||32″|
|Coalatree Trailhead Pants||$99||10.9 oz.||88% nylon, 12% spandex||29”|
|Athleta Headlands Cargo Tight||$119||Unavailable||91% recycled nylon, 9% spandex||26″, 28″, or 31″|
|prAna Halle II Hiking Pants||$95||Unavailable||95% recycled nylon/5% elastane||30″, 32″, or 34″|
|Patagonia Skyline Traveler Pants||$99||9.4 oz.||88% nylon, 12% spandex||27″|
|Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle||$85||Unavailable||94% nylon, 6% elastane||28″|
|Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights HD||$175||9.35 oz.||71% recycled polyester, 29% elastane||29″|
|prAna Kanab Pants||$89||5.6 oz||62% organically grown cotton, 36% nylon, 2% spandex||29”|
|First Lite Alturas Guide Pants||$145||14 oz||Durable nylon with DWR||Varies by size|
|The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 pants||$80||Unavailable||95% nylon / 5% elastane||32”|
Why You Should Trust Us
Here at GearJunkie, we are dedicated athletes, outdoor hobbyists, and all-around adventure aficionados. In other words, we do it all. We spent over a year researching and putting our hiking pants through the wringer, keeping a keen eye on durability, comfort, functionality, and even style.
Contributor Rebecca Ross is a hiking and backpacking enthusiast. She’s hiked all over the Pacific Northwest, often combined with climbing objectives. An American Alpine Club grant recipient, she’s no stranger to international climbing expeditions.
Our other tester and editor, Miya Tsudome, is also an avid hiking enthusiast and former guide for the Yosemite Mountain School, and can often be found going deep into the High Sierra mountains in her backyard of Bishop, California. She’s used and destroyed plenty of pants bushwhacking her way to remote crags and shimmying up granite chimneys.
Rebecca and Miya combine a solid understanding of what makes or breaks the best hiking pants, plus years of gear testing expertise to help you make an easier decision on selecting the perfect pants for your needs.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants
This guide focuses on the best hiking pants on the market that boast durability over the long run. Check out our guide to the best leggings if you want more suggestions for activewear to match all your adventures. Also, if you’re looking for male-specific models, check out our guide on the Best Hiking Pants for men.
Do you plan to hike only in warm summer months or do you plan to hike all year round in fluctuating weather? Do you like a lot of stretch in your pants or are you looking for something more waterproof and durable? These questions are important to keep in mind when choosing hiking pants, which come in all types of materials these days.
Most all hiking pants are made of a blend of synthetic materials. In our lineup, nylon, polyester, and spandex (elastane) are heavily featured. This ensures they have qualities that make them breathable or weather-resistant, as well as stretchy to keep you comfortable on the trail.
Pants that are primarily made of nylon, like the Patagonia Quandary Pants, Prana Halle Hiking Pants, Columbia Saturday Trail Pant, and Coalatree Trailhead Pants are tougher than pants made primarily of polyester, making them the better choice if durability is of concern.
Choosing what type of fabric will best suit your needs is ultimately a matter of personal preference and comfort, as well as considering if you need durability or breathability based on the type of hiking you will be doing. If you are looking for even more breathability, you might want to choose pants that are made with extra ventilation features like on the Fjallraven Keb Curved Trousers. These heavy-duty hiking pants have side vents on each pant leg for when you need some extra help cooling down.
Also, since pants are adding additional features to safeguard you from the sun — look for pants with UPF protection like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi which is rated at 50+ UPF!
Pant Length & Versatility
Hiking pants typically come in three main options: full-length, convertible, and roll-up.
Full-length pants are a great option for complete leg protection, even in the summer. Most of the pants on our list are considered full-length like the Patagonia Skyline Traveler Pants or the Columbia Saturday Trail Pant.
Convertible pants — none are shown in our list — are a 2-in-1 packaged deal. They can be worn as shorts or pants, as the legs zip off. They’re a great option for variable weather and multiday hikes where you want more options and less gear to pack. They don’t get as many style points but are functional and versatile if that’s what you’re looking for.
And somewhere between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants similar to Patagonia’s Quandary pants or the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants. Such pants have a tab, button, or drawcord that secures the cuff when rolled up.
Some of our testers are also big proponents of ankle-length pants that don’t require you to roll the cuff, like the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle. Not only can this be a style preference, but also it allows you to wear hiking boots with ankle cuffs without having to make any alterations to your pants, which can be a bonus for some.
Being able to move freely is a major hallmark of the best hiking pants. Whether running down the trail or scrambling up a rocky patch, you don’t want your pants restricting your movement. This is where design features like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and stretchy materials prove useful.
The female shape can be tough to fit, but there are more options now than ever before. Some brands like Fjallraven offer curvy and straight fits, while others have added plus-size technical options. And because every body is shaped differently, it can be helpful to try on a few pairs before buying to ensure a snug (but comfortable) fit.
When it comes to trekking-specific leggings, like our favorite pick, Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights HD they can often be slightly tighter and less forgiving than typical yoga pants but are more durable and often reinforced to aid in longevity on the trail.
Hiking pants come in all shapes and sizes, and some features like the type of waist closure or size and the number of pockets can help you decide what kind of pants you’ll like the best.
When out on the trail, pockets can be helpful when needing to access items quickly. Often you’ll see hiking pants with front and back pockets. Pants with more versatility will provide a zippered pocket on the thigh for added security.
Since we like to stay on the move, we prefer pants with deep pockets that fit our phones or snacks and, ideally ones that zip. When it comes to pockets that are not functional for our needs, they tend to make it on our cons list.
The Fjallraven Keb Curved Trousers have an impressive amount of pockets, with two hand pockets plus two deep pockets on each leg, and even an interior mesh pocket. We also really appreciate when leggings feature pockets, and that’s one of the main reasons the Athleta Headlands Cargo Tights and the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights made it onto our list.
You’ll also have to decide what type of waist closure you’re looking for in a hiking pant. Most traditional hiking pants feature a zipper and button closure, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Patagonia Quandary, Prana Halle II, Kuhl Freeflex, and Columbia Saturday Trail Pant. These types of pants also all come with belt loops, so you can dial in a precise fit.
The Coalatree Trailhead pants feature a cinched waistband with a drawcord for a more casual, rather than technical, look. For some, the stretchy waistband of leggings might be more appealing. These fit snugly under a backpacking backpack’s waist belt, and won’t be prone to any snagging or bunching like button-closure pants might.
A DWR (durable waterproof repellent) coating is used on most hiking pants. It doesn’t make pants completely waterproof but adds enough protection to keep you dry on dewy mornings or in light showers.
The Coalatree Trailhead Pants and Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants provide a DWR finish for unexpected rain, but we don’t recommend wearing them as all-weather pants. Instead, you would want something designed to take on more precipitation like the Columbia Saturday Trail Pant with Omni-Shield for repelling stains and water. However, if you wish to have total waterproof protection — rain pants layered over hiking pants will do the trick.
It’s worth mentioning that DWR coatings wear out over time, so you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants for optimal performance. Nikwax Softshell Proof Wash-In is an easy way to keep your pants repelling water year after year.
Additional Features for Hiking Pants
The little extras can really make or break a good pair of pants. Some of the features available are well-positioned cargo pockets, zippered pockets, cooling vents, belt loops, and built-in belts. These boost a pant’s useability and function on long treks, and help with organization and overall comfort as the miles grind by.
Additional features we like are stain resistance and anti-microbial properties for fewer washes, protection from abrasions to keep your pants lasting through rugged terrain, and even designated waist loops designed to keep items handy. Whether you want these or not depends on your personal hiking plans and style.
The best hiking pants will vary from person to person. Big things to look for, though, are comfort, breathability, and the ability to dry quickly. If you plan to do a lot of winter or cold-weather hiking, you may want an insulated legging or room to layer long underwear underneath.
The last few years have seen an explosion in hiking leggings (and everyday leggings in general). We like them for a few reasons.
First, the flat waistband is comfortable underneath a pack. Hiking-specific leggings are made to be more durable, although that sometimes comes at the expense of breathability.
We also appreciate having a side-leg pocket for quick phone storage. Some leggings may not be as quick-drying as hiking pants or offer as many larger cargo-style pockets.
You can, of course, hike in darn near anything. And if it comes down to not hiking or hiking in less-than-perfect pants, we’d always choose hiking. That said, the best hiking pants offer increased comfort and utility on the trail.
If you’re just going for a quick outing, having the right pants is less important. If you’re backpacking for a week, the right pants could make or break your adventure.
The features we look for in a good pair of hiking pants are pockets that are ample in size, with bonus points for additional pockets with zippers to keep your items secure. Being able to cuff or cinch your pants is also a great addition, especially for those who are on the shorter side. Weather protection, whether UPF to guard against the sun or DWR finish to repel water make for a more versatile pant.
After 2 years of intensive testing, we found the best leggings for women. Go from yoga to the mountaintop to the coffee shop without a hitch.