After months on the trail, we found the best hiking pants for women. Pick a pair and get ready for adventure.
Finding pants that fit can be a real hassle. Adding the need for technical performance, comfort, and at least a dash of fashion can leave you frustrated and pantless.
Luckily, we’re seeing an expanding list of hiking pants for women. And after several months researching the newest pants and years putting them to the test, we’ve found the best options for every budget and use. During testing, we considered comfort, durability, and freedom of movement. We also looked at value, style, and extra features.
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. And if you need more, check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article.
The Best Hiking Pants for Women in 2021
Lightweight and comfortable, these pants ($79) have just enough stretch to keep you moving freely. Curvy women know it can be a pain to find pants (especially hiking pants) that fit the booty and thighs. We were pleasantly surprised to find these fit perfectly in both the butt and waist.
On top of that, the DWR coating provides extra protection against water and rain, and the hidden tabs allow them to be worn as capris during warm weather. Light enough to wear in the summer and sturdy enough to use all winter long (add warmth with a thermal base layer), these could quickly become your go-to hiking pant.
- Fabric: 96% nylon, 4% spandex
- Inseam: 30″ or 32″
These ultradurable trekking pants should come with a warning that reads, “Once you put these on, be prepared to go do big things.” The G-1000 material is abrasion-resistant, and the reinforced knees and rear provide extra protection where you need it most.
Complete with long side vents and large snap-down cargo pockets, the Keb Trouser ($225) is ready for it all. We also appreciate the strategically placed elastane, which allows for full range of movement.
We have tested these during rain, in frigid temperatures, and during hot, sticky days. Thanks to the side vents, they’re very breathable in the hottest of temperatures. And for colder weather, it’s easy to throw on a thin pair of long underwear underneath.
They are on the pricier side. But, if you’re looking to buy just one pair of pants that you can wear all year round and do everything in, then they’re worth every penny.
- Fabric: Face fabric is G-1000 Eco (65% recycled polyester, 35% organic cotton); stretch panels are 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
- Inseam: 32″
If sweatpants and hiking pants had a baby, the Coalatree Trailhead pant would be it. They’re undeniably comfortable and trail-ready. Oh, and did we mention they also look great on?
The eco-friendly DWR finish not only repels water but also keeps stains at bay. The four-way stretch allowed us to fully scramble, climb, and lounge. And the ripstop nylon proved impressively durable and tear-resistant.
Earning high marks for breathability, these will surely become a favorite pair of hiking pants for summer. They’re also available in a slim-fit design.
- Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% spandex
- Inseam: Unavailable
A great bang for the buck, we love these pants ($60) for both their durability and comfort. The two-way stretch and gusset make high-stepping or scrambling a breeze, and the Omni-Shield finish repels unwanted water and stains.
But if you like to carry a lot in your pockets, you may be disappointed. Items easily fall out of slanted front pockets, and there’s only one small zippered pocket. Pocket space aside, these are an excellent choice for getting outside, whether that be an epic backcountry adventure or a leisurely day hike.
- Fabric: 96% nylon, 4% elastane
- Inseam: 29.5″, 32″, or 34.5″
These technical pants ($139) are surprisingly adaptable. They come equipped with two of our favorite features: a zippered kick gusset that adapts to any pair of shoes and a hidden pocket on the hip that’s perfect for money, cards, or even headphones.
After multiple days of use with no washing in between, we were able to spot clean them easily. And we were happy to see that they kept their shape. Stio’s rugged and repellent Tetonic Twill fabric stands up to heavy use while being able to hold its own in the local coffee shop.
Whether you need a pair of pants that transition from trail to office, or are wanting a highly durable yet flattering pair of pants for everyday life, the Stio Coburn XT is it.
- Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% spandex
- Inseam: 29.5″
prAna took its classic and very popular Stretch Zion fabric and made yet another amazing pant with it. The Sky Canyon jogger ($89) is perfect for any kind of adventure. From multiday backpacking trips to a casual stroll on your local trail, these pants were made to do it all and look good while doing it.
They’re slightly stretchy, water-resistant, and have a UPF 50 sun safety rating. We like the taper at the bottom. And we especially love the storage offered up with six pockets. For short hikes, we don’t even carry a backpack — you can find a place for everything in the pants.
- Fabric: 97% nylon, 3% spandex
- Inseam: Unavailable
These pants have been one tester’s go-to pair of pants for climbing, hiking, kid-chasing, and bike-errand-running for the last 2 months. They have yet to fail, and we get compliments on them with every wear.
We appreciate the tapered leg and the slightly tight fit around the calf. Not only is it very flattering, but for walking through the brush, climbing, and even biking, it means worry-free, non-snagging steps. The DWR finish makes them both durable and water-resistant, which is always a good thing.
- Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% spandex
- Inseam: 27″
A choice pick for summer alone or combined with base layers for cool hikes, First Lite’s Alturas Guide Pant ($135-145) is a breathable, durable pant that cuts no corners. The pockets are legitimately utilitarian without feeling like a cargo pant. And the fabric maintains an excellent feel over long distances.
This pant will last. Beat the tar out of it for a few years, and then keep it up. Made for hunters, durability is top of mind in First Lite’s line, and its gear proves itself in the field. If you’re looking for a pant to get you through, invest here.
A new merino pant option called the Obsidian is now available for women from First Lite at a higher price point of $180 as well.
- Fabric: Durable nylon with DWR
- Inseam: Varies by size
Best Hiking Leggings
We’re big fans of leggings (check out the best leggings of 2021 for more), but sometimes what works great in yoga class simply can’t stand up to the rigors of a multiday trek. Luckily, we found these trekking-specific tights ($175): Our legging prayers have been answered!
Offering all the same comfort and stretch you’ve come to expect in a legging, Swedish brand Fjallraven takes it a step further, adding reinforcement over the rear and knees. The side pocket easily fits a phone, and the drawcord in the wide waistband makes for easy size adjustments. It’s a total trekking win.
- Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% spandex
- Inseam: 26″
These hiking leggings ($70) offer up a lot of comfort at a reasonable price. The polyester blend does a great job wicking sweat while still being soft against the skin.
We appreciate the wide waistband and never had any trouble with it rolling down. There’s also a drawstring that allows for a custom fit. Best of all, they don’t fall down or sag, even when jogging or quickly hiking.
The zippered waistband pocket is just big enough to stash a key or chapstick, but not much else. These aren’t as crazy-durable as the aforementioned Abisko leggings, so we wouldn’t slide down rock or go wild bushwacking. But if you’re looking for a pair of leggings that can hold their own on the trail or in the gym, these are it.
- Fabric: 85% polyester, 15% spandex
- Inseam: 27″
How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants
Pant Length & Versatility
Hiking pants 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. To combat overheating, our favorite full-length pants have zippered vents and mesh pockets to increase airflow.
Convertible pants are the ultimate 2-in-1. 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 — and they really make you look like a septuagenarian hiker, if that’s what you’re going for.
Somewhere in between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants. These have a tab, button, or drawcord that secures the cuff when rolled up. They offer a bit more cooling and are especially popular in climbing pants, where complete mobility is key.
Being able to move freely is a major concern. 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.
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. Some brands like Fjallraven offer curvy and straight fits, and many others have added plus-size technical options. The female shape can be tough to fit, but there are more options now than ever before.
One note on leggings: Trekking-specific leggings can often be a tighter and less forgiving fit than a typical yoga pant, but they’re more durable and often reinforced to aid in longevity on the trail.
A DWR 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 coating washes out over time, so for optimal performance, you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants. 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. Well-positioned cargo pockets, zippered pockets, belt loops, and built-in belts are some of the features available. Whether you want these or not really depends on your personal hiking plans and style.
What Kind of Pants Are Best for Hiking?
The best pair of 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.
Are Leggings Good for Hiking?
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.
Do I Really Need Hiking Pants?
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, hiking-specific 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.