I’ve been hiking for over two decades, and for years I mostly wore hiking pants. Even though I wore leggings for running, yoga, and everyday life, I didn’t trust them for hiking since they kept getting ripped or they fell down. Enter hiking leggings!
I got a pair of hiking leggings about five years ago (followed by several more pairs), and now I love to wear leggings on hikes. They’re so comfortable!
In this post, I’ve got everything you need to know about hiking leggings including:
- Recommendations for the best hiking leggings in four categories: stretch-woven leggings, reinforced leggings, durable knit leggings, and winter leggings
- Why hike in leggings instead of pants? What are the pros and cons of hiking in leggings?
- How to choose hiking leggings: What features should you look for?
Psst! Looking for recommendations for hiking pants instead of leggings? Head over to my Best Women’s Hiking Pants post. It has picks for every body type.
Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn
How I Picked
There are literally thousands of pairs of leggings out there. But most are made for running, yoga, or casual wear. Some of them are fine for hiking, and if you already own leggings you like hiking in, that’s great. But in this post, I’m focusing only on leggings designed specifically for hiking.
That means that all the leggings on this list are designed to wick sweat and use durable fabric that will stand up to scrapes and scuffs. No one wants to poke a hole in their tights or sit down on a sharp rock that creates a big tear in the butt of their leggings. (Both have happened to me when hiking in running leggings!)
Hiking leggings use a few different types of construction and fabric to make them more durable than regular leggings. I’ll explain each type and give you my picks for the best hiking leggings in four different categories.
Best Durable Knit Hiking Leggings
The hiking leggings in this category might look like regular running tights or yoga leggings. Like those leggings, they are made with knit fabric.
But in these hiking leggings, the knit fabric is a little thicker and made with more durable threads to resist abrasion. They also have hiking-specific features like pockets and a contoured fit.
Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings
Features: Abrasion-resistant knit fabric, thigh pockets
These stretchy, moisture-wicking leggings are designed for both hiking and rock climbing. The jersey knit fabric looks like regular yoga tights but uses more durable nylon to resist abrasion.
They have two big thigh pockets that hold your phone. The pockets are set lower on the thigh, closer to the knee, so that you can still access them while wearing a climbing harness.
The high-rise waist and compression fit help them stay in place.
Patagonia Pack Out Tights
Features: Durable knit fabric, thigh pockets
These Patagonia hiking leggings have a soft and stretchy fabric that is also abrasion resistant because it’s a double-knit that is a bit thicker than normal yoga tights. They also have a sweat-wicking finish and a durable odor-control treatment.
The Pack Out Tights have a wide waistband, but it is mid-rise, unlike most of the hiking tights on this list.
Two drop-in thigh pockets are big enough to hold your phone and a zippered pocket at the hip holds keys or cards.
Psst: These leggings are also available in plus sizes. If you’re looking for a more durable version, check out the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights (reviewed below).
Ibez Lizzi Tights
Features: Compression fit, big thigh pockets, made with anti-itch, anti-microbial merino wool fabric
I got a pair of these merino wool hiking leggings last spring and so far, I like them a lot. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical of them at first. Merino wool is not known for being a durable fabric so I thought they would get ripped easily.
I’m happy to report that they have stood up quite well – no rips or tears yet! They are made with merino wool that is blended with nylon, which adds lots of strength, and elastane for stretch.
I do find that the fabric is quite thick (which it likely has to be for durability) so they run a little hotter than many other hiking tights. I will likely only wear them in spring and fall or mild winter weather.
The fit is pretty good too, with a wide waistband that stays in place. The side pockets are big enough to comfortably fit my phone.
Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings
Features: Compression fit, moisture-wicking fabric, odor-control treatment, zippered thigh pockets
I’ve had a pair of these Eddie Bauer hiking leggings for about six months and I wear them fairly often on easier hikes.
While they are more durable than regular running leggings, they aren’t as abrasion-resistant as some other tights on this list so I don’t wear them if I expect any rock scrambling or brush.
The compression fit and high-rise waist holds them in place while I hike, which I like.
The thigh pockets have zippers, which makes it a little harder to get my phone in and out, but also holds it a lot more securely.
Psst: These hiking leggings also come in a reinforced version called the Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Hybrid Leggings (reviewed below). They’re also available in plus sizes.
Columbia Windgates II Leggings
Features: durable wicking fabric, cargo pockets
These leggings are made with a durable yet stretchy fabric that is double knit for abrasion resistance and wicks sweat.
They have a high waist that doesn’t roll down and a close fit that stays in place.
One thigh features a drop-in pocket while the other has a zippered pocket, both big enough for your phone. There’s a hidden waistband pocket too.
Psst: These Columbia hiking leggings are also available in plus sizes.
Best Reinforced Hiking Leggings
If you’re looking for tights that are a bit more durable, check out reinforced leggings for hiking. These hiking tights have fabric overlays or treatments on high-wear areas like the knees and butt. That makes them much more abrasion-resistant.
Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights
Features: Reinforced patches on knees and seat, lots of pockets
I’ve had a pair of these tights for the last year and they’ve made their way into my regular hiking pants rotation. I even took them as my primary bottoms on my week-long Bowron Lakes Canoe Trip.
The main material is soft and stretchy like running tights. But they have reinforced fabric on the knees and butt since those are the places where you’re most likely to rip your leggings.
The other thing that I love about these hiking leggings is all the pockets. Both the thigh pockets are big enough to hold my phone. They also have a little loop for attaching your keys. I used it on my canoe trip to clip on my phone leash – that way it was impossible to drop my phone in the lake!
The wide waistband is also really comfortable and has a drawstring.
These hiking tights are definitely on the spendy side, but after wearing them a ton, I think they’re worth it.
Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tights
Features: Lightweight ventilation panels, reinforced print on knees and butt
These hiking leggings are the warm-weather version of the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights (reviewed above). They have thinner and more breathable fabric at the waist, crotch, and back of the legs.
While they aren’t as bomber as the Trekking tights, they do have a reinforced ceramic print coating on the knees and butt for added durability.
They have the same fit and great pockets as their sister leggings.
Mammut Runbold Trekking Leggings
Features: Reinforced knees and back with stretch material elsewhere, thigh pockets
These leggings for hiking are made with a very stretchy and lightweight material that is very comfortable. Overlays on the knees and butt add lots of durability.
Two big thigh pockets hold your phone and a small hidden zippered pocket is big enough for keys and a credit card.
The wide waistband has a drawstring adjustment.
prAna Rockland Leggings
Features: Stretchy fabric with double-layer reinforcements, Velcro closure thigh pockets
While these leggings are designed for rock climbing, they work great for hiking too. They are made with a compression fabric that feels soft. Stretch woven reinforcements on the knees and butt add durability.
The thigh pockets have Velcro closures to make sure your phone doesn’t fall out. A small zippered side pocket holds keys and cards.
Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights
Features: Durable reinforced panels, big pockets, comfortable waistband
These reinforced hiking leggings from Patagonia are the burlier version of their Pack Out Tights (reviewed above). They use the same stretchy double knit fabric for most of the leggings. But they also have reinforced water-resistant panels at the knees and seat for extra durability.
Two big drop-in pockets on the thighs hold your phone. There’s also a small zippered pocket for keys or other small items.
The wide waistband is made of a ribbed material that is comfortable under a hip belt.
Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Hybrid Leggings
Features: reinforced panels on the front and back of legs, DWR finish, odor-control
At first glance these Eddie Bauer hiking leggings look like regular leggings. But they have hidden reinforced patches on the front and back of the legs. Unlike most other reinforced tights, these ones use fabric overlays that are color-matched so they blend in.
The reinforced panels have a DWR finish to shed moisture. The main fabric is stretchy and moisture wicking and has an odor-control treatment too.
Two zippered pockets on the legs are big enough to hold your phone or snacks.
The wide waistband sits high and has an internal drawcord.
Psst: These come in a regular version called the Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings (reviewed above.)
Best Durable Stretch Woven Hiking Leggings
The hiking leggings in this category don’t use stretchy knit fabric like you’d find in yoga leggings. Instead, they use stretch woven fabrics that you would more commonly see in summer weight softshell pants but cut like leggings.
That makes these hiking leggings much more breathable than others on this list, while also being super durable. Most of these leggings use panels of stretch knit to create a better fit, especially around the waist.
The North Face Hybrid Hiker Tights
Features: Abrasion resistant and quick-drying fabric, zippered pocket.
An older version of these tights is what got me hooked on hiking leggings. I’ve owned them for about five years and taken them on dozens of hikes.
They use a durable woven fabric instead of the stretch knit you find in yoga tights so they won’t get snagged and torn. The fabric is still stretchy, which gives them a good fit.
The wide waistband is comfortable under a backpack hip belt.
The only downside – just one small zippered pocket which is in an awkward position for storing your phone.
Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights
Features: Abrasion-resistant fabric, lots of pockets
These leggings are made with a durable stretch woven fabric that stands up to scrapes and sharp branches. It’s a thicker fabric, more like what you might find in hiking pants, but cut like a legging.
The wide waistband is comfortable and has a drawstring.
They also have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish so they’ll resist light rain.
With six pockets (two front, two back, and two thigh), they carry everything you need.
Psst: These hiking tights are also available in plus sizes.
REI Co-op Flash Hybrid Tights
Features: A combo of durable fabric and stretch jersey, phone pocket
These hybrid hiking leggings use durable softshell panels in the front for abrasion resistance. The back and sides are soft and stretchy jersey that breathes well.
A stretchy side pocket is big enough to hold your phone and there’s also a small zippered pocket for your keys.
The wide waistband is high rise so it stays in place as you hike.
Psst: These REI hiking leggings are also available in plus sizes.
KUHL Transcendr Leggings
Features: Durable softshell fabric with stretchy side panels, phone pocket
These hiking leggings are made with a durable softshell fabric on the front and back that has a DWR finish to shed water. The waistband and sides are stretchy running tights fabric.
The wide waistband has a high-rise fit and an internal drawstring.
An envelope-style pocket on the right thigh holds your phone and a hidden pocket in the waistband carries a key.
Psst: These hiking leggings are also available in a winter version called the KUHL Toasty Transcendr Leggings (reviewed below).
Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Rock Tights
Features: Softshell Cordura knit panels provide durability, while stretch panels allow movement
These tights are built for rock climbing, so they’re super durable. They use Cordura softshell fabric that’s super durable but also stretchy. Lighter-weight stretchy inserts at the waist, crotch, and ankles add breathability.
Mountain Hardwear designed these leggings with a wide waistband that has an interior elastic grip to keep it in place. These leggings hit between high-rise and mid-rise.
Unfortunately for pocket lovers, they have one smaller zippered leg pocket that isn’t large enough to hold a phone.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Leggings
Features: Super durable softshell fabric that’s stretchy, lots of pockets, reinforced knees and seat
These are probably the most bombproof hiking leggings on this list. They are made of the same breathable, durable, water-resistant, and stretchy fabric as Outdoor Research’s popular Ferrosi softshell pants (which are on my list of the best women’s hiking pants).
They also have reinforced patches at the knees and butt made of abrasion-resistant Cordura nylon.
Large thigh pockets hold your phone and there is a smaller zippered pocket for keys.
The high waist has a drawcord and is designed to be comfortable under your backpack’s hip belt.
Best Winter Hiking Leggings
Hiking in regular running tights can be cold since the wind blows right through them. The durable fabrics of the hiking leggings on this list make them a bit more windproof, but they still aren’t warm enough for winter hiking.
That’s where fleece-lined hiking leggings come in. These cozy warm tights are designed for winter hiking.
Athleta Altitude Tights
Features: Made of stretchy Polartec fleece, wide waistband
I got a pair of these fleece tights recently and I haven’t wanted to take them off all winter long. I’ve worn them hiking and snowshoeing, and just around the house.
The fabric is high-end Polartech Power Stretch fleece. It has a soft fleece inner and a smooth outer. It wicks moisture really well too and is a little bit wind resistant, which helps on blustery days.
The high-rise waist is really comfortable.
The only downside to these pants is that they don’t have thigh pockets for my phone. They do have a zippered pocket at the back of the waistband, but my phone doesn’t fit in there and it would be really awkward anyway.
Psst: These winter hiking leggings are also available in plus sizes.
KUHL Toasty Transcendr Leggings
Features: Durable softshell fabric with fleece lining, phone pocket
KUHL now makes a winter version of their popular Transcendr leggings. They use a mix of water-resistant softshell fabric with knit panels for breathability. The tights have a cozy fleece lining.
Mesh lining inside the wide waistband helps manage sweat. Thigh pockets hold your phone and a hidden waistband pocket holds keys.
Best Hiking Leggings with Pockets
Most of the leggings on this list have at least one pocket. However, if you’re searching for hiking leggings with pockets, you probably want thigh pockets big enough to hold your phone. Here are all the leggings on this list with phone pockets:
- Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights
- REI Co-op Flash Hybrid Tights
- KUHL Transcendr Leggings
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Leggings
- Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights
- Fjallraven Abisko Trail Tights
- Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Hybrid Leggings
- Mammut Runbold Trekking Leggings
- prAna Rockland Leggings
- Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights
- Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings
- Patagonia Pack Out Tights
- Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings
- Columbia Windgates II Leggings
- KUHL Toasty Transcendr Leggings
- Ibex Lizzi Tights
Best Hiking Leggings for Hot Weather
As I discussed in the hiking leggings vs. hiking pants section below, in general hiking leggings don’t breathe as well as pants. But if you want to hike in hot weather, a few of the hiking tights on this list are made of lighter fabric or have panels designed for breathability.
Best Plus Size Hiking Leggings
A few years ago it was rare to see hiking clothing for women in plus sizes. Thankfully, that is changing a little bit. Many of the hiking leggings on this list are available in plus sizes (larger than an XL/16).
- Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights (available in sizes 0-26)
- REI Co-op Flash Hybrid Tights (available in sizes XS-3X)
- Patagonia Pack Out Tights (available in sizes XS-XXL)
- Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings (available in sizes XS-XXL)
- Columbia Windgates II Leggings (available in sizes XS-3X)
- Athleta Altitude Tights (available in sizes XXS-3X)
Hiking Pants vs. Hiking Leggings
Are hiking pants better than leggings?
Traditional hikers will tell you they only hit the trail in hiking pants. But newer hikers often prefer to hike in leggings or tights. What’s the difference?
In general, hiking pants are more durable than leggings. They breathe better since they don’t trap as much air and moisture directly against your skin. They also have better pockets, adjustable waists, and are easier to roll up to cross streams or to vent in warm weather.
Looking for hiking pants recommendations? Head over to my best women’s hiking pants guide. It has options for every body type from petite to tall to plus size and more.
Running and yoga leggings are often made with lightweight material that is prone to snagging and tearing. They have a close fit that is designed for compression and comfort, but that can impede breathability. The stretchy knit of leggings and their close fit also means that it’s easy for bugs to bite right through leggings!
Hiking leggings take the best of hiking pants and yoga leggings and fuse them together. Hiking tights use durable fabrics that are abrasion-resistant. (But that does mean they often aren’t that breathable, which some brands offset by putting in panels of lightweight fabric.)
Leggings for hiking often have great pockets. High-end hiking leggings use body-mapped construction to ensure they stay in place and fit all your curves. I find it’s easier to find hiking leggings that fit me compared to hiking pants since they are so stretchy.
For me, hiking leggings work best for day hikes in moderate weather. In hot weather, I find leggings too hot so I wear shorts or hiking pants. On backpacking trips, I prefer hiking pants since they are more durable, breathe better, and don’t get stretched out or baggy the way leggings do.
How to Choose Hiking Leggings
There are a few features to keep in mind when choosing hiking leggings.
It should go without saying, that you need more durable leggings for hiking than you do for running or yoga. All of the leggings in this post are durable, but the ones with reinforced patches and the ones made from stretch-woven fabrics are the most durable.
Durable fabric is the main difference between hiking leggings and regular leggings.
In general, leggings aren’t as breathable as hiking pants since they hold hot air and sweat next to your skin. And hiking leggings are often less breathable than running leggings since they are made of thicker fabric to resist abrasion.
I find that hiking in leggings is best in moderate temperatures (not too hot and not too cold). If you’re concerned about breathability, look for leggings with panels of thinner material for breathability. Stretch woven leggings also tend to be a bit more breathable than knit ones.
Hiking leggings are made with sweat-wicking fabrics like polyester, and nylon (also called polyamide). They sometimes also have chemical finishes to help them wick sweat even better.
Yoga and running leggings are often made with these fabrics too. But more casual leggings might use cotton, which absorbs sweat. That can be gross on a long hike!
If you’ve ever done a sweaty workout in leggings, then forgotten to wash them right away, you know how badly they can pick up stink. The nylon and polyester fibres in leggings are prone to odors, which can be a problem on long trips. Look for leggings with anti-bacterial odor-control finishes.
Already own stinky leggings? Read my guide to getting smells out of hiking clothing.
Cheap leggings often have a generic fit with straight-up-and-down side seams. This often doesn’t work for the athletic moves that you need to do while hiking, including high stepping and squatting.
Regular leggings also sometimes are prone to bunching up in the crotch or behind the knees. The waistbands also droop or roll over.
Hiking leggings are cut to move with you. This means lots more panels and seams, placed in an intentional way to create a great fit.
Hiking leggings often also have an internal drawcord. That can be useful on longer trips where the fabric relaxes.
Some hiking leggings have a DWR (durable water repellent coating) that makes them a bit more water-resistant. However, they won’t keep you dry in a rainstorm, and the coating wears off over time.
So far, waterproof hiking leggings don’t exist. (Stretchy material is impossible to make totally waterproof while also being comfortable to wear.) You’ll have to buy a pair of rain pants to layer over top of your leggings if you plan to hike in wet weather.
One of the biggest reasons I like to hike in leggings (besides the comfort) is to have easy access to my phone. Many hiking leggings come with great thigh pockets that are sized to fit your phone. (They are also a great size for carrying a granola bar.)
So that’s everything you need to know about hiking leggings. If you haven’t tried leggings designed for hiking, give them a go – they’re so comfortable! If you have questions or can suggest an alternative pair of hiking leggings, leave them in the comments.
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