Finding women’s hiking pants can be a real challenge – it’s tough to get the right fit! In this guide, I’ve rounded up the 12 best hiking pants for women. I made sure to include picks for every body type.
Different conditions and preferences call for different hiking pants. In this guide, I’m just going to focus on regular hiking pants – you won’t find any waterproof hiking pants or winter hiking pants. And if you’re looking for hiking tights, check out my hiking leggings guide.
In this post, I have everything you need to know about women’s hiking pants, including:
- Details and reviews for 12 different pairs of women’s hiking pants
- Best women’s hiking pants in several categories including petite, tall, plus-size, high-rise, with big pockets, and lots more
- Hiking pants vs. hiking leggings – which is better?
- How to choose hiking pants – tips on fit, fabric, and features
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
I’ve been hiking and backpacking for two decades. I also worked at an outdoor store for three years and writing marketing materials for a large outdoor retailer for seven years. I spent a ton of time learning from their design team so I got really familiar with the properties of outdoor fabrics and garment construction.
For this guide, I drew on my outdoor industry experience as well as my personal experience with hiking pants both on day hikes and backpacking trips.
But since hikers come in all shapes and sizes, I also asked other adventure travel writers, talked to friends, asked for reviews on Facebook and Instagram, and read dozens of online reviews.
I was tired of reading reviews of women’s hiking pants that were all written by slim, athletic women of average height. Those reviews aren’t that helpful to huge segments of the population!
There are lots of hiking pants out there, so it can be difficult to choose. In this post, I’m going to focus on pants with features and fabrics designed for hiking. For a run-down on how to choose hiking pants, skip to the bottom of this post.
You also won’t find any hiking leggings in this post. That’s because I have an entire guide to the best hiking leggings. If you’re curious about the pros and cons of hiking pants vs. hiking leggings, you can find that at the bottom of this post.
Best Women’s Hiking Pants: Quick Picks
Best Petite Women’s Hiking Pants: REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants
Best Tall Women’s Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Best Unisex Fit Hiking Pants: Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Best Elastic-Waist Women’s Hiking Pants: The North Face Aphrodite 2.0
Best Women’s Hiking Pants That Roll-Up Into Capris: Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pants
Best Women’s Hiking Pants With a Phone Pocket: Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants
Best Women’s Jogger Hiking Pants: prAna Halle II Joggers
Best Lightweight Women’s Hiking Pants: Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants
Best Durable Women’s Hiking Pants: Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers
REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants
Best Petite Women’s Hiking Pants (More petite recommendations)
Best Zip-Off Convertible Women’s Hiking Pants (More zip-off convertible recommendations)
Also great for: Tall women, plus size women, curvy women
Pros: Elastic waist in back; petite and tall size options; lots of pockets
Cons: Some people preferred the older version without an elastic waist. Women with larger thighs say the convertible shorts zippers dig in.
Fabric: Stretchy and quick-drying nylon with a water-resistant DWR finish and UPF 50 sun protection
Features: Convertible to shorts; ankle zips; elastic waist with zippered fly and drawstring adjustment; lots of pockets
Fit: Mid-rise, straight leg
Sizes: 0-26 in petite, regular, and tall lengths
Heather Kasvinsky from This Noshtalgic Life says “The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants offer the perfect fit for shorter active curvy women such as myself. I’m middle-aged, 5′ 1”, with a 27” inseam. Size 2 petite fits me like a glove with no need to hem them! I recently wore my Sahara Convertible Pants while on a backpacking trip in McCarthy, Alaska. They were ideal to wear while hiking across the Root Glacier. The pants kept me comfortable and protected me from the fluctuating elements while allowing for agility and flexibility throughout the glacier camping trip.”
On Instagram, Amanda (@amanda.tuey) messaged me to say “I have big hips/thighs (size 10-14). I find pants generally are tight in my hips/thighs and loose in my waist. The Sahara Pants fit me well as they have adjustments in the waist and legs. I found the zipper in other convertible pants would dig in, but these don’t do that.”
The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants are my pick for the best petite women’s hiking pants as they get consistently good reviews amongst petite women. With a 28.5″ inseam and a rise adjusted for petite women’s shorter torsos, they provide the best fit.
The Sahara pants are also my pick for the best zip-off convertible women’s hiking pants. Reviewers found that the zippers didn’t dig in and were easy to use. They also liked the mid-length inseam on the shorts (6.75″ in petite, 7.5″ in regular; 8.5″ in tall).
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Best Tall Women’s Hiking Pants (More tall recommendations)
Also great for: Petite women, plus size women, curvy women, durability, zip-off convertible pants
Pros: Durability; available in tall sizes, great fit for curvy figures
Cons: Stretch-out on long trips (but tighten up after washing)
Fabric: Quick-drying, water-resistant nylon and spandex stretch woven with UPF 50+ sun protection
Features: Zippered fly with internal drawcord and brushed waistband, lots of pockets, drawcord hem
Fit: Standard fit with articulated knees
Sizes: 0-24 in short, regular, and tall lengths. There is also a convertible version.
Carrie from Trains, Planes and Tuktuks says “I hiked and backpacked over 1,200 miles last year – and almost every step I took, I wore Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi pants. They’re lightweight, insanely breathable, and dry literally within minutes. They’re my go-to pants for everything from backpacking on the Appalachian Trail to creek walks and bushwhacks to remote waterfalls. As a stubby-legged woman, the 4 short fits me perfectly – it’s the only pair of outdoor pants I own that doesn’t run too long. Plus the button/drawstring combo means I never have to wear a belt, even at the end of a 100-mile backpacking trip when I’ve dropped a few pounds.”
Lots of other women on Instagram and Facebook raved about how well these pants fit their curvy figures and accommodated people who have a small waist and bigger butt.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are my pick for the best tall women’s hiking pants because multiple women reached out to me on Instagram to recommend the Outdoor Research Ferrossi pants since they come in a 34″ inseam.
Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants
Best Plus Size Women’s Hiking Pants (More plus size recommendations)
Best Budget Women’s Hiking Pants
Also great for: petite women, tall women, curvy women, pants that roll into capris
Pros: Available in petites, great fit for curvy women, inexpensive
Cons: Some reviewers say the sizing is inconsistent and pockets are small
Fabric: Lightweight nylon with a bit of spandex for stretch, a water-resistant DWR finish, and UPF 50 sun protection
Features: Roll-up legs convert to capris, zippered side pocket, zippered fly
Fit: Mid-rise, straight leg with an active fit that allows room for movement
Sizes: 2-24 in short, regular and long inseams in both regular and convertible
In my Backpacking in BC Facebook group, Wiley said: “I am 5’3 and always find standard pant length too long and petites hard to find in hiking pants. I have the Columbia Saturday Trail in the cropped version. They look good and have good pockets. Quick dry too. I like the airflow and add gaiters if crossing wet sections.”
Also in my FB group, Jessica said: “They fit amazing and are comfortable. I’m curvy, and I love the bit of stretch in them. They don’t ride up anywhere. They don’t bunch up or anything like that and they also feel soft.”
Columbia has been making the Saturday Trail Stretch Pants for a long time, and they have tons of fans. Reviewers praise their inclusive sizing, available in petite, tall, and plus sizes.
They were one of the first companies to offer plus size hiking pants (sizes 2-24) so they have had a long time to get the fit right. That’s why they are my pick for the best plus size women’s hiking pants.
They are also really affordable. You can often find them on sale for less than $50, making them my pick for the best budget women’s hiking pants.
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants
Best Curvy Women’s Hiking Pants (More curvy recommendations)
Best High-Waist Women’s Hiking Pants (More high-waist recommendations)
Also great for: petite women, tall women, plus size women, hiking pants with a phone pocket
Pros: Great fit for lots of body types, big pockets, often on sale
Cons: Stretches out over time
Fabric: Nylon with a bit of spandex for stretch, a water-resistant DWR finish and UPF 50+ sun protection
Features: Two zippered cargo pockets are large enough to fit your phone
Fit: Curvy fit through hip and thigh. Regular version is mid-rise, but a high-rise version that sits at the natural waist is also available.
Sizes: 0-24 with some sizes available in petite and tall lengths.
Kiran Basra (@bkazra on Instagram) says: “Eddie Bauer’s Guide Pro Pants are pretty good. I run warm so I appreciate how breathable and light they are. They also fit people with hips! Hip, hip, hooray! Expect the downside is they tend to stretch out, so now the waist is quite loose and I could use a belt.”
When I asked for recommendations on Instagram, lots of women messaged me to say how much they loved these pants. The through-line in their responses was how much they liked the fit – and the comments were about so many different body types since they have tall, petite, and plus sizes as well as a high-rise option.
I own the shorts version of these and like how they fit my curvy waist. I also love the big side pockets, which fit my phone.
The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants are my pick for the best curvy women’s hiking pants. I can personally attest to their great fit for women who have big hips. And hundreds of reviewers agree.
Since they come in a dedicated high-waist version with great reviews, these are also my pick for the best high-waist women’s hiking pants.
The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants
Best Elastic Waist Women’s Hiking Pants (More elastic waist recommendations)
Also great for: petite women, plus size women, curvy women, lightweight hiking pants
Pros: Comfortable waist, breathable fabric, great fit for curvy bodies
Cons: Tend to run long, even in short length
Fabric: Quick-drying nylon stretch with water-resistant DWR finish and UPF 40+ sun protection
Features: Rib knit elastic waist with drawcord, zippered pockets, drawcord adjustable cuffs
Fit: Standard fit, straight leg with articulated knees
Sizes: XXS-3XL in short and regular lengths
Jody Phifer from My Travel Obsession says “The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 pants are one of the most comfortable pairs of pants I own (including pajama pants). These pants dry super-fast and are thin enough to wear in warm, humid climates. This came in handy when we were hiking in the rain on Kauai! I have a small waist and bigger hips. These pants fit great because they have a drawstring to cinch up the waist & they are a little stretchy, so they will work for just about any body type. I also like the straight leg because they fit well over hiking boots.”
I agree with Jody – I also have a pair of TNF Aphrodite 2.0 Pants. They work well for my curvy, plus-sized figure. And since they don’t look that technical, I also love them as casual pants for travelling.
I think that the elastic waist on these is so comfortable, and lots of reviewers agree, which is why The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants are my pick for the best elastic waist women’s hiking pants.
prAna Halle Pant II
Best Jogger Hiking Pants (More jogger recommendations)
Also great for: petite women, tall women, plus size women, curvy women, hiking pants that roll-up into capris
Pros: Comfortable, stretchy fabric, good fit for curvy women
Cons: Pockets are too small, inseam in regular and tall sizes runs short
Fabric: Nylon stretch with a water-resistant DWR finish and UPF 50+ sun protection
Features: Zippered fly with internal drawstring, lots of pockets, snaps to roll up into capri length
Fit: Mid-rise with a boot cut
Sizes: 00-22 in short, regular, and tall lengths. Also available in straight-leg and jogger cuts.
Chelsea from Adventures of Chels says: “As a 5’4 woman with an average body type, these pants fit me like a glove. They’re comfortable, made of quick dry material, and (my favorite part) can be rolled up at the bottom and secured with a snap to create capris pants. I packed these pants for a trip on the Trans Siberian Railway. They came in handy for hiking up dunes, riding on camels, and exploring rock formations in the Gobi Desert.”
Melissa on Instagram says: “I love these pants. I wear size 12 and have large hips. They have a bit of stretch so they are very comfortable, and that along with the articulated knees is great for hiking/scrambling. They are durable too – I still have my first pair from 2014. I also like that water beads off them.”
The prAna Halle II Pants are an all-around favourite for so many people. Lots of women also love the jogger version for a less technical-looking fit that translates well to travel or apres, which is why they are my pick for the best women’s jogger hiking pants.
ArcTeryx Gamma LT Pants
Best Splurge Hiking Pants (More splurge recommendations)
Also great for: petite women, tall women, durability, hiking pants with a phone pocket
Pros: Great water resistance, stretch, and durability. Thigh pocket fits a phone.
Cons: Expensive, stretch out over time, slim cut is not for everyone
Fabric: nylon and spandex stretch woven softshell with a water-resistant DWR finish and a bit of wind resistance
Features: Zippered fly with integrated webbing waistbelt, zippered hand pocket, adjustable cuffs
Fit: Fitted and close to the body with a straight leg
Sizes: 00 to 16 in short, regular and tall lengths
Dinah from my Facebook group, Backpacking in BC says: “They feel so comfortable and are light and airy . I’m 5 ‘1” with big thighs, butt and calves, and I purchased the short length in size 8. Wore then backpacking the Juan de Fuca Trail and it was so muddy. They dried quickly and they didn’t seem to hold on to the mud. Love them so much I’m gonna get them in more colours! LOL”
A few other women on Instagram and Facebook praised the durable fabric and big zippered pocket that fits a phone.
Like all Arc’Teryx products, the Gamma LT Pants certainly aren’t cheap. But the durable fabric and impeccable design make them my pick for the best splurge women’s hiking pants.
Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Pants
Best Women’s Hiking Pants with a Phone Pocket (More pants with a phone pocket recommendations)
Best Lightweight Women’s Hiking Pants (More lightweight recommendations)
Also great for: plus size women, jogger hiking pants, elastic-waist hiking pants, high-waist hiking pants
Pros: Comfortable, elastic waistband; stretchy lightweight material; pocket holds a phone
Cons: Some reviewers feel they run big and are too baggy, others don’t like the low rise
Fabric: Stretchy nylon and spandex with a water-resistant DWR finish, anti-odor treatment, and UPF50 sun protection
Features: Wide and flat stretch waistband, lots of pockets
Fit: Standard fit with a mid-rise that is on the low side. Available in a straight leg version, a jogger version, an ankle version, and a high-waist version.
Sizes: XS-3X. The straight leg version is available in petite and tall lengths.
Kristen from Bearfoot Theory says: “The Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle Pants have been a staple of mine for hiking and backpacking trips for a few years now. They are lightweight and super comfortable due to the soft, wide waistband and loose fit. I’m curvy up top and have thinner legs so these are a bit baggier on me than they might be for others. They pack down small making them easy to bring along on any adventure. I also love that these pants have just the right amount of stretch for easy mobility but are also plenty durable. I most recently wore these on a 6-day backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park and they held up very well. Plus they have hand pockets, are UPF 50, and water-resistant.”
When I asked for women’s hiking pant recommendations on Instagram, a few people reached out to say how much they loved the Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants. Most mentioned how much they liked the smooth elastic waistband that is much more comfortable under a hip belt than a traditional zippered fly.
A few people also mentioned that the fabric was thin and breathable, so they felt cool. As well, they didn’t smell after a few days in the backcountry. That’s why they are my pick for the best lightweight women’s hiking pants. (Psst! Read my guide to getting the smell out of hiking clothes.)
The big zippered pocket that fits a phone was also a big selling feature – so many women’s hiking pants have tiny pockets! The Mountain Hardwear Dynama2/Ankle Pants are my pick for the best women’s hiking pants with a phone pocket.
Check price: $85
Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants
Best Women’s Hiking Pants That Roll-up Into Capris (More roll-up into capri recommendations)
Also great for: petite women, tall women, curvy women
Pros: Soft, comfortable fabric that dries quickly
Cons: Small pockets don’t fit a phone, some reviewers find the waist too low-rise
Fabric: stretchy and soft polyester with a water-resistant finish and UPF 50+ sun protection
Features: Zippered fly, snap-closure cargo pockets, roll-up to convert to capris
Fit: Mid-rise at the front, contouring to a high rise at the back. Fitted through hip and thigh, relaxed lower leg
Sizes: 0-16 in 30″, 32″, and 34″ inseams
In my Backpacking in BC Facebook group, Naomi said “I recently bought a pair of Kuhl Freelex Roll-Up Pants. They are perfect for hiking and kayaking. I am 5’10” and I have a 34” inseam. I wear a size 8-10. Finding pants that are long enough but not oversized has been an issue my entire life.”
I also have the Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up pants and love how soft the fabric feels while also being durable. I also like how easy it is to roll these up into capris – which makes them my pick in that category.
Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers
Best Durable Women’s Hiking Pants (More durable recommendations)
Also good for: curvy women, splurge, petite
Pros: durable fabric that breathes, big pockets
Cons: heavy, expensive
Fabric: Stretchy nylon and elastane with Fjallraven’s super durable and water-resistant G-1000 polyester/cotton fabric in high-wear areas.
Features: Ventilation zippers from hips to knees; lots of pockets; adjustable cuffs with boot hooks
Fit: Mid-rise with higher cut in the back, tapered legs, technical cut
Sizes: 26″-37″ waist and 30″ or 32″ inseam
Hannah from That Adventurer says “As someone with a slightly bigger waist-thigh ratio, I often find it tricky to get pants that I can get past my thighs that aren’t super loose on my waist. The Fjällräven Abisko light trekking pants have a stretchy fabric that’s both perfect for people with a bigger hip/thigh yet isn’t then too loose on the waist. Plus there a belt loops so you can add a belt if needed. With many years living in BC and more recently hiking in the Lofoten Islands in Norway and Scotland, the water resistance and windproof factors are very valuable to me and make them my favourite hiking pant over leggings for sure! Plus, there are large pockets (some with zips) which are great for snacks!”
On Facebook and Instagram, a few women also recommended the Fjallraven Keb pants. They have similar features but use a slightly heavier fabric. The major difference is the fit – the Keb comes in a curvy option with a higher waist designed for curvier bodies.
Fjallraven’s gear all has traditional Scandinavian styling, which lasts a long time. That’s why these are my picks for the most durable women’s hiking pants.
Mammut Runbold Zip Off Pants
Also good for: convertible zip-off hiking pants, petite women, tall women, curvy women
Pros: Good fit for curvy and petite women
Cons: Some reviewers say they run small
Fabric: Nylon with lots of spandex for stretch and a moisture-wicking finish and UPF50 sun protection
Features: Zip-off legs convert to shorts, adjustable waistband, lots of pockets
Fit: Athletic fit with articulated knees
Sizes: 2-16 (European 32-46) in short, regular and long lengths
Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers says: “I absolutely love my Mammut Runbold Zip-off hiking pants. They have the best fit I have ever found in hiking pants. I am petite (1,58m/5.2 feet) with an hourglass body. Previous hiking pants I had were often too long on the legs and unsuitable for short people. In the Mammunt Runbold, it’s the first time ever that I found good quality hiking pants that is suitable for my short size as well as my hourglass body. The fabric is nice and stretchy and is adjustable around the waist. These pants were perfect for hiking in Cat Ba National Park in Vietnam.”
Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Best Unisex Fit Hiking Pants
Also great for: durability
Pros: Unisex fit works for many body types, durable fabric
Cons: Don’t work for curvy figures, some reviewers say the fabric is warm
Fabric: Stretchy ripstop nylon with a water-resistant DWR finish and an anti-microbial treatment
Features: Elastic waist with drawstring; lots of pockets; drawstring cuffs can be cinched into capris
Fit: Unisex fit in both slim and regular fits
Sizes: XS-XXL (unisex)
Catherine from Nomadicated says “I’m a long-term backpacker and don’t leave home without these comfortable yet stylish hiking pants. As a petite person, the ability to cinch the drawstring ankle ties to turn into capris is gold. The lightweight, breathable fabric and water-resistant technology makes spills bead right off. Perfect for my day at Sticky Waterfall in Chiang Mai, Thailand! Having protected me from an abnormally chilly day and water spray, these pants still provided enough stretch to easily scale up the tufa walls.”
Their unisex fit gets great reviews amongst less curvy women and people who prefer a boxier cut. Lots of rock climbers also love the Trailhead pants as they are cut a bit more like climbing pants than traditional hiking pants. They are my pick for the best unisex fit hiking pants.
Best Women’s Hiking Pants by Type
Best Petite Womens Hiking Pants
REI Co-op Sahara (28.5″ inseam)
More Petite Women’s Hiking Pants:
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants (29″ inseam)
- prAna Halle II Pants (30″ inseam)
- Arc’Teryx Gamma LT Pants (29″ inseam)
- Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants (29″ inseam)
- Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants (30″ inseam)
- Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pants (30″ inseam)
- Mammut Runbold Zip-off Pants (29″ inseam)
- Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants (30″ inseam)
- Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trousers (30″ inseam)
Best Tall Womens Hiking Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants (34″ inseam)
More tall women’s hiking pants:
- REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants (34″ inseam)
- prAna Halle II Pants (34″ inseam)
- Arc’Teryx Gamma LT Pants (34″ inseam)
- Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants (35″ inseam)
- Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants (34″ inseam)
- Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pants (34″ inseam)
- Mammut Runbold Zip-off Pants (33″ inseam)
- Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants (34″ inseam)
Best Plus Size Womens Hiking Pants
More plus size women’s hiking pants:
- REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants (sizes 0-26)
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants (sizes 0-24)
- prAna Halle II Pants (sizes 00-22)
- The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants (sizes XXS-3XL)
- Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants (sizes XS-3XL)
- Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants (sizes 0-24)
Best Curvy Womens Hiking Pants
More Curvy Women’s Hiking Pants:
- REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
- prAna Halle II Pants
- The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants
- Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants
- Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants
- Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers
Best Unisex Fit Hiking Pants
Best High-Waist Womens Hiking Pants
More High-Waist Women’s Hiking Pants: Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants
Best Elastic-Waist Womens Hiking Pants
More Elastic Waist Women’s Hiking Pants: Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants
Best Zip-Off Convertible Womens Hiking Pants
More Zip-Off Convertible Women’s Hiking Pants:
- Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants
- Mammut Runbold Zip-off Pants
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
Best Womens Hiking Pants That Roll-Up Into Capris
More women’s hiking pants that roll into capris:
Best Womens Hiking Pants With a Phone Pocket
More Best women’s hiking pants with a phone pocket:
Best Womens Jogger Hiking Pants
More Women’s Jogger Hiking Pants: Mountain Hardwear Dynama2 Pants
More Best Lightweight Womens Hiking Pants
More Lightweight Women’s Hiking Pants: The North Face Aphrodite 2.0
Best Durable Womens Hiking Pants
More Durable Women’s Hiking Pants:
Best Budget Women’s Hiking Pants
Best Splurge Womens Hiking Pants
More Splurge Women’s Hiking Pants: Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers
Hiking Pants vs Hiking Leggings – What’s the Difference?
For a long time, most running or workout leggings weren’t durable enough for hiking, so hikers had to wear pants. However, that changed a few years ago.
Now, you can buy leggings specifically designed for hiking with durable fabrics and a fit designed for the trail. Some of them even have great pockets. Check out my hiking leggings guide for all the details.
Whether you choose to hike in pants or leggings comes down to personal preference for fit and features. Here’s a brief look at hiking pants vs. leggings
|Hiking pants||Hiking leggings|
|More durable||Less durable (although hiking leggings are made of more durable fabrics than regular leggings)|
|More breathable||Less breathable as they trap air and moisture against your skin|
|More pockets||Fewer pockets|
|Adjustable waist (but it can bunch up under your backpack hip belt)||Fixed (but stretchy waist) that lays flat under your backpack hip belt|
|Easy to roll up in hot weather or to cross streams||Hard to roll up|
|Baggier fit that can chafe and rub||Close fit for comfort and compression|
|Woven fabric is harder for bugs to bite through||Thin knit fabric is easier for bugs to bite through|
|Can be hard to get the right fit||Stretchy fit is more forgiving on many body types|
|Dry quickly and repel water||Dry slowly and often soak up water|
|Stretch out a little bit (or not at all) between washings||Stretch out a lot between washings|
How To Choose Hiking Pants
Not all hiking pants are created equal. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you shop for hiking pants.
Fit is the most important factor to keep in mind when choosing hiking pants. If your pants are falling down or rubbing you in a weird way, you won’t have a good hike. On a multi-day trip, this can slow you down or cause painful chafing and rashes.
Read reviews and look for hiking pants designed for your body type. Many brands make pants in petite and tall lengths, as well as plus sizes. Some also have both a curvy and straight fit.
Expect to try on a few pairs of hiking pants before you find the perfect ones. Go to a good outdoor store with a wide selection. Or order a bunch to try on at home.
When you try on hiking pants, be sure to walk around in them and see how they feel. Do some squats and lunges. And try climbing up onto a bench or chair. You want to make sure they are comfortable doing all sorts of movements.
Most hiking pants are made of woven nylon or polyester with spandex or elastane for stretch. The stretch means that the pants move well as you hike or scramble. But too much spandex can mean that the pants get saggy and stretch out between washes.
Nylon and polyester are durable, moisture-wicking and fairly breathable. However, more durable pants are usually thicker, which means they will be less breathable.
Hiking pants usually have a DWR finish applied to add water resistance. This means that splashes of water will bead up and run off and that they dry quickly. It doesn’t mean they will keep you dry in a rain storm – you need waterproof rain pants for that.
Some hiking pants have an additional odor-resistant treatment. On their own, nylon and especially polyester can hold on to smells. This can be a problem on backpacking trips. (Have stinky pants? Read my guide to getting smells out of hiking clothing.)
Most hiking pants provide good sun protection due to the durable fabric. Some brands chose to have their pants certified to get a UPF sun protection rating. But even unrated pants should offer good sun protection.
The most important place that hiking pants should fit is your waist. Make sure they aren’t too tight or too loose. And make sure that the rise works for you – some people and body types find that a high rise or low rise works better for them.
There are two main types of waistbands – elastic and adjustable. Elastic waists sit flat under your hip belt and don’t have any buttons, zippers, buckles, or drawstrings to chafe. However, pants with elastic waists often come in small-medium-large-etc. sizes rather than numerical sizes, which means it can be harder to find the right fit.
An adjustable waist is helpful for a precise fit. It is especially useful on multi-day hikes where your pants might stretch out with multiple wears between washes. Most hiking pants have a standard zippered fly and belt loops.
However, many pants also add an internal drawstring so you can cinch them without a belt. A few hiking pants have a built-in belt or even a hook and ladder adjustment system.
Like most women’s pants, women’s hiking pants often have terrible and tiny pockets. If you have been hiking awhile, you likely have a system for where you carry things and have an idea of what kind of pockets you are looking for.
I typically don’t carry much in my hiking pants pockets since not much fits in there! I want to make sure I have enough room for lip balm, and that’s it. My phone and snacks go in the hip belt pockets in my backpack to hold my phone and snacks.
Read reviews of pockets carefully and bring the things you want to store in them with you when you try on the pants. Be sure to walk, bend, and stretch to see if the pockets actually work when you’re moving. Sometimes stuff falls out or the fit is too tight.
Do You Want Convertible Pants?
Hiking pants often come in a convertible version with zip-off legs. And some hiking pants have buttons, snaps, or tabs to roll them up into capris. Whether you will like or use these features comes down to fit and personal preference.
Zip-off pants are great if you don’t want to carry both shorts and pants on the same trip. However, the zip off aspect can be hard to get right. For some women, the length of the zip-off shorts is too short or too long for what they prefer.
As well, sometimes the zippers can chafe or rub your thighs. I’ve never found a pair of women’s zip-off hiking pants that work for me!
A feature that lets you roll or cinch up the pants into capris can be a nice feature. But you can roll up any pants and they usually stay put – you don’t need the added fastener to keep them there.
I hope this post helped you find some hiking pants for women that will work for your body, whether it is petite, tall, plus-size, or curvy. If you have questions or other hiking pants to recommend, leave them in the comments.
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