What kind of pants are hiking pants? Let’s be real, you can hit the trail in just about anything. Jeans are a popular option for the casual hiker, but they don’t block the wind and they’re heavy and uncomfortable when soaked.
Then, there are plenty of folks who hike in shorts and end up with scrapes, bug bites, and sunburn. Leggings might be a better choice as they are lightweight and dry quickly. However, they tear easily and don’t have good pockets. If you have a choice between hiking in pants or leggings, it’s better to go with pants.
What are the best pants to go hiking in? Here’s where it gets tricky. There are lots of choices and not a lot of guidance as every outdoor brand wants to sell you something.
Here’s how to get started shopping for the best hiking pants for women.
- 1 Buyer’s guide to the best women’s hiking pants
- 2 How to choose hiking pants for different climates
- 3 Hiking pants with climate-specific features
- 4 Best Hiking Pants for Women in 2023
- 5 Conclusion
Buyer’s guide to the best women’s hiking pants
The easiest way to find the right pair of pants is to decide where you’ll be wearing them.
- Will you be on a day hike or cutting a path through the wilderness?
- What type of weather will you be facing?
The answers to those questions will help you eliminate a lot of noise. Then you can focus on fit and features.
Let’s start with the weather.
How to choose hiking pants for different climates
If you lived in Phoenix, you’d want air conditioning in your home and vehicle. If you’ll be hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park in July, you’ll want lightweight hiking pants with moisture-wicking fabric. You might also wish for convertible hiking pants that allow you to roll up or unzip the legs, turning the pants into capris or shorts.
However, if you’re visiting Yellowstone in the winter, it would be nice to have lined insulated pants that are waterproof and wind-resistant.
Hiking pants with climate-specific features
Did you know that some fabrics act as sunscreen? They have a UPF rating. These are a good choice for hiking in summer or at high elevations where there’s more UV exposure.
The material matters
In both cold and hot weather, it’s great to have moisture-wicking fabric like polyester. You might think that cotton would be cooler, and you’d be right up to a point. The bad thing about cotton is that it traps moisture and stops being breathable. Then when the temperature drops, it feels clammy and can lower body temperature to dangerous levels.
Wool is also an excellent choice because it won’t make you cold if it gets wet. It’s also amazingly odor-resistant and may save your life if you have to face a forest fire. Wool doesn’t burn easily like cotton and won’t melt like synthetic fabric.
If you’re looking for hiking pants for a curvy figure, check out the percentage of spandex or elastane. The more there is, the stretchier the pants feel.
And if you’ll be dealing with a lot of undergrowth, look for pants with a high percentage of nylon. It makes them abrasion-resistant.
But it’s not just the material but how it’s woven. A polyester running top draws sweat away from the skin so that it can evaporate. But polyester hiking pants can be woven so that they block the wind to keep you warmer.
Features women love in hiking pants
I’m all for pockets. I have to have them in my hiking pants. I want to keep my phone handy for taking photos and maybe some snacks, too. But I don’t want to look like a walking cargo ship or like a borrowed my boyfriend’s pants to go trail running. Thankfully, manufacturers are catching on to the fact that women need pockets, too.
Zip-off hiking pants are also perfect for summer, spring, and fall because they help me deal with temperature fluctuations.
I love reinforced knees because then I don’t worry about the pants wearing out. And hiking pants with a rain-resistant coating are fantastic, too. The only downside is that the coating has to be renewed every so often.
Lastly, although it’s possible to purchase pre-treated hiking pants with insecticide, I prefer to apply my own.
Be sure to spend time considering the fit. The most popular hiking pants have a mid-rise waist. Some come with drawstrings or a belt to adjust the fit.
Thankfully, some brands have tall hiking pants and others make plus sizes.
No matter where you hike, you’ll be glad to have hiking pants that let you move freely. Find your next pair now:
|The best women’s hiking pants||Why we love them|
|Columbia Women's Saturday Trail Stretch Pants||
|Eddie Bauer Women's Guide Pro Pants||
|Mountain Hardwear Women's Dynama/2 Pant||
|THE NORTH FACE Women's Aphrodite 2.0 Pants||
|Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant Women's||
|Little Donkey Andy Women’s Winter Hiking Ski Snowboarding Pants||
Best Hiking Pants for Women in 2023
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Stretch Pants
Columbia’s trail pants check the boxes for best hiking pants for hot weather, lightweight hiking pants, and women’s convertible hiking pants. Moreover, they are abrasion-resistant and stain-resistant. The Omni-Shield technology forms a moisture-resistant barrier to prevent liquids from penetrating.
The soft fabric is 96% nylon and 4% elastane. The pants are slightly stretchy with a classic fit and a partially elastic waist. What’s nifty are the convertible legs that turn the pants into capris. They don’t zip off, however. They roll up and stay up with the help of ties.
I also like the UPF 50 protection against sunburn. But I don’t love the pockets. They aren’t very deep in the front or rear.
In summary, these are budget-friendly, comfy hiking pants for spending time on the trails. There are a handful of colors to choose from in sizes from 2 to 16 long.
- Feminine, form-fitting trail pants for spring, summer, and fall
- UPF 50 protection
- Stain and water-resistance
- Lightweight and slightly stretchy with a partially elastic waist
- Convert to capris
- Pockets are small
- Only a few colors available
- No plus sizes
Eddie Bauer Women’s Guide Pro Pants
Here is a pair of the best budget women’s hiking pants. They come in petite, regular, plus, and tall sizes as well as a variety of colors. They are designed to fit like a glove, making them some of the best hiking pants for curvy figures.
The nylon/spandex blend is a special 2-way stretch weave called Flexion. Not only does it provide UPF 50+ sunscreen but it also repels water with a DWR finish. As you might expect from this brand, the fabric is bluesign-certified for safety and sustainability.
Finally, the pockets are actually functional. The side zipper pockets on the legs are handy for a phone so that it doesn’t pop out and get lost when you’re scrambling on the rocks.
- Available in petite, regular, plus, and tall sizes
- Nylon/spandex blend with 2-way stretch comfy for curvy figures
- Fabric provides UPF 50+ protection against UV rays
- Water-repellent DWR finish
- Bluesign-certified for sustainability and safety
- Functional pockets including side zipper pockets on the legs
- After wearing the pants a few times and washing them, you’ll have to renew the DWR StormRepel finish to keep them water-resistant
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Pant
Are there hiking pants that you can wear to work? Check out this classy pair with a feminine fit and low-profile waist. Weirdly, they are stretchy enough for yoga! But they have serious trail benefits.
The nylon/elastane fabric has 3 major highlights. First, it offers UPF 50 sunscreen. Second, it has a water-repellent finish. And third, it fights odors. Those are all good news when you’re in the outback.
Then, there are the nice pockets. The ones in the front aren’t just for warming your fingertips. They are deeper than that. The left leg has a zippered pocket and the backside on the right has a reverse entry pocket. In other words, it has a flap to keep the rain out.
Take a close look at the hems. They have an elastic cinch to keep the pants close to your legs and the creepy crawlies out (or help if the legs are a little too long).
The pants come in a variety of colors in sizes small to extra large including tall. Each one is covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
- Water-repellent finish
- UPF 50 protection
- Odor-resistant fabric
- Good pockets including one zippered pocket on the leg
- Cinches on the hems
- Covered by a limited lifetime warranty
- Sizes from extra small to extra large including tall
- Various colors
- Not everyone will love the low-rise waist
THE NORTH FACE Women’s Aphrodite 2.0 Pants
There’s a very good reason why explorers in documentaries are always wearing The North Face clothing. The brand makes durable clothing with outstanding features. Take these cute hiking pants, for example. You’d never guess that they provide UPF 40+ sun protection or that they have a DWR water-repellent finish.
What’s more, the recycled nylon fabric wicks away moisture and dries rapidly to keep you cool on a hot trail. When you need a pair of pants because shorts won’t do, these are a smart choice. You can even adjust the fit at the waist and change the length with drawcord at the hems.
If there’s any downside, the pockets aren’t anything special. There are only 2 on the front and one has a secret zipper compartment.
- Cute and comfy trail pants for hot weather
- UPF 40+ UV protection
- DWR water-repellent finish
- Moisture-wicking, fast-drying recycled nylon fabric
- Drawcord at the hems and waist to adjust fit
- Various colors
- Sizes from extra-extra small short to 3X-large
- Pockets are meh
Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pant Women’s
If you’ll be out and about in a harsh climate, these are the best women’s waterproof hiking pants. They have a weather-resistant and moisture-resistant exterior yet they are surprisingly breathable. The special weave is called Fortius 2.0. It’s a softshell fabric that blocks wind and rain like nobody’s business. It also has superb abrasion resistance.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t feel like you’re dressed in a tank. The pants provide perfect freedom of movement with 4-way stretch. Even though they have a straight leg design, they have a feminine cut. Moreover, you can adjust the pant cuffs and the waist for the right fit.
Yes, they have pockets with zippers. If you were to put on a climbing harness, the thigh pocket would still be usable.
When would you wear these? They’re ideal for spring and fall and winter in warmer climes or if you have a base layer underneath.
- Feature Fortius 2.0 softshell fabric with wind, abrasion, and water resistance
- Ideal for spring and fall or winter with a base layer
- 4-way stretch with adjustable cuffs and waist
- Various colors
- Sizes from 00 to 12T
- A little pricey for the day hiker
- No plus sizes
Little Donkey Andy Women’s Winter Hiking Ski Snowboarding Pants
Let’s wrap up with the best women’s hiking pants for cold weather. These have 3 layers. The surface is water-repellent. The TPU middle layer is waterproof yet breathable. And the inner layer is a soft and breathable polyester polar fleece. In other words, yummy and comfortable for the snow.
The brand says that the best temperatures to wear them are between 14 and 59°F. If you plan to go colder than that, order a size up so you can wear a base layer.
What’s more, the pants have articulated knees and a gusseted crotch as well as four-way-stretch material. You’ll have complete freedom of movement.
The waist is partially elastic and comes with a removable belt. Plus, the two zippered pockets are big enough to hold useful things.
Lastly, the cuffs have ankle zippers to accommodate boots.
- Made for temperatures between 14 and 59°F
- Waterproof and wind-resistant yet breathable
- Polar fleece lining
- 4-way stretch fabric with articulated knees and a gusseted crotch for freedom of movement
- Removable belt and elastic waist
- Zippered ankle openings
- Wide selection of colors
- Sizes from extra small to extra-extra-large
- Only 2 pockets
A good pair of hiking pants keeps you ready to face the challenges on the trail ahead. I hope these women’s hiking pants reviews helped you find what you need today. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.