The 5 best women’s hiking pants and leggings, perfect for day hikes and backpacking trips

  • Wearing hiking pants instead of jeans offers protection against the elements and moisture management.
  • The best hiking pants are stretchy, have a gusseted crotch for movement, and handle dirt and sweat.
  • Our top pick, the Columbia Saturday Trail Pant, is durable and versatile with zip-off legs.

If you’re headed out for an easy day hike, throw on a pair of hiking boots and whatever shorts or leggings you have lying around and just get out there. But if you’re off on a technical hike with the sun blasting down on your and rock scrambles, or on an overnight backpacking trip, you’ll be a lot happier if you wear hiking-specific pants.

Read more: 10 hiking essentials for spring

Women’s hiking pants are made for movement and comfort, with many featuring stretchy fabric and a gusseted crotch so you can stretch, reach, and twist without restriction. What’s more, most pairs have features that protect against the elements, like UPF to offer sun protection for your skin, DWR finishes to repel water, and abrasion-resistant patches so you won’t tear the fabric as you scoot over big rocks.

Hiking-specific pants are also designed to be worn with a backpack, meaning you won’t typically find excess fabric or unnecessary belt loops on the waistband capable of causing pressure points or becoming uncomfortable. The best hiking pants aren’t just for hiking, either, but perform well enough for you to wear while traveling or running errands around town.

You’ll also want to find a pair that’s sun-, dirt-, and water-resistant, even if you hike in an area that doesn’t always encounter intense elements or weather changes. And finally, fit is a vital consideration, and not just how it feels around your waist. Some pants come in a variety of lengths and its always better to have excess coverage and roll up your pant legs as opposed to not fully protecting your lower legs.

To help you sift through the growing market of hiking pants, we rounded up a few pairs of our favorites from brands like The North Face, Columbia Sportswear, and Eddie Bauer. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail on how we tested the picks.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are the best women’s hiking pants:

Best hiking pants overall

Columbia Saturday Trail Convertible Pant

Tough, abrasion-resistant stretch nylon fabric makes the Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail Convertible Pant a great option for women looking for one garment that does it all.

Pros: Zip-off legs, gusseted crotch, made of stretch fabric that repels water

Cons: They run small so it’s smart to size up

Size range: 2-16 in short, regular, and long

Hikers will love that the legs on these zip off, adding an extra layer of versatility, allowing you to switch to shorts if need be. When worn as pants, a subtle flap covers the zipper to avoid snagging on anything as you hike.

A gusseted crotch allows for full freedom of movement and the pant’s articulated knees won’t pull up or feel binding when you’re stepping up or down. Side-zip security pockets safely hold an ID or credit card while leg hem cinches keep out bugs and debris. The fabric is rated for UPF 50, meaning you’re able to wear these in the sun without having to worry about getting burned, too.

The comfortable stretch fabric repels water and resists stains while breathing and wicking moisture away from your skin to keep you dry and comfortable. These pants feature a mid-rise design, come in three different lengths, and have enough give in the fabric to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. Consider sizing up, though; they run small. 

Best wear-anywhere

PrAna Briann Pant

The Prana Briann Pant pant is able to do it all, from trekking through the backcountry to remaining comfortable around the house for daily use.

Pros: Stretch fabric is perfect for a variety of use cases, features SPF 50+ protection, repels water, available in three length choices

Cons: The fitted, skinny leg style may not be suitable for everyone

Size range: 00-14 in short and regular

These stretchy, slim fit pants don’t scream technical trail attire and are perfect as a travel pant, allowing you to wear them at a city tour, a hike, or while out to dinner with friends.

Stretchy and water repellent, the Briann stays comfortable no matter if you’ve been in them for hours or days, and they won’t look saggy or worn down. Made from durable, abrasion-resistant stretch nylon, the pants quick-dry moisture, offer SPF 50+ protecting, and repel water. They’re designed as a mid-rise pant with belt loops and a button closure. Prana offers the Briann in three length choices and seven different colorways.

Best capri-style

The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Capri

The Aphrodite 2.0 Capri from The North Face features oversized leg openings, making them cool in hot weather without leaving you as exposed as a pair of shorts.

Pros: Capri style keeps you cool in hot weather without completely exposing your legs, adjustable drawcord allows for a custom fit

Cons: Fit runs big

Size range: XS-3X

The waistband is two inches wide, so it won’t dig or chafe, even when you’re huffing up a steep incline or hauling a heavy backpack. An adjustable drawcord at the waist lets you easily cinch the pants for a customized fit.

The North Face manufactured the Aphrodite from durable, breathable fabric that quickly wicks and dries, allowing them to stay comfortable whether you’re hiking in the rain or breaking a sweat. A concealed zippered compartment inside the hand pocket secures valuables like car keys and its triple-stitched seams can endure miles of hard use. The shirring on the legs adds flair, so you could throw these on over your yoga tights en route to class if you don’t feel like walking around in Lycra.

Best for mountaineering

Eddie Bauer Women's Guide Pro Pants

Made for professional mountain guides, the Eddie Bauer Women’s Guide Pro Pants are lightweight, packable, and constructed from a stretchy fabric that lasts for years of hard use.

Pros: Features UPF 50+ protection, highly durable, zippered pockets able to hold plenty of loose gear like phones, wallets, etc.

Cons: Sizing can be a little tricky

Size range: 0-16

These pants are rugged and durable enough to survive anything the outdoors throws at you, and feature a treated water-repelling finish and UPF 50+ protection.

The Guide Pro Pants offer a style reminiscent of a pair of stretch jeans and feature two hand pockets, a button waist, and belt loops. Zippered pockets on the thighs are big enough to hold a phone, wallet, or ID, too. They’re styled as a mid-rise pant and come in seven different colors.

Eddie Bauer designed these for women with a somewhat curvy figure, so check the sizing guide before choosing which pair to buy.

Best leggings

abisko trekking tight_long

The Fjällräven Abisko Women’s Trekking Tights are very comfortable with stretch fabric, a very flattering fit, and reinforced at the knees and butt for durability and protection if you fall, slide, or need to scoot.

Pros: Stretchy, reinforced in key areas, wide waistband, gusseted, flatlock seams reduce chafing, interior drawcord for better fit, gear loops, phone pocket

Cons: Expensive, limited sizing, too long for short folks, can get hot during sunny summer hikes

Size range: XS-XL

Like most millennials, I prefer to wear leggings over pants in pretty much every situation, especially during exercise. The Fjällräven Abisko Women’s Trekking Tights are ideal if you want a close-to-body feel and flattering fit on a more technical hike. 

Made from 82% nylon and 18% elastane, these tights are the perfect balance of stretchy and durable. They’re breathable and sweat-wicking, though they’re a little too thick for hot summer hikes. The best part about these tights are the reinforced knees and butt areas, which offer abrasion-resistance on the areas you’re most likely to scrape against the ground slipping, sliding, or scooting.

They also have a convenient phone pocket for quick pics on your hike, and an interior drawcord for a tighter fit around the waist if you need.

The downside is they’re quite pricey. But if you hike a lot or are heading out for a big trip where you need reliable, durable bottoms, the splurge may be worth it. –Rachael Schultz

How we test

Each of the hiking pants featured in this guide went through a series of on-trail tests to see how well they compared based on these four categories: Fit, function, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category factored into which hiking pants I ultimately included:

  • Fit: A hiking pant’s fit is perhaps the single most important category when assessing whether it’s worth spending money on or not. When testing, I looked for everything from how it felt to wear casually, how it held up on both casual and technical hikes, and whether it remained comfortable enough to wear post-trail. 
  • Function: There is plenty of women-designed outdoor apparel that skimps when it comes to including functional pockets (or any kind of storage), so this was a key consideration. Even if you tend to hike with a pack, there’s still a need for being able to store a smartphone or your keys in a pant pocket, instead of fishing them out of your bag all day. 
  • Versatility: Being able to wear a pair of hiking pants outside of its singular intended purpose is important for a couple of reasons: You don’t always have the time or space to change right after a hike and if you’re investing in quality pants, you should be able to put them to use in other scenarios.
  • Value: Value is less the final sticker price as much as it’s the combination of the three categories above as well as how much it costs. I often subscribe to the idea that it’s better to spend more on something that’s built to last than to spend less, more often on an inferior product. 
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Everlane’s knit flats are getting phased out, but the remaining colors and sizes are on sale for $39 right now

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Editor’s note: The ReKnit Day Gloves are being phased out by Everlane, so the limited sizes left are on sale for $39. Below is our review from when the shoes first came out, plus an update after months of regular wear.

A bestselling women’s item at Everlane, a simple leather flat known as the Day Glove, sits on an impossibly high pedestal. Among its accolades at Insider Reviews: the most comfortable Everlane shoe and the best women’s flat you can buy.

To reach the upper echelons of Picks fame is of course not without cause. These flats are ultra-soft and flexible, with tiny air vents for breathability and a convenient back pull tab. They now come in 13 colors, and as I write this, I’m seriously considering getting a second pair in a cool slate blue (color no longer available).  

everlane day glove reknit
The new Day Glove ReKnit (left) and the original leather Day Glove (right).

Just as we were considering penning another love letter to these fan club-worthy flats, a new generation of Day Gloves arrived in August 2019 to delight us. 

They’re called the Day Glove ReKnit, retailing at $98 (currently $39) and made from eight renewed plastic bottles, and they’re as amazing as the original Day Glove. 

Their lightweight and breathable knit uppers, which have a ribbed pattern that reminds us of our favorite summer cardigans, are combined with cushioned leather insoles that let you walk in the shoes for hours on end. Like Everlane’s other popular Day styles, including the Day Loafer and classic Day Heel, they have a back-side pull tab. 

Read more: 19 styles from Everlane that we wear in our everyday lives – for both men and women

everlane day glove reknit 4

As much as the Day Glove ReKnits belong to the Day shoe family ethos of comfort, versatility, and style, they’re also part of Everlane’s story of sustainable production practices. By 2021, the company is hoping to eliminate new plastic from its entire supply chain. Its ReNew outerwear collection was the first step towards that mission, and its first sneaker, the Tread Trainer, also takes care to use recycled plastic whenever possible. 

With their recycled plastic bottle construction, we can’t help but think of the brand that first started making knit flats from innovative materials in 2016, Rothy’s (so we compared them side by side). Another online shoe startup, Allbirds, also recently joined the intensifying competition with its own iteration, the eucalyptus-fiber Tree Breezer flats.

The coolest part of it all is that you wouldn’t suspect a thing. The ReKnits look and feel not just like a regular pair of flats, but an elevated style you’ll reach for automatically every morning, so it’s impressive they’re also made from environmentally friendly materials. Since they’re light and slim, they’ll pack easily for travels, and their classic silhouette makes them appropriate for both casual and more formal occasions. 

Read on for our individual thoughts of the Day Glove ReKnit flats, including a one-year wear update:  

everlane day glove reknit 2

Sally Kaplan, Insider Reviews senior editor: 

When we first put on these flats, pretty much all of us thought aloud, “Oh no, we’re going to have to update every article that names the leather versions of these as the best flat ever!” I think there’s a complete consensus on our team that these are some of the most comfortable flats we’ve ever worn. I have two pairs of the leather Day Gloves and they’re definitely my most-worn shoes in my closet, but I’d say the knit version is just slightly less restrictive. There’s also no break-in time like there is with leather (even though it’s buttery soft and molds easily). The knit material is just stretchy and flexible enough to form to your foot and move with you through the day, and though there’s not much arch support, the insoles are soft enough to wear all day. 

I got the white pair thinking they’d be easy to spot clean, but I’ll be honest – I think they’re going to get dirty very quickly. I’ll report back once I’ve had enough time to get them scuffed up, and in the meantime, I’ll be hawk-eyeing the website for a nude or light grey pair that won’t get dirty as easily!

May 2020 update: I’ve been wearing my knit Day Gloves just as often as my leather pair over the past year, and I have to say that these continue to be even more comfortable than I thought possible. Despite having very little padding, they’ve held up really well with consistent wear. And though the white pair does pick up a lot of dirt from city streets, I’ve been able to spot clean the tip of the toes pretty easily.

Remi Rosmarin, Insider Reviews reporter:

You know that feeling after a long day of walking when you pull off your shoes and feel a sigh of relief as you let your feet finally breathe? That’s the feeling I got when I took off my other shoes to slip this pair on. They’re so strikingly lightweight, it feels like you’re barely wearing anything. The ribbed knit strikes a good balance between being structured and soft. Little details like the leather tab on the back and a hard rubber sole make these feel a little more chic than your average knit flats. The only reason I won’t wear these every day is because I got them in white, and I don’t want to let the New York City streets ruin them that fast. 

May 2020 update: I wish I had worn these more than I have because they really are so comfortable. The round-toe ballet flat just isn’t a style I usually lean towards and thus, the ReKnit Day Glove hasn’t become a staple in my wardrobe. On top of that, as someone who lives in a big city where the streets are not known for being particularly clean, the white knit and low profile of this shoe isn’t really practical for my day-to-day. Maybe when I’m visiting my family in suburbia or spending a spring day out of the city I’ll give these another try.

everlane day glove reknit 5

Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter:

Whenever I try an amazing product, I always worry that the next version or style will fall flat. All good things must come to an end, right? In a rare twist, the new ReKnit flats lived up to my original Day Glove-ridden expectations. Part of the reason is they have the same comfortable and supportive leather insole that makes them wearable right out of the box. The ribbed knit fabric is really cute and adds some texture contrast to any outfit, and it shines in the brighter color options – the red (which I tried) and the yellow. I’m a little too excited to have a new shoe to rave about to my friends. 

Do yourself and your feet a favor by getting the new Day Glove ReKnit flats. Whether you’re already a Day Glove devotee or considering your first Everlane shoe purchase, you won’t regret getting these comfortable under-$100 flats. 

May 2020 update: Now that some time has gone by, I’ve realized I ultimately prefer the original Day Gloves because they mold better to my feet (which makes sense given that I’ve worn them for longer) and the heel is more comfortable.

Earlier this year, I brought my ReKnit flats on a trip to London, and I loved how versatile they were for traveling, style-wise. Unfortunately, once I wore them all day, I developed some heel blisters. 

That said, I still wear the ReKnit flats often, and I do think they’re more visually appealing and feel a little more durable due to their knit construction. With knit-fabric shoes, the prevailing concern is that they’ll eventually lose their shape, but my ReKnit flats continue to look neat and structured.

everlane day glove reknit 10

Ellen Hoffman, Insider Reviews executive editor: 

Everlane does it again! I hate to sound like a broken record, but the company really does make some of my favorite clothes and shoes, and the new Day Glove ReKnit has shot right to the top as my favorite shoe it has made to date (I’ve tried almost every major shoe style Everlane has launched in the last four years, for what it’s worth).

There’s absolutely no break-in time needed for the ReKnits, which surprised me since Everlane shoes typically take me a few wears to break in. I packed my work bag with back-up flats to change into in case they started irritating my feet after a few hours, but I needn’t have bothered. They’re up there with the Allbirds Tree Breezers as the most comfortable and breathable knit flats I own, though I think the ReKnits offer a more fashion-forward look. It remains to be seen how well the flexible knit upper maintains its shape over time, but as far as first impressions go, the ReKnits nailed it. 

May 2020 update: A year later, I stand by my initial recommendation 100%. I love my ReKnit flats so much I bought them in another color. They’re the most comfortable “cute” flats I own and they hold their shape well over time. 

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Spanx is best known for its shapewear, but its leggings are the real unsung heroes – we had 4 people test their fit and function

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spanx leggings review 2

In the 22 years since being founded by Sara Blakely, Spanx has firmly entrenched itself into popular culture and become synonymous with looking and feeling confident in your evening dress.

Though it’s usually associated with smoothing, panty line-eliminating shapewear, another part of its business – which has expanded far and wide to include activewear, swimwear, and men’s underwear – is quietly raved about, too.

Spanx leggings have earned their own share of fans because they feature the same comfort and flattering look of the famous shapewear, but take everyone’s favorite form of pants-that-aren’t-really-pants. 

Spanx Leggings

A few of the most popular Spanx legging styles are the Faux Leather Leggings ($98), Faux Leather Moto Leggings ($110), and the Look At Me Now Seamless Leggings ($68).

The sleek and slick Faux Leather Leggings are slimming and make an ordinary outfit instantly more edgy, while the Moto version turns the edge up further with its textured moto seams. Though you’d expect these styles to be uncomfortable or restrictive, they’re quite stretchy and have control tops.

Meanwhile, the stretchy knit Seamless Leggings are an attractive legging basic you’ll default to on the weekends, but won’t feel ashamed to wear out of your home.

In total, Spanx sells more than 30 styles of leggings, from “Jean-ish” to luxe velvet to active. They run from $58 to $128, with most styles priced around $100 to $110 – on par with premium athleisure brands. The Spanx difference, however, benefits from a design philosophy that has both comfort and style in mind, and executes through features like shaping waistbands and the absence of center seams. 

We tried a few pairs of Spanx leggings to see for ourselves what the big deal was and came away impressed with their fit, quality construction, and flattering style. You can read more about our experiences and shop all of Spanx’s leggings below. 

Shop all leggings at Spanx here.

Shop Spanx leggings at Nordstrom here.

EveryWear Mesh Side Stripe Leggings

spanx leggings review

For both stylistic and functional, breathability purposes, I love leggings with mesh details or panels, so I was immediately drawn to this pair. They have a lengthening and slimming mesh stripe down each leg that somewhat mimics the popular side stripe pant look of the moment, but has its own unique effect. 

Your legs and butt will look great in these leggings because the fabric compresses and hugs your curves, but they’ll also feel surprisingly comfortable the whole time. They’re stretchy, and though I wouldn’t work out in them, they easily adapted to the unexpected squats and light jogs that can be required during an active day in the city.

The other parts of the comfort equation were the soft, antimicrobial finish and breathable fabric that allowed me to wear these leggings from day to night. — Connie Chen, senior reporter

Look At Me Now Cropped Seamless Leggings

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I’m firmly in camp “leggings as pants,” and this semi-high-waisted pair has everything going for it. The extreme opacity means I never have to worry when I  bend over to pick something up (which is often, I have a cat and a slippery phone), and the seamless construction is incredibly smoothing and comfortable. There’s no elastic strip in the waistband, so there’s no digging. The waist is basically just a continuation of the leggings themselves.

They’re also not as tight as Spanx shapewear, but they still hold me in without pressing too hard anywhere. I don’t wear these to work, but I do wear them as often as possible when I’m not in the office. I’m also 5-foot-1, so cropped leggings fit me perfectly as regular-length pairs.  — Sally Kaplan, senior editor

EveryWear Icon Leggings

spanx leggings review

I was prepared not to love Spanx’s leggings. I spend most of my time in athletic leggings, and I had decided I’d outgrown athleisure pairs. I stand corrected.

The Every-Wear leggings are flattering and slimming, and surprisingly thin enough to wear all day comfortably. The four-way stretch lets you move around unencumbered. The design is smart: the absence of a center-seam and a waistband-free construction makes the transition from what is essentially shapewear to a more natural second skin (and no muffin top). It hit at my natural waist, and the seams in back work both functionally and as a kind of slimming and uplifting contour.

All in all, they’re movement-friendly, make for a lean and streamlined silhouette, and avoid most of my athleisure complaints. $110 is expensive, but I’d personally rather own one pair of these than three inferior pairs. —Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Active Printed Leggings

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Spanx makes my all-time favorite pairs of tights, so I had high hopes for its leggings. And my faith was not misplaced … the Active Printed Leggings are amazing. They’re breathable, supportive but not suffocating, and surprisingly comfortable, offering more stretch than similar compressive leggings I’ve tried that makes them much easier to get into and out of. I’m not sure what witchcraft went into the design, but they also manage to create a smooth-all-over look I love. —Ellen Hoffman, Insider Reviews Executive Editor

Looking for more leggings and tights options? Let Insider Reviews help you:

Spanx Leggings
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