- 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.
Here are the best women’s hiking pants:
- Best hiking pants overall: Columbia Sportswear Saturday Trail Convertible Pant
- Best wear-anywhere hiking pants: Prana Briann Pant
- Best capri-style hiking pants: The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Capri
- Best hiking pants for mountaineering: Eddie Bauer Women’s Guide Pro Pants
- Best hiking leggings: Fjällräven Abisko Women’s Trekking Tights
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.
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.
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
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.
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.