Have you ever been hiking up a mountain and crossed paths with someone wearing yoga pants, basketball shorts, or even denim? We have – and we simply couldn’t comprehend how they managed to hike in such uncomfortable clothing!
For us, a pair of hiking pants is a necessity. The best hiking pants for women are breathable, functional, and built to withstand various elements. Plus, they’re way more comfortable to move around in than regular pants or even athleisure wear.
That’s why we wanted to put together a guide about everything there is to know about women’s hiking pants. We’ll explain the different types of pants and what to look for when shopping for a new pair, and even some of our favorite options we’ve tried over the years. So, don’t spend your hike suffering in jeans – read on to find out more about the best women’s hiking pants.
Why Trust This Guide?
While we participate in all types of outdoor activities, nothing beats our love for hiking. And after spending years trekking around the world, we’ve gone through our share of different hiking pants. Some have been comfortable and long-lasting, while others we wouldn’t recommend to our worst enemy.
We’ve learned a lot about what to look for in a good pair of women’s hiking pants – and we want to share that info with you!
What are Hiking Pants?
Not to sound too obvious – but hiking pants are types of pants you generally wear hiking! Unlike normal pants or jeans, they’re made with materials that withstand sweat and dirt while also giving you more flexibility to move and exercise.
Why You Need Hiking Pants
Can you think of anything more uncomfortable than climbing a mountain in a tight pair of jeans? Everyday pants just aren’t suited for this type of movement, which is why hiking pants are a great investment for anyone spending time outdoors. Plus, you wouldn’t want to rip or stain the same pants you wear to work or dinner anyways, right?
Different Kinds of Hiking Pants
Different types of hikers have different needs, which is why there are many types of hiking pants out there. Depending on where you’re going and your style of travel, you might want to consider these different types of pants.
Lightweight Hiking Pants
If you’re hiking in the summer or somewhere with warm weather, then you’ll likely want to wear something breathable and lightweight. Not only are they comfortable to wear during the day, but lightweight pants also tend to take up less space in your bag. They also can be made with UV-protected materials to help block out the sun on those nice days.
Convertible Hiking Pants
Versatility is a huge advantage while hiking and one of the main reasons why we love convertible hiking pants. They’re suitable for a variety of climates as they can be converted into shorts/capris or worn as long pants. While some models have zip-off legs, others can be rolled or buttoned up instead.
Heavy-Duty Hiking Pants
While lightweight hiking pants are great for many occasions, more extreme hikers might opt for something heavier and stronger. If you’re trekking through the jungle or scrambling up a canyon, you might look for a pair of hiking pants with a thicker fabric that’s resistant to tearing. These pants are also warmer than lightweight ones, so they’re better suited for colder or more extreme climates.
What to Look Out for When You Want to Buy Hiking Pants
Hiking pants come in many different shapes, styles, and materials, which can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. That’s why we wanted to explain a few things to look out for when shopping for the best hiking pants for women.
Pockets & Ventilation Zippers
Unless you constantly want to be fumbling around in your backpack for your phone or camera, having pockets on your pants is mandatory. Most hiking pants will have pockets on the front and the back, although some may also come with extra storage pouches or zippered pockets on the thighs. If you’re traveling with any valuables, you’ll also want to make sure at least one of them has a zipper to make sure that nothing falls out during your hike.
Ease of Care
After a day outdoors, you’ll most likely need to wash off the dirt and dust from your pants. While most hiking pants can be tossed in the washing machine, some of them need a little extra care to maintain their quality. If you’re looking for a carefree, easy-to-wash pair of pants, then stay away from any material that needs special treatment like wax or waterproofing afterward.
Some hiking pants have a looser fit (sometimes with a crotch gusset for extra mobility), while others are slimmer and more form-fitting. What works for one person might not feel comfortable for another, so make sure to try on different pairs to see which works best for you.
The most durable hiking pants are usually made with quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or nylon. They should also have a small percentage of elastic or spandex as well since you’ll want a little bit of stretch. It’s also important to see if the pants have a water repellent coating or UV protection, which will definitely come in handy in all types of weather.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a short day hike or a cross-country adventure – having a comfortable pair of hiking pants is a must! Not only should you look for something breathable (after all, you’ll probably work up a sweat during your hike), but you’ll also want something stretchy. Some pants have an elastic waist for comfort, while others are made with stretchy fabric throughout so you can move easily on your hike.
Some of the best hiking pants for women have cool extra features created specifically with the outdoor traveler in mind. For example, some pants may come with belt loops (for a better fit), ankle cinches (to keep sand and dirt out), or foot stirrups (to keep them from riding up). It’s not a necessity, but these cool features are nice to have on some hikes.
Top 5 Hiking Pants
If you’ve spent any time researching hiking pants for women, you know that there are a lot of options out there. To help point you in the right direction, take a look at five of our favorite hiking pants.
Fjallraven Keb Trousers | Best All-Around Hiking Pants for Women
Pros: Comfortable and durable material | tons of pockets and zippers | boot stirrups and suspender straps
Cons: Expensive price point
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When it comes to comfort and durability, you can’t beat the Fjällraven Keb Trousers. They’re constructed with Fjällraven’s signature G-1000® Eco fabric, which is a combination of polyester and cotton that is stretchy and tough at the same time. The thickness is also good for cold climates, making this one of the best winter hiking pants for women as well.
It does require a bit of maintenance (you should wax the pants after washing), but it’s worth the effort to preserve the quality of the pants.
It also has two hand and two leg pockets as well as ventilation zippers from the hip to the knee and down the calves. But that’s not all. The Fjallraven Keb Trouser also has hook straps at the leg openings for stirrups and an attachment zone for suspenders. It’s not one of the cheapest women’s hiking pants, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality and comfort.
Jack Wolfskin Activate Light Zip Off | Best Convertible Hiking Pants for Women
Pros: Can be worn as pants or shorts | Lightweight and packable | wind and water-resistant | UV protected material
Cons: Not suitable for cold climates
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As one of the best zip-off hiking pants for women, the Jack Wolfskin Activate Light is both versatile and functional. While the material is already incredibly breathable and lightweight, you’ll still have the option to unzip them into shorts in case things are still too warm. And as a bonus, they’re also wind, water, and UV ray resistant.
The pants also have two hand pockets, a back pocket, and a leg pocket. They also feature adjustable ankles and an elasticized waist for extra comfort.
The only downside is that they’re not ideal for cold climates. However, they’re perfectly suitable for more moderate to warm weather hikes.
Columbia Saturday Trail | Best Affordable Hiking Pants for Women
Pros: Affordable | Lightweight and packable | water and stain-resistant | UPF 50 material
Cons: Not many extra features | Not suitable for cold climates
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It may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other hiking pants on this list (although it does have two side and two back pockets), but the Columbia Saturday Trail is a durable and affordable option for most hikers. These women’s hiking pants are super soft and comfortable, mostly made of nylon and a little elastic for stretch. It’s also water and stain repellent and has a UPF of 50 to protect from harmful rays.
Although it’s not thick enough for cold weather hiking, these pants are great for warmer climates. You can even roll the legs up to wear the pants as capris if things are getting too hot on your hike.
Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pant | Best Lightweight Hiking Pants for Women
Pros: Lightweight | Weather and abrasion resistant | Slim, minimalist design
Cons: Not suitable for cold climates
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Arc’teryx makes some of the best outdoor gear for hikers, and their Gamma LT Pant is no exception. It’s made with lightweight and quick-drying nylon that’s water repellent and resistant to tears and abrasions.
They have adjustable pant cuffs, two mesh-lined hand pockets, a thigh pocket, and a built-in webbing belt that can be adjusted for comfort. We also love the minimalist design, which is great for those who don’t want the classic utility pant look.
Although the pants are durable, they’re far too thin to be worn in colder climates. But it’s still one of our top choices for summer wear.
Patagonia Quandary Pants | Best Utility Hiking Pants for Women
Pros: Tons of pockets | Built-in belt loop | Roll-up legs | Lightweight and stretchy
Cons: Large inseams which can irritate the skin
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The Patagonia Quandary Pant is packed to brim with nifty features. It has enough pockets to store all your valuables (two in the front, two in the back, and one zippered cargo pocket on the thigh). It also features a hidden waist drawcord and belt loops for the perfect fit and roll-up legs with a metal snap to convert into capris.
The material is lightweight yet strong, as it’s made from stretchy nylon and spandex fabric that’s water repellent and UPF 50 protected. The only downside is the double seam which sticks out and rubs against your leg. While it does provide more mobility, it can be a little irritating to your skin.
We hope you learned a thing or two in our women’s hiking pants guide. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. For more information on gear, check out our travel tips.