Hiking clothing is about more than just looking good, right?
It’s also about comfort and safety.
The best hiking pants for women will keep you protected from the elements and comfortable while you hike.
Regardless of the weather conditions, you’ll be facing, the list below has something for everyone. Scroll straight to the bottom if you want to check out the pointers and FAQs first.
- TOP 15 Best Hiking Pants for Women 2020
- Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
- Arc’teryx Gamma Lt Pants
- Mountain Hardware Dynama Pants
- Columbia Saturday Trail Pants
- The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pants
- Mier Softshell Fleece Lined Winter Pants
- PrAna Halle Pants
- White Sierra Sierra Point Convertible Pants
- Mier Quick Dry Convertible Cargo Pants
- Under Armour ColdGear Authentics Leggings
- Macpac Traverse Fleece Leggings
- Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants
- Marmot PreCip Waterproof Full-Zip Pants
- Nonwe Water Resistant Quick Drying Cargo Pants
- Yogipace Bootcut Yoga Workout Pants
- What Do You Need to Know About Hiking Pants?
TOP 15 Best Hiking Pants for Women 2020
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
Review: Stretchy and breathable, these convertible softshell pants are super comfortable and ideal for between-season hiking with warm days and cool mornings.
Start off in pants and then zip off the bottoms for the shorts option. They are breathable, durable and versatile.
- Convert easily into shorts.
- Strong, abrasion-resistant material.
- Water-resistant with good wind protection.
- Different colored zippers on each leg make the bottoms easy to reattach.
- Not suitable to be worn as pants in hot weather – things will get rather warm!
Arc’teryx Gamma Lt Pants
Review: These lightweight, softshell pants are another ideal between season option. These pants don’t convert into shorts so they’re not quite as versatile as the Ferrosis, but for cooler weather they’re unbeatable.
The tough material is abrasion resistant but also has a 4-way stretch so they remain really comfortable and don’t restrict movement in any way.
The pockets can also hold a lot without making you look like Action Man.
- 4-way stretch, very durable material.
- Ideal for women who don’t love large cargo pockets in their pants.
- Includes belt for a secure fit.
- Water-resistant and quick drying.
- Material makes a swishing sound when you walk.
Mountain Hardware Dynama Pants
Review: These pants score top points for breathability making them ideal hot weather hiking pants.
They’re slightly slim fitting so great for women who don’t like baggy pants. They’re also stretchy, water-resistant and reasonably durable.
The material won’t cope with the amount of abrasion as the two pairs above, but they’re still pretty good.
- Extremely breathable and comfortable.
- Wide stretchy waistband instead of a fiddly belt or buttons.
- A good number of functional pockets.
- Slim fitting.
- Fabric will pill eventually.
Columbia Saturday Trail Pants
Review: Another highly popular pair of hiking pants, the Saturday Trail Pants are excellent summer hiking pants providing UPF 50 sun protection as well as water repellency for the occasional light shower.
They are slim fitting with a 2-way stretch material that is also stain resistant so they’ll continue looking good after many years.
- Convert into capris by rolling up the lower leg.
- Lightweight, breathable and comfortable for summer hiking.
- Classic fit is complimentary to curvy women.
- Slightly less durable than the pants above and the fabric will pill with wear.
The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pants
Review: These pants provide another convertible option making them perfect for multi-day summer trips. They can be worn as shorts, ¾ length capris or full pants.
They tick all of the boxes for being comfortable, lightweight, durable and able to provide basic protection against the elements.
- 4-way stretch material.
- Lightweight and water repellent with UPF 40 rating.
- Convert easily into shorts or capris.
- Multiple handy pockets.
- Swish when you walk.
- Sizing runs a little large.
Mier Softshell Fleece Lined Winter Pants
Review: When the winter rolls around and you don’t want the cold weather to stop you from hiking, these are the pants you’ll want to be wearing.
They are softshell pants with water and wind-resistant outer, cozy polar fleece inner and a light stretch to keep things comfortable.
They are also functional enough to use for fine-weather snow sports as well as hiking and will definitely keep you warm on the trails.
- Top quality YKK zippers.
- Soft, comfortable and warm polar fleece inner material.
- Water-resistant and windproof outer.
- Come with a removable webbing belt for a secure fit around your middle.
- Silent when walking! No swishing!
- There are no points against these pants for winter hiking.
PrAna Halle Pants
Review: These pants are extremely popular among women hikers. They’re roomy in the hips so are comfortable and really easy to move in. The other main drawcard is the fabric.
PrAna have created their own material designed with functionality and comfort in mind so these pants manage to look good, cater to hiking and cope with the elements all at once.
- They don’t zip off into shorts but can be rolled up to make capris.
- PrAna’s own Stretch Zion fabric is water repellent, has 4-way stretch, UPF 50 and is quick drying.
- Tidy trouser style can easily be worn in urban environs.
- Pockets are a little limited in functionality.
White Sierra Sierra Point Convertible Pants
Review: These convertible pants offer a slightly baggier alternative to some of the pants on this list. This makes the lower legs really easy to remove over your boots and gives you plenty of room for movement.
They are made of functional water-resistant, quick-drying and lightweight material that is ideal for summer hiking.
- Easy to take the bottoms off over your shoes.
- Really water-resistant.
- Baggy style leaves plenty of room for movement.
- It’s nice to see a pair of convertible pants that aren’t cargo pants – these just have 2 hand pockets.
- Cut isn’t so suitable for curvy women.
Mier Quick Dry Convertible Cargo Pants
Review: One last pair of convertibles for the list, these pants are another excellent choice for summer hiking. They are breathable and moisture-wicking so sweat build up won’t be a problem.
They are also quick drying and abrasion resistant so you can scramble over rocks and through streams and still be comfortable at the end of the day.
- Streamlined YKK zippered pockets.
- 4-way stretch fabric.
- Lightweight, breathable and quick-drying.
- Partially elasticated waist band and removable webbing belt.
- A little warm in really hot weather – but that’s what the shorts are for!
Under Armour ColdGear Authentics Leggings
Review: These are the best women’s hiking leggings for all but the hottest days. They can be worn as a base layer or by themselves for hiking, running, yoga or hanging out and watching Netflix.
They provide a slight compression to keep your muscles happy but are stretchy enough to remain super comfortable.
- Dual-layer fabric with soft brushed inner and quick drying outer.
- Moisture-wicking and breathable.
- High waist with comfortable waist band.
- A little see-through if you stretch them too much.
Macpac Traverse Fleece Leggings
Review: These fleece-lined leggings are so warm and cozy you’ll never want to take them off!
As with the leggings above, they can be worn by themselves or as a base layer under a pair of waterproof pants.
But, these leggings are super warm so unless you’re walking through an Icelandic storm, you’ll get pretty hot wearing them underneath another pair of pants.
- Very warm, soft and comfortable.
- Durable and well made.
- Hidden mesh pocket inside the waist band.
- Not waterproof.
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants
Review: Eddie Bauer have really hit the mark with the sizing and cut of these pants. They are made for women with dimensions that perfectly compliment female curves while also being stretchy, comfortable and smart.
They are also water repellent and quick drying.
- 2-way stretch fabric with water repellent finish and UPF 50 rating.
- Ideal for curvy women with tall sizes available too.
- Pack down to a small, lightweight package for stuffing in your pack when not in use.
- Made with environmentally sustainable principals in mind to reduce the impact of the textile industry.
- Not suitable for really slim builds.
Marmot PreCip Waterproof Full-Zip Pants
Review: These aren’t pants to be worn by themselves… unless you don’t mind things getting a bit sweaty.
They’re over-trousers which are a necessary piece of gear if you’re going to be hiking in really wet weather.
The full-zip allows you to pull them on at short notice in the middle of your walk without having to take your boots off. Then, when it stops raining, you can take them off just as quickly and reveal your warm, dry pants underneath.
- Full-length zips for easy putting on and taking off.
- Elasticated waist.
- Taped seams for complete water and wind-proofing.
- Lightweight and easy to carry in your backpack when not in use.
- With anything that’s completely waterproof, there’s always going to be a bit of moisture build up inside.
Nonwe Water Resistant Quick Drying Cargo Pants
Review: Lightweight and quick-drying, these pants are perfect for wet weather hiking.
Pair them up with a base layer underneath in really cold weather or just wear them as they are with some warm layers on your core and you’ll be set.
- Lightweight, water resistant and quick drying.
- Nylon and spandex combo is durable but stretchy enough to be comfortable.
- Cargo style pockets.
- Slightly elasticated waist.
- Likely to be less durable than one of the more recognized, higher end outdoor clothing brands above.
Yogipace Bootcut Yoga Workout Pants
Review: You wouldn’t want to wear these in bad weather, but for warm summer hiking or cool rainless day hikes, these pants are pretty ideal.
They’re breathable and moisture-wicking so you won’t get sweaty, and they’re stretchy and comfortable so your movement won’t be restricted.
- Hidden pocket in the waistband.
- Wide waistband doesn’t dig in.
- 4-way stretchy fabric for extra comfort.
- Moisture-wicking material.
- Not suitable for wet, cold or really windy weather.
What Do You Need to Know About Hiking Pants?
In my opinion, these are the main things:
- Stretchy material
- Lightweight and quick-drying
- Durable, tough fabric
- Reinforced stitching and good quality clasps/zippers
- Enough pockets for your needs
- Suited to the weather conditions you’ll be facing
As with everything, it’s a mixture of common sense and knowing what you need your pants for.
If you’re going somewhere alpine then water-resistant and windproof are pretty important factors.
If you’re going somewhere with crazy sun like New Zealand then you’ll be wanting lightweight pants designed to keep you cool and protected from the UV rays.
In some cases, good rain pants and a pair of thermal leggings may be a better combination than looking for one pair of pants to do everything.
Rain pants are the only reliable waterproofing for your legs when you get caught in a downpour.
But then they allow you the flexibility to take them off and hiking in your dry leggings when the rain stops.
It’s also a case of knowing your body shape. Unfortunately pants are just not a one-style-fits-all deal.
Like hiking boots, everyone will be better suited to some brands over others depending on their shape. Even the best women’s hiking boots tend to be designed for certain foot shapes over others.
When it comes to pants, some brands like North Face don’t cater very well for curves and are more suited to slim, athletic builds. Alternatively, Eddie Bauer’s pants are almost too curvy for some people.
What About Convertible Pants?
I’m going to be honest, I used to think convertible pants were a gimmick and that they’d be more annoying than functional. But then I got a pair and learned for myself how handy they are.
Start the day with the bottoms on when the temperatures are a bit cooler. Then, when things heat up you can zip off the bottoms without taking your boots off or getting completely changed. The bottoms take up no space in your bag.
And if you have fair skin and need to limit the amount of sun exposure you get in a day, you can zip the bottoms back on for sun protection, or insect protection once the light dims!
If you’re into hot weather hiking, walking in sandals and convertible pants gives you a lot of versatility. Check out my article on the best hiking sandals if you haven’t already – you might just get converted!
While we’re on the topic of versatility… not everyone literally just hikes in their hiking pants.
Many people are taking them on their travels and want one pair of pants that they can wear most of the time.
This means choosing a pair of pants that can be washed and will dry quickly overnight in your hostel or hotel room, that are smart enough to wear in an urban environment without making you feel like you have a ‘traveler’ sign stuck to your forehead, AND have just enough discrete pockets to keep your valuables on you.
If you’re interested in more travel attire with well-placed pockets, check out my article on jackets and pants with hidden pockets so that you can feel a little more protected from muggers in your next big city destination.
Are Yoga Pants Good for Hiking?
Yes! Yoga pants are great for hiking provided you’re not going into an alpine environment without a pair of waterproofs in your backpack!
The best leggings for hiking are leggings that aren’t made out of cotton.
Do You Really Need Hiking Pants?
It depends what you mean by hiking pants. Your pants don’t need to be marketed as hiking pants necessarily, but they do need to be comfortable and quick drying.
Hiking in cotton, especially jeans, is out of the question.
Just don’t do it.
What Kind of Pants Do You Wear for Hiking?
Pants that suit the weather conditions you could face on your hike, but always synthetic and quick drying.
Are Nylon Pants Good for Hiking?
Yes, most hiking pants are made from some kind of nylon-based material.
Nylon is good because it can easily be made water-resistant, is quick to dry, tough and lightweight.
Are Cotton Pants Good for Hiking?
No! Don’t hike in cotton unless you’re 100% sure that the weather forecast is good and not going to change.
Once it gets wet, cotton is heavy and cold, will lead to chafing and possibly hypothermia.
Are Compression Pants Good for Hiking?
To a point, yes they can be. Compression clothing is more designed for recovery than hiking as such so they’d be better worn the day after a tough hike on an easy walk.
But if you’re just going for a day hike, then sure.
Hopefully, you now feel well prepared to choose the best hiking pants for women.
Remember, know your shape, know the weather conditions and decide on your preferences for pockets or convertibles.
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