Women know the struggles in finding a good pair of hiking pants: Fit, comfort, and storage considerations all can be difficult to dial in. But the market has improved significantly of late, with a range of designs that offer impressive performance and feature sets. Regardless of style, our favorite models are mobile, breathable, and durable for activities from casual day hiking to backpacking and even bouldering. Below we break down the best women’s hiking pants of 2023, from summer convertibles to mountain-ready softshells and form-fitting leggings. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best Overall Women’s Hiking Pant: Prana Halle Straight Pant
- Best Budget Women’s Hiking Pant: REI Co-op Trailmade Pants
- Best Leggings for Hiking: Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights
- Best Softshell Pant for Alpine Use: Arc’teryx Gamma Pant
Best Overall Women’s Hiking Pant
Materials: 97% nylon, 3% elastane
What we like: A great combination of style and performance.
What we don’t: Drawstring causes bunching at the waist; too thick for hot weather.
Touting an excellent combination of style and performance, our favorite women’s hiking pant for 2023 is Prana’s venerable Halle. This pant has been through the wringer in recent years while Prana tried out a new recycled fabric called ReZion, but we’re happy to report that the beloved Stretch Zion version is back. Thanks to the time-tested fabric, the Halle offers great mobility whether you’re on the trail or sitting around camp, manages to hold its shape even after days of use, and is ridiculously resilient to abrasion and stains. Tack on a great fit that’s easy to customize with multiple waist and inseam options (including plus sizes)—and your choice between straight and flared legs—and the Halle is a versatile design that works well both on and off the trail.
All that said, the Halle is not without fault. We often complain about the meager storage on women’s pants, and the Prana is no exception, with shallow front pockets and a flat thigh pocket that’s too tight for a modern smartphone. Further, the Halle runs a bit warm for mid-summer hiking, with substantial, water-resistant fabric reminiscent of a lightweight softshell. Finally, while we love the full coverage of the mid-rise waist, we’ve found that the internal drawstring creates bunching right below the belly button that interferes with our pack’s hipbelt. But these complaints do little to dampen our love for the versatile and comfortable design. And if you'd like to try Prana's more sustainably built hiking pant, the Halle II (with recycled ReZion material) is still available, although we've been disappointed with the fit and finish... Read in-depth review
See the Prana Halle Straight Pant
Best Budget Women’s Hiking Pant
Materials: 94% nylon, 6% spandex
Waist: Elastic (partial)/drawcord
What we like: An affordable pant for warm-weather hiking; available in a wide range of sizes.
What we don’t: We’d prefer a spandex waistband.
Many of the options on this list are approaching $100, but affordability isn’t the only reason we’re excited about REI’s new Trailmade Pants. Made with lightweight nylon, the Trailmade is both breathable and quick to dry, making it a great choice for summer outings and travel. Comfort is a strong suit as well, with integrated stretch and articulated knees that lend mobility for both trail and camp activities. And—kudos to REI—we love the Trailmade’s styling, from the fun contrasting zipper and pull to the reinforced knee patches and bungees at the cuffs for securing the legs at the calf (a great feature for climbers in particular). Added up, the Trailmade is a stylish and functional warm-weather alternative to the Halle above for $25 less.
Despite being well built for the price, the new Trailmade does come with some notable compromises. First off, the waistband doesn’t have much give (only the back half features elastic), and we’d prefer a simpler spandex design without the possible pinch points of a button or drawcord. Some of the finer details could also use a little improvement: The single zippered pocket is too snug for larger iPhones, and the fabric has a tendency to bag out a bit in between washings. But overall, the Trailmade performed wonderfully for us during a recent three-day backpacking trip, and it strikes our team as one of the best budget hiking pants ever made. The cherry on top is REI’s extensive sizing selection: The Trailmade is available in sizes 0 to 26—including short, regular, and petite options in sizes 0 to 16—so most women should be able to find a good all-around fit.
See the REI Co-op Trailmade Pants
Best Leggings for Hiking
Materials: 87% polyester, 13% spandex
What we like: Excellent comfort, functional storage, and durable materials.
What we don’t: Doesn’t dry quickly and breathability falls short in hot weather.
Not everyone likes to wear traditional nylon hiking pants on the trail, and uber-comfortable and stretchy leggings (also referred to as tights) are a popular alternative. While your standard “athleisure” designs from brands like Lululemon and Athleta will certainly get the job done, a hiking-specific model offers sizable boosts in performance, convenience, and longevity. With a healthy number of options on the market, the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights strike us as one of the most well rounded, with a great assortment of storage, soft yet durable materials that hold their shape over time, water-resistant patches at the seat and knees, and a wide elastic waistband that stays in place and limits bunching and friction under a pack.
However, while we love the comfort and style of leggings, there are some undeniable shortcomings when it comes to performance. In general, tights are less durable than traditional hiking pants and don’t offer the same amount of wind or water resistance. To be fair, we have no qualms about the Pack Out's reinforcements at the knees and seat, but the softer materials elsewhere do give us pause when bushwhacking. And due to the close fit, you’ll give up a fair amount of breathability—the Pack Out Hike Tights in particular are too thick to wear on hot days, and their heavyweight fabric is slow to dry. But while you can certainly pay less for a pair of generic leggings, the Pack Out Hike Tights are a mountain-ready alternative that will hold up to the rigors of trail life.
See the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights
Best Softshell Pant for Alpine Use
Materials: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Waist: Built-in belt
What we like: A high-end pant with great durability, weather protection, and features.
What we don’t: Expensive and overkill for casual and fair-weather hikers.
There are many great lightweight options for hiking in summer heat, but on a high-altitude trek through Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash, we turned to the more serious Gamma Pant. What sets this softshell pant apart is its impressive warmth and weather resistance in a lightweight and nimble build. Durability is great, too: We wore the Gamma every day for nine days straight while hiking, setting up camp, filtering water, cooking, and lounging, and the pants came home looking like new. Moreover, their high-quality softshell fabric was stretchy enough to layer comfortably over thermal pants in the cold evenings and retained its shape through it all. At $180, the Gamma Pant is one of the most expensive options on our list, but with Arc’teryx’s quality, performance, and attention to detail, you certainly get what you pay for.
Arc’teryx recently updated the Gamma Pant, and the latest version features a more streamlined waistband and redesigned pockets (two hand and one thigh, all with zippers). We’re big fans of the built-in belt for making adjustments on the fly, and the thigh pocket easily swallows our iPhone 11. But while the Gamma is ideal for when you need a step up in weather protection and warmth, it’s overkill for low-elevation hiking and mid-summer days in the mountains. For these environments, we prefer Arc’teryx’s Gamma Lightweight, a trimmed-down version that boasts a thinner softshell fabric for $20 less. Rounding out the collection, Arc’teryx also offers a thicker Gamma Heavyweight ($300) and the Gamma Tapered ($180), which features elastic cuffs with a zipper at the ankle to accommodate boots.
See the Arc'teryx Gamma Pant
Best of the Rest
Materials: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
What we like: High-quality fabric and great Patagonia fit and finish.
What we don’t: Drawcord adjustment isn't as good as a belt.
A traditionally styled, all-season hiking pant, the Patagonia Quandary checks all the important boxes in the performance category: It uses a tough but light fabric with DWR coating, sports articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, and has a clean and unobtrusive look and feel. Like many of the other options here, the pants feature a built-in tab and snap to keep rolled-up cuffs in place and are also available in short variations for true summer temperatures. And as we’ve come to expect from Patagonia, there’s a strong sustainability element with recycled nylon and bluesign-approved fabrics, which indicate they’re safe for the environment, workers, and consumers.
The Quandary is a great option for hot-weather hiking, but we give the edge to the REI Trailmade above for its lower price-point, lighter-weight fabric, and subtly more stylish design. We’re also disappointed that Patagonia skimped on functional storage, with drop-in front pockets that barely fit a hand and only one zippered side pocket. But the Quandary nevertheless offers great stretch and mobility, wears well between washings, and feels like the more premium pant overall. Finally, it's currently available in 12 sizes and two inseam lengths, so there should be a Quandary for everyone.
See the Patagonia Quandary Pant
Materials: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
What we like: Style and performance in a light and breathable package.
What we don’t: Odd fit and no functional phone storage.
Many hikers opt for shorts or capris in the summer months, but if you prefer to keep your legs covered, you’ll want a lightweight pant with minimal fabric and maximum breathability. Enter the Dynama/2 Ankle pants from Mountain Hardwear, one of our go-tos for warm days on the trail. The lightweight nylon/spandex blend keeps weight low and air flowing while still offering good all-around durability, and the pants are quick to wick moisture and dry out when wet. Another highlight is the wide, closure-free elastic waistband, which fits comfortably under a pack’s hipbelt and minimizes chafing and discomfort on sweaty skin. Tack on a relaxed fit; ankle-length crop; and deep, drop-in-style hand pockets, and you get a stylish pant that offers great breathability and mobility for hot-weather hikes, after-work boulder sessions, or just lounging.
However, while the Dynama/2 Ankle is fully serviceable for casual days on the trail, it does sacrifice some storage and is lacking in technical capabilities for serious mountain pursuits. The hand pockets are deeper than most, and the zippered thigh pocket is a nice touch, but the pant lacks a functional spot to store a phone. Further, the tapered, ankle-length hem can be challenging to roll up over thicker calves and leaves a small area of your legs vulnerable to branches and bugs. Finally, the fabric does have a tendency to pill, and we found the fit to be a bit odd with a noticeable amount of bagginess around our hips (we ended up having to go down a full size). But if they fit you well, the Dynama/2 is a fun alternative to more traditional styles and a nice option for summer trail days.
See the Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle
Materials: 95% nylon, 5% elastane
What we like: Great styling, breathable, and cinchable ankles.
What we don’t: Limited storage and fabric isn’t very durable.
Technical fabrics and performance styling have their place, but for day hiking and traveling, we prioritize comfort and breathability above all else. One of our favorite designs in this category is The North Face’s Aphrodite 2.0, which combines everyday style with a light and airy build that’s wildly comfortable and quick-drying. The plush, rib-knit waistband feels great underneath a harness or hipbelt (although the external drawstring can get in the way at times), and drawcords at each ankle give you the option of wearing the pant with a slight flare, cinched above your feet, or pulled up around your calves capri-style. All told, the Aphrodite is one of our favorite pants to wear for casual warm-weather adventures when we still want full leg coverage.
We’ve worn the Aphrodite 2.0 for everything from day hikes in Patagonia to multi-pitch climbs, but we don’t recommend it for demanding backcountry pursuits. The thin and lightweight materials aren’t particularly durable and have a tendency to snag and pill over time, and you don’t get any wet-weather assurance in the form of DWR or wicking fabrics. Further, while we love the Aphrodite’s roomy hand pockets and hidden zippered stash, the lack of other storage can be limiting. But for the right uses—including casual hikes, travel, or performing camp chores—it’s hard to beat the combination of comfort and price. The North Face also recently released a jogger variation, which is largely similar but with a lower-profile waistband and more streamlined fit.
See The North Face Aphrodite 2.0
Materials: 86% nylon, 14% spandex
What we like: Tough, wind-resistant, and breathable.
What we don’t: Not as versatile or well made as the Halle above.
Seattle-based Outdoor Research knows a thing or two about rough weather, so it’s no surprise that the Ferrosi is one of our go-to pants for three-season hiking. Despite being relatively lightweight, the Ferrosi’s softshell-like nylon has a sturdy and high-quality feel and is excellent for temperature regulation: It’s tough enough to cut the wind and shed a light rain but breathes when the thermometer starts to climb. The addition of 14% spandex means the pants move with you more than most (for comparison, the Prana Halle above only has 3% spandex), but the good news is that the Ferrosi still manages to hold its shape, even after multiple days of use.
The Ferrosi pants are undeniably comfortable and mobile, but their quality does fall short of other options here. We’ve experienced pilling fabric, and the internal waist drawcord and cuff cinches strike us as simplistic and prone to failure over time. What’s more, the legs on our pants were so bulky that we routinely caught them on our opposite foot while rock climbing. It’s worth noting that OR did update the pants fairly recently, with improved stitching for better durability and stretch, more inclusive sizing, and a nice sustainability slant (the design is made with 46% recycled nylon). All told, for a weather-resistant and quick-drying pant that won’t inhibit movement, the Ferrosi is one of the most functional performance hiking pants here. Bonus: It also comes in capri and convertible designs, as well as a Hybrid Legging for those who prefer a close, low-profile fit.
See the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant
Materials: 82% nylon, 18% elastane
What we like: The ultimate performance tight.
What we don’t: Pricey and a bit thick for hot weather.
The Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights above are a high-quality design at a reasonable price point, but Fjallraven takes performance to the next level with the Abisko. At a steep $175, these trekking tights don’t come cheap, but as we’ve come to find over the years with Fjallraven, they do fill a unique niche in the market. In terms of the design, you get great freedom of movement with a stretchy mix of materials, as well as reinforced panels on the knees and butt for guarding against sharp rocks and damp ground. The net result is a legging that’s purpose-built for the mountains and capable of withstanding regular use and abuse.
Keep in mind that the Abisko Trekking Tights are overkill for casual use, and price is a deterring factor for many. The reinforced panels are nice, and we like the storage—one large pocket on the right leg, a smaller zippered pocket on the left, and a zippered pocket at the hip—but you’ll need to get out a lot to make the investment worth it. Additionally, the polyamide material is a bit denser than standard polyester and not as breathable in the heat. But overall quality and performance are top-notch, and the Abisko Trekking is also available in a few other versions, including the 7/8-length “Pro” ($150) and cold weather-ready “Värm” ($175).
See the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights
Materials: 96% nylon, 4% spandex
What we like: Practical features at a low price.
What we don’t: Baggier fit, shallow pockets, and fabric tends to pill.
For those who value function over form, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible is a true utility belt of a hiking pant. The convertible style has long been popular for its convenience and versatility (you get a pair of shorts and pants in one), and the Sahara takes it even further with color-coded zippers on each leg and generous openings at the hem so you can make the switch without taking off your shoes. Tack on quick-drying fabrics with built-in stretch, an drawcord-equipped elasticized waist with belt loops, and nice array of storage options including cargo pockets at each side, and the REI Sahara is a great match for everything from hiking to traveling.
REI updated the fit on the latest version of the Sahara from a standard to “relaxed” fit. We liked the slimmer profile and more flattering shape of the past-generation pants, but some women found them too snug, especially in the thighs. Other changes include the addition of a DWR coating for fending off light moisture, a little more nylon (from 94 to 96%), flat seams to reduce chafing, and a simpler elastic waist (the past version had an integrated belt). However, from a quality standpoint, the REI still lacks the fit and finish of more premium models here: We’ve found the zippers particularly difficult to operate, and the lightweight fabric has a tendency to form holes and pill. But value is a deciding factor for many, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of equally capable convertibles for less. It’s also sold in a more durable (but still convertible) “Guide” model for $10 more.
See the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible
Materials: 89% polyester, 11% spandex
What we like: Typical Patagonia build quality in a comfortable and low-profile design.
What we don’t: Not the most flattering fit.
Joggers are all the rage in 2023, and the allure is clear: They’re highly comfortable, offer great mobility, and stay out of the way of hiking boots with elastic at the cuffs to keep them in place. Patagonia’s Happy Hike Studio is one of our favorites in this category, combining a stretch-woven fabric that’s both lightweight and breathable with the premium fit and finish we’ve come to expect from the brand. In testing, we’ve found the pants to be plenty durable for outdoor activities like hiking and backpacking, and the added stretch offers great freedom of movement on the trail. We also like the low-profile elastic waistband, which stays in place and sits neatly under a harness or hipbelt with minimal bunching. Combined with Patagonia’s class-leading sustainability focus (including the use of recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics that are certified to the Fair Trade standard), the Happy Hike Studio Pants stand out as a highly versatile option for comfort-focused hikers who don’t want to compromise on performance.
That said, as with most joggers, the Patagonia Happy Hike won’t be mistaken for a technical hiking pant like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi or Patagonia’s own Quandary above. While the elastic waistband is decidedly low-profile and comfortable, there’s no drawcord for dialing in fit, and neither of the two zippered pockets (one at the back and one at the thigh) can accommodate a smartphone. The pants also run on the larger end (many users report needing to go down a full size), and the deep hand pockets tend to flare out at the sides and can look a little ungainly when empty. But if they fit you well, the Happy Hike Studio Pants offer great overall comfort and mobility and look the part both outdoors and around town, which is a clear advantage to the jogger style. For a slightly lighter alternative with better casual appeal, check out Vuori’s Miles Jogger below.
See the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants
Materials: 50% polyester, 50% stretch polyester
What we like: Light, breathable, and stretchy—an ideal combination for many hikers.
What we don’t: We prefer zippered storage for keeping electronics secure.
Utah-based Kühl is known for their utilitarian styling, but the Freeflex Roll-Up here hits a nice mix of performance and around-town-friendly looks. As the name suggests, these pants include a handy roll-up feature that allows you to quickly and easily convert the pants to capris (secured via a fabric loop and snap), which is a convenient option on warm summer days. The ability to secure the cuffs also makes them appealing for rock climbing and scrambling when you don’t want any added material getting in the way. Additionally, the lightweight Freeflex fabric wicks moisture well, dries quickly, and provides a nice amount of give for activities like hiking and backpacking.
As far as downsides go, the Kühl Freeflex has relatively few: It’s well built, reasonably priced, and looks good to boot. Many users compliment the fit in particular, and we’ve been impressed by how flattering Kühl pants tend to be on our athletic figure. That said, while storage is more than adequate with six total pockets—four of which have snap closures—the lack of zippers means that valuables can fall out more easily, which is a real concern if you’ll be doing anything remotely technical. However, many hikers will be able to find a spot elsewhere (like in their pack or jacket pocket), and the combination of breathability, mobility, and good all-around fit makes the Freeflex a popular and well-rounded option. We also like the Freeflex Dash version, which features a lower-profile elastic waistband and tapered shape.
See the Kühl Freeflex Roll-Up
Materials: 89% nylon, 11% elastane
What we like: Legging-like mobility with softshell durability and comfort.
What we don’t: Tight and restrictive waistband.
For those unfamiliar, Rab is a U.K-based climbing company and makes some of our favorite technical clothing. Their Elevation Pants are a shining example and a fairly unique addition to the women’s hiking pant market, combining the impressive mobility of leggings with the durability and weather resistance of softshell designs. Key to the pants’ versatility and mountain-readiness is Rab’s Matrix fabric, which uses a functional mix of mostly nylon with a healthy dose of elastane (11%) for excellent range of motion while scrambling or high-stepping over rocks and logs. It’s also decently resistant to water and wind, UPF-rated for sun protection, and quick to dry, making the Elevation great for everything from mid-summer hikes to shoulder-season alpine adventures.
We love the streamlined look and feel of the Rab Elevation Pant, but the slim, close-fitting design does have a few drawbacks. First is the minimalist storage layout, which consists of just one pocket at the right thigh. To be fair, the pocket is protected by a water-resistant zipper and can easily swallow a large smartphone (not always the case with leggings), but we’d prefer another pocket or two for stashing additional items. Fit may also pose an issue for some women: The pants run on the smaller side, and some users report that the waistband is fairly tight and restrictive. On the bright side, you do get a drawcord closure for dialing in fit if you end up needing to size up. In the end, the Elevation Pant won’t work for everyone and is a fairly niche option, but we commend Rab for thinking outside the box and think the hybrid concept is well executed overall.
See the Rab Elevation Pant
Materials: 79% polyamide, 21% elastane
What we like: Soft, stretchy, and very flattering fit.
What we don’t: Expensive, no zippered storage, and we have concerns about long-term durability.
Vuori is a relative newcomer to the hiking pant market but was quick to win us over with their comfort-first ethos and modern styling that looks the part both outdoors and around town. Their Miles Jogger is case in point, combining a flattering, ankle-length cut and airy fabrics that give the pants a barely-there feel. With 21% elastane mixed in, the Miles is also one of the stretchiest pants here and offers excellent mobility whether you’re high-stepping over a log or bending down to pitch a tent. Tack on a low-profile elastic waistband with a built-in drawcord, deep hand pockets, and a zippered pocket at the rear, and you get a streamlined but highly practical design that crosses over well between the outdoors and everyday wear.
All that said, the Miles Jogger is on the thinner end and can't compete with more substantial pants like the Gamma or Ferrosi above. The tradeoff is excellent breathability and a very airy feel, but we do have concerns about long-term durability (although they’ve held up very well thus far). Like most Vuori clothing, the Miles is also relatively expensive for what you get at $118, which is around $20 to $30 pricier than more performance-ready options like the Dynama/2, Halle, and others above. And for around $40 more, you can pick up Arc’teryx’s Gamma Lightweight mentioned above, which gets the clear edge for technical use with upgrades like articulated patterning, a built-in belt for dialing in fit, and zippered hand and thigh pockets (none of the Vuori’s pockets have zippers). But the Miles crosses over better for everyday wear, and we've found it to be a great travel companion, too.
See the Vuori Miles Jogger
Materials: 62% cotton, 36% nylon, 2% spandex
What we like: A cotton-heavy alternative with good storage and nice styling.
What we don’t: Cotton is a poor choice for performance use.
Cotton is a rarity in the world of outdoor clothing, and largely for good reason: It’s heavier, often less durable, and holds onto water much more than nylon or polyester (this can be especially dangerous if you’re working up a sweat in the cold). That said, it’s perfectly serviceable for dry environments like the desert, and we’ve found cotton to be softer than nylon and often classier-looking. Enter Prana's Kanab, which is a great match for everything from casual hikes to around-town use and even bouldering and climbing—in the right conditions, of course. It’s worth noting that we’ve seen a recent uptick in these stretchy cotton designs—which also include Black Diamond’s Notion and Patagonia’s Caliza Rock Pant—with the big allure being the supple, cozy feel.
Materials aside, the Kanab has a lot going for it: Fashion-forward hikers will love the pull-on jogger design, and the soft knit waistband and gusseted knees are great for comfort and mobility both on the trail and the wall. Storage is good, too, including two deep hand pockets, two rear pockets, and a zippered stash pocket on the right thigh that easily accommodates a smartphone (although the looser shape allows items inside to bounce around). To be clear, the Kanab isn’t built for hardcore adventures and runs a little warm for true summer use, but it’s one of the best-looking pants here and a nice alternative to nylon for shoulder-season hikes, camping trips, and casual outings into the woods.
See the Prana Kanab Pant
Materials: 95% nylon, 5 % spandex
What we like: A hiking-specific jogger from one of the best in the business.
What we don’t: A little pricey and not as stretchy as the competition.
Gap-owned Athleta is a yoga pant giant, but their recent push into the hiking world hasn’t gone unnoticed. From their current lineup, we like the Trekkie North Jogger best: The sleek, lightweight fabric is soft and breathable, the fit is flattering with nice tapering from the knit waistband down to the elasticized cuffs, and the two-way stretch fabric allows for good all-around mobility while still offering resistance against tears and snags. Added up, the Trekkie hits an excellent balance between performance and everyday appeal, making it a great choice for transitioning from the trail to around town.
All that said, the Athleta Trekkie North Jogger falls short of our top-ranked pants. Namely, the fabric isn’t super stretchy or mobile, and also lacks a DWR finish for fending off light moisture (although you do get UPF sun protection). And Prana's Kanab Pant above technically offers more storage with five total pockets, although we prefer the additional security of the Trekkie's three zippered pockets (only one of the Kanab’s has a zipper). A final nitpick is that the Athleta runs a little short with a 27.5-inch inseam, but there are tall (30.5 in.) versions available. Taken together, it’s hard to argue with Athleta’s stylish fit and finish, and those who value secure storage will likely find the Trekkie North Jogger worth the investment.
See the Athleta Trekkie North Jogger
Materials: 63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
What we like: Uncompromised durability for technical trekking and alpine objectives.
What we don’t: The priciest pants on our list and decidedly overkill for moderate hiking.
As we saw with the Abisko Trekking Tights above, Fjallraven’s pants offer next-level performance for those with serious hiking objectives. Sitting at the top of their collection is the Keb, a decidedly premium and technical offering built for long days in the mountains. Like many of their designs, the Keb Trousers boast the brand’s signature G-1000 fabric (used in the reinforcements at the pockets, rear, and knees), which is super tough and abrasion-resistant. Throughout testing, we’ve had no qualms scrambling or navigating through thick brush in these pants, and they’re no worse for wear after multiple excursions into Colorado’s alpine. Taken together, the Keb stands out as one of the most hardwearing and rugged designs on the market.
However, all of that material comes with some notable downsides, the most obvious of which is a lack of breathability. The Keb does have generous hip-to-knee and calf zippers that allow you to open things up to get some airflow, but that can look a little awkward if you’re not wearing a baselayer underneath. Additionally, despite added stretch in the build, the pants feel noticeably stiffer and less mobile than thinner options like the Prana Halle and OR Ferrosi. And then there’s the eye-wateringly steep $235 price tag and lack of everyday appeal, which will likely deter most casual hikers. But if your objectives include long and demanding mountain missions like shoulder-season peak-bagging or alpine scrambles, these pants are the real deal. And we appreciate that Fjallraven offers a curved fit variation with more room at the hips and thighs.
See the Fjallraven Keb Trousers
Materials: 96% nylon, 4% elastane
What we like: A great hot-weather option at a low price.
What we don’t: Unflattering fit and fabric tends to pill.
Rounding out our lineup is another quality budget option: the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch. Priced at just $70, these pants go head-to-head with the REI Co-op Trailmade above. In terms of design, you get straight legs and a mid-rise waist in a light and stretchy build that’s great for keeping you cool and comfortable on hot summer hikes. Like much of the competition, the Columbia sports built-in tabs to secure rolled-up legs and mesh-lined pockets for added venting. And if you like the general design, there are plenty of options to choose from in the Saturday Trail collection, from shorts and capris to convertible pants and the standard version here.
The Saturday Trail Stretch was a strong contender for our top budget pick, but the Trailmade won out for a few key reasons. First, while the Columbia features two hand pockets, two rear pockets, and a zip pocket on the right thigh, none are large enough to securely stash a smartphone. Second, we prefer the REI’s more modern cuff bungees for securing the legs, although this will ultimately come down to a matter of personal preference. Both pants are fairly average in terms of fit, although you’ll likely want to size up with the Columbia. But for only $70 and often found on sale, the Saturday Trail Stretch is an adventure-ready option at a great price.
See the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch
|Prana Halle Straight Pant||$95||97% nylon, 3% elastane||Drawcord||5||Unavail.|
|REI Co-op Trailmade Pants||$70||94% nylon, 6% elastane||Elastic/drawcord||5||7.8 oz.|
|Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights||$129||87% polyester, 13% spandex||Elastic||3||10.7 oz.|
|Arc’teryx Gamma Pant||$180||88% nylon, 12% elastane||Built-in belt||5||10.4 oz.|
|Patagonia Quandary Pants||$89||95% nylon, 5% spandex||Drawcord||5||9.3 oz.|
|MTN Hardwear Dynama/2||$85||94% nylon, 6% elastane||Elastic||3||8.5 oz.|
|TNF Aphrodite 2.0||$80||95% nylon, 5% elastane||Elastic/drawcord||3||8 oz.|
|Outdoor Research Ferrosi||$99||86% nylon, 14% spandex||Drawcord||5||9 oz.|
|Fjallraven Abisko Tights||$175||82% polyamide, 18% elastane||Elastic||2||9 oz.|
|REI Co-op Sahara Convertible||$80||96% nylon, 4% spandex||Elastic/drawcord||6||Unavail.|
|Patagonia Happy Hike Studio||$99||89% polyester, 11% spandex||Elastic||5||9.4 oz.|
|Kühl Freeflex Roll-Up||$99||50% polyester, 50% stretch poly||Drawcord||6||Unavail.|
|Rab Elevation Pant||$90||89% nylon, 11% elastane||Elastic/drawcord||1||9.4 oz.|
|Vuori Miles Jogger||$118||79% polyamide, 21% elastane||Elastic/drawcord||3||9 oz.|
|Prana Kanab Pant||$89||62% cotton, 36% nylon, 2% spandex||Elastic||5||Unavail.|
|Athleta Trekkie North||$99||95% nylon, 5% spandex||Elastic/drawcord||3||Unavail.|
|Fjallraven Keb Trousers||$235||89% polyamide, 11% elastane||Elastic||4||19 oz.|
|Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch||$70||96% nylon, 4% elastane||N/A||5||11.2 oz.|
- Hiking Pants: Performance vs. Casual
- Hiking Pant Materials
- Waist Closures: Built-in Belts, Drawstrings, and Elastic
- Hiking Pant Weight
- Articulated Knees and Gussets
- Water Resistance
- Thickness and Durability
- Sizing and Fit
- Convertible and Roll-Up Pants
- Hiking Shorts and Capris
On our list above, we’ve broken women’s hiking pants into two distinct categories: performance and casual. We wanted to represent the full spectrum of pants that we (this article was curated by two female editors) and other women choose to wear on the trail. Pants in our performance category are your standard hiking fare and include technical fabrics, functional and often generous storage, and convertible or roll-up legs to keep you cool on warm days. These are our first choice for serious hiking: They’re breathable, generally water-resistant, durable enough to put up a fight against sharp rocks and plants, and offer great coverage and freedom of movement. Some of our favorite performance-oriented options include the Prana Halle, Arc'teryx Gamma Pant, and Patagonia Quandary, and the Fjallraven Trekking Tights also fall into this category due to their technical fabrics and design.
But let’s face it: Hiking pants aren’t particularly stylish, and finding the right fit can be difficult. For these reasons, many women will opt instead for pants in our casual category, which look and feel great both on and off the trail. Casual pants are designed for non-technical outdoor use, often featuring thinner or less durable fabrics (sometimes even cotton), fewer pockets, and often less coverage (ankle-length joggers like the Prana Kanab are increasingly popular). Many trail leggings, like the Patagonia Pack Out Tights, fit into this category as well. For casual jaunts on the trail and day hiking in particular, lifestyle pants get the job done, and it’s hard to ignore the style component. Some of our favorite picks include The North Face’s Aphrodite 2.0, Athleta’s Trekkie North Jogger, and the Vuori Miles.
Hiking pants are typically made of a nylon blend, and all of the options here have at least a small amount of built-in stretch via elastane (spandex). A higher percentage of elastane will result in a stretchier feel, which can be especially nice for women who tend to size their pants on the tight side. The added give in the material is also a real boon on the trail, and even more so when it comes to setting up a tent and moving around camp. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is one of the stretchiest hiking pants available (86% nylon and 14% spandex), while the leggings like the Ferrosi Hybrid (74% nylon, 26% spandex) offer great mobility as well.
We’ve also included a small handful of outliers on this list. The Prana Kanab is made with 62% cotton, which is a rarity these days in outdoor clothing. Cotton absorbs water more than nylon or polyester (and thus is not appropriate for colder weather), but the upside is that the Kabab is impressively comfortable and stylish. And then there are softshell designs like the Arc’teryx Gamma Pant, which are thicker and more weather-resistant. Softshell pants are ideal for alpine conditions, wet weather, and bushwhacking, but they will feel overkill in the summer heat.
Ladies, we get it: Trying to find a pair of hiking pants that fits well is a daunting and often futile task. Regardless of body shape, it seems that there’s always an area that’s too tight or too loose. Our best advice in finding the ideal fit for you is to start with the waist design, whether it be an integrated belt, drawstring, or fitted elastic waistband. Many pants will often come with belt loops as well, but we prefer a built-in style over the bulkiness of an added belt.
Built-in belts, like that on the Arc’teryx Gamma Pant, are made of webbing, feature a low-profile adjuster, and can be found on the inside or the outside of the waistband. A drawstring functions similarly but ties shut, thereby adding a bit of extra bulk near your belly button. Finally, an elastic waistband, often found on leggings like the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights or pants like the Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2, is the most low-profile solution that, unlike integrated belts or drawstrings, won’t get in the way of your backpack’s hipbelt. Pants with elastic waistbands generally forgo the standard zippered fly and button closure, but they’ve recently gained popularity for their comfort and good all-around fit.
All of the hiking pants on this list have at least one pocket, and most sport upwards of four or five. Front and back pockets are very common, as are streamlined side or thigh pockets, and often a few will be equipped with a zipper for extra security. While pockets aren’t for everyone—we don’t like to overload our hiking pants with excess bulk—organization can be a big help on the trail, especially when it comes to items like a phone or Chapstick. In fact, one of our biggest gripes when it comes to women’s outdoor clothing is the lack of functional storage—while men’s pants might have deep front or cargo pockets, women’s pants generally feature shallow openings that can’t even fit a modern smartphone. We call out storage when relevant in the write-ups above, but a few of our favorite designs for stowing the essentials are the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights, Arc'teryx Gamma and Gamma Lightweight, and REI Co-op Trailmade Pants.
Unlike other types of outdoor gear, for most hikers, the exact weight of their pants isn’t a top consideration (after all, you're not usually carrying them on your back). Most pants on our list above weigh between 9 to 11 ounces and have never felt overly bulky or cumbersome on the trail. If you plan to carry a pair of pants on a backpacking trip or want a particularly lightweight feel that will keep you moving quickly, some of our favorites include the REI Co-op Trailmade (7.8 oz.) and Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 (8.5 oz.). On the other end of the spectrum, for high-alpine adventures when you need added weather protection and durability, taking on extra weight for a pant like the 1-pound-3-ounce Fjallraven Keb Trousers may be worth it. To help highlight differences in weight, we've included the numbers in our comparison table above.
Two helpful design features to look out for in your hiking pant search are articulated knees and gussets built into the crotch. Articulated knees mimic a person’s walking motion by creating a natural bend at the knee. In contrast to a traditional, straight-legged pant, the improved range of motion is immediately noticeable. A gusset is a patch of diamond-shaped fabric that runs along the inner thigh of the pants, replacing a standard seam. As with an articulated knee design, the extra fabric improves range of motion and general fit and comfort. There generally are extra costs associated with the greater complexity in construction, so day hikers sticking to well-maintained trails with flatter grades or those on a budget can probably go without them. But in our opinion, there are real benefits to these features, and they do add a major boost in comfort on the trail.
The higher a fabric’s water resistance, the lower its breathability, so no one wants their hiking pant to be truly waterproof. But depending on the model, hiking pants can actually be pretty decent performers in the wet. When it comes to water resistance, many performance options have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, which makes the droplets bead up and roll off. And, as long as you avoid a more casual cotton construction (like that of the Prana Kanab), the nylon blends aren’t very prone to soaking up moisture. If and when they eventually soak through, drying time isn’t too shabby either, which is reason enough for us to recommend sticking to hiking pants on all but the most extreme rainy days.
How thick the material is will play a big role in a hiking pant’s best uses. You’ll see anything from tropical and summer-ready thin pants all the way to medium-thick softshell pants, so it’s important to know what you’re looking at. From our list, pants like the REI Co-op Trailmade and Vuori Miles Jogger excel in hot temperatures with their thin, breathable fabrics. Many of the core models above are designed for three-season use, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Prana Halle, and leggings generally fall into this category, too. And thicker designs like the Arc’teryx Gamma Pant are great for shoulder seasons and light winter use. Keep in mind, throwing on a pair of baselayers underneath can make many three-season pants very agreeable in the wintertime as well.
Beyond temperature considerations, thickness often correlates with durability and tear resistance. Most softshell-style pants are tough enough that we had few concerns brushing up against and squeezing between rocks and brush on the trail. And both the Patagonia Quandary and Outdoor Research Ferrosi have surprising levels of durability despite their lighter feel. Finally, truly summer-specific pants like the TNF Aphrodite 2.0 and Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 are more tear-prone and should be restricted to more casual hiking and backpacking.
We’ve put up with our fair share of baggy, ill-fitting hiking pants over the years, but the good news is that the market has improved significantly of late. Outdoor clothing brands like Prana, The North Face, and Patagonia all have the fit concept down quite well, and REI and Columbia have recently redesigned a number of their offerings to bring them in line with the competition. To help you get the closest fit, many brands allow you to customize sizing both in terms of waist and inseam—for example, the REI Co-op Trailmade Pant comes in 9 waist sizes (0 to 16) and three different inseam options (short, regular, and tall), in addition to four plus sizes. We still recommend trying before you buy—and we do call out sizing and fit discrepancies in the write-ups above when possible—but all in all, we’re happy to see progress being made.
Plus-size outdoor clothing is becoming increasingly common of late, and that’s readily apparent in the women’s hiking pant market. Brands like REI Co-op, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, and Columbia have a healthy selection of plus-size clothing, including the Trailmade, Ferrosi, Quandary, and Saturday Trail Stretch pants above. Finally, there are upstarts like Alder Apparel that are specifically focused on inclusive sizing—their Open Air Pant, for instance, comes in 10 sizes (from XS to 6X), along with two inseam lengths (28 and 32 in.). All told, we applaud brands who cater to a wide range of body types and are excited by where the market is headed. For more information, see our article on the best plus-size outdoor apparel.
We appreciate when companies go the extra mile toward creating more sustainability built products, and the most common practice in the hiking pant world is the use of recycled fabrics. Many of the picks above are made with at least some recycled content, including designs like Patagonia’s Pack Out Hike Tights, which use 87% recycled polyester in the body and 85% recycled nylon on the knee and seat panels. Other measures to look out for include certification to the Fair Trade standard, bluesign-approved materials, and PFC-free DWR coatings that forgo the use of harmful perfluorocarbons (the aforementioned Pack Out Hike Tights check all three boxes). Other brands at the forefront of the sustainability movement include REI Co-op, Outdoor Research, and Vuori, although most of the companies above have started incorporating at least some of these practices into production.
When you’re hiking in the heat, it can be nice to have the option of converting your pants to shorts (via zip-off legs) or securely rolling them up into capris. On our list above, we feature one style of convertible pant, the REI Co-op Sahara, and a few models that are offered in convertible variations (the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch, for example). While they’re a bit of an outdated style, there’s no denying the added functionality and versatility. However, convertible pants are not for everyone: the extra zippers can be a pain to use, they add weight and bulk, and, due to the additional pinch points the zippers create, the fit is often baggier.
As a result, roll-up pants are becoming more and more popular, especially for women. The big benefit here is that you don’t have to fuss with zippers or risk losing your pant legs—all that’s required is a low-profile button and some tabs to secure the cinched hem, and you get many of the ventilating benefits of a zip-off design. Alternatively, some women’s pants incorporate tapered jogger-style cuffs or drawstring cinches at the ankle, including the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0, so you can keep the hem off your hiking shoe or even pull the pant leg up around your calf.
If you're heading out on an overnight backpacking trip or the weather is iffy, pants are the obvious choice. But hikers that hit the trail in the warm summer months are left with a difficult decision: pants, shorts, or something in between? Choosing full-length pants gives you better protection from the sun and helps keep dirt and rocks from getting into your shoes. Further, they're the obvious pick for technical hikes or summit bids to reduce the number of scratches or cuts when brushing against rocks or branches (and the good news is that many now convert into capris with integrated tabs). That said, we love shorts and capris for day hikes on well-maintained trails. Both styles are cheaper (typically around $10 to $20 less than a comparable pant) and offer better freedom of movement and ventilation. And convertible pants are the obvious middle ground, although they come with a fair number of downsides, which we cover above.
The good news for those that want to pick up a pair of shorts or capris is that many of our favorite pants are offered in these styles. In general, these versions have a similar fit, fabric blend, and pocket layout as their full-length counterparts. We love Patagonia’s Quandary shorts, which come in two different inseam options (5” and 7”) and have deep front pockets that even fit a large phone. Other favorites include the Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Bermuda and REI’s Trailmade Shorts (for a more detailed breakdown, see our article on the best women's hiking shorts). And if you want a superlight and breathable option, a trail running-specific model can do the trick (we've worn a range of styles from Salomon, Brooks, and Patagonia). The biggest downside with running shorts is the lack of pockets, and you do give up some durability with their thin polyester constructions.
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