Traveling can be an involved and exhausting undertaking, but staying comfortable on long plane rides and packed buses can help make the experience a little more bearable. Travel pants are a great place to start: Many of today’s leading designs are stretchy, breathable, quick to dry, and versatile enough to pull double duty around town or outdoors. In ranking our favorites, we also prioritized designs with good long-term durability and practical pocket layouts for securely stashing the essentials while on the move. From modern joggers to storage-equipped leggings and sleek ankle-length designs, we break down our favorite women’s travel pants of 2023. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best Overall Women’s Travel Pant: Athleta Brooklyn Mid Rise Ankle Pant
- Best Budget Women’s Travel Pant: Columbia Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants
- Best Women’s Travel Leggings: Athleta Headlands Hybrid Mid Rise Tight
- Best Hiking-Ready Travel Pant: Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants
- Best Versatility for Dressing Up or Down: Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger
Best Overall Women’s Travel Pant
Materials: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
What we like: Chic, classy design that’s easy to dress up or down; excellent comfort and storage.
What we don’t: Fit intricacies; not the most versatile option here.
Travel pants are a fairly ambiguous category—you can realistically wear almost anything for travel—but good comfort and organization can make a world of difference on long flights and adventures abroad. Athleta’s Brooklyn Mid Rise Ankle Pant checks both of those boxes emphatically. Starting with comfort, the aptly named Featherweight Stretch fabric is silky-smooth against the skin, breathes well and dries out quickly, and nicely fends off wrinkles and abrasion. Further, the rib-knit waistband and side panels offer a good mix of mobility and security, and the small slits in each cuff add a subtle dose of flair and contribute to the sophisticated slant. Whether you’re headed to a work conference or exploring a foreign city by foot, the Brooklyn Mid Rise Ankle Pant is a chic and polished design that’s easy to dress up or down depending on the setting.
Athleta describes the Brooklyn as “semi-fitted,” but many women specify that the legs are on the wider end. Those who prefer a more form-fitting shape will likely want to size down to avoid a clown pant-like look, although the snug waistband may pose an issue with more athletic builds. The good news is that Athleta offers the pants in 15 sizes (00 to 26) in the regular version, along with 9+ sizes in both dedicated tall and petite versions to accommodate a wide range of body types. We also appreciate the practical storage layout, which includes two deep hand pockets that are big enough to fit a phone horizontally and two zippered pockets at the back. The Brooklyn doesn’t cross over particularly well for regular outdoor use—for that, we turn to the designs from Patagonia and Outdoor Research below—but it will certainly get the job done on a short hike or active sightseeing excursion. It’s also available in a similarly classy and well-built High-Rise Jogger version for the same price.
See the Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pant
Best Budget Women’s Travel Pant
Materials: 96% nylon, 4% elastane
Waist: Snap/fly & drawcord
What we like: A well-rounded travel pant for considerably less than most of the competition.
What we don’t: A step down in material quality and features from the pricier options here.
We often turn to budget leader Columbia for functional outdoor gear at great prices, and their Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants are another excellent value for travelers. We’ll start with the positives: The mostly nylon build with a touch of spandex is both lightweight and breathable, the pants are highly resistant to moisture and quick to dry, and the styling is decently sleek and versatile—great for exploring around town and heading out to a nice dinner afterward. Perhaps most importantly, the $60 Columbia costs around half as much as many competitors (including the Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger and Vuori Miles Jogger below) while still managing to cross over well for outdoor use.
All that said, cutting costs often comes with a drop in quality, and the Columbia Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants aren’t immune. While lightweight, the fabric has a noticeably cheaper feel than what you get with pricier alternatives like the Athleta Brooklyn above and many others below, and some users have reported issues with torn seams and premature pilling along the inside of the thighs. The “boot cut” designation is also a little misleading: The Anytime’s cuffs are more reminiscent of bell bottoms, with a slightly flared shape that covers the top of your shoes. Finally, we don’t love the waistband design and storage layout: The former lacks stretch and includes superfluous additions like a snap and zipper (in addition to the external drawstring), and the only secure pocket is at the back, which uses Velcro rather than a more reliable zippered closure. But it’s hard to be overly critical at this price point, and the Columbia makes a lot of sense for occasional travelers and value seekers alike.
See the Columbia Anytime Outdoor Pants
Best Women’s Travel Leggings
Materials: 91% nylon, 9% spandex
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: Tons of storage and includes an internal drawcord for dialing in fit.
What we don’t: Pricey and a little overbuilt for a legging; not the most abrasion-resistant fabric.
We can’t overstate the value of a good pair of leggings, but most designs are lacking in storage, which is a clear downside for travel. Enter Athleta’s Headlands Hybrid Mid Rise Tight, which bucks that trend with a whopping six pockets—all of which have zippers—for securely stashing the essentials (phone, travel documents, etc.) while on the move. Another noteworthy addition is the drawcord inside the elastic waistband that allows for fit customization (most leggings use just elastic, which can fall down throughout the day). The waistband itself is still low-profile but supportive with a high-waisted fit, and the nylon/spandex blend is both highly comfortable and mobile for all-day wear. All told, we love the streamlined look and feel of leggings while traveling, and the Headlands Hybrid solves our two biggest gripes: lack of storage and inability to dial in fit.
At $119, the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Mid RiseTight is on the pricey end of the travel pant market. It does cross over well for hiking, which helps justify the cost, but the fabric isn’t as snag- or abrasion-resistant as we’d like for off-trail ventures like bushwhacking or scrambling. Like all storage-equipped tights, the Headlands can also look and feel a little ungainly with the pockets stuffed full—it’s best to stick to thin and lightweight items. For budget-conscious women who aren’t ready to make the sizable investment, Kuhl's Weekendr Tight ($89) and REI Co-op’s Flash Hybrid Tights ($75) also come equipped with zippered storage, although it’s more limited than the Headlands’ six-pocket layout. In the end, while the Athleta doesn’t come cheap, it’s one of the most feature-rich and travel-ready leggings on the market. If you want something a little looser and less form-fitting, Athleta’s Trekkie North Jogger uses a similar material mix (95% nylon and 5% spandex) and comes with three zippered pockets.
See the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Tight
Best Hiking-Ready Travel Pant
Materials: 89% polyester, 11% spandex
What we like: Smooth feel, great freedom of movement, and quick to dry.
What we don’t: No drawcord for dialing in fit; sizing runs on the bigger side.
Patagonia’s Happy Hike Studio Pants might be built for hiking, but we consider them an equally great travel companion. The polyester fabric has a remarkably smooth and silky feel with a just-right amount of stretch for navigating through big airports and exploring around town once you arrive at your destination. One editor even wore them running in southern Patagonia recently after forgetting her tights back home and came away highly impressed by their mobility and breathability. Importantly, the pants held their shape well throughout a full week of use with no billowing, and they dried extremely quickly when we had to hand-wash them due to an accidental spill. A final highlight: The Happy Hike Studio Pant—like most of Patagonia’s offerings—is made with a clear eye toward sustainability, including recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics and certification to the Fair Trade standard.
No travel pant is perfect, however, and the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants are no exception. One gripe is the zippered stash pocket at the right thigh that can look and feel a little bulky when stuffed full, which isn’t hard to do given its small size. On the bright side, you do get an additional zippered pocket at the rear, but it’s not an ideal spot for stashing a smartphone (the only practical place is one of the hand pockets, which don’t have zippers). We also wish Patagonia had included a drawcord for dialing in fit at the waist, and sizing runs on the bigger end (we went with our usual size small, and it was a little baggier than we’d prefer). But if you can nail the fit, the Happy Hike Studio Pants put it all together better than most, including ample all-day comfort, top-notch mobility, and enough versatility to pull double duty for activities like hiking, gym climbing, or yoga.
See the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants
Best Versatility for Dressing Up or Down
Materials: 69% nylon, 31% elastane
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: High-end look and feel; wide selection of sizes and colorways.
What we don’t: Waist design is a little polarizing; runs big.
Athleisure giant Lululemon is best known for their leggings, but their jogger collection is equally competitive. From their lineup, we like the Stretch High-Rise Jogger best for travel. The nylon/elastane blend is impressively smooth and cozy against the skin, does a great job of wicking moisture, and maintains its shape over time. This is one of those pants that you can dress up or down depending on the occasion—throw on a cardigan and wear them to work, or pair them with a crop top for casual use. Lululemon was also thoughtful about storage and included a hidden zippered pocket and card sleeve inside one of the deep hand pockets. Finally, the Stretch High-Rise Jogger is offered in a wide selection of sizes (from 0 to 20) and colorways (eight at the time of publishing). Taken together, the Stretch High-Rise Jogger is a high-end travel pant with excellent versatility and lives up to Lululemon’s venerable reputation.
What complaints do we have about the Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger? Our biggest gripe has to do with the waistband design: The drawstring is decidedly thick and long, and the waist itself is relatively wide and bulky. You can tuck the cord inside for a cleaner look (as suggested on Lululemon’s product page), but we’re not sure why they didn’t just make it thinner in the first place. The Stretch High-Rise also fits on the bigger end—it’s a safe bet you’ll need to size down, but it’s always best to try the pants on before you buy. Finally, some women may not love the tighter cuff design (especially for work events or business travel), in which case Athleta’s Brooklyn Ankle Pant above could be the better match.
See the Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger
Best of the Rest
Materials: 86% nylon, 14% spandex
What we like: Ferrosi fabric is well suited for both travel and outdoor use.
What we don’t: Slightly less refined fit than the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio above.
Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi has been one of our go-to hiking pants for years, and the Transit variation is a slightly more travel-friendly—but still entirely trail-ready—take on that longtime favorite. Like the standard Ferrosi, the Ferrosi Transit uses a softshell-like nylon that’s light but tough, and the generous dose of spandex gives the pants a noticeably stretchy and flexible feel. In testing, the Ferrosi Transit was quick to dry, held its shape even after multiple days of use, and offered a nice balance between protection and breathability (it can cut the wind but still allows enough airflow in warm weather). Most of the smaller details are equally well sorted, including a practical storage layout (two generously sized hand pockets and two zippered rear pockets) for both travel and outdoor use, reflective detailing along the cuffs for visibility at night, and UPF 50+ sun protection.
Patagonia’s Happy Hike Studio Pants above are our favorite crossover outdoor/travel option, although we prefer the Ferrosi Transit’s straight-leg design for pairing with hiking shoes or boots. You can also dress the OR pants up with a pair of nice sandals or flats, although we wish the logo on the left leg were a little more subtle for dressy occasions. We also had a couple of quibbles with the fit: There’s a little more bagginess than we’d prefer around the lower stomach (although the waistband is snug but not restrictive), while the thighs are on the snugger end. This gives the Ferrosi Transit a slightly less refined feel than the Happy Hike Studio and causes the hand pockets to flare out a bit, although it’s relatively subtle and doesn’t detract from overall comfort.
See the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Transit
Materials: 79% polyamide, 21% elastane
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: Buttery-soft feel and solid resistance to wind, pilling, and wrinkles.
What we don’t: Expensive and no secure phone storage.
Vuori is a relative newcomer to the outdoor space, but they’ve risen to popularity remarkably quickly. Their recipe for success: highly comfortable and good-looking clothing that can still hold its own outdoors. Their Miles Jogger is case in point, combining a buttery-soft feel with impressive resistance to wind and abrasion. The polyamide/elastane mix nicely balances stretch and long-term durability—we haven’t experienced any pilling to date—and remained wrinkle-free even after multiple days of use, including being haphazardly stuffed into our travel backpack during an overnight flight. The high-waisted design is also supportive but low-profile enough for comfortably wearing under a hipbelt. Finally, the pants wick moisture well and dry quickly when wet, which are crucial characteristics for frequent travelers.
We’ve found Vuori’s build quality to be top-notch, but their clothing doesn’t come cheap. At $118, the Miles Jogger is around $20-$30 pricier than most competitors, including our favorites from Athleta, Patagonia, and Outdoor Research above. The zippered rear pocket is also too small to accommodate a smartphone (only the non-zippered hand pockets work), and some women may find the Miles to be a little too baggy in the upper legs and calves. We personally liked the fit in our usual women’s size small, although the cuffs were a bit snug for our taste. If the latter is a dealbreaker for you, Vuori does offer the Miles in an Ankle Pant version for $10 less, although the shorter cut sacrifices some coverage. And for an even softer option, check out their Performance Jogger, which has a plush, sweatpant-like feel but is less versatile for travel.
See the Vuori Miles Jogger
Materials: 88% nylon, 12% spandex
Waist: Button/fly & drawcord
What we like: Two inseam lengths, adjustable cuffs, and flattering fit.
What we don’t: Button-and-fly closure isn’t ideal for all-day comfort; not the most modern design.
Joining Patagonia’s Happy Hike Studio Pants above is a more traditional option from their collection: the Skyline Traveler Pants. In contrast to the Happy Hike’s jogger styling, the Skyline features a tapered fit with an ankle-length cut that’s flattering and pairs well with virtually any type of shoes. You also get a 3-inch gusset at each cuff, which can be opened to accommodate mid-height boots or zipped shut for a more tailored look with low-tops or sandals. Like the Happy Hike, the Skyline Traveler’s nylon and spandex mix provides an effective balance of comfort, durability, and stretch, and there’s a nice sustainability slant thanks to recycled and bluesign-approved materials. One final bonus: The Skyline Traveler is one of only a few options here—along with the Athleta options above and Outdoor Voices RecTrek below—to be offered in multiple inseam lengths (28 and 30 in.).
The biggest drawback to the Patagonia Skyline Traveler Pants is the button and fly closure at the waist, which is far less comfortable for all-day wear than more streamlined elastic designs (there’s a reason that the latter dominate the market). As we touched on above, the Skyline Traveler is also pretty traditional with relatively drab colorways and dated styling compared to many of the more modern options here (the Happy Hike included). Finally, only one of the five pockets features a zipper, which limits where you can securely store valuables. But if you like the styling and don’t mind the button and fly closure, the Skyline Traveler is another versatile option for wearing during travel, to the office, and even on light day hikes. For a more modern but thinner design from Patagonia with a shorter cut, check out their Fleetwith Pants.
See the Patagonia Skyline Traveler Pants
Material: 100% polyester
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: A competitive all-rounder that nicely balances performance and style.
What we don’t: Fit runs a little baggy and long; not the best option for dressing up.
Utah-based Kuhl is known for their utilitarian styling, but the Freeflex Dash offers a competitive mix of performance and everyday-friendly styling, which is an enticing recipe for many travelers. Right away, we found the pants to be highly comfortable with a lightweight and soft next-to-skin feel and had no issues with bunching or rubbing from seams during a long journey to Argentina with several connections. The pants also dry out extremely quickly, retain their shape very well over time, and have just enough stretch to allow for unrestricted mobility—they’ve since become our tester’s go-to gardening pants, which speaks volumes about their freedom of movement. Tack on a wide and drawcord-equipped elastic waistband, six total pockets (four of which are zippered), and cinchable/rollable cuffs, and the result is a competitive all-rounder that has seamlessly transitioned between travel, hiking, and around-town use.
Why do we have the Kuhl Freeflex Dash ranked here? While we found the fit to be spot-on in our usual size small, some women may find the pants to be overly baggy and long (for reference, our tester was a little taller than average at 5’8”, and the length worked fine for her). They’re also a bit more traditional in terms of styling and colorways than many alternatives here and not the best option for dressing up—they look more like hiking pants than work attire. If the latter is your intended use, we’d instead point you to a design like Athleta’s Brooklyn or Lululemon’s Stretch High-Rise Jogger above. But for mixed travel and outdoor adventures, there’s certainly a whole lot to like about the Kuhl Freeflex Dash. We also like their jogger-style Haven, which costs $10 more but has a slightly more modern look and feel.
See the Kuhl Freeflex Dash
Materials: 90% nylon, 10% elastane
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: A well-rounded and versatile travel pant with great sizing and colorway options.
What we don’t: Fabric loses some of its integrity over time.
Outdoor Voices is a brand on the rise, and their RecTrek collection covers the full gamut of pant and short styles, from joggers and cargo pants to zip-off designs. The flagship model here is their bestselling pant and stacks up competitively to other travel- and outdoor-friendly designs like the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio and Outdoor Research Ferrosi Transit above. Like the OR, the RecTrek employs a nylon/elastane mix that nicely balances durability and stretch and gives the pants a very comfortable and flexible feel—enough so that we spot them at the crag and climbing gym fairly frequently. We also love the RecTrek’s zippered hand pockets (it’s the only design on our list to come with them), which make it supremely easy to quickly stash travel documents or a smartphone while on the move. A final feather in the Outdoor Voices’ cap is the generous sizing selection (XXS to XXXL), plus availability in two inseam lengths (26 and 29 in.).
The Outdoor Voices RecTrek Pant is undeniably well rounded, especially if your travels frequently involve outdoor activities like hiking or climbing, but it's not without fault. For starters, the shirred waistband lacks the barely-there comfort that you get with smooth designs like the Happy Hike Studio and Athleta Brooklyn above (although you do get a drawstring, which both alternatives lack). The RecTrek’s fabric is also prone to pilling and losing its shape over time, particularly at the calves and ankles. Following Outdoor Voices’ care instructions (machine wash cold and tumble dry on low) should help maximize the pants’ lifespan, and the design has a good track record overall, but it’s a notable enough concern for us to rank the RecTrek mid-pack.
See the Outdoor Voices RecTrek 26" Pant
Materials: 93% nylon, 7% elastane
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: Great styling, relatively affordable, and rib-knit waistband nicely balances comfort and security.
What we don’t: They don’t hold up well to frequent wear.
Quality travel pants are a dime a dozen in 2023, and it’s hard to stand out in such a competitive market. The North Face’s Aphrodite 2.0 stakes its claim with a hard-to-beat mix of comfort, style, and price. For around $10 to $20 less than most competitors, the Aphrodite 2.0 is good-looking with a classic but flattering straight-leg design and chic shirred detailing along the legs. We also like the plush, rib-knit waistband, which feels great underneath a hipbelt (although the external drawstring can get in the way at times) and offers a nice balance between comfort and security. Finally, 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 (bonus: TNF offers plus sizes, too).
Our biggest gripe with the TNF Aphrodite 2.0 is the lack of durability: Our pair shows a lot of pilling after about a year of use, and the shirring on the legs has gotten noticeably tighter with regular laundering. The ankle cinch also has a noticeably cheap feel—it’s just a piece of thin elastic that you pull out and tie on a bight—and the heat transfer logo on the back of our pair has worn off completely. And durability aside, we wish The North Face had included more than one zippered pocket for easier access to valuables and documents while traveling. But you’d be hard-pressed to find better comfort and breathability for the price, and the modern styling is the cherry on top.
See the The North Face Aphrodite 2.0
Materials: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
What we like: Versatile styling and lightweight feel at a good value.
What we don’t: Noticeably thin fabric and sizing runs big.
Washington-based Eddie Bauer has a healthy presence among outdoor adventurers in the Pacific Northwest, and their Departure Ankle Pants represent a very strong value from the brand. For $80 full MSRP and around $30 to $50 on Amazon depending on the colorway, the Departure checks a lot of the boxes we look for in a well-rounded travel pant: The fabric is light and breathable, resistant to wrinkles, and dries out quickly; the pants are easy to dress up or down depending on the occasion; and Eddie Bauer offers a healthy number of sizing options to dial in fit, including dedicated tall sizes and plus sizes up to 3X. If you’re drawn to the Columbia Anytime Outdoor above but don’t love the flared cuffs, the Eddie Bauer offers similar appeal in a sleeker package.
The Departure Ankle Pants bear a strong resemblance to Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi Transit Pants above. Both designs boast simple elastic waistbands and UPF 50+ sun protection, incorporate 14% spandex for good stretch and mobility, and have small slits in the cuffs for a subtle dose of flair. However, the Departure is lighter on storage with just one zippered pocket at the back (the OR has two), and the polyester-heavy fabric (the Ferrosi uses more durable nylon) is decidedly thin. Both pants offer good abrasion resistance, although some users note that the Departure is more prone to stains as a result. Finally, many women will need to size down—the pants run big, and the lack of adjustability at the waist makes it harder to dial in fit. But we keep coming back to value: The Departure is attractively priced for what you get and especially appealing for those headed to hot destinations.
See the Eddie Bauer Departure Ankle Pants
Materials: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane
What we like: Typical Fjallraven build quality and attention to detail.
What we don’t: The most expensive option here and lacking in practical storage.
Swedish brand Fjallraven is known for their premium build quality and classy Scandinavian styling, and the High Coast Lite Trousers carry the torch. Like most designs here, the High Coast Lite has a stretchy and highly breathable construction that’s easy to move in and comfortable whether you’re killing time during a layover or hopping on an overnight flight. Versatility is another highlight: The pants look the part for around-town wear and are mobile and durable enough to cross over for hiking. Like the Kuhl Freeflex above, the High Coast also comes with a cinch cord at each cuff for tweaking the ankle opening, which makes it easy to pair with a wide variety of footwear.
Fjallraven is known for their high-end build quality, and with that comes steep price tags. At $125, the High Coast Lite Trousers are the most expensive option here without enough to show for it. The storage layout was the biggest pain point for us: The two hand pockets are plenty deep, but we found them to be pretty uncomfortable and restrictive with a phone inside—our iPhone sat right where the hip flexes, which impeded natural movement and required removal before sitting down (we turned to our fanny pack instead on the journey home). It’s a similar story with the snap-equipped rear pockets, and the single zippered pocket on the right leg is too small for anything larger than a credit card. Finally, similar to the Patagonia Skyline Traveler above, the Fjallraven’s button-and-fly closure isn’t our first choice for long travel days. These drawbacks are enough to push the High Coast Lite toward the bottom of our list, but there’s no denying the attractive styling and premium construction.
See the Fjallraven High Coast Lite Trousers
Materials: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
What we like: Thin, breathable fabrics are great for mid-summer travel.
What we don’t: Lightweight build sacrifices some durability.
Mountain Hardwear’s Dynama/2 Ankle tops our women’s hiking pant round-up for its great breathability and streamlined fit that moves with you, and the High Rise Jogger variation has similar appeal for travel. Made with thin nylon and a little elastane for added mobility, the Dynama has a very light and airy feel (it’s the lightest design on our list at a scant 4.1 oz.), does a great job at wicking moisture, and is quick to dry 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 but tailored jogger cut and two large zipper-equipped cargo pockets (plus two deep hand pockets), and you get a stylish and practical pant that’s well suited for mid-summer travel, hot-weather hikes, or simply lounging around on rest days.
Travelers headed to warm destinations will find a lot to like about the Mountain Hardwear Dynama High Rise Jogger, but there are some notable trade-offs to the lightweight build. First, similar to the Aphrodite 2.0 above, the Dynama doesn’t hold up well to frequent wear—the thin fabric is prone to pilling over time, and you’ll want to exercise caution if you wear them on the trail to avoid snags from branches or rocks. During testing, one of the thigh pockets also tore at the bottom, rendering it useless (although to be fair, we did put the pants through the wringer by climbing in them). Additionally, the waistband—while comfortable—doesn’t hold its structure well over time and is noticeably thinner than competitors like the Aphrodite, Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger, and Patagonia Happy Hike Studio above. But if you treat them well and don’t mind the inherent downsides to the thin fabric, the Dynama is one of the best options here for keeping you comfortable in sweltering heat.
See the Mountain Hardwear Dynama Jogger
Materials: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
Waist: Elastic w/ drawcord
What we like: Lightweight, breathable, and highly wind-resistant—a great dual travel and athletic pant.
What we don’t: Technical look and sizing runs small.
Janji is a running brand first and foremost, but they have a few offerings that cross over well for daily use and travel. Our current favorite is their Transit Tech Pant, which combines an impressively low weight (6 oz.) with great all-day comfort and breathability. The namesake Transit Tech fabric is also impressively resistant to wind—many users cite them as great cold-weather running pants due to their ability to fend off chilling gusts. Janji was intentional about storage, too: You get two deep hand pockets (one of which has a handy key loop), as well as an additional side zippered pocket for securely storing a phone, wallet, or travel documents. Finally, while subtle, we really like the cuff design, which lacks the bunched-up look and feel of many other joggers here but still provides a secure fit around the ankle.
The Janji Transit Tech Pant is a nice option for travel, bike commutes, and running, but it has a noticeably more technical look and feel than many other designs here. In other words, women looking for a dual travel/work pant should steer clear. In our opinion, a pant like the OR Ferrosi Transit above makes more sense for most: Not only can it pull double duty for hiking, but it can also be dressed up with a pair of nice shoes for wearing to the office on occasion. The Transit Tech’s sizing also runs on the smaller end, although Janji did include an internal drawstring for dialing in fit at the waist should you opt to size up. In the end, the Janji’s relative lack of versatility keeps it from a higher spot on the list, but runners who travel frequently—or travelers who plan to maintain their running routine while away—might find it to be the perfect middle ground.
See the Janji Transit Tech
|Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pant||$99||86% polyester, 14% spandex||Elastic||4||Unavail.|
|Columbia Anytime Outdoor||$60||96% nylon, 4% elastane||Snap/fly & drawcord||3||Unavail.|
|Athleta Headlands Tight||$119||91% nylon, 9% spandex||Elastic w/ drawcord||6||Unavail.|
|Patagonia Happy Hike Studio||$99||89% polyester, 11% spandex||Elastic||5||9.4 oz.|
|Lululemon High-Rise Jogger||$118||69% nylon, 31% elastane||Elastic w/ drawcord||3||Unavail.|
|OR Ferrosi Transit||$89||86% nylon, 14% spandex||Elastic||4||9 oz.|
|Vuori Miles Jogger||$118||79% polyamide, 21% elastane||Elastic w/ drawcord||3||9 oz.|
|Patagonia Skyline Traveler||$99||88% nylon, 12% spandex||Button/fly & drawcord||5||10 oz.|
|Kuhl Freeflex Dash||$99||100% polyester||Elastic w/ drawcord||5||10.5 oz.|
|Outdoor Voices RecTrek||$98||90% nylon, 10% elastane||Elastic w/ drawcord||3||11.2 oz.|
|The North Face Aphrodite 2.0||$80||93% nylon, 7% elastane||Elastic w/ drawcord||3||8 oz.|
|Eddie Bauer Departure||$80||86% polyester, 14% spandex||Elastic||3||Unavail.|
|Fjallraven High Coast Lite||$125||85% polyamide, 15% elastane||Button/fly||5||9.5 oz.|
|MTN Hardwear Dynama||$89||94% nylon, 6% elastane||Elastic||4||4.1 oz.|
|Janji Transit Tech||$94||88% polyester, 12% spandex||Elastic w/ drawcord||3||6 oz.|
- What Makes a Good Travel Pant?
- Travel Pant Materials
- Styles: Joggers, Tights, Ankle Pants, and Straight-Leg Designs
- Waist Design: Elastic, Drawcords, and Button/Fly Closures
- Storage: Pockets
- Travel Pant Weight
- Water Resistance
- Thickness and Durability
- Sizing and Fit
- UPF Ratings
- Do You Need Travel Pants?
Unlike hiking pants, travel pants are a fairly ambiguous category, but there are certain characteristics that make them well suited for travel. These include smooth and stretchy fabrics that are resistant to wrinkles and breathe well, good moisture-wicking capabilities, and the ability to dry quickly should they get wet. We also look for practical storage in the form of zippered pockets for securely stashing valuables while on the move and low-profile waistbands that don’t dig in when you’re sitting for long periods of time or get in the way under the hipbelt of a travel pack. Another crucial consideration for many travelers is versatility: We love when travel pants can cross over for around-town use or hiking, and many of the picks above can also be dressed up for wearing to work. Finally, quality travel pants stand up well to long-term use with snag- and abrasion-resistant fabrics that don’t pill over time.
Travel pants are typically made of a polyester or nylon blend, and many of the picks above have at least a small amount of built-in stretch via elastane/spandex. In parsing out the differences between the main fabrics, nylon is slightly more durable and softer than polyester, while the latter is a little less absorbent and quicker to dry, although the differences are relatively minor. Moving on to stretch, a higher percentage of elastane will result in a more flexible feel, which can be especially nice for women who tend to size their pants on the tighter side. The added “give” is also a real boon on long travel days, overnight flights, and mileage-heavy outings around town when comfort is the top priority. For reference, Lululemon’s Stretch High-Rise Jogger is the most elastane-heavy option on our list with a whopping 31%, while Columbia’s budget-friendly Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants contain just 4% (and Kuhl’s Freeflex Dash leaves it out entirely, although the polyester build is still highly mobile).
Travel pants come in four main styles: joggers with elastic at the ankles for keeping the cuffs out of the way, leggings that offer the ultimate in mobility, ankle pants (also known as cropped pants) that ride a little lower than capris, and traditional straight-leg designs. Joggers are our preferred option due to their loose but tailored fit that’s highly comfortable and free-flowing (there’s a reason that seven of our 15 picks are joggers). Tights/leggings are the most form-fitting option and cross over best for activities like running or yoga but often have minimal storage (the Athleta Headlands Mid Rise is a notable exception with six zippered pockets). Next up, cropped pants like the Athleta Brooklyn Mid Rise Ankle Pant ride right above the ankle and often have flared cuffs for a relaxed but refined look and pairing with a wide range of footwear. Finally, straight-leg designs like the OR Ferrosi Transit, Patagonia Skyline Traveler, and Fjallraven High Coast are similarly versatile but cover more of the ankle than cropped pants.
Waist design can have a sizable impact on overall comfort—nobody wants a rigid waistband and metal hardware digging into their stomach on long flights. For this reason, we strongly prefer travel pants that have wide elastic waistbands with few or no seams. In addition to leading the pack in all-day comfort, elastic waistbands also don’t get in the way under a hipbelt, which is an important feature whether you’re hauling a travel pack through the airport or wearing a daypack on a short hike or around-town adventure. We also appreciate when pants come with a drawcord—either internal or external—for dialing in fit at the waist while keeping bulk to an absolute minimum. Keep in mind that not all drawcords are created equal, however: The Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger, for instance, has a noticeably thick and long external drawcord that many will opt to tuck in.
At the other end of the spectrum are more traditional designs that comprise a button or snap and zipper-equipped fly. In general, these are far less comfortable than elastic waistbands for all-day wear—there’s a reason that only two pants on our list (the Patagonia Skyline Traveler and Fjallraven High Coast Lite) use this type of design. It’s true that the belt loops are nice for dressing the pants up, but the added hardware is a real downside for long travel days and pairing under a hipbelt. Finally, it's worth noting that Columbia's Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants also boast a snap and zipper (along with an external drawcord) but forgo belt loops.
Storage can make or break a travel pant, and we made sure to prioritize designs with practical layouts for stashing the essentials. One standout from our list above is the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Mid Rise Tight, which comes with a whopping six zippered pockets. We also like the zippered hand pockets on the Outdoor Voices RecTrek, the Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Jogger’s hidden pocket and card sleeve located inside one of the hand pockets, and the four zippered pockets on Kuhl’s Freeflex Dash. At the other end of the spectrum is Vuori’s Miles Jogger, which features just one zippered pocket at the rear that’s too small to accommodate a smartphone (only the non-zippered hand pockets work). In the end, a final decision will come down to personal preference and where you like to store your valuables while traveling. Some women (ourselves included) prefer to use a fanny pack or cross-body purse, but we certainly appreciate when pants have a phone- or document-friendly pocket for easy access while navigating through security checkpoints or walking around town when we reach our destination.
Travel pants are an inherently light bunch due to their breathable and airy fabrics, and the weight spread among our picks is relatively small (9 to 11 ounces is fairly standard). For reference, the lightest option on our list above (of those that provide a weight spec) is the Mountain Hardwear Dynama High Rise Jogger at a scant 4.1 ounces, while the heaviest is the Outdoor Voices RecTrek at 11.2 ounces. It’s worth noting that many travelers won’t pay too much mind to the weight of their pants, but it can be a good indicator of bulk, which is often the bigger consideration for most. The good news is that the two often go hand-in-hand, meaning lighter pants will generally take up less space in a travel pack or duffel bag. However, one notable downside is that shaving weight often comes with compromises in durability, which we cover in more detail below.
Water resistance almost always comes at the cost of breathability, so it comes as no surprise that travel pants wouldn’t be our first choice for wearing in extended rainfall. That said, most designs can handle light to moderate moisture just fine, which is all most travelers realistically need. Durable water repellent (DWR) coatings are the most common measure, prompting water droplets to bead up and roll off the exterior rather than soak through (bonus: Many are now PFC-free, which means they’re made without the use of harmful perfluorocarbons). Most travel pants also utilize thin, lightweight fabrics that don’t soak up moisture and dry out quickly when wet, which is very helpful should you need to hand-wash your pants due to an unexpected spill or stain.
Thinner fabrics breathe better and dry out more quickly than thicker varieties, so it makes sense that most travel pants are relatively thin. While most manufacturers don’t list the denier (a measurement of fabric thickness) for their travel designs, one good rule of thumb is that stretchier fabrics tend to hold up better due to their ability to “give” under pressure rather than tear. For example, the Vuori Miles Jogger (21% elastane) and Fjallraven High Coast Lite Trousers (15% elastane) are both impressively stretchy and highly resistant to snags and abrasion. Another consideration for many travelers is how likely a fabric is to pill over time. From our list above, two that fall a little short are the TNF Aphrodite 2.0 and Mountain Hardwear Dynama High Rise Jogger, both of which have shown considerable pilling with regular use. They’re also two of the thinnest options on our list, which isn’t a coincidence. If you’re concerned about long-term durability, consider opting for a thicker design (at the sacrifice of some breathability).
Most women are familiar with the plight of finding pants that both fit well and look good, but the good news is that the travel pant market is rife with modern, flattering designs. Outdoor clothing brands like Patagonia and Vuori all have the fit concept down quite well, and Columbia has recently redesigned a number of their offerings to bring them in line with the competition. To help you get the best fit, many brands offer a generous number of waist sizes—for example, the Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pant is offered in 15 sizes from 00 to 26, along with dedicated tall and petite versions. Some (but not many) models are also available in multiple inseam lengths, including the Patagonia Skyline Traveler (28 and 30 in. inseams), Athleta Headlands Hybrid Mid Rise Tight (26, 28, and 31 in. inseams), Outdoor Voices RecTrek (26 and 29 in. inseams), and aforementioned Brooklyn Ankle Pant (25.5, 27.5, and 30.5 in. inseams). We worked to call out sizing and fit discrepancies in the write-ups above whenever possible, but it’s always best to try on before you buy.
Many travel pants have a UPF rating, which gives an estimate of how much UV radiation the fabric allows to pass through. For reference, a UPF rating of 50 means that just 1/50th (or 2%) of the available UV rays are able to make their way to the other side of the fabric, while a UPF rating of 30 denotes that 1/30th of rays will pass through (of note: UPF 30 is the minimum rating that qualifies for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s official recommendation). In the case of travel pants, a UPF rating of 40 to 50 is fairly standard, although we have yet to meet anyone who’s been burned through their pants—even those without UPF coverage. That said, we certainly understand wanting to maximize sun protection, in which case you should aim for the higher numbers and remember to consider your upper half, too (we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sun protection shirts here).
In 2023, one of the primary ways we see manufacturers innovating is through the use of more sustainable materials. In the case of travel pants, this often comes in the form of recycled fabrics, more responsible production practices (including the elimination of harmful chemicals used in water-repellent and UV-resistant treatments), and an emphasis on the ethical treatment of workers (look for a “Fair Trade” certification). Many companies also utilize the bluesign system for sourcing materials responsibly. Patagonia is a clear leader in the sustainability movement, but brands like Vuori and Outdoor Research have also made a sizable effort to reduce their footprint. In the end, we really appreciate when companies go the extra mile in being transparent about their production practices and environmental footprint.
Dedicated travel pants can go a long way toward maximizing comfort during long plane rides and layovers, and many cross over seamlessly for around-town wear and sightseeing excursions once you reach your destination. That said, infrequent travelers may have a hard time justifying the fairly niche purchase, and the good news is that you probably already own a pair of pants that’s suitable for travel. Many hiking pants can pull double duty provided they’re relatively lightweight and breathable (a low-profile waistband is another plus). Standard leggings are also a viable alternative if you’re willing to deal with the lack of storage (a fanny pack or cross-body purse can fill in this gap), and two of our longtime favorites are Lululemon’s Align and Wunder Train collections. Beyond Yoga and prAna also make some high-quality tights and yoga pants that are very comfortable and offer excellent all-around mobility.
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