It doesn't matter if you're an avid or casual hiker — whenever you head out on the trail, you need a good pair of hiking pants. Seriously: stop going hiking in an old pair of sweatpants. They'll make you feel hot, uncomfortable, and sweaty, and they're almost guaranteed to cut your time outside short. With a solid pair of women's hiking pants, however, you'll feel cool and comfortable the entire trek. The best hiking pants have breathable, moisture-wicking fabric and smart features like an adjustable waist for the perfect fit, larger pockets for easy storage, and UPF sun protection to protect from UV rays. Activity level also plays a huge role in choosing the best hiking pants for you. Trail leggings are great for running, but cargo styles work better for a longer climb. The weather matters, too. When it gets colder out, you'll want a pair of women's hiking pants that have a fleece lining — they'll keep you warm without overheating you. You'll also want to look for water-repellant pants for colder or rainier climates: Unexpected rain shouldn't leave your hiking pants wet for long periods of time. Whatever your needs are, ditch the sweatpants and check out our top picks below:
1. A Pair of Lightweight, Affordable Pants
We love that these budget-friendly hiking pants are affordable but still top-quality. They're made with 10% spandex, so they'll offer the perfect stretch for walking and climbing, and feature UPF 50+ protection. The drawstrings at the waist and the ankles allow for a customizable, comfortable fit, and they also feature four zippered pockets for all of your essentials. They're water-resistant and breathable, too. This is the kind of pair you'll want to wear from summer into fall, and the unique colorways are a bonus.
2. The Pants Made for Hiking from Summer to Fall
Prana's hiking pants are moisture-wicking and made from durable, water-repellent fabric. The nylon and spandex allow for some stretch, and the straight leg and and relaxed fit are perfect for the outdoors. These pants feature a stash pocket on the upper right leg, and come in short, tall, and regular lengths. These also work in light rain, and the breathable fabric makes them great for both summer and fall.
3. A Comfortable Drawstring Option
The North Face has a pair of hiking pants that are perfect for navigating overflowing streams and overgrown fields, because the leg-skimming fit protect from brambles, bugs, and the elements. It's made with recycled, water-resistant materials, as well as UPF 40 protection. It also features hand pockets and a zippered pocket, and the adjustable drawstring waistband makes for a comfortable, precise fit.
4. The Best Women's Hiking Pants That Turn Into Shorts
Columbia's Saturday Trail II pants are uniquely constructed, with zip-off legs that convert to a pair of shorts with a 10-inch inseam. These are great for desert hikes or summer camping trips where the weather can get really hot in the afternoon and cool down during the mornings and nights. The straight-leg pants offer UPF protection and repel water and stains, too.
5. The Best Waterproof Pants
MARMOT's hiking pants are made with 100% polyester and are waterproof, not water-resistant, so they're perfect for the rain. These pants have taped seams to prevent leaks, providing extra protection from the elements. The microporous coating also keeps them breathable and comfortable, and reviewers say you can easily wear a pair of leggings underneath them for added warmth.
6. The Best Fleece-Lined Hiking Pants
CAMEL's hiking pants are an excellent pick for the winter. The water- and wind-resistant pants have an insulated fleece lining to keep you warm — and when water hits them, the fabric allows it to bead right off, keeping you extra-dry. This affordable pick also has an adjustable waist and three zippered pockets. Consider these pants for winter sports as well!
7. A Lightly-Lined Option
Mountain Hardwear's Dynama pants are water-repellent and are breathable. They're perfect for cool to cold temperatures and have a four-way stretch. These are made for both hiking and rock climbing, and they have an adjustable waistband and deep pockets. What makes these a good fall-to-winter transition pant is the lightly lined mesh inside — they do keep you warmer than if they weren't there, but they also wick away sweat.
8. The Best Women's Hiking Leggings
So maybe you don't want cargo pants or baggy pants for your hike because you'll be trail running. For that kind of activity, consider these hiking leggings from Eddie Bauer. They have a comfortable, high-rise style (I prefer this over mid-rise) and side pockets. They're breathable and moisture-wicking, made from 88% polyester and 12% spandex. They offer UPF 50+ sun protection so you legs stay protected from harmful rays, and come in regular, petite, and plus sizing.
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