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Best women’s hiking pants: for comfort and protection across all terrain

Included in this guide:

hikers enjoy the Keswick Mountain Festival
It's time to pack away your hiking shorts and pull on some long leg wear that guarantees comfort, weather resistance and durability (Image credit: KMF)

With cold weather approaching, you will want to hit the trails in the best women's hiking pants available, knowing you'll be protected from wind, rain, snow and whatever else nature hurls your way. It's time to pack away your hiking shorts and pull on some long-leg wear that guarantees comfort, weather resistance and durability so you can use them for years to come. 

Fortunately, the best women's hiking pants now come in a wide range of styles and specifications to suit your needs, from supportive leggings ideal for casual day hikes in milder conditions to waterproof, insulated technical trekking trousers for alpine adventures. Pair these with the best women's waterproof jackets and you won't be able to stay off the trails this winter.

hikers on stepping stones

Some hiking pants are waterproof while others are merely water resistant and increasingly, women prefer fast-drying leggings over either of the previous options (Image credit: Getty Images)

Not all hiking pants are created equal, and it's good to shop with an eye towards the types of conditions and terrain you're likely to be tackling. Some hiking pants are waterproof while others are merely water resistant and increasingly, women prefer fast-drying leggings over either of the previous options. If you're likely to be hiking in cold temperatures, you might be seeking insulated trousers or perhaps you'd rather layer a light, weather resistant pair over moisture-wicking long underwear for chilly nights at camp.

Then there's the issue of protection. If you love to tackle technical scrambles and clamber over snowy terrain, you'll want a sturdy pair of pants like the Fjällräven Keb Curved pants that will hold up to your adventures, but if you're planning on woodland walks in temperate climes, why not try a lighter pair of low maintenance leggings like the BAM Bamboo Kennick leggings? There's also the question of whether you want lots of pockets for storage and easy access to gloves and maps, or are looking for a sleeker, no-frills approach to your trail wear. Read on to choose the best women's hiking pants for you.

Best women’s hiking pants for mild conditions

Rab Women's Sawtooth pants

The Rab Women's Sawtooth pants appear to be everything you want from a pair of softshell pants. (Image credit: Rab)

Lightweight softshell pants that offer superior freedom of movement for your mountain adventures

Specifications
RRP: $125 (US) / £90 (UK)
Style: Active fit softshell pants
Sizes (women's): US XS - XL / UK 8 -16
Weight: 365g / 12.8oz
Materials: Nylon (88%), elastane double weave with DWR 182 g/m2 (12%)
Colors: Beluga, Blazen, Sagano green, Deep heather
Compatibility: Hiking, ski touring and general mountain across all seasons
Reasons to buy
+Stretchy for unrestricted movement+Highly breathable+Highly durable+Extremely lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-Not insulated

The Rab Women's Sawtooth pants appear to be everything you want from a pair of softshell pants. They are feather light and very stretchy, meaning that while you’d probably wear them for hiking, you could do a proper heel hook while rock climbing in them, or even a little yoga on the trail.

They are highly breathable and designed for summer hiking however they’d work across all seasons even for ski touring with good wind protection and even some water repellency. They boast four deep zipped pockets for storage, tethered drawcord hems, a fleece-lined waistband, belt loops and 30+ UPF. All in all, these are everything you want from a softshell pant all wrapped up in a stylish fit.

Keela Trail trousers

With a slim flattering fit, The Keela Trail Trousers are designed for fair weather hiking, comfortable traveling and hanging out around town (Image credit: Keela)

Lightweight, stretchy hiking trousers that provide superior comfort whether you’re striding out on the hill or hanging out at camp

Specifications
RRP: £59.95 (UK)
Style: Slim active fit
Sizes: UK 8 - 20
Weight: 365g / 12.8oz
Materials: Nylon (96%), Spandex (4%)
Colors: Sand, Black
Compatibility: Three-season hiking, camping and travel
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight +Moisture-wicking and quick drying+Articulated knees and stretchy fabric for ease of movement +Budget-friendly
Reasons to avoid
-Not insulated-Not waterproof

These hiking pants are impressively lightweight and soft. With a slim flattering fit, The Keela Trail Trousers are designed for fair weather hiking, comfortable traveling and hanging out around town. The material is ultra stretchy and the knees are articulated which allows for unrestricted freedom of movement when you’re clambering up a rocky face. Two zipped hip pockets provide ample storage for gear you want to close to hand, and hidden inner pockets are great for stashing keys and credit cards. They also feature belt loops and come in three different leg lengths so it’s nearly impossible to find a pair of these that won’t work for your body. Treated with ViralOff, the antibacterial protection keeps them fresher longer.

While they’re not waterproof or insulated, they offer UV protection and are quick drying so they’ll work well on warm or damp days on the trail and for travel, but aren’t intended for extreme cold weather conditions. These are so comfortable and flattering that chances are, once you put them on you’ll be wearing them for days.

Best women’s hiking pants for technical terrain 

Fjällräven Keb Trousers

These tough trekking trousers are built to last and expertly designed to hold up under challenging mountain conditions (Image credit: Fjällräven)

These tough technical trekking trousers come at a premium price because they’re built to last and expertly designed to move and breathe with you on the mountain, even in challenging conditions

Specifications
RRP: $225 (US) / £200 (UK)
Style: Active fit cargo
Sizes: EU 32 - 46, UK 4 - 20, US 24" - 37"
Weight: 540g / 19 oz
Materials: Polyester (65%), cotton (35%), polyamide (63%), polyester (26%), elastane (11%)
Colors: Stone grey, Uncle blue, Laurel green, Black, Mineral blue, Acorn, Purple, Plum Chestnut
Compatibility: Hiking, trekking, climbing, scrambling, camping
Reasons to buy
+Tough and durable+Stretch panels for good movement and comfort+Water and wind resistant+Generous ventilation zips and openings for knee pads
Reasons to avoid
-Not insulated-Not waterproof-Expensive

These tough Fjallraven Keb trekking trousers are built to last and expertly designed to hold up under challenging mountain conditions. These medium weight pants are tailored to a flattering fit, with stretchy fabric panels providing excellent range of motion. With water and wind resistance, you can wear these in most conditions and seasons, however they’re ideal for spring, fall and dry winter days.

They boast generous ventilation zippers from hip to knee and down the calves, ample deep pockets with flaps for gear, phones, wallets and keys and openings for knee pads if you plan on scrambling and bouldering in them. They feature belt loops and attachments for suspenders with reinforced knees, rear and pockets for scrambles, seats and stumbles on the trail.

These trousers are not insulated, but they do repel non-extreme weather and they’re just roomy enough to be worn with long underwear underneath on colder days. These are well-fitting and ultra durable trousers that run at the high end of the price range, but the good news is they should last you a lifetime.

Alpkit Kraft womens trousers

On the rack, the Alpkit Kraft Women's Hiking Pants look like a pretty stylish pair of jeans but on your body they make a pretty sturdy piece of kit (Image credit: Alpkit)

These durable technical trousers made from organic natural fibres are ideal for crisp fall days, cool evenings and stylish enough for wearing around town

Specifications
RRP: £54.99 (UK)
Style: Slim fit jean
Sizes: UK 8 - 18
Weight: 450 g / 15.b oz
Materials: Organic cotton (97%), spandex (3%)
Colors: Tarmac, brown, brick
Compatibility: Hiking, climbing, scrambling
Reasons to buy
+Tough and durable+Environmentally friendly fabric+Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-Not Not moisture-wicking  for technical use

On the rack, the Alpkit Kraft Hiking Pants look like a pretty stylish pair of jeans but on your body they make a pretty sturdy piece of kit. The organic cotton canvas is tough without being too thick and promises to be long-lasting, hold up against abrasion and offers some wind resistance. The fit is slim and stylish with an articulated cut and a low-rise waist.

The slight stretch to the fabric and gusseted crotch allow for better movement than the slim fit suggests; in fact, the company claims they’ve passed the ‘foot-next-to-your-face-heel-hook’ test. These pants feature a deep zipped thigh pocket for your valuables, double-stitched hems for durability and deep hems on the ankles for easy alteration if needed.

Best women's hiking pants for wet weather

Salomon Wayfarer hiking pant

The Salomon Wayfarer pants are featherlight and well suited to hiking in cold to warm temperatures and even some wet weather hikes (Image credit: Salomon)

These featherlight versatile hiking pants are made for movement, however steep the slope

Specifications
RRP: $110 (US) / £90 (UK)
Style: Softshell
Sizes: US 2 - 14, UK 6 - 18
Weight : 332 g / 11.7 oz
Materials: Polyamide (86%), Elastane (14%)
Colors: Black, Wrought iron
Compatibility: Hiking, trekking, winter sports
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight, soft and breathable+Stretchy for complete freedom of movement+Water resistant and windproof+Versatile with three leg lengths, belt loops, ankle adjustments
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof

The Salomon Wayfarer pants are featherlight and well suited to hiking in cold to warm temperatures and even some wet weather hikes. The active fit is unencumbered with bells and whistles, so they take on a sleek, classic look.

Their biggest boast is the stretchy yet durable fabric, so they won’t restrict your movement no matter how steep the slope, but they’ll last a long time if you put them to that test. Because they are windproof, they’re warm on cold days but with ultra breathability they work for for milder days too.

They come in three leg lengths and the addition of belt loops and ankle adjustments make them extra versatile, plus they feature four pockets, two with zips, to stash your keys and credit cards.

Columbia Firwood Core Trousers

The Columbia Women's Firwood Core Trousers are super lightweight and have a utilitarian appeal, great for those looking for function over fashion on the trail (Image credit: Columbia)

A lightweight, utilitarian hiking pant that staves off light rain and strong sun for walking in mild conditions

Specifications
RRP: $60 (US) / £65 (UK)
Style: Utility trousers
Sizes: US 2 - 16 / UK 6 - 18
Weight: 332 g / 11.7 oz
Materials: Nylon (94%), elastane (6%)
Colors (women): Black, Stone green, Dark nocturnal
Compatibility: Hiking
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Water repellent and sun protection+Stretchy and comfortable+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Not insulated-Not windproof-Not very breathable

The Columbia Firwood Core Trousers are super lightweight and have a utilitarian appeal, great for those looking for function over fashion on the trail. The fabric is soft and extra stretchy for comfort and freedom in movement. They boast advanced water repellency and UPF sun protection so they can be worn in light rain, over pants or long underwear on cool days, or on their own on dry, bright days. 

These straight leg, mid-rise hiking pants have roll-up hems with tab holders that you can use to shorten the pants if it’s warm out, or so the ends don’t end up trailing through the mud. With five pockets, there's plenty of storage, though only two have a zipper. The waist is partially elastic and does not have belt loops. All in all these are functional, practical, comfortable hiking pants good for mild weather at a reasonable price.

 Best women’s hiking leggings 

BAM Bamboo Kennick side pocket leggings

Whether you're wearing them as hiking pants or running leggings, the thick, sturdy bamboo cotton makes for a figure-sculpting pant that is also soft against the skin, breathable and stretchy (Image credit: BAM Bamboo)

These soft bamboo leggings are made for hikers who want to feel supported on the trail but still enjoy the freedom to move

Specifications
RRP: £49 (UK)
Style: 7/8 length leggings
Sizes: UK 8 - 14
Materials: Bamboo viscose (64%), organic cotton (24%), elastane (12%)
Colors: Black, Flint, Rust dawn, Rich navy
Compatibility: Hiking, trail running
Reasons to buy
+Moisture wicking material+Supportive, figure-sculpting fit+Handy thigh pockets with flaps+Eco friendly
Reasons to avoid
-A little hard to get in and out of-Not waterproof

The BAM Bamboo Kennick Side Pocket leggings are made for those hikers who want to feel supported on the trail but still enjoy the freedom to move. Whether you're wearing them as hiking pants or running leggings, the thick, sturdy bamboo cotton makes for a figure-sculpting pant that is also soft against the skin, breathable and stretchy so you get full range of motion.

The 7/8 length of these pants means no bunching around the ankles inside your hiking boots, while BAM has added two thigh pockets with flaps where you can stash a key, a credit card and your phone. The deep waistband and flatlock stitching ensures no chafing.

Bamboo is eco-friendly, super soft and moisture wicking fabric and meets the challenge of outdoor adventure. These pants are a little hard to get into, but once they’re on they’re neither restrictive nor do you have to pull them up constantly. Though not waterproof, they’re a better alternative to your basic yoga pants for hiking, and come in at a good price too.

Columbia River Leggings

(Image credit: Columbia)

These stylish, stretchy leggings keep you comfortable, cool and dry on long trail runs and provide great mobility during steep hikes

Specifications
RRP: $60 (US) / £45 (UK)
Style: 7/8 length leggings
Sizes: XS - XXL
Materials: Polyester (88%), elastane (21%)
Colors: Black, Black/White, Malbec, Stone Green, Nocturnal
Compatibility: Hiking, trail running
Reasons to buy
+Sleek fabric means no chafing+Highly breathable and cooling+Sun protection+Hidden pocket for keys and credit cards+Lots of sizes available
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-Not insulated-Not made using sustainable materials-No thigh pockets 

On the rack, the sleek-but-sturdy Columbia River Leggings are ultra-stretchy to support movement and moisture-wicking for all-day comfort when you’re working up a sweat. They’ve even added sun protection to keep you covered.

The 7/8 length hits just above the ankle which makes them easy to wear with the no-sock running look, while the body-fitting style means you can pull your hiking socks up over them no problem. Though they don't feature larger thigh or back pockets for maps and gloves, they do boast a hidden pocket for carrying your car key or credit card. These simple hiking leggings come in lots of sizes and are a good, affordable option for the casual hiker.

Best women's hiking pants comparison table
Hiking PantPriceWeightStyleBest use
Rab Sawtooth Pant$125 (US) / £90 (UK)LightShellHiking, ski touring and general mountain across all seasons
Keela Trail Trousers£59.95 (UK)LightSlim active fitThree-season hiking, camping and travel
Fjällräven Keb Trousers Curved$225 (US) / £200 (UK) MediumActive fit cargoHiking, trekking, climbing, scrambling, camping
Alpkit Kraft hiking pants£54.99 (UK)MediumSlim fit jeanHiking, climbing, scrambling
Salomon Wayfarer hiking pants$110 (US) / £90 (UK) LightSoftshellHiking, trekking, winter sports
Columbia Firwood Core Trousers $60 (US) / £65 (UK) LightUtility trousers Hiking
BAM Bamboo Kennick Side Pocket leggings£49 (UK) Light7/8 length leggingsHiking, trail running
Columbia River Leggings$60 (US) / £45 (UK)Light7/8 length leggingsHiking, trail running
Royal Robbins Active Traveler Zip ’n’ Go Pant$115 / €100 MediumConvertible long-to-short pants Traveling and walking holidays in warmer climates

What to look for in the best women's hiking pants

Like any article of clothing in your closet, what makes for the best women's hiking pants is a very subjective experience and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. There are, however, certain factors to consider that will influence your choice, like where you'll be hiking, at what time of year and the climate. 

If you tend to do most of your hiking in the summer or in a milder climate, or just prefer casual woodland walks, then you might be happiest in a pair of lightweight, breathable pants (see: breathability ratings explained and what to wear hiking in hot weather). You might even want to consider a pair of the best hiking shorts instead of pants.

But if you're looking for something to hold up against hiking tough terrain in all seasons and scrambling up high peaks in cold and snow, then you're looking for technical trousers with weather protection and perhaps even insulation.

The following are some factors that are worth considering whatever style of hiking you intend to do, to ensure adequate protection and comfort.

Comfort

When you're already challenging yourself on the mountain, the last thing you want is for your clothes to be uncomfortable. There are a lot of factors that play into comfort, from the fit of your trousers to the material they're made from. Many of the best women's hiking pants are stretchy and made with gusseted crotches and articulated knees for freedom of movement. Make sure they’re going to be warm (or cool) enough for the conditions and terrain you’re planning to walk in. You wouldn't wear thick winter hiking socks in the height of summer, so don't make that mistake with trousers. Some of the best women's hiking pants will also feature vents, so you can dump some of that heat and let in some fresh air on warm days.

two hikers

Many of the best women's hiking pants are stretchy and made with gusseted crotches and articulated knees for freedom of movement (Image credit: Getty)

Stretch

If you're planning on tackling steep slopes or incorporating rock climbing and technical scrambling in your hiking adventures, it’s always good to have a bit of dynamic stretch in your pants. Even if you're just clambering over the odd stile or wall, you don't want your trousers to hold you back or slow you down. Fortunately, most of the best women's hiking pants are designed with freedom of movement in mind. Look for a percentage of elastane or spandex in the material make-up of your trousers – any mention of four-way stretch is a good sign.

Protection

Generally speaking, the thicker the material used in your hiking trousers, the more protection they will offer you from everything from the sun (check the Ultraviolet Protection Factor – UPF – rating) and sharp sticks and stones, through to biting insects and stinging or prickly plants. There is a weight penalty to pay for this protection of course. Some lightweight hiking pants are now treated to include sun protection, while others feature reinforced panels in high contact areas that will both protect you, and improve the lifespan of the trousers.

Wild weather

Many of the best women's hiking pants have been treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, which means they won’t absorb water during light rain showers. Some of the best women's hiking pants aren't water repellent, but are fast drying, so consider whether you're likely to be hiking in light rain or torrential downpours, the temperature and whether you mind getting briefly damp. Some will also be windproof, which will greatly improve their capability to keep you warm.

The North Face Thermoball Eco Jacket

Many of the best women's hiking pants have been treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, which means they won’t absorb water during light rain showers (Image credit: The North Face)

Pockets

Like with the best day packs and hydration packs, these days the functionality of multiple pockets is something manufacturers go for when designing hiking pants. That said, many of prefer to use our backpacks for storage and keep our hiking pants streamlined and clutter-free.

If you still like to carry a paper topographical map, then look for a pair of hiking pants with a cargo pouch big enough to stash said map (plus compass) so you can keep it to hand at all times. 

Alternatively, you might want to put a small water bottle in that space, or a GPS device, or your phone. Having at least one pocket with a zip is always a benefit, so you can securely store things you really don’t want to lose, like your car keys and credit card. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.