Arc'teryx Essent High Rise Legging review: stretch them to the limits on mountain adventures

These great-looking, versatile leggings can be worn for trail running, hiking, rock climbing and yoga

Arc'teryx Essent leggings
(Image: © Julia Clarke)

Advnture Verdict

If you want a high quality pair of leggings that can be worn across multiple adventures, these ones have all the stretch you need plus plenty of protection and pockets


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    Stretchy and comfortable

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    Deep thigh pockets big enough for your phone and well positioned for your harness

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    Stay-put fit for running

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    Quick drying

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    Abrasion resistant

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    Two lengths available


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    Some may need to size down

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Arc'teryx Essent High Rise Legging: first impressions

Sometimes leggings are just leggings, and other times they’re a surprisingly versatile piece of kit. In the Essent High Rise, we think we’ve found a pair of leggings built for lots of mountain adventures. We’ve been trail running, hiking and rock climbing in these stretchy-but-tough leggings and we’ve enjoyed serious freedom of movement, protection and breathable comfort on hot days.


List price: $120 / £100
Gender specification: Women's
Sizes: 0 - 16 (26” and 28” length available)
Materials: 71% nylon, 29% elastane - bluesign Approved Material
Weight: 180g / 6.3 oz (UK size 8)
Colors: Forage, Fika, Serene, Expanse, Black
• Best use: Hiking, Running, Climbing

With a high rise design, these leggings are comfortable, and for the most part, they stay put even when you’re running, without being too tight. Two deep thigh pockets work with your climbing harness and are big enough to stash your phone when you’re hiking and running. Theyr’e reasonably breathable for hot weather hikes and runs, but we’ve tested them out in plenty of rain storms and are happy to see that they dry quickly. The abrasion resistant material holds up well against the rock, so even though these are on the pricey end for running leggings, we think they’re good quality and therefore good value.

Arc'teryx Essent High Rise Legging: in the field

Arc'teryx Essent leggings

With a high rise design, these leggings are comfortable, and for the most part, they stay put even when you’re running (Image credit: Julia Clarke)

Most of my Arc’teryx gear is a little more mountaineering-focused, such as the impenetrable Beta Waterproof Jacket, so I was curious about how their reputation for mountain-ready, high performance gear would translate into a pair of leggings, which are arguably more of an everyday item. 

Though I tend to prefer regular hiking pants on the trail, as a yoga teacher and runner, I do wear leggings a lot. Since receiving the Essents, I’ve worn them for a lot of sweaty runs, one warm weather stretch of the West Highland Way, several bouldering sessions and a fair bit of yoga. In short, I’ve probably stretched them to their limits.

Here’s how they performed:  

Sizing and fit 

I tested a UK size 8, which is my regular size, and I’d say these fit true to size. I tested the 28” length and there’s a tiny amount of extra fabric at the bottom, and a tiny amount of wrinkling around my bum, but not so much that I’d say these run especially large. I might just be on the smaller side of my size and prefer a looser fit. I do occasionally have to give them a tug on a run, but I wouldn’t want them any tighter as that wouldn’t be comfortable and the seams already leave marks on my legs which makes me think they’re tight enough. 

They pretty much fit like any spray-on pair of leggings and you might want to try on a couple of sizes depending on whether you like them super figure hugging, or with a little room to breathe.

Arc'teryx Essent leggings

There are a few wrinkles, suggesting I could size down, but I like the comfort (Image credit: Julia Clarke)

Comfort and stretch

I find some leggings are so tight around my middle that I get indigestion if I eat while wearing them, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s too tight. I do know that a lot of people feel differently, however with that in mind, I find these comfortable enough to wear all day, even when that involves riding my bike, climbing, running and working on my laptop. I like the high waist that doesn’t cut in anywhere. The fabric is silky against my skin with no chafing anywhere.

As for stretch, well these leggings are nearly a third elastane, so I have absolutely no problems scrambling over boulders on the West Highland Way, working on my heel hook at the bouldering gym or doing the splits on my yoga mat. No problems there.

Breathability and temperature control 

We’re not having the hottest summer on record here, but I have been wearing these in mostly warm and humid conditions and I’ve been happy with their breathability, even when I’m on a long trail and I've never felt clammy or overheated. They're not super thin, so I think I'll be happily running all winter in them too.


For functional leggings for running, I absolutely need pockets to carry my phone, especially in warm weather when I’m not wearing a running jacket, so I was pleased that this pair has two deep thigh pockets. I can run with my phone in either pocket and not have my leggings being tugged down.


I haven’t been testing these for too long, so I can’t say what condition they’ll be in after heavy use for a year, and I am curious because the more elastane content leggings have, the more they tend to lose their stretch as time goes on. That said, because I’ve been climbing and scrambling in these several times, I can definitely say that the abrasion-resistant material is pretty robust. In fact, they still look as good as new.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.