Columbia Women's Back Beauty Warm Hybrid Legging review: freedom to move in cold conditions

A snug-fitting answer to cold weather hiking pants, these leggings are great for days when you’re pulling on rain pants and sleek enough for wearing on urban adventures too

Hiking in the French Alps
(Image: © Manon Guenot)

Advnture Verdict

Warm, stretchy and tough, we like the versatility of these hiking pants that can be worn on the trail and around town


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    Warm and breathable

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    Thigh pocket and zipped back pocket

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    Robust fabric with abrasion-resistant panels

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    No men’s sizing available

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    Limited colors available

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    Not for hot weather hikes

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Columbia Women's Back Beauty Warm Hybrid Legging: first impressions

Made with warm, sweat-wicking materials, these women's hiking pants are designed for those who want freedom to move when they hit the trails. With a robust, stretchy polyester/nylon blend, these pants offer more protection than your average pair of leggings, keeping you warm when a cold wind blows and wicking sweat when you get too hot. Also placing them ahead of your average yoga pants, they feature abrasion-resistant paneling on areas where you tend to come into contact with rough rock surfaces, on the seat and knees, and they have ample stretch for scrambling.


• List price: $249 / £65
• Gender specification: Women’s
• Sizes: XS - XXL
• Weight: 240g / 8.46 oz (women’s small)
• Materials: 63% Polyester, 23% Nylon, 14% Elastane, 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane
• Colors: Black, Nocturnal
• Best use: Hiking, rock climbing, scrambling

These trousers are body-hugging without being uncomfortably compressive if you wear them in your regular size, and the elasticated waist means no annoying draw cord is required. If you like to keep your phone close by and have a secure place for your car key, there’s a roomy thigh pocket and a zipped pocket on the rear of the waistband – however, that pocket hasn’t been sewed up at the sides so if your key seems to have disappeared, it might just be in your waistband. Beyond that, these are a good looking and affordable option for those who prefer hiking in leggings or want to make it easier to pull on rain pants in a hurry. They’re versatile enough to be worn to the climbing wall, the gym or around town as well.

Columbia Women's Back Beauty Warm Hybrid Legging: in the field

Julia Clarke hiking in the Alps

It was unseasonably warm when I tested these, but they're breathable enough that I wasn't struggling (Image credit: Future)

I don’t often hike in leggings, though I’m not totally opposed to the idea; it’s just that, as a yoga teacher, I spend way too much time in stretchy pants as it is and just generally prefer a looser fit on the trail. However, I received a pair of these to wear on a gear testing trip with Columbia to the French Alps and got to wear them over three days of hiking and they’re probably my favorite pair of hiking leggings now.

Here’s how they performed:  

Sizing and fit

Columbia gear has a tendency to run large on me, except for the Silver Ridge Convertible hiking pants which bizarrely were too tight, but I tested my usual size with these (small) and they fit perfectly. They’re tight but not too compressive, which I really don’t enjoy, and I didn’t spend the entire trip yanking them up. 

The high waist isn’t just flattering, it’s really more functional when you’re wearing a heavy backpack, as I was on this trip, and layering for hiking. Finally, they’re the perfect length, meaning they don’t have five extra inches of fabric bunching up at the bottom like some leggings.

Comfort and temperature regulation

In general, I find these really comfortable, especially when I compare them to some of my yoga leggings which are sometimes so compressive they give me indigestion. The elastane content is quite high, but they also don’t feel insanely stretchy which I think is good as I wouldn’t want them to lose their shape.

They’re designed for warmth on cold hikes, but we ended up experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures on our trip so under normal conditions, I’d have rather worn my lighter Saturday Trail Hiking Trousers instead. 

However, I was there to test gear so that’s what I did and, while I was a little warm in the middle of the day, these are breathable enough and wick sweat well enough that I wasn’t suffering, and I was glad to have them on for our post-hike yoga session which was outdoors during the warmest part of the day. They do provide some insulation and I really appreciated them for an evening hike when the temperatures dropped.

Julia Clarke hiking in the Alps

In general, I find these really comfortable, especially when I compare them to some of my yoga leggings which are sometimes so compressive they give me indigestion (Image credit: Manon Guenot)

Storage and other features

As long as my leggings have at least one thigh pocket, I’m happy, and these have just that where I can stash my phone no problem.

They have a zipped rear pocket, which is in theory good for keeping a key, but they’ve forgotten to sew it up so it goes all the way around the waistband, which could mean you lose track of gear. These pockets are handy when you’re upright, but I do find the zip uncomfortable if I lie down in them for yoga afterwards.

Durability and value

They’re definitely hardier than basic leggings or any of my yoga pants. The abrasion-resistant panels on the seat and knees means I could sit and scramble on rocky surfaces and they look as good as new, plus they lend a flattering shape to the design. The remaining panels are made from a smooth, but not too shiny, pill-free fabric.

These leggings are a really fair price for most people and you definitely get a pair of hiking leggings that you could wear across other activities, like rock climbing, scrambling, yoga and the gym, plus you can wear them around town without looking like a hiker. As a result, I think you get a fair bit for your money and will find these more flattering, versatile and functional than the Columbia Women’s River Leggings.

Columbia Women's Back Beauty Warm Hybrid Legging: the bottom line

If you’re looking for a sturdy pair of hiking leggings for cold days that give you plenty of room to move, these pants lack nothing and come at a good price. The only reason you wouldn’t like them is if you don’t like hiking in leggings to begin with, in which case there are plenty of other hiking pants in the sea. It’s only a shame that they don’t come in men’s sizing.

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.