The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

The Best Hiking Pants for Women

Monday December 9, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

It's a challenge to find the perfect pair of women's hiking pants. We have spent 8 years wearing 35+ pairs to bring you the best 11 options currently available. Our team of all-female testers selected softshells, convertible pants, and hiking tights to purchase and test side-by-side for hundreds of miles of trails and scrambles. We pushed the limits of each pair's mobility and evaluated their comfort on and off the trail. We tested their breathability and weather resistance in frigid rain and scorching sunshine. We also climbed, traveled, and brew pubbed in each, because we know that a great pair of pants can do anything. No matter what adventure you're on, we'll help you find the ideal pants.

Related: The Best Hiking Shorts for Women


Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
≪ Previous | Compare | Next ≫

Best Overall Women's Hiking Pants


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible - Women's


Editors' Choice Award

$38.00
(58% off)
at Amazon
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 8
  • Breathability - 10% 8
Weight: 9.5 ounces | Inseam: 31 inches
Multi-use
Low weight
Nice fit that lasts for multiple days
Flexible and mobile
Pants can squeeze against thighs
Zippers not the most comfortable

The hunt for the perfect hiking pant continues, but this year the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertibles tops our list as our favorite pants. Comfortable, breathable, water resistant — we couldn't take them off! They have a feminine fit and colorful details, giving a little style to an otherwise fairly plain type of clothing, and the material is stretchy and moves well. They resist water well, and when they do get wet, they dry fast. Key on long backpacking trips and hot weather adventures, they also convert easily to Bermuda-length shorts. They are a go-to pair for both day hikes with a solid weather forecast and long trips in variable conditions. The mid-rise waist has a fleece-lined band for extra comfort, and it feels comfortable under a backpack with a hip belt.

These pants do feel a bit tight; but, once we got moving, we didn't have any issues. If your thighs are significantly larger than your waist size, these may not be so comfortable. When we converted them to a short, the Bermuda-length was a little on the long side, and the side pocket was too small for our tester's smartphone. The "convertible" style is not for everyone, but it is practical on extended trips into the backcountry when you only want to bring one pair of bottoms but might encounter a range of temperatures. For general outdoor use, this pair rises to most occasions with consistently excellent performance. The Ferrosi pants are functional, versatile, and can be used for a variety of applications, from water sports to travel to nearly any trail objective.

Read review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible - Women's

Best Bang for the Buck


REI Co-op Sahara Convertible - Women's


Best Buy Award

$52.39
(25% off)
at REI
See It

72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 6
Weight: 9.6 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Useable Pockets
Breathe nicely
Mobile and multi-purpose
Repel water
Limited color options
Button doesn't feel too secure

The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible wowed us with their ability to offer all the right features where you want them at an affordable price. We love the thought that went into providing useful, zippered pockets, a built-in belt, and even the ability to convert these pants to shorts without removing your boots. We especially love the fact that these pants come in a wide range of inclusive sizes, from petite to plus.

Their material allows for plenty of movement, allowing you to do anything from rock climbing to epic backpacking adventures. It's easy to throw a base layer underneath these breathable pants for added protection, and they repel water like a champ. The Sahara is beyond comfortable and doesn't feel tight, but the extra material isn't the most flattering fit. Additionally, the button on the waistband could use a bit more re-enforcement, and we'd like to see some flashier color options. Although there are cheaper options in our review, these pants are the best steal of the bunch.

Read review: REI Co-op Sahara Convertible - Women's

Best for Wet Weather


Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant - Women's


Arc'teryx Gamma LT
Top Pick Award

$122.85
(35% off)
at Amazon
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 9
  • Features - 15% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 3
Weight: 11 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Best weather resistance
Lightweight for a softshell pant
Integrated belt and deep pockets
Heavy for summer use
Not convertible
Expensive

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT pants are the most impressive pair that we tested from a weather resistance perspective. The softshell material is highly water resistant and quick to dry, and it works almost as well as a dedicated pair of rain pants. They are light enough for spring and fall weather and can handle cooler temps if you can fit a base layer underneath them (they have a trim cut even after we sized up in them). We also love in the integrated belt and deep, zippered hand pockets.

Even though the Gamma LT is light for a softshell pant, they are still heavier and thicker than some of the other models that we tested. That makes us feel a little hotter in this pair, and since they don't convert to shorts or roll up well to a cropped length, they are better for cold and damp weather than blazing summer temps. They are also expensive, costing twice as much as most of the other options in this review. But if you need a highly technical pair for Alpine conditions or cooler weather hiking, this model is our top recommendation.

Read Review: Arc'teryx Gamma LT - Women's

Best for Comfort


Patagonia Pack Out - Women's


Top Pick Award

$53.09
(41% off)
at Backcountry
See It

72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 2
  • Features - 15% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 6
Weight: 10.2ounces | Inseam: 29 inches
Soft material
Great mobility
Versatility
Deep, functional, well-placed pockets
Heavy
No water-repelling technology
Not ideal for hot days

There is little you can't do in thePatagonia Pack Out. We wore them to yoga, to lounge around the house (and camp), and layered them under ski pants. They are so cozy you won't mind sleeping in them either. The material is soft and very stretchy, and we love everything we did in them. They have some brilliantly designed pockets, including one deep, zipped side pocket low on the right hip and two deep, stretchy thigh pockets that can hold a phone, a snack, keys, and more. Though they are stretchy, we had no issues wearing these for days on end without the waistband stretching out. We love the way these hiking tights fit and function, and we never dreaded wearing them again.

These pants are a bit heavy, making them better suited to cold weather. They also don't repel water and take a long time to dry out when they do get wet. If you often hike in the rain, you should consider pairing them with a water-repellent layer on top of this model, or opt for a different pair altogether. All in all, we adore the feel of these pants and think they work very well for a large range of activities while keeping you extremely comfortable.

Read review: Patagonia Pack Out - Women's

Best for Mobility


Prana Halle - Women's


Top Pick Award

$44.98
(47% off)
at Backcountry
See It

68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 7
  • Breathability - 10% 5
Weight: 12 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Good range of motion
Comfy
Female-specific cut
Not breathable
Not water resistant
Not our favorite pockets

While zip-off pants are a versatile option for hiking, the pesky leg zipper can impede your mobility and feel uncomfortable. Enter the Prana Halle. Our Top Pick for Mobility matches your every move, no matter the terrain or sport. Designed with climbers in mind, they climb and hike well, and they are stylish enough for casual wear. The relaxed fit and articulated knees allow for a wide range of movement, and the internal drawstring keeps everything in place without the need for a belt.

The Halle is reinforced with a DWR treatment, but it doesn't keep you dry in the rain. While the material is somewhat breathable, they are also a heavier model, making you feel hot on a warm day. They are now available in a convertible version, which converts to capris (not shorts) by rolling them up and securing the cuffs. This model is an excellent option for rock climbing as well since it'll keep your knees covered and protected from dings. They aren't the perfect pant for all conditions but are great for climbing, bouldering, and hiking to and from the crag.

Read review: Prana Halle - Women's


We tested a wide selection of hiking pants by putting them through the wringer both in the field and in the "lab".
We tested a wide selection of hiking pants by putting them through the wringer both in the field and in the "lab".

Why You Should Trust Us


Our testing team is comprised of Meg Atteberry, Cam McKenzie Ring, and Kathleen Sheehan. Meg hikes for a living. Domestic or international, from the remote jungles of Colombia to the high alpine in her home of Colorado, she loves life on trails and is a former ambassador at Hike Like A Woman. Meg is also an accomplished mountaineer and climber, a passion shared by Cam. Cam has been climbing for over 20 years, and regularly logs plenty of trail miles to and from the crag, along with countless other adventures on foot. She has tested over 25 different styles of hiking pants over the last few years, keeping her up to date and keen on details that make the difference between a good and a great pair of hiking pants. As a high school cross country coach, Kathleen hits the trails and the adventure circuit in the Sierra Nevada daily during the summer and fall months. A comfortable, convenient pair of pants is an absolute must for her everyday happiness.

Testing took place over several months in the deserts of southern Utah and the high alpine of Colorado, spanning different climates, temperatures, terrain, and conditions. Beyond simple hikes, we pushed these pants to the limit by mountaineering, climbing, and scrambling in them. Additionally, we had women with a range of body types wear these pants to get a comprehensive idea of what kind of fit to expect from each.

Related: How We Tested Hiking Pants for Women

On a sunny day  the Utility Hybrid Hikers are actually a bit sweaty  but they provide for ample range of motion while climbing the Flatirons.
Find a solid hiking pant that moves with you as you climb  hike  and relax. It will keep you protected on your missions around the globe.
These pants perform surprisingly well in windy  cold conditions.

Analysis and Test Results


If you've been searching for the perfect pair of women's hiking pants and have yet to find them, we get it. Trying a pair on in the store may give you a sense of comfort and fit, but won't tell you anything about their durability or weather resistance. That is where we come in. We chose six of the most important things a good pair of hiking pants will do to score the 11 finalists covered in this review. We evaluated the comfort, versatility, breathability, durability, weather resistance, and features of each pair. We break down our various test metrics and explain why these are important, how we tested them, and which pants stand out from the crowd.

Related: Buying Advice for Hiking Pants for Women


Value


We always want good value and return on our investments when we spend our hard-earned money on gear. For the most part, the price of a pair of hiking pants has a moderate range, but they don't all perform equally. Spending a little bit extra might get you more features, like zip-off legs, more water-resistant material, or added longevity. Convertible models often cost 10-15% more than traditional pants, but you also are getting a pair of shorts along with your pants, which adds a lot of value for many hikers. Value can change based on your needs, but we like the REI Co-Op Sahara for offering solid performance across the board while costing less than most.

We logged hundreds of miles in these pants to suss out the performance differences between each pair.
We logged hundreds of miles in these pants to suss out the performance differences between each pair.

Comfort & Mobility


Selecting a pair of hiking pants that are both comfortable and mobile is, in our estimation, the most important thing, so we weighed this category as 30% of their overall score. When you're out on the trail and hiking for miles, if your pants chafe, pinch you, or impede your movement in any way, it can significantly impact your trip. A lot of effort goes into making hiking and backpacking more comfortable, and your clothes are just as important as your footwear and backpacks. The various comfort levels of each pair were often affected by the fabric, the fit, and various construction details.


The Patagonia Pack Out tops the charts in this metric, bringing a high level of comfort to any activity. The material is soft and stretchy, and the waistband is flat and thick. Be happy and comfortable hiking, lounging, or layering up in these pants. All of the models in this review have some stretchy fabric in the blend (usually elastane or spandex). Some have as little as 3%, like the Kuhl Spire Roll Up (which feels relatively stiff), while others have as much as 13%. There doesn't always seem to be a magic number; the Prana Halle is our Top Pick for Mobility and is only 3% spandex, and our Top Pick for Comfort, the Patagonia Pack Out, is 13% spandex. You'll want to make sure there is some stretch mixed in there; you can test the material out yourself with a little "squat and leg raise test" when trying them on. Does the material pinch or stop you in any way? Can you even get down low in them? Testing that out alone in a dressing room could help you decide which is the best pair for you.

Articulated knees  like on our Top Pick for Mobility  the Prana Halle  helped us move well on the trail and on the rocks.
Articulated knees, like on our Top Pick for Mobility, the Prana Halle, helped us move well on the trail and on the rocks.

The fit of a pant is sure to affect its comfort level. Evaluating such can be tricky, as people have different proportions and shapes within the same pant size. We tried our best by putting the various models on several women in the same size range to see if we experienced similar issues, say with the legs being too tight. If you hate the feel of a zipper rubbing against your thighs and prefer a pants-only option, we also tested many of those in this review. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi's feel a little constricting there as well for those with more muscular thighs than "average." The design of the REI Sahara takes a more relaxed and baggy approach to the fit, which is something to keep in mind if you're rocking some strong, thick legs. However, the extra material often looks less flattering in the opinion of most of our testers.

Scrambling in the Mountain Hardwear Dynama. These super stretchy pants felt great on and gave us excellent range of motion.
Scrambling in the Mountain Hardwear Dynama. These super stretchy pants felt great on and gave us excellent range of motion.

We added some "different" types of hiking wear into the mix, including some tights and a pair of softshell pants. Some of the tights ended up being less comfortable than some of the pants, which surprised us a little, as we initially assumed they would be the best.

Another fit issue to consider is where the waist of the pant sits relative to your body. While a lot of this is a personal preference (high vs. low waist), there is a sweet spot in the middle where most of us prefer to wear our pants. Too high (at the natural waist), and there is too much extra material that can bunch up under a hip belt. Too low, and your hip belt is pushing your pants down over your rear. Most of the models that we tested are cut to fit right across the hip bones, which we prefer. The high-cut pair in this review is the Arc'teryx Gamma LT. With a flat waistband, we don't mind the high waist too much, but belt loops or a belt can impede comfort.

The Arc'teryx Gamma LTs have a low-profile design and a high waist that sits underneath a hip belt or harness.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LTs have a low-profile design and a high waist that sits underneath a hip belt or harness.

As for construction, there are small details in the way a pant is made that can improve mobility, such as a gusseted crotch or articulated knees, like on the Prana Halle and the Arc'teryx Sabria. These two pairs wear well for rock climbing with all of the weird ways you might move your legs, such as high-stepping or drop-knee techniques. We wore the Halle on a variety of boulders and climbing routes, and never felt restricted in them. The Pack Out tights also work well for climbing.

Though we tested hiking pants  we always go above and beyond in our testing - like evaluating the mobility of these garments in particularly challenging situations.
Though we tested hiking pants, we always go above and beyond in our testing - like evaluating the mobility of these garments in particularly challenging situations.

We also liked the movement we achieved on the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pant. While the legs on this one have a tapered fit, the stitching at the knees gives them a slightly pre-bent shape, allowing for a full range of motion when hiking. We found this particularly surprising since the fit was awkward and tight in many vital areas, such as the thighs and hips for our primary tester.

The Saturday Trail Stretch performed well over rough terrain.
The Saturday Trail Stretch performed well over rough terrain.

Another construction detail that aids in comfort is the waistband. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi has a fleece-lined waist, which is comfortable against our skin and reduced chaffing. An internal drawstring is always welcome too, like on Kuhl Spire Roll-Up, as it lets you tighten the pants and not have to worry about wearing a belt, which is usually not that comfortable under a backpack. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi, TNF Aphrodite 2.0, Prana Halle, Arc'teryx Sabria and Patagonia Quandary models all have internal drawstrings.

Versatility


When heading out on a multi-day backcountry trip or even a long day hike, versatility is an important factor to consider. Your hiking pants need to be able to handle a change in weather conditions, from cool at the trailhead to hot on the hike, and cold again up at the summit. A zip-off pair is going to be more versatile than a roll-up model or a pant because it offers you more wear options. The materials used will also influence this category, as a pair that is highly water-resistant can also be used for water sports, whereas a cotton-blend pair cannot.


The most versatile model in this review is our Editors' Choice winner, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible. These pants can convert into a crop and a Bermuda-length short, and the material offers acceptable water resistance. The REI Sahara and Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch both shed water quickly; it doesn't even soak through. Instead, it rolls right off. These pants are vastly different but offer great versatility if you're into water sports.

If you do like convertible pants (some people just don't), then nothing beats the option to convert to shorts when the weather heats up. The Arc'teryx Sabria is versatile in their own way. Wear them for all kinds of adventuring. Discreet function and durability make them great for technical hiking, climbing, and streetwear. These pants repel water but don't cut the bite of cold gusts on their own.

Days in the mountains often start off cool but heat up quickly. A convertible option covers your bases for different weather conditions.
Days in the mountains often start off cool but heat up quickly. A convertible option covers your bases for different weather conditions.

Less versatile models that we tested are the Patagonia Quandary and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0. Both offer little in the way of conversions and can't handle varied conditions quite as well. And while the Arc'teryx Gamma LT brings some versatility in wet and cold environments to the table, it isn't so great for warm to hot weather. Since most people get after it in pleasant, warm temperatures, it is hard for us to call the Gamma very versatile, despite being great within its intended use.

Durability


Hiking in the mountains, woods, and deserts can be notoriously hard on your gear, from your footwear to your backpack, and everything in between. And with the price of everything adding up, we'd like to buy the pair of hiking pants that will last a long time without blowing out in the rear or falling apart at the seams.


When purchasing a pair of hiking pants with durability as your main criteria, look for models that feature "ripstop" or "abrasion resistant" materials. Ripstop fabric has a reinforcing pattern that stops holes from running through it lengthwise should a tear occur. Abrasion-resistant fabrics resist wearing from rubbing together, scraping against nature, or supporting your backpack swishing in the same spot for hundreds of miles. This property keeps the fabric from pilling and wearing away in areas like the knees, inner thigh, and seat. Unfortunately, abrasion-resistant fabrics often tend to be stiffer and not quite as comfortable.

Ripstop nylon resists snags  and while it won't necessarily stop holes from happening (if you stab this material with a sharp knife it'll still make a hole)  it will help prevent them from spreading.
Ripstop nylon resists snags, and while it won't necessarily stop holes from happening (if you stab this material with a sharp knife it'll still make a hole), it will help prevent them from spreading.

To evaluate the durability of each pair, we wore them for several months in harsh desert terrain while hiking, scrambling, and rock climbing. We snapped and unsnapped buttons repeatedly and carefully examined all the components of the different models. We machine-washed and dried them. We also pulled out hiking pants from our closets to see how they were faring after several years of use. The model that impressed us the most from a durability standpoint is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. We wore them for five days in the desert, climbing on sandstone, scooting on our bums as we scrambled, and even got stuck in a rough granite off-width climb. To our surprise, the pants looked good as new even after all that.

The main durability issue we experienced with the other models was some pilling on the inner legs and knees, specifically in the Prana Halle, Mountain Hardwear Dynama, and Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch, as well as some snags on the softer pants like The North Face Aphrodite 2.0. Somewhat surprisingly, one of our testers has worn the Patagonia Pack Out tights for years without any pilling or significant wear at all.

We took each pant out for a day on the rock to test for extreme mobility and durability.
We took each pant out for a day on the rock to test for extreme mobility and durability.

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance is another important point to think about when buying a pair of hiking pants, as you will most likely be using them out in the elements. Our legs tend to be an afterthought when it comes to protecting our body from the wind and rain, but we can personally attest to the fact that you will be very miserable if your legs are cold and soaking wet even if your rain jacket is keeping your core and head dry. The three elements to consider for weather resistance are rain, wind, and sun exposure.


The most immediate element we think of when it comes to weather is the rain. It can turn a lovely hike into a nightmare and leave you a decidedly unhappy camper. And while it's easy to whip a rain jacket out of the lid of your pack and put it on, finagling a pair of rain pants on in a hurry is no easy feat. That's why we prefer heading out in hiking pants that provide adequate water resistance, as you can continue hiking in them in a light to medium drizzle.

Water resistance is provided both by the materials used and an additional durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the fabric. By nature, nylon and polyester fabrics are hydrophobic (repel water), whereas cotton is hydrophilic (attracts water). That's why manufacturers typically do not use any cotton in their hiking pants, and while we liked the durability and comfort of the cotton-blend Kuhl Spire Roll Up, they are not at all water-resistant. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT and REI Co-op Sahara are very water-resistant, both repelling water and taking a lot of friction and time to saturate through. These models have a DWR coating, but so do the Prana Halle and Patagonia Quandary, and those don't repel water nearly as well.

The combination of a hydrophic material and added DWR coating makes water bead up and roll right off the Arc'teryx Gamma LT.
The combination of a hydrophic material and added DWR coating makes water bead up and roll right off the Arc'teryx Gamma LT.

Another consideration when it comes to water is drying time. When you get wet on the first day of a week-long backpacking trip and only have one pair of pants with you, you'll be happy if yours are quick-drying. The Saturday Trail Stretch, Sahara, and Sabria fit the bill for this criteria, drying out in the full sun in around 20 minutes, which is twice as fast as the Kuhl Spire Roll-Up and Arc'teryx Gamma LT, the latter of which feature a "softshell" style fabric. While those pairs resist water well, once they eventually do wet out, the soft material takes a little longer to dry. When it comes to the wind, protecting our legs on a blustery day did not feel as crucial as our core, but is still nice nonetheless. Models with more structured fabric, like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT, did a better job of blocking the wind than the lightweight Mountain Hardwear Dynama and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0.

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT has great weather resistance and can be used for a variety of colder weather activities  like spring skiing and hiking in wet weather.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT has great weather resistance and can be used for a variety of colder weather activities, like spring skiing and hiking in wet weather.

Finally, what people often overlook when it comes to pants is sun exposure. We worry about our shoulders and noses but easily skip over our legs when applying sunscreen. However, it is just as essential to protect them from harmful radiation, and wearing clothing that blocks those rays means we can limit the amount of sunscreen we need to use, which is helpful when backpacking for days on end without a shower to get all that cream off. You'll see clothing these days with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, which is similar to the SPF rating used in sunscreens. A UPF 50 fabric will block most UV rays falling on it, allowing only 1/50th of the radiation to pass through. While all clothing will block some rays, typical summer fabrics have a UPF of only 6, so picking a designated UPF 50 pair of pants or t-shirt will provide much more protection. This choice is particularly important when spending time on the water, or snowfields at elevation. Most of the pairs in this review are protective and rated as UPF 50.

The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch have a UPF 50+ rating  protecting our legs from sun exposure and limiting the amount of sunscreen we need to apply.
The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch have a UPF 50+ rating, protecting our legs from sun exposure and limiting the amount of sunscreen we need to apply.

Features


With a lot of hiking pants sharing similar styling, materials, or water resistance, sometimes it's the little features that can make or break the overall functionality (and help you decide whether or not you want to purchase a certain pair). Some features, like zip-off legs, are convenient, and yet there are many hikers out there who would never touch a pair with a ten-foot tent pole! Then there are other features that most people can agree upon, like useful pockets and ways of tightening the waistband.


When it comes to the zip-off models, we can get all of the legs off over hiking shoes, but they are too narrow to fit over hiking boots. Part of why convertible options are useful is the ability to change into shorts quickly, but if you have to take your boots off, it slows the whole process down, and at that point, you may as well whip on a separate pair of shorts or a skort. The only pants in our review that can convert with boots on are the REI Co-op Saharas. We do appreciate the color-coded zippers on most convertible pairs, including the Sahara. It can be a bit of a hassle to get the legs back on a convertible pair, particularly if you can't tell which pant leg goes on which side. By making the right side zippers one color and the left side another, you'll never make that mistake again.

It's all about the little things and the Saharas have two distinct zipper colors so pants are easy to convert from shorts back to pants mode.
It's all about the little things and the Saharas have two distinct zipper colors so pants are easy to convert from shorts back to pants mode.

Another critical feature is usable pockets. The Patagonia Pack Out has the most effective pockets in this test group. It's no surprise our Top Pick for Comfort provides cozy carrying. Our tester has a plus-sized iPhone that fits right in, held snuggly and comfortably while running and hiking.

Some models, like the, Prana Halle, and Patagonia Quandary, have shallow, practically useless hand pockets that don't hold much and gape open when squatting down. Sometimes it's nice to walk with your hands in your front pockets, and not have to worry about losing whatever you put in them. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Mountain Hardwear Dynama have deep front pockets that can actually fit your whole hand on chilly mornings.

Although the zippered side pocket of the Ferrosis won't hold a smartphone  but our phone feels secure in the extremely deep waist pockets.
Although the zippered side pocket of the Ferrosis won't hold a smartphone, but our phone feels secure in the extremely deep waist pockets.

In addition to front pockets, having another place to secure items that you want to have readily accessible is a great feature. Most of the models in this review have a side pocket, but some are a little small, whereas others, like on the Patagonia Quandary, are large enough to accommodate a phone or energy bar.

We found the side stash pocket of the Lobos to be too small to be very useful beyond holding lip balm.
Deep side pockets are a great feature for keeping your phone or camera close at hand.

A final welcomed feature is an internal drawstring. Belts can feel bulky and uncomfortable while hiking, particularly under a backpack's hip belt. Being able to tighten the waist without one is a great option, and many of the models in this review have one.

An inner drawstring helps with fit adjustments and means you don't have to wear a belt  which is much preferred when also wearing a harness or hipbelt.
An inner drawstring helps with fit adjustments and means you don't have to wear a belt, which is much preferred when also wearing a harness or hipbelt.

Breathability


Breathability is an important thing to consider in all of your outdoor gear, and we evaluate most of the apparel that we test here at OutdoorGearLab in this metric. When you are active, your body generates heat, which in turn leads you to sweat to cool back down. That moisture can be annoying if it gets stuck in your clothing, and even potentially dangerous in certain environments. While your body might not sweat as much from the lower half as the upper, good ventilation is still key to preventing discomfort and overheating on the trails. It's particularly important for thru-hikers, who can have issues with "crotch rot" if their pants don't ventilate well, and they're wearing the same pair for weeks on end.


Hiking pants achieve breathability both through the types of materials used and the secondary features that can improve airflow. We spent a lot of time hiking in these pants in hot desert conditions, and the models that kept us cooler from a pure material perspective were, unfortunately, some of the ones that offered the least weather resistance. There seems to be a trade-off between the tighter weave fabrics that repel water, and the more open, cooler weaves that let air and water right through. For example, the Mountain Hardwear Dynama and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 are some of the most breathable pairs that we tested, but they don't repel water in the least. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is highly breathable and still has excellent water resistance, so keep this pair in mind if you need something for a tropical destination where you might encounter rain and hot weather at the same time.

Hiking in hot weather in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi  one of the most breathable pairs that we tested.
Hiking in hot weather in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, one of the most breathable pairs that we tested.

Beyond the materials used, the other features that can help keep you cooler are both the roll-up and zip-off options. Merely exposing the bottoms of your calves does wonders for improving airflow, both to your legs and your feet. Besides just removing the legs, you can also unzip them partway to provide additional airflow. This feature makes a slightly heavier pair more breathable than they otherwise would have been. The mesh-lined pockets on the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch also help with breathability.

We love the Ferrosi in the desert since they breathe well  add extra durable  but keep the cold desert winds at bay.
We love the Ferrosi in the desert since they breathe well, add extra durable, but keep the cold desert winds at bay.

Conclusion


We put a lot of miles, energy, and wear and tear on our joints to bring you the best women's hiking pants. We hope our side-by-side tests and thorough analysis help you in your decision-making process and that you've found a good option for you whatever your hiking objectives may be.


Kathleen Sheehan, Cam McKenzie Ring & Meg Atteberry