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Over the last decade, we've bought and tested over 45 women's hiking pants to find the best fit for you. This review covers 13 of the top options on the market today. Our test team researches options ranging from softshells, convertible pants, and hiking tights before buying the top tier to test side-by-side. We hike hundreds of miles and scramble up spurs to push the limits of each pair's comfort and mobility. We evaluate how well they breathe on strenuous trails and hot days and how well they protect us from sudden showers and scorching sunshine. We also wear them to climb, travel and socialize. No matter what type of adventure you like, we've found hiking pants that can hang.
The newly updated Outdoor Research Ferrosi hiking pants are soft and comfy, with a UPF 50+ rating to protect you from UV rays and enough water resistance to shake off a splash or two. They have a relatively flattering fit and practical details like a mid-rise waist, fleece-lined band, and integrated drawstring that work well under a pack’s waist strap. The stretchy fabric shadows your every move and the pockets are more functional than ever, now including a zippered thigh pocket that’s large enough for a smartphone. The light fabric rolls easily to let you cool off on hot days and elastic bands let you cinch the hems around your ankle for unfettered footwork. If you overheat easily, there is also a convertible version with mid-thigh zips that create Bermuda-length shorts for extra hot hiking days. The mid-thigh zippers on the Ferrosi Convertible limit stretch in the thighs though, and most of our testers would rather roll up the regular Ferrosi pants than unzip the convertible version.
The updated Ferrosi pants are made of entirely new fabric than the previous version we tested. It’s now much softer and stretchier but doesn’t seem to breathe as well or dry as quickly as before. That’s a hard trade-off to make, as we loved the technical chops of the original version. The pants still have a trim cut through the thighs and, if you size up, can gap at the waist. The waist tie solves the problem, but the resulting fit can be less flattering depending on your build. Despite a few disappointing features, these pants are still our favorites. They’re functional, versatile, and ready for a range of outdoor objectives, from water sports to backpacking trips to day hikes.
The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible pants wowed us with their ability to offer excellent performance and handy features at an affordable price. We love the useful zippered pockets and the built-in belt. Some testers also really appreciate the wide-leg cut, which lets you convert the pants to shorts without removing your boots. The material stretches enough to allow for any adventure, from rock climbing to backpacking adventures. They breathe well when it's hot, repel water when it rains, and easily fit a base layer underneath when it's cold. We especially appreciate that these pants come in a wide range of sizes, from petite to plus.
The Sahara pants are beyond comfortable and never feel restrictive, but the generous cut keeps them from passing for anything but athletic wear. Luckily society loves athleisure these days. The waistband button could use some reinforcement, and we'd like to see some cuter color options. Though our review has less expensive options, these pants offer the best cost to performance ratio.
The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pants are another economic option. They stretch well enough to keep up with your every step, breathe well enough to keep you comfortable on hot days and shrug off splashes and quick rain showers. With UPF 50 sun protection, they're also a great option for exposed trails. These pants are available in a wide range of lengths and sizes, so you're likely to find a fit that works for you.
Based on our experience, it may take some trial and error to nail the sizing. These pants are cut for curves and can blouse awkwardly at the hips while hugging the thighs too tightly on straighter body types. They also breathe too well at times and don't block wind effectively. Air moves through the fabric so efficiently that it’s easy to catch a chill, especially on breezy days if you don’t add a layer underneath. The Saturdays are also less durable than many of the other pants we’ve tested, so they don't provide value over time. Still, we appreciate the low price for an adequate pair of hiking pants. With their low sale prices, they'll get you outside and on the trail at a reasonable price.
Leggings make awesome hiking pants. Unfortunately, many of them start to unravel after your first army crawl under a downed tree. The Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights buck the trend with their rugged reinforcements and sturdy but breathable fabric. Despite the marketing claims, we were skeptical that the knee and bum patches would make any sort of sense. Color us converted. They move like tights but are thick and breathable enough to work in a range of temperatures and rugged terrain. They dry quickly, have incredibly useful pockets, and feature a comfy high waist with a drawstring to hold them in place. After six months of wearing them, we can say their durability is top-notch. As in, we accidentally hooked the reinforced knee and a bit of the regular fabric on the spikes of our mountain bike's flat pedals. The only damage sustained consisted of two tiny fabric picks. Impressive.
Fjallraven built these pants for curvy, muscular, and tall bodies. The extra fabric around our calves and ankles isn't a deal killer, but we should have sized down. The thick seams around the patches also feel odd when you first pull these tights on. We always forget about them on the trail, until we sit or kneel. Then we're just grateful. We also love that they're fun. In one of their bright jewel colors with bad-babe black patches, these pants make us feel like low-key superheroes.
The Prana Halle pants match your every move, no matter the terrain or sport. Designed with climbers in mind, they are comfortable under a harness and the strap of a backpack. They're also stylish. We love wearing these casual pants on our bike commute, through the workday, and then to a backyard BBQ or a hike. Their relaxed fit, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and stretch fabric make sure you never feel restricted. An internal drawstring holds the pants up without a belt, and roll-up hems help you across creeks and let you cool your ankles in warm weather.
The Halle fabric has a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, but it only fends off splashes. While their material is breathable, they are heavier than many of the pants we tested. That works well for rock climbing since the material offers more protection but makes them less ideal in hot weather. We also think the rise could be a smidge higher for current fashion trends, which would also work better with a waist strap or harness. That said, we love wearing them to work, climb, brunch, boulder, hike, and bar hop.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT pants are the most weatherproof pair we tested. The softshell material is highly water-resistant and quick to dry. They work nearly as well as a dedicated pair of rain pants. The Gamma LT pants are light enough for spring and fall weather and can handle cooler temps if you size them large enough to fit a base layer underneath. (These can be tricky since they have a trim cut even after we sized up.) We also love the integrated belt and handy zippered hand pockets.
Even though the Gamma LT is light for a softshell pant, they are still heavier and hold in more heat than many other models we tested. They breathe well but are best for milder weather, shoulder seasons, and rainy days. They are also expensive. But, if you need a highly technical pair for alpine conditions or cooler weather hiking, this model is our top recommendation.
We would be remiss if we didn't point out these incredibly comfortable hiking tights. There is little you can't do in the Patagonia Pack Out pants. We wear them to yoga, lounging at camp, napping at home, and under our ski pants. Their fabric is soft, stretchy, and breathes fairly well. They have some brilliantly designed pockets, including one zipped hip pocket and two stretchy thigh pockets that can hold a smartphone, snack, keys, or a small notebook. Though they're stretchy, we wore them for days on end without the waistband sagging. We love the way these tights fit and function.
While these tights are exceptionally comfortable to wear around town and at home, they aren't our favorite for several hiking applications. The Pack Out is thick, making them better suited to cooler weather. And they take a while to dry out when wet. For these reasons, they aren't the best option for deep backcountry adventures. We like them for mild weather and day trips, running errands around town, and relaxing at home. The generous pockets can stretch out a bit over time, but they are so roomy and deep that our belongings still feel secure — unless cartwheels happen. And, sometimes, cartwheels happen. Still, we adore the feel of these pants and enjoy how cozy we feel doing all of our favorite outdoor and indoor activities.
Clark Tate, Cam McKenzie Ring, and Kathleen Sheehan make up our hard-nosed testing team. Clark is a former van lifer who moves from the desert to the mountains to the sea regularly. She hikes, climbs, runs, sea kayaks, and sails and demands that these pants keep up with her along the way. 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 hiking pants styles over the years, keeping her keen eye 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.
The team tested the selected hiking pants for several months in southern Utah's deserts, the borderlands of Arizona, the high alpine of Colorado and California, the low alpine of the Blue Ridge, and in the sea to sky landscape of Downeast Maine's Acadia National Park. Test scenarios spanned climates, temperatures, terrain, and conditions. We pushed these pants to the limit, mountaineering, climbing, scrambling, trail running, and, yes, hiking. For multiple years of continuous testing and trail adventures, we've worn the award winners until they were crusty enough to stand on their own. Then washed them and wore them again. We've also handed them around to our friends to get a handle on fit.
Sorting through the pages (and pages) of a “best women's hiking pants” Google search is overwhelming. We get it. To help you out, we bought the top options and reviewed them here for their comfort, movement, breathability, weather resistance, versatility, and features. Below we break down each metric, why it's important to consider, and which pants stand out from the crowd.
We always want a good return on our gear investments. Expensive options often include snazzy features like zip-off legs, water-resistant material, or more breathable or durable fabrics. The zip-off option alone usually costs 10% to 15% more than traditional pants. Of course, they double as a pair of shorts, which adds a lot of value for some hikers.
Finding a great value for you depends on your needs, but we like the REI Co-Op Sahara pants for their reasonable price point, durability, and reliable performance across the board. The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pants are a reasonable option for light-duty hiking when you’re unlikely to fight your way through brambles or scrape along rock walls. They offer a high value for a pair of lightweight hiking pants that move well. They are less durable than other options, so the value is short-lived if you really get after it.
Look for ripstop or abrasion-resistant fabrics if you want long-lasting hiking pants. We've worn the Patagonia Pack Out and Fjallraven tights for years without any pilling or significant wear.
Comfort and Mobility
Hiking pants must be comfortable and mobile, so this category counts for 30% of the final score. If your pants chafe, pinch, or impede your movement, they will impact your trip and your mood. Fabric stretch, cut, and fit make the biggest difference in terms of comfort and mobility. We give you an idea of which of our body types work with each of these pants, but it's also a good idea to check the measurements of your favorite options.
Plus sizes: Many options we tested are available in plus sizes and variable lengths. The correct sizing and fit maximize comfort, so be sure to look into the sizing options that suit your body before ordering.
The Patagonia Pack Out tights and Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants top the charts in comfort and mobility. Both are incredibly cozy for a wide range of activities, from hiking to climbing. The Pack Out relies mostly on its soft, stretchy material and a wide waistband for its comfort. The Ferrosi makes the most of its infinite stretch fabric and movement-focused construction details, including extra tucks of fabric around the knees and a “cowboy stance” curve in the leg cut. The loose and stretchy North Face Aphrodite 2.0 is a close second tier.
Not far behind is the Prana Halle, which moves every bit as well with its stretch fabric and articulated knees. The waist can stretch out between washings though. It's not a huge issue since the pants have an internal drawstring, but it makes the Halle less comfortable to wear for weeks between washing machine access.
Rise and waistband construction have an outsized effect on comfort. Low-rise pants aren't the best option for hiking. The soft and flowing Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2 pants are a joy to run in, but a low rise and non-gusseted crotch can feel stifling when you’re high stepping or scrambling with a pack on. Most of the pants that score high marks for comfort work well for a range of body types and come in petite to plus sizes. The lower rise of the Dynama 2 doesn’t hit the mark for all of our testers.
Mid-rise options like the Ferrosi are the most common and popular hiking pants. The Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights have a higher rise with a broad waistband that holds the pants comfortably on your hips. Despite their odd-feeling reinforcement patches, the Abisko scores well for comfort due to their accommodating waist, silky fabric, and endless flexibility.
Many pants include a soft lining around the waistband and internal drawstrings, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. We appreciate that the drawstrings let you adjust the waist without worrying about wearing a belt under a backpack. In addition to the Ferrosi, the Halle, the Abisko, the North Face Aphrodite 2.0, the Arc'teryx Sabria, the Patagonia Quandary, and the Vuori Ripstop all have internal waist ties.
Then there is the controversial comfort versus fashion versus function dynamic that arises with convertible hiking pants. Most zip-off hiking pants have a relaxed fit, keeping the zipper away from your leg to improve comfort, like the REI Sahara. They aren't often flattering. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi convertible pants take another approach. They have a more streamlined and flattering cu and rely on super-stretchy fabric to improve comfort and mobility.
Both The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 and Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2 are cozy and flexible pants. The Dynama, in particular, features heavenly soft fabric. While their durability holds them back on bushwhackers or rocky climbs, they're both excellent loungers. We love the Dynama for less abrasive hikes and water-based adventures.
Venting and Breathability
When you hike, you generate heat and sweat. All that moisture can feel clammy when you're hot and give you the chills when you stop moving. Airflow is key to regulating your temperature on the trails and is particularly crucial for thru-hikers. Pants can improve airflow in two ways — by venting air through a physical opening or with breathable fabric that lets air and moisture exit through the material.
Pants that shine in this metric often provide both venting and breathability. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi,REI Sahara, and Columbia Saturday Trail pants are all highly breathable. In addition, the Ferrosi and Saturday Trail pants are easy to roll up to your knees, and the REI model zips off the bottom half to provide the ventilation of shorts. They function to keep you cool and are all excellent choices for peak summer hikes. The Sahara is the only pair of hiking pants we reviewed that let you keep your boots on when you convert them to shorts, a nice bonus if you do this often.
Of the pants that don't convert to shorts, most are made to be rolled up and include snapping tabs or cinches to secure the folded fabric. It's incredible how much a little airflow on your ankles and calves can cool you off. The thicker and less breathable Prana Halle and REI Savanna pants have roll-up hems for hot days. The more breathable Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2 does as well. We like that this option gives us a breeze while keeping our upper calves protected from the sun.
Leggings tend to breathe well, and the two hiking tights we tested are no exception. The Pack Out seems to wick moisture away effectively, but the fabric is pretty thick, keeping us warmer overall. They are best for temperate weather and are often too warm for summer hiking. The Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights also work in cooler temperatures thanks to their thick patches, but the rest of the fabric is much more breathable than the Pack Out tights. They regulate our body temps in a wider range of conditions, and we like them better for warm hikes.
The Mountain Hardwear Dynama and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 are made of incredibly breathable fabrics. They are excellent choices for casual hot weather hikes where you won't risk wearing out their less-than-durable fabrics.
Your legs can be an afterthought when protecting your body from the wind, sun, and rain. They shouldn't be. If your legs are cold, wet, or burnt to a crisp, you'll be miserable even if your rain jacket or sun shirt keeps your core happy. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT repels water and blocks wind better than any other hiking pants we tested. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi doesn't stand up to rain for long but does a good job of cutting the wind and has UPF 50 sun protection. These two pants top the weather-resistant chart.
While you'll need dedicated waterproof pants for a downpour, water-resistant fabrics can get you through a drizzle or buy you time to seek shelter. Many of the hiking pants we tested have water-resistant fabric, a durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the fabric, or both.
Along with the Arc'teryx Gamma LT and Outdoor Research Ferrosi, the REI Co-op Sahara pants also do a stellar job of sloughing off water. However, all of these will saturate eventually in a steady rainstorm. Water beaded briefly on the other pants we tested with DWR coatings but quickly soaked into the fabric. This is the case with the Halle, the Dynama 2, the Aphrodite 2.0, the REI Savanna, and the Patagonia Quandary pants.
You also want to think about how long it takes a pair of pants to dry, especially if they're the only ones you have with you in the backcountry. The Sahara, Arc'teyrx Sabria, Savanna, Dynama 2, and Saturday Trail Stretch dry the fastest. The Ferrosi and Arc'teryx Gamma LT take a bit longer but are still considered quick drying. Thicker pants like the Halle and Vuori take a while. Of the hiking tights, the Abisko is the fastest to dry.
It's nice to keep the wind from cutting right through your pants on a blustery day. Often wind resistance comes at the expense of breathability. Models with more structured fabric, like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT, often do a better job than highly breathable pants like the Saturday Trail Stretch, Mountain Hardwear Dynama, or The North Face Aphrodite 2.0. The Ferrosi pants defy the trend. They block the wind well despite their thin and stretchy fabric.
Then there's the sun. It's easy to slather sunscreen on our shoulders and noses but skip our legs. That's a problem. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common location for melanoma for light-skinned women is the lower leg. If you have darker skin, it's more often found on your palms, the soles of your feet, or under your nails. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your legs too.
Many of the pants in the review have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating of 50 or more, which allows only 1/50th of UV radiation through. While all clothing blocks some rays, many light, and summery fabrics have a UPF of only 6. Of the award-winning pants, only the Pack Out, Abisko, and Gamma LT Softshell do not have a UPF of 50.
For hiking pants, features like functional pockets, internal drawcords, or cinches on the hem can be the difference between like and love. For us, it comes down to the pockets. Functional pockets are finally starting to become standard on women's hiking pants, so we're starting to demand them. This means big demerits for fabric folds barely big enough for a breath mint.
The trail tights in this review have the pocket market cornered. Their compressive nature holds our belonging tight against our legs, keeping them from bouncing around as we walk. While we've been in awe of the generous and perfectly placed Patagonia Pack Out pockets for some time, the Fjallraven Abisko pants take the cupcake here. Both have pockets big enough for any smartphone, but the Abisko includes a cloth cap. It holds our very expensive minicomputer securely, without making us slide our hand past a scratchy zipper. A credit cart waist pocket and a left side spot for a map or bar (both zipped) give us plenty of secure storage options.
The large Pack Out pockets do lose some elasticity over time. They are deep enough to keep your belongings secure regardless (unless you are really into inversions). Other models, like the Prana Halle and the Patagonia Quandary, have shallow hand pockets that don't hold much of anything, including your hands. Both include a zipped thigh pocket that can hold some smaller phone models or a bar.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi has bottomless front pockets that can fit your phone or your hands and a good portion of your forearms. They also made their thigh pocket big enough for a smartphone this year and added a securing zipper. Since the pocket is set off to the side, it’s one of the most comfortable ways to secure a smartphone.
The REI Savanna sports pockets with an extra fabric fold to hold bulkier items. The Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2's front pockets won't secure much of anything, but they're pretty perfect for your hands. That human-first functionality is enough of a throwback to make us smile.
The other important feature to consider is an internal drawstring. It's common for your weight to fluctuate while backpacking, traveling, or being a woman. While most of the pants include belt loops, actual belts can be uncomfortable to hike in and rarely work well under a hip strap or climbing harness. An internal drawstring lets you keep your pants in place as they stretch out or your body shifts. Most hiking pants include them. Of the award winners and most notable options, only the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch and Patagonia Pack Out tights do not. The Pack Out tights are tight enough not to need one.
Hem cinches are becoming more popular, keeping your hems out of the way in wet weather or when foot placements are particularly important on technical terrain. The Ferrosi pants, the Savanna, and the Dynama 2 all let you snug your hems in. All three feature thin elastic bands and lightweight, easy-to-adjust clasps or cinches.
We consider how versatile these pants are on the trail and how versatile they are in your life. For a multi-day backcountry trip or even a long day hike, you want pants that can handle shifting weather conditions. Technical fabrics and zip-off or roll-up hems help you move from a cool trailhead to a hot hike to a cold and windy summit. For after-work walks, bouldering missions, or international trips that will involve a trail or two, there are other factors to consider, like the style. We break down the considerations below.
The most trail-versatile model is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. They resist light splashes of water and stains, fight off the wind, breath fairly well, and are easy to roll up to your knees. The zip-off version can also convert to a Bermuda-length short. We feel confident heading off into the backcountry, knowing that these pants can handle it. We especially appreciate their trail versatility on multi-day ventures, where we really need our pants to handle varying conditions. These pants also resist stretching out after multiple days of use, which we can't say of many of the other options tested.
The REI Sahara convertible pants also zip off, shed water quickly, and breathe very well, but they get chilly fast in a stiff breeze.
For lifestyle versatility, the Prana Halle earns top marks, offering endless stretch, reasonable breathability, and slightly thicker fabric that provides more protection. And they look good. We wear these pants to our casual offices and to get drinks with the gang. It's a perfect active travel option. The Halle also has a tab that holds the hem roll and allows for more airflow. They are also more comfortable under a climbing harness, making them a favorite for climbing days.
We also like the Patagonia Pack Out tights for days that head from yoga to work to the trail. While the Arc'teryx Gamma LT handles a range of wet and cold environments, it's not so great in warm weather. Since most people hike in pleasant temperatures, we don't consider the Gamma very versatile.
We put a lot of miles, energy, and wear and tear on our joints to bring you this list of the best women's hiking pants. We hope our side-by-side tests and thorough analysis help you find the perfect option to conquer your adventure plans with confidence and in style.
Clark Tate, Kathleen Sheehan, & Cam McKenzie Ring
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