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Over the last decade, we've bought and tested over 50 women's hiking pants to find the best fit for you. This review covers 14 of the top options on the market today. Our test team researches options ranging from typical hikers to softshells to 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.
Editor's Note: We updated this review on October 31, 2022, removing one discontinued pair of hiking pants and ensuring that we still stick by our award choices. We also included more information on our testing metrics.
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 offer excellent performance and handy features at an affordable price. We love the handy pockets and the built-in waist tie. But the standout feature of these pants is that the lower half of the legs detach and they have a zipper down the side that lets you convert them without removing your boots. The material stretches enough to allow for any outing, from rock climbing to backpacking. And they proved to be quite durable during our test period. 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 thin fabric and zip-off legs are wonderful on warm hikes. But when the weather is cold or the wind picks up, these pants don't do much to hold back the chill. When it's hot out, these pants are hard to beat. Though our review has less expensive options, the Saharas 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.
We find ourselves pulling on the Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up pants for casual activities – drinks with friends, casual work days, cookouts – than any other pants in the test. That's partially due to their impressive fit. Multiple panel construction makes room for curves while nipping in at the waist. The result just works. Incredibly soft fabric with a DWR finish to protect from light rain and slashes and50+ UPF to keep the sun off don't hurt. They also dry quickly. Though they breathe quite well, these pants are thicker than many we tested. That means they aren't ideal for the hottest hiking conditions, but it also means they are more comfortable for daily life, where you're likely to enter a way-too-chilly airconditioned space at some point in the day. And yes, we love them for hiking too.
Though they do breathe and roll up to shed heat, these aren't the best pants in the test for sweltering weather. And, since they are on the thick side, the wind doesn't cut right through them, but they do block less wind than the highest technical performers in the test. The rise is lower in the front than the back, this is great for comfort but odd under a backpack strap. And there is no secure pocket large enough to hold your cell phone, so you'll have to keep track of it on your own. Though not the most technical pants in the test, these are the pants that take us from town to the trail.
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 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.
After ample research into the market, we selected 14 pairs of women's hiking pants for testing. Our team tested these 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.
Our women's hiking pants testing is divided across five rating metrics:
Comfort and Mobility (35% of total score weighting)
Venting and Breathability (20% weighting)
Weather Resistance (15% weighting)
Features (15% weighting)
Versatility (15% weighting)
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 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.
Analysis and Test Results
Sorting through the pages (and pages) of a "best women's hiking pants" Google search is overwhelming. We get it. To help you find the best pants, 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. And they are zip-off pants. So the fact that their price is in line with non-zip options really showcases their value.
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.
We also think the top-performing Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants provide a lot of value. If you want the best of the best, they aren't that much more expensive than some of our budget options. The Kuhl Freeflex pants cost about the same and feature an incredibly comfortable and fairly fashionable cut and durable seeming construction. We find ourselves wearing these often and think you'll get a great cost-per-wear value.
Also, take note of the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants. They have some of the best waterproofing and top-tier technical features in the test. We find their fit a little too tricky to give them top honors, but they offer excellent value, especially if they work better for your body type.
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, Outdoor Research Ferrosi, and Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants pants top the charts in comfort and mobility. All are incredibly cozy for a wide range of activities, from hiking to climbing. The Pack Out relies on its soft, stretchy material and a wide waistband for its comfort. The Ferrosi and Kuhl pants make the most of their infinite stretch fabric and movement-focused construction details.
The Ferrosi incudes extra tucks of fabric around the knees and a "cowboy stance" curve in the leg cut. The Khuls have a multi-panel construction with a mid-rise in front and high-rise in the back to make the pants pop in 3D. The loose and stretchy North Face Aphrodite 2.0 is another excellent option for comfort.
Not far behind is the Prana Halle II, which moves every bit as well with its stretch fabric and articulated knees. The mid-rise waist stays put, and an internal drawstring helps you adjust to any shifts in weight. The cut just didn't work quite as seamlessly for our testers as the most comfortable models.
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 II, the Khul, REI Sahara, the Abisko, the North Face Aphrodite 2.0, 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, but the Sahara, while obviously a hiking pant, looks pretty nice on.
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,Columbia Saturday Trail, and Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2 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. The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants are also impressively breathable but include no way to hold a roll in the hem, so they make it a bit harder to ventilate your legs.
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 Prana Halle II pants give you this option, they are also quite lightweight and breathable without the roll.
The thicker and less breathable REI Savanna and Khul Freeflex pants have roll-up hems for hot days. The more breathable Mountain Hardwear Dynama 2 does as well. We like that these options give 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 2 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. 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.
Longchain PFAs, or per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, are toxic forever chemicals that never break down in your body or the environment. They were used to create water-resistant DWR finishes for years. The outdoor industry is working to create alternatives that are less dangerous. One popular alternative is C6 DWR, which employs shorter-chain Fluorocabons and breaks down a little faster than, well, never. There doesn't seem to be evidence that it's harmless, companies just think it may be less harmful than PFAs. The European Union had a plan in 2020 to ban its use.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT repels water and blocks wind better than any other hiking pants we tested. The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro and Outdoor Research Ferrosi are two more great options. Both do a good job of cutting the wind and offer UPF 50 sun protection. While neither is waterproof, both feature DWR coatings that help light rain and splashes run off the fabric. The Guide Pro pants held off water for an impressive 10 to 15 seconds before it started to soak through. And they are one of the fastest to dry in the test. These pants top the weather-resistant chart.
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 II, Freeflex,Dynama 2, Aphrodite 2.0, REI Savanna, and 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, Guide Pro, 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. (The felt liner on the Ferrosi's waistband holds water longer than we'd like.) The Halle II 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 2, or The North Face Aphrodite 2.0. The Ferrosi and Guide Pro 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 belongings 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 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 and Prana Halle II pants pockets can fit your phone or your hands. They also made their thigh pocket big enough for a smartphone and both have a securing zipper. Since the pockets are set off to the side, it's one of the most comfortable ways to secure a smartphone. The REI Sahara pants are basically cargo pants, all the pockets work well.
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. A 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 the Ferrosi's 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 Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants are a close second place on versatile adventure gear. They block wind and breathe as well as the Ferrosi pants, and actually dry faster and do a better job of holding back the rain. They don't fit as well though and have no internal drawstring to keep them fitting well on a longer adventure. We love them for hikes with water crossings or rain warnings.
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 Kuhl Free Flex earns top marks, endless mobility, a killer cut, reasonable breathability, and a slightly thicker and more structured fabric that provides more protection day-to-day. 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 previous versions of the Prana Halle used to be our top lifestyle and rock climbing pick. The redesigned Halle II pants are still excellent at moving from town to trail, but we find them a bit little less stylish than the originals. We're also a little worried about their durability as our pair has a series of picks that we can't account for. On the upside, their new higher rise is also more comfortable under a climbing harness than ever.
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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