Whether you’re a beginner hiker, just getting used to terms like “elevation gain” and “base weight,” or an intermediate hiker who already knows all the ropes, a pair of hiking pants can make or break your hike.
With women’s hiking pants, you might feel like you need to sacrifice aspects like comfort and durability for style. Take it from me, and don’t settle on a pair of hiking pants you’re not 100% sold on.
The top 5 women's hiking pants we recommend for 2021:
A great hiking pant can revitalize your hike, so why settle for something you don’t like? What works for me is figuring out what exactly I want in a women’s hiking pant. So if it’s a relaxed fit, I’ll prioritize that above other things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pick and choose assets.
To find my favorite hiking pants, I tried a few different variants, brands, and styles to determine what features I appreciate most. In my case, I tend to like a relaxed fit and waistband, so my movement isn’t constricted, and I also enjoy hiking pants that are “weather-proof” and offer protection from the sun and rain.
It’s a good idea to check and see what the pant’s fabric is made out of. Is it nylon? Polyester? This can have an impact on whether or not the pant is machine washable. I tend to prefer hiking pants that can be thrown in the washer with the rest of my laundry as it’s more convenient for me.
Although it depends on your personal preferences, I’ve identified a few advantages and disadvantages of women’s hiking pants that I often notice when looking for a new pair.
I love a hiking pant that has a relaxed or looser fit, so I can move more easily while I hike. A mid-rise pant is usually perfect for me; I’m not a huge fan of low-rise hiking pants.
Similarly, I also look for hiking pants that are made of more lightweight material. If you’ve ever made the mistake of hiking in a heavier material like denim jeans, you know that water weighs down the material significantly, and let’s face it: it’s just plain uncomfortable. You won’t have to worry about that with pants made of lightweight material.
I’m no stranger to hiking, and as such, I don’t like to settle for baggy hiking pants that aren’t flattering on my body type. Fashion or style is a priority to me, and a nice trouser-style pant is my favorite.
If you like to hike in all types of weather and climates, you might also consider “weather-proof” pants as an advantage. Hiking pants that have either an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of at least 50 or a durable water repellent (DWR) coating helps to keep the rain at bay (or both).
Many hikers prefer to have pants that can “transform” from long pants to shorter, capris pants. Not only does this feature help you get more wear out of your hiking pants, but is also a great option when hiking in warmer climates.
Thin or straight leg pants can be a disadvantage as the cut of the pants can limit your movement when hiking.
If you’re like most outdoor enthusiasts, you might want to avoid hiking pants that don’t provide adequate pockets. If you’ve ever tried to fit something as small as your key in a tiny “fake” pocket, you’ll understand the value a couple of regular pockets offer.
Of course, like many other items of clothing, it can also be challenging to find a good fit, and women’s hiking pants are no exception. As someone who’s bought her fair share of hiking pants, it does take a bit of trial and error sometimes, which can be frustrating.
With all that to take into consideration, here are my recommendations for the best women’s hiking pants, including where they exceed and where they might fall flat.
The Halle pant is made out of PrAna’s stretch “Zion” performance fabric, and thanks to its abrasion- and water-resistant material, you can hike without worrying about the fabric ripping or getting weighed down if it gets wet.
The trouser, mid-rise style, which is available in more than 15 colors, looks dressier than some of the more “rugged” looking hiking pants, which makes them a versatile option for your wardrobe.
Like to roll up your pant legs? The Halle pant’s roll-up leg feature allows you to roll up the pants until they’re about knee length.
It has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+, which means that even when you’re hiking on a hot, sunny day, the fabric should keep you cool and dry.
As far as outdoor apparel goes, Camii Mia offers hiking pants that aren’t baggy or loose, but entirely flattering. As someone who gets sick of women’s hiking pants that sag near the waist, this pant from Camii Mia was a breath of fresh air.
Another thing I adore about Camii Mia’s hiking pants for women is just how versatile they are. Even though I love hiking, I also enjoy other adventurous outdoor activities.
This particular style also has a multitude of pockets, which I love. I can fit my knife, my cell phone, matches, and insect repellent within the pockets of this women’s hiking pant from Camii Mia.
Because I love a more relaxed fit, the Women’s Dynama Pant from Mountain Hardwear stood out to me. My favorite part about these pants is the lightweight, flexible material they’re made out of.
The stretchy waistband is flexible enough that I get the relaxed fit I’m looking for, but not so much so that the pants are hanging off my waist. This style also comes in a large variety of colors.
The pants have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, which prevents light rain or mist from totally soaking your pants. As far as sun protection, this brand and style have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50.
Something important to me — especially as an avid hiker and adventurer — is the warranty. Mountain Hardwear offers a limited lifetime warranty, which covers imperfections in the materials and the quality.
Little Donkey Andy’s hiking pants are incredibly comfortable and not just for the first 20 minutes of your hike; they’re comfortable all day. I loved the fabric because it gave me a full range of motion, unlike other, more restrictive hiking pants I’ve worn. It’s a blend of polyester and spandex.
The pants have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+ to protect you from the sun, and they’re pretty lightweight, so I didn’t feel too weighed down as I hiked. Because the fabric is so light, it dries pretty quickly if you get caught in the rain while exploring.
Now for the convertible part. I’ve hiked in pretty temperamental climates before. So, in other words, when I began my hike, it was pretty cold. As the hours went on, the temperature spiked, leaving me a sweating mess. I definitely could’ve used these pants to avoid that, thanks to their zip-off capabilities. These long pants can transform into shorts that will fall just above the knee, which I appreciate.
Based on my experience with these women’s hiking pants, Columbia knows how to make a resourceful pant without sacrificing the other aspects I love: comfort, style, and durability.
Some of the other features I love include the Omni-Shield and Omni-Shade protections. The Omni-Shade refers to the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 to defend against those harmful UV rays. The Omni-Shield, on the other hand, refers to the water and stain repellent that ensures the pants keep you both dry and cool.
If you’ve ever sweated your way through a long or particularly taxing hike as I have, you’ll know how nice it is to have a pant that doesn’t lock in heat or sweat.
The Women’s Dry, Convertible Hiking Pants from Little Donkey Andy is my favorite pick for best women’s hiking pants.
These hiking pants are not only very comfortable but have plenty of pockets, which many women’s pants lack. Because they’re so adaptable, I can wear these if I’m hiking in colder conditions or warmer conditions, so I have more control over where I can comfortably hike.
These pants from Little Donkey Andy checked off my most important boxes and ultimately allowed me to keep doing what I love: exploring the outdoors.
If you’re looking for a dressier looking pair of hiking pants that are comfortable and versatile, the Halle Pant from PrAna is my top recommendation.