Are you looking for the best women’s hiking pants? Women’s clothes for hiking come in so many different variants, materials, and styles that I can understand if you feel overwhelmed and do not know which hiking pants qualify as the best hiking pants.
But don’t worry! I am going to make that decision easier for you. After years of trying out different hiking gear for women, I now know exactly what to look for in hiking pants.
In this post, I will share all the information that I have gathered with you on this topic, including what to consider when buying hiking pants, women-specific hiking pants review and whether you should opt for hiking leggings instead of hiking pants.
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My Top Pick – The Best Hiking Pants for Women
Read the detailed review below to know more.
Quick Overview – Best Women’s Hiking Pants
If you do not have the time to read through the detailed reviews below, here are my top recommendations of what I think are good hiking pants for specific requirements –
- Best hiking pants for women (OVERALL) – The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants and Kuhl Horizn Skinny
- Best women’s LIGHTWEIGHT travel pants – Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle Pants
- Best WINTER hiking pants or best rain pants for hiking – Arc’teryx Gamma LT
- Best 3-SEASON hiking pants – MEC Terrena Stretch Pants
- Best POLYESTER hiking pants – Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Trousers
Comparison Table – Best Pants for Hiking (Women’s)
Here’s a table with all the best pants for women compared based on some core criteria. You can refer to it to figure out which of these pants work best for your needs. To understand more about how to choose the right hiking pants, check my handy buying guide below.
|Name||The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants||Patagonia Quandary Pants||Arc’teryx Palisade||Arc’teryx Gamma LT||Kuhl Horizn Skinny|
|Material||95% nylon, 5% elastane||96% nylon, 4% spandex||94% nylon, 6% spandex||88% nylon, 12% elastane||56% premium stretch polyester, 44% non-stretch polyester|
|Weight||8 oz||10 oz||9.2 oz||11 oz||Unavailable|
|Water-resistance or quick-drying technology||Flash Dry HD||DWR||TerraTex||Fortius Fabric||DWR|
|Pockets||2 side pockets and 1 zippered pockets||2 hand, 2 back, 1 cargo||2 hand pockets and 2 zip cargo pockets||2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zippered thigh pocket||2 zippered thigh pockets|
|Convertible||Roll up using ankle drawstrings||No||No||No||No|
|Name||Prana Halle Pants||MEC Terrena Stretch Pants||Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Trousers||Mountain Hardwear Dynama / 2 Ankle Pants||Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants|
|Material||97% nylon, 3% spandex||96% nylon, 4% spandex||65% polyester, 35% cotton||96% nylon, 4% elastane||86% ripstop nylon, 14% spandex|
|Weight||12.2 oz||Unavailable||10 oz||5 oz||9.5 oz|
|Water-resistance or quick-drying technology||DWR||DWR||–||DWR||–|
|Pockets||Hand pockets, back patch pockets and stash pocket||2 front slash, 2 back zippered, 1 side zippered||1 zippered and 1 buttoned pocket||2 deep hand pockets and 1 low-profile zippered pockets||2 hip pockets, 1 cargo pocket|
|Convertible||Roll up leg snaps||Yes to capris||No||No||Roll up using ankle drawstrings|
Hiking Leggings vs. Hiking Pants
So many women wonder if they should opt for hiking leggings or hiking pants.
As I have stated in my detailed guide on hiking clothing, the answer to that depends on the type of hike you are heading out on. Day hikes can be easily managed in a good pair of hiking leggings.
Read this post on the best women’s leggings for hiking here.
However, finding a good pair of warm leggings for hiking or waterproof hiking leggings is quite difficult. Plus, the skin-hugging fit of leggings makes them a bit uncomfortable to wear on longer multi-day hikes or thru-hikes.
Therefore, unless you only head out on casual day hikes, investing in a pair of great hiking pants is absolutely non-negotiable.
Read Next: 9 Best Women’s Leggings for Hiking in 2020
Best Women’s Hiking Pants – Detailed Reviews
Material: 95% Nylon, 5% Elastane
The North Face women’s hiking pants are one of my favorite pants in this entire list for the brilliant comfort and functionality that they come with. First of all, the fabric used is a premium quality fabric that looks rich and durable. The nylon and elastane mix also provides excellent mobility and stretch.
Plus, the Flash Dry engineering allows these pants to dry off quickly and feel lightweight even on wet hikes. This technology is considerably better than most other quick-dry solutions offered by other hiking pants.
These pants come with a drawcord both at the waist and the ankle to allow a custom-fit. The ankle drawcords also double up as length adjusters.
Additionally, the pants have two well-placed non-interfering pockets for quick slip-ins and zippered pockets for more secure storage.
No stone has been left unturned in the design of these North Face hiking pants. Women’s comfort, end-use, functionality, and durability requirements are all taken care of at a relatively moderate price tag.
- Quick-dry engineering
- Come with waist and ankle drawcords
- Offer great value for money
Material: 96% Nylon, 4% spandex
There’s a ton of hype around the Patagonia Quandary Pants and these are definitely one of the most popular women’s hiking pants. The use of nylon with a small amount of Spandex makes them feel soft on the skin, and the freedom of mobility is ensured thanks to the gusseted crotch and articulated knee.
Plus, even though these hiking pants come with both zippered and drop-in pockets, their convenient side placement does not impede leg lifts. These pants are also coated with DWR (durable water repellent), making them perfect 3-season water-resistant hiking pants.
However, the inner drawstring of these pants does little in terms of providing a better fit for straight-sized women but could help women with slimmer waistlines and broader hips. The hidden drawstrings also do not cut into the skin when cinched, thus ensuring overall comfort.
- Comfortable with articulated knees and gusseted crotch
- Come with inner drawstring
- A bit expensive for what you get
- Sizing isn’t great if you have big thighs
Material: 94% Nylon, 6% Elastane
These high-end hiking pants feel soft on the skin, and the fit ensures no chafing. The gusseted crotch and the articulated knees make movement easy without adding much weight. These hiking pants even feature two zippered pockets and two regular pockets while still making them feel lightweight.
By far my favourite feature is the waistband. The pants have a piece of webbing sewed into the waistband (which is more comfortable than a drawstring) and have a clasp that is super quick to close and open. All this makes it easy to adjust the waist band to exactly what you need. (Click here for a close up of the waistband).
One downside, however, is the Terratex fabric coupled with a laminated hem – it dries quickly but does little to add durability and abrasion resistance. Overall, the Arc’teryx Palisade are most suitable for use as non-convertible summer hiking pants but wouldn’t be great at surviving cold conditions (go with the similar Gamma LT for winter hiking pants).
- Comfortable and soft on the skin
- Comes with two hand pockets and two zippered pockets
- Dry quickly
- Come with a waistband for better adjustment
- Not too durable
Material: 88% Nylon, 12% Elastane
The Gamma LT hiking pants are a great investment for those looking for the best hiking rain pants. I love these pants. They are now my go-to for cold weather hiking.
These pants provide excellent water and wind resistance using their in-built Fortius engineering, making them an ideal option for cold conditions as well. With a 12% elastane, the fabric feels stretchy and sits tight on the skin, allowing optimal heat retention.
In fact, despite being on the best women’s winter hiking pants, these pants are still super light weight and comfortable. The articulated knees and the gusseted crotch allow full mobility. What’s impressive is the placement of the pockets that does not impede movement despite its depth (perfect for carrying an iPhone).
The Gamma LT have the same waistband as the Arc’teryx Palisade Pants mentioned above, making them super comfortable and very adjustable.
However, these hiking pants will seem like an expensive buy for use as 3-season hiking pants. In summers, their lack of convertibility will make them feel stuffy and uncomfortable.
- Great water and wind-resistance
- Ideal for use in cold conditions
- Stretchy and comfortable, excellent waistband
- Come with sufficient pockets and internal belt
- Not ideal for summers
Material: 56% Premium Stretch Polyester, 44% Non-stretch Polyester
These are the most recent addition to my hiking pants collection, and they are an excellent option for those looking for hiking pants that can easily double up as everyday-wear comfort pants.
My favourite thing about these pants is that they are lightweight and breathable, while still being durable. They’re great for warm weather hiking – you won’t sweat too much in them, but they still offer great protection from bugs and bushes. I also love that they have two zippered thigh pockets (though my phone + case is slightly too big to comfortably fit inside).
Honestly, the only downside of these pants is that they fit a little snug on my thighs. They also come in a straight-leg style that can be converted into shorts. That would be super convenient, but I wanted hiking pants I could also wear during the day, so I didn’t want convertible pants.
- Versatile, super comfortable and lightweight feel
- A little snug on the thighs, so order one size up if you have larger thighs proportional to your hips
Material: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
The Prana Halle Pants impress with their fabric quality. The thick fabric makes these pants durable and abrasion-resistant without impacting their breathability. In fact, the material makes these pants eligible for use as winter hiking pants as well.
These pants also excel at using a traditional trouser cut with zip ply, button closures, and belt loops while introducing several comfort features such as the articulated knees and the wider boot-leg opening.
The pants can also be rolled up to mid-calf levels using a snap button to adjust to varying weather conditions. The trousers are also treated with DWR to add water-resistance to them to sustain in wet and cold conditions.
However, the trousers seem to carry some unnecessary weight on account of the back pockets and the thigh zippered pocket. These pockets also restrict movement in uphill hikes.
- Comfortable and roomy
- Suitable for all body types
- Stylish hiking pants
- Ideal for use in cold conditions
- Can be rolled up using snap buttons
- Pockets compromise on mobility
Material: 96% Nylon, 4% Spandex
The MEC Terrena Stretch Pants are one of the best women’s trousers for hiking. And in my opinion, seriously underrated. These pants can be used as 3-season hiking pants, and their versatility makes them available for alternative uses too.
The pants can be easily rolled up during warm hikes using their inner buttons to a perfect capri-length (see what that looks like here). The DWR coating also makes them abundantly water-resistant, and the nylon-spandex mix allows quick drying as well.
Supposedly, these pants fit exceptionally comfortably on all body types (according to reviews). I was reluctant about pants like this because I have big thighs in relation to my hips, so usually only wear pants with an element of stretch to them (these ones are not so stretchy).
So I had to try a size larger than usual, but there’s an internal drawcord as well as the belt loops, which worked okay.
The added fabric in the gusseted crotch and articulated knees does not add weight and restrict movement.
However, the zippered pockets on the back, when filled with stuff, can make the pants weigh down from the waistline, making them uncomfortable for descents and other adventure activities.
- Excellent 3-season pants
- Convertible into capris
- Come with drawcords and belt loops for adjustments
- Uncomfortable back pockets
- Better suited to slimmer body types (in my opinion)
Material: 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton
These one-of-a-kind hiking pants come in a unique polyester-cotton blend that affords unparalleled comfort. They make for the perfect stretch hiking pants for summers and warm conditions. They are also ideal for use as women’s trail pants, thanks to their articulated knees.
Despite the use of cotton (which you guys know I dislike), these prize-winning pants feel light and airy. These warm-weather trousers are also suitable for use on rough terrains or summer hikes requiring protection against insects (which is important to me ever since the bug apocalypse).
To compensate for these trousers’ length, the ventilation mechanism comes equipped with innovative side zippers that run from the knee to the thigh. The placement of the thigh pockets works seamlessly on all inclinations. However, the button pockets do struggle with providing quick access. These pants have a ton of cool features, so click here if you want to read about even more features.
But unsurprisingly, the trousers struggle to provide optimal moisture-wicking and can feel bulky when wet.
I so wanted to like these pants. I tried them on, they were comfortable and looked great. But I just couldn’t get over the cotton element – it goes against everything I know about dressing for the outdoors. So ultimately, I would never wear these pants on a long hiking trip.
- Perfect for warm conditions
- Come with added ventilation zippers and handy pockets
- Lightweight and airy
- Not suitable for wet and cold seasons
Material: 96% Nylon, 4% Elastane
The Mountain Hardwear Dynama pants take the crown for the best lightweight hiking pants with their weight that’s approximately 5 ounces.
This incredibly lightweight product has been achieved by minimizing the use of zips, buttons, and drawstrings. However, these missing elements do not dilute their functionality. You can read more about the features here.
These hiking pants offer superb comfort and stretch to allow full-movement. Plus, the nylon-elastane mix makes these pants sit softly on the skin and do not cause chafing. The DWR coating also makes them water-resistant and ready for use in wet and moderately cold conditions. The pants also come with handy pockets to make carrying maps and gadgets possible.
Of course, the lack of a drawstring or belt loops means that there is little room for correction if the pants do not fit well. Similarly, an option to roll these lightweight pants up would have added to their functionality.
- Extremely lightweight
- Comfortable and breathable
- Come with handy pockets
- No drawstrings or belt loops for adjusting the fit
- No drawcords to roll up the pants
Material: 86% Ripstop Nylon, 14% Elastane
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants deliver versatility as well as immense comfort while hiking. The unique blend of these ripstop hiking pants makes them exceptionally breathable on warmer hikes. The stretchy fabric makes climbing seem effortless, and that ease of movement is further powered by the roomy articulated knees and gusseted crotch.
The fabric-lined waist drawcord makes these pants feel soft on the waistline even when cinched tight, and the ankle drawcord allows length adjustments as per weather conditions.
The use of ripstop nylon means that these pants form part of the rare hiking clothes for women that can survive sharp twigs and rocks.
However, it is disappointing to see such great functionality being let down by weak water-resistance technology. Besides the inherent moisture-wicking traits of the nylon fabric, the hiking pants do little to protect in wet conditions.
- Super comfortable
- Come with drawcords on the waist and ankle
- Can be rolled up to varying lengths
- Ripstop nylon protects from sharp ends
- Weak water-resistance
- Back pockets add little value addition
Factors to be considered when choosing hiking pants
Nylon and polyester are the main types of fabrics used for making hiking pants. Here’s a quick look into their characteristics –
Nylon is a synthetic fabric that feels soft on the skin, does not absorb much water, and wicks moisture efficiently. It is also extremely durable and suitable for most types of hikes.
Additionally, women’s nylon pants naturally feel stretchier and more comfortable than other non-nylon pants. Women’s leggings, for this very exact reason, also tend to employ nylon.
The next most popular fabric after nylon is polyester. Polyester works better than nylon at drying itself quickly. It absorbs almost no water, wicks moisture off much faster, and is more abrasion-resistant than nylon.
It is often employed for making wet or cold weather hiking pants.
Elastane / Spandex
Elastane or Spandex is used in hiking pants to make them more movable and stretchy. Plus, its moisture-wicking quality only enhances the overall dry feel essential to hiking pants.
Hiking pants are designed to allow ease of movement. However, movability depends on the fit of the hiking pants.
Loose fit hiking pants have more room and make movement more comfortable as opposed to snug-fitting hiking pants. Women’s summer hiking clothes often include a good pair of relaxed fit pants because they tend to be cooler and more breathable.
On the contrary, slim hiking pants that fit well allow less energy-wastage and promote lower body mobility. Women’s winter hiking pants are often made to fit more snug on the body for this reason.
In addition to the cut of the pants, pants that come with articulated knees and gusset allow more freedom of movement to the knees, thighs and hips and improve the comfort factor of hiking pants considerably.
Hiking pants are exposed to most movement on hikes, so buying durable hiking pants is an absolute must. Most nylon or polyester pants are inherently durable and work well in all types of weather conditions. However, for rough hikes, a thicker fabric would bring in more durability.
As a general rule, the more the pants’ weight, the more difficult it is to move around in them and carry them around in your backpack. Conversely, lesser weight means lesser heat. Therefore, while women’s lightweight pants tend to be a great summer hiking option, for winters, it is better to go for pants that come in thicker, slightly heavier fabrics.
The best lightweight hiking pants are Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle Pants.
Other features to consider
Convertible / Roll-up feature
Convertible pants for women are ones that can be converted into shorts whenever required.
Buying convertible hiking pants works as an excellent investment in the sense that it gives you the comfort of shorts and the warmth and protection of pants without having to spend separately on both.
Note that convertibility can also be achieved through roll-up pants. Roll-up pants are pants that can be rolled up to the desired length, thus offering more control to the wearer.
Pockets can add a considerable amount of weight to the pants and make the pants feel quite bulky. Hiking with pants that have multiple pockets can be quite tiring. Therefore, it is best to opt for pants with one or two side pockets enough to store a cell phone and a couple of other items.
The use of polyester or nylon fabric inherently makes pants far more water-resistant than a pair of cotton pants. Plus, some pants are coated with a durable water repellent. This coat does not allow water droplets to penetrate inside the fabric, making the pants excellent for use in light showers or wet conditions without compromising much on the pants’ overall comfort and breathability.
Final Thoughts on Women’s Hiking Pants
While any of the above hiking pants should work perfectly well for you in terms of the return on investment that you get from these, here are some quick recommendations for you –
If you are a casual hiker, I suggest going for a cheaper, more versatile variant like the Columbia Anytime Outdoor Pull-On Pants or a minimal variant like the Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle Pants.
If you are a serious hiker, you should settle for The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants or the more durable Arc’teryx Gamma LT.