Whether you're trekking up snowcapped mountains or across Low Desert valleys, there are a number of qualities you'll want in any pair of hiking pants. The best hiking pants for women will offer superb durability, moisture management, and flexibility.
For durability, you need a tough fabric that's abrasion-resistant. You should be able to walk through thick foliage, snag trees, and muddy embankments without destroying your pants. Fabrics like polyester, nylon, spandex, and elastane are all reliable choices.
As for moisture management, your pants should keep you dry and comfortable all day. Look for fabrics that wick sweat and perspiration, like nylon, polyester, or spandex. You may also want to consider pants that are water-resistant or completely waterproof — especially if you'll be hiking in the rain or crossing creeks and riverbeds.
Lastly, to give you a wide range of motion, the material should include at least a hint of stretchy fabric, like spandex or elastane. Designs with two- or four-way stretch are also great, as this lets the fabric expand more easily.
Beyond these key factors, other things to consider include style and fit. Do you prefer a high waist or low waist? Boot cut or wide-leg? Also, you may want to consider a bonus feature like UPF sun protection (this is a metric that measures how much UV radiation can penetrate a particular fabric).
To help you find the right pair, I've rounded up six of the best hiking pants for women, which boast many of these important features.
1. The Overall Best: A Hiking Pant With Roll-Up Legs
prAna Women's Halle Pant
What's great about them: Perfect for the hiker who likes a loose, relaxed fit, these mid-rise hiking pants feature moisture-wicking, four-way stretch material that's made from UPF 50-plus nylon and a little spandex for extra stretch. With more than 1,150 reviews on Amazon, these popular pants also have a button-close zipper, a secret stash pocket, and versatile roll-up legs. Also, they're fully water-resistant, so they can handle a bit of water without weighing you down.
What fans say: "These pants are amazing. It's taken me a long time to find comfortable, breathable, moisture wicking pants that are good quality. Great mobility in them ... Buying a second pair!"
- Available sizes: 0 to 18
2. Also Great: A Comfortable Plus-Size Pant With Full-Leg Fit
Columbia Women's Plus Size Anytime Outdoor Full Leg Pant
What's great about them: Designed with a comfortable, full-leg fit, these plus-size hiking pants are lightweight, breathable, and moisture-resistant. The two-way stretch provides exceptional range of motion, and they have a convenient drawstring closure. Made with a flexible combination of nylon and elastin, these breezy pants have UPF 50 sun protection and are machine-washable, too.
What fans say: "I LOVE these pants. I bought them for a girl scout camping training because rain was forecasted. I also bought some rain pants for when the rain got heavy but I never even opened them. These shed water amazingly!"
- Available sizes: 16 to 24
3. The Best Budget Option
Toomett Women's Outdoor Quick Dry Convertible
What's great about them: These UPF 40-plus hiking pants are unbelievably stretchy, with 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex. Although they're not water-resistant enough for intense, multi-day trekking, they have quick-dry material and smooth, spandex fiber, making them perfect for easy day hikes. Designed with a straight-leg fit, these pants also have a zip-off feature that lets you instantly turn them into long shorts.
What fans say: "The zippers on the pants were really easy to use. [These] were super lightweight for the jungle and protected me from bugs ... I wore them everyday for 9 days. They were very quick to dry."
- Available sizes: 24 to 38
4. The Most Versatile
Columbia Women's Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pant
What's great about them: Designed to be a lifestyle and performance gear hybrid, these stylish hiking pants are rugged enough to endure tough adventures outdoors but also make a great option for trekking around the city. They feature UV-resistant nylon fabric plus Columbia's Omni-Shield technology, which is a special coating that prevents rain and moisture absorption. The pants have more than 800 reviews on Amazon and come in six different colors.
What fans say: "These are the most comfortable hiking/traveling pants I've ever had. They have a snap button and a drawstring, so they're reasonably adjustable; this makes them very forgiving for days spent hiking and climbing and nights spent with junk food and beer. Sizing up a little allowed for great range of movement, and the drawstring allows for more size variance."
- Available sizes: 2 to 16
5. The Best Leggings
Fjallraven Women's Abisko Trekking Tights
What's great about them: These flexible hiking tights offer a fantastic blend of technical features with a comfy feel. They fit like yoga pants yet are equipped with features like reinforcement panels, so you can easily navigate foliage or sit on the ground without them wearing out. Handy leg pockets provide just enough room for a map or a compass. Made with soft, flexible polyamide, these pants have four-way stretch and are 100 percent waterproof.
What fans say: "Wow, I was very much skeptical with the price tag, but these tights are seriously technical ... They truly allow a full range of motion, which is great for scrambling ... The reinforced butt part kept my behind injury-free and the tights didn't rip or snag at all!"
Available sizes: XX-Small to XX-Large
6. The Best For Winter Hiking
Toomett Women's Fleece-Lined Soft Shell Hiking Pants
What's great about them: With a soft, polar-fleece lining inside a waterproof polyester outer-shell, these winter hiking pants will keep you warm and toasty despite the most frigid conditions. The slim-fit pants also boast zippered cargo pockets and an adjustable belted waistband.
What fans say: "Wow. These pants keep you warm, dry, and comfortable! They are not stiff at all and [they don't] make the annoying trash bag sound most snow pants do. Highly recommend these for winter!"
- Available sizes: XX-Small to XXX-Large
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