The last thing you want when you’re out on a long hike or backpacking trip is to be wearing a pair of uncomfortable pants. When you’re hiking, uncomfortable pants are more than just a nuisance – they can irritate you every step of the way.
Thankfully there are a lot of great women’s hiking pants options out on the market today. But how do you wade through the sea of choices to find the pair that’s right for you?
That’s why we’ve created this ultimate guide to the best hiking pants for women, complete with reviews of some of the best hiking pants around.
Our top pick: Kathmandu Flinders Women’s Hiking Pants
Pros: Lightweight and breathable, very comfortable, DWR finish, reasonably priced
Cons: Slimmer fit may not suit everyone
Why we chose them: The Flinders Pants are a great choice for women who like to stay comfortable on long hikes. These pants are lightweight and breathable, but also stretchy, so they’ll move with you as you climb or descend a mountain trail. And they’ve got a durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish that will keep water at bay.
These pants also offer UPF sun protection and come with an elasticated waistband so your pants won’t slip when the going gets tough. They have two front zip pockets and a hidden lower leg pocket for storing your keys or other valuables.
Best for hot conditions: Macpac Drift Women’s Hiking Pants
Pros: Lightweight and comfortable, breathable, fast-drying, affordable
Cons: Not water-resistant
Why we chose them: The Macpac Women’s Drift Pants are lightweight and comfortable with a regular fit. They are moisture-wicking, fast-drying, and provide UPF 50+ sun protection.
There are two hand pockets and two low-profile back pockets that are perfect for storing your phone, map, or snacks while you’re out hiking. The zippered thigh pocket is great for storing smaller items like lip balm.
How they compare: When comparing these to the Kathmandu pants reviewed above, the Macpac pants are much lighter weight (230g vs 320g) so might be the best option if you’ll be hiking in hot conditions. However, the Kathmandu pants feature a DWR water-resistant finish, while the Macpac pants do not.
Pros: UPF 50 fabric, FlashDry for great moisture-wicking capabilities, converts into 22cm length shorts
Cons: Convertible pants aren’t for everyone
Why we chose them: The North Face Paramount are a pair of lightweight convertible hiking pants designed to stay comfortable and durable in a variety of conditions. Made from UPF 50 fabric that’s embedded with FlashDry to quickly wick moisture from the skin, the Paramount is a great pair of pants, regardless of whether it’s pouring rain or bright sunshine during your hike.
The Paramount also have zip-off legs to convert from pants into 22cm (9in) shorts for those hot summer days.
Pros: Made with Bluesign approved fabrics, UPF 50 fabric, many useful pockets, stylish and functional skinny ankle cut
Cons: No convertible option
Why we chose them: The Salomon Wayfarer is a relaxed-fit active women’s outdoors pant that is ready for everything. Made from Bluesign approved environmentally-friendly products and a UPF50 fabric, the Wayfarer is designed for the outdoors person that won’t take second best when it comes to their gear.
With a plethora of well-placed pockets, a stylish skinny ankle cut, and a 4-way stretch woven fabric, the Wayfarer is both functional and comfortable, so it could be a great option for anyone looking for a pair of quality standard hiking pants.
Pros: UBERKUHL stretch fabric for comfort, UPF 50 fabric, roll up legs for extra comfort in the heat, relaxed fit
Cons: Cotton blend fabric isn’t ideal in the heat
Why we chose them: These Kuhl pants are a pair of roll-up women’s hiking pants that feature UBERKUHL stretch fabric for a comfortable, functional performance on the trail. The pants themselves are made with a stretchy performance cotton blend with a UPF 50 fabric, so they’re best used on a hot and sunny summer’s day.
The leg opening also rolls up to allow some airflow as you hike on a hot summer’s day.
Pros: Very high-quality abrasion-resistant fabric, lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant, women’s specific-fit and comfortable waistband
Cons: No conversion option, expensive
Why we chose them: Arc’teryx is known for creating some of the best outdoor gear in the world and the Gamma LT pants are no exception. Made from the super abrasion-resistant Fortius DW 2.0 fabric, the Gamma LT are both quick-drying and stretchy while being water-resistant in light rain.
That being said, these pants are astonishingly light and breathable, so they’re some of the most versatile pants on the market for variable weather conditions.
Women’s Hiking Pants Buying Guide
Since many of us wear pants quite often in our daily lives, it’s easy to think of hiking pants as a simple piece of gear that doesn’t require much research to decide upon.
However, modern hiking pants are actually quite sophisticated and there quite a few different factors at play when deciding upon the pair that’s right for you. Here’s what you should look for in a pair of hiking pants:
Type Of Hiking Pants
There are three main types of hiking pants: standard pants, roll-up pants, and convertible pants.
Each of these, as you might imagine has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand them before you rush off to the store to get a new pair of pants.
Standard pants are the kinds of pants that serve solely as a pair of long pants. They don’t have any easy convertibility options to turn the pants into shorts or capris if it’s hot outside. That being said, this means they’re often indistinguishable in look from regular pants, so you can get away with wearing them in an urban context.
Roll-up pants usually have some sort of system for rolling up and securing the legs of the pants to form capris. This is a nice touch for anyone who wants the extra airflow of capris but also needs the option to keep their legs covered when the conditions demand it. These pants tend to be a little heavier and more expensive than standard pants options, but they’re a nice middle ground.
Convertible pants allow you to zip off the lower legs of your pants to leave you with shorts. This is a nice touch on a hot day, though some people really don’t like how convertible pants look or feel. This is really a personal preference, as some people strongly dislike convertible pants while others swear by them.
Sizing And Fit
The only thing worse than having an uncomfortable or ugly pair of pants is to have an uncomfortable or ugly pair of pants that don’t fit.
Whether your pants are too small or too large, you’re sure to get annoyed by them after just a few hours on the trail.
Our advice? Choose fit and comfort over all else. You won’t regret it!