As a female, finding pants of any type that fit well is challenging — at best. If you’re a hiker, finding a pair of quality women’s hiking pants can seem virtually impossible. You want need a pair that offers rugged durability yet sufficient comfort and range of motion, can be worn in different seasons and weather, and looks halfway decent on. Sometimes, it’s even hard to know where to get started in finding a decent pair of women’s hiking pants.
Fortunately, we’ve done much of the legwork for you (pun very much intended). Whether you’re a novice hiker or you hit the trails most weekends, here are our 6 top picks for the best women’s hiking pants for day hikes.
1. Patagonia Quandary Pants
No list of women’s hiking pants is complete without at least one pair from Patagonia. The lightweight all-season Quandary Pants are made of 95 percent nylon and 5 percent spandex and feature UPF 50. The stretchy material is finished with a durable water repellent (DWR) that’s moisture- and dirt-resistant, so you stay dry and clean even if the weather takes an unexpected turn. A secure tab-and-snap system enables the pants to convert to capris.
The best thing about the Quandary Pants? They’re backed by Patagonia’s legendary Ironclad Guarantee, which exchanges, refunds, or replaces your item if it “does not perform to your satisfaction” — for life.
2. Marmot Kodachrome Pants
If you’re looking for women’s hiking pants to seamlessly take you from the trail to lunch with friends, look no further than the Marmot Kodachrome. The minimalist styling and stretchy nylon/elastane fabric allow these pants to be worn comfortably for extended periods of time and in many scenarios. A gusseted inseam and articulated knees provide true functionality during hikes, particularly for scrambling.
Although the Kodachromes are versatile enough to wear all year, they truly shine in warm weather. The pants are exceptionally breathable and easily roll up into capris, plus they have UPF-50 protection and a quick-drying DWR finish. They’re also available in plus sizes and a zip-off convertible version.
3. Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Several things make the Coalatree Trailhead Pants the most unique women’s hiking pants on our list. For starters, they’re not technically women’s — they’re unisex. Really. Coalatree offers the pants in regular and slim fits, and a cinch cord at the hem creates a customized fit. Trailhead pants are made from 100 percent recycled ripstop nylon and anti-microbial spandex, so they’re extremely stretchy and durable and can be worn for days without washing. They also have an eco-friendly DWR finish that repels water amazingly well.
Perhaps most impressive is that the Trailhead pants pack down completely into one of the front pockets. Again, really. The packed pants double as a travel pillow, and, when you open them up again, they’re somehow not wrinkled.
4. PrAna Halle Pants
Without trekking shoes, the PrAna Halle Pants easily pass for regular pants. They come in more than 10 colors and look more street-like, but these women’s hiking pants are loaded with handy trail features.
The fabric is decidedly rugged — yet exceedingly comfortable. Because of their thickness, these pants are noticeably heavier than others, but articulated knees and stretchy material make them ideal for strenuous hikes and climbing. The front pockets are curiously small, but a large zippered thigh pocket is thoughtfully placed low enough to be accessible even while wearing a pack or climbing gear.
5. Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants
The Arc’teryx Gamma LT’s are far and away the most expensive women’s hiking pants on this list, but their premium construction and innovative engineering make them standouts. They’ll last for decades and hold up to frequent and technical hikes.
A softshell nylon-elastane blend and top-tier DWR provide stellar flexibility and some of the best weather resistance in the segment. Thoughtful touches justify the investment, including large mesh-lined pockets that can be unzipped to improve airflow, a reflective logo for low light, an integrated webbed belt, and adjustable cuffs with grommets to secure them over boots, like gaiters. Note that the Gamma LT has a flattering slim fit, but doesn’t roll up or convert to shorts.
6. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible women’s hiking pants are incredibly well-rounded. They’re relaxed without being baggy, zip-off legs convert to bermuda shorts, and an ankle cinch cord quickly makes them into capris or narrows the leg opening. The 90D ripstop nylon and spandex are both super tough and ultra-soft and provide excellent wind resistance. An integrated drawstring and fleece-lined waistband help the pants stay comfortably put all day, and there are five surprisingly deep pockets — including a zippered one at the thigh.
It’s worth noting that the Ferrosi pants aren’t exceptionally water-resistant, but they do repel it long enough for you to get out of heavy rain. When they do get wet, they dry fast. If a zip-off pant doesn’t appeal to you, Outdoor Research makes a non-convertible version that is equally outstanding.
7. Bonus #1: Patagonia Pack Out Tights
We couldn’t not include at least one pair of hiking tights, and Patagonia’s Pack Out is one of the best. They fit snugly because they’re tights, but aren’t too, well, tight. The double-knit polyester/spandex fabric blend is soft, cozy, and substantially tougher than traditional leggings, so you can wear them alone or as a base layer. Thicker fabric also means these tights hold their shape after extended wear and aren’t see-through.
Easily our favorite feature is the number of pockets — three. Patagonia included two huge drop-in side pockets and a zippered hip pocket. You’re typically lucky to get one in hiking tights. The extra-thick waistband doesn’t budge, making them ideal for wearing with a pack or climbing harness.
8. Bonus #2: Belong Designs Women's Smokey Forest Leggings
OK, you got us, we had to add two pairs of outdoor tights to our list. Belong Designs’ Women’s Smokey Forest Leggings feel like a second skin, moving with your body and feeling soft inside and out. They’re breathable, and the stretch material makes them adaptable to both short- and long-legged women, without blowing out the featured pattern. Belong Designs includes a snug hidden zipper pocket in its leggings, too — just enough to stash a credit card or a key while you take off on an adventure.
These leggings have hit the trails on hikes as well as runs, and months after purchase, they still look as good as they did the day we got them. And while the design in the photo is the one we have, Belong has really taking styling to the next level and have nearly 20 unique looks that let you capture the essence of the mountains.
Taryn Shorr is an avid outdoor enthusiast, frequent traveler, and wannabe photographer based in southern Arizona. She lives for the opportunity to explore The Great Outdoors, both at home and in new destinations, and firmly believes that nature is a form of both therapy and religion.
Feature image by Banana Oil
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