Hiking can be as simple as a walk in the nearby park on pruned paths – but if you are planning to hike for a whole day or in more rough terrain, you will thank yourself for getting a pair of proper hiking pants that will protect your legs against abrasion and harsh weather. Below we have made a selection of the best hiking pants for women for 3-season use (spring, summer and fall). For winter use you should instead look for soft shell pants.
1. Buying Hiking Pants – What is important?
The most important feature of hiking pants which sets them apart from other pants is the material. Not only should it be breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying (which are qualities you would want from most active wear garments), but also provide decent abrasion-resistance against thorny twigs or sharp rocks. Therefore, nylon is often used in hiking pants – either on its own or mixed with more elastic fibers. You should avoid pants with a very high content of cotton as they will take too long to dry in case of an unexpected rain shower. To learn more about the materials of hiking pants, check out the pants section in our Hiking Clothing Guide.
Sun Protection (UPF)
As hiking pants will many times be the only thing covering your lower body (besides underwear) it is great if they can protect you from the sun’s damaging rays. The level of sun protection in clothing is rated similarly to sun creams, but instead of SPF it is called UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). It indicates how many percentages of UV-rays penetrate through the fabric; a fabric with UPF-30 means that 1/30 (≈6.7 %) of UV-radiation enters through the fabric, or that it protects against 93.3 % of UV-rays. The UPF-rating of a fabric depends on its fiber type (nylon, wool, cotton etc.) as well as factors such as construction, treatments and condition of the garment (brand-new or worn-out), so it is hard to assess it on your own and manufacturers do not always disclose it. To learn more about the various UPF-rating factors, read the article Sun Protective Clothing for Hiking.
Women’s pants are often designed for appearance and sex appeal rather than comfort and functionality. When it comes to hiking pants, it is an absolute plus if they are flattering but the most important thing is that you can move around in them freely and comfortably.
Versatility and Ventilation
Some hiking pants can be converted into shorts by zipping the lower part of the legs off and while this seemingly is a very practical feature, some find it annoying to have the extra horizontal zippers and seams in the thigh area (chafing etc.). This can be mitigated by choosing pants that can be rolled up and secured with snap fasteners under the knee, so you still have the option for ventilation when it is really needed. In the selection below we included both types of hiking pants. Some models are also available in shorter versions (capri pants, ankle length) if you are specifically looking for hiking pants for warm weather.
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hiking Pants for Women Review
The Best Hiking Pants for Women – List
- prAna Halle
- ExOfficio Bugs Away Vianna
- Outdoor Research Zendo
- Columbia Anytime
- CimAlp Interstice Light
|Feature/Product||prAna Halle||ExOfficio Bugs Away Vianna||Outdoor Research Zendo||Columbia Anytime ||CimAlp Interstice Light|
|Material||97% Nylon, 3% Spandex||96 % Nylon 4% Spandex||94% Nylon, 6% Spandex||96% Nylon, 4% Elastane||97% Polyamide, 3% Elasthane|
|Treatments||DWR||Insect Shield||DWR||Omni-Shield (DWR)||DWR|
|Inseam length||30 in. (short); 32 in. (regular); 36 in. (tall)||32 in. (regular); 29 in. (petite)||31 in. for size 8 (length varies with size)||32 in. (regular); 30 in. (short||31.5 in. (size 40)
|Inseam length (Metric)||76 cm (short); 81 cm (regular); 91.5 cm (tall)||81 cm (regular); 74 cm (petite)||79 cm for size 8 (length varies with size)||81 cm (regular); 75 cm (short||80 cm (size 40)|
|Sizes||0-16 (US)||0-16 (US)||2-10 (US)||2-16 (US)||26-44 (UK waist size)|
1. prAna Halle
The prAna Halle pants are very popular among hikers and outdoorspeople and it is not hard to understand why as they have a flattering more tailored look without sacrificing functionality – not least due to the great material. The Halle pants are made of the brand’s Stretch Zion fabric which is light, durable, breathable, quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant as well water-resistant since it is treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent). The pants have a relaxed fit (midrise, straight leg) with articulated knees which make them suitable for climbing as well as hiking and mountaineering. Besides two front and two back pockets, the Halle pants also have a hidden zippered stash pocket on the upper right leg. The pants can be rolled up to under the knee and secured with smartly placed snap fasteners and straps, but if you prefer your hiking pants to be convertible into shorts (zip-off legs) you might want to check out prAna’s Sage pants instead.
2. ExOfficio Bugs Away Vianna
- Hiking (including tropical regions)
- Humid environments with many insects
ExOfficio’s Bugs Away collection is characterized by the garments being treated with Insect Shield, an invisible odorless treatment bound to the fabric fibers (rather than your skin) that lasts for 70 washes. According to ExOfficio, it repels a range of insects – not least mosquitoes which can carry disease in regions close to equator. This makes the ExOfficio Bugs Away Vianna pants particularly suitable for hiking and travelling in these regions, but they also have design features which make them great for hiking in general. The mid-rise Vianna pants can easily be rolled up and fastened with snap tabs (as seen on picture) for extra versatility and ventilation. The pants are closed with a double snap closure waistband, and are equipped with one zippered security pocket and two back patch pockets. The ExOfficio Bugs Away Vianna pants are also available with a petite inseam length and in three different colors.
- Treated with Insect Shield (lasts 70 washes).
- UPF50+ sun protection rating
- Can be rolled up and fastened with snap tabs
Where to buy?
Also available at:
3. Outdoor Research Zendo
The Outdoor Research Zendo pants might look like a pair of sweat pants due to the wide knitted waistband and drawcord, but the pants are otherwise made of an abrasion-resistant, quick-drying and breathable blend of nylon and spandex, which is also water-resistant due to a water-shedding DWR-finish. It has what Outdoor Research calls: “movement-mirroring stretch” and indeed, it does contain more stretchy fibers (6% spandex) than the other hiking pants on this list. The material of the Zendo pants has a UPF-rating of 50 which means that it deflects all but 1/50 (≈2%) of all sun rays. When it comes to features, the Zendo pants have only two hand pockets in the front while the back has a flattering decorative seam with “Outdoor Research” written along it to on the right side. If you are in need of a bit of ventilation, the pants can be rolled up to under the knee and fastened with snap fasteners and tabs.
4. Columbia Anytime
The Columbia Anytime pants are made of the brand’s stretchy Summiteer Lite fabric which is treated with Omni-Shield, a water- and stain-repellant. It also offers sun protection (UPF-50) due to the use of Omni-Shade technology. The Columbia Anytime pants have a lot in common with the Outdoor Research Zendo pants above in terms of design, but are less expensive. Like the Zendo pants, they have a drawcord for adjusting fit rather than belt loops (and a belt) but also a zipper and snap opening. One notable drawback of the Anytime pants is that you cannot roll them up and secure them as there are no snap fasteners, tabs etc. You can, however, get the Columbia Anytime pants in four different versions (capri pants, ankle pants, full leg pants and a boot cut model), so you can choose a shorter model if you prefer having your calves bare.
- UPF-50 due to Omni-Shade technology
- Water- and stain-resistant due to Omni-Shield treatment
- Two-way stretch
- Rolled up pants cannot be fastened
Where to buy?
Also available at:
5. CimAlp Interstice Light
CimAlp is a French outdoor brand, which was founded in 1964 by an avid mountaineer and has ever since focused on creating functional high-quality apparel for all sorts of activities in the mountains, from skiing and trail running to hiking and trekking. The CimAlp Interstice Light pants have been designed with the latter activities in mind, as they are made of the brand’s comfortable and light CimaFlex 160g/m2 fabric. Functional details include articulated knees, zipped hand pockets (plus one on the thigh) with mesh that can double as air vents, draw cord toggles at the pant leg hem, and a pretty unique internal elastic waist belt. As mentioned in the the first-hand review of the CimAlp Interstice Light pants, the waist circumference can be adjusted by moving the button on the inside of the waist to different positions on the internal elastic belt. This means that the pants will fit you regardless of a minor weight gain/loss!