Leggings have populated yoga, workout classes, and loungewear for years, but these flexible, versatile pants are now making their way onto the trail. And yes, we believe hiking leggings fall under the “pants” category. Don’t believe us? Our extensive list may persuade you otherwise—not even may convince you, it will convince you. Just think of the mobility and how easy it will be to navigate obstacles en route!
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What Should You Look For in Hiking Leggings?
Comfort and Mobility
Why should you consider switching from hiking pants to leggings? Several reasons in this article may convince you, but it boils down to comfort.
Hiking pants are generally made with tougher materials that don’t stretch or move with your body, restraining your strides. Most hiking leggings have flattering high-rise waistbands to prevent slippage when you’re walking for hours on end with a pack. Hiking tights form-fit to your legs and move with you as you hike, scramble, and trek through the Great Outdoors.
Most hiking tights incorporate material technology to ensure breathability. Mountain weather, as you know, is unpredictable—it could be chilly to start, then suddenly the sun pops out as you’re starting to break a sweat and now you’re overheating. Look for breathability and moisture-wicking properties if you know you’ll be working up a sweat in your outerwear.
The list of advantages to hiking leggings grows when you consider how easy they are to pack. A lightweight pair of tights will be your perfect mate for backpacking trips to keep weight down. You’ll also be able to move more freely and confidently without lifting extra weight with each step—it’s not much, but every ounce makes a difference on challenging trails.
Adventurers already know the qualms of waiting for your gear to dry, especially if you’re outside for a few rainy days without a window of sunshine. You certainly don’t want your hiking tights to be one of these ever-wet items. If you’re heading out into wet conditions, search for tights made from fabric with moisture-wicking and quick-dry features like polyester and spandex. (Remember, adventurers: cotton is not your friend in the Great Outdoors!)
Investing in a pair of hiking tights can be a two-for-one with the right pair. Most will look stylish, whether you’re on the trail or not! And, you always want a comfy pair of pants to wear at your campsite on a backpacking trip, right? Well, if you have an awesome pair of tights, you don’t have to pack anything else—you’re already dressed for comfort!
If you want to change because you’ve been sweating all day, we understand. Just pack a second lightweight pair to use as your comfy pants and your hiking pants for the following day. Sticking with one pair helps keep your pack weight down, but they’re so lightweight anyway, shoving another set in your bag for clean comfort won’t be too much hassle.
Some regular tights would not withstand the weather at high altitudes; if you’ve worn basic leggings before, you know that wind and cold can pass right through the fabric onto your legs. The hiking leggings we’ve listed incorporate wind- and cold-resistant fabrics, and they’re made for rugged conditions. You want to look for durable materials so that you don’t end up with ice-cold thighs! Are you already thinking they might not be warm enough for winter? Check out the section on the best leggings for winter weather.
Important! Take care of your hiking leggings
Hiking leggings made from quality materials are an investment, we admit. Certain fabrics need to be washed carefully to maintain their technical structure. If you’re someone who tends to throw everything in the laundry bin, then into the washer and dryer without separating anything, try to get out of that habit. When you return from the mountains with dirty pants, wash them immediately to prevent bacteria from festering. As a general rule to protect the hiking leggings properly, you should use cold water with a mild detergent and hang them to dry, but always check the tags for proper care instructions.
The Overall Best Women’s Hiking Leggings
Our top picks for women’s hiking leggings deliver on oh-so-many levels: super comfortable, breathable, versatile, lightweight, and stylish. Here are the winners!
Patagonia Pack Out Tights
The Patagonia Pack Out Tights are one of our favourite options for hiking leggings. They are form-fitting but not too tight, and the tapered legs fit easily under socks and into your boots. The fabric made from a polyester-spandex jersey knit is so soft. We especially love their versatility: wear these in the mountains, in the city, or on the plane.
Functionally, these hiking tights have drop-in pockets on each thigh’s sides and a zippered pocket on the hip—and we all know how excited women get when there are pockets! (Guilty!) The wide, high-waist band fits your tummy snugly, making it easy and comfy to buckle your hip strap. You may need to layer up in winter with these, but you can’t go wrong with these hiking leggings for the rest of the year.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Leggings magically fuse necessary features to create the ultimate water-resistant, versatile leggings. They are lightweight (a must!), blend nylon and spandex to create a comfortable, stretchy feel, and wick moisture. The UPF 50+ technology also helps prevent harmful rays from penetrating your skin!
While we love these features, we find that most (not all) women seek out one thing, and one thing only: pockets. Ladies let out a wild cheer ‘cause these pants have pockets big enough for your phone. Talk about easy access for pictures.
Revel in happiness as you easily maneuver the trail in these water-resistant leggings!
If it’s in your budget, the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights are the top choice for rugged trails and protection from all the elements. Designed to move with you with four-way stretch fabric, these will go with you everywhere. Obstacles on the path? No problem. The nylon-elastane material will resist tears from bushwhacking and move with you easily. The reinforced knee and seat patches repel water, and the rest of the leggings are quick-dry.
These fit wonderfully with a high waistband with an adjustable drawstring, gusseted crotch, and articulated knees. And these leggings wouldn’t make the cut if they didn’t have pockets! Two pockets keep your small belongings secure on the trails. Our only complaint (and it’s hardly a complaint) is that these hiking leggings look very technical with the knee and rear panels. Pack a pair of city pants if you’re transitioning without going home first! These are also available for men. Overall, these are an excellent choice for year-round trekking adventures.
Tip: check out our article on hiking vs trekking to understand the differences between these activities.
You may not be able to imagine hiking tights for men, but these well-designed options have gusted crotch features and flattering styles. Give them a try—we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the comfort!
Running Room Men’s Extreme Wind Front Run Tights
Keep warm with the Running Room Men’s Extreme Wind Front Run Tights! While these tights cater more towards running, they transition easily into mountain adventures, especially in cooler weather. They have everything you need in hiking leggings and will move with you year-round.
The brushed thermal rain defence fleece fabric in the lower body and drawcord at the inside waistband will keep you comfortable as you navigate your way along any road or trail! Plus, the wind resistance will keep your muscles warm whenever you need to stop to catch your breath. When it comes to some of the best leggings for men for hiking and running, these comfortable pants definitely sit near the top of the list.
Moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch fabric and the adjustable waistband on the Salomon Agile Long Tights will make you feel good about yourself as you take on any active outdoor adventure during warmer months!
The details on these adventure tights scream function: the Advanced Skin Active Dry fabric wicks moisture, ankle zips make them easy to pull on and off, and reflective details indicate your location in low light. And on super sunny days, the UPF 50+ fabric protects against dangerous UV rays. That’s not even all! The back zipper pockets grant a stowaway for essentials. It’s probably a good idea to keep a pair of urban-ready pants in your car if you plan on grabbing a commemorative beer after your journey.
Not quite ready for skin-tight leggings? We get it. The Columbia Minam River Hybrid Pants would be a great transition from pants to tights, thanks to their looser fit. Get the durability of pants and the mobility of tights thanks to the polyester-cotton blend. And they are super comfortable.
The relaxed fit, adjustable waist, hand pockets, and woven overlay will have you feeling comfortable on the trail or chilled-out at home. Water-resistant and wind-blocking, these pants are great to rock on rainy or colder days!
If you often hike in wet conditions, invest in a pair of hiking tights that will keep you dry while still providing ventilation. Completely waterproof hiking leggings wouldn’t allow for much breathability, but here are a few of the best water-resistant options.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Leggings
Highlighted above in the best overall women’s leggings section, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Leggings really are an incredible pair of leggings that you will want to add to your lineup. Of their many different features, one of the best has got to be the fact that they are water-resistant, making them perfectly suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities. Oh, and the pockets… did we mention they have pockets?!
Resist the elements with these soft-shell and protective tights. The Salomon Gore Tex Infinium softshell leggings repel drizzle and resist wind, making them a superb choice for cool and unpredictable weather. The design features an adjustable high-waist that securely hugs your body. Pull them on and off easily with the ankle zips, and trek confidently in the lowlight with the reflective details.
You’ll be able to stash treats or other small items in the zippered back pocket, but this becomes useless if you have a backpack. If you want a pair of water-resistant hiking leggings for day hikes, absolutely consider these ones!
We’ve already mentioned the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights in the overall best women’s hiking leggings, but they deserve repeating. They are one of the best options for wet conditions. Quick-dry material prevents rain and water from getting too deep, and the panels used to reinforce the knee and seat are waterproof, so you can kneel and sit in damp conditions, no problem.
For backpacking trips, lightweight tights are the best option for you. Or, if you’re looking to gain speed on your fellow hikers, get yourself a pair of lightweight hiking tights and leave them in the dust!
Lululemon All The Right Places Crop Leggings
Weight: approx. 150 g / 5.3 oz
These Lululemon All the Right Places Crop Leggings are my go-to for spring and end-of-summer hiking. The cropped length is ideal for ventilation, the fabric is so smooth and comfortable, and they have the coveted thigh pockets. The name says it all: the design and stitching of the All the Right Places Crop Leggings make them incredibly flattering on and off the trails. And they are featherlight—even if I know I’ll be wearing shorts during a hike, I pack these anyway, which barely increases my pack weight.
Admittedly, these are an investment, but they are versatile, and with proper care, will last a long time. Be careful about snagging them because the stretchy fabric might not hold up. That said, these are awesome for open alpine meadows and well-maintained trails. Invest in these for a pair of light, breathable, stretchy, and high-coverage hiking tights.
Much like their older sibling, the Abisko Trekking Tights, these are designed for mobility on the trails. Technically-sound and totally breathable, these lightweight tights allow easy movement when you’re hiking. They’re reinforced in the knees and seat, made with four-way stretch panels, and have two leg pockets and one small zippered pocket to keep your belongings safe.
The form-fit of the Abisko Trail Tights sits well on the waist and won’t slide down as you hike. Not the greatest choice for cold weather, but these perform well on hot days in various terrain. The fabric will wick sweat, protect you from abrasions, and ventilate where you need it most. Fjallraven products are pricier than other brands, which is a drawback if you’re on a budget.
Look and feel great in the Great Outdoors with the North Face Perfect Core High-Rise Tights. These tights have a unique feature: a high-rise compression waistband that reminds you to engage your core while exercising—it’s super flattering for the female figure. The waistband won’t roll down, and there’s a hidden internal pocket.
Be wary of wearing these to the gym—they’re thicker than other leggings. But that’s okay because you’re going to be outside anyway. Ready for rugged conditions, the nylon-spandex combo resists tears, dries quickly, and allows proper ventilation. Enjoy chafe-free movement in these supremely comfortable, stylish hiking tights.
The Helly Hansen Rask Tights hit the mark for a functional, lightweight piece of gear. The four-way stretch fabric is moisture-wicking to keep you cool when you break a sweat. Knees and seats are reinforced with durable water-repellent panels, so you can sit or kneel in the damp ground worry-free.
The knee panel design may look too technical for urban wear, but you won’t notice if you buy all black. Unfortunately, these are not high-waisted like the other options, so if you’re looking for more tummy coverage, these aren’t the best option.
Coziness and comfort are key when adventuring in cold weather. These winter hiking leggings deliver warmth and protection in harsh conditions.
MERIWOOL Womens Merino Wool Base Layer Thermal Pants
The fabric blend of the MERIWOOL Womens Merino Wool Base Layer Thermal Pants keeps you warm and comfy when you’re working up a sweat during winter. The merino wool blend naturally manages moisture and regulates temperature. And the odour-resistant properties work to keep the smell of sweat at bay. Plus, these leggings only weigh 250 grams, allowing you to trudge through snowy conditions without carrying extra weight!
It helps to think of these leggings as a practical purchase for winter adventures rather than for style or swanky features, as they lack zippers, pockets, drawstrings, but they are meant to be base layer pants, anyways. You will most likely have more layers on top, so you can always use your jacket pockets. These are just plain-Jane leggings that do exactly what they are designed to do: keep you warm. People with sensitive skin may find these pants itchy, so if this is you, skip out on these leggings and check out some of the other options on this list!
You know this company for their merino wool clothing items, and the Merino Solace Leggings are great on their own or as a first layer for even more warmth. Being so soft and comfy, you’ll love trekking in them and likely wear them around the house when you’re not in the mountains.
Because of the merino wool fabric blend, these tights are naturally breathable and odor-resistant. Although these hiking leggings don’t feature our beloved pockets, we still think they’re a suitable option for winter leggings because they are so warm and comfy. Icebreaker boasts about their no-itch comfort and they source products that are renewable and recyclable. You’ll make an environmentally-responsible purchase with these hiking tights.
Keep heat locked in with Naviskin Fleece Lined Thermal Tights. You won’t mind heading into cold weather when you have these on. Made with 90% polyester and 10% spandex, these leggings will help you stay warm in chilly conditions. The brushed fabric also creates a coziness you’ll feel as soon as you pull them on. Better yet, these leggings are budget-friendly (don’t let the affordable price fool you into thinking these aren’t durable because they are!).
You’re probably thinking: ah, these tights probably lack style features like pockets and a waist drawcord because the purchase price is so low. Well, that’s not the case with these bang-for-your-buck pants! Along with trapping body heat, these leggings boast two side pockets and a zippered back pocket. Talk about easy access to your phone for pictures and treats for a quick energy boost on the trail. Plus, if the sun starts to dip, the reflective detail will highlight your movement to passers-by. One con is that they tend to sit short above your ankle. But now you’ll have an excuse to show off your cool hiking shoes…
Converting to hiking tights (or at least giving them a try) will open up a whole new world of comfort if you’ve mainly been hiking in pants. They are a great alternative! Move freely and comfortably without sacrificing on durability, weather-resistance, or style. Consider the hiking conditions, and look for appropriate features like moisture-wicking, water-resistance, or warmth. Some of our contributors at 10Adventures hike exclusively in hiking tights and have no reason to switch back to pants. Happy (+ comfy) hiking!
Best Treks to Test Your New Hiking Leggings
We hope this article has helped you to pick your new favorite hiking leggings. Make sure to put them to the test. So checkout these next articles on some of the best trekking experiences in the world.