Traditional hiking pants have their place for outdoor adventures, but once you try hiking leggings and trail tights, it’ll be hard to go back. Hiking in leggings provides utmost freedom of movement and unmatched comfort when logging trail miles. For longer backpacking trips, they also take up less room in your pack!
Now, let’s be clear: I’m not talking about regular leggings, like your average yoga pants or athleisure bottoms. The modern hiking legging is made with premium materials for durability, and often rivals technical outdoor pants in terms of performance.
Whether you’re heading out for a hot summer hike or planning a traverse in cold conditions, there’s a pair of leggings out there cut for the job. And I want to help you find them! In this piece, I’ve narrowed down the best hiking leggings for comfort and durability on the trail.
My Review Process
Hiking has been woven into my life for over twenty years. From local overnights in national forests to bucket-list backpacking trips, I love that my feet have the power to connect me to wild places.
Decades-worth of outdoor outings have naturally provided plenty of opportunities to test a motley of outdoor clothing. When it comes to hiking bottoms, I’ve tried everything. Running shorts and joggers? Convertible hiking pants and overalls? Check. Leggings and hiking tights prove to be my go-to, however, no matter what outdoor activity I’m pursuing.
So what do I look for when choosing the best hiking leggings? Comfort is key, but I suggest prioritizing durable fabric that is sweat-wicking and abrasion-resistant above all. Pockets for a phone, snacks, or other smalls also make a big difference. Check our Buying Guide below for other important features.
The functionality of traditional hiking pants meshes with the comfort, mobility, and moisture-wicking properties of your favorite base layers to create the Abisko. All while looking super sleek to boot.
The stretch fabric is on point, a double-knitted polyester blend that feels lightweight enough for hot summer hikes but keeps you toasty during cooler seasons. Reinforced panels at the rear and knees also won me over, providing extra protection when on rough terrain or damp ground.
Something does feel slightly off with the seams and stitching. Which is disappointing considering the high price. But it’s a minor issue that doesn’t outweigh the many positives and overall performance. Rest assured: the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights are the second skin you’ll want for tough trails and longer adventures.
Want technical, built-to-last hiking leggings without sacrificing comfort? Meet our most-durable pick —and a very close runner-up for best overall— the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tight.
Featuring a quality (and recycled!) stretchy material that’s double-knit yet super breathable, these tights give you the freedom to move in whatever temps you encounter. A gusseted crotch, flat seams, and a ribbed, wide waist only further add chafe-free mobility and comfort.
And are those reinforced panels at the knees and butt? You bet. They’re the extra protection you need to climb through brush, scramble down rocks or prepare hiking meals on damp ground without worry.
The downside? Patagonia’s products do come at an above-average price. But I’ve yet to doubt the quality of their products, and the Pack Out Hike Tights are no different. They’re near-perfect leggings for hikers that will aid your adventures for seasons to come.
If lots of pocket is what you crave in hiking leggings, look no further than the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights.
Six sizeable, zippered pockets make these babies a clear-cut winner. Deep enough to stash a phone but designed so that they maintain a flattering fit, the pockets on the Headlands Cargo II Tights strike the perfect balance between style and function.
What’s more? The abrasion-resistant, nylon-blend material features sun protection and a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. That makes the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights stand apart in the elements and suitable for all hiking seasons.
Unfortunately, you may have trouble finding certain sizes in certain color combos. But the fact that they’re on backorder often is, if anything, a testament to their performance! The Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tights are bound to win you over with their versatility on and off the trail.
Looking for lightweight leggings that hold their own when trekking in cooler seasons? Smartwool’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tights will keep you cozy and nimble on cold hikes and in temperamental weather alike.
First off, the quality knit stretch fabric is a perfect blend of polyester and merino wool. That means you get the odor-controlling, thermo-regulating properties of merino coupled with the quick-dry, moisture resistance of synthetics. Tack on reinforced panels on the front to protect against wind and repel water, and you have the confidence to go forth in the most blustery of conditions. I found them comfortable even in below-freezing temps!
Do I wish the mid-rise waistband felt a bit more secure and sat higher on the waist? Yes, but that’s no deal breaker, especially since you can adjust with the inner drawstring. Overall, I think Smartwool has really hit the mark with these weatherproof Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tights. I wouldn’t hesitate venturing out with them for cold hikes and winter adventures!
Hiking frequently in hot summer conditions, but not a shorts person? The REI Co-Op Flash Hybrid Tights are the answer. They offer maximum breathability and moisture resistance, letting you chase trail miles while staying cool.
The magic is in the material blend. Durable softshell fabric panels at the front and back mix with a stretchy polyester-spandex fabric at the sides, waist and ankles. This allows for extra support in high-use areas, but light compression and quick-dry qualities in spots prone to sweating.
Would an extra pant pocket be nice? Sure. But if you’re heading out on a longer or more strenuous summer hike you’ll probably have a pack anyway, so fret not. For pushing limits during peak heat, the REI Co-Op Flash Hybrid Tights are winners in my book.
Historically, the only quality pairs of leggings available for men have been in niche markets, like endurance cycling or skimo. Lucky for the fellas, Salomon has bridged the gap between a specialized performance option and regular cardio activities. Enter: the Men's Agile Long Tights.
Guys will appreciate the balance of targeted compression and ease of movement, thanks to a premium polyester blend that breathes well in warmer and cooler seasons alike. The woven panels toward the lower leg are also a nice perk, providing extra protection for more rugged hikes and activities.
Despite being a bit long for some frames, the Salomon Agile Long Tights are still one of the most well-designed form-fitting pants for active men out there. And they’re offered at a pretty decent price, too. I’d recommend them for trail runs, hiking and other high-output adventures any day.
Unlike many outdoor companies, Eddie Bauer’s design team has long catered to curvier bodies and a range of body measurements. They’re a brand to trust when it comes to inclusive sizing, which is why the Eddie Bauer Trail Tight is an easy pick for the best plus-size hiking legging.
The polyester-spandex fabric features the Eddie Bauer “FreeDry” moisture resistance technology, proving the tights keep you as dry as can be when cranking out trail miles. Built-in odor control helps keep smells at bay, too.
They’re not the most budget-conscious choice, sure. But perks like an array of color options, 50+ sun protection, and zippered pockets make the Eddie Bauer Trail Tights worth the extra bucks. They're comfortable leggings for larger sizes that really go the distance for all kinds of activities outdoors.
Quality leggings for hiking usually don’t come cheap, but Carhartt offers bang for your buck with their popular Women's Force Fitted Utility Leggings.
Just like the brand’s other utility pants, durability is supreme. Reinforcement panels at the knees add that extra fabric security when the trail miles get rugged, and the midweight material wards off snags and tears. All while keeping breathability and mobility at the forefront.
Sadly for curvier bodies and plus sizes, Carhartt’s sizing tops out at an XL. But for average body measurements, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for the price. Consensus is: the women’s Force Fitted Utility Legging is a workhorse you’ll love on tough trails and for everyday life.
Hiking Leggings Buying Guide
Think hiking tights are just regular leggings made by popular outdoor gear brands? Think again! A lot goes into making a pair of solid hiking pants, and tights and leggings are no different. Read on for the most important features to keep in mind during your search.
Hiking-specific leggings are designed with utmost durability in mind. Akin to your favorite pair of hiking boots or hiking pants, the perfect pair of hiking leggings should be able to withstand a variety of terrain and weather. Ideally, for multiple seasons.
Look for high-performance options that are abrasion resistant and won’t snag or tear easily from branches and rocks. If you’re really getting after it outdoors, I recommend styles with reinforced panels in areas that see extra wear and tear, like around the knees, waist and butt.
Style & Fit
From hiking tights catered to plus-sized and petite women, to knee-length or capri leggings designed for men, hiking legging styles are seemingly endless. Comfort always reigns supreme, especially when it comes to stretch fabric. Choose a light compression fit that feels good on your body type, while making sure there’s plenty of mobility.
For length, popular style choices are knee-length or capri leggings and full-length leggings. I suggest the latter for serious hikers, because they provide that extra support on tough trails.
Waistband width and where it sits is another key design feature. Do you prefer extra high-waist leggings? Or are wide, mid-rise waistbands with drawstrings more your style? Play around with what feels best and is most functional for you.
The last thing you want in a pair of leggings for hiking? Something that tears easily, loses shape, or pills after a few wash cycles. High performance options should also be breathable, sweat-wicking, and quick to dry. Abrasion resistance is equally important.
Stretchy synthetic fabrics and blends are generally the standard because they provide light compression, breathability, and durability. Cotton should be avoided as it absorbs moisture, especially in hot summer conditions. Merino wool, on the other hand, works well when mixed with other synthetic fabrics for cold conditions, as it’s more insulating.
From sweaty summits to water crossing and surprise rain showers, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that there’s nothing worse than hiking in wet leggings.
Hence, why breathable fabric that’s both quick-drying and moisture-wicking is crucial. When choosing your new favorite leggings for hiking, prioritize synthetic fabrics that are non-absorbent, so you never have to contend with wet leggings.
I can’t stress enough the benefit of having leggings with pockets. Lots of pockets in outdoor gear translates to lots of places to tuck essentials, like your cell phone, sun protection, or small snacks. Whether they’re hidden pockets or zippered pockets, you won’t regret having more storage options.
You’re bound to encounter unpredictable weather when hiking, so choosing leggings that will uphold in varying conditions is paramount. For all-season wear, at the least make sure the material is thick enough to guard against wind. For cold hikes, consider insulated or merino-wool blend leggings for extra warmth and protection.
Expect rainy or snowy weather? I’ll be honest: if you don’t want to risk wet leggings, your best bet is to layer with a proper rain shell. Stretchy fabric is hardly ever fully waterproof. Many premium leggings will have a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, though, which helps them shed water on impact.
The average price for hiking-specific leggings ranges anywhere from $50 to $120. That may sound a bit steep, but know this: hiking leggings are definitely not just regular leggings. They’re made with quality materials for durability, moisture resistance, and mobility, and designed to withstand tough trails. Does that bump up the price? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Functional, comfortable and designed to withstand tough trails, the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights rank as our Best Overall. And they’re available in both men’s and women’s styles!
A close runner-up, the Patagonia Pack Out Hike Tights offer similar durability, and are versatile enough to wear during warm weather and cooler seasons alike.
And for budget-conscious hikers, you can’t go wrong with the REI Co-Op Flash Hybrid Tights or Carhartt’s Women's Force Fitted Utility Leggings. Both are high-performance options that will have your back when logging trail miles.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.