The Best Hiking Pants for Women

If you're looking for a great pair of women's hiking pants, you've come to the right place! After looking at over 65 pairs, we picked the 12 best for our review. We chose a variety of styles to help you pick out the perfect one for you, whether its a pair that becomes a crop or a short, a pair of tights, or something that can handle a lot of moisture. We tested the different pairs side-by-side for months while hiking on long forested trails, scrambling through desert canyons, and even rock climbing. Then we evaluated each one on their comfort and mobility and assessed whether they had useful features or were poorly designed. We compiled all of our findings into our review below, where you can find our top choices for the best hiking pants around, along with some specialty picks for those on a budget or those who need extra protection from the elements. Whether you're gearing up for a long thru-hike or shorter day trips, we have some great options for you!

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday
May 14, 2018

Share:
Updated May 2018
Spring is here, and we've been hitting the trails to get our women's hiking pant review up to speed. We took out some old models that are no longer in production and added in some new options from REI, Patagonia, The North Face, Royal Robbins, and Arc'teryx. After comparing the new options side-by-side, we were very impressed with the Arc'teryx Gamma LT and gave it our Top Pick for Wet Weather award. Keep reading below to see if any of these new options were able to unseat our multi-year Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's.


Best Overall Women's Hiking Pants


Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant - Women's


Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant - Women's
Editors' Choice Award

$39.97
at Backcountry
See It

Weight: 9 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Versatile
Lightweight
Feminine fit
Stretchy material
Shorts length felt a light long
Convertible zippers are occasionally irritating
We keep trying to find a pair of hiking pants that we like as much for the backcountry as the Marmot Lobo's Convertible, but year after year the competition comes up "short," and the Lobo's take home our Editors' Choice award. Comfortable, breathable, water resistant - they are the full package! They have a feminine fit and colorful details to add a little style to an otherwise fairly plain clothing line, and the stretchy material moves with you. They dry fast, which is key on long backpacking trips, and they convert easily to Bermuda-length shorts. They are a go-to pair for both day hikes with a solid weather forecast and long trips in variable conditions. The mid-rise waist has a fleece-lined band for extra comfort, and it felt comfortable under a backpack with a hip belt.

We did feel like the convertible zipper was irritating our thighs at times, but we've yet to find a convertible pair that doesn't. If your thighs are significantly larger than your waist size, you may not find these so comfortable. When we did convert them to a short, the Bermuda-length was a little on the long side, and we would have preferred an inch or two shorter. We understand that the "convertible" style is not for everyone, but it is practical on extended trips into the backcountry when you only want to bring one pair of bottoms but might encounter a range of temperatures. The Lobo's are functional, versatile, and can be used for a variety of applications, from water sports to travel.

Read review: Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant - Women's

Best Bang for the Buck


Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch - Women's


Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch
Best Buy Award

$44.99
at Amazon
See It

Weight: 10 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Lightweight
Breathable
Stretchy and easy to move in
Small front pockets
Material is prone to pilling
The Women's Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pants combine affordability with high performance. Our experts loved the comfortable material and flattering, tapered fit, as well as the articulated knees, which gave us good mobility. These pants are breathable and will resist a light rain. They are UPF 50+ rated, and they roll up and secure to a cropped length. Best of all, they cost $20-30 less than other pairs in this review.

We did find the front hand pockets to be on the small side; if you like to hike with your hand in your pockets, this is probably not a good option for you. The soft material pills more than a ripstop Nylon material, so they do show wear more than some other models. While this is a "pants-only" option, Columbia also makes a convertible version, the Saturday II, which convert to shorts with a 10-inch inseam.

Read review: Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch - Women's

Top Pick for Wet Weather


Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant - Women's


Weight: 11 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Best in review weather resistance!
Lightweight for a softshell pant
Integrated belt and deep pockets
Heavy for summer use
Not convertible
Expensive
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT was the most impressive pair that we tested from a weather resistance perspective. The softshell material is highly water resistant and quick to dry, and it works almost as well as a dedicated pair of rain pants. The pants are light enough for spring and summer weather and can handle cooler temps if you can fit a base layer underneath them (they have a trim cut even after we sized up in them). We loved in the integrated belt and the deep, zippered hand pockets also.

Even though the Gamma is light for a softshell pant, it is still heavier and thicker than the lightest hiking pants that we tested. They don't convert to shorts or roll up well to a cropped length and are better for cold and damp weather than blazing summer temps. They are also expensive, costing twice as much as most of the other options in this review. But if you need a highly technical pair for Alpine conditions or cooler weather hiking, they are worth every penny.

Read Review: Arc'teryx Gamma LT - Women's

Top Pick for Comfort


Mountain Hardwear Dynama


Top Pick Award

$52.46
at Backcountry
See It

Weight: 7.5 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Soft material
Stretchy fabric moves with you
Flat waistband
No internal drawstring or belt loops
Pants stretch out a bit during the day
Poor long-term durability
Looking for a cozy pair of technical pants that you can hike a trail in, scramble up a boulder, stretch out on a yoga mat, and still look put together enough to stop by the grocery store on the way home? The Mountain Hardwear Dynama is the pair for you! The material on the Dynama is buttery soft and very stretchy, and we loved doing just about everything in them. They are breathable as well, thanks to the thin material, but that also makes them more of a warm weather pant than a cool weather one.

They tend to stretch out a bit over the day and have no internal drawstring or belt loops, so this is one we'd recommend sizing on the tight side so that it doesn't end up by your knees midday. The soft material is also prone to pilling. It didn't happen right away, but after about six months of regular wear, they weren't looking so nice anymore. Even then though, they were still comfortable. Mountain Hardwear makes a whole line of clothing in this soft fabric, including short and capris, a skirt, and an ankle pant. If you hate stiff and "swishy" pants and want something soft for all-day wear, the Dynama is hard to beat.

Read review: Mountain Hardwear Dynama

Top Pick for Trail Running


The North Face Progressor Hybrid Tights


North Face Progressor Hybrid
Top Pick Award

$84.95
at Backcountry
See It

Weight: 7 ounces | Inseam: 28 inches
Contoured fit
Moisture-wicking
Two hip pockets
Abrasion patches on front and rear don't stretch as well
Minimal features
Slow to dry
This year The North Face replaced their popular Hybrid Hiker Tights with the Progressor Hybrid Tights. We liked the new Progressor slightly less than the old version, which we'll explain below, but we still think it's a good option for those who don't like wearing full pants on the trails. Maybe you like to run part of your hikes, maybe you can't stand the swish-swish of nylon rubbing against nylon, or maybe you like the compression that tights give you. Whatever the reason, if you do like to hike in tights but don't want to trash another pair of yoga pants, the Progressor Hybrid Tight are a great choice. They have abrasion-resistant panels that give them better long-term durability than your standard yoga tight, and they at moisture-wicking and breathable.

These new panels that weren't on the previous version are a great idea, but end up feeling a little weird. The panels stretch differently than the main material so that with every step you can feel part of the tight stretching and part of it resisting your movement. The panels sit on the rear and front of the tights, which is great from a durability perspective but it also ends up making them harder to put on. While they are breathable, they're still a little warm for a hot summer day. But for colder days, trail runs, or anytime where you feel like wearing leggings instead of pants, the Progressor is an excellent choice.

Read review: The North Face Progressor Hybrid

Top Pick for Mobility


Prana Halle - Women's


Top Pick Award

$63.71
at MooseJaw
See It

Weight: 12 ounces | Inseam: 32 inches
Articulated knees
Comfortable
Feminine fit
Not breathable
Not water resistant
Small pockets.
While zip-off pants are more versatile, the pesky leg zipper can impede mobility and feel uncomfortable. Enter the Women's Prana Halle. Our Top Pick for Mobility matches your every move, no matter the terrain or sport. Designed with climbers in mind, they climb and hike well, and they are stylish enough for casual wear. The relaxed fit and articulated knees allow for a wide range of movement, and the mid-rise waistline relieves the worry of revealing your backside when bending over or climbing.

The Halle is treated with a DWR treatment, but in practice, it doesn't keep you dry in the rain. While the material is somewhat breathable, they are a heavier pant, and you'll feel hot in these on a warm day, though the option to roll them up and secure the leg helps a bit. They are now available in a convertible version, which converts to a capri length, not a short. This is an excellent option for rock climbing as well since it'll keep your knees covered and protected from dings. They aren't the perfect pant for all conditions but are great for climbing, bouldering, and hiking to and from the crag.

Read review: Prana Halle - Women's

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
85
$80
Editors' Choice Award
Versatile, water-resistant, comfortable, this pant has it all.
84
$190
Top Pick Award
The best cooler and wet weather option in our test group.
82
$80
Great water resistance and quick drying time.
77
$89
Convertible zippers are handy to have but feel annoying.
75
$85
Top Pick Award
Great Mobility for climbing and scrambling.
75
$60
Best Buy Award
A slim-fitting and stretchy pair of lightweight pants.
75
$70
Top Pick Award
A soft and comfortable pair for all-day wear.
72
$75
A standard pair for spring and fall hiking.
71
$80
More of a front country model due to poor water resistance and chaffing issues.
65
$85
Top Pick Award
Fitted tight for trail running or hiking.
63
$79
A great option for around camp but not for wet weather.
55
$75
Best-suited for colder weather and those who like to hike in tights.

Analysis and Test Results


The options for outdoor gear continue to multiply, and hiking pants are no exception. You can find pants that convert to shorts, or roll-up to capris, or both! And there are ones that repel water, or are highly breathable, or provide ultraviolet ray protection. Selecting the right pair for you will depend on a variety of factors, from the main environment you plan to hike in, to your personal preferences over pant length and style. In general, what's typically sold as a hiking pant today is a light-to-medium weight pant that is suitable for spring/summer/fall weather, but the actual temps and conditions you'll be hiking in will vary greatly depending on your locale and elevation. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then a pant with great weather resistance should be your main criteria. Conversely, if your main hiking destination is the desert Southwest, then something with great breathability is preferred. We explore all these considerations and more in our Buying Advice article, and you can also check out our Dream Backpacking Gear List if you need to get fully kitted up for a big trip. You might also like our Introduction to Layered Clothing Systems article for more information on the other layers you'll need to consider when heading out into the backcountry. Keep reading below to see how we scored the different models for each of our testing metrics, and why we consider these different criteria important for a hiking pant.


Value


We always want to be sure that we are getting a good value for what we pay for when we spend our hard-earned money on new outdoor gear. For the most part, the price of a pair of hiking pants ranges between $60 and $85, but they don't all perform equally. Spending a little bit extra might get you more features, like zip-off legs, or a more water resistant material. The one exception in this review was the Arc'teryx Gamma LT, which costs $190 and is in a league of its own price-wise. However, the argument can be made that they are more of a two-in-one rain pant/hiking pant, and therefore a good value after all. The chart below shows the overall scores of each model graphed according to their retail price. As you can see, the Gamma is almost off the chart, but the other models are similarly priced. The best value options lie on the right side of the chart but not too high, like the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch and the Mountain Hardwear Dynama.


Comfort & Mobility


When it comes to hiking pants, we think that their comfort and mobility is one of the most important purchasing criteria. When wearing something for days on end, if it pinches, pulls, or impedes your movement in any way, it could impact your enjoyment of your trip. We go to great lengths to make backpacking "comfortable," with inflatable sleeping pads, padded backpacks, and appropriate footwear, and the clothes you put on your body should receive just as much attention to detail and comfort. Whether you are hiking or running in your pants, or sitting in a canoe, rock climbing, or traveling to a remote location, you'll want something that accommodates your moving body and is not constricting. That can be a tall order to fill! These hiking pants' comfort and mobility ratings were often influenced by fit, fabric, and construction details.


While it is hard to evaluate for fit, as people have different proportions or shapes, we tried our best by putting the various models on several women in the same size range to see if we experienced similar issues, say with legs being too tight. For example, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants are cut with a narrower leg, and the convertible zipper lies very tight around the leg just above the knee. This impedes the Ferrosi's mobility both with and without the legs attached and was a noticeable issue for everyone that tried them on. The Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant felt a little constricting there as well. The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pant had the widest leg circumference of the convertible pants that we tested, which is something to keep in mind if you have more muscular thighs than "average."

Many of the convertible pants/shorts that we tested were cut on the slim side  which impacted our comfort and mobility a bit. Our Editors' Choice winner  the Marmot Lobo's  could stand to be a hair wider in the legs for a more comfortable fit.
Many of the convertible pants/shorts that we tested were cut on the slim side, which impacted our comfort and mobility a bit. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's, could stand to be a hair wider in the legs for a more comfortable fit.

We tried on and wore a lot of convertible pants for this review, including some models that didn't make the cut. With the trend in fashion leading to more tapered pants even in the hiking department, beware of the tightly cut convertible models. The zipper area will not have the same stretch as the rest of the fabric, and if it is cut tightly or your legs run "large," it will decrease your range of motion and comfort. This is one kind of pant that you'll want to try on first even if you're pretty sure on what size to order. See the photo below for a general idea of the cut of each convertible option.

The convertible models in this review include (left to right): The North Face Paramount 2.0  the Outdoor Research Ferrosi  and the Marmot Lobo's.
The convertible models in this review include (left to right): The North Face Paramount 2.0, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, and the Marmot Lobo's.

Not into convertible pants? Many of the above are available as non-convertible options, and we also tested many "regular" pairs. (See pictures below)

The "pants only" models that we tested (left to right): Royal Robbins Jammer II  Mountain Hardwear Dynama  and Patagonia Quandary.
The "pants only" models that we tested (left to right): Royal Robbins Jammer II, Mountain Hardwear Dynama, and Patagonia Quandary.

More pants only models include (left to right): the Kuhl Splash Roll Up  the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch  and the Prana Halle.
More pants only models include (left to right): the Kuhl Splash Roll Up, the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch, and the Prana Halle.

Another fit issue to consider is where the waist of the pant sits in relation to your body. While a lot of this is a personal preference (high vs. low waist), there is a sweet spot in the middle where most of us prefer to wear our pants. Too high (at the natural waist) and there is too much extra material that can bunch up under a hip belt. Too low and your hip belt is pushing your pants down over your rear. Most hiking pants that we tested in this review were cut to fit right across the hip bones, which we preferred. The high-cut pairs in this review include TNF Paramount 2.0, TNF Progressor Hybrid Tights, the REI Co-op Screeline Tights and the Arc'teryx Gamma LT.

A high-waist pant like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT might not feel too comfortable under a hip belt or rock climbing harness  even though it does have a low-profile design
A high-waist pant like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT might not feel too comfortable under a hip belt or rock climbing harness, even though it does have a low-profile design

Fabric was another significant factor in a model's comfort and mobility. Whether you're hiking, bending over to retrieve gear from a pack, high-stepping, rock climbing or doing summit yoga poses, you need something that will stretch and move with you. All of the models in this review have some stretchy fabric in the blend (usually elastane or spandex). Some have as little as 3%, like the Kuhl Splash Roll Up, which still feels relatively stiff, and other as much as 13%. There didn't always seem to be a magic number; the Prana Halle was our Top Pick for Mobility and is only 3% spandex, and our Top Pick for Comfort, the Mountain Hardwear Dynama, is only 4% elastane. You'll want to make sure there is some mixed in there, though, and you can test the material out yourself with a little "squat test" when trying them on. Does the material pinch or stop you in any way? Can you even get down low in them? Testing that out alone in a dressing room could help you decide.

Scrambling in the Mountain Hardwear Dynama. These super stretchy pants felt great on and gave us excellent range of motion.
Scrambling in the Mountain Hardwear Dynama. These super stretchy pants felt great on and gave us excellent range of motion.

As for construction, there are small details in the way a pant is made that can improve mobility, such as a gusseted crotch or articulated knees, like on the Prana Halle. This pair is made for rock climbing and all of the weird ways you might move your legs, such as high-stepping or drop-knee techniques. We wore the Halles on a variety of boulders and climbing routes, and never felt restricted in them.

Articulated knees  like on our Top Pick for Mobility  the Prana Halle pant  helped us move well on the trail and on the rocks.
Articulated knees, like on our Top Pick for Mobility, the Prana Halle pant, helped us move well on the trail and on the rocks.

We also liked the movement we achieved on the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pant. While the legs on this one have a tapered fit, the seaming at the knees gives them a slightly pre-bent shape, allowing for full range of motion when hiking. The material on this pair is also soft and stretchy.

The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch are a slim fitting pant  but the stretchy material and articulated knees gave us great range of motion anyways.
The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch are a slim fitting pant, but the stretchy material and articulated knees gave us great range of motion anyways.

Another detail that aided in comfort was the waistband. The Marmot Lobo's have a fleece-lined waist, which was comfortable against our skin and reduced chaffing. An internal drawstring is always nice too, like on Royal Robbins Jammer II, as it lets you tighten the pants and not have to worry about wearing a belt, which is usually not that comfortable under a backpack. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi, TNF Paramount 2.0, Prana Halle and Patagonia Quandary models all have those as well.

Versatility


Versatility is an important factor to consider when purchasing a pair of hiking pants, particularly when heading on out on multi-day backcountry trips. If you only have one pair of pants with you, they'll need to be able to handle a variety of weather conditions, from hot to cold, and sun to rain. Even on a day hike, conditions can quickly change, from cool at the trailhead to hot on the hike, and cold again up at the summit. The versatility of a pant is determined in large part by its features. By nature, a zip-off pair is more versatile than a roll-up model, and a roll-up will offer you more wear options than a standard pant. The materials used also determined versatility, as a pair of hiking pants with a DWR treatment that is highly water resistant can also be used for water sports, whereas a cotton-blend pair cannot.


The most versatile model in this review was our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's Convertible. These pants can convert into a crop and a Bermuda-length short, and the material offers excellent water resistance. We wore them out on a lake for a day in an inflatable canoe, and the constant back and forth of the paddle across our lap and the ensuing drips should have left us soaked, but the droplets just rolled right off our lap and refused to soak in. The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible and Outdoor Research Ferrosi were also highly versatile but lacked the roll-up crop option. If you like convertible pants (some people just don't), then nothing beats the option to convert to shorts when the weather heats up.

The Marmot Lobo's convert to a crop or short depending on the weather or your preference.
The Marmot Lobo's convert to a crop or short depending on the weather or your preference.

The least versatile models that we tested were the Kuhl Splash Roll Up and the REI Co-op Screeline Tights. The Kuhls are sturdy cargo pants that are made with a cotton-blend fabric, and they absorb any and all water that falls on them. One splash in a creek or a river crossing gone awry could make for a very unpleasant rest of your day. They are also heavy and not very breathable, so with no option to remove the legs, you'll end up pretty uncomfortable on a warm day. The Screeline is also on the heavy side, so you have to hit the perfect less than 70-degree weather window with them; any warmer than that and you'll be sweating a lot.

The Marmot Lobo's are a highly versatile pair. The roll-up leg and water resistant material make them a perfect choice for days out on the trail or water.
The Marmot Lobo's are a highly versatile pair. The roll-up leg and water resistant material make them a perfect choice for days out on the trail or water.

Breathability


Breathability is a key feature of any piece of outdoor gear. As we move through the mountains, our bodies generate heat, which in turn leads us to sweat to cool back down. When this sweat accumulates in our clothing, it's at the very least annoying, and also potentially dangerous. Temperatures can change quickly in the mountains, and cold and wet clothing can, in turn, lead to hypothermia. While we don't tend to sweat as much from the lower half of our body as the upper, good ventilation is still key to preventing discomfort and also "crotch rot," something thru-hikers are all too familiar with, both male and female. Hiking pants achieve breathability both through the types of materials used and the secondary features that can improve airflow.


We spent a lot of time hiking in these pants in hot desert conditions, and the models that kept us cooler from a pure material perspective were, unfortunately, some of the ones that offered the least weather resistance. There seems to be a trade-off between the tighter weave fabrics that repel water, and the more open, cooler weaves that let air, and water, right through. For example, the Mountain Hardwear Dynama was one of the "coolest" pants that we tested, but they did not repel water in the least. The exception was the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, which was highly breathable and still had excellent water resistance.

Hiking in hot weather in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi  one of the most breathable pairs that we tested.
Hiking in hot weather in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, one of the most breathable pairs that we tested.

Beyond the materials used, the other features that can help keep you cooler are both the roll-up and zip-off options. Merely exposing the bottom of our calves seemed to do wonders for improving airflow, both to our legs and our feet, and besides just taking off the legs, you can also unzip the legs part way to provide additional airflow. This feature made a slightly heavier pair, like TNF Paramount 2.0s, more breathable than they otherwise would have been. The mesh-lined pockets on the Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch also helped with breathability.

There's nothing like turning your pants into shorts to help increase breathability.
There's nothing like turning your pants into shorts to help increase breathability.

Durability


Hiking in the mountains can be notoriously hard on your gear, from your footwear to your backpack, and everything in between. And with the prices of hiking pants fast approaching $100, we'd like to buy a pair that will last a long time, without blowing out in the rear or falling apart at the seams. Here's how we scored the ten pairs for their durability.


When purchasing a pair of hiking pants with durability as your main criteria, look for models that are made with "ripstop" or "abrasion resistant" materials. Ripstop fabric is made with a reinforcing pattern that stops holes from running through the length of the material should a tear occur (commonly used in tents). Abrasion-resistant fabrics resist wear from rubbing and other surface wear. This keeps the fabric from pilling and wearing away in areas like the knees, inner thigh, and seat. The Marmot Lobo's Convertible is made of abrasion-resistant nylon, and TNF Progressor Hybrid Tights and REI Co-op Screeline Tights have abrasion-resistant panels on them.

Ripstop Nylon resists snags  and while it won't necessarily stop holes from happening (if you poke this material with a sharp knife it'll still make a hole)  it will help prevent them from spreading.
Ripstop Nylon resists snags, and while it won't necessarily stop holes from happening (if you poke this material with a sharp knife it'll still make a hole), it will help prevent them from spreading.

To evaluate the durability of each pair, we wore them for several months in harsh desert terrain both while hiking, scrambling, and rock climbing. We snapped and unsnapped buttons repeatedly, and carefully examined all the components of the different models. We also pulled out hiking pants from our closets to see how they were faring after several years of use. The model that impressed us the most from a durability standpoint was the Kuhl Splash Roll Up. These cargo-style cotton-blend pants have the thickest material of all the models that we tested, and we can attest to their ability to withstand lots of use. The main durability issue we experienced with the other models was some pilling on the inner legs and knees, specifically in the Prana Halle, Mountain Hardwear Dynama and Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch.

The Kuhl Splash Roll Up is a very durable pant. It withstood months of use  both while hiking and climbing over sharp limestone and rough sandstone.
The Kuhl Splash Roll Up is a very durable pant. It withstood months of use, both while hiking and climbing over sharp limestone and rough sandstone.

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance is an important point to think about when buying a pair of hiking pants, as you will most likely be using them out in the elements. Our legs tend to be an afterthought when it comes to protecting our body from the wind and rain, but we can personally attest to the fact that you will be very miserable if your legs are cold and soaking wet even if your rain jacket is keeping your core and head dry. The three elements to consider for weather resistance are rain, wind and sun exposure.


The most immediate element we think of when it comes to weather is the rain. It can turn a lovely hike into a nightmare and leave you a decidedly unhappy camper. And while it's easy to whip a rain jacket out of the lid of your pack and put it on, finagling a pair of rain pants on in a hurry is no easy feat. That's why we prefer heading out in a pair of hiking pants that provide a good amount of water resistance, as you can continue hiking in them in a light to medium drizzle. Water resistance is provided both by the materials used and an additional durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the fabric. By nature, nylon and polyester fabrics are hydrophobic (repel water), whereas cotton is hydrophilic (attracts water). That's why manufacturers typically do not use any cotton in their hiking pants, and while we liked the durability and comfort of the cotton-blend Kuhl Splash Roll Up, they are not at all water resistant. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT, Marmot Lobo's and TNF Paramount 2.0 models, were all highly water resistant, repelling water and taking a lot of friction and time to finally saturate through. These models have a DWR coating, but so do the Prana Halle and Patagonia Quandary, and they did not repel water nearly as well.

The combination of a hydrophic material and added DWR coating makes water bead up and roll right off the Arc'teryx Gamma LT.
The combination of a hydrophic material and added DWR coating makes water bead up and roll right off the Arc'teryx Gamma LT.

DWR coatings will wear off over time, and won't work as well if your pants are dirty. Consider washing your high-performance gear with a product like Nikwax Tech Wash, which cleans your garments without degrading the DWR.

Another consideration when it comes to water is the drying time. When you get wet on the first day of a week-long backpacking trip and only have one pair of pants, you'll be happy if yours are quick-drying. The Lobo's and Paramount 2.0s fit the bill for this criteria as well, drying out in the full sun in around 20 minutes. This was twice as fast as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Acr'teryx Gamma LT, which are made with a "soft-shell" style fabric. While those pairs resist water well, once wet the soft material takes a little while longer to dry.

Testing the drying time of the different models. Quick drying pants are essential for multi-day hikes  as you might get wet due to rain or want to wash them out after a few days.
Testing the drying time of the different models. Quick drying pants are essential for multi-day hikes, as you might get wet due to rain or want to wash them out after a few days.

When it comes to the wind, protecting our legs on a blustery day did not feel as crucial as our core, but is still nice nonetheless. Models with more structured fabric, like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT and TNF Paramount 2.0s, did a better job of blocking the wind that the lightweight Mountain Hardwear Dynama.

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT had great weather resistance and can be used for a variety of colder weather activities  like spring skiing and hiking in wet weather.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT had great weather resistance and can be used for a variety of colder weather activities, like spring skiing and hiking in wet weather.

Finally, what's often overlooked when it comes to pants is sun exposure. We worry about our shoulders and noses but easily skip over our legs when applying sunscreen. However, it is just as essential to protect them from harmful radiation, and wearing clothing that blocks those rays means we can limit the amount of sunscreen we need to use, which is nice when backpacking for days on end without a shower to get all the cream off. You'll see clothing these days with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, which is similar to the SPF rating used in sunscreens. A UPF 50 fabric will block most UV rays falling on it, allowing only 1/50th of the radiation to pass through. While all clothing will block some rays, typical summer fabrics have a UPF of only 6, so picking a designated UPF 50 pair of pants or t-shirt will provide much more protection. This is particularly important when spending time on the water, or on snowfields at elevation.

The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch have a UPF 50+ rating  protecting our legs from sun exposure and limiting the amount of sunscreen we need to apply.
The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch have a UPF 50+ rating, protecting our legs from sun exposure and limiting the amount of sunscreen we need to apply.

Features


With a lot of hiking pants sharing similar styling, materials, or water resistance, sometimes it's the little features that can make or break the overall functionality (and help you decide whether or not you want to purchase a certain pair). Some features, like zip-off legs, are convenient, and yet there are many hikers out there who would never touch a pair with a ten-foot tent pole! Then there are other features that most people can agree upon, like useful pockets and ways of tightening the waistband. Here are some of the standout features we discovered over the course of this review.


When it came to the zip-off models, we were able to get all of the legs off over hiking shoes, but they too narrow to fit over hiking boots. Part of why convertible options are useful is the ability to change into shorts quickly, but if you have to take your boots off it'll slow the whole process down, and at that point, you may as well whip on a separate pair of shorts or a skort. We did appreciate the color-coded zippers on The North Face Paramount 2.0s. It can be a bit of a hassle to get the legs back on, particularly if you can't tell which pant leg goes on which side. By making the right side red and the left side blue, you'll never make that mistake again.

The color-coded zippers on the Paramount 2.0s was one of our favorite features. If you've ever felt like an idiot trying to figure out which pant leg goes on which side  you'll never have that problem again with this model.
The color-coded zippers on the Paramount 2.0s was one of our favorite features. If you've ever felt like an idiot trying to figure out which pant leg goes on which side, you'll never have that problem again with this model.


Another feature that's important is usable pockets. Some models, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi (below, left), Prana Halle, and Patagonia Quandary, have shallow hand pockets that don't hold much and gape open when squatting down. Sometimes it's nice to walk with your hands in your front pockets, and not have to worry about losing whatever you put in them. TNF Paramount 2.0s (below, right), Royal Robbins Jammer II and Mountain Hardwear Dynama had deep front pockets that could hold our whole hand on chilly mornings.

We liked the deep hand pockets on the Paramount 2.0s

In addition to front pockets, having another place to secure items that you want to have readily accessible is a great feature. Most of the models in this review had a side pocket, but some, like on TNF Paramount 2.0s (below, left), were rather small, whereas others were large enough to accommodate a phone or energy bar.

The cargo pockets are on the small side and can't even fit a phone.
Deep side pockets are a great feature for keeping your phone or camera close at hand.


A final welcomed feature was an internal drawstring. Belts can feel bulky and uncomfortable while hiking, particularly under a backpack's hip belt. Being able to tighten the waist without one was a great option, and many of the models in this review had one.

An inner drawstring helps with fit adjustments and means you don't have to wear a belt  which is much preferred when also wearing a harness or hipbelt.
An inner drawstring helps with fit adjustments and means you don't have to wear a belt, which is much preferred when also wearing a harness or hipbelt.

Conclusion


Out and about in our Editors' Choice winner  the Marmot Lobo's Convertible. Hopefully this review helped you narrow down your options and figure out which one is the best for you.
Out and about in our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's Convertible. Hopefully this review helped you narrow down your options and figure out which one is the best for you.

We put a lot of miles, energy, and wear and tear on our joints to bring you the best women's hiking pant review. We hope our side-by-side tests and thorough analysis help you in your decision-making process and that you've found a good option for you whatever your hiking objectives may be.
Cam McKenzie Ring

  • Share this article:

Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.

You Might Also Like