When you set out for a hike, you naturally want to make the most of it. One of the ways to ensure this is by having the correct type of pants.
With the right pants, you're assured of both comfortability and protection from the elements.
"But what are the right hiking pants for women? What types of hiking pants are there for you to choose from?"
In this article, we discuss the various factors to consider while buying hiking pants for women. Here's what you'll learn:
Let's get into it!
Types of Hiking Pants for Women
Women's Hiking pants are available in many different designs. The four main types are:
Traditional/ Standard Pants
These are the most common types of pants that you can find in any store. These pants have the simplest designs and can even be worn for your day-to-day activities.
Traditional pants have no extra zippers, buttons, or add-ons.
These pants are recommended for short day hikes and can be uncomfortable for longer trips. If you plan to go for longer hikes, look for other options.
These are similar to the traditional type of pants with the addition of zip-off legs. The zip-off feature allows you to remove the leg's lower section, converting them into shorts when needed.
These pants are great for hiking in both hot weather and cool climates. If you're unsure of the weather conditions on the trail, these are the pants to go for. In hot weather, they can be used as shorts, while in colder climates, you can use them as full-on pants
Convertible hiking pants are also best for hikes where you need to carry less gear. You can save up on space by converting these shorts into capris or even one-legged leggings to enjoy the sun in style.
However, zip-off convertible pants can be pretty uncomfortable and chafe your legs if the zipper is wrongly placed. So before buying these types of pants, make sure they fit right.
These are your go-to hiking pants during the hot weather.
This is because these pants come with cuffs that allow you to strap your pants legs ups, allowing for more airflow around your ankles.
Similar to zip-off pants, these pants are great for both hot and cold climates. In hotter trails, you can roll up the leg area for more ventilation. When the temperatures drop, you can roll down the leg part.
And here's the best part!
Unlike zip-off pants, which require you to carry the bottom part, these parts don't add to your luggage. It's also faster to roll up pants, as opposed to taking off the bottom part of pants.
They may seem like unconventional pants for hiking. However, many women swear by them.
Leggings are not just great for winter hikes but can also be worn as base layers in colder climates and even during summers in case there is no water along your route. Leggings are one piece of clothing that takes up little space when rolled up in your backpack.
Look for the thickness of the fabric as your priority,\ as they should be warm and light.
They have one disadvantage. Leggings easily snag on thorns and rocks; therefore can't be used to hike on terrains with thorns and bushes.
What to Consider When Buying Hiking Pants for Women
Before purchasing any hiking pants, there are several factors to consider. Your choice depends on your needs and your budget. The factors include:
Fit and Comfort
When choosing hiking pants for women, consider those that fit well around your waist. The inseam measurement (distance between the crotch and the ankle) should be the right fit for mobility. If pants are too long, they may end up coming off.
Opt for mid-waist pants.
If too low, the extra material may settle under the waistband causing extra pressure, and if too high, your backpack's belt may push them down.
If unsure of your fit, check out our fitting guide here:
Material for the Pants
Fabric is an integral part of any hiking pants. Look for options that have a high-quality synthetic fabric. Some of the materials used in making hiking pants may include:
Cotton pants are not a good idea if you plan to hike outdoors often. This material, although very comfortable, is not suitable for hiking because it absorbs moisture and tends to become heavy when wet.
Nylon is a breathable, stretch fabric that can be easily packed along with you on your trip. However, nylon is not the best choice for wet weather because it doesn't keep you warm when damp and tends to absorb water quickly, making you feel cold and uncomfortable.
This material, also commonly known as "PU," is a good choice for your hiking pants because it's lightweight, waterproof, and easy to clean. However, this material can be stuffy in warm weather, so it might not be the best option if you often hike in summer.
Polyester is a popular choice for hikers because it's comfortable, lightweight, and breathable in hot weather. It's also relatively waterproof and dries faster than other materials, making it great for pants meant for hiking in wet conditions.
This material, also known as "elastane," is a stretchy synthetic fiber often used with other materials. It's great for high activity sports and hiking because it runs smoothly against your skin to prevent chafing or rashes. Spandex is also lightweight, breathable, and dries quickly, making it ideal for humid weather conditions.
As unexpected as the rain can be, getting soaking wet while out on the trails can be pretty demoralizing.
Hiking pants could be made of waterproof or water-resistant material, depending on what you plan to do when out hiking. Some fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and Spandex repel water well without sacrificing breathability.
Women waterproof pants can also be made with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating that allows water to slide off without soaking your fabric.
Weather conditions can significantly affect your choice of hiking pants. If you plan to go on hikes that are mostly sunny and dry, choose lightweight, breathable material which is comfortable.
If you plan to hike in a warm and humid location with a chance of rain, choose sports pants made of synthetic material that are both waterproof and breathable. The fabric must be quick-drying if you don't want dampness to bring about chills.
If you plan to hike in cold and wet weather, choose pants made of synthetic material that is water-resistant and windproof. Your choice should also be able to maintain body heat without trapping moisture inside since dampness can bring about hypothermia. Wearing pants with a fleece interior is the best choice for cold climates. Layering can help you stay warm when it's cold.
Breathability is a crucial factor to consider when buying hiking pants. Look for a fabric that's lightweight and breathable.
A water-resistant material might prevent rain from soaking your pants, but it won't be able to absorb moisture from inside. When you sweat, the wetness will accumulate, making you feel uncomfortable and cold. So, when shopping for hiking pants, pick a material that can wick water and moisture away from your skin, ensuring you stay dry and warm.
It is best to invest in a good quality pair of hiking pants rather than buying multiple pairs of low-quality ones.
Durable hiking pants will save you money in the long run and ensure that you can spend more time hiking and less time shopping.
For extra durability, opt for pants with extra padding on the knees and back.
What are these features?
Your pants pocket shouldn't be too deep neither should they be too shallow. The right pocket size allows you to easily carry things such as your phone, wallet, and compass, as reaching into your backpack to retrieve these devices all the time could derail your progress.
Choose pockets with zippers or other security features to protect your items from theft, falling off, or pickpockets.
Ankle Side Zips
Zippers on the lower leg portion let you easily remove or put on your pants when nature calls or you need to put on crampons.
It's also advisable to choose zippers with water-resistant covers so moisture won't seep inside accidentally. Ensure that the zipper's teeth lock correctly and don't get caught in the fabric, making it hard to open or close, especially when you're wearing gloves.
Flat Front Waistband
Pick a flat waistband that won't bunch up or bulge when you're carrying a pack. It should be made of material that does not chafe your skin, which means it's smooth to the touch.
Your belt loops should be secure to hold your gear in place.
Your pants should have belt loops to allow you to attach a belt to keep your pants from sagging. It's advisable not to choose a thick waistband as it will be uncomfortable when you're carrying a pack.
Choose belt loops that are wide and strong enough to support the weight of your hip belt.
Choose pants with powder skirts if you plan to go on alpine hikes where it snows. The skirt will keep snow out and ensure that your pant stays in place even when there is a lot of movement, such as climbing, belaying, and skiing. A bib design also provides extra protection from cold and wet
A hem drawstring will help keep the legs of your pants from getting caught in your boots as you climb hills, walk through shrubs or jump walls. This will also let you easily adjust the fit of your pants.
Most hiking pants have belt loops but make sure that they don't protrude too much and are not attached too low. If you're wearing a hip belt on your backpack, this can increase pressure on the belt loops, causing them to wear out quickly.
Adjustable Cuffs with Drawstrings
These are designed to keep the cold and rain out. Make sure that elasticized cuffs with drawstrings fit securely over your boots without restricting blood flow or causing discomfort.
If your backpack has a hip belt, go for pants with an internal drawstring, as this will hold your pants in place and prevent them from falling off.
The Terrain you Intend to Hike
Do you plan to hike on a trail or go off the track?
Pants suitable for hiking on a desert trail might not be appropriate for a trek in the park.
If you plan to hike on a well-marked, maintained trail, you could choose a pair of pants with a low cut to ensure comfort and mobility.
But if you plan to hit the backcountry, choose a pair that's built to last. It should protect your legs from scrapes, bruises, and snake bites.
Waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabrics are the best option for those who plan to go off-road.
Before buying hiking pants, you also need to consider the price of different pants.
An essential rule of thumb is that the more expensive the pants, the better the quality and the more functionality.
However, don't break your bank when buying hiking pants. With $100, you can get a great pair of high-quality hiking pants for women. Also, make sure to look out for coupons and discounts to allow you to save more.
Recommendations on the Best Hiking Pants
Buying hiking pants for women may be a daunting process for novice hikers.
When buying hiking pants, it's best to buy two different pairs. One meant for the summer and another for winter. Summer pants should be light and breathable, while winter pants should be heavier for better insulation.
Whichever pants you're looking for, Northbound gear has got you covered.
Our Women’s Adventure water resistant pants, which are perfect for winter, or cold weather hiking, are entirely water-resistant, breathable, and made from high-quality material that's tear-proof.
If you're looking to hike in the summer, our " Northbound Gear Women’s Explorer" Water Resistant Summer Pants are the perfect pants for you.
Any Further Questions?
There you go!
A definitive guide on how to choose hiking pants for women.
Do you have any advice on other factors to consider when choosing hiking pants? Do you have any questions on how to choose hiking pants for women? Tell us in the comments section below.
And if you're looking for high-quality hiking apparel, check out our online store here.
Upwards and onwards with Northbound Gear.