When you are deciding what to wear hiking, your safety and protection are often the main concerns that you will have before you head out on the trail. Proper hiking apparel is one of the best ways that you can protect your body from the elements and debris on the trail. Hiking pants are often the go-to attire for many hikers, but if you want something a little more comfortable, you should try hiking in leggings.
The best hiking leggings will provide you with the same durability and versatility as a good pair of hiking pants, but they will have more stretch and be form-fitting for extra comfort on your hike. But it can be difficult to find a quality pair of women’s hiking leggings, especially if you are new to hiking in yoga pants.
To help you in your search, we’ve made a list of the ten best hiking leggings and included our comprehensive buying guide. We want to help you find top-rated leggings for hiking and provide you will all the information you need to make a great hiking investment.
I'm not anti-cotton, but I'm pretty anti-cotton-while-hiking, because of the fabric's tendency to chill and chafe you when it gets wet. Happily, it's getting downright easy to find leggings in technical fabrics like wool and a range of wicking synthetics.
Leggings come with two great bonuses. First, their slim fit and limited seams make it easy to get a good, chafe-free fit beneath the waist belt of a backpack. Second, if you find yourself getting cold you can just throw a layer on top of leggings — no need to pull off your outer layer to put on long underwear beneath.
No pockets? Think again! A few leggings manufacturers offer pockets large and functional enough to hold a smartphone, car keys and a small wallet, or your favorite hiking snacks.
How To Choose Hiking Leggings – Buying Guide
The best leggings for hiking will be made with quality material, which is also durable to be long-lasting. However, there are a few different types of material that you should consider when looking to purchase a pair of hiking leggings for women.
If you are desert hiking or plan to be out in hot weather, you will want to choose a lightweight fabric that can keep you cool. A lightweight fabric would have only one layer in the majority of the construction and may only feature double layers in the crotch or pockets. You should also consider purchasing a pair of leggings that cover more of your skin, so you can stay protected from the sun and reduce the risk of sunburn.
If you are going to adventure in temperatures on the opposite end of the scale, you will need warm leggings for hiking to protect you from the cold. Hiking leggings for cold weather should be thicker and may even feature a full fleece lining to shield you from the wind and snow. If the weather is bitterly cold, hiking tights can also be used as a great base layer.
The best trekking leggings will be made out of a material that is quick-drying or moisture-wicking. A quick-dry material means that you can get wet without staying wet for long periods of time. However, the material may also be sweat-wicking so that it can move excess moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate. Quick-drying fabric wants to let water out, so don’t confuse them with waterproof leggings or even water-resistant leggings which want to repel any form of moisture.
The stretch of the material is also important because all top-rated leggings for hiking should be made with stretchy material. The stretch will allow the tights to move freely and easily with your body, which is important when you are wearing form-fitting apparel. For unrestricted movement and better comfort, spandex or elastane should be featured in your hiking tights.
Finally, you should check that the material is not see-through whenever you bend or move. A quality pair of women’s hiking leggings should have a non-see-through fabric, so you don’t have to worry about your privacy. Hiking legging reviews are a great way to check if the material is truly non-see-through or if it tends to show in certain areas.
Style and Design
There are a few different styles and designs of women’s hiking leggings, but you’ll find that the most popular tend to be form fitting and high waisted. The form-fitting hiking leggings for women will often also have compression in the legs and waist. Compression can help give the leggings more structure and improve your performance by keeping you warm and supported.
A high waist is also popular because it can help shape and control your tummy during rigorous activity. The shapewear aspect of women’s hiking tights is often comfortable and the desired feature because it makes you look more athletic and sleeker. A high waist is also more likely to stay put as you exercise and can provide more coverage.
While form-fitting is all the rage right now, you won’t find leggings that aren’t tight. Leggings are naturally meant to hug your body snuggly and you’ll have to decide whether you want to hike in yoga pants or opt for traditional hiking pants for women.
Fit and Size
As we discussed, even the best hiking leggings will fight snug against your body, so it can be difficult to determine which size if best and how they should fit. While size is related to fit, they are not the same. You will have to determine your size and then decide whether the leggings have a functional fit for your body.
The size will often vary by brand because each company tends to have its own way to size garments. A size chart should always be included by the brand, which will allow you to compare your measurement with their recommended size. The best hiking leggings will be available in a variety of sizes to be inclusive for all women.
When you’ve picked what size you think you are, you’ll have to determine the fit. Many top-rated leggings for hiking have a compression feature, which means they fit tightly around your legs and waist. But you don’t want to experience tingling or feel cold because that can indicate that your walking tights are not the right fit and are too constrictive.
Hiking legging reviews can help you determine whether a brand’s leggings run true to size or whether you need to size up or down to find the right fit.
Hiking can be a rigorous activity, especially if you going off-trail, so it’s important that when you’re hiking in leggings that you are also comfortable. Comfort will likely be determined by the material of the women’s hiking leggings and whether they stretch, breathe, and fit well.
Softer materials are always more comfortable, and ventilation will stop you from overheating, but you should also look at the construction of the leggings. A gusseted crotch will fit better and move more freely with each step you take. The best hiking leggings will always have a gusseted crotch for comfort. Flat seams can also keep you comfortable because they reduce bulk and are less irritating to the skin.
Many people fall in love with wearing leggings and you may find that you want to use your leggings for more than just hiking mountains. Top-rated leggings for hiking will be versatile so that you can use them every day or on epic adventures. You can even use them for a few yoga classes because there is a lot of yoga poses for hikers that can improve your performance on the trail.
When you hike, you tend to sweat. Even when wearing leggings for winter hiking, you may sweat because of the increased inactivity. To combat the buildup of moisture, your leggings should be breathable. Breathability will ensure that moisture has the change to escape and evaporate off your skin, which keeps you warmer and drier on your journey.
Ease to Move
All women’s hiking leggings need to allow you to move unrestricted throughout the terrain, whether you’re walking a groomed trail or climbing boulders. The best hiking leggings will have a flexible stretch, which will allow you to move without difficulty. You should look for fabric like spandex, which can give fabrics extra stretch so that you can move easily.
Q: Is It Better To Hike In Shorts Or In Leggings?
It will depend on the season that you choose to hike and the terrain conditions. If you are hiking in summer, you’ll probably be more inclined to wear hiking shorts for women because of the high temperatures. Shorts can be a good option, but they leave a lot of skin exposed.
If you are hiking in rugged conditions, you may want to consider choosing hiking pants because they can stop your legs from being scrapped by debris on the trail. Hiking in yoga pants will ultimately provide you more protection, which will be needed if you are hiking in the cold.
Q: Can You Wear Leggings To Hike?
Yes, leggings for women are great to hike in because they provide all the protection and durability as regular hiking pants, but they are more comfortable. The form-fitting style is also more attractive, and the compression can actually increase your circulation and enhance your hiking performance.
Q: How To Care For Hiking Leggings?
The best leggings for hiking will be machine washed for quick and easy maintenance. However, you should always check the care instructions or read hiking legging reviews for advice before your first wash.
Globo Surf Overview
While you may be eager to hit the trail, you’ll be even more excited when you realize that you can hike in comfort with a pair of leggings for women. Long gone are the days of bulky design and itchy fabrics. With the best hiking tights, you can stride confidently on the trail with your comfortable and stylish new hiking gear supporting you along the way.
More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:
- Hardshell Jacket
- Hiking Shirts
- Hiking Snacks
- Women’s Hiking Backpack
- Gifts For Hikers
- Dog Backpack
- Hiking Underwear
- Rain Poncho
- Freeze Dried Food
Do you own a pair of hiking leggings that made it onto our list? Tell us why you love hiking in leggings in the comments section below.