11 Best Hiking Leggings

A guide to the best hiking leggings for thru-hiking and backpacking.

January 04, 2022

With such a vast array of hiking leggings available, selecting the right pair can be difficult. Which ones will keep you the warmest for winter hiking? Is there a lighter, more breathable pair? Knowing what features are most important to you will help in narrowing the search.

We’ve tested and compiled a list of the best hiking leggings available as well as outlined the important considerations for your decision. Let's jump in.

hiking leggings phone pocket

Best for Summer Material Rise Inseam Length Other Features Price
Fjallraven Abisko Womens Trekking Tight 82% polyamide, 18% elastane Mid 26 in Reinforced knees and rear $175
Nike Pro Women’s High-rise ⅞ leggings 78–83% polyester, 17–22% elastane High n/a Mesh at the calves $53
Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings (women’s) 71% nylon, 29% elastane High 28 in 2 mesh side pockets $89
KUHL Transcendr Legging (women’s) 90% nylon, 10% spandex High 29 in UPF 50+, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish $99
Zip Hers Fit & Leisure Tight 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex Mid n/a Unique zipper for peeing, Chlorine Resistant. $95
Lululemon Fast and Free High Rise Tight (25” or 28”) 84% Nylon, 16% Lycra® elastane High 25 or 28 in Storage system: 7 pockets $128
Eddie Bauer Women’s trail leggings 88% polyester, 12% spandex High 25, 28, 31 in UPF 50 $67.50
Best for Winter Material Rise Inseam Length Other Features Price
Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms (women’s) 100% Merino wool High 30.5 in Minimized chafing seams $100
Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights Nyelle Compression (nylon / spandex) High 23 in Storage system: 5 pockets $92
Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo II Tight Recycled Nylon/Spandex High n/a UPF 50+, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish $119
The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Tight 90D WindWall, 92% Polyester, 8% Elastane Mid 28.5-32 in Wind resistant, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish $55

BEST HIKING LEGGINGS FOR SUMMER

Fjallraven Abisko Womens Trekking Tight

Fjallraven Abisko Womens Trekking Tight
  • Material: 82% polyamide, 18% elastane
  • Rise: Mid rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 26 in
  • Other Features:Reinforced knees and rear
  • Price: $175

Why we like it: The dense fabric with extra reinforcements on the knees and rear makes this pair the best choice for rough terrain.

The Abisko Women’s Trekking Tight was designed with rugged adventures in mind. It’s made with a dense, moisture-wicking fabric that features reinforced fabric at the knees and rear meant to withstand rocks and sharp edges. The high-performance stretch material also allows for freedom of movement during your most technical scrambles. Other thoughtful details such as multiple pockets (one is large enough to fit a map and the other zips to securely hold a compass) and a wide waistband make the Abisko Women’s Trekking Tight a tactical and comfortable choice. Available in six different colors.

Available at REI


Nike Pro Women’s High-rise ⅞ leggings

Nike Pro Women’s High-rise leggings
  • Material: 78–83% polyester/17–22% elastane
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: 7/8 length
  • Inseam Length: 27 in
  • Other Features: Mesh at the calves keep you cool
  • Price: $53

Why we like it: The high-shine, moisture-wicking fabric is a stylish option for when you want to look good on the trail without sacrificing comfort.

The Nike Pro Women’s High-rise 7/8 leggings come in three sparkly colors with iridescent waistbands that make you stand out. They feature Nike Dri-FIT technology-- a unique microfiber composition that spreads moisture out over the surface of the fabric allowing for quicker evaporation. With a high waist, tight fit, and minimal seam lines throughout, these leggings will have you both looking and feeling good while you’re getting your sweat on.

Available at Amazon


Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings

Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings
  • Material: 71% nylon, 29% elastane
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 28 in
  • Other Features: Two mesh pockets on the thighs
  • Price: $89

Why we like it: These modern-fitting yet functional leggings will become your daily go-to pair around town, at home, or in the mountains.

Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings have comfort in mind with a high waist, ankle-length, and next-to-skin fit making them one of the most versatile pairs on our list. They come in 26” and 28” lengths, have three color options, and are stretchy without compromising on coverage. Two mesh pockets on the thighs add to their functionality. We can imagine wearing these in all sorts of scenarios. Unsure about sizing? Arc’teryx has virtual advisors ready to help you choose the right fit. Comes in three different colors.

Available at REI


KUHL Transcendr Legging

KUHL Transcendr Legging
  • Material: 90% nylon, 10% spandex
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 29 in
  • Other Features: UPF 50+, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish
  • Price: $99

Why we like it: This stretchy, full-length pair of leggings is made of UPF 50+ fabric to protect you from harmful UV rays.

For those who want to get the most use out of their gear, the KUHL Transcendr leggings would make a great addition. Their stretch and breathability make them perfect for yoga class and transition nicely to outdoor activities due to the UPF 50+ fabric. Built-in stretch panels give you freedom of movement for when you’re posing in downward dog or scrambling up to a summit. Available in two color options.

Available at REI


Zip Hers Fit & Leisure Tight

Zip Hers Fit and Leisure Tight
  • Material: 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex
  • Rise: Mid rise
  • Length: Full Length
  • Inseam Length: n/a
  • Other Features: Unique zipper for peeing, Chlorine Resistant.
  • Price: $95

Why we like it: The unique zipper feature creates an opening wide enough for you to pee without having to pull down your leggings.

Zip Hers is a female-owned and operated company that has crowdsourced feedback from real women to create their line of athletic wear. With efficiency in mind, the custom-designed zipper was born. It is featured on all their leggings and creates an opening wide enough for you to pee without having to pull down your pants. In addition, they are made with a nylon-spandex tricot fabric which provides comfort and support. Also, there are pockets!

Available at Zip Hers


Lululemon Fast and Free High Rise Tight (25” or 28”)

Lululemon Fast and Free High Rise Tight
  • Material: 84% Nylon, 16% Lycra elastane
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: 7/8 length or Full length
  • Inseam Length: 25 in or 28 in
  • Other Features: Storage system (2 side pockets, 5 waistband pockets)
  • Price: $128

Why we like it: These are designed for running and offer the most flexibility out of all the pairs on this list.

The Lululemon Fast and Free high rise tight is all about freedom of movement. Made with their Nulux™ fabric, this pair is incredibly lightweight while still providing the coverage you need. Also, in addition to two side pockets, there are five additional pockets in the waistband! An adjustable drawcord in the waistband ensures you can go for miles without having to continuously adjust. Comes in six color options and two different lengths.

Available at Amazon


Eddie Bauer Women’s trail leggings

Eddie Bauer Women’s trail leggings
  • Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 25, 28, 31 in
  • Other Features: UPF 50
  • Price: $67.50

Why we like it: We love the moisture-wicking and odor-controlling properties of these stylish leggings.

Eddie Bauer Women’s trail leggings were designed specifically for hiking and scrambling adventures. They incorporate everything you’d want in activewear-- stretchy, breathable, and with odor-controlling properties. The high waist offers solid support and the UPF 50+ fabric provides you with much-needed sun protection. Two zippered pockets are the most secure of any of the models we reviewed. Available in nine different colors.

Available at Amazon

hiking leggings bottom


BEST HIKING LEGGINGS FOR WINTER

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms (women’s)

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms
  • Material: 100% Merino wool 
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 30.5 in
  • Other Features: Minimized chafing seams
  • Price: $100

Why we like it: Pure Merino wool can’t be beaten when it comes to warmth, breathability, and odor control.

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms are made of 100% Merino wool, which will help you stay warm and dry while adventuring out in the cold this winter. The slim fit accommodates a wide range of body shapes and is crafted with a flatlock seam construction designed to minimize chafing. These mid-rise leggings come in eight color options to fit every mood.

Available at REI


Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights

Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights
  • Material: Nyelle Compression (nylon / spandex)
  • Rise: High rise
  • Length: 3/4 length
  • Inseam Length: 23 in
  • Other Features: Storage system (3 at the waistband, 1 on each leg)
  • Price: $92

Why we like it: The seven pockets make these cargo pants in legging form.

Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights live up to their name with four mesh pockets at the waist, two side thigh pockets, and one rear zip pocket. Crafted in their soft Nyelle™ fabric, these leggings are one of the more stylish and functional options on our list. Available in four shades, they are a fashionable and practical option for all your cold-weather excursions.

Available at Oiselle


Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo II Tight

Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo II Tight
  • Material: Recycled Nylon/Spandex
  • Rise: High Rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: n/a
  • Other Features: UPF 50+, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish
  • Price: $119

Why we like it: These are the only leggings on our list made with recycled nylon so you can lessen your impact on Mother Earth.

The Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo II Tight offers ample storage in the form of six pockets so you can carry your essentials with you anywhere. The high waist and next-to-body fit ensure warmth and comfort while you’re hiking or climbing in the cooler temperatures, and your skin will thank you for the UPF 50+ sun protection. The recycled nylon makes these a sustainable option while resisting snags and tears.

Available at Athleta


The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Tight

The North Face Womens Winter Warm Tight
  • Material: 90D WindWall, 92% Polyester, 8% Elastane
  • Rise: Mid rise
  • Length: Full length
  • Inseam Length: 28.5-32 in
  • Other Features: Wind resistant, Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish
  • Price: $55

Why we like it: The WindWall™ technology on the front-of-leg and calf is a welcome touch for running in the cold.

The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Tight was designed for winter running in mind. Not only are they highly wind-resistant with their WindWall technology, but the special FlashDry™ material helps keep you cool and dry during your workout. Reflective logos on the left thigh and the back of the right leg and outer ankles give you added visibility. Multiple pockets allow you to bring along your essentials.

Available at Amazon


Considerations

BREATHABILITY

When choosing leggings suitable for warm-weather workouts, you’ll want to select a pair that allows for enough airflow to keep you cool and comfortable. Cotton is a great choice for summer as it is the most breathable fabric and soaks up sweat allowing your body to cool down. Also, many companies have created their own proprietary blend of materials to absorb or wick away moisture (Nike’s Dri-FIT polyester blend, Lululemon’s specially knit Nulux™ fabric, etc.).

In addition to fabric considerations, look for mesh panels on pairs that are described as quick-drying and lightweight.

hiking leggings close up

DURABILITY

Not all leggings are created equal—some are made of lightweight fabric that would be great for summer running, while some are made of a denser material meant to withstand rough terrain. If you’re planning on the latter, something to look for in a durable pair would be whether high-impact areas are reinforced with extra material. For example, the Fjallraven Abisko Women’s Trekking Tight that we reviewed above has extra material on the knees and butt specifically to ensure they can withstand sitting or rubbing up on tough surfaces.

Another durable pair on our list is the Athleta Headlands Hybrid Cargo II Tight which specifically calls out that the material is abrasion-resistant to withstand snags and tears.

hiking leggings waistband

FIT

A good pair of hiking leggings should be snug in the right places and fit next to skin, but not so tight that your range of motion is affected. If they are too loose, you’ll be constantly adjusting. If they are too tight, you will be very uncomfortable during your workout. The right fitting pair will have you feeling light and well supported. Look for pairs with wide waistbands that will keep everything in place and won’t require you to keep pulling them to stay up.

Leggings should sit smoothly against your skin and should not pinch. If the fabric is loose in certain areas or if the fabric is stretched too thin when you bend, reevaluate the size. There are many options available for plus-sized women.

hiker squatting with leggings

VERSATILITY

All the leggings on our list can be worn for multiple types of activities, but if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck you should consider a pair that has maximum versatility. For example, the Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings are stretchy enough for rock climbing but stylish enough to run errands around town.

A versatile choice for cooler weather is the Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms. Made of 100% merino wool, they’ll keep you warm when worn as a base layer and are sleek enough to wear under a dress as tights.

hiking leggings backview

MATERIAL

The material used to make a pair of leggings will determine its breathability, stretch, and warmth. Consider what is most important for your intended activity when selecting a pair.

hiking leggings waistband

Some of the most common materials include:

Nylon and spandex – The combination of these synthetic materials makes for a stretchy, comfortable fit. It also allows some companies to add UPF protection into the fabric. However, they are not as breathable as natural fibers such as cotton or wool.

Merino wool – This natural material is insulating so it keeps you warm when it is cold outside, and cool when it is hot. Not only is it moisture-wicking, but it is odor resistant meaning you can wear it multiple times in between washes. Though it sounds perfect, merino wool is not without —merino wool is prone to shrinking and requires special care when washing.

leggings with trekking poles

WARMTH

Proper layering is key to staying warm in the winter months. Leggings act as a great base layer because they sit close to your skin, but some materials are better for warmth than others. A heavier material tends to provide more warmth, but make sure that it pulls moisture away from your skin. As your base layer is meant to keep you dry, wool leggings are a great option because they are naturally insulating and wick away moisture.

hiking leggings zip pocket

WEATHER RESISTANCE

Many leggings are made with materials meant to withstand the elements. Look under the item’s description to see what materials it is made of and what features are highlighted (windproof, waterproof, or water-resistant, etc.)

For example, The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Tight is highly wind-resistant with their unique WindWall technology making them suitable for winter running. Keep in mind that synthetic materials tend to be more water-resistant than natural fibers.

hiking leggings pocket

DESIGN FEATURES

Keep an eye out for these design features when deciding on a pair of leggings:

Pockets – convenient for holding lip balm, credit cards, phone, and other essential items while you’re on the go

Stretch panels – help to give you maximum range of motion

Mesh panels – maximize airflow to keep you cool during your workout

Sun protection – look for fabric with UPF protection for an added layer of defense against harmful UV rays

Waistbands – wide waistbands tend to offer more support and reduce the need for adjustments on the trail

Reinforced areas – great for undertaking more strenuous activities when you need your leggings to be able to withstand rough terrain.

hiking leggings back waistband


FAQ

What are some hiking legging outfit ideas?

Leggings are a sleek and versatile piece of clothing that comes in a wide array of colors, sheens and can be worn many ways on and off the trail. For a casual outfit, wear matte leggings under a flowy top or sweater. For a trendier look, pair shiny, high-waisted leggings (such as the Nike Pro Women’s High-rise ⅞ leggings) with a crop top. Boots, flats, tennis shoes, and sandals all go well with leggings depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Leggings (such as the Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms) look great under a dress or a skirt in the wintertime while also keeping you warm.

best hiking leggings

How to wear hiking boots with leggings?

Form-fitting leggings look seamless when tucked into boots. In the winter, wear longer wool socks covering your leggings and tucked into a pair of mid or high ankle hiking boots to ensure any exposed skin is covered. In the summer, hiking shoes or low-cut boots can be worn with leggings as well.

hiker wearing leggings with socks

How to layer leggings?

Proper layering is key to staying warm in the winter months. Leggings act as a great base layer because they sit close to your skin, but some materials are better for warmth than others.

hiker wearing leggings in a tent

BASICS OF LAYERING:

BASE LAYER – The purpose of this first layer is to keep you dry. Wool leggings are a great option as they are naturally insulating and wick away moisture.

MIDDLE LAYER – This is the insulating layer. Now that you have your leggings as a base to keep you dry, the second layer retains body heat to keep you from getting cold.

OUTER LAYER – Usually a shell that protects you from the wind and rain.


⏭ Read next: 11 Best Hiking Pants

📸 Some photos in this post were taken by Ross Enlow (@rossaenlow)

Elaine Tam photo

About Elaine Tam

By Elaine Tam: Elaine works full-time as a medical sales representative in Ohio. During her free time, she and her husband, Elliot, can be found researching their next day hikes or backpacking trips and sharing tips with friends and family in efforts to get more people out into the mountains.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. This post may contain affiliate links. This comes at no extra cost to you.
Stoveless Backpacking Meals
  • 650-Calorie Fuel
  • No Cooking
  • No Cleaning