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If you’ve ever gone hiking and backpacking in denim or sweatpants, you probably found out the hard way that these types of pants just aren’t cut out of hiking activities.
When it comes to gear for a backpacking trip, your clothes are just as important as your boots, jacket, or your backpack and the travel pants you choose are no exception.
Here are 5 of the best backpacking pants for women that want to stay cool, comfortable and protected, with some durable pant for hiking on the trail.
Prana may not be as much of a household name as Marmot or TNF, but don’t let that fool you. This brand makes some beautifully designed hiking pants for women that are just as comfortable and attractive around town as it is in the backcountry for his durability. It’s tough to choose only one pair for backpacking, but the Halle model comes pretty close to perfect.
Having three inseam options is always a huge plus but taller women will really find the 36″ inseam to be a huge benefit. While most “Tall” inseams stop at 34″, the extra 2″ can really provide the coverage some women need.
The Relaxed fit is a little slimmer compared to other pants due to the straight legs, but this gives the pants a flattering look on the body. The use of Prana’s Stretch Zion and articulated knees ensure that you don’t feel restricted while getting over tricky spots on the trail or having to do some climbing.
The Halle isn’t a convertible style, which can either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what you like. Some women much prefer the look of regular pants versus convertible so if that is your preference, the Halle is a great choice. These pants do have roll up cuffs with built-in tabs to keep them in place so if you need to cool off or cross very shallow water, you can do so easily making it a great choice for hiking and backpacking.
Pricing: You can see the latest prices on the Halle’s here.
Similarly to Marmot, The North Face is another famous outdoor apparel brand – perhaps even one of the most popular. Women with a love for outdoor adventures are probably already aware that TNF is known for their excellent designs that fit the curves of a woman’s body well. The brand certainly kept the design in mind when they created the North Face women’s hiking pants Paramount 2.0.
While at first glance the Paramount ll travel pants might look like any typical convertible pant, these actually have a lot more going for them. A few key differences in features, like their pockets, make this model a great choice for women that aren’t yet fans of these style of hiking pants for women.
First off, there is a huge range of sizes available, from 00 up to 16. Most women will be able to find the perfect size and comfort. Not to mention that unlike many other outdoor pants, the Paramount ll has three inseam sizes. This is an instant selling point for women that find the typical 32″ inseam to be too short or too long.
A common complaint of some convertible pants is that when zipped down to shorts, the inseam of the convertible pant as shorts is unattractively long, especially for women on the petite size. While many other models end up at knee-length the Paramount ll is at an excellent 5″ inseam.
This is long enough to provide coverage and help prevent chafing while still enough leg to keep you cool and looking great. Not to mention you can cool off easier in a pond, lake or creek without worrying about soaking your shorts making it a great piece of women’s outdoor gear.
Lastly, the Paramount 2.0 has some great little features that really make them a favorite. Numerous pockets, including the mini cargo pockets, are perfect for stowing small gadgets or snacks for later. The DWR finish also helps keep you dry in mist, fog or a light drizzle.
Pricing: You can check out prices on the Paramount 2.0 at this Amazon listing.
Marmot makes some amazing apparel like pants for men, women and children alike, so it’s no surprise that their pants for hiking are a firm favorite for women’s hiking and backpackers. The Lobo convertible pant are an excellent choice for women that will be hiking backpacking over a variety of terrain or in shifting weather conditions.
A convertible pant is always a great choice for backpacking since you get the best of both worlds – the protection and durability of long pants but the ability and comfortable fit to switch to shorts when things get warm or you want to wade through water. The Lobo’s by Marmot is perfect all-around convertibles.
These are real workhorse pants and most women will find that the comfortable fit, between sizes 2 and 14, is excellent.
“The fit is great. can’t wait to try them hiking.” -Amazon review
The combination of Nylon and Elastane is perfect in this convertible pant. The Nylon ensures your legs stay protected from brush and rocks while the small amount of Elastane keeps the pants flexible making it a great piece for your hiking gear. The Driclime Interior Waistband is rigid enough to stay put on the waist but stretchy for when you have to bend or climb for an incredible comfort.
The Lobo’s may not the be the most feminine fitting pants or have the option for Short or Tall inseams, but for the average woman, these workhorses will keep you comfortable day in and day out as all hiking pants for women should.
Pricing: You can check out the this listing for the latest prices on the Lobo’s
Summary: If you are moving through multiple elevations, or just want a good set of multipurpose hiking pants, the Kuhl Kliffside pants are the way to go (nylon and spandex combo).
Summary: If you are looking for something durable enough for Alpine (or winter) use, but flexible enough for vigorous hiking, the Gamma LT by Arc’teryx is a GREAT option (available at REI Co-Op right now)
Summary: Great nylon and spandex combination, extremely TOUGH, breathable and wind resistant, available directly via Outdoor Research here.
Summary: Great for abrasive outdoor conditions where you are bushwacking or traveling through dense underbrush, available here via Moosejaw.
Summary: The lightest pair of TRUE backpacing pants (not leggings / tights), but extremely lightweight at 8.04 oz, available here via CampSaver.
Summary: Great for extra storage, deep cargo pockets, security pocket, with convertible zip offs, available directly via Columbia here.
Summary: The ONLY 100% waterproof pant (not just water resistant), also extremely lightweight at just 9 oz, available here via Moosejaw.
Going to yoga class wearing jeans makes just as little sense as wearing them on a hike. If you are serious about backpacking, invest in some high-quality pants made for that activity. Most women should be able to find their perfect fit within these 10+ excellent hiking pants.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.