Best Leggings for Hiking of 2019

Looking for leggings to wear on the trail? Take a look at our buyers guide - we’ve done the research and have chosen the best leggings for hiking.

What could be better than hitting the trail in your most comfortable pair of leggings?

Many of us will wear leggings from yoga on an easy day hike, but what about for more technical situations or multi day hikes?

It seems like they don’t have what it takes to handle the rough conditions of the backcountry.

The answer is simple: hiking leggings.

Many aren’t aware that such a specific product exists, but some of the best leggings for hiking are as durable and provide the same protection from the elements as your favorite pair of hiking pants.

So why wouldn’t you switch it up to something more comfortable?

Are you looking for hiking pants? Check our guides on best hiking pants for men and for women.

Quick Answer - Editor's choice...

Arc'teryx Sabria Pant Women's (Black, 4)

Reasons To Buy

  • Very lightweight given their durability.
  • Repels water and dries quickly.
  • Has two thigh pockets.
icon-winner
7.4/10

Best Hiking Leggings Comparison Table

Preview
Arc'teryx Sabria Pant Women's (Black, 4)
Fjallraven - Women's Abisko Trekking Tights, Dark Grey, Small
Columbia Titanium Titan Peak Trekking Legging - Women's Black/Shark, M/Reg
Smartwool Men's PhD Wind Tight Black M
Icebreaker Merino Women's WMNS Comet Tights, Black, XS
Weight
6.7oz
9.7oz
8.2oz
8.7oz
9oz
Material
Nylon and Elastane
Polyamide and Elastane
Polyester and Nylon
Wool and Nylon Blend
Wool and Nylon Blend
Waistband
Drawstring
Drawstring
Elastic
Drawstring
Elastic
Reinforcements Areas
None
Knees and Seat
Knees and Seat
None
None
Mens and Womens?
Women's Only
Yes
Women's Only
Yes
Women's Only
SKA Rating
7.4
7.0
7.0
6.4
6.0
-
-
-
Preview
Arc'teryx Sabria Pant Women's (Black, 4)
Weight
6.7oz
Material
Nylon and Elastane
Waistband
Drawstring
Reinforcements Areas
None
Mens and Womens?
Women's Only
SKA Rating
7.4
-
Preview
Fjallraven - Women's Abisko Trekking Tights, Dark Grey, Small
Weight
9.7oz
Material
Polyamide and Elastane
Waistband
Drawstring
Reinforcements Areas
Knees and Seat
Mens and Womens?
Yes
SKA Rating
7.0
Price
Preview
Columbia Titanium Titan Peak Trekking Legging - Women's Black/Shark, M/Reg
Weight
8.2oz
Material
Polyester and Nylon
Waistband
Elastic
Reinforcements Areas
Knees and Seat
Mens and Womens?
Women's Only
SKA Rating
7.0
Price
-
Preview
Smartwool Men's PhD Wind Tight Black M
Weight
8.7oz
Material
Wool and Nylon Blend
Waistband
Drawstring
Reinforcements Areas
None
Mens and Womens?
Yes
SKA Rating
6.4
Price
-
Preview
Icebreaker Merino Women's WMNS Comet Tights, Black, XS
Weight
9oz
Material
Wool and Nylon Blend
Waistband
Elastic
Reinforcements Areas
None
Mens and Womens?
Women's Only
SKA Rating
6.0
Price

How to Choose the Best Leggings for Hiking

Choosing a set of hiking leggings isn’t all that different from picking out a pair of pairs of pants to wear on the trail.

It’s all a matter of finding something that can stand up to the abuses of Mother Nature, while also keeping you in relative comfort.

Comfort/Mobility

This is the main reason you’ll want to start wearing waterproof leggings for hiking:

They’re a whole lot more comfortable than pants!

This is especially true when you encounter a downed tree blocking the trail and need the extra range of motion to swing your leg over it.

They should be form-fitting and the best hiking leggings should almost feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.

That’s not to say that all leggings will be equal on comfort and mobility though.

While leggings made for indoor activities like yoga are typically just a blend of polyester and spandex. Hiking leggings might have some nylon sections woven in for extra durability. These areas won’t stretch well.

Additionally, some hiking leggings and tights have a more comfortable design.

Many of them come with a gusseted crotch, which is a fancy way of saying that there are no seams running down the middle of the crotch section.

Image Credit: Dash Hemp

Instead, it will have a single piece of fabric stretching from the seams on the legs. This is an important feature for men’s hiking leggings that need e a little more room down there.

Versatility

Everyone wants gear that’s good in a variety of situations, but it’s hard to find anything that can be good in all situations.

This is where getting a pair of waterproof leggings for hiking really shines though.

Unlike nylon pants and shorts, leggings can actually look good on and off the trail. Like any piece of technical clothing, there are tradeoffs to be made.

Leggings that are more durable and have lots of reinforcement points will look less natural and probably won’t be suitable for off-trail activities.

Leggings that appear normal might not have the weather resistance necessary for serious backcountry adventures.

Additionally, there are some legging that are warmer than others and are only suited for winter temperatures.

Durability

It goes without saying, but even the best hiking tights are not going to have the same durability as high-quality nylon and polyester weave pants.

Hiking leggings are built for comfort and mobility.

That being said, hiking tights vary widely in terms of durability, with the most long-lasting pairs being constructed from heavy-duty nylon.

Polyester is almost as good, and organic fabrics like wool are the least durable of them all.

To get a pair that can take some serious punishment, it’s best to go with a brand that uses reinforcing patches on high wear areas like the seat and knees of the leggings.

As with anything in outdoor gear though, it’s a tradeoff – fabrics that are more durable are usually less comfortable and are more likely to limit your mobility.

Weather Resistance

One of the most important features to look for in hiking leggings is their resistance to moisture buildup.

Image Credit: Rei

Different fabrics dry at different rates.

Cotton would be the slowest, which is why it’s not used in most hiking clothing, including leggings.

Wool is also not particularly quick to dry, so it gets blended with nylon and polyester, which also makes it a little more water-resistant.

Nylon and polyester are excellent moisture wicking fabrics, they will dry out very fast and are generally good at repelling moisture, making them the best choice for weather resistance, all other things being equal.

However, a problem that many hikers probably don’t think too much about when choosing the best hiking leggings is wind protection.

A cold breeze cuts right through regular spandex leggings, so many manufacturers will add a tighter weave of nylon or polyester to provides extra protection.

This is also where wool has the advantage, as the fibers are better at trapping warm air from your body, which provides a buffer against the wind.

Breathability

Leggings are very similar, and often, identical to base layer clothing. They’re designed with sweat wicking properties and breath sufficiently so you don’t become a hot mess and overheat.

The difference is that they need to perform this role while also being weather resistant. This can be a difficult balance to strike.

Like with any other outdoor clothing, the most breathable fabrics will be the organic ones.

Cotton is not typically used for leggings due to its tendency to absorb water, but wool is not uncommon. Its anti-stench properties along with its breathability make it a great choice for high-intensity exercise.

Fully synthetic fabrics also have a fair degree of variability between them when it comes to breathability.

The best ones will be lighter weight nylon and polyester. Which should have a loose enough weave to let heat and moisture out, while not allowing too much rain and wind in.

Thicker materials like polyamide are less breathable and will feel hot when hiking in warm weather.

The Best Leggings for Hiking Reviewed

A great set of hiking leggings that is durable, nearly waterproof, and lightweight.
7.4/10
icon-winner
Arc'teryx Sabria Pant Women's (Black, 4)

Comfort/Mobility

6

Durability

9

Versatility

8

Weather Resistance

7

Breathability

7

Best offer for today

Price not available

Reasons To Buy

  • Very lightweight given their durability.
  • Repels water and dries quickly.
  • Has two thigh pockets.

Reasons To AVOID

  • Drawstring waist is unnecessary.
  • Pockets don’t fit more than a credit card.
  • Too form fitting, feels uncomfortable.

“Hiking Pants? I thought this was supposed to be about the best hiking leggings.”

Well that all depends on how you define leggings.

The Sabria pants are form fitting, have an elastic waistband, and are incredibly comfortable – sounds like leggings to me.

But they differ from a standard pair of Lululemons in the most important way possible, they’re tough as nails.

The Arc’teryx Sabria are a great set of hiking leggings for women. Being a higher-end product they are durable, nearly waterproof, and lightweight (just under half a pound).

Unlike most leggings, the Sabria also come equipped with two thigh pockets. But they’re too small to be very useful – your phone will not fit in them.

The only complaint with them is their fit.

There’s not a lot of give in the waistband, which can make them uncomfortable if you don’t have the right body shape for them.

There’s also a drawstring in the waistband, which is annoying because it’s clearly there because the elastic in the waist was not made stretchy enough.

The Sabria is best suited for ladies who want high-performance gear and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort to get it.

Arc’teryx also produces a nearly identical version of them for men called the Sabreo.

Incredibly comfortable and well made hiking leggings.

7.0/10
Fjallraven - Women's Abisko Trekking Tights, Dark Grey, Small

Comfort/Mobility

8

Durability

4

Versatility

9

Weather Resistance

8

Breathability

6

Best offer for today

$99.95

Reasons To Buy

  • Usable pockets
  • Very comfortable, with lots of adjustment available.
  • Extremely durable with reinforcements over high-wear areas.

Reasons To AVOID

  • Look too technical for anywhere but the trail.
  • On the heavier side.
  • A little warm for summer hikes.

Fjallraven is known for making some of the best hiking clothing on the market and their Abisko tights are no exception.

The Fjallraven Abisko are incredibly comfortable and well made.

There’s a drawstring in the waist that gives them a little more adjustment than most leggings, which usually just have an elastic waistband.

Also unlike most leggings, their pockets are actually usable and will fit your phone or even a small map.

The butt and knees on the Abisko’s are reinforced with thick patches to give them a little extra durability.

However, those reinforcements do add a little bit of extra weight (they come in at about nine and a half ounces) and reduce breathability to a certain extent.

If you’re doing hikes in the heat of summer, these probably won’t be your go-to leggings.

As with many of Fjallraven’s pants, the reinforced sections of the Abisko’s are a different color too, which draws some unwanted attention. You’ll probably want to change out of them before grabbing beers after a hike.

If you need the most durable set of hiking leggings and aren’t too particular when it comes to style, the Abisko are an excellent choice.

These are great hiking leggings for women, but they also come in a men’s version.

Great hiking leggings for mild weather.

6.6/10
Columbia Titanium Titan Peak Trekking Legging - Women's Black/Shark, M/Reg

Comfort/Mobility

6

Durability

5

Versatility

8

Weather Resistance

7

Breathability

7

Best offer for today

$87.53

Reasons To Buy

  • Has nylon blended into the fabric of the knees and seat for extra durability.
  • Thicker fabric prevents the wind from cutting through.
  • Wicks sweat well and are quite breathable given their thickness.

Reasons To AVOID

  • Contrasting colors in the reinforced regions make these a fashion disaster when off-trail.
  • Loose fit, these won’t be as comfortable as your everyday leggings.
  • Might be too hot for summer hikes.

The Titan Peak Trekking Leggings are exactly what you would expect hiking leggings to be:

Tough, protective, and a little “out there” looking.

The Titan’s knees and seat are reinforced with some heavy-duty nylon patches, which gives them excellent durability.

Unfortunately, those patches are also a contrasting color, which makes them kind of bizarre looking for any off-trail activities.

While the breathability of the leggings is pretty decent overall, they can feel a bit stuffy on hotter days. Due to the reinforced sections, which do not breath well.

On the flip side, the patches do an excellent job of preventing the wind from cutting through to your skin.

One of the notable drawbacks to the Titans though is their fit.

It’s a bit looser than most people will like. You wear leggings to have something form-fitting, and these don’t feel like they mold to your body well.

It might have something to do with the excess nylon sewn in, but if you’re hoping for these to comfortably fit like a glove, you might come away disappointed.

The Titan’s are great for hiking in temperate weather, especially if you know you might be trouncing through some brush or doing a little scrambling, where some extra durability would go a long ways.

The best hiking leggings when it comes to cold weather adventures.

6.4/10
Smartwool Men's PhD Wind Tight Black M

Comfort/Mobility

8

Durability

4

Versatility

6

Weather Resistance

6

Breathability

8

Best offer for today

$140.00

Reasons To Buy

  • Nylon/wool blend doesn’t stink, even after multiple uses.
  • Extra windproofing layer is sewn into the thighs.
  • Drawstring waistband for extra adjustment.

Reasons To AVOID

  • Don’t dry as quickly as some of the best hiking tights that are fully synthetic.
  • Only suitable for winter activities.
  • Not super durable.

When it comes to finding the best warm leggings for hiking, you’d have a hard time finding something better than the Smartwool PhD’s Tights.

They’re quite comfortable with a drawstring waistband to give you some extra adjustment beyond the wide elastic waistband.

They’re also made from a blend of wool and nylon, which keeps you warm, while also cutting down on stench and providing some excellent durability.

However, since wool is a bit too breathable and doesn’t provide as good of wind protection, Smartwool took the extra step of sewing some solid nylon onto the thighs to keep you as warm as possible.

For the most part, all of these features to keep you warm and toasty are great, except if you want to use them in the summer.

These are just too hot for wearing in warm weather.

Additionally, since wool takes longer to dry than full synthetic fabrics, you’ll need to pair these with some kind of waterproofing layer if you’re hiking in the rain or wet snow.

They’re also not the most durable, so avoid using these on trails where they could snag on some errant branches.

These tights are available for both men and women.

Overall, the Smartwool PhD Tights are some of the best men’s hiking leggings when it comes to cold weather adventures.

A solid option for winter hiking.

6.0/10
Icebreaker Merino Women's WMNS Comet Tights, Black, XS

Comfort/Mobility

8

Durability

4

Versatility

5

Weather Resistance

5

Breathability

8

Best offer for today

$97.50

Reasons To Buy

  • 39% Merino wool makes these a great pair of warm leggings for hiking.
  • Odor resistant.
  • Flat seams and gusseted crotch for excellent mobility.

Reasons To AVOID

  • Lack the durability of full-synthetic trekking leggings.
  • Too hot for warm weather use.
  • Don’t dry as quickly as other models.

The Comet Tights from Icebreaker were designed with high-intensity winter activities in mind like running, cross-country skiing, and hiking.

As such they’re built for greatest mobility, with a gusseted crotch and flat seams to prevent any chafing.

They’re also made from Merino wool, which is both more breathable and more odor resistant compared to synthetic fabrics.

But it comes at the cost of weather protection; wool permits more wind and water to pass through its fibers.

As an organic material, it’s also not as durable and Icebreaker attempts to counteract this by blending 39% wool with 45% nylon and 15% Lycra (to make them stretchy).

It’s a tradeoff to get the best of both worlds.

The Comets also make for an excellent baselayer. Throw on some ski pants for extra wind and water protection and you can hit the slopes or trail in no time.

However, their excellent warming properties make them undesirable for anything but wintertime usage.

Icebreaker’s Comet Tights are a solid option so long as they’re only used during the winter and are paired with an outer layer if there’s a chance you’ll be hiking in wet conditions.

Final Decision: What are the best leggings for hiking?

Choosing the best pair of hiking leggings is a challenge as each pair won’t be good for all situations.

The highest performing leggings are the Abiskos from Fjallraven.

They’re durable, provide excellent protection from the elements, and have an amazing fit.

But they are very technical looking and you might get a few odd stares wearing them in public.

Additionally, if your hiking adventures involve snow and freezing temperatures, the Smartwool PhD Tights are your best bet for superior warmth.

If fashion is a concern and you’d like to feel comfortable wearing your leggings to a restaurant or bar after the hike, the Arc’teryx Sabria’s are the most fashionable pair on this list.

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Jason Miller

Jason Miller

Hi there, my name is Jason and I am the creator and editor of this site. My activities include hiking, skiing, mountain biking, camping, and backpacking. I'm also a keen nature photographer. I like to get outdoors and then write about it. I created this site to help people find the right gear so they enjoy their outdoor pursuits that much more.

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