Hiking pants are an important purchase because they must serve a lot of purposes and still be comfortable. In addition to keeping you warm and dry, they should be breathable, durable, tear resistant, provide sun protection, and be roomy enough so you can fit a pair of long underwear underneath in colder conditions.
As discussed in Layering, in colder climates and in the mountains you’ll need long underwear, a Base Layer. Base Layer pants generally only need to be worn in fall and winter months, depending on where you live.
Women’s Hiking Pants Shopping Tips:
Decide what features you really need. If you hike in hot, dry climates, you’ll want to make sure your pants are breathable. Likewise, if you’re in colder, wetter climates, you’ll want a pair that is less breathable and provides some water repellancy (you’ll still need rain pants for downpours).
Make sure your hiking pants can be worn with layers. You’ll want to be able to wear your hiking pants over a pair of long underwear, and underneath a pair of rainpants. When that sudden downpour comes and it is time to zip on your rain pants, they better fit over your hiking pants!
Convertible hiking pants or not? Decide if you need pants that convert to shorts or capris, or neither. There are lots of options on the market: zip off legs so you can quickly switch to hiking shorts, button up capris so you can cool off on hot summer hikes, and regular old hiking pants that are just pants. Are you going to be hiking near poison ivy or oak? Are you going to be in mosquito country? Then you probably don’t need hiking shorts.
UPF sun protection. Hiking pants with a UPF rating will have a tighter fabric weave, so will provide better protection from harmful sun exposure. Learn more about the importance of UPF ratings and what it means.
Look for pants that have lots of pockets. There is always chapstick, sunscreen, snacks, cameras, and all sorts of gear that we want to keep handy. Having pockets in your hiking pants sure help make it easy to have the important items readily accessible.
Find pants that fit you! What is the point of buying hiking pants that aren’t comfortable? Plus, don’t you want to look cute hiking on the trail?
Hiking Lady’s Favorite Women’s Hiking Pants:
Base Layer Bottoms
Women’s Smartwool Lightweight Bottoms (Long Underwear): These are the highest end long underwear I’ve tried, and work exactly as advertised: they help your body maintain a comfortable temperature, they are made of fine merino wool (so are “wicking”), are very soft, and easy to take care of (machine washable). I also use them as PJs in my sleeping bag on camping and backpacking trips.
Women’s Hiking Pants
The North Face Women’s Paramount Valley Convertible Pant: These 3-in-1 pants, shorts, and capris, made by North Face, can be on the expensive side, but they’ll last forever! The fit is great because it provides for a nice straight leg look and boot cut bottom. They come in 3 lengths: short, regular, and long. The pockets on the front are stylish (though not that useful), but because the pockets are up front and not on the sides of the thighs, it doesn’t accentuate any excess curves many of us ladies have! They’re made of thick nylon fabric, so if you like to hike near prickly bushes or abrasive rocks, they’re a perfect choice. Plus, they have built in sun protection (UPF 30) and look great when converted to capris!
The North Face Women’s Horizon Utility Pant: If you like to hike in the summer or in hot conditions, but don’t want bushes scraping at your skin, these pants are great. They’re of a lighter weight nylon than the North Face Paramount Porter pants, and the waist a lower rise. The other difference is that they don’t convert into shorts, but they are convertible into capris. The only drawback is if you do a lot of backpacking, these are hip hugger pants and your pack tends to rest right at the waistband of these pants.
Slim Fitting Hiking Pants – Marmot Sonia: Some of us are tired of oversized, baggy hiking pants that fit like pajamas. What about a slim fitting hiking pant? The Marmot Sonia pant is a great option. We like how they fit through the leg, convenient pockets (I love the pocket on the thigh – it is great for storing a point and shoot camera), and good quality fabrics. I’d recommend ordering one size larger than your usual fit because these are definitely a slim fit!
Hiking Pants When Nothing Else Fits – Columbia Just Right Pants: Okay ladies, I have finally found some pants that may work for those of you who want something flexible, comfortable, and that comes in Plus, Regular, and Petite sizes. These Columbia Just Right pants are stretchy, but durable enough for hiking, plus they’ll wick sweat. If you’re okay with just one pocket (stuff everything else in your backpack), then you’ll like these hiking pants!
The Outdoor Research Women’s Equinox pant is practically everything I need in an all-use type of pant.
It is not perfect according to my specifications, however it comes as close as possible and so far is the one pant that has features that I most desire in activewear pants.
It has pros and cons and I will explain as I go along.
It seems to mostly be for hiking or camping, backpacking etc. However if you wear it with a tank top or t-shirt you definitely can use it to go jogging or to the gym.
I like that it does not have large visible logos in loud or high contrast colors. It is a versatile design good for general use. The pant comes in 3 colors, black, dark gray and taupe. It also comes in short and regular lengths. I need short but I think the company is running out of the short length in certain colors and sizes.
The Women’s Equinox pant seems to be meant mostly for warmer or hot weather. It is lightweight but still rugged for the type of material it is.
It is well constructed.
I actually have read some reviews on the Outdoor Research site and/or on other websites and it seems that a lot of women are not satisfied with the Equinox pants for one thing or other so it seems that the pant is largely unpopular. However, I find the size 12 -short to fit very nicely. It is just that the design and dimensions just happen to fit my physique better than other such active-wear / hiking pants. It is just by chance.
Some reviews state that pockets are odd and uncomfortable. The pockets are on the sides of the pant as if they are modified cargo pockets. The right pocket has a zipper. I always think that almost any pockets are better than no pockets but I can agree that the pockets are of dimensions that can make it a bit hard to put your hands in them . It can depend on how large your hands are and mostly it is the zipper on the right pocket that can scrape the back of your hand as you slip it into the pocket since the zipper does not open wide enough, I would say.
But it seems you can have the zipper removed, though that might cost a bit to have it done at a tailor’s and it seems that the zipper isn’t merely sewn into place but may be partially heat sealed.
Mostly I can tolerate the uncomfortable right-pocket zipper because I like most other features of the pant. It has enough material at the crotch and seat so that when I bend or kneel the back of the pants do not ride way down. I need that pants do not constrict too tightly around my waist but I also need that the pants do not easily fall past my waist when I am standing or walking upright. I also prefer pants that do not need a belt and the Equinox pants don’t have belt loops nor does it have a fly/button front. It does utilize a “drawstring.”
I do have to pull a bit hard to get them past the widest part of my hips but the pant does not scrape intensely against my sides. Such a design is not easy to find.
I have not yet used The Equinox pants in hot weather. They seem breathable though. Here in NY it has been snowy and cold so I have used the Equinox pant while wearing leotards underneath and the pant is roomy enough so that the layering does not leave me feeling very confined and unable to move normally. The material has some stretch to it and it is quick dry and water resistant so that if you wear the pants in a light rainfall you need not worry about small drops just seeping through.
The material does not resist wrinkles very well but I find that, after washing them, if I just hang the pants so that the legs hang neatly down from the clothes line or from the clothes hanger then the material will not pick up a lot of wrinkles.
They designed so that there is a slight taper from thighs to ankles.
The drawstring at the waist is not conventional. It is enclosed completely in the waist hem and does not hang out like “shoelace aglets.” The drawstring is sewn to itself to form a circle inside the waist hem and you have to pull it to get some tension. Think about how some hiking pants have strings sewn into the hem at the ankle.
I don’t prefer drawstrings but I sometimes can make my own alternations and install an elastic band into the hem and remove the drawstring. I have not yet done that with any of the pairs of Equinox pants I bought, but I might.
I also bought one of a size larger than 12 (size14). I sometimes like to keep a slightly larger size in case I really have to layer more than one pair of leotards underneath, but also sometimes I want the pant to be even more roomy and loose on a very hot day.
They seem comfortable enough should you have to wear them during a long train , bus or airplane ride. I really need pants to be of a good roomy, flexible, un-restricted design for that reason.
I really like the Outdoor Research Women’s Equinox pant as a “go-to” or “grab-and-go” pant. I can just pull them on and get going to exercise, or go shopping, or ride my bike or commute to work (they are casual but not trashy, or tasteless IMO).
I do worry that they will be discontinued soon since it seems they have low ratings in reviews.
San Diego Hiker
Your post dates back to 2010 from what it seems but yes if it is not one thing it is another. If the pants have a good fit on you then the material is not exactly what you want or need.. It could be vice versa too.
I tried typing in “pants nylon and natural fibers” and there is only a lot of random information about pants in general and materials but not anything exactly addressing pants of nylon and natural fibers. You would have to look deep to find it and again, then they may not be pants for hiking.
Maybe, if you have not done so already, you can write your favorite active-wear companies and make a suggestion for making pants of those combined materials. Or maybe write several companies and ask specific questions about whether they have hiking pants of nylon and natural fibers.
Neither a practical, serious case for pants is made. I hike in the desert and need a durable canvas type pant with lots of pockets, deep pockets!, that can withstand boulder scrambling, hold a cell phone with a close-able pocket flap, chapstick, tissue, etc. You know, what they make for men, 90% of whom rarely venture beyond the wilds of a home depot parking lot. I am really frustrated that the majority of women’s outdoor wear focuses on style and being flattering. Is this the 1950s? Are we not athletes? Are we not outdoor enthusiasts? Is our only aim to catch a man? Or a woman tbh? I bought a pair of canvas cargo pants at rei 5 years ago, they are not going to last forever. Pleeeeze, oh pleeeze, oh pleeze: manufacturers make product based on reviews like these, not on what the woman in real life really wants. Pleeeze help us out and start making the case for outdoor wear that women can actually use when outdoors. I am way past the skinny neophyte age when I could pin up men’s wear and sally forth. I need the real deal. I have a waist, hips, and all of the rest. When I hike 7 miles in and out, I want to have pants with pockets to carry my phone and another for my shades, that won’t slip To my knees or cut off the circulation to my lower extremities. Is that too much to ask?
Excellent info, LM. Thank you for your detailed reviews!
I found out about a pair of pants from Patagonia called “Terrabonne Joggers” and as the name implies, it is a pant meant for jogging. I think there is only a men’s version but it could be unisex.
The price is from $79 to $89.
What I would like to say about the pant is that it is so unlike any other summer-weight active-wear type of pant I have ever come across. Of course it has its pros and cons at least according to my own likes and dislikes.
It is not like the common knit, terry or fleece kind of jogging pant.
The leg tapers down from the knee to the ankle area. It is not a pronounced taper like that of a tight but I find that if I am standing while wearing the pants, the taper is not particularly noticable but if I sit then it is. So the cut is a mix of things: It is comfortably roomy and I can move freely if I jog, bike, exercise, etc, but sitting or kneeling or bending in certain ways may make them feel a bit like a capri at times. It may depend on what size you use too. Some people have just slightly more or less length from hip to knee and knee to ankle and that can make any pair of pants fit differently from one person to another. Also body types differ.
It also has the Patagonia logo on the left thigh which is reflective. Unfortunately the pant does not have a more-versitile appearance with these features. It looks mostly like it is for the gym, but after saying that, if you match it with certain other types of clothes it can look like a hiking pant or treking pant. The material is not like that of fleece or terry or knit jogging pants.
Regarding the band around the ankle, I would prefer that active- wear pants taper slightly to a regular hem but at least the band is NOT made of some material such as knitted yarn that is very different from the rest of the pant material and which throws off the cosmetic symmerty of entire garment.I have seen yoga and exercise pants designed that way. It just does not look right for older women especially.
The Terrabonne jogger’s ankle band has some stretch and is made of a material that is the same or similar to the mateiral of the entire pant (which also has a bit of stretch to it). If you have the right amount of altering and sewing know-how you might able to remove the band and just hem the pants yourself.
I have not tried it but am thinking of it. I have bought several pairs. It would cost a bit to have a tailor do it, if they would do it.
The entire material of the Terrabonne jogger is said to be recycled polyester. I don’t know if all recycled polyester has the same feel and texture and qualites the Terrabonne jogger, but it is especially wonderful I would say because it is so lightweight, and feels so good against your skin so that it has to easily be the best summer-weight material I have ever tried. I am not sure if the material is advertised as breathable but it seems to be. Pants that are comfortable in swelering weather are not common.
What I really like about the pant is the waist area. I hardly feel it on my waist when wearing the pants. I think it is important not to feel a bulky or very tense waist band.
First of all, it is the kind of waist that has a drawstring and though I avoid pants with drawstrings because they are cumbersome I would tolerate them if much else about the pant is to my liking. The Terrabonne’s drawstring is sewn in to the back of the waist area as are a lot of pants with drawstrings now a days. I do dislike this because it means you cannot merely remove the drawstring if you want to. The thing is that the waist of the pant is meant to be loose fitting. Good and necessary to give you adequate room, but meaning that you would need a drawstring to keep the pants up since elastic is not sewn it. However too, I sometimes find a way to remove the drawstring and put in an elastic band in. Perhaps some of you know how to do this so as to then be able to pull the pant up rather than bother with a drawstring.
But as I originally wanted to say, the waist is particularly unique and practical. It is very low profile. Very lightweight. Feels great in hot balmy weather.
Some summer active-wear pants have some kind of “chamois” or other thick material sewn it.
Awful. Awkward.Uncomfortable. Confining.
I also like the fact that the pants come in “toned down” colors such as gray and taupe (I think the taupe is referred to as “black” though). No flourescent or outlandish colors.
I bought myself several pairs. They are great for lounging in the home or sleeping in too. Again my main wish is that they would look more like general-use pants or hiking pants.
They are so extremely packable and you can put them in a backpack in luggage of whatever kind with as little bulk as there can be.
The material is quick dry and rugged for the kind of material it is. I have not yet used the ones I have for longer than a few months, but it seems that the material would not pill (develop little round fuzzies). They are quick dry and easy care.
I even went out wearing them in a light but steady downpour and they are significantly water resistant. They don’t get very soaked that easily.
One con is that the sizing does not seem to be exactly according to American sizing standards. I normally take a men’s size 30, or small but in the Terrebonne Jogger, I have to choose a size large. It could also be that the pants are meant for slender men.
I myself have mostly only hiked or biked or done trail running in the surprisingly wooded and wilderness-like areas of large parks in New York City.
The Terrabonne jogger may not exactly be for serious hiking, or recommended for it, Maybe for long walks out in the woods, some hot-weather outdoor activities, light backpacking etc., but taking a pair or two along on a days long camping trip or a hike may still be very useful.
Dick’s Sporting Goods seems to have them currently (October 2020) in different sizes. Other sites may not have all sizes or colors.
Sadly I think that these pants are going to be discontinued soon. 🙁
I wrote the manufacturer (Patagonia) and told them not to discontinue the pants but try designing a hiking-pants version.
Sorry if I tend to over-do it with my reviews.
Most of my stuff is Columbia and they are still a great brand you can count on anytime. So it was pretty easy decision when I bought the same Columbia Just Right Pants as shown here to my wife. She absolutely loves it.
This is fantastic info! Thank you so much for sharing it here. I have also copied your comment over to the Hiking Lady section on Women’s Hiking Tops.
I haven’t posted here in a while.
I find it a bit hard to navigate the site and I would like to comment on a shirt but I don’t see a way to get to the discussion on other clothes.
So I will post here until someone tells me to take this post to a different thread.
I just want to say I found a great shirt in Amazon. It is called the Pedal Pushers Commuter Dress Shirt.
It is not perfect according to my needs and likes in a shirt, but it is still very good. It is made of lightweight stretch fabric and is like an ultra lightweight soft-shell shirt that is good for warmer weather. The fabric is rugged for such a light shirt. The shirt is put together so that it is not curvy or has princess seams, or extremely unnoticeable ones, the cut of the shirt could pass as unisex, I would say. Another good thing is that it has such a good pattern and design that if it is particularly hot out you can wear it without wearing a bra underneath providing that you are not really busty (actually if you are of a bit smaller size than normal and that is speaking from my own experience ) and I have communicated with other women on other websites who say they would love a shirt that would enable them to go out on hot days without a bra ( of course they don;t want to make some big scene either) but again that may only apply to certain figures. The material does not cling to you excessively in which case it might give you an appearance you would be displeased with in such a situation.
There is a only long sleeved version of this shirt but they roll up and there are those “sleeve holders” you button on the top of the sleeve to hold the rolled sleeves up. I wrote to the company praising them for making such a shirt. And encouraged them not to discontinue it. The main thing about it that I am not so satisfied with is that it is not long enough. I would prefer it to be at least three inches longer but surprisingly the length is not too bad either as is. The material seems to resist substantially riding up when you bend over or move .
The link is below. I think that a certain color is no longer available in the larger sizes. The sizes by the way are great. A size large or extra large fist me well though one will have longer sleeves and one will have a slightly more “drapey” fit but it won’t look like a maternity top.
I need larger sizes because a lot of smaller sizes seem to be to fit girls under the age of 14. Activewear for women needs to be made for real sizes.
They have 3 colors but I would say that the lighter blue color is too light and prissy. The darker blue one is better and also the black one. These shirts are versatile and though I have not tried it yet, you can wear a leotard top underneath it for cooler weather.
I think that the company is running out of these shirts though..
I don’t know if they will manufacture more.
I bought some . I would like to buy more but am not sure it will continue.
Hope this is useful info.
I did a feature article awhile ago on Plus Size Hiking Apparel. Please check it out and let me know if there are any hiking pants you recommend I add to the list. Happy trails!
Once again… more product plus size hiking women can’t wear. Eyeroll
Thank you for the excellent comments. We all appreciate your taking the time to share your findings with us! I believe the Ferrosi Pants are discontinued, but sometimes as you noted things can still be available for a few years on Amazon.
I don’t know if anyone else posted about the following items, but in case no one hasn’t I will tell you of certain items I found to be good. REI has a pant called the Tareen pant. I only have tried the men’s version and I don’t know if there is a women’s version but it is nice and lightweight and has a good cut to it.
Outdoor Research has the Ferrosi pant ( I am not sure I am spelling it exactly right here) and it is very good too, but I would say it is not for very hot weather. Maybe weather not much hotter than the low 60 degree range. I think the ones I tried are also the men’s version. I wrote the company telling them that I liked it very much and intend to tell other people about the pant on Hiking Lady, and they sent me 3 complimentary pairs. I asked that they not discontinue it but they might or they might have already. I hope not. I got mine from Amazon.
Nike has a good pant called the Flex pant. Again these are the men’s version. They are not actually a hiking pant but more for other athletic activities like jogging. However they are of a good design and comfortable . I have yet to try the one I bought on a long term basis and hope it lasts wash after wash, but IMO it is unusually good because it is hard to find pants that are more unisex in fit though actually meant for men. They are of lightweight material but I am not too sure if they are for very hot weather.
And though this discussion is about pants I want to mention there is a very good shirt called “Urban Pedal Pushers Commuter Dress shirt ” which I found on Amazon and in spite of the name it is not actually a dress shirt but more for trekking or hiking or going on safari. I love it though I wish it were a bit longer at the hem. It is like a very light soft-shell material used for a shirt than a jacket. It has good stretch.
For me the design is so versatile that I can wear it at work for a casual but still appropriate appearance.
Thanks for the blog. Lots to learn from the your list of the tips.
Thank you so much for your detailed tips L!
OOPS, I forgot to put the links in the previous post.
They are below. I hope they work, but also you can type in Nonwe pants in Amazon.com:
Nonwe Women’s Classic Pants
Nonwe Women’s Water Resistant Lightweight Outdoor Pants
Nonwe Women’s Water Resistant Convertible Pants
Nonwe Women’s Classic Water Resistant Quick Drying Lightweight Outdoor Cargo Pants
Nonwe Men’s Multi Pockets Loose-Fit Outdoor Cargo Working Pants
I would like to alert all to what I think is a good pant. It is from a company called “Nonwe” or that is what name the tag states. There is a bit to explain.
I ordered them from Amazon which , from what I had originally seen, stated that there are few available. As far as I have, so-far far found, there are two versions of a woman’s pant , one that has a comfort waist and one is that is designed more like conventional blue jeans , and there is one men’s version of the comfort-waist type.
The material is said to have a certain amount of spandex and the rest is nylon.
The sizing is not according to American standards so I ordered two of different sizes. I first tried the one designed like blue jeans (the cut is like “slender” jeans and has the pockets in the same areas but there knees are articulated like with trekking or hiking pants). I found that that the larger size was too big in that I would have to use a belt to hold them up. The smaller size would have the right smugness so as I dont need a belt even if it has belt loops, and that is actually what I like in pants. I hate wearing belts at least out of necessity. The smaller size was only a bit too smug around the thighs but not so that I cannot move and the stretch was adequate. So for me, these were the closest to what I was looking for. It was not fancily designed and In fact, it could be unisex although it would be for a smaller sized man or boy. I think that I would mainly or only be able to use them for temperatures no lower than about 45 degrees. The material is advertised as waterproof but some people’s reviews say not so , or not much, slightly water resistant maybe. SOme people say that the material is absolutely no good for warm weather since there is little or no breathability. I have yet to find out but I think I have worn this material before and had no problem. It can be according to an individual’s ability to tolerate some heat. Some reviews said that the pants’ material make a lot of noise when you walk in them. I find no problem with it. Could be some people’s inability to tolerate noise.
But then there is the comfort waist version of this pant. Same material , same foreign sizing , different cut and design. With the comfort waist there are cargo pockets and a zippered pocket. These pants are overall the better type IMO. The comfort waist means you don’t need a belt and has more flexibility and give when you move. I am not heavyset but am not exactly slender in that I inherited a bit of a bulge from my mother and I need for pants not to be too tight and binding at the waist which is why I can’t stand belts, or pants that sit low at the waist. The comfort waist Nonwe cargo pant sits just at the navel. It has a more generous cut than the “jean type” Nonwe. I actually don’t prefer cargo pants but the cargo pockets are not bellowing out and sit closely to the pant legs . The comfort waist has an elastic band partially around the waist area and I love it. The legs of both these Nonwe pants are such that you can have them easily hemmed at a tailor’s (no side zips which is something I tend to hate with pants too). If there is a need for you to roll the pants up, there might be a bit of a problem in that it goes slightly lower than mid thigh and gets a bit tight there , but it can also depend on leg size or shape. On Amazon some of these Nonwe pants are advertised as “zip off” but actually are not. It is either a typographical error or perhaps has some other meaning not translated properly in English. There are a few problems with such descriptions in Amazon for these Nonwe men’s/women’s, cargo/outdoor/hiking/trekking pants, and you have to put some effort in really understanding the features. So those are some of the cons. I can’t find these pants anywhere else in the internet, only Amazon.
The cargo/comfort waist Nonwe women’s pant is unusual in that the women’s size is just right for me. It is also essentially unisex. I tried ordering the men’s version taking a best-possible guess as to what size would be equivalent to men’s small or medium and the size turned out to be significantly smaller than the women;s large. You do have to be careful about the sizing. Mostly, unless you are a petite girl, you would need to order large for a woman’s size. But again the women’s versions are essentially unisex in design.
Furthermore there are winter versions of these pants that are lined. I have not tried those yet.
These pants also come in essentially dark colors. There is black. There is a “green” color which is practically a brown color. There is a dark gray color and the lightest color that I saw was something like a very dull celery green. No neon colors or very bright colors or pastel colors with the possible exception of the dull celery green. I’m glad. I actually prefer colors that are not flamboyant or loud.
However in spite of some of the problems with sizing standards and other things I mentioned, I think that these pants have come close to being what needs to be manufactured more. Of course some people’s reviews on Amazon tell of negative experiences with the quality of the pant.
I am pasting some links below. I hope they work right.
I have already said too much maybe, but I wanted to explain details so that you understand the pros and cons .It seems that Amazon states that there are not many of these types of pants. If you want to try them, you may have to hurry. I don’t know if anyone else posted about these pants.
I tried to find out about the Nonwe company to write them and ask that they continue these pants, but maybe make them better. I cannot find the company on the internet. It is probably an obscure foreign manufacturer. The best I can do is post a review on Amazon.
If any of you try and like these pants, you can try commenting on Amazon. You can always suggest improvements. It seems some manufacturers communicate with people who post reviews on Amazon.
I hope this is useful. I will update on my findings.
For the plus sized hikers amount us: Boy Scout uniform pants. Okay, okay, I know that sounds crazy, but the Boy Scouts make hiking pants for mom leaders up to size 22-24 in rip stop nylon that zip off into shorts. Now that REI stopped making my favorite zip offs the Boy Scout Venture pants are my back up.
I have a question, does anyone have a good recommendations for hiking bottoms for women who are not overweight but have VERY broad hips. I can’t even wear jeans thanks to my, “jewish birthing hips”. I’m considering a hiking skirt, is it worth it? I”m leaving for the PCT in under a year and am trying to get everything sorted out.
I am runner, biker and hiker. My thighs are more muscular than most women my size. I am 5’3 and am having a difficult time finding a convertible pant that is not skin tight on my thighs or butt yet fits my waist. I typically wear a 6 – 8 in pants, depending on the manufacturer. I have tried Columbia but the 8 was too tight in the thigh despite the stretch, the 10 too big in the waist. I really wish the thigh circumference would be a measurement listed on the garment. I don’t live where there is a mall and the few stores that carry such hiking clothing only carry one or two brands so I have to resort to ordering online and it is frustrating, time consuming and costly. Most women are not designed with small thighs and I really wish clothing designers would wake up and start designing clothes for ‘real’ women verses for manikins and models.
I am a plus size woman who loves to hike. I cannot find hot weather hiking shorts or pants that work for me. I have been looking for some time and am so frustrated. It is as if anyone over size 16 is not considered important enough for designers. I can find lots of fashion wear but that doesn’t work for a long hike. When I expressed my frustration to a petite sales clerk at MEC in Canada she just smiled and said she understood. Argh! Any suggestions?
Hi! I am not a hiker to the true sense however I have to do one pilgrimage hike in memory of my daughter who past away in March 2014. When she was still with us, she indicated/asked me if I would consider doing the Camino de Santiago. This is what I have to accomplish. I plan to do the pilgrimage this October. It is a 7-day hike.
I have no idea what the weather out here would be then. I need some advise on what apparel I have to buy for this endeavor. Another thing I have a dilemna is footwear. Just contemplating which way to go hiking boots or shoes. Any expert advise. By the way I am 69 years old.
I have tried these (GIII pant)from Patagonia. They are decent. Good cut and design. The cons though are that these pants tend to develop little fuzzies after a while. After a few washings they tend to look more worn than you may have worn them. It seems that the price has been reduced from some $81 to $69. I bought them several years back when the price was higher. I wish that the material were improved much more and the design left alone. Also there needs to be different colors than khaki.
Great question! I personally haven’t had any issues with convertible pants causing chafing. Most pairs of convertible pants have fabric in front of and behind the zipper. It makes it a little tricky to zip on and off, but really helps prevent chafing.
Have fun at the Grand Canyon!
I am about to embark on an intense 5 day backpacking trip on the Royal Arch loop on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Its going to be intense, and my first backpacking hike in dry, hot conditions. I am looking for a pant the will protect me from brush, reduce and ideally prevent chaffing, and keep me ventilated. I like the idea of the 3 in 1 convertible pant but am concerned about the conversion zipper rubbing against my thigh. Any thoughts or recommendations?
Hmm. Still not convertible and no boot zips. The search continues.
Update friends: I found a new style of pants that may work for many of you – Columbia’s Just Right hiking pants. I added info about them to the top of the page. They come in Plus, Regular, and petite sizes, and are quite stretchy and comfortable.
I hear your frustration. There are some softshell pants that have ankle zips like REI’s now discontinued Acme Pants, but it is very rare to find a convertible hiking pant that also has ankle zips. We need to design our own!
I just want comfortable convertible hiking pants that have ankle zippers! I’ve only found EMS so far. What’s the point of having zip-off pant legs if you have to take off your boots to remove them? Frustrated.
Any ideas on extra long women’s hike pants.
I need 35” inseam. I am 5’11” tall and can never get pants long enough
Oh. I know that “form fitting” has a purpose, or it can. After all, some people with certain figures or heights may benefit from them; but I think that it is brought to a different context in that activewear clothing is made to be “attractive” rather than functional; and this is the standard regarding all of women’s clothing.
Also it is much easier to find those kind of designs (low rise, princess seams etc) than find any without those often-unnecessary and even comfort-limiting luxuries.
Here in NYC it is “Fashion Week” and I am going intellectually mad listening to the discussions on radio or TV about it as well as reading certain newspaper articles about it.
The first link below leads to a discussion about it, but concentrate on what the 8th paragraph says (I guess one paragraph can consist of one or two sentences).
Essentially, women’s clothing is big business but it has little or nothing to do with enabling women to be more active but to make more fashion statements.
The two other links further below lead to articles that verify what I have been saying that women’s athletic clothing is always being
“sexified” more and more. I don’t know why any line of women’s active wear that “makes women feel attractive” has to be invented. It already exists ad-nauseum. No celeberty-inspired line or ‘new line’
is actually original in any way.
Also these fashionable styles tend to be for younger women, teens even. I actually don’t care to go out looking flamboyant.
I bet these “sexy” styles would not stand up to real rugged use.
Anyone is free to disagree. I am just saying that there are probably a lot of women who would want their exercise clothing, or hiking clothes, or activewear to be manufactured without being for the purpose of “incorporating glamour.”
Personally I like my hiking clothes form fitting. Not because I have a figure I want to show off to the local wildlife but because I hike in the dense woods. There are no trails where I hike and I like to get off the paths and experience nature. I find that anything baggy means I spend my whole hike getting stuck on every bush in slide between. I also hate boot cut!! Being it the dense woods means ticks, so straight legs are easier to tuck in for tick protection, the last thing I want is them crawling up the inside of my pants! So ladies I’m just saying that although the but crack pants suck for us all form fitting has it’s purpose if your in the dense woods!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts – excellent insight! Don’t worry…the comment was so long it got caught in the spam filter but it is here! 🙂
Happy trails and apparel hunting!
…no I pressed the wrong button.
I posted a huge comment and I think it was deleted
Tons of clothes but none or very few are practical for women
This is more a rant than anything else, and a bit removed from the discussion of hiking, and hiking clothes for women. It is a bit random and disorganized too, but maybe some clothing manufacturer will see this and take it into consideration
Yes I would love to start a clothing company of my own which would also have it’s own “social mission” so to speak. Clothing companies objectives are making money by targeting women.
In the process the majority of clothing companies make the world worse for women. It is as if it is an agenda against women.
It difficult or impossible for women to find clothing that would enable them to truly move, run, jump, climb , reach, stretch, bend an generally be physically active without having their
clothes tear at high-stress areas, or without feeling their clothing pinch, pull, ride up, reveal underwear, reveal skin, and generally restrict freedom of movement and limit full enjoyment of
sports, the outdoors, and other activities .
Probably most women’s styles are designed and conceptualized by men from the drawing board to the final sewing together of the apparel item. Most well-known designers of women’s clothing
are men. I recall a TV commercial approximately back in the 1970s (OK I am dating myself) in which a male designer said that he would not design pants for women because “Only a woman can wear a dress.”
The few women who are in the women’s clothing design industry apparently are doing little or nothing to instigate a trend toward better clothing designs for women who want practicality, dignity and function in their clothes.
Since a lot of low-rise or skin-tight jeans, and cleavage-revealing shirts and crotch-length shorts, and tastelessly-short skirts are the kind of clothes that probably the majority of women buy (judging by the prominence and availability of such clothing) , then it means those are the styles that will continue to be manufactured and furthermore these kinds of “feminine styles” will make their way into all types of women’s clothes, even the ones that are supposed to be for function not fashion. And that is where the dilemma comes in for a lot of women who don’t care about “Looking younger” or “Being girly.” Women who just want functional, comfortable clothes are truly underrepresented . Women who want need practical designs are a “fringe group.”
Sure, a lot of people would say “Not so. There are a lot of ‘choices’ for women.”
Well, OK, there is “Duluth” which primarily makes work clothes for men but has women’s line of work clothing too, such as jeans, dungarees, vests jackets etc., and Duluth is known for
making particularly longer t-shirts for men and women so that but-cracks may be covered, and yet Duluth advertises it’s women’s work wear as being “Made to still make women look and feel
feminine” So their women’s shirts are designed with “princess seams” and curve-enhancing stitches etc. It is not the only clothing company that makes “active-women’s wear” that incorporates fashion into function. It brings us back to where we began. As quite a few women who posted here on “Hiking Lady” have said, they resort to men’s clothing for better fit, better comfort, better freedom of movement and better durability. The majority of women’s “active wear” just don’t have it.
I would say that in general unisex sizing is the best way to go with some features that would help accommodate people who might have a bit more hip or belly (both men and women). I doubt this is impossible. It seems that clothing manufacturers just don’t touch such a thing as “general fit for men and women.” I once overheard a worker in an Eastern Mountain Sports store saying to a
female customer that unisex designs are essentially men’s clothing. Men’s sizes are larger even when it comes to “small” sizes for men. In general, women can fit into men’s clothing this way. I recently was working in a research facility and was required to wear scrubs. The scrubs were provided by the facility. The supply person said she thought a size small would fit me. I told her that when it comes to scrubs, a size small pant does not fit me and it is strange because most small-size men’s pants fit me. The supply person said that it is because women have hips and men don’t. I told her that it seems that a lot of small-sized men would find it hard to fit in most small-sized scrubs too. What a lot of people seem to forget is that some men do have fairly-prominent hips and the majority of men’s clothes are meant for men with perfectly straight hips. IN fact when men get older, in their 40s they very often develop larger hips. Years ago, I recall a radio commercial for a special kind of Levis jeans which were meant for older men and it was said that the features had more room in the hip and thigh.
Yet men have a better deal when it comes to clothes. Women’s clothing is always made to incorporate fashion rather than function.
The better kinds of stores and the better kinds of clothing still fall short:
EMS and REI and Sierra Trading Post, and Moosejaw, and Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Guide, and various other such stores, or online stores have some of the better types of clothing meant for hiking and other outdoor activities. Brands such as Ex-Officio, Arctryx, The North Face, Sherpa, Marmot, Mammut, Mountain Hardwear, Columbia and various others. These brands tend to have the best possible materials, and the best features. They tend to have SPF built in to protect the wearer from the sun’s rays. They have the best mix of fabrics so as to be lightweight as possible for hot days and which can protect in cold days without a lot of bulk.
Yet, I have seen such absurdly-cut jackets for women by The North Face. I once tried one on that is supposed to be for colder weather, I am not a large – sized person but the small and medium
sizes were too tight across the shoulders, and the arm holes were too thin and the wearer has to struggle to push her arms through them. I had to use a large size to have room for my shoulders and arms but then the part of the jacket that was below the waist bellowed out and just was uncomfortable to wear and just had a very awkward look to it. It felt tight and restricting when I moved. It was “merely” meant to enhance the female form while being “useful” for outdoor activity, or that is what the designers had in mind and yet I have to wonder what they were thinking by making a jacket like this. I don’t know how it ever got manufactured and probably thousands were made and it seemed to be a waste of time and materials and it seemed as if the “quality control people” missed some major design flaws. I wish I wrote down the style number so that perhaps I could find a link to it in the internet and maybe you all can see for yourself.
of course this one was particularly badly made. There are other women’s active wear that may not be as extreme but which still have enough lack of function so that most active women just cannot use them.
Common stores are mostly useless:
The Gap, Old Navy, Modell’s, Target, K-Mart and other such stores, essentially only have clothes made of cotton ( with a few exceptions). The Gap and Old Navy are not particularly for active wear but they have small line of such clothing. I think that they are awful in material and design. Modell’s is supposed to be a “sports store” but it carries exercise clothing for women which is made by Nike, Addidas (etc) and though these are well-known brand names, I find that they actually put too much fashion into clothing at the expense of function.
There used to be a store in NYC called Herman’s and another called Robbin’s. They went out of business years ago but they also had clothing for women that I found to be impractically designed.
In New York City where I live there is one REI and two EMSs and one not-as-well-known store in lower Manhattan which sells all kinds of outdoor/camping/hiking equipment and clothing. There are various Modell’s and one Sports Authority, and a few Old Navy’s and It would seem that there are a lot of stores that would have something for every woman.
Far from it. I have seen women in these stores talking to sales associates and saying that they have looked everywhere for more practical designs .
There is a company that a lot of you probably have heard of called “Title 9.” They strictly make women’s active wear. The name of the company no doubt was chosen to project the image that just like “Title 9” (the legal mandate of the 1970s that required certain schools to allot as much money for women’s sports as for men’s) liberated women to play sports, “Title 9” the clothing company enables women to engage in sports while still being “attractive.”
Guess what? It doesn’t work. The majority of their styles are meant to “enhance figures” and make the wearer “look feminine” while playing sports or engaging in rugged outdoor activities.
They may continue a certain style for several seasons or they may replace the style and never revive it. Why do I always notice that the clothes that come the closest to being functional and rugged and practical are the ones that are discontinued and replaced by those that aren’t? Their women’s bathing suits are really useless. They are meant for women who have perfect figures , even who are professional models and the bathing suits are sexist in my opinion. Why should any bathing suit be “hi-cut” or like a thong and the top be meant to reveal cleavage? Are you going to go swimming or surfing , or are you going to work in a “gentleman’s club” ?
Title 9 has had certain kinds of designs called “Grab and Go” meaning that the clothes are so practically designed that you can just grab them, throw them on, and walk out the door to exercise or do anything else. I wish that it was as advertised to be. It isn’t.
Shoes and footwear:
Throughout my life I have gone from store to store during certain times of the year looking for the best rugged and functional clothes for winter or summer. It is always hard to find anything close to what I need. I often have to take whatever comes closest and that is usually in the men’s section. It often goes for shoes and slippers and other footwear too. There are designs which I will go to my grave scratching my head over regarding why they were made the way they were..
I once found some comfortable slip-ons made by Teva. But the absurd thing was that the soles were designed with fairly-deep grooves that were very closely spaced and they were all over the sole . I can’t for the life of me understand why such a design was made. it means that tiny debris will get in and will be hard to clean out. Just why aren’t sneakers and footwear made to be cleaned? They are the main piece of clothing that will be touching the ground and going through all kinds of disgusting stuff. I have had a fantasy of designing shoes that are meant to be cleaned and are easy to clean. I know that hiking boot soles are made like a Jeep’s tires are made. To enable climbing on rocky or uneven surfaces, and yet it does not work on any kind of foot wear like it works on a Jeep’s tires. Why hasn’t any clothing manufacturer noticed this? With footwear, small rocks and mud and leaves and branches (etc) get stuck in the grooves of hiking boot soles. With a Jeep’s wheels, the constant and intense rolling of the tires means that a lot of the debris will be hurled off. No human can create that kind of physical force to continually force the mud and pebbles and debris to be hurled out of the shoe’s soles. It means that the grooves on the soles of hiking boots will be filled up with debris and would not help much in helping the wearer to effectively climb; that is if the grooves on the soles of hiking boots are actually meant to enable the wearer to climb. The way that the grooves are designed it only makes the soles hard to clean. It seems to me that if the soles are made of rubber there isn’t a need for such elaborately designed grooves that only collect dirt. I wonder why there aren’t chemists and clothing technicians working on a better kind of rubber that grips on all surfaces or grips better on rocky surfaces or wherever hiking shoes are used, and it would make it unnecessary to make grooves on the soles of shoes. It seems to me that grooves are just put on the soles of shoes for fashion purposes. I have noticed some unusual designs that do not contribute to function.
Of course I am not an expert in making shoes or shoe-soles and I could be wrong , but I am enough of an expert in wearing shoes meant for active lifestyles and I think that a lot of shoe manufacturers are focusing on the wrong thing.
This goes for sneakers too. A lot of sneakers which would be good in design in other ways, have very impractically designed soles.
I hate drawstrings:
As far as sweatpants , scrub pants , and other such kinds of pants, there are those which have “elastic waist” or “comfort waist” and there are those with drawstrings. I wonder why any pant is designed with a drawstring when an elastic waist would make it unnecessary . I hate anything with a drawstring waist. Now-a-days a majority of drawstring-waist are made so that the drawstring is stitched into the back of the pants waist area. I think it makes the drawstring less effective and it defeats the purpose of the drawstring.
Underwear: I have been in stores such as K-Mart and Target where there are a large variety of women’s underwear. All are horrible in my opinion. It is hard to find the kind of briefs that most of our grandmothers used to wear, not “hi-cuts,” not ” boy shorts,” not thongs.
A lot is said in advertisements about women ” not wanting” to wear the kind of underwear that their grandmother’s wore; that women today want to “be free to be naughty” etc etc etc.
All that does not speak for me. I prefer comfort, durability and easy-care. Anything that gets stuck you-know-where is unacceptable. I have been in the underwear section of department stores and other stores (I must admit I never looked in Victoria’s Secret but I don’t expect to find anything practical there), and I have seen older women trying to find something that is age-appropriate and dignified and , again, practical. There is little other than those hi-cuts. Even “briefs” are not modest enough. (See one of the links below for an article about the history of women’s underwear. It seems it has always been about physically limiting women. Also one of the links below lead to an article about how there will be a women’s like of clothing which will be inspired by “Barbie.” Isn’t this 2014? That’s the way I look at it. ).
The closest I have found to what I prefer is a certain Jockey brand brief “Elance.” It has “banded” legs and waist which is the better kind of design to get. It means that the elastic is sewn into the “hem” of the legs and waist. Elastic that is merely sewn ONTO the waist and legs tends to be less rugged and the stitching can come undone more easily . One major flaw with “Elance” is that the waist is designed to be tight. I have to order a size larger than I normally would so that the waist would not be too tight.
And, I don’t understand the real purpose of “athletic bras” the way they are designed. I sure don’t care about “standing out.” ( I actually don’t in any case, and I don’t care). Bras meant for active lifestyles should hold them in, nothing more. I know that I may not be addressing the needs of women born with certain sizes, or who have special needs such as after surgery, but sport bras should be made to have enough comfortable tension to prevent bouncing. I have heard of bras meant to “lift and separate.” I have seen some female runners who appear to be top heavy and still they are very fast but I wonder if they will develop back problems later in life. There is a need for bras that do what some jock straps are supposed to do. Just keep “them” from moving. I would like to design shirts and vests with tension built into the right area that would make bras unnecessary. It would be wonderful for warmer weather and for simplicity, so you don’t need to bother with attaching a bra and then a shirt. Just slip into your shirt (and other clothes ) and you can go out to walk , jog or whatever.
Why isn’t there such a thing? I am sure a lot of women would want such types of clothing.
Pant criticisms and suggestions:
I think I mentioned in one of my previous posts that Coolibar had a fairly good pant for women called Sun Pant. I did have to alter the waist myself by taking out the drawstring which involved cutting into the back of the waistband area since the drawstring was sewn into that area. I then installed an elastic band to provide more tension since the waist band would be a bit too large otherwise, and the pant is practically a dream. It is very practical for a lot of activities. It is not so long that the hem drags on the floor. It is of a material blend that is not like cotton.
It is not for very very hot weather but that can depend on your own ability to tolerate hot weather. I find it is a very individual thing. The problem is that Coolibar has recently discontinued this style and made it “New and improved” with a “lower rise.”
All pants should have pockets, but sometimes the way the pockets are designed make them useless anyway.
I found a pant on Cabela’s that is for men, but which fits well and it is named “The utility Pant” (see one of the last two links below). This is how most hiking pants should be designed.
It is a teensy bit too dense for very hot weather very much like the original Coolibar Sun Pant. It is meant to be used with a belt but I find that I don’t need one to wear this pant.
It stretches a bit so it does not get tight when you bend or move. Of course not everyone has the same figure as I do so others might have a different opinion. But in general this is a good type of pant . I think they are going to discontinue it so you may want to give it a try. If you do like it you should write to the company and tell them to hang on these pants.
One flaw with this pant is that the front pockets are designed so as the openings are slits almost completely parallel with the waist. The material stretches so it is not as bad as if it were with jeans with these kinds of pockets. . With these kinds of pockets you have to maneuver your hands in a more unnatural way and even lift the hem of your shirt to put your hands in your front pants pockets. It is an impractical design and I don’t know why clothing designers make pant pockets like this. It has to be for style, nothing else. Pockets should be a line down the thigh, or a diagonal line is good too. It is a good idea to have zippered pockets. Anyone who has ever gotten his/her open pocket stuck on a door knob or the handlebar of a bike while passing by too close will know what I mean. But sometimes zippers can cause scrapes to the back of the hand when you put your hands in. There is a need to design zippers of non-scraping material for this purpose. Why aren’t any clothing designers working on this?
There is also another men’s pant from Columbia. I think I mentioned them before (see one of the two links below). They are of a good material for hot days, but for me, I found myself removing the belt and sewing an elastic band in the back of the waistband area so as to make the belt unnecessary. They are fairly good but they have a certain kind of stitching on the thigh that cause a bit of a
tightening when I ride a bike. But again, I have to settle for whatever comes close to what I need.
I rarely use shorts even when I jog. I tend to just go to clothing stores to look at designs and materials . I came across a running short called Brooks Sherpa IV. What I did like about it was the lightweight material. I just wondered why regular long pants are not made of such a material. It would be excellent for a hiking pant meant for very hot weather.
The material was very much like a very very lightweight softshell. I love softshell clothing. There is one from the North Face called The Prolix jacket. It is very lightweight, not very good for cold weather by itself but you can put layering under it. It is versatile and fits excellently and allows freedom of movement.
The Brook’s Sherpa IV would make a great summertime softshell. But softshells are made for winter, spring and fall, not summer.
Also , why aren’t there any really really practically-designed vests? There needs to be a vest for traveling. One with large pockets to put in your cell phone, your glasses, your ID, etc.
Why not make one of lightweight and stretchy material? I find myself wishing for such a thing. It does not exist.
I know that I have said to much in this post. I will stop for now. I have a lot of ideas for the better design of clothing and I will probably post again with my ideas unless I am told not to. I hope I did not bore anyone. I may have been a bit political too.
LM – please set up that clothing company and export to the UK !!!! I agree with every word you say. Manufacturers seem to think that women only go outdoors to show off their fashion gear, not because they enjoy walking and want to be comfortable! Another gripe- if you are a larger woman, forget it, because manufacturers/retailers imagine that big ladies don’t exercise and most only stock up to size 16 (here in the UK – I think that’s 14 US). LandsEnd was one of the few that catered for comfort, practicality and larger sizes in their Nordic trekking pants, but they stopped doing them a few years back. The most comfortable pant I have found recently is Sherpa Naulo – good waist height, zip pockets (not cargo), nice leg width (not boot cut) and not zip off. They are water resistant and fantastic for wetter weather, but I want something lighter weight for my trips to Arizona.
It makes me wish that we could start a class action lawsuit against the women’s clothing industry.
I have been looking for lightweight trekking or hiking pants and have to look in the men’s department.
Strangely Columbia has very unusual sizing in their men’s pants. I found one style that I liked. It was not zip off which I really liked. (Most hiking pants
seem to be zip-off and I really want to see more regular types of hiking pants, long length). However I normally would take a men’s size small (30/30
waist/inseam is good) but with Columbia size 30 for the waist is too small for me. It is as if Columbia designs men’s pants for particularly thin men. I
have to take a size 32 waist.
But a bit of good news, I recently found a pair of women’s pants made by Under Armour ( which usually has horrifically – designed women’s clothing).
Try the link below. I found the pants in Modell’s. They were on sale at $20 a pair. I guess they were getting rid of the last batch because they only had
size large and extra large. I tried large and though it was a bit baggy, it felt wonderful in that it had no low rise and I was able to move my legs and squat and bend ove with no “crotch pinching” or “but crack revealing.” Since I found the website where I might be able to get a medium size one, I will have to find out if a size medium would fit me a bit better, but size large is actually not bad. This pant is meant for yoga I guess, but it is a nice lightweight material good for hot weather. I am not crazy about drawstring waists, which this Under Armour pant has, but once I decide that I like the pant I have sometimes made my own modifications and have swen in an elastic band.
This Under Armour pant is far from perfect but it is one of the better women’s pants out there if you dislike low rises, and tightness at the crotch and butt and if you hate a lack of freedom of movement.
I hate florouscent or flamboyant colors in clothing too. A majority of women’s athletic, outdoor-activity wear are bright flourescent colors. I think that such colors are immature and for teenagers who like attention. I prefer earth collors and toned down colors such as taupe, chocolate brown, forest green, slate blue, heather grey, etc. But also, I notice that a lot of hiking pants are either black or khaki, nothing else. I prefer black to khaki which sometimes can look like the color of your skin, but I have a lot of black clothing and I wish there wre some other different colors that are not very loud .
The Under Armour woven pant is in hot pink, but luckily they have a grey color too.
I know that some of you have tried writing to clothing manufacturers and never got replies. It is discouraging but I still would recommend writing to them and letting them know that there are women who want more function in their athletic and outdoor activity clothes, and no “feminizing” at the expense of freedom of movement and comfort and dignity and convenience. Perhaps it they hear from enough of us, they might begin to listen. I once read in Ann Landers ( an advice columnist dating back to the 70s’ for those who don’t know) that it is always a good idea to complain to companies though do it in a civilized manner and offer suggestions for improvement. But also when you like a product it is a good idea to tell the manufacturer too and let them know not to discontinue the item or to keep it but improve it ( etc).
(Magellan’s or Travel Smith had a wonderful vest called “Travel With Ease Vest” and I bought one and I wanted to buy more but they completely discontinued it. More about vests in a future post of mine).
I wish I had the money to start my own clothing company. I would make women’s athletic and outdoor clothing that is meant to be used, and to be
able to move in, and be comfortable in. No fashion purposes.
I would like to design shirts and tops and vests that would have comfortable and effective ‘support’ in certain areas so that it makes it even
unnecessary to use bras.
I despise low rise!
I have square hips so if the waist doesn’t come above the curve of my hip (which juts out just below my waist) the pants come down if I bend over, if I load the pockets, if my pack pushes them down, let me count the ways. If I use a belt, the buckle is below my waist – not nice. Also, on a hike where you have to step up onto rocks the pants become crotch cutters.
I’ve sent this rant to REI, LLBean, Patagonia and Backcountry and been ignored. Lands End makes pants that come up to the waist = not hiking pants of course. Never tried men’s pants because I have a curvy figure but thanks, Linda, for the idea.
So glad to hear that someone shares my views. “Coolibar” had a pretty good pant called “Sun Pant” and it had a fit that was supposed to sit at the waist but I heard that they are now modifying it to sit just at the navel or below it so that it can be more fashionable.
I liked the Sun pant the way it was.
I suggest that any of us females whom prefer pants which are not meant to sacrifice function for fashion please write to the clothing companies and manufacturers and let them know that they should not discontinue any old version which allow better freedom of movement
Coming in a little late on this, but after scanning all the replies and not finding any that concur with my own personal preference for “women’s” hiking pants, felt I should weight in here. 75% of all my hiking pants are…..men’s. Yep. I just can’t abide those low rise, high crotch, thigh hugging women’s pants that seem to defer to fashion rather than form, function and comfort. I want a hiking pant that rests on my waist and allows more room to maneuver in when climbing and descending difficult trail terrain. Also, the aforementioned necessity for multiple pockets can almost only be found in men’s pants.
I admit to having maybe 3 or 4 women’s hiking pants, but only because mercifully the manufacturers made them not ‘butt-crack-viewable’ and supplied more pockets. I normally wear a 6 or 8 (if it’s small cut) in most women’s clothing. So for comparable men’s hiking pants I’ll get my appropriate waist size (1″ up to accommodate whatever I may want to tuck in) and my normal length. So mostly my men’s hiking pants range from a 29″-32″ and a 32″ length that I usually have to take up to a 31″ so the hem doesn’t slip under the heel of my hiking shoes, which can provide quite a “fun” ride when descending down a hill full of scree and talus!!!
Hi Cati’s Mom,
Your trip will be so much fun! I recommend dressing in layers, since the weather can change quickly. You can wear long underwear underneath a pair of hiking pants, and then wear waterproof rain pants on top for kayaking.
I am going to Alaska in late September adn will be doing some hiking and sea kayaing – Anchorage and Prince Williams Sound. How heavy to my pants need to be ??
Any clothing reccos NEEDED! thanks!
I have a kid’s size 16 REI fleece hiking vest that I really like and it would likely fit you since you’re also petite. I doesn’t have zipped pockets though, and it sounds like you want to carry things in your pockets. If you’re willing to pay up for a high quality one with zippers that isn’t too bulky, I’d recommend the Patagonia Piton vest. It’s water repellent so you can wear it in a variety of conditions.
Do you know of any good hiking vests? That way I don’t have to worry about pockets. I am small boned. Also, any clothing tips for hiking Zion and Bryce at the end of September?
Most women’s clothing sacrifice function for fashion. It is true that hiking pants have to serve different purposes but all of them are designed so that there is limited range of motion, as well as features that are useless.
Cargo pockets are supposedly to put items in them. But it would be better to have a fanny pack or backpack . Cargo pockets often are too big and “bellow out” to an even larger size. Who puts a large bottle or whatever in their cargo pocket so that when you swing your arms, your hands or wrists scrape against your filled cargo pockets? Oftentimes, cargo pockets stick out by themselves without having anything in them. Even if they only add an extra quarter inch to the sides of your legs, the way you swing your arms while walking will have you scraping your hands or wrists against the cargo pockets . And if the cargo pockets have velcro closures, it can mean that you will scrape against those velcro tabs and I am sure a lot of you know what i mean that it can cause nasty cuts. I think that pants with cargo pockets are strictly most usable for the military and even at that cargo pockets need a major overhaul. Though they were put within reach of the wearer’s hands so the wearer can easily reach what is in the pocket, this design creates a host of other problems as I already explained. Cargo pockets should not be on the sides of pants and they should not be so big or stick out. They should be to put maybe, a passport, , a credit card etc.
Pants, not just hiking pants, should not be made to be long so as the hems of the pants drag to the heel of your shoe. That is for fashion than function. Hiking pants should fall just at your ankles, maybe half an inch longer, not much more.
I think that most pants should not have boot cut designs but for each one that does, there should be a non-boot cut equivalent.
I think that hiking pants can be very versatile and they can be used for general casual wear instead of jeans or khakis. You can just put on a t shirt or hiking shirt and it is better than jeans or any kind of tight pants for women out there.
I wish there were women s hiking pants that are more like the men’s designs, just meant to be used and meant to be rugged without the fancy stitching or whatever to make them “feminine”
I would live most of my life just wearing hiking pants to do most everything, go out, go hiking, go to the store, wear around the house etc. Some outdoor clothing manufacturer has to design the perfect pair of women s hiking pants .
Hiking pants should be of a design that automatically is roomy without being baggy and then you can use it for hot weather by itself and if you need to use it in colder weather you can put on leotards underneath and the hiking pant would be designed to still allow freedom of movement with one layering underneath.
Also hiking pants ought never be made of cotton, IMO. Cotton is a horrible fabric for any kind of activity wear. Nylon and or Polyester is better. Perhaps there ought to be some spandex sewn in for a bit of stretch. Clothing manufacturers ought to try hard to design a weave that is rugged as possible, breathable as possible and which does not lose it’s color or shape easily and which does not shrink or get wrinkled easily.
That would be my dream hiking pant. A hiking shirt should also be designed to go along with it. WOmen s hiking shirts tend to be too short and when you move your arms upward, the hem rises from the hip or waist to above the navel.
Pockets are important. No pant should be without pockets. But pockets have to be designed to be comfortable when your hands are in them .
I am dreaming of the perfect hiking or trekking pants for women.
The better designs are meant for men as if the clothing manufacturers think that women who engage in outdoor activities are not to be taken seriously
I totally understand your frustration! The only pants I’ve seen with regular waists are some older versions of an REI store brand women’s hiking pants and some ExOfficio hiking pants. I just checked the REI website and didn’t see any available currently. Sierra Trading Post has a pair of Royal Robbins hiking pants that sit at the natural waist. I haven’t tried these personally, but they aren’t too expensive and may be just what you need! Hope that helps, and happy trails.
I have two pair of North Face nylon/spandex hiking pants (roll up to capris length) that I LOVE – EXCEPT they have mid-rise waists. I have given them a good try but just cannot tolerate them. I NEED a regular waist otherwise I find myself tightening the waist so much they become tight in the crotch – ugh! Do any of the manufacturers make these types of pants with regular waists?
Sounds to me like they might be some sort of ankle cuff to keep out dirt? Kind of like a built in gaiter.
I have a pair of Sherpa Guide pants which are fairly wonderful. Lightweight, water resistant, UV protection, but not petite. They’re not too lng but just long enough to be a hindrance. There are two buttons and a stretch hoop at the bottom of each leg and I cannot figure out what they’re for and how to use them. Looking to the collective mind here to help. Help?
Thanks for the info, Margay.
My tailor used a pleat to take them in as opposed to taking them apart and taking them in at the back seam like you normally would for this very reason. It is not a dart but a pleat and he did a great job. He is European trained so he knew what he was doing. Don’t just take them to a cleaners that advertises alterations. Try to find someone who knows what they are doing.
Hi Sara, I have had hiking pants hemmed without a problem many times in the past. I haven’t had any taken in at the waist, and you’ll have to keep in mind that many pairs come with a drawstring cord to provide a closer fit…if it goes around the entire waist it will likely be more expensive to get that altered.
I’m finding it hard to find pants that fit my hips and waist as well. The previous poster Margay mentions having hers altered and I’m curious about the fabric and if a special tailor is needed. I’d hate to have a pricey pair of pants ruined.
Hi Annie! Your trip will be so much fun! Have you tried The North Face Women’s Paramount Valley Convertible Pant? Those definitely have pockets, and the legs are wide enough to fit over hiking boots. Almost all hiking pants I’ve seen fit over hiking boots. The North Face has lengths to their pants – short, regular, and tall. It is hard to find them, but they exist for many of their pants. You’ll also probably want to get a good pair of rain pants to zip over whatever hiking pants you buy. Have fun!
Hi! My best friend and I are going to be traveling to Peru next month for a 4 day hike of the Inca Trail. We will be there during the tail end of the wet season, and though it will be warm, I’m told we should expect temperatures to vary quite drastically throughout the day. I am looking for a long pant, baggier fit, with pockets, and a leg that will be wide enough to go over my hiking boots. I’m also 5’8″, so right between the regular and tall inseams. I tried a few REI and Columbia pairs yesterday and came up empty handed 🙁 Can you give me a recommendation?
Thanks for the question. If you are talking about pants that are full zip down the side, i.e., full zip rain pants, those are difficult to get altered (which means it will be VERY expensive). If you are talking about pants where the legs that just zip off at some place above the knee like The North Face Women’s Paramount Valley Convertible Pants shown on the page above, you can definitely get them shortened. Good luck!
Just curious…I’m a guy and I found a good deal on some Columbia pants that are 32/34 with zip off legs and I’m normally a 32/32. Can the length of these be altered to fit me?
Hi Kimberly – I haven’t seen any, but perhaps other readers have and can share their findings. If I see any that fit your specs I’ll post about them. Happy trails!
I’m a Northern California day hiker and I’d love to find a pair of true flat front hiking pants– no fly zipper or front button/hooks. Are any of the outdoor clothing manufacturers making side zip or elastic waist pants for light hiking?
The closest I’ve been able to find are Duluth Trading’s NoGA Performance Knit pants, but I’d prefer something in a cargo or convertible style.
That’s exciting about your upcoming Grand Canyon adventure! I’m so glad to hear that the recommendations are working out well for you. As far as rainpants I like the Marmot Precip Full Zip. The North Face also has a pair of full zip rainpants that are good called The North Face Venture Side Zip. They have a pair of the same name that doesn’t have side zips, so be careful! The Marmot Precips are good for tall ladies because they have the “long” version as well. No matter what make sure you get a pair will full side zips – they are so much easier to get on and off without taking your boots off.
I don’t have specific tips about the Grand Canyon hike, but I do know an expert on the subject, J. Gary Brown, who put together a DVD all about backpacking the Grand Canyon. He discusses training tips and has images and videos clips from his trips to the GC in the DVD.
Yes it does!
I am doing my first big backpacking trip in early May in the Grand Canyon for about 7 days…..they do suggest we get rain pants so I’m going to look for a good deal on full zip rain pants. Your suggestions have been spot on so far….I also have the Asolo Stynger boots you have and I love them so far!
Any suggestions for my trip? It is being organized by a Meetup group and the organizers go every year and have alot of experience. Have you backpacked there before? Im a little concerned I signed up for something I can’t do but the organizers and past hikers that went assure me that I can do it.
Yay, I absolutely love hearing feedback like this Emily! You made my day!
As far as rainpants…my best answer is that it depends. If you live and hike in an area that is rainy or subject to thunderstorms, then yes, you’ll still want a pair of rainpants. If you are a fairly casual hiker and go out for short day hikes, even if you’re caught in a surprise rainstorm you’ll probably be ok with the Paramount Porter pants. I bring along my rainpants on backpacking trips and on any full day hikes in areas where it might rain unexpectedly. The Paramount Porter pants are water resistant, but from my own experience it isn’t fun when they are drenched from a sudden thunderstorm!
Hope that helps. Happy trails!
HL-I followed your advice on the North face Paramount pants and I have to say, it was a great bit of advice, those pants rock! They seem really well made and sturdy and I don’t see these pants ripping, ever…do you think I need rain pants since these hold up to water so well? I’d rather not invest in them if I don’t have to. They also look good on me and fit me! I have a hard time finding hiking pants that aren’t too tight.
Great question! That’s exciting that you are exploring your new area. Most hiking pants are made of polyester or synthetic materials so they dry quickly if you’re caught in rain. While I never recommend cotton based clothing for hiking, you may want to try just wearing a comfy pair of jeans. If you live in an area with lots of unexpected rain, throw a pair of full zip rain pants in your backpack so your jeans don’t get wet (and you get uncomfortably cold) if the weather changes.
I’ve recently moved and have discovered the fun in hiking around cacti and other prickly plants. Most of my hiking pants are very light weight and don’t provide much protection against these plants. Any suggestions for a heavier weight canvas-like pant? I tried Carhardt, but the waistline goes all the way up to my natural waist and isn’t comfortable at all! Thanks for any suggestions 🙂
Great question. The REI private label product dues tend to be a bit more comfortable and roomier in the hips and thighs. The REI Endeavor Pants don’t have zips at all…so you won’t get the capri option unfortunately, but they have a hidden inside waist cord that will let you adjust it to your narrow waist 🙂
Hope those work out for you. Happy trails!
Hiking Lady – I am 5’1″ with a small waist and big hips, thighs, and butt. I’ve been on a mission to find hiking pants that are not the elastic tight material and have room in the back. I found a great pair at REI – Sahara – but they are convertible into shorts (I don’t like shorts and prefer capris) and the waist is too high (up to my chest). I like the nylon/polyester material that is light weight. Any suggestions you have would be awesome!!
Great question, Maria. The Swift pants are what I’d recommend, and it sounds like you already have a pair. Unfortunately I can’t think of anything that is made of lightweight merino wool that would be a looser fit. The 150g ultralite line from Icebreaker is really the only ones I’ve seen that are that light and made of merino. If I see or hear of others I’ll be sure to post it here. If any readers know of something that would be suitable I hope they share it!
Good luck, Maria!
Dear Hiking Lady,
I am a big fan of Icebreaker and own many of their items. Though they are pricey, I find that they last multiple washes very well and serve my aggressive exercise regimens superbly. However, as I live in a very hot and humid climate – Miami – I have been endlessly searching for a long merino wool pant that would be lightweight for summer use, odor-free, yet protective from sun. Icebreaker makes superb tops with the GT 150 line and the Ultralite/ Superfine line, but the only have very short running shorts in 150 gram weight (which expose my sun-sensitiv skin) or leggings that are way too tight. I own the Swift pant which I use for running and dancing in the cooler and cold months – the fit is perfect – not too tight or too form-fitting. Would you be able to recommend any brand of long women’s pants made of lightweight merino wool that would be a looser fit than leggings? If not, is there anything similar that you can recommend? NOTE: this is for very active exercise (dancing) and stretching, NOT for hiking, so the stretch provided by wool is important. Thank you.
I agree – it can be difficult to find a pair of hiking pants that fits well! I have good luck with The North Face brand – I have 2 pairs of the older style Paramount Porter pants and the Horizon Utility pants and find that they have decent room in the hips. What I look for are pants that have an adjustable waist, ie, ones with a string on the inside that can be tied to make the pants more snugs. Both of these models have that feature. The new model of the Horizon Utility pants are called the Tempest. I too have a narrow waist relative to hips and butt…clearly the designers need to think about us curvy women a little more! I find that Columbia tends to run too tight in the thighs. Please share how The North Face pants work for you if you get a chance to try them on.
I love to hike and camp but can never find a pair of hiking pants that fit me. I wear a size 10 but am generous in the hip/but area so a size 10 are too snug in the hips but perfect in the waist. I always have to go up a size and have the waist altered. Do you have any suggestions as I have searched and tried on pants and haven’t found anything yet that fits my needs. Looking forward to your reply.
Thanks for the comment. I just can’t live without my pockets! Good point about eliminating any sort of chafing issues. Happy trails!
I actually prefer to forgo pockets and hike in running tights. I feel like I have a better range of motion and it pretty well eliminates any sort of chafing issues. And, practicality aside, I think I look better in them.
Hi there! Hemming hiking pants isn’t an issue as long as they don’t have zippers at the bottom. The North Face makes a few in petite sizes, which may help in your situation. The Paramount Porter pants come in Petite sizes. Also the Horizon pants have a very generous fit compared to others, so they may work for you. I own 2 pair and hemmed them both because I’m short too! 🙂 Hope that helps!
I am a “pear” shape. I have round hips, but yet quite short. All hiking pants are too long for my size. Any tips or suggestions – since most hiking pants aren’t meant to be hemmed.
Thanks for the tip, Jacco!
If you are looking for a combination of nylon and natural fibers, take a look at Fjäll Räven. They make these hiking pants, made of G-1000 fabric. It’s basically a combination of cotton and polyester.
It makes for a very comfortable and durable set of trousers.
You probably will only find it in Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany), but it is worth a try to fit one if you ever visit.
I have a pair of prAna hiking pants that are 97% nylon, 3% spandex and they are a bit softer feeling than my 100% nylon North Face pants. Patagonia pants generally have some spandex too, and their nylon is woven. It feels softer, but like Icebreaker, it’s pricey!
As far as base layers, for moderately priced options that are lightweight, I like the REI base layers. They are polyester/spandex blend.
Actually, I’m a big fan of merino wool, my socks, liners, top base layers, and now, bottom are all merino. It works just great, feels great, and I grab new pieces when I see a sale. So, the synthetics aren’t so bad if there is merino underneath, but San Diego is San Diego and a wool base layer isn’t often appropriate. I guess some cotton, or mixed, pants are worth a try. Thanks.
Hi San Diego Hiker,
I understand completely! Have you tried Icebreaker wool fabrics? They are really soft… very pricey but they feel a lot better than a polyester t-shirt!
I’m not a hiking lady, but I do wear pants when I hike. Or shorts. The pants I usually wear are the REI convertibles (because they’re inexpensive, and they make the green I need sometimes). I like the fit, they layer well, though I’ve never zipped the lower section off. The thing about nylon pants is they tend to feel grimy once they’ve been worn all day. I usually can’t wait to get home and change into some cotton – same goes for shirts, and skivvies. I’ve been looking for a balance between nylon and natural fibers for the trails. Any suggestions? Anyone?