BEST HIKING LEGGINGS FOR WOMEN (& MEN) OF 2018
Not long ago, many men wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing leggings out on the mountain. Fast forward 20 years, and they’ve become popular hiking attire for a number of reasons.
From warmth and water-resistance to compression and breathability, there are several things to look for in a great pair of hiking leggings. While very few provide the perfect combination of all of these attributes, Under Armour Men's HeatGear Armour Compression Leggings hit the mark in nearly every category.
In addition to providing superior compression and support, they’re soft, lightweight, breathable, and comfortable as can be. While more and more men’s hiking leggings are hitting the shelves these days, we’re confident these will allow you to get the most from the great outdoors!
From the grocery store to the gym and you guessed it, the mountain, women’s leggings can be seen everywhere. However, hiking leggings are quite different than the everyday leggings you likely have in your closet.
Today’s hiking leggings are designed to provide the comfort and mobility women have come to love in traditional leggings yet offer warmth, moisture-wicking, and breathability as well, all of which are features of Outdoor Research’s Radiant Hybrid Tights.
By perfectly marrying all of these must-have attributes, these top-notch women’s hiking leggings have separated themselves from the pack. If you want to feel good and stay warm and dry at the campsite or out on the trail, these are leggings for you.
Ever trek up a mountain in inferior hiking pants, or even worse, in shorts or blue jeans? It was miserable, right? If your legs weren’t sweating from lack of airflow or all cut up from lack of protection, the waist was probably riding up to your chest, or you suffered chafing in all the wrong places.
Consider the lightweight nature of leggings compared to traditional pants, shaving ounces can help improve the quality of your trips as you follow the process to become an Ultralight Backpacker.
Fortunately, there are some terrific hiking leggings out there that solve these issues and more. Keep reading to learn more about today’s hiking leggings, the differences between them, and how to choose the right ones for your body, climate, and outdoor pursuits!
We researched over 40 pairs of hiking leggings/tights and slowly narrowed down our list to just eight pairs - 4 for the ladies and 4 for the gents.
Outdoor Research Women's Radiant Hybrid
Top Pick (Women)
95% Polyester/5% Spandex
Merrell Women’s Soto Redux Leggings
Adidas Outdoor Women’s Hike Tights
100% Other Fibers
Duofold Women’s Mid Weight Fleece Lined Thermal Legging
92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
Under Armour Men’s HeatGear Armour Compression Leggings
Top Pick (Men)
79% Polyester/21% Elastane
X31 Sports Mens Cold Weather Tights
Polyester, Elastane blend
2XU Men's Compression Tights
100% Lycra spandex
Baleaf Men’s Outdoor Tights
90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
From material to fit and everything in between, there are a number of things to look for when picking out a great pair of hiking leggings. That being said, here’s a look at some key considerations to keep in mind before you the click the “Buy” button and hit the trail.
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When shopping for hiking leggings, comfort and fit are paramount. They can feature the best breathable fabric or the warmest fleece lining, but if the fit is wrong and they’re not comfortable, then all of the other attributes go out the window.
Despite their form-fitting designs, different hiking leggings will fit your body shape better than others. Some are ideal for long skinny legs and small bums, and others are ideal shorter legs and a more prominent caboose.
Don’t want to try on a gazillion different pairs? Keep reading to learn more about the cut and comfort of some of today’s top hiking leggings.
The best hiking leggings should stretch to conform to your physique for ultimate comfort and freedom of movement. Unlike traditional hiking pants, which provide protection for serious bushwhacking but tend to fit loose and flop around with each step, stretch hiking leggings should fit like a glove.
However, keep in mind that some cheaper leggings can become somewhat see-thru once stretched. If you aren't shy then maybe that isn't a problem, but we would personally suggest spending a touch more money on quality leggings to keep your privates private.
A gusseted crotch features an added piece of sewn in material to prevent all four seams from converging in one spot down below, providing you with less restriction and greater comfort. Since the seams are located in different areas, the stress is dispersed allowing for more durability as well.
Flat sewn seams are another critical feature of well-made hiking leggings. Unlike traditional seams, they're sewn flat against the legging fabric to minimize chafing and skin irritation. Most hiking leggings feature this type of seam construction, but it's best to double check before hitting the trail in an inferior product.
Hiking leggings and pants should anatomically mimic the shape of your legs to comfortably hike varied terrain, traverse boulders, and kneel at camp. The cut should allow free movement, while not riding up or trying to twist while you walk.
Compression hiking leggings are all the rage these days and for a good reason. Compression leggings are designed to reduce fatigue and improve your performance out on the trail. If you want to hike longer and feel better, compression leggings will help you do precisely that.
Many hiking leggings are breathable and not fully water-repellent, but others are. Unless they feature a special water-repellent coating, chances are you may have to choose between breathability and water and wind-resistance.
Pockets are a personal preference. You either like them for their utility or consider them a nuisance. If you want to have a space to store your keys, ID, and other essentials when out on the trail, you’ll be happy to know you’ll find plenty of hiking leggings with zipper pockets to allow you to do precisely that.
Some hiking leggings have zippers down at the cuffs to make them much easier to put on and take off. This is more of a convenience feature, which you may or may not appreciate.
Hiking pants and trousers are great for bushwhacking and blazing trails through dense brush, but modern hiking leggings provide a number of unique benefits other types of pants just can’t match.
For starters, many hiking leggings provide compression. Hiking leggings with compression help increase endurance and minimize fatigue. Not all hiking leggings are designed for compression, but the ones that have a distinct advantage over traditional hiking pants concerning performance.
Unlike traditional hiking pants and trousers, hiking leggings also stretch to conform to your body and fit like a glove for ultimate comfort and freedom of movement. They’re slim, trim, and not baggy at all.
Then, there’s the breathability factor. Many hiking leggings are designed to provide plenty of airflows to keep your legs and bottom cool, dry, and sweat-free.
Some, on the other hand, are fleece-lined and designed for warmth. In fact, they’ll keep you warm in temps as low as 40 degrees, and even lower when worn as a base layer.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about hiking leggings. However, there are a few downsides to trekking in these types of pants as well. For instance, they’re not great for bushwhacking and are likely to tear or get ripped if going off the beaten path.
Since many hiking leggings are designed for breathability, they’re also not ideal for wet adventures and environments. Furthermore, 99 percent of hiking leggings are black (ok this may be a bit of an exaggeration), so they get hot whenever the sun is beating down.
Lastly, the hiking legging options are slimmer for men than women. In fact, women probably have hundreds more options, sizes, and prices to choose from.
Cotton clothing is one of the worst things you could wear when hitting the trail. Why do you ask? The answer is simple: cotton absorbs moisture.
Sweat is inevitable when hiking. If you’re wearing cotton leggings, moisture from your sweat will make them damp or wet. When cotton gets wet, the air pockets within the fabric become filled with water, hindering its insulating ability.
If you wear cotton when hiking in the cold rain or snow, you’ll clothing will get wet and stay wet, increasing your chances of hypothermia tenfold. Instead of walking or driving out of the wilderness on your own, you may end up medevacked or not come out at all.
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Outdoor Research Radiant Hybrid Tights are a rare breed. Not only are they designed for mobility and breathability, but they’re made to keep you warm and comfortable on snow days as well. In this respect, they’re the ultimate hiking legging.
Midweight radiant fleece panels trap heat and keep your muscles warm and primed for peak performance in cold weather. Meanwhile, lightweight, breathable radiant fleece panels in the waist and inseam allow heat to escape in all of the right places.
Nonetheless, if you’re hoping to find a pair of hiking leggings to wear as a base layer underneath your pants, trousers, or jeans, these Outdoor Research Radiant Hybrid Tights aren’t for you. However, if you’re searching for the comfiest and warmest hiking leggings for winter use, chances are they won’t disappoint.
If you live in a warm climate or just want a great pair of summertime hiking leggings, it’s hard to go wrong with Merrell’s Women’s Soto Redux Leggings. These breathable stretch leggings are made of 100 percent polyester M Select WICK fabric for superior moisture-wicking and breathability.
With flatlock stitching and a wide elastic waistband as well, they’re also super comfortable and designed to minimize chafing. Plus, they come in adorable bold print rather than dull black, so you’ll look good and feel good when out on the trail.
On the downside, Merrell Women’s Soto Redux Leggings don’t provide compression, and they’re also not ideal for women with larger bottoms. That being said, they’re perfect for working out, running, or hiking with friends.
The Adidas Outdoor Women’s Hike Tights are right up there with some of the best cold weather hiking leggings in the business. These stretchy and supple hike tights are fleece-lined and feature Adidas’s ClimaWarm fabric to maintain warmth and regulate temperature in cold climates. In warmer weather, however, you’ll be burning up, so check the weather report before heading out to the trailhead.
Worried about keeping dry? These leggings are also designed with water-resistant front overlays to repel cold wind and rain and keep you warm and dry.
Adidas Outdoor Women’s Hike Tights also fit exceptionally well and feel great on your skin. With stretch polyester and jersey fabric, they’re soft and provide excellent freedom of movement for traversing any terrain.
These thermal Duofold leggings are another excellent option for hiking in colder temps. The inside of these Duofold’s are fleece-lined and feature Varitherm technology, which is a brushed thermal layer of insulation designed to trap body heat and keep you warm.
Like any good pair of hiking leggings should, they also evaporate moisture and dry very quickly, so you can hike for miles on end in the Pacific Northwest and feel like you’re down in the Arizona desert. When you factor in the Duofold’s excellent stretch polyester and Spandex construction, pull-on closure, and soft chafe-resistant stitching, there are plenty of reasons to add them to your collection of hiking gear.
That being said, not all hiking pants are great for everyone, and these Duofold Women’s Mid-Weight Fleece-Lined Thermal Leggings are no exception. Also being a little too thick and warm for use in hot temps, they have a longer crotch area, so they’re best suited for women with longer torsos.
Whether you live in the Sonoran Desert or like merely making the most of the summertime with grueling day hikes in the heat of July, Under Armour Men’s HeatGear Amour Compression Leggings have your back.
Not only do they fit super tight for superior compression and support, but their soft, lightweight construction makes them super comfortable as well. They’re also breathable to provide ample airflow when it’s high noon and 90 degrees outside.
Despite not being designed for cold weather, Under Armour’s Men’s HeatGear Armour Compression Leggings still provide plenty of warmth when the temp's dip, so they’re great for overnight camping trips as well.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the X31 Sports Men’s Cold-Weather Leggings are designed to keep your legs nice and warm for sufficient blood flow and improved performance during wintertime treks.
The nifty cold-weather hiking leggings are made of a superior spandex and polyester blend for stretch and breathability and feature ankles zippers, an internal drawstring, and a unique silicone beading along the hem, making them extremely easy to put on and take off as well.
To top it all off, a rear zipper pocket and reflective details are also included. These features are a surprisingly lovely finishing touch, especially considering X31’s are on the lower end of the price scale. If you want a great, all-around pair of winter hiking leggings, these may be the right fit for you.
If you’re a fan of compression leggings, then 2XU Men’s Compression Tights might be just what you’re after. Featuring 70 Denier fabric constructed via a medical circular knit, it provides powerful and consistent pressure for 360-degree calf, hamstring, quad, abductor, glute, and IT band support.
2XU’s are breathable and lightweight as well, making them ideal for a variety outdoor activities and sports. From cycling and aerobics to hiking, climbing, and watersports, these leggings are up for it all.
That being said, they do lack fleece lining or any form of thermal layer, which means you’ll have to use them as a base layer in the winter months. However, they’re thin and fit like a glove so that you can wear them underneath winter-friendly hiking pants with ease.
All in all, the 2XU Men’s Compression Tights an excellent option for anyone in search of compression support any time of year.
Looking for quality cold weather gear? If so, the Baleaf Men’s Outdoor Thermal Tights may be worth a look. Made of a stretchy, breathable Lycra spandex material and featuring a soft and warm fleece-lined interior, they provide long-lasting comfort and warmth when trekking, skiing, running or doing any winter outdoor sports.
These well-made thermals also come with several reflective elements for low-light visibility, gel padding in the crotch for cycling, a zippered rear pocket, and zippers on the legs that make putting them on and taking them off a breeze.
Unfortunately, the fit of the Baleaf Men’s Outdoor Thermals is better suited for tall and lanky body types. If you’re short and stocky, be forewarned. Other than that, they knock it out of the park.