Hiking in jeans may seem like a good idea but, once they’re dripping wet, they gain weight, feel cold and eat away at your flesh like, well, creatures with flesh-eating genes.
The best hiking leggings, on the other hand, are quick-drying, use material that gives you greater freedom of movement, and don’t try to remove all the skin from your inner thighs.
Our list below includes the best hiking leggings for both women and men, and includes our top picks.
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The Best Hiking Leggings for Women
Our Top Pick: The North Face Motivation High-Rise Crop Leggings
Combine style and comfort with a sleek fit and enhanced athletic performance with The North Face’s Motivation High Rise hiking leggings. From the race track to the mountain trail, these leggings will keep you feeling comfortable and looking stylish.
The high-rise design is flattering whatever your body shape, while the four-way stretch fabric will stay with you whether you’re performing a tripod headstand with lotus legs, or hiking your way over technical terrain.
Made with FlashDry™ fabric, Motivation High Rise hiking leggings are designed to “act like a second skin… pushing moisture to the surface of the fabric and eliminating it as fast as possible, keeping the user dry, cool and comfortable during high aerobic activities”.
There’s a hidden pocket for your valuables and the cropped length means they’re as flattering on shorter people as they are the loftier ones.
Colors and designs are somewhat limited but the sleek fit and understated style more than make up for that. Choose from black or heather grey and furnish yourself with a pair of leggings that guarantee free movement, comfort, durability, and style.
With a price tag of just $65.95, The North Face Motivation leggings won’t break the bank but they could help you break your lap record, not to mention keeping you cool and comfortable when you’re setting off on the trail.
Looking for the best hiking leggings when all things are considered (price, breathability, comfort, fit and durability? These are the ones for you.
#2 Patagonia Lightweight Pack Out Leggings
You know how your backpack seems ever so keen to pull your leggings down at the back when walking? Well, Patagonia noticed that too and came up with this high-rise design that would see your leggings stay up regardless of your backpack’s nefarious intent!
This is only one aspect that makes these some of the best hiking tights on the market today. While designed, primarily, as a base layer in warmer climates, the Patagonia Lightweight Pack Out leggings work equally well on the outside.
The breathable, lightweight fabric is largely made up of recycled polyester, with HeiQ odor-control and finished with MiDori BioWick plant oil which helps the fabric to absorb sweat, wick moisture away and dry faster.
The combination of a merino-blend fabric and the unique BodyFitZone™ technology keeps you warm without overheating, even in extreme conditions and during intense activity.
There are a couple of drop-in pockets for your valuables, which is virtually unheard-of in hiking leggings, and, while the heavyweight fabric will keep you warm, the Patagonia Lightweight hiking leggings are also designed for both optimum comfort and athletic performance.
A little more expensive than our pick for the best hiking leggings, but still a contender for your cash. Patagonia’s Lightweight leggings cost $99 and are well worth that price if you do a lot of hiking in cooler climates or are planning a high-altitude adventure.
#3 Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings
Like Patagonia’s lightweight leggings, Icebreaker’s are primarily designed as baselayer items, but with superior next-to-skin comfort and breathability. They’re a bit heavier than The North Face’s offering but that also makes them ideal for cold-weather adventuring.
What makes these one of the top hiking leggings for women? Using merino wool alongside an “interlock knit for enhanced comfort, breathability, thermoregulation, and odor resistance”, these make for some of the best hiking leggings around. They’re also stylish enough that no one will ever guess they were originally designed as underwear!
Even if you already have a drawer-full of yoga leggings, everyday leggings, you won’t regret adding a pair of these to your collection. Wear them for your morning run, meeting friends for coffee, or heading off on New York’s acclaimed Tongue Mountain trail.
Icebreaker’s Zone 260 leggings are the most expensive in our selection of the best hiking leggings for women, costing $115. Are they worth it? Well, with their “zoned body mapping technology” and chafe-preventing flat-lock seams, I’d say they are.
#4 Beyond Yoga Spacedye Take Me Higher Long Leggings
Designed to fit every type of woman’s body, from the athlete’s to the expectant mother’s, Beyond Yoga’s leggings stretch in four different directions and mold to your body like a buttery pair of gloves.
Made with specialized Spacedye fabric, these leggings are super-soft and quick-drying while also providing hidden interior support. Not only will Beyond Yoga’s leggings give you comfort and support while hiking, but they’ll also protect you against harmful UV rays.
All the fabrics used in Beyond Yoga’s products are sourced from sustainable and responsible sources so you can wear them not just comfortably on the outside but in good conscience on the inside.
Although these are full-length tights, Beyond Yoga also has midi-length options available for those with either short legs or sexy ankles.
Wear these leggings confidently as you awaken your Kundalini or step out in style by putting them to the hiking trail test.
More inclined towards a lazy afternoon on the sofa? It doesn’t matter – whatever you’re doing, you can do it in these. They might be some of the best hiking leggings in terms of durability, but they’re also some of the most comfortable for simply relaxing in.
Priced at $99, these Beyond Yoga Spacedye leggings provide affordability as well as comfort and durability.
#5 Wild Rye Jane Leggings
Wild Rye’s range of hiking leggings is one of the few designed by women, for women. Although primarily designed for mountain biking, these are some of the best leggings for hiking as well.
You won’t find any sticky polyester or moist cotton in these leggings because Wild Rye has replaced it with 100% merino wool. Not only does this feel great against your skin, but it’s also naturally breathable and odor-free.
The Wild Rye Jane leggings will keep their shape as effectively on a long hike through the mountains, as they do during a quick yoga session. Relax in them or explore their technical capacity on a week-long camping trip.
The 7/8 length means these leggings will “neither cut your legs [off] at a random point nor drown you in fabric”. What’s more, for short people like myself, it means no more bulky ankles where you’ve rolled up the excess.
A wide elastic waistband stops any rolls of flesh from popping out over the top and makes them more comfortable after a large meal! Although Wild Rye’s Jane leggings are some of the best hiking leggings money can buy, they can equally be worn as a base layer on chilly expeditions.
Priced the same as Beyond Yoga’s SpaceDry leggings, Wild Rye’s Jane leggings come in various designs, while being comfy, cool, and just technical enough for an outdoor adventurer (of any height).
The Best Hiking Leggings for Men
Although I decided to focus primarily on the best hiking leggings for women, I guess because I’m a woman and fundamentally self-seeking, I thought I should give a nod of acknowledgement to our gentleman readers with the following two recommendations.
#1 Icebreaker 250 Vertex Leggings
These merino wool leggings prevent nasty chafing on the ski slope as effectively as they do on a mountain trail. Take them on a camping trip and they’ll keep you warm throughout the night while giving the thermoregulation you need to stay comfortable during your day’s activities.
Like the women’s Icebreaker 260 Zone, these leggings have flat seams to prevent awkward rubs and are the perfect weight. They provide a comfortable single layer or an additional second layer when the temperature drops.
The merino wool fabric will cling to your body without restricting movement. Wear them under your favorite multi-purpose shorts or go all-out, ditch the shorts and discover just how good they are for all round workouts.
According to some, these aren’t just the best hiking leggings for men, they’re also perfect for Jiu-Jitsu and other combat sports because they are “durable, wicking, and most of all comfy”.
Whether it’s because men’s clothing is more advanced than women’s, or just bigger, these Icebreaker leggings are more expensive than any of our best hiking leggings for women, coming in at $140.
#2 Mons Royale Olympus 3.0 Leggings
Designed more for skiers than hikers, these leggings are made of heavyweight merino wool that guaranteed to keep you toasty warm in high altitudes in inclement weather conditions.
The mesh panels on the backs of the knees allow you to move freely, making them some of the best hiking leggings for men that have the versatility to be worn in the gym, on the soccer field, or in a yoga studio.
As with all Mons Royale products, the Olympus 3.0 leggings combine “technical performance with style” so they are as wearable off the mountain as they are on it.
The heavyweight nature of these leggings means they’re not ideal for hiking in Yosemite National Park but would be great if you’re planning a winter hike through Maine’s Acadia National Park.
Showing surprising awareness of a true hiker’s needs, Mons Royale has produced a technical pair of leggings with large enough pockets to fit your cellphone in and an elastic waistband which ensures they don’t start going south at inopportune moments.
Slightly cheaper than our top choice for the best hiking leggings for men, the Mons Royale Olympus 3.0 carry a price tag of $120 so, although still more expensive than the best hiking leggings for women
The best hiking leggings and tights for both men and women combine comfort with performance. They are quick-drying, unlike jeans, and reduce chafing while maintaining breathability and thermoregulation.