Hiking is a great way to keep fit, enjoy time with your family and friends, and make the most of your surroundings. Not only this, but it promotes a healthy state of mind and is completely free to do, making it a highly accessible and cost-effective activity.
However, we understand that you may have to splash out on the right gear before you can get into hiking. A good pair of hiking boots are essential, as is a good backpack and warm clothes - particularly if you’re hiking in cooler weather. Which brings us to the focus of this article: leggings.
Leggings are great for hiking as they can provide warmth and insulation, without restricting your range of movement on difficult hikes. They’re also great for layering and can be worn either on their own or underneath waterproof trousers for an added thermal layer in harsh conditions. Equally, the right pair of leggings can also keep you cool in sweltering heat, provided they’re made of moisture-wicking fabric, of course.
Perhaps you’re thinking: what makes a pair of hiking leggings different to a pair of gym or lounge leggings?
Well, seemingly not too much. However, there are a few special features you should look out for that can enhance your comfort and performance while hiking.
To save you breaking out a sweat, we’ve included everything you need to know right here, so you can spend less time browsing the web, and more time enjoying the great outdoors.
Top 6 Best Leggings for Hiking
OUR TOP PICK
An online best-seller, these leggings from Reflex are an all-rounder. Designed with ‘power flex’ fabric, these comfortable pants are squat-proof, meaning they’re pretty unbeatable when it comes to range of movement and stretch thanks to their 12% spandex composition.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or gentle stroller, these leggings won’t rub or chafe and are durable enough to endure everyday wear and machine washing, as well as frequent hikes.
The slimming highrise waistband is an on-trend ‘yoga’ style and has plenty of stretch without slacking around the waist and hips. The waistband lies flat on your skin to prevent it from rubbing or sliding down. A hidden pocket is also super handy and ideal for an extra hair tie or key.
These leggings are a great combination of comfort, fit, and style, and Reflex are so sure of their product that they’ll offer you a 30 day, full money back warranty if you’re not 100% satisfied.
- Power flex technology for ultimate flexibility and durability
- Ideal for everyday wear as well as hiking
- High-rise waistband with hidden key pocket
- Waistband lies flat on your stomach and won’t rub
- Slim, flattering style
- Money-back warranty
- No smartphone pocket
From workwear brand Carhartt comes their stretch utility legging which is versatile enough to convert from a durable pair of work leggings into a comfortable athletic pant. These have a structured appearance while maintaining flexibility - they bend and stretch as you move.
These leggings are great for a multitude of weather conditions thanks to the fast-dry technology that wicks sweat and fights odors. Made of lightweight nylon and spandex, they have just the right balance of durability and comfort, with a stretch waistband for a precise fit and abrasion-resistant fabric so you can rest assured that they’re robust enough for the great outdoors.
Two added bonuses are the deep utility pockets for convenience, and knee panels for added support.
- Structure of a pant, feel of a legging
- Stretch waistband for comfort
- Super flexible, stretch and bend as you move
- Knee panels for added support
- Pockets for extra convenience
- You can expect a higher price tag from a renowned brand such as Carhartt
Think hiking is only for the summer months?
Perfect for winter hikes, these Baleaf leggings have a fleece-lined interior to keep you warm when hiking in cooler climates. Don't worry about sweating either - despite their warmth, these pants are breathable thanks to their moisture-wicking fabric.
Featuring an on-trend, high-waisted style, these leggings feature two smartphone pockets so you can easily retrieve your phone to take a quick photograph of the view. A hidden pocket in the waistband is also super convenient and perfect for storing small items such as your key.
The high-rise, v-shaped waistband is stylish and flattering for all body shapes and has added tummy-control for those who are self-conscious.
The added gusset crotch promotes free movement and interlock seams minimize chafing to make these leggings some of the most comfortable on the market. An added bonus is that these come in a range of colors, from a deep berry red to a bright purple.
- Fleece-lined for added warmth
- Moisture-wicking fabric for breathability
- V-shaped, high-waisted waistband for tummy-control
- Gusset crotch for added flexibility
- Smartphone pockets and hidden key pocket
- You may get a little too warm at times - only ideal for winter!
Made of lightweight cotton and viscose from a bamboo and spandex blend, these leggings not only look great but will keep you protected from the sun, too. With a UPF rating of 50+, these leggings will block 98% of UV radiation, making them ideal for hiking during the warmer summer months.
The ZnO™ fabric feels super soft against the skin and not only keeps you cool and comfortable but is infused with millions of sun-bouncing minerals. These Coolibar leggings come in a range of color choices and even feature some stylish, vibrant patterns, too, making them ideal for everyday leisurewear as well as hiking trips.
- Super lightweight feel and soft on the skin for ultimate comfort
- UPF 50+ makes them perfect for summer
- Unique ZnO™ fabric keeps you cool and comfortable and also blocks out the sun
- Come in a range of styles and colors
- Machine washable and sun protection won’t wash out
- Not ideal for winter or intense hikes in harsher conditions
- Contain cotton, which isn't good for moisture-wicking
Columbia is a great brand for outdoor wear, and these leggings don’t disappoint. They feature Columbia’s famous Omni-Heat technology and will keep you toasty warm without overheating.
Thanks to the Omni-Wick moisture management, you’ll be kept dry and sweat-free in these thermals, which make a perfect base layer for serious hikers. Alternatively, they can be worn by themselves on gentler hikes or while exercising outside in the winter.
These are thin enough to fit under your everyday pants too, as an extra layer for work and daily wear when you need a little added warmth. These are also great under ski pants.
- Omni-heat technology keeps you warm
- Thin enough to wear as a base layer
- Omni-wick moisture management prevents sweating
- Trustworthy Colombia brand
- No pockets
These thermal leggings from Yogipace not only have a fleece lining for ultimate warmth in 20-40 degree weather, but they are water-resistant too, making them ideal for hiking in a range of weather conditions, either as a base layer or by themselves.
Made of a combination of polyester and spandex, they’re moisture-wicking yet streamlined, so you get the best of both worlds.
The high rise style not only hugs your figure but keeps you warmer, too, plus the elastic waistband with drawcord adds extra comfort and versatility.
Keep your phone at your side thanks to the deep side pockets which keep your device secure and accessible, while the double-layer crotch provides greater movement and flexibility. These leggings come in sizes XS - XXL, fitting both petite and tall women.
- Fleece-lined for ultimate warmth in 20-40 degrees
- Water-resistant so keeps you dry in light rain
- Polyester and Spandex mix for ultimate comfort
- Elastic waistband with drawcord
- Wide range of sixes
- Double layer crotch for increased range of movement
- Deep side pockets for smartphone
- Some people found these a little big on the waist - so ensure you check measurements before selecting a size.
Best Leggings For Hiking Buying Guide
One of the most important elements of leggings, particularly for hiking, is the fabric.
You’ll work up a sweat when hiking, even in cooler climates, so you want to get that balance right when it comes to insulation and breathability. Leggings will usually be made out of a combination of fabrics, but it’s worth looking out for keywords such as ‘moisture-wicking’ or ‘quick-dry’, and avoiding those with a high percentage of cotton - as cotton locks in moisture and sweat.
Spandex and Polyester are your best friends when it comes to cooling properties, and don’t forget that you can always layer up if you’re worried about feeling the cold.
Leggings come mainly in two lengths: normal or Capri.
Normal length leggings - which come to the ankle - are usually the best option for hiking as these keep you warm while also protecting your legs from the sun.
Capri - which cut off at the knee - can be suitable for the summer months and more gentle hikes, but bear in mind that your skin will be exposed to the sun’s rays, so always wear sunscreen.
The main point of leggings is usually to provide comfort and maximize your range of movement. This makes them great for everything from hiking to running, to even lounging around and watching Netflix.
While almost all leggings are built with stretch in mind, the best ones will feature a gusset crotch and a high percentage of spandex so that the fabric molds to your skin.
If you’re a frequent hiker or something of a hiking enthusiast, you’ll probably have a rucksack for all your essentials. However, pockets shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to leggings.
Smartphone pockets can be extremely useful, particularly if you’re wearing leggings as an only layer. Not only this, but a secret key pocket is also a great bonus, as this keeps your small belongings safe and secure while hiking.
Brand and Price
The sports and outerwear market has become hugely saturated in the last few years, particularly as more people discover the benefits of the great outdoors. However, this can make it even more difficult to decide on the best pair of leggings for you.
The good thing though is that prices are more competitive, and this means that even if you’re on a budget, there are some pretty affordable options out there such as Baleaf and Reflex, and the quality of these rivals that of some of the more renowned brands. That said, brands such as Colombia and Carhartt can be great for specific needs, such as a pair of thermal leggings or hiking-specific styles.
When selecting a pair of leggings, read the manufacturer’s guidelines, as sometimes they can differ slightly from usual, for example, advising you to go for the size up, or size down.
Most are a regular fit though, so don’t be put off by the tight-fit, leggings are built to fit closely but have extra flex built-in, with many featuring flat, stretchy waistbands for ultimate comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are leggings good for hiking?
Leggings are worn by a lot of women when hiking, or when exercising in general. They mimic the shape of the legs and therefore provide great comfort and range of movement when walking. While the lightweight fabric can be great in summer months, for cooler temperatures you may feel a little exposed in leggings alone, and in this case, they make a great base layer instead.
Because most leggings are made of moisture-wicking fabric, they keep you warm while eliminating moisture and prevent you from overheating. Leggings also keep your legs protected from the elements, and you can even get ones with built-in SPF protection for hiking during the warmer months.
What is the best fabric for leggings?
This depends largely on where - and when - you plan on wearing them. While cotton is super soft and can be great for lounging around the house in, it’s not so good when it comes to moisture-wicking, and you may find that you overheat if you go hiking in cotton leggings.
Most sports leggings are built with moisture-wicking fabric however, and polyester or spandex is great for keeping you dry as well as increasing your range of movement. Leggings featuring moisture-wicking or dry-fit fabric are your best friend when it comes to hiking leggings.