The Best Hiking Leggings of 2024

Find the best tights for hiking
We tested the best hiking leggings.

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Leggings are comfortable, flexible, and breathable making them ideal hiking apparel. The freedom of movement and full coverage offer hikers the chance to lay down major miles without chafing or exposure to the sun, cold, and vegetation. To help you find the right leggings for your next trek, I’ve tested the best hiking leggings while hiking and backpacking in summer and fall conditions.

How I Tested the Best Hiking Leggings

The places where leggings suffer while hiking is in durability, sweat marks, and thermoregulation. That’s why I’ve chosen leggings that actively combat these shortcomings. While there are plenty of running and lifestyle pairs that I’ve worn hiking, they tend to develop holes or stretch out quickly. I tested these in summer conditions for sweat marks and thermoregulation, and continued to test them for compression, mobility, and staying power into fall.

Best Hiking Leggings: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Smartwool Active Legging

Best Overall

Smartwool Active Legging

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: XS-XL
  • Materials: 87 percent recycled nylon, 13 percent elastane; lining: 53 percent merino wool, 47 percent lyocell 
  • Pockets: Drop-in pockets at side panels, envelope stash pocket on interior waistband

Pros

  • Thermoregulating
  • Comfortable
  • Pockets

Cons

  • A little long

The Smartwool Active Leggings are extremely comfortable, thermoregulating, and stretchy. And they have pockets. That is really all I’m asking for in the best hiking leggings, which is why they won best overall. The material has four-way stretch, and the interior waistband is lined in merino wool and Tencel for moisture wicking. They don’t show sweat stains or slip around. While not compressing or tight, they have a contoured design for the ideal slim fit without looking baggy or cutting off your circulation. Plus the fabric is buttery soft. These are a true full-length legging, falling below the ankle. These offer all-day comfort and mobility, with all the benefits of merino wool in the lining.

Best Lightweight: Patagonia Maipo 7/8 Tights

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s XXS-XXL
  • Materials: 80 percent recycled nylon, 20 percent spandex knit with miDori bioSoft for added wicking and softness, and HeiQ Pure odor control
  • Pockets: Two drop-in side pockets

Pros

  • Flatlock seams
  • Lightweight
  • Odor control

Cons

  • Higher pockets take some getting used to

Super soft and lightweight, the Maipo tights are comfortable with light compression. The two drop-in pockets are secure because of that slight compression and the fact that they rest higher than other hiking leggings on this list. The waistband is thick and flexible. The seam at the top doesn’t wrap completely around; the front of the waistband is just continuous fabric. But it doesn’t roll or shift, and it offers seamless comfort and a sleek look. The Maipo tights are great for running or long hikes thanks to the weightless feel and odor control. They didn’t stain or move around during intense exercise, and the cuffs fall above the ankle.

Best Technical: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hybrid

Best Technical

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hybrid

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: XS-XL
  • Materials: 74 percent nylon, 26 percent Lycra
  • Pockets: Drop-in pocket on the right side, zipper pocket on the left side, and waistband pocket
  • UPF 50

Pros

  • Durable
  • UPF 50
  • Zipper pocket

Cons

  • Looks like a technical legging

The Ferrosi Hybrid is durable and body-mapped for mobility and abrasion resistance. The waistband is tight, mesh-lined, and thick keeping the tights in place. The front of the legs are made of thick, but stretchy UPF 50 fabric. Contrary to Outdoor Research’s product description, I find the back Ferossi knit material to be more breathable than the front, but it is also supposed to be more durable. These are all around technical leggings that I’m happy to scramble and bushwhack in. They aren’t constricting, though they do have a technical look, thanks to the front and back being different materials. 

I’m impressed at how stretchy the thicker fabric is and appreciate all the pockets. These fall to my ankles where a DuraPrint overlay on the inner ankle increases abrasion resistance in an area where you might encounter more debris. These can slip down slightly, but the relaxed compression is comfortable and allows for a full range of motion. I still reach for these on damp, brushy, or rocky hikes.

Most Versatile: Cotopaxi Mari Tight

Most Versatile

Cotopaxi Mari Tight

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s XXS-4X
  • Materials: 73 percent recycled polyester, 27 percent spandex
  • Pockets: Back zippered stash pocket

Pros

  • Flatlock seams
  • Soft
  • Inclusive sizing

Cons

  • No phone pocket

Buttery soft with a wide, high-rise waistband, the Mari is a do it all tight. They’re comfortable enough for lounging, quick dry for hiking, and there’s a cute pop of color for around town. They have a relaxed compression, somewhere between the Smartwool Active Legging and Lululemon Fast and Free. Flatlock seams mean the stitching won’t chafe you during movement. They’re full length, falling perfectly at the ankles. In the summer, I didn’t experience sweat stains, and they’re warm enough for fall. Unfortunately, the only pocket is a small zipper on the back. At least it leaves a sleek look, even if you’ll need one of the best hiking fanny packs to carry your stuff.

Best Compression: Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight

Best Compression

Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s 0-20
  • Length: 19, 23, 25, or 28 inches
  • Materials: 84 percent nylon, 16 percent lycra
  • Pockets: Five small drop-in pockets on the waistband, two side drop-in pockets

Pros

  • Stays in place
  • Lightweight
  • Stretchy

Cons

  • Tight

Lululemon has something of a cult following, and I was excited to put their leggings to the test outdoors. The fabric is thin, but it’s not seethrough and feels surprisingly strong with generous compression. This streamlined fit combined with a tight waistband and continuous drawcord keeps these in place during even the most strenuous hikes or scrambles. It also makes the pockets feel very secure. However, four-way stretch and lightweight fabric mitigates the tight compression, making them extremely comfortable and less constraining. 

Cool and moisture wicking, these leggings performed well on hotter summer hikes. Be wary that even the 28-inch tights aren’t full length. Keep this in mind if you wear a quarter or micro crew in the best hiking socks, because it can look and feel a little awkward if there’s a gap between your leggings and socks or your socks overlap the leggings only slightly. If you’re looking for some compression or doubling these for hiking and running, the Lululemon Fast and Free Tight is ideal.

Most Durable: Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trail Tight

Most Durable

Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trail Tight

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s XS-XL
  • Materials: 88 percent nylon, 12 percent elastane, and a PFC-free DWR finish
  • Pockets: Zippered pocket at right thigh
  • UP5 50
  • Reinforced with Cordura in high-abrasion areas

Pros

  • Water resistant
  • Thick, durable material
  • Stays in place

Cons

  • Tight (size up)

Durability is a major issue with leggings. Most tights designed for running or yoga are comfortable and breathable, but seem to develop holes just standing near a scramble section. The Chockstone Trail Tight features thick, water-resistant fabric that’s reinforced in high-abrasion areas. Best suited for heavy bushwhacking, climbing, canyoneering, and scrambles, these hold up where yoga leggings will tear. I love that you can’t tell they’re technical just by looking at them. If you don’t like the tactical look of off-colored patches on the seat and knees, but need the durability these kinds of leggings provide, the Chockstone will do the trick.

The downside of the thick material is that the fit is tight. I’m a medium in most everything, but I’d size up in these because I felt constricted. The fit is flattering, and the fabric is stretchy enough for full mobility, but after pulling these off, I’m relieved. If you size up, you’ll likely get better use of the zipper pocket, too. It’s not as small as a running pocket, but I couldn’t zip it up with my iPhone 13 in it. It’s best for keys or cards.

Best Women’s Fly Design: ChickFly Merino Wool & Eucalyptus Leggings

Best Women's Fly Design

ChickFly Merino Wool u0026 Eucalyptus Leggings

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s XS-2XL
  • Materials: 43 percent merino wool, 44 percent Tencel, 6 percent elastane, and 7 percent nylon
  • Pockets: Two thigh-pockets and two secret-waistband-pockets
  • Patented pull-apart fly technology

Pros

  • Thermoregulating properties of merino
  • Anti-microbial
  • Let’s you answer nature’s call privately and easily in the backcountry

Cons

  • Heavy

ChickFly is creating women’s leggings with a built-in shorts layer that allows you to pull apart the fabric and pee outdoors privately and easily. The shorts offer reliable full coverage at all times, but when it’s time to answer nature’s call, you can easily move the dual layers apart. The merino wool and Tencel (fabric made of eucalyptus pulp) are sustainable fabric choices that offer great thermoregulation and anti-microbial properties. I brought these on a backpacking overnight above alpine in the summertime. I was cozy and warm all night, and the fly technology operated perfectly. 

Author wears ChickFly leggings backpacking.
While I had to cuff the bottoms a time or two, these were extremely comfortable to hike in. Ashley Thess

After testing for the best hiking shorts went wrong and I couldn’t wear a pair anymore, I had to wear these on the hike out. I dreaded the relaxed 5 miles thinking I’d be sweating buckets in these sweatshirt-like leggings. But it turned into an overcast day in the high 70s and I was extremely comfortable thanks to the cooling Tencel and merino wool. These leggings aren’t very tight, but they are very long. I’m 5-foot-7-inches and had to roll the cuffs quite a few times. Overall, I was happy with the fit because it stayed in place while hiking but wasn’t constricting while sleeping. At 12 ounces, these are double the weight of the best thermal underwear, and take up double the space. But if peeing freely in versatile leggings made of high-performance fabric is worth an extra 6 ounces, pack these.

Black Diamond Session Tights

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Key Features

  • Available Sizes: Women’s XXS-XXL
  • Materials: 72 percent nylon, 28 percent elastane
  • Pockets: Thigh pocket on wearer’s right side, waist stash pocket

Pros

  • Stretchy
  • Unrestricted movement
  • Quick-dry

Cons

  • Roomier fit
  • Not very soft

The Black Diamond Session Tight boasts a three-layer, mesh-lined waistband and enough compression for all day wear. I found the fit to be rather roomy, and the waistband doesn’t touch the small of my back when I sit down. They fall to my ankles for a slightly loose and true full-length fit. The material isn’t as soft as others on this list, but quickly absorbs moisture. There is enough compression to stay in place while moving, but it doesn’t provide much support.

Thing to Consider Before Buying the Best Hiking Leggings

Compression

Leggings are designed to be skin tight, which can offer increased mobility and less chafing compared to traditional hiking pants. Their tightness varies while some, like the Lululemon Fast and Free Tight offer significant compression for staying power, lower drying times, and even increased blood flow. Others, like the Smartwool Active Legging are contoured to your body to stay put, but exert little to no pressure. The level of compression is personal preference. 

Pockets

All but two of the leggings on this list offer a pocket to put your phone, and sometimes additional small items like headphones, keys, or an ID. Some pairs offer two drop-in phone pockets on either side, and I find these to be the most convenient. I like being able to put my phone in one and my keys, sunglasses, or anything else in the other.

Thermoregulation

Some leggings like the merino wool Chick Fly Leggings or Smartwool Active Legging will offer some thermoregulation. I tend to wear leggings more in the fall and winter, wearing shorts and a puffer jacket, well before I’m willing to cover my legs. Blame it on wearing a school-mandated skirt through Missouri winters until age 16, but the cold doesn’t bother my legs when I’m hiking. The best hiking leggings take over to wick moisture and offer a barrier to the cold in the late season. I also like to add one of the best puffer skirts as additional insulation.

Durability

Yoga tights and cheaper thermal underwear develop holes pretty quickly when you’re scrambling or bushwhacking. I expect more from the best hiking leggings. If I scratch myself through my leggings, I don’t want to see a hole. My skin should rip before the hiking tights. All of these leggings have lasted through testing. But I will update my list if any start to show signs of premature wear.

FAQs

Q: What hiking tights have a phone pocket?

All of the leggings on this list have a phone pocket except for the Cotopaxi Mari Tight and Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Trail Tight.

Q: Is it better to hike in jeans or leggings?

Your choice of hiking pants comes down to personal preference, however, there are pros and cons to jeans and leggings. While more durable than leggings, denim can become uncomfortable when wet and if they don’t fit properly, cause chafing. Leggings are soft and skin tight for increased mobility. 

Q: Can you wear hiking boots with leggings?

Yes, you can wear hiking boots with leggings. I do it all the time in the winter.

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Final Thoughts on the Best Hiking Leggins

The best hiking leggings offer breathability, mobility, and moisture wicking. They are versatile enough for year-round wear, keeping you dry in the summer and warm in the winter. During really cold conditions, you can easily layer on top of them while retaining the benefits of high-performance next-to-skin fabric. I took all of these leggings on various hikes and backpacking trips to help you find your new favorite pair: 

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Ashley Thess

Assistant Gear Editor

Ashley Thess is the Assistant Gear Editor for Outdoor Life, where she edits and writes gear reviews. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she keeps an unruly gear closet.

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