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Hiking Leggings: The Best Selections for Hiking and Backpacking

Best hiking leggings
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

You probably think that hiking leggings must be really special if a whole article is dedicated to them. In fact you are right because nowadays there are many different types of such apparel which can be used for a series of occasions. Their diversity however comes both from the length and fabric used in their making.

If you thought that leggings only belong in the fitness class, then you’re wrong. While they’re not really appropriate for every-day use, they do belong wherever a person does some physical effort – either by working out or hiking. Leggings came a long way in terms of style, colors, fabric, and purposes.

While we don’t think you’ll turn into a leggings-lover by reading our presentation, we do hope you’ll see their usefulness and consider them next time you go camping, hiking, or backpacking.

Our top picks

Product nameLengthFabricPrice
Teeki Cloud Hot PantsAnkle79% recycled P.E.T., 21% spandexCheck price on Amazon
Outdoor Research Radiant HybridAnkle95% Polyester, 5% SpandexCheck price on Amazon
Free People Movement Turnout3/445% Nylon, 40% Cotton, 15% ElastaneCheck price on Amazon
Onzie High RiseAnkle82% Polyester, 18% SpandexCheck price on Amazon
Teeki Mermaid FairyqueenAnkle79% Recycled P.E.T. / 21% SpandexCheck price on Amazon
Nike Epic Run LuxAnkle78% Nylon, 22% SpandexCheck price on Amazon
Alo Yoga GoddessAnkle87% Nylon, 13% Spandex, Mesh legsCheck price on Amazon

Best features to look for in a pair of hiking-specific leggings

Below we’ll discuss several characteristics that matter when choosing leggings for your hiking trip. Keep in mind that they may be comfortable, but they are also not specially designed for this kind of activity so you should be choosing with extra care.

Color and level of transparency

Many women like to wear leggings as pants, but the problem here comes from the fact that some garments are see through or sheer. This fabric is not meant to be worn as stand-alone, but layered under shorts or a skirt.

Colorful hiking leggings

You’ll also want to avoid light colors as they get dirty really easy. Light colors are usually see-through or sheer as well. Multiple colors on the same garment can hide stains well.

Consider fabric and thickness

Pay attention to the fabric and its thickness. You’ll want some apparel that has the right thickness without overheating you. The right thickness means that your garment won’t break as fast as something made of mesh (just an example).

The only leggings that can be worn all day long are those made of cotton or of some moisture wicking fiber blend. Check the fabric to see they won’t tear and that they’re stretchy no matter your movements. The leggings that match these criteria are also good for hiking or even camping.

Material for hiking leggings

You may be more attracted to what appears to be leather leggings these days, but you shouldn’t use them for hiking! This type of garment is made of faux leather or a combination of fibers that appears somewhat shiny and feels like leather on the good side. These leggings are not meant to be worn in the gym or for hiking. Not only they would be too thick, they wouldn’t stretch as much as the wearer would need them to.

Breathability

You should also be able to wear something else on top should the weather get bad all of a sudden. If you know yourself to sweat a lot, consider bringing a breathable pair of leggings. The fabric of a breathable pair of leggings uses a combination of fibers, in various proportions. The garment could also be used of a variety of fabrics as well.

The only leggings that can be worn all day long are those made of cotton or of some moisture wicking fiber blend. Check the fabric to see they won’t tear and that they’re stretchy no matter your movements. The leggings that match these criteria are also good for hiking or even camping.

Breathability of hiking leggings

You may be more attracted to what appears to be leather leggings these days, but you shouldn’t use them for hiking! This type of garment is made of faux leather or a combination of fibers that appears somewhat shiny and feels like leather on the good side. These leggings are not meant to be worn in the gym or for hiking. Not only they would be too thick, they wouldn’t stretch as much as the wearer would need them to.

Length

While you could wear capri long leggings when hiking, it might be a better idea to bring a long-legged pair instead. You’ll protect your legs from sunburns, insect bites, or accidental scratches. You could even sleep in a pair of leggings if you think the pajamas are too heavy or bulky for the trip.

Length of hiking leggings

Perhaps you should bring a garment that is high waisted: you can be sure that you won’t remain exposed to the elements, no matter the movements you make. Usually a high waist can be folded down if you feel too hot. The seams of the garment should be as flat as possible for added comfort.

Now that you know basically everything about this garment, you should also check out some leggings you could buy for your hiking trips, and not only.

The best selection of leggings made for hiking

Reading all that without seeing any real example of pants is simply not fun. The next selection contains some of the best leggings you can find for hiking or yoga.

Teeki Cloud Hot PantsTeeki Cloud Hot Pants

Price: $94 – $98

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 6 x 9.5 x 1 inches

Size: XS, S, M, L

Specific features: Moisture wicking, eco friendly, chafe resistant

Best use: Yoga, fitness, surfing, hiking

If you want to stand out while doing yoga or other activities, then perhaps Teeki Cloud Hot Pants is made just for you. There are several advantages when getting this product and one of them is that you’re helping the environment. Teeki made this item of up to 80% recycled materials.

These materials are former water bottles and up to 25 of them were used in the making of one pair. You’ll get an unique looking garment, as the appearance depends on where was the fabric cut. Another advantage of these leggings is that it comes from the special sewing that doesn’t form a camel toe.

The design of these leggings is special as it doesn’t allow the formation of a camel toe, unlike many other pants and leggings. The fabric is stretchy, so you know you can move however you want while wearing these. You can also forget about muffin tops while in these leggings, or having the color fade fast. You can even forget about sheerness: nobody can see through the fabric of this product.

PROS:

  • 79% recycled P.E.T
  • Wide waistband

CONS:

  • Colorful
  • Hand washing

Related: Some people might find these pants a bit too colorful, especially for certain ages. The Moon Black Hot Leggings are a very good alternative as they’re mostly black, and having a “moon stages” pattern on the back of the legs.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Research Radiant Hybrid TightsOutdoor Research Radiant Hybrid Tights

Price: $48 – $80

Weight: 13 ounces

Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 3 inches

Size: XS, S, M, L, XL

Specific features: Breathable, fleece legs

Best use: Hiking, cold weather

Many ladies what to keep the same level of comfort throughout the year, even in the freezing cold. Layering some stockings and some trousers might be a better idea than a pair of leggings that have been reinforced with fleece on the inside. However, we all know how well polar fleece insulates as well as it wicking properties, right?

This mean that you can definitely rely on this pair of leggings to keep you warm while camping or hiking on colder days. If you like skiing, you can use these as first layer under skiing pants. Wearing these Outdoor Research Hybrid Tights garment in summer is not advisable as you’ll be too hot.

Since they have a looser cut than regular leggings, you can wear these on their own in between seasons. This item is designed with a string in the waistband to help the pants stay in place. The inconvenience comes from the fact that the string is on the inside of the band, and this is uncomfortable.

PROS:

  • Drawstring
  • Fleece legs

CONS:

  • Too thick for summer

Related: The Radiant Lt Zip Top is the perfect top that matches these leggings, for a complete look and it has the same features as the lower part.

Check the price on Amazon

Free People Movement Turnout LeggingsFree people moonshadow leggings

Price: Approx. $98

Weight: 9 ounces

Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 2 inches

Size: XS, M

Specific features: Foldable, high waist

Best use: Yoga, dancing, hiking

These leggings have a high waist, covering your belly button. This is an advantage if you feel uncomfortable with your stomach area. If you dislike the really high waist there’s good news: you can fold it over, for a lower one that you might like more.

These leggings fall right above the ankles and they feature a nice cutout design that make them look really cute especially in summer. You’ll notice the fabric is very stretchy and comfortable making them a really good choice for a variety of activities such as yoga, dancing, climbing, or running. Since these are shorter, many wearers might find them more comfortable than other pairs and might wear them all the time.

The fabric of these Free People Movement Turnout Leggings is really soft and pleasant against the skin. When shopping for this particular design, make sure to buy a size smaller than what you usually wear if you want a proper fit.

PROS:

  • High waist
  • Not sheer
  • 40% cotton

CONS:

  • The price

Related: Not all items have matching items to use as a suit, but these leggings do: the Moonshadow Tank is the perfect matching top for a feminine and cute look.

Check the price on Amazon

Onzie High Rise LeggingsOnzie high rise leggings

Price: Approx. $65

Weight: 10 ounces

Dimensions: 28.5 inches (inseam)

Size: XS, S, M, L

Specific features: high waist

Best use: Fitness, partying, barre classes, hiking

The fabric of this clothing item is shiny, making them more fit for an evening out with the girls. The overall appearance of the garment is vintage, reminiscent of the 1980s decade. The high waist accentuates this impression, therefore if you ever get invited to an 1980s themed party, you could always wear these leggings.

The high waist also helps with hiding imperfections around the hip and stomach area, that make women feel uncomfortable with the way they look. It should be noted that these Onzie High Rise Leggings run a bit large, so you should be ordering a smaller size. Many women chose this product for their barre classes.

Additionally to these classes, you could wear them for your fitness sessions as well. One advantage of this garment is that it looks good for many situations on almost anyone, especially because it is not sheer. The disadvantage comes from the fact that you must wash them by hand if you don’t want to ruin them.

PROS:

  • High waist
  • Not sheer

CONS:

  • Hand washing
  • 82% Polyester
  • Runs large

Related: The Onzie High Rise Capri Leggings are the same leggings, except they’re shorter, just like the name suggests. Made from 82% Polyester and 18% Spandex.

Check the price on Amazon

Teeki Mermaid Fairyqueen PantsTeeki Mermaid leggings

Price: $64 – $76

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 6 x 9.5 x 1 inches

Size: XS, S, M, L

Specific features: Elastic free

Best use: Yoga, paddle boarding, surfing, outdoors

Here is a pair of leggings that is perfect for many different occasions. These Teeki Mermaid Fairyqueen Leggings are ideal for a Yoga class, as they look fashionable while keeping your body comfortable. This item allows you to stretch thanks to the soft material but also 4 way stretch ability.

You will not feel uncomfortable or suffocated in these leggings – they do not have an elastic band and remain breathable no matter what you do. The leggings does not disappoint when it comes to style either, as they come in an eye catching color. Maybe you are not a big fan of sports but are looking for some leggings for a night out, and these could be just what you need.

However, if you are looking for a pair of reliable and airy leggings for Yoga or even surfing, this product could be the right one for you. This item is made in USA,and also provides antibacterial properties.

PROS:

  • Made of recycled materials

CONS:

  • Very colorful

Related: If you want some leggings that stand out a little less, but still made by Teeki, the Designer Activewear Deer Medicine are a pretty good option as they’re mostly black with a deer design on the thigh.

Check the price on Amazon

Nike Epic Run Lux TightsNike Epic Lux Palm-Print Dri-FIT Leggings

Price: Approx. $65

Weight: 6 ounces

Dimensions: 10 x 12 x 2 inches

Size: S

Specific features: Reflective print

Best use: Running, summer hiking, outdoor recreation

If you like to run in the evening, you might want to make sure people see you if they bear a flash light. These leggings feature a light reflective print to help with this situation. It will prove extremely useful should you run into an emergency situation where you need to be rescued.

Should you choose this pair for its color rather than this particular benefit, you should know that the waistband has a drawstring on the inside. The drawstring helps you adjust the size of the waistband should you find it too large. The waistband itself is wide to increase the comfort of the garment. A wide waistband gives the impression the wearer has a second skin on instead of clothes.

The fabric these Nike Epic Run Lux Tights are made of, wicks moisture rather fast to maintain your comfort at a high level. You’ll also notice that the seams are rather flat, to reduce the rubbing sensation.

PROS:

  • Drawstring
  • Reflective print

CONS:

  • Bright color

Related: Nike suggests you have a look at their Dri-FIT Essential Tights as well. This garment uses a combination of fabrics to wick moisture faster.

Check the price on Amazon

Alo Yoga Goddess LeggingsAlo Yoga Women's Mesh Goddess Legging

Price: $94 – $98

Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 2 inches

Size: XS, S, M, L

Specific features: Hidden pocket

Best use: Layering, yoga, dancing

This garment has longer legs than expected, and as such you’re either supposed to wear them ruched at the ankles or have them covering your ankles and heels. In any case, this item is made of mesh from mid thigh to the bottom. You might find it impractical or think that it will run fast, however this is not the case.

The mesh is perfect for those who feel all other fabrics are too hot. The mesh legs are a bit ruched, therefore if they were to loosen it wouldn’t be as noticeable. It is really easy to care for these leggings as all you have to do is to run them in the washing machine in a cold cycle.

To dry the Alo Yoga Goddess Leggings, all you have to do is to hang them in a well ventilated place and Voila! It might be a better idea not to hike in these as they’re not made for this type of activity.

PROS:

  • Breathable
  • Hidden pocket
  • Longer legs

CONS:

  • Legs made of mesh
  • The price

Related: The Goddess Ribbed Leggings by Alo are a good alternative if the mesh doesn’t call for your name. These give the impression you’re wearing leg warmers on top.

Check the price on Amazon

One more thing, before you leave

While we did reach the end of our selection, it doesn’t mean these are all the leggings you could buy for your next trip. Now you surely know more about about them, and surely your decision will be an informed one.

Comfortability of hiking leggings

Even if leggings could replace other type of pants during your adventure, remember these can offer some protection and comfort level you can’t achieve with other types of trousers. What’s more is that leggings occupy very little space in your bag, and are extremely light – ideal if you can’t carry a lot of weight.

We can’t stop thinking you have other items you like more for hiking – either other brands that make leggings or even other type of garments made for outdoor adventures. Whichever the case may be, feel free to share with us your thoughts on the subject.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Andrea Farrar

    It is a struggle for me to not wear my Teeki Mermaid Fairyqueen Pants everyday. They are that comfortable! They have just enough stretch and are not see through. I’m planning on ordering two more pair. They’re amazing!

  • Sean Nelson

    Yes they are Andrea! And I’ve got the review to prove it…:)
    My girlfriend loves these pants and she has several of these. Like you, she finds it very comfortable and the price isn’t that steep, either.

  • Lucy Marbury

    I feel the same way about the Nike Epic Run Lux Tights that I have. I just love wearing them! The design looks absolutely beautiful and I love the fabric they use on it. Very comfortable and just a pair of tights I wouldn’t mind wearing all the time!

  • Russell McCarty

    This is my sister’s favorite and she loves using them, not only for running but for leisure, too. The pants are durable and won’t lose its shape even after many washings.
    Thanks for your valuable comments Lucy and don’t hesitate to reach out again. 🙂

  • Sean Nelson

    This is my sister’s favorite and she loves using them, not only for running but for leisure, too. The pants are durable and won’t lose its shape even after many washings.
    Thanks for your valuable comments Lucy and don’t hesitate to reach out again. 🙂

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