Ask any woman or non-binary human for their favorite pair of outdoor pants and you know what they’ll say? Leggings. I know that because I’ve asked them, over and over—in interviews, on Instagram polls, and IRL on the trail. Those who haven’t resigned themselves to stretchy pants usually admit to simply settling for whatever pants sort of fit or have pockets or were in stock at REI at the time.
I’ve landed on what most of us probably already know: there are no magical Sisterhood-of-the-Traveling-Pants pants. Hip-to-thigh ratio, pocket depth, weather conditions—there are just too many variables. That said, some styles seem to come up again and again whenever I ask for recommendations. So, to narrow it down—and do our best to combat the futile and entirely subjective effort that is identifying “the best”—we made sure every option on the following list of best women’s pants for hiking, camping, and generally just enjoying the outdoors offers durability, versatility, and thoughtful design tweaks that elevate them above full GORP-status.
So, below are our top picks for the 11 outdoor pants for women that might not be everyone’s “best,” but come pretty damn close (leggings included).
If you’re Team Tights but need something much burlier than those Lululemon standards, these Trekking Tights are the all-terrain option. Thick reinforced panels on the butt and knees make these the toughest leggings we’ve found. Period (For a proper trouser option from the famed Swedish outfitter, check out this modern take oncamo pants.)
We’ve already raved about these hemp do-it-all pants from designer Jeein Shin, but we have no issue doubling down. Comfortable, functional, stylish, and made with thoughtful but not overtly technical details—such as a back belt loop for attaching your chalk bag and double-layered fabric where it matters—these pants look great on all body types and work great for all types of outdoor activities.
It was a tough call between these and Topo’s Dirt Pants. Both are comfortable and up for casual outdoor adventures in an earthy yet colorful palette. Ultimately, it was the adjustable hem and zippered back pocket on the Boulder Pant that put this design on top.
It’s easy to overlook tried-and-true classics for younger, fresher takes on pant design, but there’s a reason these hiking pants are best sellers for the old school Seattle retailer. They tick all the right boxes: stretchy comfort, water-repellency, UPF sun protection, and lower-leg zips for ventilation.
While their tapered hiking pants may be more practical, we’re suckers for the more of-the-moment wide-leg/high-waist fit of these casual Nordic stunners. Designed by women, and you can tell: there’s ample zippered pocket space. If you’re going to invest in pants at a higher price point, may as well be able to pair them with a sports bra or a cashmere cardigan.
This fresh-on-the-scene female-founded brand is so new our test pants are still in the mail, but they’re already hitting all the right marks: quick-drying, high-waist, large zippered pockets, and stretchy material that won’t sag. We love the lace-up leg both for adjustability and because it’s—no shame—just really cute. Bonus points for such stunning brand imagery.
Prana’s Meme Pants were a big winner in our polls, but they led us to what we think is a more versatile option, the Rockland. These leggings were clearly designed with climbing in mind, with a wide, harness-compatible waistband and overlay in high-abrasion areas—though such design attributes make them capable for many other outdoorsy adventure too.
The Open-Air Pant is a simple pull-on travel option from a buzzy new female-led brand, but 172 five-star reviews are telling: people love these pants and they seem to accommodate a solid size range (xs-4x) beautifully. From one reviewer: “I have an XL and they initially fit tighter like leggings, but after some wear and a tiny amount of weight loss they fit more like trousers. Either way, I never want to take them off!”
Who could have predicted zip-off cargo pants would be cool again? Known for colorful bra-and-legging sets and for being Instagram’s exercise-apparel darling, OV calls it like they make it: the Rectrek Zip-Off Pant is unbeatable for, well, #DoingThings. We especially love the carabiner loops, ample pocket space, and cinchable bottoms.