It’s not surprising to anyone who has been with me outdoors that I love leggings. I bike, do yoga, and hike in leggings. I’ve even backpacked in them. And I choose leggings over shorts every day, even in the summer.
Types of Leggings
This article covers hiking leggings, yoga pants, and joggers, all of which you can wear on a warm-weather day. Let’s review a few types of leggings:
- Hiking leggings or tights, designed for day hiking or backpacking
- Fleece-lined leggings, designed to be worn in cold weather (example)
- Base layer leggings, made of warmer fabric like merino wool, also designed to be worn in cold weather (example)
- Yoga pants, designed for yoga or running but can also be used for hiking
- Joggers, which are athletic pants that are lighter than most hiking pants but roomier than most leggings
Of course, you can wear shorts, hiking pants, or even a skirt. The trail is large enough to accommodate every choice of clothing. But if you’re looking for a lightweight alternative to hiking pants, this is the article for you.
Reasons to Wear Leggings
There are a few reasons why you may want to wear leggings or joggers. Compared with shorts, leggings will better reduce your chance of sunburn, insect bites, and thigh chafing (which can be terrible if you’re wearing shorts). Compared with hiking pants, leggings are more lightweight, which makes a hot, dusty day of hiking a tolerable one. Leggings are often cheaper than pants. For example, most leggings in this article cost less than $90, but hiking pants may cost up to $200.
However, there are a few reasons you may prefer shorts, pants, or skirts. For example, hiking pants have more pockets, meaning you don’t have to carry a backpack. And shorts and skirts feel airier on hot days. No matter what you buy, try them on at an outdoor retail store because the fit is everything.
Now, to the leggings!
Top 6 Hiking Leggings (with Pockets)
This list of hiking leggings includes six pairs of leggings, joggers, and yoga pants that are rated four or five stars online. If you want to buy clothing from eco-friendly companies that use recycled fabric, consider Athleta (#1), The North Face (#2), and prAna (#3). If you’re hiking in wet weather, consider Fjällräven (#4). If cost is your most important factor, check out Neleus (#6). If you’d like three or more pockets, check out Athleta (#1) and Fjällräven (#4). If you want sturdy leggings, look at The North Face (#2), Fjällräven (#4), and Mountain Hardwear (#5). And if you need to buy leggings in a plus size, check out Athleta (#1) and Neleus (#6). Costs range from $19 to $175. And yes, all of them include pockets.
Best For: Day Hikers, Runners, Eco-Conscious Consumers
Latest Price: $89
These joggers are similar to leggings but with a soft waistband and looser fit around the hips and legs. The silhouette is slim and comfortable. It was love at first fit for me (and thousands more agree). The material is both moisture-wicking and sun-protective (rated 50+ UPF). Athleta is a Certified B Corporation, and the Trekkie is made with 95% recycled nylon, giving you peace of mind about your carbon footprint. These joggers are also made with spandex, increasing flexibility. There are three pockets, including two zippered pockets in the front. Sizes range from 0 to 16. If you’re looking for plus sizes, you can buy a similar pair of joggers in sizes 18 through 26, making Athleta a size-inclusive choice. The colors come in black, beige, and green, though you can buy them in orange on the Athleta website. Buy the Trekkie here (REI) for $89. Best for: day hikers, urban hikers, runners, and eco-conscious consumers.
Best For: Day Hikers, Urban Hikers, Runners, Eco-Conscious Consumers
Latest Price: $80
The North Face Leggings:
The silhouette of these North Face tights is form-fitting. There’s only one zippered front pocket. However, these tights are durable. Not only is the synthetic fabric moisture-wicking but it is also designed to have “increased abrasion and snag resistance.” Sizes range from XS to XL. There’s only one color: black. Buy the Hybrid Hiker Tights here (REI) for $80 while they last (The North Face no longer manufactures them, as of late 2021). Best for: day hikers, urban hikers, runners, rock climbers, and eco-conscious consumers.
Best for: Day Hikers, Urban Hikers, Runners, and Eco-Conscious Consumers
Latest Price: $89
These prAna leggings are slim, with one hidden waist pocket to tuck away your keys. The silhouette is high-waisted and form-fitting. The Layna leggings are made with moisture-wicking 76% recycled nylon, which is rated as eco-friendly and the material is sun-protective (rated 50+ UPF). Sizes range from XS to XL. Buy the Layna leggings here (Backcountry) for $79. There’s only one color for the Layna: black. You can also buy a nearly identical model, also by prAna, on REI for $89. Best for: day hikers, urban hikers, runners, and eco-conscious consumers.
Best for: Day Hikers, Wet Climates, Backpacking
Latest Price: $175
These leggings are slim, sturdy, and functional. There are three well-designed pockets, including a large map pocket on the thigh, a small zippered thigh pocket that can fit a cell phone, and a third zippered pocket on the waist for keys and cards. Despite the many pockets, the silhouette of these tights is slim. The synthetic material is water-resistant, a typical characteristic of this Swedish company. This would be a good pair of tights for someone who hikes in damp weather. Sizes range from XS to XL and the colors are grey and navy blue. Buy the Abisko tights here for $175. Best for: day hikers in wet climates and backpackers.
Best for: Rock Climbers, Day Hikers, Backpacking
Latest Price: $79
Mountain Hardwear Leggings:
When Mountain Hardwear designed these tights, they were thinking of a specific person: someone who both hikes and rock climbs. But if you only hike, don’t fret because these tights can be used in most outdoor activities. The synthetic material is both sun-protective (rated 50+ UPF) and water-repellent so you can risk the rain. There’s even a zippered thigh pocket. Sizes range from XS to XL, and the colors come in green, grey, red, and blue. The silhouette is high-waisted and form-fitting, good for those who are considering backpacking in leggings. Buy the Chockstone Rock Tights here for $79. Best for: rock climbers, day hikers, and backpackers.
Best for: Day Hikers, Backpackers, Runners, Cost-Conscious Buyers
Latest Price: $38
With thousands of positive reviews, these leggings are popular and affordable. Made of 85% polyester and 15% Spandex, the fabric reduces chafing. The silhouette is high-waisted and form-fitting. One excellent feature is the thigh pocket, which can fit a map or large cell phone. Sizes range from XS to XXXL, making this the most size-inclusive choice. The colors come in black, grey, navy blue, and even bright red, blue, and pink. However, these are likely not environmentally sustainable. Buy these leggings separately or in packs or two or three here (Amazon) for $19 to $38. Best for: day hikers, backpackers, runners, and cost-conscious buyers.
So the next time the weather calls for warm temperatures, consider these leggings for your hike. Like me, you may find that you’ll love wearing leggings on the trail.
Sonja Lind is an experienced hiker and new-ish runner who lives in Southern California. When she’s not dusting up her shoes on a trail, she works in higher education. Read her occasional blog at www.sonjalind.com.