To prepare for colder weather when hiking, layering is key, including a lightweight but sturdy, water-resistant outer shell. Here are my picks for the best women’s winter hiking pants.
Even though summer isn’t officially over for a few more weeks, Labor Day always feels like a fond farewell to the warmer months, and a cue to start looking forward to the cooler months ahead. Now that we’re in Northern California, the transition to fall will be much more than a few degrees, especially when we’re planning hikes among the redwoods.
While living in Cambridge, England, I quickly learned that the key to being prepared for any sort of weather is layering, topped with a good water-resistant shell. In his book A Coast to Coast Walk, British fellwalker and author Alfred Wainwright famously noted, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” And as someone who walked the width of England and dealt with Britain’s notoriously fickle weather, you think he’d know.
The women’s winter hiking pants I’ve included in the list below will have you covered in colder, wetter weather so you can just enjoy the trail ahead.
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1 REI Co-op Activator V2 Soft-Shell Pants
REI has managed to create a women’s hiking pant that’s breathable and wind resistant up to 35 mph, which makes it a great winter hiking pant. The fabric is lightweight but durable, and treated with durable water repellant (DWR). The belted waistband allows you to adjust to your perfect fit.
Price: $99.95 // Shop on REI
2 prAna Halle Pants
The exceptional stretch, comfort and flattering fit offered by prAna’s Halle Pant has made it a long-time fan favorite for women’s hiking pants. The fabric has a Durable Water Repellent treatment, but they’re not as water resistant compared to the other hiking pants on this list. These pants can take you from the cooler fall and winter months through summer with a roll up option to convert to capris.
3 Patagonia Women’s Simul Alpine Pants
I love the higher rise and slim fit of the Patagonia Simul Alpine Pants. The narrow leg has an adjustable cuff and tie-down loops to work with alpine boots. These pants are made for winter activities including climbing over rock, ice and snow. The water-resistant finish protects you from light rain and snow.
4 Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Coalatree launched the Trailhead Pants on Kickstarter and ended up raising over $400K (seems people were pretty stoked to try out these pants). The ripstop nylon and spandex blend fabric is super versatile, comfortable, and stretchy, so they can be your go-to pants for just about anything: climbing, hiking, or just running errands. These pants are breathable, but thick enough to keep you warm on a cooler day and have enough room to add a base layer when it’s really cold. Plus they have a DWR finish that makes the water just roll off.
One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in hiking pants is rips at the seams (especially in the crotch); the Trailhead Pants get ahead of this one with a gusseted crotch.
The ties on the bottom can bit cinched so you can wear them like joggers or capris, so I see myself using the trailhead pants through summer too. The front pockets are deep enough to safely stash a phone and keys. Or, you can stuff the pants into the front pocket and use as a pillow. The Coalatree Trailhead pants are unisex sizing and have regular and slim fit options.
Price: $89 // Shop on Coalatree
5 Kuhl Resistor Pant
Kuhl’s Resistor pant is soft with great stretch. The cotton/nylon fabric blend feels tough and offers a great layer of protection if you’re doing some scrambling. Women’s hiking pants are often plagued by small pockets, but the Resistor has a slot for a cell phone, back pockets that button up and decent-sized front pockets. The fit is comfortable and relaxed, which make it easy to add a base layer underneath in colder weather.
Price: $99 // Shop on Kuhl
6 Arc’teryx Gamma LT Softshell Pant
Arc’teryx touts its durable double-weave fabric as the best material to keep you covered and comfortable while you’re stretching for that next hold on a rock climbing route. And the water-resistant finish on these pants is one of the best, so you’ll stay warm and dry even if you’re battling rain and snow on your winter adventures. The Arc’teryx Gamma LT Softshell Pant are the most expensive pants on this list, but they’ll be worth it if you need some serious protection from the cold.
7 prAna Winter Hallena Pant
These PrAna winter hiking pants were made to keep you extra warm; the nylon stretch fabric has a soft lining added for comfort and insulation from the cold. If you want a pair of prAna hiking pants dedicated to cold weather, then go with these over the Halle.
Price: $98.95 // Shop on Backcountry
8 Columbia Saturday Trail Pant
Columbia’s Saturday Trail Pant is a great basic hiking pant at an attractive price point. The nylon fabric is thin but water-resistant and has a UPF 50 rating to protect you from harmful UV rays. The 2-way stretch and gusseted knees allow for more movement for all your outdoor adventures.
Price: $59.99 // Shop on Backcountry
9 Rab Sawtooth Softshell Pant
A few thoughtful details on the Rab Sawtooth Softshell Pant make them exception cold weather hiking pant. The fleece-lined waistband provides both comfort and warmth if you’re hiking or skiing in the snow. These winter hiking pants also have reinforced crampon patches at the cuffs, a drawcord hem, and zippered hand and thigh pockets.
Price: $139.95 // Shop on Backcountry
10 Mammut Women’s Hiking Pant
These Mammut hiking pants are specifically designed to perform in rainy weather – the water resistant fabric will keep you dry out on the trails, giving you more time to explore. The preformed knees give you enough flexibility for steep inclines, and the large, zippered leg pocket can fit your phone (or map if you’re old school).
Price: $99.99 // Shop on Backcountry