Skip to Content

Are leggings good for hiking? Find it out here

When it comes to trying to pick out an outfit, you may find yourself asking if leggings are good for hiking? The answer you are looking for is yes.

Leggings are a great choice when it comes to hiking. They are lightweight and the stretchable material and skintight feel give you the perfect combination for hiking gear.

But there is more to know about choosing the perfect pair of leggings for your next hike.

Therefore we dive deeper into this topic in the next chapters.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Sylvia wearing the Baleaf fleece-lined leggings without pockets
Fleece-lined leggings will keep you warm in the winter

Why are leggings perfect for hiking?

When you are planning your hiking trip, clothing is always going to be the number one thing that you need to make sure you have.

Hiking trips require you to have clothing that will allow your skin to breathe and not feel restricted with your movement.

That is why leggings are the perfect selection for your hiking apparel.

  • Leggings are lightweight and comfortable. They fit to your body perfectly, so it feels like you are hardly wearing anything, which comes in handy because you do not need to feel like you are carrying around extra weight.
  • Most hiking leggings are also made from a breathable fabric keeping you dry during intense hikes.
  • Leggings prevent chafing. There is nothing more uncomfortable than to have to walk with painful thighs.
  • Leggings are made of quickly-drying fabric.
  • Leggings come in so many colors and styles, that there is a pair of leggings that fit everyone’s style and personality.
  • They are easy to wash, all you need to do is throw them in the washing machine with your normal clothes. They are super easy to take care of and are so durable that they will last you for the next several years.
  • Hiking leggings are often more affordable than hiking pants. You can already buy a good pair of hiking leggings for $30-35.

When should you not wear leggings on a hike?

As much as we all love to wear leggings everywhere we go, there are some circumstances where you should not choose leggings to wear.

  • Although some leggings are water-resistant, leggings are not waterproof and can’t handle wet weather that lasts over multiple days.
  • While they are quick to dry, long periods of rain over a series of several days, would keep them wet and make your skin chafing.
  • Although more and more hiking leggings are specially designed for winter hiking, I wore my fleece-lined Baleaf leggings on long winter hikes when it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they might not feel warm enough for some. A great solution is wearing them as a base layer under your hiking pants.
  • Some people do not like leggings to be form-fitting. Everyone has their own preference on the type of clothing that they like to wear, so I completely understand that these tight form-fitting leggings are not for everyone.
Hiking in the Lommelse Sahara in Limburg, Belgium
Exploring Belgium. The Lommelse Sahara.

How to choose the best leggings for hiking?

When you go hiking, it is always a good idea to plan your outfit. Not all hiking leggings are the same.

All leggings are created with different materials for different seasons in mind.

So one of the most important factors is choosing the correct material.

Choose the correct material

It is important that you choose the leggings with the correct materials because otherwise, you could end up having a miserable time outdoors.

If you are hiking during the summer season, you want to pick a pair of leggings that has a lightweight fabric, etc.: polyester or polyamide.

These are the leggings that will provide you some breathing room, that will capture the moisture and sweat – leaving you feeling dry and not as sweaty. 

If you are hiking during the winter season, you are going to want to pick leggings that are more like softshell pants with an inside that is lined in wool.

This way you are keeping your lower body warm and the heat inside, instead of it escaping and leaving your body to be cool. 

If you want to learn more about the best fabric for leggings, click here. 

Hiking pants vs leggings: which is best?

So, what are the best hiking pants or leggings?

Let us compare the biggest differences below.

Comparison table

Here is a short comparison table in which we quickly review the main differences between hiking pants and hiking leggings.

Hiking pants
  • Offer more protection from bug bites
  • More water-resistant
  • More pockets
  • Doesn’t work for all body types
  • The seam might rub on your tights
  • Often more expensive
  • Often don’t have a high waist
  • More heavy than hiking leggings
Hiking leggings
  • More breathable then hiking pants
  • Lightweight
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Prevent chafing
  • Less pockets
  • Less weather resistant
  • Less suited for bushwalks and more technical terrains

Here we dive more into this topic.

Hiking pants

Hiking pants provide you with more protection than when you are wearing leggings, due to the pants being thicker.

They are mainly water-resistant, which helps if it starts raining or you must walk through a flowing stream.

Most hiking pants have more pockets than leggings normally do, which provides the hiker with a little more room to carry things on them, compared to wearing leggings.

Pants can also protect you from bug bites, especially mosquitos, depending on what environment you are in. 

A big difference with hiking leggings is that most hiking pants don’t have a high waist.

If you are looking for a pair of high waist hiking pants, click here. 

Sylvia with the fleece lined winter hiking leggings
This Baleaf fleece-lined hiking legging has pockets large enough to fit a mobile phone

Hiking leggings

Hiking in leggings is better because the fabric allows the body to breathe better than in pants. They also do not restrict the movement that your legs have, so you can stretch more and not feel like you are about to rip your pants.

Plus, leggings weigh less than pants. Nobody likes to carry any unnecessary kilos when out hiking. Hiking leggings are great for reducing your overall body weight.

The biggest difference between hiking pants and hiking leggings is that hiking pants have lots of pockets.

Some hiking leggings have pockets but if you are looking for lots of pockets to store your valuables, you should opt for hiking pants.

Another big difference between both is the weather resistance factor.

Although lots of hiking leggings are water-resistant they aren’t waterproof. So, if you are going for a long hike during wet weather.

It would be a good idea to opt for waterproof hiking pants.


In conclusion, if you are still struggling to choose between hiking leggings or hiking pants then you just need to go with what you feel comfortable in.

Either option will be good for you, based on the type of hiking you plan on doing.

Both clothing items are great for hiking because they are created just for that and are durable to withstand the wear and tear of constant wearing for multiple days. 

Here is an overview of the best hiking leggings for men. 

Friends hiking
Hiking pants or shorts usually have more pockets

Hiking shorts vs leggings?

As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is always the hiker’s choice when it comes to selecting what they would like to wear.

You can wear either hiking shorts or hiking leggings. 

When you are preparing for a hike, it is a good idea to look at what kind of terrain you are going to be in and what the weather is going to be.

If you are going to be hiking during sunny weather then it would be a good choice to wear shorts. They do not trap in any heat and moisture which is definitely a pro during extremely hot and sunny days.

You can also layer your shorts over leggings during those in-between weather days.

If you are planning on being in a rugged area, then you may want to cover your legs with leggings to keep from getting cuts and scrapes, or you can always just layer up the shorts and leggings.

Good-quality hiking leggings are perfect when you are in terrain that is rugged and dealing with harsh conditions. They are durable and stretchable, so you do not have to feel like you are limited in your movement.

They will keep your legs protected from thorns and rough terrain.

Make sure to pick a pair that is hard-wearing. The typical yoga leggings are not made for the outdoors and will quickly get snagged and ripped when they come in contact with rocks or branches.

Hiking pants and shorts will typically have more pockets than leggings though, so that is something to consider as well.


To summarize, shorts are great for hiking out in the open where the weather is sunny, warm, or slightly cool, but if you are looking at more rugged terrain or colder weather, then I suggest you look at hiking leggings.

Sylvia hiking the Rota Vicentina in Portugal
Hiking in Portugal

Can you hike in yoga pants?

If you would like a quick answer to this question, then it is yes. In a way, yoga pants and hiking leggings are remarkably similar in the way they are built.

If you are just hiking up a normal trail, then your standard pair of yoga pants is a good selection.

If you are going up a more advanced trail, then I recommend you opt for real hiking leggings.

For a more detailed answer about whether you can hike in yoga pants, click here. 

If you are looking for the best yoga pants for hiking, click here.

Can you hike in running tights?

Running tights and yoga pants go hand in hand when you are thinking about wearing them on the hiking trails.

Once again, the quick answer is yes.

If you are going out on a basic hiking trail that is not difficult, then running tights would be good to wear. They are tight and compression-like, just like hiking leggings.

Note that running tights do not have as good thermal or water-resistant material as hiking leggings.

It is important to check the weather in advance if you’re going to wear running tights out on the trails.

Hiking in jeans

What should you not wear while hiking

Through this article, we have talked about all the clothing items that you could wear while going out for a hike.

Now we are going to be discussing what top 4 clothing items you should not wear on a hiking trip.


This is probably the main type of clothing that you do not want to have while out on a hike.

Denim is almost all cotton. If this material gets wet, it absorbs the water quickly but it takes hours to dry out.

It’s not only unpleasant to hike in soaked pants. If you experience heavy rainfall the wet pants will weigh you down and it can even make it more difficult to move.


This is another material that you do not want to have out on the hiking trail.

This material absorbs the moisture from sweat and will hold on to it until you wash it. What is more annoying, it will also gradually start to smell.

This thin material is not great for letting your skin breathe and it is easy to tear as well.

Silk may work for you for a casual stroll but is not a good choice if you’re making plans for a hiking vacation.


Cotton is also amongst the worst material you could pick for a hike.

It’s a material that can hold its weight several times in water meaning it will keep you feel sweaty and uncomfortable in hot weather.

When it gets wet it doesn’t dry very quickly either.

Cat hiking boots
Sturdy hiking boots are a good companion on more challenging trails

Filmsy shoes

Whenever you go hiking, you need to make sure that you have a good pair of shoes on your feet.

Shoes that will support you every step of the way. All the walking that you are doing, you want to have shoes that support your feet and ankles.

These shoes will need to protect your feet from water, rocks, dirt, and even small cactuses that you may come across on the paths.

Flimsy tennis shoes will never be the recommended shoe, you are going to want more proper hiking shoes, that offer a good amount of protection. Here is our selection of best lightweight hiking shoes.


Hiking leggings are good for hiking in. They are comfortable, lightweight, and breathable.

I hope that you take this information with you and use it to your advantage in the future when you go shopping for new hiking apparel.