The 10 Best Winter Hiking Leggings Finally Revealed 
Winter might be on us, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up hiking.
With proper gear, you can stay active throughout the colder months. Start by investing in personal comfort – like a high-quality pair of leggings!
With proper moisture-wicking technology, high breathability and durable construction, you can conquer any snow-capped mountain. As usual, we’re here with tried-and-true hiking gear to make your search easier.
In our mission to shortlist the 5 best winter hiking leggings for women and men respectively, our team thoroughly:
- Crafted a criteria checklist regarding – material, moisture-wicking qualities, heat retention, breathability, durability, water and wind protection among other factors
- Spent 20 hours researching, analyzing and comparing 48 bestselling leggings
- Thoroughly reviewed customer experiences against manufacturer promises.
- Asked fellow hikers for their honest feedback on how well these leggings held up against cold-weather conditions.
Look no further for your next leggings choice. We’ve also included a comprehensive guide on how to choose the most suitable cold-weather tights for hiking. Everything you need to find your next leggings for hiking is here.
Our Top Recommendations
Our top pick for women's winter leggings for hiking is the Minus 33 Merino 803 Franconia. We love them and hikers praise them. Check them out:
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And our favorite choice for men's winter leggings for hiking is the high-rated David Archy thermal bottoms with fleece lining. In fact, it's a pair of two! Here they are:
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The 5 Best Winter Hiking Leggings For Women: A Comparison Table
|Meriwool Thermal Pants||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Minus 33 803 Franconia Mid-Weight Bottoms||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Under Armour ColdGear Authentic||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Baleaf Fleece-Lined Leggings||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Yogipace Fleece-Lined Tights||Check Price On Amazon →|
The 5 Warmest Cold-Weather Tights For Men: A Comparison Table
|Eizniz Thermal Leggings||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Under Armour ColdGear Compression Tights||Check Price On Amazon →|
|David Archy||Check Price On Amazon →|
|Meriwool Base Layer||Check Price On Amazon →|
|LAPASA||Check Price On Amazon →|
Let's see each pair of leggings for hiking in mode detail, one by one. First, let's start with the ladies.
Women's Winter Leggings - Detailed Reviews
#1 Meriwool Thermal Pants
Letting ladies look sharp in comfort, Meriwool’s Merino Wool Base leggings for hiking are built with a high-rise for tummy support and is lightweight enough for layering. The material is multi-functional; not only does merino naturally retain heat to endure temperatures down to 5 degrees, it is also moisture-wicking, odor resistant, and easy to clean! Perfect for those alpine hikes where you have to stay covered up at all costs.
Designed for versatile wear, Meriwool selected a premium stretch fabric for these popular leggings for hiking. The 100 percent all-natural Meri-wool is both functional and sleek. The 18.5-micron material means thinner, finer fibers with increased flexibility. This makes it extremely soft and warm on the skin, no itch.
We also noted its 250g/m2 weight interlock knit. This construction makes the leggings for winter hiking highly breathable and just the right thickness for both summer and winter use. You can flexibly wear it as a base under your hiking pants with reinforced knees, for example. It also works great as a mid-layer.
Better yet, merino wool is naturally moisture-wicking. It's the perfect material for leggings for hiking no matter if it's for leggings for women or men. It’ll keep you sweat-free and dry; less likely to catch a cold in wet environments. It is also odor resistant so you can continue to wear them after multiple hiking trips.
Aside from being quick-drying, these leggings for hiking are designed for outdoor convenience as well. They feature a loop for hang drying, perfect for hiking, and other outdoor activities where you don’t have proper laundry facilities. To clean, simply throw it into the washing machine on cold water setting. They’re also safe to tumble dry as long as you set it to low heat.
Sizes range from extra-small (US size 2) to extra-large (US size 16-18). Inseam for each size offers 5cm stretch; starts at 26 inches/66cm for extra small, 30 inches/76cm for large. Not only does the close fit style flatter a women’s silhouette; the gusset crotch offers extra comfort and no camel toe!
If you’re looking for lightweight leggings for women (leggings for cold weather) that you can wear both outdoors and at home, this merino legging is the perfect blend of comfort and functionality that provides excellent freedom of movement. Isn't what you're looking for when winter hiking?
#2 Minus 33 803 Franconia
What better than an affordable buy from a trusted brand? Minus33 reaps the benefits of being the legacy of a century-old woolen company, churning out best sellers like the 803 Franconia Bottoms. While the wool keeps you warm and comfortable, the thoughtful stitching and construction is what allows these leggings to fit you like a glove. Better yet, it’s treated to provide you with sun protection from snow glare.
Approved by expert female hikers on numerous hiking trips, the 803 Franconia is an affordable, great-value wardrobe essential for any cold-weather activity. With 6 color options and generous size selection (extra-small to 3XL), it caters to every aesthetic and fit. A pair of leggings for women that you should pay special attention to.
We highly praise the construction of those leggings for hiking for several reasons. Firstly, the 100% merino fabric promises a super soft and comfortable piece that you can wear across three seasons.
The natural anti-odor and moisture-wicking qualities of these leggings for cold weather mean you can wear it multiple times for cold commutes or outdoor exercise during winter. And the gusseted crotch adds up to that freedom of movement. If you ask me, every pair of leggings should have that.
Secondly, the flatlock seams and stretch cuff on those leggings for hiking work together to make sure the fit molds to your body shape while offering flexible stretch for comfort. The lack of overlapping seams also reduces chafing. No layers on underside allow the fabric to lay flat against your skin.
To further maximize performance, Minus33 made these leggings for hiking tagless! You don’t need to suffer that common tag itch anymore. Speaking of tags, you will definitely like the price tag.
Pair this with a gusseted crotch and your movements will be smooth and natural. Two thumbs up for the freedom of movement. I love and have gusseted crotch on all my sports pants. We also recommend this legging for its regular fit design. Compared to an athletic fit, this makes the garment for winter hiking more suited for casual wear than streamlined action. You can wear it under insulated pants or as mid-layer. The narrow-wrapped waistband has one more advantage – it won’t twist and roll down.
But the good news doesn’t stop here!
These mid-weight bottoms for winter hiking are also environmentally friendly thanks to easy care technology. Being both machine washable and dryable makes it a renewable fabric; it’ll last you a long time.
As if it wasn’t already a solid pair of tights, the fabric comes with UPF rating 50+. It blocks out 98% of UV radiation from the sun, making it a great choice to wear on outdoor expeditions. We love the extended protection. The best warm leggings have that feature.
#3 Under Armour ColdGear Authentic
A brand that focuses on active wear, Under Armour’s ColdGear Authentic hiking leggings flatter your figure and offer compression fit for successful outdoor performance. Dual-layer construction will keep your muscles warmed for movement while dispelling your sweat! With a generous inseam that allows for boot-tucking, you can go on that winter hike all wrapped up. Be sure to check these hiking leggings in more detail.
Under Armour always designs leggings for winter hiking for performance and it shows in their ColdGear Authentic product line. The dual-layer fabric is a blend of 87% polyester and 13% elastane for both high elasticity and exercise-friendly qualities.
The brushed interior – a light layer of fleece – provides warmth by circulating body heat. Super toasty when you're out in cold weather. It’s designed to be lightweight enough so that heat retention is the focus, rather than generating heat. Keeping your body temperature level is better for the muscles than overheating.
The clammy feel of sweat is one that we hikers are familiar with. Well, our team found that the exterior layer on the fabric of those hiking leggings is both smooth and fast-drying. It wicks sweat by pulling moisture to the surface, hence minimizing those post-exercise chills.
If you’re wondering what 'modified 4 way stretch’ means, simply know that this fabric construction allows the hiking leggings to follow your body curves as you move. Our fellow hikers who tested it gave thumbs up for how the leggings stayed in place despite enthusiastic movement. So you have freedom of movement. Pretty neat!
The streamlined silhouette with minimal waist band isn’t just made to flatter! The elastic closure on the mid-to-high waist keeps the leggings up, while there’s a small oblong internal pocket on waist band for key storage. Super convenient!
We recommend that those intending on spending long hours outdoors find leggings for hiking with welded seams. This will ensure that chafing isn’t a problem and reduce chance of fabric tears.
Like to show off your brand wear? The white-printed UA logo is right below the knee. Under Armour is offering a range of sizing that runs from XS to XXL with an inseam of 30 inches. While the leggings run a little long, you can simply single-fold the bottom and easily tuck into boots. Just like yoga pants.
If athleisure is part of your look, these hiking leggings hit the sweet spot between sleek fit and function. Just pair it with your winter hiking hat and you are ready for a warm and energizing hike while wearing the best hiking leggings possible. Use as base layer or mid layer on your hiking trips. Oh, and the price tag is tempting.
#4 Baleaf Fleece-Lined Leggings
Made to trace those curves while keeping you toasty in cold weather, these fleece lined winter leggings are your next to-buy. High-rise waistband, gusset crotch, and stretchy fabric are just three features that make these the perfect active wear, alongside side pockets for convenient phone storage. Whether you’re working out or going out, comfort is a priority. Pick from the palette of colors; you can go red, blue, green, lilac and more!
Don’t like fancy big brands that make you shell out extra for quality? Baleaf’s fleece-lined winter leggings for cold weather is a quality pick of leggings for women that targets your hiking cravings without sacrificing comfort. Those are among the best hiking leggings on our list. Here's why.
Expect extreme softness and comfortable stretch fabric on these hiking tights thanks to the 87% polyester and 13% spandex blend. The higher spandex percentage than usual helps maintain shape while the material on these hiking leggings is made with a 4-way stretch for extra flexibility.
We, as winter hiking outdoor experts, know how important it is to wear breathable gear. You want fabrics that lisft sweat quickly to keep your skin fresh. Wicking moisture allows you to spend longer times outdoors without experiencing discomfort or tackiness – a true gift for hikers. When it comes to cold-weather activity, however, this breathability has to work with an equal amount of warmth. The lining of these hiking leggings feature super soft fleece to keep you cozy no matter the temperature. So you can safely call them weather leggings.
Not too thin to expose underwear but not too thick that you can’t wear under something else, you can use these hiking leggings for both layering and wearing solo when hiking in cold weather. Plus, they adjust to your body shape.
For additional freedom of movement, a gusset crotch is used so that you can stretch and sit cross-legged without seams digging uncomfortably. Interlock seams work to reduce rubbing and chafing so you can wear them for a long time.
When it comes to shaping, we give Baleaf 5-stars in their design. Tummy control is a go via the high-waist design, the waistband acting as shapewear to keep your silhouette slim and flat.
But wait for more!
The V-shaped visible seams on the yoga pants elongate the torso. In the back, they incorporated a hip lift design for that perfect booty curve. Who said you can’t look stylish while conquering the mountains?
We also advise to wear close fit clothing not only for hiking and mountaineering but for certain sports such as ice skating, yoga, running, and cycling.
There are two side pockets for essentials, fit for 4 – 5.5-inch phones. There’s also a hidden pocket in the waistband where you can put your keys and cash. No zip pocket on the back, though.
Make sure to read the sizing chart carefully. Sizes come from XS to 3XL with an average inseam length of 28 inches. The best warm leggings are true to size. And that price tag is quite acceptable.
To seal the deal, this high rated pair of hiking leggings for cold weather comes in a few different colors to offer wardrobe variety. They work as base layer and mid layer. And guess what? No camel toe! Camel toe sucks, right? Ladies, I see you smiling!
#5 Yogipace Fleece-Lined Tights
You no longer have to worry about accessorizing with a fanny pack because Yogipace leggings for women has the perfect solution to your storage woes – thermal tights with side pockets. Functionality is the theme of these pants, made to be both stretchy and water-resistant. Cold-weather prep was another consideration as the inner lining features thick, soft fleece. Petite, regular, tall and extra-tall ladies all get to experience this winter-ready treat with inseams tailored to your fit! Check it out.
Designed to be lightweight and breathable so you’re comfortable in both cool and warm weather, Yogipace’s fleece lined leggings for women are made from polyester and spandex. So they provide water resistance and warmth thanks to the cozy fleece lining.
Need it to be extra snug? The elastic waistband on these hiking leggings is fitted with a draw cord so you can tailor the fit.
What makes this Yogipace thermal leggings so sought-after is the pocket storage – a rare find in women’s hiking clothing. With side pockets for your phone, hidden waistband pocket, and zip back pocket for securing devices, you no longer have to worry about where to keep your essentials when out in cold weather when winter hiking.
Aside from the flattering cut, we want to draw your attention to the upgraded inner lining. Now boasting thicker fleece lining compared to earlier models, you’re protected even in 30-50-degree weather. While it’s not as windproof as we want it to be, it serves as a great base layer under windproof pants. The water-resistant coating on hiking leggings could be a lifesaver – it can handle light rain for a short period of time. It’ll keep your skin dry from unexpected spillage (small doses, mind you) but remember that it’s not the same thing as being waterproof!
To protect you from that awful camel toe, these hiking leggings have a double-layered gusset. Not only does it allow greater movement without risk of tearing, it’s also extra protection against the elements (unlike regular yoga pants). And they follow your body shape.
Sizes start from XS and go up to XXL, meaning every lady can go out and be their most active self. The charting divides into four categories: Petite (5’1” – 5’4”), Regular (5’5” – 5’8”), Tall (5’9” – 5’11”) and Extra Tall (6’ up) with inseam measurements of 25 inches, 31 inches, 31 inches and 34 inches, respectively.
If you’re worried about upkeep, don’t! The pair of hiking leggings comes with a handy fleece lining care guide to prevent pilling. To summarize: machine wash with cold water, tumble dry in low heat, wash inside out and on gentle cycle. Did I mention that those side pockets are quite roomy and the material is quick drying? And the price tag is just about right.
Men's Winter Thermal Pants - Detailed Reviews
Let's see the 5 top models that got our attention. You can wear those leggings for hiking as base layer and some of them as mid layer.
#1 Eizniz Thermal Leggings
It can be difficult to find a pair of thermal leggings for winter hiking that don’t restrict the groin – which is why Eizniz Men’s merino wool thermal leggings come recommended. Designed with a wide gusset crotch for freedom of movement and ultra-soft fabric that is moisture-wicking (and quick-drying), it offers great comfort. The slim fit styling marks it a low-bulk base layer, keeping you insulated under windproof pants.
Produced by one of the largest merino apparel companies in the world, these wool thermal hiking leggings are among their top base layers on the shelves. Continue reading to see why thousands of hikers praise this model and claim it to be the best leggings.
Made of 100% all-natural Meri-wool, these winter leggings come with many beneficial properties. Its 260 g midweight composition ensures that the fabric is durable and ready for prolonged wear, while offering enough stretch that it won’t impede your movement.
It is perfect to use these leggings for hiking as an everyday base layer. Just the right thickness to regulate body temperature, you’ll feel warm in cold weather and cool in heated environments. Maintaining your regular temperature keeps your muscles from being sore after a long stint of exercise. And hiking is just that. Other qualities we don’t overlook on our check-list is ultra-softness and a next-to-skin feel. Superfine 18.5-micron fibers offer a smooth, no-itch fit on your skin.
Fellow hikers who wear this model (and call it "the best hiking leggings for cold weather and winter hiking" highly appreciate two major benefits they offer - natural wicking and breathability. Whether you’re hiking up the Alpines or plowing through the snow on skis, your skin is kept dry and sweat-free with these hiking leggings. Worried about stinking up the place? Merino also resists odor so you won’t accidentally terrorize any housemates when your outer layers come off.
Eizniz made these wool hiking leggings slim fit so you can wear them under ski pants or other waterproof pants when outdoors. There’s a wide gusset that stretches to mid-thigh for the ultimate range of movement. No painful restrictions across the groin; extremely necessary for men.
Easy to care for, you simply have to drop these leggings for hiking into the machine and dryer (on cold water and low heat settings). Make sure to fasten all closures and don’t add bleach. Yoga pants don't like that.
Eizniz are naturally renewable, eco-friendly, and available in a range of colors. Don’t forget to check their sizing chart when picking a pair. Sizing runs from small to XXL. They are one of the best warm leggings on our list. Ideal for cold weather.
#2 Under Armour ColdGear Compression Pants
Under Armour is an industry standard when it comes to compression gear, but its ColdGear leggings takes it to a whole new level. We men can now find comfort and support in one, thanks to the strong seam construction and ventilated gusset. Stretch mesh paneling at the crotch means high breathability where it matters most, while the inner fleece lining keeps your leg muscles warm and prepped for action. A wonderful base layer.
While the 87% polyester and 13% elastane fabric offers a comfortable stretch, the true value of these winter leggings for cold weather lies in the dual-layer construction.
Where the ultra-warm interior with fleece lining keeps your body temperature level, the exterior is sweat-wicking and dries fast to prevent discomfort on skin. Smooth to the touch, it won’t catch on anything. That's important when you're out in cold weather.
Anti-odor technology is taken one step further here. It prevents microbe growth from odor particles so you don’t just feel clean – you are clean with little chance of unwelcome bacterial presence.
Built with a 4-way stretch construction, the fabric stretches in all directions so you can move comfortably when winter hiking. This is a convenient feature to have when hiking on rockier terrains, for example, where you sometimes have to lift the leg.
To ensure the leggings won’t roll or run down, the elastic waistband sits tight on the hips. It is also tight on ankles to act as proper compression leggings and provide additional support.
We commend the seam and panel construction! It comes with a stretch mesh gusset with inseam panels for strategic ventilation. We guys get sweaty between the legs easily, so this feature will keep you feeling fresh without compromising on warmth. The best warm leggings come with gusset!
The double-layered seams that frame the glutes and crotch also work to offer support, as well as add to ease of movement. Flat seams on hiking leggings are used to make the piece chafe-free. This means you can wear them comfortably for a much longer time.
I learnt that with compression leggings for winter hiking, even brands that make clothing true to size tend to have them fit extra snug. If you’re in between sizes, we recommend going with the larger size.
The size selection of these winter leggings is not bad!
Starting with small to 4XL, Under Armour also offers these ColdGear leggings (yoga pants) in Large Tall for those with longer frames. The inseam average is 28 inches; proportional to the size you buy. These are undoubtedly among the best warm leggings for cold weather that you can buy.
Use it as base layer or mid layer. You can also wear those under your ski pants. No zip pocket on the back, though unlike some other leggings on our list. I really like the fact they are water resistant and odor resistant. And the price tag is totally justified.
#3 David Archy Double Pair Set
David Archy had your comfort in mind when designing these long johns! Going to the bathroom has never been easier (and warmer) thanks to the functional fly opening. The fleece lining has also been doubled up so you’re extra-warm, but not so heavy to impede movement. Even better, now we men can rejoice extra space around the groin due to additional crotch lining. Support is important for any athlete too, so there’s a double-layer knee panel for joint support.
What’s better than a pair of warm leggings for hiking? A second pair of warm comfy leggings that are also quick drying, of course! With this deal you receive a second pair of the same leggings. Isn’t that awesome?
You don’t actually need to know the exact composition of the fabric – 66% Rayon, 26% Acrylic and 8% Spandex – but praise the heavyweight build because that’s what keeps you warm. Moreover, the close fit design helps retain body heat and allow better fit under other clothes. That's something that you'd certainly appreciate when winter hiking.
Who said we men don’t enjoy comfort and style altogether when it comes to our leggings for cold weather?
Everyone knows how pants riding up are a regular annoyance when we’re trying to tuck them into boots. Cuffed at ankles to prevent bottoms from rolling up, this simple solution is brilliant if you kneel and squat a lot.
The extremely soft fleece lining on the underside of these winter leggings caresses the skin and creates a lightly padded layer. More importantly, the double-sided fleece lining and acrylic fabric is as warm as cashmere, but much more affordable. Heat retention is guaranteed on both sides. The double-layer knee panel is a thoughtful addition on these leggings for hiking since it provides not only more warmth for the sensitive and overworked joint but also more support whether you’re moving or at rest. The knee area fabric also becomes more durable, as it often wears out easily because of constant bends and movement.
The fly opening is a considerate design that put it high in our books. You don’t have to strip off this protective layer when nature calls.
Guys, let’s agree to this – one of the worst things you can experience via underwear is friction at the crotch. These winter hiking leggings are crafted with additional crotch lining to provide more room. No family jewels are being constricted; you can move freely without discomfort.
The sizes of these hiking leggings are a tad more limited compared to Under Armor, running between small to XL (28-inch waist to 42-inch waist), but with enough stretch to fit comfortably, regardless.
Available in Black and Navy Blue. Guys, rest assured - this is a high-performing pair of hiking pants for cold weather. Suitable as a base layer and if you like - mid layer. As an outer layer, you can put on your ski pants, if you plan any short hikes in freezing snowy weather.
#4 Meriwool Base Layer Tights
Merino is always a "yes" from me because of its confirmed warmth, comfort and pro-hiking qualities. It really is a material made for convenience – a convenience that Meriwool attempts to add to. To complement the no-frills comfort factor of the fabric, they included a fly front opening so you can stay layered while doing business. Other design details include bottom cuffs and a hang-dry loop to make your outdoor adventure all the smoother. This is a fantastic pair of hiking pants.
Bringing yet another wool piece to the table, Meriwool aims for naturally made products in a market saturated with synthetic fabrics. Especially when it comes to leggings for hiking as base layer.
While these thermal leggings for winter hiking might not be thick enough for solo use, the 250g/m2 wool base is great for layering up. Thanks to its breathable nature, it is suitable for both cold-weather activity outdoors and transition into warmer environments.
The quality material on these hiking leggings also means a super soft finish and no itching! You can wear these all day without digging your fingers under to scratch away the discomfort. This is especially beneficial for those on longer hikes where hand-holds are necessary.
Our team also tagged this as one of the most outdoor-convenient hiking leggings because of its quick-drying quality. If you’re planning a hiking trip that requires overnight camping, the loop for hang drying comes in handy.
The fabric on these quick drying leggings for cold weather pulls moisture away from body to reduce that clammy, sweat-induced feel. Pair this with odor resistance and you’re always left smelling fresh. Best of all, this combination means you can wear the base layer multiple times before washing – perfect when you don’t have access to water. You also don’t have to worry about pesky bottoms. The pants are cuffed to ensure the legs stay in place and don’t ride up as easily.
My favorite thing about merino is how easy it is to care for, despite being a natural material. It's simply the best fabric for leggings for cold weather. Machine washable and dryable, as long as you read the Do-Not’s beforehand, the yoga pants will last you a long while. And that’s guaranteed.
Size options on these winter leggings go from extra-small to 3XL. We recommend checking out the sizing guide for exact measurements.
Awesome customer care is a plus too, wouldn’t you agree? Enjoy a 30-day return policy for this pair of hiking pants with hassle-free refund or exchange and 1-year manufacturer’s warranty for any defects. And wear it as a base layer or mid layer.
#5 LAPASA Merino Wool Leggings
Capping off the men’s list is LAPASA’s merino base layer. Extra lightweight so it can slide under any of your pants, it provides ample warmth and comfort. Whether you’re out hiking in through snowed-on trails or simply need an extra layer for work commutes, the thoughtfully structured thermals are an impressive addition to your wardrobe.
The regular style of these leggings for hiking comes in midweight (250g/m2) for decent thickness and strength. A lighter weight alternative is available at 200g/m2 if you require extra low-bulk layering.
Both versions of these hiking leggings or if you like to call them, yoga pants, are made of the same 18.5-micron merino wool, the superfine fibers feeling like a delicate touch on the skin. Like the previous products we’ve listed that is made of wool, LAPASA’s thermal leggings share in these qualities:
- Effective insulation without risk of overheating thanks to excellent breathability
- Active fibers react to changes in body temperature
- Extremely breathable so you’re well-ventilated
- Cuts back on odor so you can wear multiple consecutive times or through a long stretch
- Moisture wicks quick to keep you dry and comfortable under light drizzle
We took note of its men-focused features such as the crotch panel and fly opening. These offer both support and ease of access. The double-seams help to reduce possible tears, making it a longer-lasting and durable wear.
Some buyers reported that these winter leggings fit looser in the crotch area. Depending on your choice of exercise, this could be good or not-so appropriate. For hiking, this will allow for better ventilation and comfort as long as you’re wearing equally spacious outer pants.
In general, the design of these leggings for cold weather fits close to skin to keep you warm and allow for easy layering.
Available sizes include extra-small all the way up to 3XL. Overall, this is a great pair of warm leggings for hiking.
Before You Buy: Important Tips and Seasoned Advice
The cold is unpleasant enough without the additional stress of trying to hike in comfort. Make sure you pick the right winter hiking tights in order to make the most of your cold-weather hike. Take your time when choosing among the plenty of warm leggings for hiking and consider several key features to look out for.
In the next section, you will learn just that.
4 Crucial Features To Pay Attention To When Buying Winter Leggings
These features may vary for women and for men – after all, we all have different priorities. Let's see some important features you don't want to overlook when shopping for hiking leggings for cold weather.
The material of any leggings for hiking makes or breaks the product, no matter if it's a base layer or not. It’s the foundation that will affect your comfort, warmth, flexibility and the care required. Common materials used in hiking tights include:
- Merino wool. Arguably the best fabric, 100% natural merino is moisture-wicking, quick drying, highly breathable, regulates body temperature and resists odor. These qualities all serve active people, especially during the winter when sweat chills are common. The high-performing leggings for cold weather are made of merino.
- Fleece lined polyester and spandex. Blending materials borrow a mixture of qualities, like the smoothness of polyester and shape-retention of spandex. Because those alone aren’t helpful in cold-weather conditions, winter leggings for hiking are often treated with fleece lining for extra warmth and softness. The fabric becomes dual-layered.
So what fabrics should you avoid when it comes to winter leggings or yoga pants? Hint – cotton as a base layer doesn’t dry quickly and is not as breathable as others. We recommend wool-based fabrics and polyester because they cover the bases of what we hikers need.
Usually merino is considered as the best fabric because of its exceptional insulating qualities. Check out the infographic below for more information.
Your ideal material suitable for winter leggings offers elasticity, meaning you have enough stretch for a wide range of movement. High breathability and lightweightedness are two other key criteria. The material shouldn’t rely on actual thickness to give you warmth; it’s about the weave of the fabric.
Weather Appropriate Qualities
Of course, your cold-weather hiking leggings have to protect you against the weather. The best leggings do!
Properties that indicate they are winter appropriate leggings for hiking are:
- Warmth and heat retention. This can come in form of fleece lining or merino -standard fabric. Very important for cold weather.
- Moisture and sweat-wicking quality. Your leggings should be able to pull water (sweat or external liquids) out to the surface and evaporate them quickly. Not only are wet underclothes uncomfortable, you also risk getting sick.
- Water proofing. If you’re hiking through snow, waterproofing or at least water resistance is essential.
- Wind proofing. A lot of the cold come from wind chill factor. To level up in protection and heat retention, look for clothing that is windproof.
We define a comfortable fit to be where the best leggings mold to your shape but allow you to squat, bend, lift your legs without discomfort. Generally, you should aim for a tighter fit over a looser one, as leggings for cold weather are often used as base layers or worn for figure-displaying sports. They also tend to stretch out after enough wear; you want yours to last as long as possible.
Here’s where women and men differ most when trying on winter leggings (or hiking pants). Ladies tend to look for pants that flatter the figure or tuck the tummy while offering enough elasticity. Their leggings should sit right along the hip and waistline to offer support and shape. Men, however, turn their attention to the fit around the crotch. It’s vital that there’s enough room for your intimate areas – or the consequences are painful. Especially in cold weather.
The key to a perfect fit for winter leggings is getting the inseam right. The inseam measures from your inner thigh-meets groin to the bone of your ankle. If it is too short, the legs will ride up uncomfortably; you might struggle to crouch down as well. If it is too long, you’ll have to fold up the bottom.
We recommend reading reviews of winter leggings, so you know whether you should size up or down! Every brand comes with its own quirks when it comes to fit. Sure enough, your personal preferences matter too. Some prefer a looser fit while others – a tighter one.
Apart from material, the construction of your trail tights is extremely important. Think about what you’re looking for. Do you want side pockets or at least a zip pocket on the back? If so, check out our detailed guide on the most popular hiking tights with pockets. Do you want flexible movement or support? Obvious details aside, pay attention to:
- Durability and the quality of the sewing. To make sure you have the best leggings that will last, you want a fabric that will hold after rough use. Men in particular will want leggings with strong seams, especially those that frame the crotch panels.
- Type of seams. Because you’re buying leggings or compression tights for exercise, seek out articles with flat seams. This way, you won’t have seams rubbing against your skin abrasively.
- Gusseted crotch. The cons? The triangular cut out piece doesn’t exactly look flattering. The pros? Say goodbye to the camel toe and the discomfort of seams riding into your nether regions. This applies to both men and women – men can enjoy more structure space around the gusseted crotch (and greater range of movement) while women no longer have to worry about wearing leggings as pants.
- Style and coloration. You don’t have to give up looking stylish! The best hiking leggings not only feel good. They look good.
- Is the material see-through? Test by dipping your fingers inside and stretching the fabric. You won’t want your underwear to peak through as it implies two things. First, that you can only wear these leggings as a base layer. Two, the holes are big enough that cold air can pass through. Ideally, the best leggings are not see-through.
How do I know which size to choose?
Measure your inseam and then consult the sizing chart of the manufacturer. Most of the time, leggings are true to their size. The mentioned inseam length may vary based on size.
Can I wash my leggings and machine-dry them?
Generally, yes. Just make sure to read the care label and to use gentle cycles. If you want to be extra precautions and extend the life of your garment, hand wash them and air dry them.
What is the best recommended material for cold weather leggings?
Merino wool as it is warm, breathable, soft, and anti-bacterial.
Can I wear my leggings on their own or are they as base layer/underwear only?
Both cases work just fine. It depends on your personal preference. All hiking leggings are non-see-through and you can wear them on their own but if it's too cold and you want to add another layer, you can do so.
Can I wear my winter tights in summer?
It depends. If the weather is hot - no. But if you hike in high altitudes that might work just fine. The best hiking leggings are good for both summer and winter.
There you have it! We’ve rounded up some of the best hiking leggings for both women and men! They will surely keep you warm all season long.
Don’t give yourself the excuse of “it’s too cold” or “it’s too uncomfortable”. Skimp out on your time outdoors and enjoy the benefits of nature. With these quality thermal bottoms that make layering easy and guarantee your comfort, hiking in the winter can be easy-come and easy-go. Grab your pair of leggings and go have some fun. Just don't forget your backpacking snow shovel.
Also, don't miss reading our popular article on saving cash on hiking and backpacking gear. It will surely help your outdoor budget.
Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.