You either love them or hate them, but it’s an argument that pops up again and again across the outdoor forums. So let’s settle this discussion once and for all...
It's All Down To Personal Choice
Let’s start with the most obvious answer. Whether you’re attempting your first named thru-hike route, out with the family for a day hike, or pushing new heights in different regions across the world, always hike in whatever you feel most comfortable wearing. We all have our own unique shape, size and outdoor style - cater to yourself, and not to the trail-junkies!
Leggings have become more of a trail-led garment over recent years, and at first glance, they do seem like the ideal choice when out and about. They’re comfortable, form hugging, and unlike technical hiking pants, they are a key ally for any ultralight fanatic.
Dedicated hiking pants deliver in a range of circumstances, however - they’re designed for the trail and whatever it may throw at you, come rain or shine. Think moisture-wicking and anti-microbial technology, UV-protection and even quick-dry material.
It's About When You Wear Them
Personally, I love wearing my technical leggings on shorter hikes (note: I’m not talking about the staple fashion-piece cotton leggings here, cotton under any circumstances does not belong on the trail!); they’re agile and make me feel super nimble on my feet when pace matters, but anything over a couple of days and, well… that anti-microbial factor starts to make a lot more sense.
Bearing this in mind, I’d always base my legwear choice on how long I intend to be hitting the trails for. A short day-hike, or overnight stint - I’d opt for my technical leggings. But anything over 2 days, then goodbye figure-hugging leggings and hello dedicated walking pants!
Hiking Pants Have Changed
When I first started my outdoor journey, I - like many women I know - couldn’t stand the sight or thought of ‘proper’ walking pants. They’re bulky, unfeminine, chafing and for the most part - not designed for women with a little curve. But times have changed!
Nowadays brands take the time to listen to what consumers want - and I think this is especially telling in the womenswear market, and in particular when it comes to walking pants. Gone are the days of boxy commando-style trekker pants, and hello lightweight yet tough, yoga pant-inspired alternatives that are a great choice for those who don’t quite like the idea of classic walking pants.