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Are Leggings Good for Hiking? All You Need to Know

Hiking is a popular outdoor activity that offers numerous physical and mental benefits.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just getting started, choosing the right clothing is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

In recent years, leggings have gained popularity as a hiking attire choice. But are leggings really a good option for hiking?

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of wearing leggings on the trail to help you make an informed decision.

The Pros of Hiking in Leggings

In this section, we’ll delve into the undeniable benefits of choosing leggings as your go-to hiking attire explore why they remain a favorite item on every trail.

1. Comfort and Flexibility

a girl is going uphill in leggings in her hiking trip

One of the biggest advantages of hiking in leggings is the comfort and flexibility they offer.

Leggings are typically made from stretchy materials like spandex or elastane, which allow for a wide range of motion. They are lightweight and a simple choice for short hikes.

2. Moisture-Wicking Properties

Many leggings designed for outdoor activities are made from moisture-wicking fabrics that help keep you dry by pulling sweat away from your skin.

This is crucial for staying comfortable during strenuous hikes, as wet clothing can lead to chafing and discomfort.

3. Lightweight and Breathable

a girl in breathable leggings for hiking

Leggings are usually lightweight and breathable, making them an excellent choice for warm-weather hiking. They provide good ventilation and prevent you from overheating during your trek.

4. A Base Layer for Cold Weather

Leggings are versatile and can be used as a base layer under other hiking clothing, such as shorts or hiking pants, in colder weather.

This layering allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothing as needed.

5. Aesthetic Appeal

a girl goes hiking with leggings

Let’s not forget the style factor. Many people appreciate the sleek and stylish look of leggings, especially when matching with hiking boots. This makes them a preferred choice for fashion-conscious hikers.

The Cons of Hiking in Leggings

While leggings offer numerous advantages for hikers, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks they may bring to your outdoor experience.

1. Limited Protection and Durability

Leggings, particularly those designed for casual wear or yoga, may lack the durability needed for rugged hikes, making them more susceptible to tears and abrasions.

a girl wears leggings hiking through a grassy area

In areas with dense vegetation or potentially abrasive surfaces, leggings may not provide the same level of protection as traditional hiking pants.

2. Sun Exposure

a girl goes hiking with leggings

Some leggings may not provide adequate sun protection, especially if they are thin or have a low UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating.

This can leave your skin vulnerable to sunburn on sunny hiking days.

3. Temperature Extremes

Leggings may not be the best choice for hiking in extreme cold conditions.

While they work well as a base layer, they may not provide enough insulation on their own. In such cases, you may need to layer up with additional clothing.

two people are hiking in cold weather

4. Lack of Pockets

Most leggings have limited or no pockets, which can be inconvenient for carrying essentials like a trail map, snacks, or a phone. You may need to rely on a separate backpack or waist belt for storage.

5. Inserts and Mosquito Bites

It’s important to note that inserts and mosquito bites can penetrate leggings, potentially causing discomfort and bug-related issues during hikes, particularly in mosquito-prone areas.

Is it better to hike in leggings or shorts?

shorts vs leggings for hiking

The choice between hiking in leggings or shorts depends on factors like weather, terrain, and personal preference.

Leggings offer more coverage and are better for cooler or sun-exposed conditions, while shorts provide ventilation and mobility, making them ideal for warm weather or technical terrain.

Many hikers opt for a combination or base their choice on the specific hiking conditions.

Are leggings good for hiking for men?

Yes, leggings can be a good choice for hiking for men, particularly in cooler weather or when added protection for the legs is needed. They offer comfort, flexibility, and warmth, making them suitable for various hiking conditions.

However, it’s essential to ensure a proper fit, consider durability and personal preferences.

Some men may still prefer traditional hiking pants or shorts to match with hiking boots or sandals for a comfortable trip.

a man goes hiking in shorts


In summary, whether leggings are a good choice for hiking depends on the type of hike you plan to undertake, the weather conditions, and your personal preferences.

Leggings offer comfort, flexibility, and moisture-wicking properties, making them suitable for many hiking situations, especially in moderate weather.

However, they may not provide the same level of protection, durability, or sun coverage as traditional hiking pants.

Ultimately, the decision to wear leggings for hiking should be based on your specific needs and comfort level, so choose your hiking attire wisely to ensure a pleasant and enjoyable trek.

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