My first time shopping for a pair of women’s hiking pants basically ended in tears. I couldn’t find anything that fit me, a petite woman, well. Not only am I petite but I’m also curvy, and so many women’s hiking pants ended up being too long and ill-fitting. I recently went shopping again for a pair of women’s hiking pants that were petite-friendly and it was a much better trip!
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If you’ve been looking for some hiking pants for petite women (that aren’t leggings), here are some hiking pant options for petite and curvy women!
While I’ve previously worn leggings for hiking adventures, I really wanted to get a pair of women’s hiking pants that would last me for all future hiking adventures, including having pockets, maybe some rain-repellant fabric, and better protection should I fall. But, let’s be honest, it was mostly for the pockets, of course!
Trying on Petite-Friendly Hiking Pants
Since we’re talking about hiking pants for petite women, it might be helpful to define what I mean by “petite”. I am exactly five feet tall, and my inseam (crotch to the bottom of the ankle) is about 26 inches. I also have a curvy body, with my body having a very hourglass shape (36-26-42). If you have a similar petite height or curvy body type then these women’s hiking pants might also work for you!
As I was trying on different pairs of women’s hiking pants at REI, I quickly realized what elements worked well for my petite and curvy body, and what did not work. Here are the design elements I focused on:
- high-rise for a better hip and waist fit
- a stretchy ankle hem
- skinny leg / jogger-style for less fabric
While I was in the store, there were some women’s hiking pants that were labeled “regular” and “short” but that was not the case for all women’s hiking pants. Additionally, not all the hiking pants listed the inseam length, which is far more helpful for figuring out how well the pants will fit on a petite woman than the “short” and “regular” labels. I found it helpful to have my phone handy and pull up the technical specs of the hiking pants on the REI website to compare inseam lengths.
Option 1: REI Co-op Trailsmith Jogger Pants
Review of REI Co-op Trailsmith Jogger Pants
These Trailsmith Jogger Pants were great hiking pants for petite women right off the bat! After the previous shopping experience ended in tears, this was a much better kick-off to this second shopping session. I tried on a size 8 and these joggers were a great fit around the waist and hips and were the perfect length for my height.
The fabric was thick and would definitely take some time to break in. Since the fabric was so thick, you might have to size up for better mobility, as I did.
Features of REI Co-op Trailsmith Jogger Pants
As the name of the women’s hiking pants states, these are jogger-style pants, which means the ankles had a stretchy hem but they also had a zipper on the outside. This combination of stretchy hem and zippers means the pants will go great with a wide variety of hiking boot cuts. These women’s jogger hiking pants also have a variety of pockets (with one zippered pocket), wide belt loops, and a drawstring waistband.
The variety of pockets was a major selling point for these pants. If you like switching up shoes for different hikes, the options that the stretchy hem and zipper provide might be worth it for you!
Option 2: REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
Review of REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
These REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants are very similar to the jogger hiking pants described above. The key difference is that these women’s hiking pants fit more like regular pants or jeans, NOT jogger-style. So how does this translate into fit for a petite and curvy body?
These Trailsmith Pants are much thicker in fabric. If you want flexibility in your hiking pants early on, these are probably not the hiking pants for you. Not only did I have to size up (size 10) due to the lack of stretch, the waist only came up about mid-rise for me. While the thick fabric would probably provide great protection when hiking in certain areas, the thickness of the fabric really limited my movements, especially bending my knees, and discouraged me from buying these.
Additionally, the inseam was much longer for my petite frame. You can actually see in the picture above that I had to fold the hem of the pants in order for them to fit me. Overall, the fit was not compatible with my petite and curvy body type. These were not worthy of winning the “hiking pants for petite women” prize.
Features of the REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
These women’s hiking pants have a mid-rise waist with no stretch in the waistband. The pant fabric is thick with no stretch. There are a variety of pockets, with one zippered pocket. The knee area is reinforced, from about mid-thigh to about mid-calf. Since the reinforced knee area is quite long, if you like everything else about these hiking pants for women, then you can simply hem the pants to fit your height!
Review of the REI Co-op Sahara Guide Convertible Pants
The color of these hiking pants caught my eye immediately and I’m so glad I grabbed them to try on. There were so many useful features in these hiking pants and the fabric was exactly what I was looking for. In the end, the price point of these pants was close to the first pair of hiking pants I tried on but, with these, I felt like I was getting two hiking pants for the price of one!
Features of the REI Co-op Sahara Guide Convertible Pants
The high-rise was great for me since I have a smaller waist compared to my hips. It’s a little hard to see but, on top of having the usual zipper/button to close up the hiking pants, there’s a drawstring inside the waist of the hiking pants to tighten the pants further.
Between the button, drawstring, and stretchy waistband on the back half of the pants, these hiking pants felt like the best fit for me! With all of these features available, this feels like a great hiking pant for petite women and curvy women.
The fabric was also listed as being water-repellent and quick-drying. Additionally, the hiking pants are convertible. So you can go from pants to shorts and back to pants again! Perfect for those hikes that start with cold mornings and end with hot afternoons.
The inseam of these hiking pants is listed as 29 inches, which was a tad bit long for me (unlike the very first option I tried on), but read about why the extra fabric still works for me here!
These hiking pants were sized differently than the above two. While the other two had sizes listed in numbers, these hiking pants had letter sizing. If you have a similar body type to mine, I tried on a size small.
Other Petite-Friendly Hiking Pants
Before we get to the winner of this shopping trip, here are some additional hiking pants that I tried on. While these options were quickly nixed from the shortlist, I wanted to share these hiking pants because they were petite-friendly (though not necessarily strong options for a curvy petite body).
Review of Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants
Although I was purposely staying away from leggings, I came across these in the middle of my search and decided to try them on.
These are the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants and they were a tighter fit than I would have liked. They also were only low to mid-rise on me and that definitely would not have worked for me during hikes.
Review of The North Face Never Stop Wearing Cargo Pants
The North Face Never Stop Wearing Cargo Pants was another option I tried but, while they were an okay fit, the rise wasn’t as high as some of the other hiking pants I had tried on. These hiking pants also did not have the variety of pockets that I wanted.
On the website, these hiking pants are also listed as casual pants for relaxing after a hike, not active-hiking pants.
And the best hiking pants for petite women is …
The hiking pants that were best fitting for a petite woman were the REI Co-op Sahara Guide Convertible Pants and they were the ones I bought!
These REI Co-op Sahara Guide Convertible Pants were the winners for a few reasons:
- the variety of pockets (long front pockets, back pockets, zippered pocket on left leg)
- convertible options (ankle-length hiking pants to mid-thigh shorts)
- cinched ankles (keeps pants from falling or shifting, great for pulling over hiking boots)
- not just one but three waist-fit design elements (zipper/button, drawstring, stretchy waistband)
The big thing that pushed this hiking pant over the other options was definitely the convertible option. There was another hiking pant that I really liked and felt was just as good as this one (option 1) but, since they had similar price points, I chose to go with the Sahara Guide Convertible Pants because I was getting two pants for the price of one!
As much as I love shopping, sometimes it’s really hard to find the specific item you are looking for, especially if you’re looking to invest in an item that will last you a while. While my first shopping trip for hiking pants brought me to tears, this second shopping trip was a huge victory and I was so happy to walk out with the perfect hiking pants for a petite woman aka me!
If you’re also looking for hiking pants for a petite and curvy woman, I hope this post was helpful in getting your search started. Remember to keep in mind that stores might have limited sizing in-store (this was the case for me), so some online shopping with at-home try-ons might be necessary to get the right hiking pants for you.
Good luck in your search for the perfect hiking pants for you and your body!
This is a style & fashion post about
Top 3 Hiking Pants for Petite Women.