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Picking the perfect travel pants is a highly debated topic in the travel world. Some people won’t leave home without their jeans, while others swear that traveling with jeans is the worst idea. Some love their travel pants with pockets and zip-off sections, but others hate the touristy look of these pants.
So what kind of pants are the best travel pants for women?
The Best Travel Pants for Flying
If your flight is more than a few hours long, you want to make sure you’re comfortable. Long haul flights are bad enough without wearing something that digs into you for 12 hours. The formula for the perfect plane outfit includes comfortable pants.
When you choose leggings for travel, you are pretty much choosing comfort. Leggings are one of the most versatile pant options you can pack as they can be worn under tunics, as your pants, or they can be worn under dresses and other pants for extra warmth. Since they allow for free movement, leggings accompany days with lots of walking quite perfectly. Or, simply wear them to bed!
Yoga pants or other workout pants, along with being awesome travel pants for flying, can serve you on active travel days, or even in place of leggings under dresses and tunics. You can lounge in them after a long day of sightseeing, too.
Another good option are harem pants because they’re loose, comfortable, and they come in tons of fun colors and patterns. Brooke recently tried out a pair of dressy sweatpants that I think look incredibly comfortable. But they don’t look like sweatpants, which is a big bonus. You can wear them in both casual and dressy settings, and that sounds perfect to me!
The Best Travel Pants for Hiking
Many outdoor stores sell hiking pants, and this is where you might find the kind that zip off into shorts or capris. Those zip-off features could work well for you depending on where you’re hiking. When you work up a sweat, the bottoms zip off so you can feel cool, but when the sun starts to set or the bugs come out, they can quickly be zipped back on for protection.
Make sure the hiking pants fit like normal pants. If the fit is awkward, you won’t want to wear them. I once bought a pair I regretted (and never wore!) because the waist came up way too high on me.
These slim fit hiking pants from Columbia* are a good option because they convert from pants to capris. They also don’t look like typical hiking pants, so they can also be worn on a day when you’re not hiking. Multi-purpose means less to pack, and we love that!
Best Pants for Casual Travel
It really depends on your destination, but if you wear jeans at home, you’ll probably want to wear them when you travel.
Some destinations, like Southeast Asia, are too hot for jeans, but I find that I still like to wear mine in the evenings. Lightweight pants, like khakis or harem pants, work well in hotter climates.
In colder climates, jeans will help keep you warm. You can also wear leggings or thermals underneath jeans or khaki pants if you need an extra layer.
Look for pants that can be dressed up too. It’s always a bonus if you can wear the same item in a casual setting and for a nice night out.
Brooke likes her North Face pants* (in solid black) that are loose enough for layering in colder weather, or they can be rolled up into capris in warmer weather. They’re great for casual situations, and with the right top, they can be dressed up as well. They’re also quick-dry, which is great if you have to wash them by hand.
Womens Travel Pants by Feature
Travel pants, unlike your normal everyday pants, have special features built in that will benefit your travels. Depending on your trip style and activities, you may be looking for one specific feature over another. Here are some of the big ones to consider.
Quick Dry Pants
Women who are traveling in outdoor environments, or just planning to hand-wash clothing as they go, will enjoy quick dry pants. The material in these pants is generally a synthetic or synthetic blend made of nylon or polyester.
Convertible Travel Pants
While not the most fashionable item of clothing, convertible travel pants serve a definite purpose. These pants convert from full length and often zip off to become shorts. Great for trekking and hiking. Other models might roll up and have buttons to secure them at capri or shorts length.
Pants with Zipper Pockets
Pickpockets are a real issue, especially when you travel, so pants with zipper pockets (or even button enclosures) are another weapon in the battle. Of course this doesn’t make you immune, it just puts another barrier in the way. And they also help to ensure things don’t accidently fall out of your pockets!
Lightweight Travel Pants
Pants are an easy way to eat up weight in your packing list, and while a good and sturdy pair can be appealing, too many heavy ones will be a pain to carry. Look for lightweight travel pants that can give you options without weighing you down.
Extra pockets mean extra organization! We love them for the fact you can go without a handbag, or keep extra cash or valuables stashed in different places. Cargo pants definitely add to that stereotypical look of a traveler, but pants that have more slimline cargo pockets these days are not too bad.
Travel Pants for Women by Brand
Columbia Travel Pants
From casual pants, to lightweight travel pants, to snow pants, Columbia has you covered. Best of all, they come in an affordable range of prices for technical gear, and you can get them at a number of retail and online outlets. Check out some more Columbia travel pants.
Recommended: Columbia Saturday Trail Pants, $60
REI Travel Pants
REI creates travel clothes and even backpacks and gear. Items like the REI travel pants come in an affordable range with features for varied activities and seasons. The look of the pants overall are very much travel-specific, but the price is often right. Check out more REI travel pants.
Recommended: REI Sahara Roll Up Pants, $69.50
Kuhl Travel Pants
The Kuhl (KÜHL) brand offers a range of technical travel clothing for women, with several options in pants. Kuhl travel pants come in many fits and styles, and offer exclusive fabrics that add stretch and mobility to casual cotton style bottoms. It seems that many styles are loose or straight leg in fit, which is great for those who are expecting to hit up mountains, be more active, or just want to be wearing more comfortable clothing while in transit. One great feature we love is that the cut of their womens travel pants are lower in the front but rise and hug across the back waist for better coverage. Click here to see all Kuhl travel pants.
Recommended: Splash Straight, $79
Anatomie Travel Pants
Several women in our community ask about Anatomie travel pants and clothing because, let’s face it, the reviews are always awesome. Their specific travel pants offer fabrics that dry quickly and cuts that look flattering for ultimate versatility. But the brand is in the higher price bracket, so the questions about whether or not the their travel pants (particularly the Skyler model) are worth it. We haven’t gotten our hands on a pair of these pants just yet, but it is definitely on our to-do list. Click here to see all Anatomie travel pants.
Recommended: Skyler Pants, $225
Exofficio Travel Pants
You better believe that the same company known for its quick drying underwear also offers quick dry pants, as well as technical pants made to repel insects, the sun, and water. Choose from pants with or without cargo pants and those that zip off into shorts. Do be careful with style though as the pants can be low, mid or high in the waist. Click here to see all Exofficio travel pants.
Recommended: BugsAway Akamai Pant, $85
Encircled Travel Pants
We’ve talked about Encircled products throughout the history of HPL, and while they don’t offer “technical” travel gear per se, they do offer clothing that is ethically made and multipurpose. The two main Encircled travel pants on offer are some reversible leggings (2 colors worn long or short) and the dressy sweatpants (one pants that can be worn in multiple situations). We’ve reviewed the dressy sweatpants and can definitely recommend these for casual travel, or even business casual travel. See all Encircled travel pants.
Recommended: Dressy Sweatpants, $128
Things to Consider When Buying Travel Pants
No matter what the situation is, there are a few things you should consider when buying pants for travel.
- Where does the waist sit? If the waist sits higher or lower than your normal everyday pants, you won’t be comfortable wearing them on the road.
- Are they multi-purpose? Pants that can be worn with several shirts and in different situations are good because you can minimize what you pack.
- Will they make you stand out? You might not want to wear something that screams “tourist” in some parts of the world.
- Do they have pockets? This is personal preference, but if you like keeping things in your pockets, a pair of pants without pockets might annoy you when you’re traveling.
- What is the climate where you’re going? Khakis lined with fleece will be too warm in Thailand, and you’ll freeze at the Christmas markets if you’re wearing harem pants without tights or leggings underneath. Get the right pants for the weather you’ll encounter.
- What kinds of activities will you be doing? Jeans will be too uncomfortable for a long hiking journey, and yoga pants will be too casual for a night at the opera. Consider the types of activities you have planned for your trip.
Best Travel Pants for Women
We asked in the #HPLWorld Facebook group (have you joined yet?) about their favorite travel pants, and there were several votes for khakis, leggings or yoga pants, and harem pants. Comfort and style were important factors. Most of us don’t want to look sloppy, but we don’t want to be uncomfortable either.
The best travel pants are the ones that you are comfortable wearing and are multi-purpose. Being able to wear the same pair of pants in various situations helps you save space in your luggage. Look for pants that can be worn casual and dressed up, and make sure they’re appropriate for the weather.
What do you think are the best travel pants for women?