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Leggings for Hiking in Cold Weather

Leggings for Winter Hiking

The beauty of winter hiking is that it doesn’t require much gear to get out the door, unlike most other winter activities. But when you’re venturing out in the cold, it’s important to wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Here are our team member’s picks for the Best Leggings for Winter Hiking.

These leggings all pair wonderfully with our favorite winter outdoorsy dresses too!

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Layering Tips for Winter Hiking

If you live in a cool or cold climate, the proper layering system is key for an enjoyable day on the trail. Proper layers not only keep you comfortable, but safe if the weather changes quickly.

Baselayer

Start with a sweat-wicking sports bra (my favorite is the Lululemon Like A Cloud Bra and many team members also love the AC Sports Bra).

Add in a wicking baselayer top such as the Iksplor Women’s Baselayer Top to keep you warm and dry (use code MTNMAMA20* for 20% off). Its NOT just for nursing mamas, by the way!

Don’t forget a good pair of wool or synthetic hiking socks! We love Darn Tough socks for the whole family.

Midlayer

Next is the mid-layer, whose job it is to retain body heat and protect you from the cold. My favorite mid-layer top is the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap T Fleece Pullover. Depending on the weather, you might be warm enough with just a base and a mid layer.

On extra cold days (or just in case the day turns colder), it’s always smart to bring along a puffy jacket too. I recommend the Women’s Torrid for maximum warmth and minimum weight.

Outer Layer or Shell

For a very cold or blustery day the last layer is the outer layer or shell, which protects you from the wind, rain or snow. This can be a technical shell jacket such as the Stio Women’s Raymer Jacket or a rain jacket, which is a much less expensive option.

Bottoms

The kind of leggings or pants you choose obviously depends on the climate. If it’s cold and you plan to exert yourself at all you should never wear cotton leggings. They may be comfortable at first, but as soon as you start to sweat you’ll find your self freezing. And cold buns = no fun!

On a chilly day with no or moderate wind, the Title 9 Decathalon Leggings or Nike Therma-Fit Leggings would be a great choice. Both of these options offer a thicker weight legging without being over-the-top warm.

On a cold and windy day, my go-to are the Title 9 Crash 2.0 Polartech tights, which are soft and fleecy on the inside and thick enough to block the wind. The Smartwool Merino Wind Tight is another great option for those blustery days.

If it’s very cold and or very snowy, you want something that will keep you warm, block the wind and keep the snow from creeping in. Look no further than the Title 9 Cold Killer’s (available in lengths) or Snow Slayer’s. On really cold days, you can layer either with a base layer.

All of these options (and many more) have been tested by the TMM Team and we give our honest opinions below.

The Best Leggings for Winter Hiking

Leggings that are great for winter hiking should be warm, durable, wicking

Winter Leggings Comparison

Some of the options in the post were gifted to us so that we could test them out, but as always we tell you exactly what we tell all of our friends.

Thick Leggings for Milder Winter Hiking

Daily Decathalon Leggings

Woman in a walking pose wearing Daily Decathalon Legging

I LOVE the weight of the the Daily Decathalon Leggings. They have a very thick, heavy feel to them which makes me feel cozy and “tucked in”. They have lots of pockets for carrying all the things.

These are not necessarily fleece lined hiking leggings, but just a heavier weight legging.

I would recommend sizing down to avoid the dreaded crotch sag and also because they run pretty long (although i’m 5’4 so most pants are too long on me).

Eighth Day 2.0 Tights

Person standing to model the Eighth Day Tights

While the Eighth Day Tights may not be the warmest tights in the line-up, they are still thick, warm and full of great structure.

The pants stay up and fit with a high waist, which I love. They’re super easy to dress up or down.

As far as hiking, they won’t be as durable as some of the others, but still a huge favorite!

Unlikely Hiking Tights

Backside of a women wearing the Unlikely Hiking Tights

The Unlikely Hiking Tights are a stretchy, abrasion resistant tight that will slay all the winter hiking trails.

The high-waisted leggings feature one waist pocket, and two side pockets. While these are not technically a winter tight, they are a thicker material which will keep you warm on mild winter days.

Fleece Lined Hiking Leggings

Athleta Altitude Tight in Polartec® Power Stretch®

A front, standing view of a person wearing the Athleta Polartech Leggings

The Athleta Altitude Polartech Tights fit snug (no crotch sag), have a high-rise waist that stays in place, and best of all – they come in lengths!

I LOVE the Athelta Polartech fleece leggings since they fit snugly, have a great high rise for comfort and come in lengthss. I am 5’3″ and this is huge for me since most leggings end up long on me.

TMM Founder Amelia Mayer

Crash 2.0 Polartec® Tights

The back side standing view of a person in the Crash 2.0 Polartech Tights

If I could recommend just one pair of leggings for winter hiking, this would be it. They are the warmest leggings for hiking.

The Crash 2.0 Polartech Tights are fleecy soft and smooth on the inside, with a stretchy, wind-blocking exterior. It really is everything you could ever ask for in a winter legging.

If you have had a pair of these in the past, the sizing has changed over the years. Amelia has had some from 3 of the past 4 years and this year fits the best, by far!

Note, they do run slightly large, so size down if between sizes.

The mid-rise waistband stays in place with no crotch sag. There is a zipper pocket big enough for keys and a cell phone. And they wick sweat like a beast! These are plenty warm enough on their own, or they could be layered under shell pants on an exceptionally freezing day.

Woman walking in the fall season wearing Crash Polartech Tights
Sarah wearing the Crash tights.

Nike Pro Therma-Fit Leggings

Side view of a person standing, wearing the Nike Pro Thermafit Leggings

The Nike Pro Therma-Fit Leggings provide a nice, warm layer that doesn’t limit your range of motion or feel bulky once you start moving. These are also an excellent layer under snowpants or a waterproof shell-type pant.

They also come in a wide range of sizes, which we love!

The fit is snug but I’ve found these to be comfortable. I think they’re a great option for someone who tends to warm up fast  and wants a layer that’s easy to move around in and also someone looking for a budget friendly option.

TMM Team Member Stephanie Johnson

Otta Polartec® Tights

Model standing wearing the Otta Tights

The pants were designed by T9 Movers & Makers Pitchfest Winner Mallory Ottariano, whose new company is called Youer.

The Otta Tights are high-waisted and lined with fleecy soft polartech, which will surely keep you warm and help block the wind on those winter hikes.

And in case you already have a closet full of black leggings (like me), the fun print, Mallory’s own artwork, will help you stand out on the trail.

Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight

A stock image of the Smartwool Wind Legging

The Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tights are Team Member Jami’s favorite winter running and hiking leggings, and a great pick if you prefer wool over synthetic materials.

These are my go to winter running pants. I love the wind panel on the front and soft merino on the inside. They are warm and breathable. I also love that these can be worn many sweaty times before they need a wash thanks to the merino!

TMM Team Member Jami Rogers

Wool Hiking Leggings for Women

Ridge Merino Ediza Merino Fleece Tights

I love these leggings both for layering and for wearing under skirts or dresses for hiking. They are a 7/8 length, fit true to size and come in sizes XS – XL. They also have a high rise waist and stay put – no sag or bunching.

“Partnering with Polartec®, this features a Power Wool™ fleece, a patented bi-component knit fabric that combines the best of both natural and synthetic fibers.”

These are more fleece and less wool (47%) than the leggings below, and very warm and cozy.

WoolX Duralite Stella Leggings

A person standing wearing the WoolX Duralite Stella Leggings.

These leggings are a wool blend (85% wool) and can be worn on their own (no see-through!) or layered under hiking skirts or shell wind-resistant pants. They are thick and don’t sag or bunch.

They also come in a wide range of sizes and regular and tall lengths. Fit true to size.

I have two pair and rarely wear anything else all winter and often on those chilly days in the shoulder seasons. They are thick and so comfortable. High rise and a thick band so they don’t dig in. Perfect for under an insulated skirt when I’m out and about or under my snow pants when exploring more of doing homestead chores. Tuck nicely into my xtratufs without bunching at the ankle. 🙂 we were in the mid 30’s all weekend and I was perfect without any other layers.

Sue Knoth, TMM community member

Winter Hiking Pants that are just as cozy as leggings

Alpine Air Polartec® Joggers

Person standing, hand in pocket, wearing the Alpine Air Joggers

The Alpine Air joggers are a loose fitting jogger pant with a very warm, very durable feel. If you’re looking for a more relaxed winter hiking pant that can double as an everyday jogger, these fit the bill.

The outside fabric is abrasion resistant, which initially felt a little stiff on my legs. The stiffness has decreased after a couple of washings, and I can deal with it because these joggers are so warm. I wore these on a blustery 12 degree F. walk with a girlfriend and her legs were freezing, and I was toasty.

The waist is low to mid-rise, sitting much lower than your typical leggings. These are a more relaxed fit and the inseam is great for shorter folks (a Medium has a 28″ inseam). I suggest ordering your regular size in these.

Cold Killer 2.0 Pants

Woman in hiking boots wearing the Cold Killer Pants

The Cold Killer 2.0’s are technically pants – not leggings – but I promise you they are just as comfy as leggings! They are a winter pant that’s soft, stretchy and warm. The front of the pants is a thicker, windproof softshell material while the back is a thinner nylon.

When I first tried these I thought my butt would get cold because of the thinner fabric, but as long as i’m moving and not doing any sitting down my buns stay toasty in these pants.

There is a calf-zip with reflective accents. My favorite feature is the loose drawstring waistband. It’s delightful and not tight at all.

These run true to size, and also come in lengths. I have worn these on winter hikes, cross country skiing and shoveling snow and they are comfortable and warm.

Woman hiking in the snow pulling a chariot stroller wearing the Cold Killer pants
Team Member Jami wearing the Cold Killer Pants.

Cowgirl Tuff Work Hard Play Hard Pants

Side view of a person wearing boots and the Cowgirl Tuff Pants

This is not a traditional hiking company, but the Cowgirl Tuff Pants are awesome for hiking or being active in cooler temps. Team Member Domo got these as a comfortable fall/winter chore pant.

They’re stretchy, the inner microfiber lining is super soft so feels warm, the pants are somewhat water resistant & the length is customizable w scissors since the material doesn’t fray when cut.

Woman standing in the snow wearing the Cowgirl Tuff pants.
Team Member Domo wearing the Cowgirl Tuff Work Hard Play Hard Pants.

Snow Slayer 2.0 Pants

Back side view of the Snow Slayer Pants

The Snow Slayer 2.0 Pants are like the big sister to the Cold Killer pants. They offer the same relaxed fit, but they have a softshell front, butt and lower leg area. These would be great for hiking or cross country skiing on very cold days.

The only bummer is that they do not come in lengths and more limited sizes (hint, hint T9!!)

The wide waistband is mid-rise and there’s a drawstring to cinch these up just right. The calf zippers fit over most snow boots and they make pulling up your socks a breeze.

Woman posing in front of a mountain lake wearing the Snow Slayer 2.0 Pants
TMM Friend Natasha Buffo staying warm in her Snow Slayer 2.0 Pants. Photo credit: Katie Hanft.

Warm Leggings for Hiking

Winter hiking can be a truly amazing adventure. You hardly need any gear to get out the door and once you out there, trails are way less busy than in the summer.

Just don’t let the simplicity of winter hiking fool you into not being properly dressed. With the right pair of winter leggings (and of course baselayers, shell, socks, etc.) you’ll stay warm and dry on your winter hike.

Related Articles:

Best Leggings for Hiking in the Winter

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