The Best Pants for Women

After a full summer of testing, we found great-fitting bottoms that come in short and long lengths and play just as hard as we do

5.11 gives cargo pants get a much-needed update with the Defender-Flex Slim. (Photo: Courtesy 5.11)
5.11 gives cargo pants get a much-needed update with the Defender-Flex Slim.

When it comes to women’s pants, the hip and waist fit is just the beginning. Leg length is also critical, and companies truly committed to making great-fitting pants typically offer a range of inseam sizes. Here are some trail-tested options for training, hiking, traveling, skiing, and just hanging out.

Nike Sculpt Lux ($95)

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(Photo: Courtesy Nike)

Best for: Training

Offered in: Short, Regular, Tall

Long-legged women are often forced to wear capris for running and crossfit workouts, but cold weather calls for full-length tights. These compressive training pants come in 33.5-inch versions that actually cover tall women's shins and ankles. 

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LL Bean Comfort Trail Pants ($60)

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(Photo: Courtesy L.L. Bean)

Best for: Hiking

Offered in: Petite, Regular, Tall, Plus sizes

These lightweight, quick-dry nylon pants feature a gauzy strip of sweat-mopping fabric along the waist that I found eliminates chafing. The longest length (33 inches) fits most women 5’9” and shorter. 

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Duluth Trading Co. Flexpedition Pants ($80)

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(Photo: Courtesy Duluth Trading Company)

Best for: Bike Commuting 

Offered in: Four lengths, from 29 to 35 inches 

The reflective band built inside these stretchy, water-repellant pants makes them a solid choice for cool-weather commuting. Four inseam options ensure that the articulated knee seams fall at just the right spot for maximum mobility. 

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Kuhl Mova Pant ($89)

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(Photo: Courtesy Kuhl)

Best for: Traveling 

Offered in: Three lengths, from 30 to 34 inches 

These are basically jeans built from a stretchy knit fabric, which makes them comfy loungers that can also handle light hiking. A broad range of sizes fits a lot of difference body types, including a tall size 2.

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5.11 Women’s Defender-Flex Slim Pant ($70)

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(Photo: Courtesy 5.11)

Best for: Working in the Yard

Offered in: Regular, Long

Cargo pants get a much-needed update with these skinny-fit bottoms in cotton/poly twill. A streamlined smartphone pocket on the upper thigh provides a secure and flattering garage for electronics, and the extended length (33.5 inches) suits tall women.

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Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant ($499)

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(Photo: Courtesy Arc'teryx)

Best for: Skiing and Snowboarding

Offered in: Short, Regular, Tall

Internal gaiters and durable kick patches on the cuffs can screw up the fit of alpine pants. But the Sentinel’s three inseam lengths give women way more options for a great-fitting bottom. Zippers on the outer thigh vent heat on the uphills, three-layer Gore-Tex construction sheds all kinds of weather, and a women’s-specific fit provides freedom of movement without excessive bagginess. 

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Filed To: Women’sPantsClothing and Apparel
Lead Photo: Courtesy 5.11

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