The 3 Best Travel Pants for Women: Functional, Cute, & Field-Tested

Travel jeans. Hiking pants. Travel lounge wear. The 3 best travel pants for women - tried and tested!

 Finding the perfect pair of women’s travel pants is no easy feat. But finding a pair of travel pants that are both functional AND cute? How about functional, cute, AND sized to fit on my tall, curvy Amazonian body? HA! Forget about it. How dare I have such unreasonable expectations?!

But guess what? After trying on, returning, trying on again, and field-testing like crazy, I’ve found 3 absolutely amazing pairs of travel pants for women. They’ve changed my packing game, and I’m about to change yours.

Is it me, or do women’s travel pants generally suck?

Browse the womens’ travel pants section in your local outdoor outfitter and you’ll find roughly 4 main categories of terrible travel trousers (TTT for short, trademark pending):

✔️ There are the quick dry pants that convert to the most hideous shorts you’ve ever seen.

✔️ There are the hiking pants that look like they’re still storing the 90’s in their massive cargo pockets.

✔️ There are the ladies’ travel pants that are actually just mens’ pants but with the word “ladies’” in the title, as if that’s supposed to fool me enough to overlook my cameltoe and that uncomfortable pull across my hips.

✔️ And then there are the women’s’ travel jeans, which are exactly like regular womens’ jeans: thin and stretchy, with teeny tiny pockets that hold roughly ½ of a chapstick and 3 dimes, and  end up shredded to pieces after a good 5 minutes of inner thigh rub/walking.

Needless to say, shopping for travel pants is right down on the bottom on my list of favorite things to do alongside root canal and being rescued off of waterfalls while having a panic attack (I speak from experience, unfortunately).

I can't believe it's October already. I've been looking through old photos, like our wedding photos (which we haven't actually looked through yet, because we're the worst) and our travel pictures from the past year … and it's like looking at someone else's life. I'm basically Instagram stalking myself. Who was this girl? How the heck did she go to all of these places?! Is this just some weird photoshopped practical joke?! I can hardly believe that we spent an ENTIRE YEAR traveling. That's insane. Who are we?! . Coming back after a year of travel is weird. I figured it would be bittersweet. I anticipated it would be difficult to settle back down. But you can never imagine just what it will be like until here you are, and it hits you in the face: everything's different. . I think what I didn't really account for was how different *I* would be after this year. For one thing, I'm entirely confused about what I want to do with my life, which is a new thing for me: before we left, I'spent 5 years working on advancing a career which I was perfectly happy with. And now I'm like, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to just like, blog for a living?" . I think the old me would smack the new me in the face with my career-specific bachelor's degree and tell me to get back to work. . Have you ever woken up one morning and decided to throw away something you'd worked HARD to achieve, just to chase after another dream? I'd love to hear your story! Drop me a comment. .

A post shared by Lia & Jeremy (@practicalwanderlust) on

In the past, my solution has been DIY: I sewed in pockets (even hidden pockets!), I added chub-rub patch protection, I hemmed, I repaired. It’s a great way to actually use that fashion design degree I paid a zillion dollars for, but it’s frustrating. I don’t want to have to sew my own pairs of pants just to have good pants.

But! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. After literally years of searching, trying on, She-Hulking my way out of inaccurately labelled jeans, and field-testing, I’ve found 3 pairs of the best travel pants for women, which serve 3 completely distinct purposes.

With these 3 travel pants, you can actually have your pant situation covered. Like, you’re good. This is it. Packing is done. Like maybe throw in a dress or whatever, but pants? Check.

I know, I know: it’s too good to be true, right? But y’all, I’m on my soapbox and I am speaking from EXPERIENCE.

READ THIS POST
25 Things Nobody Tells You About Traveling While Fat

As a full time travel blogger, I’ve logged a LOT of hours in these miracle pants, including a year-long honeymoon, city breaks, jungle treks, mountain hikes, and even the aforementioned waterfall repelling disaster (I was wearing pant #2).

These 3 ladies’ travel pants have proved themselves. They fit on my 5’10”, size 12-14ish size body, they function as promised, and they feel amazing. With these 3 pants in my pack, I can go anywhere (cue Reading Rainbow soundtrack).

With these 3 pairs of pants, I don’t even have that oh-god-get-me-out-of-these-leg-prisons feeling you get when you arrive home from work and disrobe .5 steps into your door.

I even wore JEANS ON A PLANE once. You guys. Jeans on a plane. Not yoga pants. Not leggings. JEANS. It was a lot like snakes on a plane, except with less Samuel L. Jackson and more me drooling onto my husband’s shoulder in a comfy jean-induced nap.

So, are you ready to have your world turned upside down and your legs encased in travel-ready, pocketed fabric heaven? Without further rambling, here are the 3 best travel pants for women.


The Best Women’s Travel Jeans

I recently discovered these travel jeans from Aviator USA, and my one great regret in life is that it took 28 years for us to become acquainted. Because I am full on OBSESSED with them. Love can come in the form of a good pair of jeans, and for me, these are The Ones.

What makes these travel jeans so incredibly wonderful? Let me count the ways…

✔️ They have front pockets that are actual human sized.

None of that BS “this pocket will fit 1 key and 4 tic-tacs” crap. I have a LOT of angry feelings about the lack of pockets in women’s clothing and how it’s a sexist, patriarchal conspiracy designed to sell more purses, but I won’t get into that here.

What I will say is this: I can fit my giant phone in the front (FRONT) pocket of my Aviator USA jeans. I can fit my whole hand, up to my cute travel watch-covered wrist. I can sit down with my phone in my pocket, and it doesn’t pop out and fall on the floor like I’ve just given birth to a phone from my hip. If I had an iPhone, I think it would actually fit in the “coin pocket,” which is the size of most jean pockets on inferior jeans.

My Aviator USA travel jean pockets are as big as the pockets on all of my husband’s jeans, and I’m angry that I even HAVE to celebrate that, but I’m celebrating it anyway.

This weekend, something happened to me that has not happened for a very long time. I wrote a blog post, hit publish, and felt … not excitement, not thrill, not the usual motivation to get my writing in front of as many people as I can … but fear. This weekend, I published something that addressed an intensely personal and touchy issue … not just for me, but for millions of people in the world. An issue that seems to rile people up, both in support and denunciation. I was half curious to see what the response would be, and half terrified of it. Frankly, I braced myself for the haters. But wow, I was so wrong. Haters did not come. I'm still waiting. I'm actually shocked. I posted an article about what it's like to travel as a fat woman, and I got … support! Thanks! Relief! Comments letting me know that my experiences were shared, comments thanking me for speaking candidly and unashamedly about experiences that are shared by many. I braced for the worst, but what I got was an incredible outpouring of self-love and acceptance. Y'all, it was amazing. You are amazing. Thank you so much. I'm already looking ahead to publishing more about the experience of traveling while fat, and I'm STOKED to see what the response will be next time. Ps – if you haven't read my post yet, the link is in my bio! #WomenWhoExplore #GirlsvsGlobe #GirlsWhoTravel #DameTraveler #wearetravelgirls #girlsjustwannatravel #sheisnotlost #girlslovetravel #ladiesgoneglobal #myboldtravelmoment #femaletravelbloggers #GirlsWanderlust #wanderingwomen #girlsvsglobe #OpenMyWorld #LovetoTravel #fatgirlstraveling #flashesofdelight #DarlingEscapes #lovetotravel #kissfromtheworld #travelpassage #wearetravelgirls #WeTheDreamSeekers #letsgetlost #travelblogger #tasteintravel #exploringtheglobe #theglobewanderer #plussizetravel

A post shared by Lia & Jeremy (@practicalwanderlust) on

✔️ That have back sized pockets that are roomy AF, + a hidden zippered back pocket.

As a result of living my life deprived of functional front pockets, I’ve developed a back pocket habit. And the back pockets on my Aviator USA jeans are fantastically large. Plus, one of them has a cool hidden zippered pocket that is ALSO fantastically large. That’s 2 pockets in 1 pocket. Pocket-ception!

Also, the hidden pocket is actually hidden: the zipper is tucked underneath the back pocket flap, so you can’t see it even when I sit down, bend over, or twerk. Meaning pick-pockets can eff off forever, and also that I can twerk/use the bathroom without worrying that my credit card, license, or transit card is going to fall out of my back pocket, never to be seen again.

✔️ They have 6 7 pockets that are all actually useful.

I know, I know, I’m obsessed with pockets. But can you blame me?! There are 6 7 of them in these jeans, and they’re all big enough to actually hold stuff!!!!!!!! This is life-changing. Screw you, Patriarchy!

Edited to add: literally just discovered ANOTHER pocket while I was putting these on this morning. It was zipped and hidden in a front pocket. It took me 2 weeks to find. THAT. IS. AMAZING.

My Aviator USA jeans are my new fave jeans, and the best women's travel jeans! Check out how deep my hand is in my front pocket, you guys. AMAZING.
My Aviator USA jeans are my new fave jeans, and the best women’s travel jeans! Check out how deep my hand is in my front pocket, you guys. AMAZING.

✔️ They’re stretchy and soft.

The fabric of my black Aviator USA jeans is buttery soft and super stretchy, in a way that makes them insanely comfy and perfectly fitted, but not in the kind of way that makes my cheap stretchy jeans fall down when I walk too fast or do something athletic, like crossing my legs.

✔️ They come long, but are easily tailored.

The 2 colors of Aviator USA jeans only come in 1 length (because it’s a small company) and I’m happy to report that it’s long enough for my 5’10” height. For shorter ladies, the jeans are hemmed in a way that makes them easily tailored. Tailoring costs like $10 and you don’t even need to find a ~tailor: you can literally just walk into a Men’s Wearhouse and use their in-house tailor. Yes, ladies, The Men’s Wearhouse tailors women’s jeans too. Full disclosure: I am a former employee. RIP, my sweet tailoring discount.

READ THIS POST
The Ultimate Guide to Makeup & Beauty for Backpacking

The first week I owned my black Aviator USA jeans, I wore them 5/7 days. I took them on a weekend trip. I wore them on the plane. I wore them all day as we explored freezing cold, rainy Seattle – not only did they keep my legs cozy and warm, but they dried quickly, too.  I carried a bunch of stuff in my pockets, I looked cute AF, and I was incredibly comfortable. That’s it. I’m sold. I’m throwing out all of my other jeans. These are bae.

You can get a pair of black jeans (my personal favorites) or a pair of indigo jeans (which are slightly less buttery & stretchy, in my experience) on the Aviator USA website.

Shop Women’s Travel Jeans at Aviator USA


The Best Hiking Pants for Women

I’m not strictly a city traveler. I’m also an outdoorsy traveler, who loves nature and the occasional adrenaline rush (in moderation). For all of my adventure/hiking/outdoorsy travel needs, I bring my prAna Halle Pants. They’re designed for hiking, climbing, exploring, running, jumping, butt-scooting, knee-hitting, and white-water rafting. I know this because I’ve done all of the above in my Halle pants, and other than a popped button that I quickly sewed back on with my trusty travel sewing kit, they’ve survived completely intact.

Let me gush about these pants a lil’ bit and tell you why I love them so much.

✔️ They’re highly technical: super stretchy, quick-dry, moisture-wicking, breathable, reinforced, and water repellent.

Hiking & trekking pants are about function first and foremost, and the prAna Halle pant nails function. When we were hiking the Quilotoa Loop in the Andes in Ecuador, we got lost a zillion times and I ended up crawling up a mountain on my hands and knees. I’d made the mistake of wearing leggings, which ended up full of tiny holes and tiny itchy things stuck in the fabric for the rest of my 10-hour long hike. But the next day, I wore my Halle pants: no holes, no irritating stickers, no problems.

In addition to a reinforced knee and technically designed fabric that lets your skin breathe even when you’re sweating, the pants are water-repellent. Now, they aren’t water proof – then they wouldn’t be very breathable, so that’s a good thing – but I’ve worn these in the rain, under a waterfall, and during a white-water rafting trip and even after getting soaking wet, they dry within an hour. Quick dry pants? Check!

Oh, and they’re also super stretchy and incredibly comfortable.

✔️ They are actually cute. Like, for real.

Most women’s hiking pants are hideous and make me want to hide in the wilderness while I’m wearing them. But my Halle pants are legit cute. Like, I’ve actually worn them to work in a corporate office setting, as business-casual pants. I was so comfortable all day! The legs are fully flared at the bottom, not that weird sort-of-skinny-but-kinda-straight mom jeans look that I absolutely cannot pull off. prAna does have a slim fit hiking pant, but the flare on the Halle pant is actually functional, becauusseeee….

✔️ They can be converted from long pants to short pants.

NO, they’re not zip-offs. And NO, they don’t look hideous after you convert them. The flared bottom rolls up easily into a cuff that ends above or below your knee, for a cute cuffed capri length pant. Personally, I have massive calves, as do most hikers and bikers and athletic folks, and I cannot imagine rolling a skinny pant all the way up to my knee. But the flare makes it so that these roll up perfectly. And the cuff doesn’t fall down, either: there are 2 little tabbed snaps to hold it in place all day long.

✔️ There’s a hidden zip pocket.

The front pockets on these pants aren’t huge, but the back pockets are fine – and snap closed – and there’s a conveniently placed hidden zip pocket.. It’s a few inches above the knee, sewn into the side seam. It’s just big enough for an ID or some emergency cash – put anything too bulky in there and it stops being hidden. But I like that it’s in an unusual spot, because most pick-pockets would never think to look around my knees.

✔️ They come in 3 inseams and 18 waist sizes, with a waist tie.

I love that these pants come in short, regular, and tall, as well as sizes 0-18 for all heights and sizes of badass female travelers! I also love there is a waist tie, because some days I’m a 12 and some days I’m a 14 and sometimes I’m even smaller, depending on the amount of water I’ve drank and my cycle and a whole bunch of other random things. Having a waist tie helps keep my pants up even on days where my weight is fluctuating.

The prAna Halle pant comes in several colors, which is news to me because I got mine several years ago. I really, REALLY want a pair in black and grey now. Anyway, you can pick a pair up on Amazon or directly from prAna.

Shop prAna Halle Pants on Amazon

Just look at all these colors:


The Best Travel Lounge Pants for Women

Travel lounge pants? …what? Look, this one took me by surprise too. I didn’t buy my Ex Officio BugsAway Quietude Pants expecting to fall head over heels in love with them. I mean, we all have hella yoga pants and loungewear at home already. Why would I need another one, JUST for traveling? That seems really superfluous.

Well, these are worth it. Here’s why.

✔️ They’re lightweight and packable. Most sweatpants are bulky and heavy.

They take up half the size of your pack, and they’re too warm to wear in hot climates. But the Quietude pants roll up into a normal pant-sized roll (y’all roll your pants, right? If not, I just changed your packing game forever). They’re warm on chilly nights – we tested them out in the Andes in Peru and Ecuador, which is hella cold at night – but they’re also just lightweight enough for all but the hottest climates. Plus, you can push the legs up and make cute capri-length jogger style pants in you’re not feeling the full length sweatpant thing.

✔️ They’re coated with Permethrin to repel bugs while you lounge or sleep.

Permethrin is an invisible, odorless bug repellent that bonds to fabric while leaving your skin blissfully bug-repellent free, even after you wash your clothes. While you’re chillin’ in a hammock or sleeping in bed, your pants are hard at working repelling mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and no-see-ums. Yasss! We LOVE Permethrin, and we bought this bottle to coat all of our clothing before we left for our trip to South America.

✔️ They’re breathable, moisture-wicking, and have a drawstring.

These are TRAVEL lounge pants, so they have travel pant features, of course! I haven’t personally hiked in my Ex Officio pants, but I can say from experience sleeping in hammocks in coastal, muggy Colombia that my skin stayed blissfully cool and dry (AND protected from bugs) all night.  The drawstring helps me not have that sweatpant butt-sag thing, and keeps these pants up where they belong instead of falling down while I’m wandering through hostels or airports late at night.

✔️ As far as lounge pants and joggers go, they’re pretty cute!

I mean, if you can pull off athleisure or joggers, you can pull these off. I’ve definitely worn them on airplanes and trains and not felt like a complete shlub. They’ve got a flattering harem-pant fit, which is trendy in a “I’m definitely still a lounge pant” kind of way.

READ THIS POST
What Not to Pack for Long Term Travel: 10 Things We Wish We Did & Didn't Pack

✔️ They have decent sized pockets, AND a hidden zip pocket.

Pockets are all that matter to me in life, and these fit the bill. If your hostel is shady AF, zip your ID into your pocket and just sleep with it. Or stick your phone in your pocket while you’re shuffling around late at night. Whatevs. The pockets are there for you when you need them, which is more than I can say for my leggings, workout pants, and 99% of my other clothes.

You can pick up a pair of Ex Officio BugsAway Quietude Pants on Amazon.

Shop Ex Officio BugsAway Quietude Pants on Amazon


Hopefully, I haven’t scared you off by now with my rabid pocket obsession. But like, it’s not just me, right?! Is anyone else BEYOND fed up with the lack of pockets in women’s clothing?

If you’ve struggled finding travel pants, vent to me in the comments! What are your frustrations? What are your concerns? What questions can I answer for you about these 3 best travel pants for women?

FOLLOW US!
     

Hey, if you found this post useful, save it for later on Pinterest!
Travel jeans. Hiking pants. Travel lounge wear. The 3 best travel pants for women - tried and tested! #WhattoPack #TravelTips #TravelPants


READ THIS POST
What to Pack for South America: 32 Backpacking Essentials

Disclosure: This post was partially sponsored by Aviator USA, and I received a complimentary pair of jeans to review. However, all comments, raves, pocket obsessions, and decades-out-of-date pop culture references are completely my own. I actually legit love the jeans, and my opinion was not influenced by our partnership. The other 2 pants I purchased on my own in preparation for our year-long honeymoon.

Also, I’ve included affiliate links for each of the 3 travel pants, and if you purchase through my links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for using our links!

Join 50,000 monthly readers!

Like what you're reading? Subscribe! We'll send you some of our most ridiculous travel stories, plus monthly newsletters whenever there's something new & exciting happening.

We'll only send you content that doesn't suck. But you can unsubscribe whenever you like! Powered by ConvertKit

Hey, I’m Lia! I’m a Kentucky native living in San Francisco. I’m extremely practical and also entirely addicted to travel, which I’m forever trying to reconcile. If I had a patronus, it would a spreadsheet. Or a llama. Possibly a llama creating a spreadsheet. I’m married to Jeremy and I’m obsessed with him and it’s super gross, unless you’re us, in which case it’s the best.

14 Comment

  1. These all look great! My husband has Bluffworks pants and they’re so perfect for travel (and hiking, work, going out, and everything else), and I’m super jealous they don’t make a women’s version. Will have to look into one of these!

    1. That’s exactly how I feel about Outliers! My husband has their shorts and they function as both cute/active shorts AND swimwear. I’m so jealous!

  2. The prAna pair is going on my wishlist!

  3. Teresa says: Reply

    Not only did your post make me chuckle, these trousers sound amazing! Why is it so hard to find trousers that fit well, look good and are super comfy? Thanks for sharing your finds! Making a note! 🙂

  4. I seriously talk shit about how bad womens outdoor/travel pants are. Why are they so narrow? Does no one else have an ass? I do like the Halle pant from prana but need to check out the jeans you mentioned. I had no idea about these ex officio pants! I’m getting these immediately.

    1. RIGHT?! Like, y’all know that not all outdoorsy/travel loving women are tiny, right? Hiking gives you leg muscles for DAYSSSSS, including that poppin’ booty! I mean, that’s not why *I* happen to have such a curvaceous lower half, but whatever. Hope you like the pants as much as I do!

  5. This is great! I’m always looking for new comfy but stylish pants to wear while travelling! I’ll have to check out each of these brands. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

  6. Leigh says: Reply

    Great tip on Mens’ Wearhouse – I’m 5’2″ and even petite pants sometimes require hemming! Definitely going to check out the Aviator jeans, already a big fan of Prana and ExOfficio!

  7. Mom of 2 boys says: Reply

    I had to laugh all through this post about your pocket obsession. I totally agree- traditional women’s pants are terrible with pockets! I have two small boys and constantly need to hold rocks, pinecones (ouch), matchbox cars and other “essentials” not to mention a phone, Kleenex, etc. I have a 10 year old pair of Eddie Bauer cargo shorts. Absolutely unattractive but oh so functional with yes! a zippered pocket!! They are threadbare but I will keep wearing them until I find a “suitable” replacement….and you may have done that. Love the post— I’ll be a follower now!

    1. LOL you totally get me! I definitely have a few pairs of pants that were threadbare … several years ago, but I love them so much that they’re just held together entirely with sewed-on patches and hope at this point. Good pants are hard to find!

  8. Susan says: Reply

    Yes, I have ordered the Prana pants, but there are a lot of complaints about the small pockets. What gives?

    1. Hmmm that’s a good point – the Prana pant has LOTS of pockets, but they aren’t very BIG (at least not like the Aviator jeans, which are luscious and huge). The front pockets are your typical too-small lady-pocket size, the back pockets are big enough for a phone or wallet, and the hidden zip pocket is just the right size for a credit card. It’s definitely not those cargo-pant style hiking pants that you can put everything in. I still recommend them, though. I typically have a hydration pack or daybag when I hike for snacks etc, but the Prana Halle pant pockets are big enough for pocket things like a point and shoot camera, phone, lip balm, etc.

      Unless of course, they’ve changed the design and made the pockets smaller since I bought these a couple years back – please report back!

  9. Susan B. says: Reply

    I bought the Prana Halle pants in size 10, short. The length was too long (easily fixed) but the rise is miniature. I usually can wear low-rise pants and the waistband is at my waist. It is so short that there’s no way to hold them up, unless with a too-tight drawstring. By the time I realized that was true, I had washed and hemmed them, so they are unreturnable. If you don’t like low-rise, you won’t like these. Also, the buttons (yes, two, arranged vertically) are very hard to both do up and open. If I were to keep them, I’d find another way to fasten them. The fabric seems good: just order them in the right size!

    1. Hi Susan, I’m so sorry to hear that! Hmm, my size 12’s aren’t low-rise … they hit me right around my belly button. I do have to use the drawstring to keep them there, though. I reallllly hope they haven’t changed the fit since I bought mine! Think I’ll go to REI and try a few on just to make sure.

Leave a Reply