8 reasons to hike in adventure leggings
Women's mainstream outdoor apparel has its limits - we all know this.
The guys get the gnarly patterns in comfy yet durable materials. And the girls get the mauve, hip-hugging, flimsy… everything!
Most female hikers have accepted their sad reality; that it’s simply far too precious of us to demand comfortable, quick-dry, lightweight and fashionable long pants to hike in extreme weather.
And so for a long, long time, my go-to hiking attire for the bottom half has been lightweight running shorts - even in the rain. Maybe I’ll add a pair of gaiters if it’s sandy or muddy. I mean, skin is naturally water-repellent right?
But occasionally (even in Australia) you’ll find yourself hiking in Armageddon-like weather conditions; heavy and consistent rain, ice or snow and low temperatures. You might push on for a bit in shorts, telling everyone you’re fine, but then you realise that everything from your thighs down has gone numb and started tingling. You’re scratched all over and you didn’t realise that was happening because of your icicle legs. It’s a bit worrying.
So you admit defeat and head to an outdoor apparel store in search of some hiking pants, prepared for that feeling of frustrated disappointment yet again. You wander through the men’s section with its sea of rad options. Pumped for your impending purchase, you continue to the women’s hiking pants section, only to find the two underwhelming options of a charcoal and a bone-coloured generic cardboard box of a trouser staring back at you.
Outdoor hiking pants are too often rigid, scratchy and ill-fitting. And they often seem to have that awkward spot where there’s no material between your thighs, causing chaffing and general mournfulness out on the hiking track. Not to mention the vast array of very, shall we say, “unstylish” womens outdoor hiking trousers in the market.
So what do you do?
It’s time to don some adventure leggings!
Here’s 8 reasons why hiking in tights reign supreme!
# 1 They’re breathable in hot weather
Have you ever pulled on your outdoor hiking pants for a day on the track, got TEN minutes in and felt that uncomfortable slow trickle of sweat making its way down your lower back and into your undies?
That feeling when the coarse, rigid material starts to rub against your skin and it feels like your pants might just have their own little sauna ecosystem going on down there?
Well that feeling doesn’t happen to me when I hike in leggings. In fact, sometimes it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.
When choosing breathable materials, you’ll want to go for the thinner, lighter and more loosely woven variety. Moisture-wicking material like a nylon or polyester blend are your best bet when hiking in warm weather.
# 2 They’re still comfy when wet (and most dry quickly)
If it’s raining cats and donkeys, plus the mercury has plummeted, you’ll need to consider putting on some long pants.
There are two things to consider; firstly, you’ll want pants that keep you comfy in pouring rain all day, and secondly, you’ll want fabric that dries quickly when the sun comes back out.
In my experience, chucking on outdoor hiking pants in the rain can be a sweaty, hot mess. Even in cold weather.
Yeah, they do dry very quickly, but only if it’s a quick shower.
If it’s raining all day though, and especially if the terrain is physically taxing, your body temperature is going to rise and fall like the Roman Empire.
Full waterproofs will turn the inside of your pants into a living, breathing fungus colony, as they have no breathability, and hiking pants can give you heinous chafing.
Because leggings hug your skin tight, unlike hiking pants which have large air pockets between the material and your skin, they’ll keep you warmer (and you’ll have less chafing) even when everything is moist. Moist. Everyone loves that word so I wrote it twice.
# 3 They come in so many different colours and prints
No offence to outdoor hiking pants, but we’re bored. Outdoor gear for women is in urgent need of some inspiration.
Leggings are available in literally every colour that exists and it doesn’t stop there. Some companies are even getting James Brown-level funky with their designs, like these adventure leggings with Australian native botanical prints.
And even though appearances don’t matter and the body is just a vehicle etc, even the most Buddha-like will want to express ourselves creatively once in a while.
And some rainy days simply just call for a rainbow-coloured kaleidoscope rain jacket. That’s a fact.
# 4 They’re great for multi-day, lightweight hikes
If you’re into (or interested in getting into) multi-day hikes, you’ll know how important reducing pack size and weight is. Leggings are more compact and lighter than hiking pants.
The longer the hike, the more this matters, but I personally take leggings on hikes of all lengths.
You see, these babies are versatile. You can hike in them, chill by the campfire in them, and in a cold snap, you can also sleep in them for some extra warmth.
Read more: 10 Ways to Cut Backpack Weight
# 5 They’re curve-friendly
For women endowed with a larger behind (me!), outdoor hiking pants are the devil. Outdoor garment designers seem to be forever designing pants for women without bums.
But for the rest of us, the coarse and rigid fabric stretch tight across our bottoms, while the crotch can sit half way down our thighs, resulting in rubbing and chafing. Rubbing and chafing are two words you do NOT want to be hearing on a hike.
Leggings on the other hand, are stretchy, responsive and will conform to the contours of any body shape.
Gone will be the days of being punished for your womanly curves when you’re out in the bush!
# 6 You can wear them literally anywhere
I can’t think of a situation where leggings aren’t the superior clothing choice.
They’re like comfy, socially-acceptable pyjamas. The actual dream.
You probably won’t be surprised when you hear I sometimes even wear leggings all day, without doing any exercise.
But seriously, the adventure opportunities are endless… trail running, mountain biking, SUP boarding, kayaking, skiing, bouldering and climbing, canyoning… like ALL the things. A truly versatile investment. Can you imagine SUP’ing in outdoor hiking pants?
# 7 They’re WAY more affordable than ‘outdoor’ gear
For some strange reason, the large outdoor brands have the ability to raise prices to absolutely absurd levels.
Relying on their customers’ unfamiliarity with and fear of the natural environment, they convince us that we need the “outdoor” version of a particular product in order to be safe and enjoy the outdoors. They tell us that they’re the only providers of genuine and safe outdoor clothing.
And what do you do when you have a (perceived) monopoly? You raise the price of course!
Leggings, on the other hand, are versatile and affordable. And guess what… you can go outside in them too, even though you didn’t buy them from an outdoor apparel store!
# 8 This company makes sustainable adventure leggings out of recycled plastics
What can I say, I’m a millennial and a sucker for socially-conscious initiatives.
Mister Timbuktu only went to sale in the last year, after a successful crowdfunding campaign to kickstart production. It’s a tiny startup with big dreams.
I’m sure you’re all now very attuned to the fact that we have a global plastic waste epidemic that needs urgent attention. Not to mention our throwaway culture including things like fast furniture and fast fashion.
The earth has been screaming at us for a long time now, but this social movement for change has only recently begun to gain momentum.
Mister Timbuktu’s leggings are made out of 78% regenerated nylon, which is recycled plastic products - things like fishing nets and old plastic bottles. Producing regenerated nylon is so much better for the environment. Traditional nylon production uses huge amounts of water and generates a harmful gas called nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), which has 10 times the potency of carbon dioxide. By rescuing plastics from landfill, garments made from regenerated nylon are probably the future of sustainable fashion, and I reckon we should all hop aboard the sustainable train!
Read more: Mister Timbuktu: The Business Side of Things
This article was written by Ellie Keft in partnership with Mister Timbuktu in exchange for a pair of seriously beautiful leggings.
Ellie is a digital pro working in the international development sector full-time, and in the adventure tourism space as a freelancer in her free time. To keep her sane, Ellie peppers her busy work-life with outdoor adventure; anything from a weekend jaunt in the Blue Mountains, to multi-week-long treks all around the world.
Follow Ellie’s adventures on Instagram at @ellielouhere