Women’s Petite Hiking Pants: Handy Guide For a Better Fit

Petite women always seem to get shafted when it comes to hiking gear. If you aren’t between 5’4” and 5’8” your gear probably doesn’t fit correctly. Every single piece of gear you own was probably designed for someone four to five inches taller.

You don’t have to sacrifice when shopping for a new pair of petite hiking pants.  Companies are finally coming around to realize that woman of all shapes and sizes are getting out onto the trail.  You don’t have to sacrifice comfort on the trail if you go with one of the following brands that cater to petite women.

Why Do You Need Petite Hiking Gear?

Calling yourself petite is just polite way of saying you’re a little on the short side. Who came up with the measuring system and why doesn’t somebody fix it? It just doesn’t make sense why women’s jeans aren’t measured by leg length and waist size like mens are.

Petite, tall, plus sized are all just downright confusing.  How about we come up with a normal sizing strategy and quit worrying about our feelings.  Maybe there would be more clothing options available for tall and short women.

When 40% of women wear petite clothing why is it so hard to find?  Now that I’ve got that off my chest here are a few of my favorite brands that offer hiking clothing for petite women.

Best Hiking Pant Brands For Petite Women

Even average height women have a hard time finding hiking clothes.  Manufacturers are stick in their 80’s/90’s mindset that women don’t like getting out in the woods.  After extensive research trying on more pants than I can possibly count here are a few of my favorite brands.


To find pants that actually fit you’re going to have to go with one of the big name brands.  Columbia makes some of the best hiking gear on the market, but they can be a little pricey. Don’t worry it’s not that expensive compared to other camping/hiking labels.(I’ll learn how to sew before I fork over more than $100 for pants)

Being one of the largest clothing brands in the world definitely has its advantages.  There are loads of different styles to choose from and they all come in petite sizes. You might have a few less color options, but I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

Columbia Pilsner Peak Pants

These pants are perfect for just about any occasion.  They were actually designed to be worn as either pants or capris.  Just roll up the pants and tuck your strap in the little loop.

I know what you’re thinking, convertible pants they must be ugly!  Are they the cutest pair of pants I own? No absolutely not, but they honestly don’t look all that bad.  Thighs are a bit snug for my athletic legs, but other than that these pants look fantastic.

Just remember that these aren’t heavy duty hiking pants. Columbia designed them to be lightweight and breathable for those 65+ degree days. They are available in like 12 different colors so there will definitely be a pair you like.

Columbia Saturday Trail Pant

Columbia’s Saturday Trail Pant are the most versatile pants in their lineup. Personally I like the long version, but you can also buy zip-offs shorts and Knee Pants. Or you could just roll the regular pants up into capris.

These are the pants you see at every outdoor store across the country. Waterproof, breathable and stain resistant these are the perfect pair of hiking pants.

They are designed to stretch as you move for an extremely comfortable feel. If you aren’t comfortable in these pants I don’t know what to tell you.


If you’ve been hiking or backpacking for a while you’ve probably made your way into a REI store. They have literally anything you could possibly need under one roof.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the REI brand clothing. Most of their stuff is priced similar to Columbia, but you can get some real discounts towards the end of the season.

I picked up a couple pairs of their convertible hiking pants last november and I absolutely love them. They’re the only company that understands women need pockets too. With breathable fabrics and nice deep pockets these REI Co-Op Sierra Pants are well worth a look.

Finding The Right Size

Finding the right pants length is difficult for us short legged gals. If you are under 5’4″ tall you probably have a hard time fitting into normal hiking clothes. We’ve all been fooled into buying that oversized pack that supposedly “fits just right” or pants that we just need to get hemmed.

Do yourself a favor and just buy pants that fit right the first time. You’ll end up trying to wear those pants that were a little too long and tripping on all that excess material.

How Should Petite Hiking Pants Fit?
  1. Your pant legs should come down over the tops of your boots. Shorter than that and you’ll get debris down in your boots and longer will surely snag on something and wear out prematurely.
  2. They need to cover the back of your boots without dragging on the ground or bunching up. You shouldn’t have to hike them up your butt crack to get them off the ground.
  3. Remember that hiking pants are extremely comfortable so you will definitely wear them off the trail. You don’t want to be tripping on them in a pair of sandals.
What if You’re Under 5 Feet Tall?

If you are under five feet tall or wear pants labeled as “extra short” you’re pretty much screwed. You could probably get away with wearing regular short/petite pants, but you might want to take them to a tailor.

Shouldn’t cost you more than $10 dollars to get your pants hemmed. I’ve always been able to get a discount when I bring in 5 or 6 pairs at a time.

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