Sometimes it feels like the hardest part about traveling is figuring out what to pack. From shoes to shirts to electronics to travel pants… how much should you bring? How much should you buy? What materials should you look for?
And if you’re like me, you want to be versatile on your travels: ready to explore the city one day and hike off into the mountains the next. This guide will specifically focus on the best travel pants for men and women.
Every pair of pants on this list is comfortable, versatile, and affordable. No need to go out and spend your travel fund money before you even take off because preparing for a trip doesn’t mean you need to buy a new wardrobe!
That said, it does help to have a few key pieces that work for a variety of situations. Through a lot of trial and error, I have nailed down the best travel pants, shoes, coat, and bag for my personal travels. (Well, almost.)
In this guide, I’ll cut through the bull shit and sift through the latest trends and technology to bring you a shortlist of the best travel pants, period.
I’ll also focus on the best travel pants for long flights. I mean, we’ve all been there – uncomfortable in our too tight for flight jeans.
Read on for my favorite travel pants picks, from leggings to hiking pants to trousers to the best harem pants… Pick 2-3 and you’re ready to head off on your next adventure!
Quick Answer: These are the Best Travel Pants of 2020
#1 Harem Pants – Most Versatile and Overall Best Travel Pants for Women
#2 Craghoppers – Most Versatile and Overall Best Travel Pants for Men
#3 PrAna Brion Pants – Best Casual Travel Pants for Men
#4 PrAna Halle Pants – Best Travel “Jeans” for Women
#5 Kuhl Free Radikl Pants – Best Travel Pants for Men (Runner-Up)
#6 PrAna Momento Aire Leggings – Best Leggings for Travel
#7 Icebreaker 200 Oasis (Merino Wool) – Best Travel Pants for the Cold for Men
#8 Smartwool Merino Wool (150 Weight)
Important Features in Travel Pants
What differentiates travel pants from “regular” pants? For one, your suitcase and travel backpack have much less room than your closet, so every ounce and inch of space counts!
You need to be efficient with your limited space, and the last thing you want to do is lug around a pair of pants you don’t even wear until your last night!
1. Versatility – Why you should NOT pack jeans (and when you should)
Unless you are just going on a weekend trip to a temperate place, jeans are probably a bad choice. They can be uncomfortable on long flights, yet take up a ton of space in your bag. They get sticky in hot, humid weather, don’t keep you warm, and suck to hike in (especially for women).
I only bring jeans on weekend city trips or trips where I am staying put (not lugging around my bag from hostel to hostel). Generally, jeans are just not versatile enough to make the list of my packing essentials!
Versatility means you can wear your pants every day and not get sick of them. I like to stick to 2, maybe 3, pants for my travels. This means I need travel pants that can be worn in the scorching afternoon heat and then cool nights.
It also means I need travel pants that I can practice morning yoga in, walk around town, and then go on multi-day treks with!
If you travel like me – multiple cities or countries doing multiple activities – then versatility should be your number one priority, closely followed by comfort.
It pays to invest in quality travel pants that perform in a variety of different situations. I have a pair of awesome travel pants that double as hiking, work out, and pajama pants, yet are conspicuous enough to wear during the day.
2. Comfort – Especially for those Long Flights
Generally, choose lightweight and/or stretchy material for versatility and comfort. When you’re traveling, comfort is of the utmost importance.
I can’t tell you how many times I packed pants, dresses, and shirts – you name it – solely for fashion and then never ended up wearing them! When you’re packing for your trip in your comfortable AC room, think about how it will feel to wear said pants in 100 degrees (40 c) humidity sandwiched between skyscrapers or searching for a spot in the sand.
There are some excellent trousers and pants that are soft and stretchy, but still stylish and form fitting.
Choose pants with breathability that will give you a better range of motion, especially if you plan to go on a hike, or visit places where the temperatures can range from scorching hot in the afternoon to freezing as soon as the sun has set.
On the other hand, you’ll want to bring some warm travel pants for cold weather. I’m a big fan of merino wool base layer everything. It’s expensive (and took me a long time to fully convert to), but I promise it is absolutely worth it.
3. Wrinkle-Resistant Travel Pants
It doesn’t matter how cute your pants are if they are prone to wrinkles and stuffed in your travel backpack!
4. Quick-Drying Pants and Easy to Wash
Not to keep hating on jeans, but they take forever to dry, and most places, my Americans, hang dry their clothes (even Europe). Unless you want to wait literal days for your laundry, pack quick-drying material!
Trust me, if you’re traveling for longer than a week, you want to wear travel pants that are quick to dry!
Many pants offer water-resistant or quick-drying properties, so you can stay comfortable and dry in less than desirable weather. I generally look for nylon or merino wool blends.
And on that note, pack travel pants (and clothes in general) that are easy to wash! You don’t want to deal with dry cleaning or ironing clothes on the road. It’s simply a waste of time and money, unless you’re on a business trip, of course.
5. Pockets and Security
Don’t forget about the power of pockets, especially my ladies! You want to make sure your travel pants have pockets. If you can check for horizontal pockets because things tend to fall out of vertical cut pockets when you sit down.
Security pockets are an added bonus for regions with higher chances of pickpocketing. Usually, zippers will do just fine here.
Technical clothing doesn’t have to be hideous. The best travel pants on the market right now are not only comfortable they are trendy — designed and tailored for heels and flats or cute athleisure. Whatever floats your boat.
There is no shortage of high-quality travel pants that you’ll actually love wearing, it’s just about finding the right price point for you.
I don’t think you have to give up style to travel, but it is worth being practical. Unless you’re an Instagram diva traveling with four hard case suitcases, you should probably stick to stylish practicality versus the most forward fashion trends.
Top 10 Best Travel Pants in 2020
You’ve waited long enough, my friends. Below is a list of the best travel pants! Some are uni-sex (or can be if you want), and others specifically travel pants for women and travel pants for men.
#1 – Most Versatile and Best Travel Pants for Women – Harem Pants
Harem pants are synonymous with travel pants. They are the perfect lounge around and transportation pants for travel. Plus, they’re loose nature means you can wear these around conservative countries or places you don’t want to draw attention to your legs. (Leggings are not the best choice in many areas in Morocco, the Middle East, India, etc.)
I am a huge fan of Active Roots Harem pants because they are made from 100% bamboo rayon and are on a mission to save the world! A portion of each sale goes towards saving the endangered elephant population in Southeast Asia!
They also feature an elastic waistband to ensure a comfortable fit! Best of all, they’re affordable, and easily the cheapest pair of travel pants on this list. You can’t beat a deal under $20!
I was once unsure about harem pants since every traveler wears them, but once you backpack through Central America and Southeast Asia, you’ll quickly see why they are so popular. Harem pants are comfortable, flowy, and roomy for those hot and humid trips.
You can wear them to the beach, to yoga, sleep, for lounging, or taking on overnight buses in third world countries. You will quickly become obsessed with the comfort and versatility of these breathable and durable harem pants.
#2 Most Versatile and Best Travel Pants for Men – Craghoppers Convertible Trousers
Made for travelers, Craghoppers tick off all the essentials: they’re comfortable, lightweight, and quick drying, but we’re calling these the best travel pants because of their pure versatility since they can convert from trousers to shorts and back again for hiking and travel.
Moreover, these pants are constructed with tons of useful pockets for travel, and the ability to reduce sweat and keep bugs away – three things every backpacker needs.
I like choosing outdoor-focused travel pants for quality and durability and Craghoppers is a trusted brand. Craghoppers stand out from other convertible pants because of their Insect Shield technology, which repels mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers, midges, and ticks.
They’re the ultimate adventure travel pants.
The only drawback is that these pants do run small, so best to order a size up. On the other hand, these Craghoppers are slim cut, a nice feature when you’re sporting them in the concrete jungle versus the actual jungle.
#3 Best Casual Travel Pants for Men – PrAna Brion Pants
While Craghoppers are the best travel pants for adventurous travelers, the Prana Brion Pants are excellent for the casual traveler. PrAna is one of my favorite companies, as they primarily make eco-consious clothes for climbing and yoga.
With the Brion pants, they’re keeping it fashion-forward yet sensible with these straight-legged pants.
They’re made from nylon and spandex, so they’re stretchy and comfortable, but have the look of traditional jeans. The PrAna Brion’s best feature is its water-repelling technology. They include five-pockets and come in a variety of colors too.
Brion pants can be your go-to pants not just for travel, but casual hiking and climbing.
#4 Best Travel “Jeans” for Women – PrAna Halle Pants
Like the Brion’s above, PrAna has designed these travel pants for women to be comfortable, yet form-fitting and casual enough to not scream, “I’m a traveler!”
Pants like the Harem Pants are great for backpacking around Asia, but these are more suitable for city hopping in Europe.
That said, the durable Zion fabric offers comfortable 2-way stretch and dries quickly due to its water resistant, Durable Water Repellent finish. This means these are great travel pants to take to a rainy destination.
These pants were designed to take out on a casual day hike or climb but also head to drinks or a meeting. Versatility, check. Comfort, check. Easy to wash and pack, check. Durability, double check.
The only downside to these pants are the pockets. They are a bit small, and so things don’t fit in them (any better than in jean pockets, really). That said, it’s a small price to pay for such easy to use pants; take these to the city or out to the desert for bouldering. Not many pants can do that.
#5 Best Travel Pants for Men (Runner-Up) – Kuhl Free Radikl Pants
The Kuhl Free Radikl Pants are another excellent pair of technical travel pants for men. Their Enduro fabric and abrasion-resistant materials are both durable and comofortable.
This pair of pants also comes with 7 pockets. It might seem like overkill but the phone pockets are placed pretty intuitively. These pants are great for travel because they are conspicuious enough to wear day to day, but comfortable enough to wear on long flights and out for a hike. Plus, they’re affordable and currently under $50.
#6 Best Leggings for Travel – PrAna Momento Aire Leggings
PrAna is at it again! I am a big fan of PrAna because they are an environmentally conscious and fair-trade brand that makes sustaiable and functional yoga, climbing, and travel clothing.
They often use organic cotton and hemp materials for their clothes. This pair of leggings, in particular, is constructed from a lightweight recycled nylon blend.
In some circumstances, leggings can be inappropriate or too tight for travel, but most of the time, I pack at least one pair of leggings as my go-to pair of travel pants for long flights and yoga/work-out wear.
My sister owns these exact pair of leggings and can attest to their soft and comfortable nature. I like that they have mesh inset panels at the lower leg, both for breathability and style. The only downside is that mesh isn’t as durable. Still, my sister has yet to report to any snags or holes!
I like that these leggings have a hidden key pocket as well (as pockets are essential for travel)!
If you are traveling somewhere cold or plan to hike in the mountains, then merino wool will be one of the best pair of “travel pants” you buy! These leggings are a base layer, meaning you will probably wear them under one of the pair of pants above for insulation.
If you’re unfamiliar with merino wool material, it is one of the best insulating and breathable fabrics you can buy. Plus, it resists odor really well when compared to cotton and other organic materials, which means less washes!
The only downside to merino wool is its price. It took me a while to even invest in merino wool socks… but now that I have it’s pretty difficult to wear anything else, especially when I’m walking around a city all day everyday.
Merino wool travel leggings are especially useful for trekking trips where you will be an active day in and day out. You can wear merino wool comfortable in the summer as well as use it as an insulating base layer in the winter.
This pair in particular is midweight, meaning they are heavier and meant for colder weather. You can also get a lightweight pair if you run hot.
The 200 oasis leggings are a slim fit with an elastic waistband. This pair is 100% merino wool (not just a blend) so it’s the utmost quality. They even have a contoured pouch with a functional fly, boys.
I’m a big fan of Icebreaker because of their warranty. They should replace these if they ever get a hole or fail on you.
#8 Best Travel Pants for the Cold for Women – Smartwool Merino Wool (150 Weight)
Smartwool is another great company for merino wool base layers! Smartwool leggings personally fit me better than Icebreaker, but I suggest trying on multiple brands to see which fit is right for you.
These are a bit lighterweight than the ones above and they’re great for using as a base layer to keep the chill away. You can even use them under the Harem pants!
As I mentioned above, I really believe it is worth investing in a bit of merino wool for travel if you will be outdoors or in the cold for a significant amount of time.
These pants are just about perfect – durable, warm, and a great length. My only complaint is the waistband can feel a bit tight at times, especially when I go back for rice and dahl seconds. That said, I have come across this weird waistband with most base layers. It is what it is. They are not going to fit the same way as yoga pants.
At 150, they are also a tad sheer, so I don’t recommend wearing them solo. Check out the 200 weight too!
Final Thoughts on the Best Travel Pants for Men and Women
Whether you are traveling around the world or just on a casual weekend getaway, this is a compiled list of the best travel pants both for men and women.
If we missed YOUR favorite travel pants, let us know in the comments below!
Need More Inspiration?
- MUST READ: The Ultimate Adventure Packing List
- The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List
- Best Travel Shoes for Backpackers • Top Picks for Men and Women
- Best Travel Watches
Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.