Never Hike in Fitness Leggings – It is Actually More Disgusting Than You May Think

Never Hike in Fitness Leggings – It is Actually More Disgusting Than You May Think

Wearing the right attire is an excellent way to get into the spirit of an activity, and this is even more true when it comes to outdoor sports. Not only does the right gear protect your body from the harsh elements, but they also ensure you have fun.

We understand the appeal of wearing fitness leggings while hiking. Admittedly, stretchy leggings can be quite comfortable even after many hours. They are also kind of sexy and go so well with loose-fitting tops and hiking gear, which definitely makes for memorable pictures.

So why would anyone want to wear anything else when they go hiking? Well, the primary reason for going on a hike should not be for the photos. Although taking hiking pictures with friends can be a nice byproduct, most people hike for the experience itself.

Hiking in anything made with spandex, like running tights, cotton leggings, and yoga pants have become a popular trend in recent years. And we understand why, they fit well, are very comfortable, and chances are you already have a pair in your closet.

This is not to say that fitness leggings are the only new trend in outdoor apparel choices. Liz Meschio, a 26-year-old REI Outdoor School instructor and experienced long-distance hiker, says that she hikes only in running shorts.

“Plenty of people still wear pants and stuff, but I’m just one of the people who don’t,” she says. “I hiked the entire PCT in a pair of running shorts and a moisture-wicking tank top.” [1]

This doesn’t mean that she’s recommending them for anyone. She believes that everyone is free to experiment and find out what trail clothes work for them. “What works for me might not work for everybody, you know?”

However, those brightly colored, super comfortable leggings with racing stripes and sheer detailing on the side are not designed for exerting walks of any significant length. This warning is not aiming to tell anyone what they can or cannot wear, but is trying to explain why leggings are simply not built for traversing the great outdoors.

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Hike in Leggings:

1. Leggings get yucky

Admit it, you can’t stand the sight of your fitness leggings when you strip them off after a three-hour workout when they are especially rank. Now, imagine them after going on a more extended trip, carrying a backpack. You’re not going to like having to handle that every time.

2. Leggings are often not the right length

Fitness leggings are designed differently than most pants. They tend to end mid-calf, exposing your ankles and the area just above them to harmful elements on a hiking trail, like sharp rocks, stray branches, bug bites, and the itchiest plants, including poison ivy, stinging nettles, and poison oak.

Although they are non-life threatening, irritations from any of these plants can be unpleasant. Poison oak rashes can take up to three weeks to clear, and even longer for severe cases. Let’s not talk about mosquitoes and ticks, which favor exposed calves and ankles.

3. Leggings are tight in the wrong places

You may appreciate the snug fit of leggings while doing some cardio, but you’ll need breathability when hiking since you don’t want the sweat to pool in areas sensitive to infections. [2]

4. Leggings don’t have pockets

This is one of the most apparent reasons why leggings are bad for hiking. Where would you put your stuff, like a phone or camera, so they’re easy to reach?

5. Leggings are not great for shielding you from the cold

The thick stretchy material leggings are made of traps the moisture from your sweat against your skin. This makes them unsuitable for cooler climates where you need insulation against the cold.

Invest in Hiking Pants

So if you shouldn’t wear leggings on the trail, what’s the alternative? Simple: hiking pants. They were literally created for the purpose of hiking. They have pockets, protect your legs from bugs and itchy plants, and allow the skin to breathe. 

If you’re not a regular hiker or you stick to short, well-maintained trails, then by all means stick to leggings. The important thing is getting fresh air and exercise.


  1. “Can I Hike in yoga pants?” REI.
  2. “Hiking in leggings is actually disgusting.” Matador Network.
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