The Best Travel Pants for Women: Stylish and Functional

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Despite travelling full-time for nearly nine years, I have struggled to find the best travel pants. My previous strategy was one pair of jeans (whatever I could find that fit in as lightweight fabric as possible) and a pair of loose linen trousers that were nice and cool in hot weather but wrinkled terribly.

In cold weather I replaced the linen trousers with an extra pair of jeans, and in recent years, I added leggings for running, yoga, and hiking (I could never find hiking trousers I didn’t feel frumpy in).

While I got by with those options, I never found any travel pants that I could recommend to others. Things have improved in recent years, though, with many small companies now making travel-friendly clothes, and since I’ve been in the US I’ve renewed my quest for the perfect travel pants for women (Simon has been set for years with his Bluffworks).

These are my favourite travel pants that I’ve found and the ones I am currently travelling with. I’ll update the review as I continue to test them on the road and let you know how they work out in a variety of circumstances.

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Aviator: The Best Travel Jeans

  • Super soft and stretchy
  • Comfortable
  • Huge front pockets and hidden back zipped pocket
  • Modern skinny jean look (or bootcut also available)
  • Made in the USA

Aviator is a small company that claims to make the best travel jeans in the world from their family-run factory in Los Angeles. I was excited to find a company tackling this challenge, and so far I’ve been impressed.

They currently offer three styles for women: Performance Skinny (in dark indigo denim), Comfort Skinny (in black or silver grey), and Bootcut (in dark stone indigo).

I tried the Performance and Comfort Skinny fits and unsurprisingly (the name says it all) ended up choosing the Comfort Skinny jeans in black which are made from a blend of tencel, cotton, lycra, and spandex.

Aviator Comfort Skinny jeans review - the best travel jeans for women

My Aviator Comfort Skinny jeans

Comfortable

My Aviator Comfort Skinny jeans are wonderfully, buttery soft and felt comfortable as soon as I put them on. They are form fitting but not constricting and are so stretchy that I even did yoga in them.

I could imagine wearing them on a long flight without getting uncomfortable. The midrise comes just below my belly button when standing (and just above when sitting).

Pockets

I love the huge front pockets on Aviator jeans. Seriously, they are the largest I’ve ever found on women’s clothing! There’s more than enough space to fit a larger phone or even a passport.

Large Aviator jeans pockets

There’s also a hidden zipped pocket inside one of the back pockets which could be good for stashing a credit card or little cash.

Back hidden zipped pocket on Aviator jeans

The Fit

The most surprising thing about the Aviator jeans was that they fit! I usually have to try on a gazillion pairs of jeans before I find some I like, so I didn’t have high hopes about ordering online. I went for my usual jean waist and they were perfect.

The biggest downside is that they only come in a 31” inseam length and they are a little too long for me (I usually get 30” length jeans). I just turn the bottoms under and it’s not noticeable (you could also get them tailored). I do hope that Aviator offers different lengths in the future.

If you’re not sure about your size, Aviator provides free returns and exchanges and the small team offers great customer service (you could end up emailing the founder Colby!).

Scootering around Austin in my Aviator jeans

Scootering around Austin in my Aviator jeans

Lightweight and breathable

The jeans are made from a fairly lightweight, breathable fabric and my pair weighs 1.07 lbs (486g). If you are used to traditional denim, they will definitely be lighter and quicker drying, but they aren’t ultralight travel pants.

They were ideal for the crazy Austin winter weather—cool enough on 75ºF days and warm enough for chilly nights. For freezing weather you might want to add some thermal underwear or leggings underneath.

They are quite clingy so I imagine the black jeans will be too hot in the tropics, but the silver-grey version might be better (honestly, I don’t wear my jeans in the tropics anyway!).

I did also like the Performance Skinny jeans in indigo denim, but they are a little stiffer than the Comfort Skinny jeans and less super soft. A pair of both would be a great setup for cool weather travel!

Aviator Comfort Skinny jeans review

Finally, I appreciate that the Aviator website has photos of the jeans worn by different sized models, not just skinny ones.

Aviator also has men’s jeans with the same travel-friendly features.

Check out Aviator travel jeans on the Aviator website.

Anatomie: The Best Lightweight Travel Pants

  • Ultra lightweight and compact
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Very quick-drying
  • Stretchy and comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Range of styles
  • Expensive

For years I’ve heard travellers raving about how Anatomie makes the best travel pants for women and I finally got to try them for myself. This high-end women’s fashion brand creates stylish, travel-friendly clothes and was named the Luxury Travel Clothing Brand of 2019 by Forbes.

Their clothes aren’t cheap, but their travel pants are the only ones I’ve found that replicate the features of Simon’s Bluffworks travel pants.

My Anatomie Luisa Skinny Jean Pants - the best travel pants for women are lightweight and stylish

My Anatomie Luisa Skinny Jean Pants

Lightweight and comfortable

Anatomie offers many different style pants and most are made from an incredibly lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying fabric. My Anatomie pants pack down to a tiny size and only weigh 5oz (140g)—that’s less than my leggings! They are perfect for packing light, especially if you travel carry-on only like I do.

The fabric is breathable and stretchy (they passed the yoga test!) and comfortable enough for long flights, city sightseeing, and even hiking. They don’t feel as soft as the Aviator jeans, but once I’ve got them on I don’t notice them.

As they are so light they’d be better than the Aviator jeans in hot weather. In very cold weather you’d need a layer underneath. As the fabric is so thin, VPL is more of an issue in these than in jeans.

My Anatomie Luisa Skinny Jean Pants

Quick-drying and wrinkle-free

If you only want to travel with one pair of pants, Anatomie would be ideal as they dry incredibly quickly.

They came out of the washer almost dry (I could have worn them if necessary), and after hanging them inside the house, they were completely dry in a few hours. If you hang them in the sun or use a hairdryer (which Anatomie recommends!), they’d be dry in no time. You can also tumble dry them on low.

You don’t have to worry about ironing Anatomie pants either as they stay wrinkle-free however you wash them.

I’ve found the pants quite resistant to dirt—I wore them to make gingerbread houses then crawled around on the floor and dust brushed right off.

Wearing my Anatomie Luisa pants at the Hope Outdoor street art gallery in Austin

Wearing my Anatomie Luisa pants at the Hope Outdoor street art gallery in Austin

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Which Style of Anatomie Pants to Choose?

Anatomie has a number of styles to choose from, and unfortunately, they all fit very differently. Sizes come in small, medium, large etc. (XL or 12/14 is the largest) rather than dress sizes and you might need a different size in each style.

I am usually a US size 8. I tried three styles and found a medium in the Gail pants was too big for me, but it was the perfect size for the Luisa Skinny Jeans. The Anatomie team recommended I size up to large for the Skyler pants, but I found those too big.

The lengths are also very different. Anatomie doesn’t offer different lengths and every pant varies. The Skyler pants (which are their most popular style) were about four inches longer than the Luisa—they were far too long for me whereas the Luisa fit perfectly (I usually take a 30” length).

The three pants I tried are all made from the same fabric but vary in design and fit. Here’s what I thought of each style:

  • Gail High Waisted Pant – My least favourite. I didn’t like the glitzy zips and pockets that bulged out when I sat down, and they were too big in the waist and length.
  • Skyler Travel Pant – I liked the higher rise and larger pockets, but they were far too long and had a looser fit (perhaps because I sized up). If you are tall, I recommend trying these as they are very popular.
  • Luisa Skinny Jean Pant– Slim fit, shorter length, lower rise. My favourite.

My Pick: Luisa Skinny Jean Pant

Wearing my Anatomie Luisa pants at the Hope Outdoor street art gallery in Austin

I decided to keep the Luisa Skinny Jean Pant because they fit the best. They have a five-pocket jean styling but aren’t really jeans as they are made from Anatomie’s signature lightweight fabric. They have a slim fit like skinny jeans with medium size pockets and are very comfortable and stretchy.

The only downside is the low rise—I’d prefer a slightly higher waistband for greater comfort (the Skyler have a higher rise if this is an issue for you).

I recommend contacting the Anatomie team for advice and taking advantage of the free returns to find the perfect style and size for you.

Check out Anatomie travel pants on the Anatomie website.

Athleta and Lapasa: The Best Leggings for Travel

Athleta Be Free Knicker

Us at the start of the Dales Way

Wearing my Athleta Be Free Knickers at the start of the 80-mile Dales Way hike

I’ve found the best leggings for travel are the Athleta Be Free Knicker, which I’ve been wearing on the road for over four years. These capri leggings come just below the knee, and I wear them for running in colder weather and yoga and hiking in warmer climates. I’ve worn them for a half-marathon and on long hikes. 

They are very comfortable, moisture-wicking, breathable, and stay in place well. Unusually for leggings, they have three pockets—two stretch pockets on the sides which are useful for all kinds of things and a zipped pocket on the back where I keep my phone when running. They are very durable and still looked great after four years.

The only downside is that they aren’t very quick-drying, mostly due to the thicker waistband that contains the pocket. Even still, I recommend the Athleta Be Free Knicker for active pursuits on the road.

Athleta also makes lightweight pants and stretchy jeans that look like they’d be good for travel. I haven’t had a chance to try them myself but they are worth looking into. 

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Lapasa Yoga Pants

Erin wearing the Berghaus Stormcloud Waterproof Jacket and leggings on the Dales Way

Wearing my Lapasa yoga pants on the Dales Way hike

If I spent more time in cold weather, I’d also invest in a full-length pair of Athleta leggings, but this summer I needed a temporary pair and bought the Lapasa yoga pants from Amazon. They are inexpensive but comfortable, surprisingly durable, not see through, and lighter than the Athleta Knickers.

I wore them for four out of six days on our Dales Way hike and they were ideal. I never felt uncomfortable, they dried quickly after light rain, and didn’t smell after wearing them for multiple days.

The Lapasa leggings do lack pockets, though, (there’s only one tiny one inside the waistband), and the fabric is shinier than I’d like (Athleta’s manage to feel like cotton). If you are on a budget, they are a good option and come in loads of colours. 

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PrAna Travel Pants and Jeans

PrAna makes sustainable, travel-friendly clothing. I am not currently travelling with any PrAna pants, but I think they are worth mentioning here as they do have many travel-friendly styles. I couldn’t find quite the right fit for me, but they could work for you.

I have travelled with the PrAna Halle hiking pants before to Finland and Iceland. They are more attractive than most hiking pants and look flattering on some people, but I don’t love the style on me. They are comfortable, durable, and water repellant, though, so are worth considering.

PrAna Halle Trousers review

Wearing my PrAna Halle Trousers on a hike in Lapland

PrAna also has a range of travel-friendly jeans. I loved the comfortable, lightweight, stretchy fabric of the Kayla and London jeans, but I struggled to find the right style and size as I wasn’t near a store (which are mostly in California, Colorado and Oregon) and had to order online.

I appreciated that they come in short, regular, and long lengths, but found the short was still slightly too long for me.

I’m also interested in trying the wide legged Mantra travel pants for hot weather. They look like a wrinkle-free alternative to the linen pants I liked wearing in hot climates and to Muslim countries when I wanted to cover up.

One downside of PrAna pants is that they tend to have tiny pockets.

You can buy PrAna pants from the PrAna website, REI or Amazon.

Best Travel Pants for Women Summary

The super soft Aviator jeans, ultra lightweight Anatomie Luisa pants, and Athleta leggings for workouts feel like a good combination for my upcoming travels. They all look great without compromising comfort and function.

What do you think are the best travel pants for women?

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Wondering what the best travel pants for women are? Look no further! From activewear to jeans, here are the top picks. #travelpants #femaletravel #packing #packingtips

Disclosure: I received a complimentary pair of Aviator and Anatomie pants for review. I am very fussy about the clothes I travel with and they would not be in my backpack if I didn’t genuinely think they were excellent travel pants. 

 

Are you planning your travels for 2019? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

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5 Comments (4 pingbacks)

  1. What a wonderful and helpful post! Only wish I had slightly longer legs, as I need a 28″ inseam, and from the sounds of it, none of these would work for me. I do have one ancient pair of PrAna black jeans I bought on the sale rack at REI that is the right length (I guess it was a petite), but they are a bit heavyweight and not as flattering as most of the ones you reviewed in this article.

    Reply

  2. They are out of stock now in winter, but this past summer Rohan had wide leg “Performance Linen” pants that were 55% linen and 45% polyester. They were amazingly wrinkle resistant and comfortable but looked like a thick linen. I wore them many days in my four months in Morocco, the UAE, and SE Asia. I hadn’t heard of Aviator jeans so going there now to find my size, thanks!

    Reply

    • I keep meaning to try Rohan’s linen pants. I found I wasn’t wearing my linen pants much except for in more conservative countries (like Oman and Jordan) where I didn’t want to show my legs in a dress. I’ll keep them in mind for our next Middle East trip.

      Reply

  3. I was excited when I saw your best travel pants article. I quit taking jeans on travel years ago due to weight and functionality. With fleece lined leggings, it is so easy to layer. My favorite travel pants used to be Lucy pants. Well, North Face bought them and now they are no mas. Sadly, $200+ for a pair of travel pants isn’t for me – even when you spread out the cost over the long haul.

    On the men’s side, the hubby loves your BluffWorks pants. Now they have a light weight travel jeans. He can’t wait to try them.

    Keep on traveling, we love your posts.

    Reply

    • Hi Denise,
      Isn’t it frustrating when you find the perfect item of clothing then the company changes it or stops making it?!

      Yes, Anatomie are very expensive, unfortunately. I’ve heard Athleta does something similar but they aren’t as lightweight.

      I’m glad your husband likes his Bluffworks pants! Simon’s new Bluffworks jeans arrived yesterday and he’s loving them so far—they are really comfortable and the hidden pockets are so hidden I couldn’t find them for a while!

      Reply

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