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 while I was in the US I 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.
This post was originally published in January 2019 and last updated in June 2019.
- Aviator: The Best Travel Jeans
- Anatomie: The Best Lightweight Travel Pants
- Athleta and Lapasa: The Best Leggings for Travel
- PrAna Travel Pants and Jeans
- Best Travel Pants for Women Summary
Aviator: The Best Travel Jeans
- Super soft and stretchy
- Huge front pockets and hidden back zipped pocket
- Modern skinny jean look (bootcut and slim 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.
I tried the Performance and Comfort Skinny fits and unsurprisingly (the name says it all) ended up choosing the Comfort Skinny jeans which are made from a blend of tencel, cotton, lycra, and spandex. I have them in black, but Aviator now only has the Comfort Skinny jeans in indigo and grey.
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 often wear them on long flights without getting uncomfortable. The midrise comes just below my belly button when standing (and just above when sitting).
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 passport.
They have become my favourite pants to wear on travel days as it’s convenient being able to keep my passport in my pocket while going through an airport.
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.
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—for now they do offer custom hemming but you can’t return the jeans if you order this.
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!).
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. When I experienced freezing weather in Japan I added thermal 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!).
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.
Anatomie: The Best Lightweight Travel Pants
- Ultra lightweight and compact
- Very quick-drying
- Range of styles
- Difficult to find the right size
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.
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!) but a little rough.
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.
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. They are supposed to be wrinkle-free, but I do find they get quite wrinkled in my packing cube. If I hang them up or wear them, the wrinkles drop out.
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.
Which Style of Anatomie Pants to Choose?
Anatomie has a number of styles to choose from, and unfortunately, they all fit very differently and it’s frustrating trying to find the right size.
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 which I find strange. Anatomie doesn’t offer different lengths (I wish they would) 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
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 and stretchy fabric. They have a slim fit like skinny jeans with average size pockets.
The biggest downside is the low rise—I’d prefer a higher waistband for greater comfort. The Skyler have a higher rise if this is an issue for you.
Update After Six Months
Although my initial impression of the Luisa pants was good, after six months of travel to four countries (hot and cold) with them, I’ve found I don’t wear them very often.
The lower rise, smaller pockets, and rougher fabric means they are not as comfortable or convenient as my Aviator jeans. In cold weather I alternate between two pairs of jeans and wear my leggings (see below) for active pursuits and lounging around the house.
I don’t like the Luisa pants enough to replace my jeans with and I don’t find myself needing dress pants often. So far I haven’t figured out what I need them for. The only situation I can think of is when travelling to a hot but conservative country like Oman or Jordan, when I want to cover my legs but jeans are too hot.
The real advantage of the Anatomie pants is how incredibly light and quick drying they are. If you are on a fast-paced trip and want to pack light this would be a huge plus and they are definitely more practical for travel than jeans. For my slower pace of travel these days (after nine years of nomadic life), it’s not as much of a priority to me as it once was.
I’m not ready to give up on my Anatomie pants entirely yet, but I’m not convinced I’ll keep on travelling with them.
If you are interested in trying Anatomie pants, I recommend contacting their team for advice and take advantage of the free returns to find the perfect style and size for you.
Athleta and Lapasa: The Best Leggings for Travel
Athleta Be Free Knicker
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.
Lapasa Yoga Pants
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.
They were supposed to be temporary but a year later and I’m still travelling with them. I like them for hiking, yoga, and lounging around the house.
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 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.
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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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.
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