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Who better to describe the perfect pair of womens petite hiking pants than a petite woman hiker who has been hiking for decades?
But let's define "petite" first.
A petite woman hiker is shorter than "average", when "average" is defined as 5'4" (162 cm) and above.
Just for the record, the term "petite" doesn't mean that a female hiker has to be teeny tiny like Reese.
No Tinker Belle/Reese Syndrome for most of us women hikers, thanks anyway.
What this label of "petite" really means for a hiker?
(Short rant/pun: Who makes up these rules? Why can't we use 2 numbers like the guys do, waist size and length, to simplify our lives? Why these silly descriptive labels?)
Which brings up to the first problem: finding the right length of hiking pants if you don't "measure up" to the standards.
I think we agree that petite is just another way to say short. Or as I like to think of it, small but mighty.
According to our friend Wikipedia, 40% of American women are 5'3" or shorter.
That's a lot of petite women!!
If you're a short hiker and you try on "regular" length hiking pants, you will trip over the excess pant leg material.
This is to be avoided at all costs on a hiking trail.
Thus, your desire to locate pants of the appropriate length.
But there's a hidden problem here.
You want hiking pants that are long enough, but not too long.
This brings us to the importance of inseams in the best womens petite hiking pants.
This measurement is exactly what it sounds like, and you can measure it by following these steps (including a video).
If you're lucky enough to already have a pair of womens petite hiking pants that fit well, simply measure the inside seam.
If you are under five feet tall, the inseam problem is even more complicated because you are in the category of "extra short" petite women (I am not making this up!).
And if you don't fit into the "accepted" weight categories for petite sizing, you're a "plus" petite.
Which brings us to the next problem in womens petite hiking pants...
...finding the best brand(s) for your hiking pants, regardless of your height (or, as "they" would say, your lack thereof) and weight.
As a woman who proudly stand five feet three inches tall (in my hiking socks), I have tried just about every brand of hiking pants available.
Here are my top picks, with explanations.
I know, I know, these can fall into the "dorky" (unfashionable) category.
Their saving grace? No pockets on the outside! Less pockets = more able to blend in with "real" pants!
And please look at these features and tell me you won't use them while hiking:
Note: These run a bit small, so don't be offended if you have to order up a size or two. It all depends on your waist size and inseam length, so experiment a bit.
I find small sizing to be true in general with Columbia gear.
2. Rain pants: REI Rhyolite pants
Finding rain pants that fit over my regular hiking pants was a nightmare until I found this pair.
What I love:
3. REI convertible pants like these
I've been a fan of this type of convertible pants for over twenty years.
Tip: These pants have a more relaxed fit than the Columbia pants above, with a customizable "button" waistband.
That's good for hikes with lots of elevation gain and loss because you'll be able to move easily both before AND after lunch ;)
Recently I tried a pair of My Trail Company lightweight nylon hiking pants with a regular length inseam, and was pleasantly surprised that they weren't too long for me.
You can read my review and see some photos here.
Want to peruse even more options from a reputable hiking clothing store with great return policies?
Enjoy the hunt for the perfect petite hiking pants. It's worth the investment of time.
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Womens Petite Hiking Pants
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