Best Climbing Pants
When it comes to climbing, the clothes you wear can be just as important as the equipment you bring. Not only do quality clothes keep your body protected from the elements, but they can also help to keep your mobility and flexibility while climbing in top form. Indeed, the pants for climbing you choose to wear can often make or tear your climbing expedition asunder. Since we know you don’t want to have that happens, here is a list of our top picks for the best climbing pants on the market today.
- Prana Stretch Zion
- La sportiva Arco
- Great range of motion
- Outdoor Research Cirque
- Great for cold weather
10 Best Climbing Pants
Prana Stretch Zion
These climbing pants from Prana are specifically designed to withstand abrasions, tears and punctures. It is also designed through the use of synthetic fabric to resist water as well.
These pants err on the side of bagginess, and allow a fairly wide range of motion in the hips, knees and ankles. Some found that the more open cuff area was a bit of a problem while climbing, but the use of the cuff snaps often kept the bottom of the pants from becoming a significant problem.
One of the nice things about these pants is that they are both water resistant and provide for moisture wicking away from the body. They can easily help to keep your lower half relatively cool and dry while you climb.
The fabrics used to create these pants are all synthetic in nature, which allows for an increased durability and ability to flex and move in ways that a climber needs to do so. In addition, the materials used are highly breathable, making them very comfortable and lightweight.
Perhaps the one area of potential downfall for these climbing pants from Prana was in the overall fit. While most people found them extremely comfortable, others found that they ran a bit on the small size, especially if a larger, roomier pair was needed.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a great overall pair of climbing pants, and you’re not too worried about a few minor sizing issues, these pants from Prana are hard to beat. Designed with the climber in mind, they offer a lightweight, flexible and breathable option for your next ascent to the summit.
- Very lightweight
- Relatively baggy
- Sizes sometimes run a bit small.
La sportiva arco rock
Overall, these pants provide a lightweight yet durable blend of both natural and synthetic fabrics that marry the best of both kinds.
These pants tend to lean more towards the stretchy end of the spectrum, but still have enough overall room to not feel restrictive. A climbers, hips, knees and ankles are given enough room to move and breathe as needed, but the main flexibility comes from the spandex material allowing for extra stretch in the fabric.
Although the material is quick drying, it doesn’t really have any moisture wicking capability, so you’ll have to deal with the perspiration you might encounter until the pants dry. Thankfully, this happens rather quickly, especially while climbing in the hot sun.
These pants feature a cotton and spandex blend of material that is designed to be strong, flexible and lightweight.
About 63% of the people found these pants to be a comfortable fit overall, with the remaining percentage finding them slightly larger than needed. Also, most men found that there was plenty of room in the crotch area, and that the articulated knees made moving in the pants relatively easy. One specific complaint we found was that the 31.8 inch inseam was a bit too long for some wearers.
The La Sportiva Men’s Arco Rock Climbing pants offer a blend of both natural and synthetic fabrics that are designed to be lightweight and provide a full range of comfortable motion. While they do tend to run a bit large, and the cotton spandex blend doesn’t offer any moisture wicking capabilities, these pants are a comfortable climbing choice.
- Blend of natural and synthetic fabrics
- Great overall range of motion.
- May be a bit large
- No moisture wicking capabilities.
Outdoor Research cirque
Overall, most people found the actual climbing pants to be top notch when it came to toughness, especially in the colder or cooler environments. There were a few complaints about the zippers getting stuck or being unusable, and the boot hooks becoming torn. However, for the most part these pants held up quick well to multiple climbing environments and terrains.
These pants are designed to fit relatively close to the body, and provide most of their flexibility through the blend of synthetic fabrics.
These pants from Outdoor Research don’t offer any moisture wicking capabilities, but they are both highly breathable and resistant to wind and weather.
These pants consist of a blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex material.
For the most part, the people who used these pants for climbing found them to be a comfortable fit, with the gusseted crotch area and articulated knees increasing the overall comfort levels quite a bit. However, it should be noted that the small through extra-large sizing was sometimes not a great choice for those with unusual sized waists or inseams.
The Cirque Pants by Outdoor Research provides a great, double weave yet lightweight pants that can be used in cool or colder environments with ease. Their weather resistant nature and soft shell design make them a great choice for both mountaineering and climbing over rougher terrain. The only real drawback we found was some minor issues with the zippers, and the fact that the sizing choices of small through extra-large may not be exacting enough for some.
- Great for cool or colder weather
- Comfortable overall
- Good range of motion
- Not a lot of extra material to get in the way
- Sizing may be too generalized for some taste
- Zippers may easily become stuck.
The Noth Face Paramount Peak
Most people found these pants to be very tough and resistant to abrasions, tears and rips. The tear resistant nylon material was found to be quite durable overall, with only a few minor instances where it didn’t hold up under very strenuous use.
These pants tend to lean slightly towards the bagginess end of the spectrum for climbing pants. While they are not specifically designed for climbing, more for general outdoor use, many found that the roominess made them more than adequate for most climbing and bouldering uses.
While highly water repellant, these pants don’t offer much in the way of moisture wicking or control capabilities. They are fantastic at keeping rain and inclement weather away from your skin overall, but don’t provide a good way for perspiration to evaporate from your skin.
These pants are made primarily from tough nylon material.
About 77% of the people who used these pants found them to be a relatively comfortable fit, with the remaining people finding them to be a bit on the larger side of things.
While not our top choice for climbing pants, if you want something that allows for true versatility and toughness, you really can’t go too far wrong with these convertible pants from The North Face. Whether you prefer to climb in a pair of traditional tough pants or comfortable long shorts, these pants are a great overall option.
- Convertible between shorts and pants
- Very durable
- Lightweight overall
- Sizing may be a bit large
Mountain Khakis Lake Lodge Twill
Despite their relaxed fit and comfortable appearance, these pants are truly tough as nails and designed for climbing. The heel cuffs are reinforced, and the seams themselves are triple stitched for added strength overall. Add to that the lightweight yet tough blend of natural and synthetic fabrics; there is little chance of these pants tearing very soon.
These pants tend to fall more or less in the middle on the stretchiness versus bagginess spectrum. This makes them a great choice for life outside of climbing (yes that part of life does exist).
The synthetic and natural blend offers a very breathable pair of climbing pants, but they don’t offer that much protection from the elements or moisture wicking capabilities.
These pants are created with a blend of cotton and Lycra spandex. It provides just enough stretch to provide a good range of motion without sacrificing the overall look and feel of the climbing pants.
Most people found these pants to be a great fit overall, with about a third of them finding that they were slightly smaller than expected.
For some climbers, having a pair of pants that can be used both for climbing and everyday activities are a must. If you fall into such a category, then these pants from Mountain Khakis may just be what you’re looking for: a pair of pants that are tough enough to help you conquer the mountain and the backyard weeds.
- Extremely durable
- Lightweight and breathable
- Good range of motion
- May run a bit large.
Most people found these mid-weight climbing pants to be highly resistant to tears and rips. The blend of both natural and synthetic materials and overall quality workmanship offers a pair of climbing pants that can easily withstand what the outdoors have to offer.
While these pants do provide for a wide range of motion, they are not overly stretchy or overly baggy, fitting more like traditional pants in that regard.
While the nylon and cotton blend does lend itself to being relatively quick drying overall, these pants don’t offer much protection from the rain or the ability to remove sweat from the skin.
These pants are made from a blend of cotton, nylon, canvas material and other synthetic fibers that offer a fair amount of stretch. While the blend may not be suitable for all environments, for the most part it’s a great choice for when both hiking and climbing are part of the equation.
The majority of people found these climbing pants to be comfortable both on the rock face and off. There were a few instances, however, where the pants were found to be a little too tight in the hip and waist area for comfort, so if you tend to be larger in these areas, it might be worth getting a size larger than you normally do.
The Bastion Pants by Arc’teryx offer a great choice if you want a durable pair of climbing pants that can withstand both your trek to the climb, and the climb itself. While the waist and hip area may be a bit ill-fitting for some, overall this is a great all around choice for a pair of climbing pants.
- Good range of movement
- Great for both hiking and climbing
- Waist and hip area may run a bit small
Overall, most people found these pants to be fairly tough and durable with the synthetic material providing good protection from rips and tears and water as well. While it’s not the toughest on this list, it is certainly more than durable enough to handle a regular climbing routine.
These climbing pants have a “skinny jeans” feel to them and rely mainly on the stretchiness of the material to allow a wider range of motion than normal pants. In addition, the cuffs of the pants are truly tapered, which makes seeing your feet during a climb that much easier.
These pants from Prana are definitely water resistant and relatively breathable, but the material doesn’t actively wick sweat away from the skin. So if you sweat a lot during your climb, you may want to consider other options.
These pants are made from a combination of Prana’s Zion fabric and other synthetic materials for a soft, comfortable feel that is both relatively durable and easy to move around in.
The main drawback to these climbing pants lies in the sizing of them. Quite a few people found the sizing to be irregular at best, with certain areas including the hips, thighs and calves not fitting as expected. In addition, some found that the tapered legs were too tight in comparison with the rest of the pants, which became a distraction while climbing.
Provided that you find a pair that is well-fitting, these climbing pants are a fantastic choice for someone who wants great flexibility and overall comfort while they climb.
- Great range of motion
- Sizing is inconsistent
Ucraft Xlite Rock
These pants are made from a lightweight yet relatively durable material that is specifically designed to withstand most if not all of the dangers encountered while climbing. In fact, the only area that showed any significant signs of wear was at the seams, and then only after a significant amount of use.
These climbing pants will comfortably hug your legs but still provide a fantastic range of motion because of their stretchy nature. The best way to think of it is that they have the flexibility and stretch of a pair of high quality yoga pants.
These pants are quick drying and breathable, but they don’t offer much in the way of pulling perspiration from your skin. However, they do dry fairly quickly, so the likelihood of being uncomfortable for long is small indeed.
These climbing pants are created with a combination of nylon and spandex material for a maximum amount of stretchiness with lightweight protection overall.
The majority of the people who used these pants found them to be extremely comfortable and a great fit. A small minority found them to be slightly looser than expected, or conversely entirely too small to be used. However, most people were fond of the easy to use drawstrings at the cuff of the pants and the elastic waist. Also, the articulated knees allowed for a great range of motion overall.
Despite the minor sizing issues, these pants have proven to be a good contender when it comes to the contest of finding the most comfortable climbing pants on the market today. While we certainly would have liked to see more moisture control, overall these pants are a great choice.
- Extremely comfortable
- Very stretchy
- Fully adjustable
- Sizes may run a bit large
Arc'teryx Gamma Rock
Overall, these pants were found to be very tough, with reinforcement in the seat and knees, which are two areas that need it the most when it comes to climbing. In addition, the tear and water resistant fabric makes it easy to withstand even the harshest of climbing terrains. It should be noted, however, that there were reports of quality issues with the seams and zippered pockets.
While these climbing pants do rely on their stretchy nature to provide for a great amount of mobility, they are still roomy enough to fit comfortably. Most people mistake them for a pair of very comfortable street pants, not a pair of climbing ones.
These pants are highly breathable and offer great water resistance overall, so both sweat and weather won’t be too much of a concern for very long.
These pants are created with a combination of mesh, nylon, polyester and spandex material that is designed to maximize strength and flexibility overall.
These pants come in a wide range of sizes, including both short and regular lengths, so finding a size that fits both your waist and inseam shouldn’t be too much of a problem. In addition, the gusseted crotch and articulated patterns make for a more precise fit and increased amount of movement compared with other climbing pants.
The Gamma Ray Rock Pants are a good overall choice when it comes to rounding out your climbing gear. They are fairly comfortable, and although we would certainly have liked to see stronger zippers and seams, overall these climbing pants easily belong within the top ten.
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Reinforced fabric
- Great overall mobility
- Zippers and seams not as durable as we would like
Mountain Hardwear Yumalino
These climbing pants are created with a tear-resistant nylon material that provides a four-way stretch for added resistance to punctures and tears that can occur while climbing. Also, the fabric features a DWR or dense water-resistant finish that helps to keep water where it belongs – namely off your skin.
When it comes to the stretchy versus bagginess debate, these pants fall pretty much in the middle of the argument, and manage to gain the benefits of both. There is more than enough room for your legs to move comfortably, but you’ll still have the flexibility of motion that using stretchable fabrics can bring.
Although these pants are resistant to water, they don’t provide much for perspiration management overall. However, the material is fairly lightweight and dries easily, so moisture and dampness shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
These climbing pants feature a four-way stretch nylon shell and a thin but very warm fleece lining. The fleece lining makes this a great choice during activities in colder places or times, but may prove to be a bit too warm during the hot summer months.
The majority of people found these climbing pants to be well-fitting and comfortable, with a wide range of sizes to choose from.
If you’re looking for comfort above all else, and you feel like doing some climbing during the colder months of the year, then these pants from Mountain Hardwear should certainly be on your radar. While the fleece lining may be a bit much for some, these are some of the most comfortable climbing pants we’ve seen in a long time.
- Relatively lightweight
- Very comfortable
- Fleece lining makes pants less than idea for warm weather climbing.
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Let’s face it; chances are you’re going to put your pants for climbing – even the best ones – through the wringer each and every time you use them. It’s just the nature of climbing. Therefore, having a pair of pants that is not only strong and tough, but also flexible enough to withstand the onslaught is important.
By their very nature, a quality pair of pants for climbing is designed not only to allow for a great range of motion, but to also withstand the possibilities of tears, scrapes, hang ups and holes that are always a possibility while climbing. So it’s important to look for pants that are tear resistant, have quality seams, and fabric that is good at adapting to whatever you choose to throw at it.
Stretchiness / Bagginess
When you’re climbing, the last thing you need to be worrying about is being restricted by your clothing. After all, being able to stretch your leg to reach the next crack or foothold can mean the difference between a successful climb and your belay partner lowering you down to the ground.
There are really two different ways that you can make sure that your pants for climbing allow the range of motion that you need for a successful climb. The first is to use material that is designed to stretch and move with you as you climb. For this reason, many climbers choose pants like yoga pants or “stretchy pants” as their climbing choices. While they may not be as durable as true climbing pants should be, they are a place to start.
The other factor to consider when thinking about the range of motion is the “bagginess” of the pants, or how loose they fit overall. Often pants for climbing that offer more room for your legs also allow your legs to stretch out, twist, and turn in the ways that they need to do so to get the job done. While some people prefer to have climbing pants that are a little more form-fitting, most prefer a little breathing room, especially in the groin area.
When you are climbing, chances are you’re going to sweat a lot. The area of your legs and lower body is no exception to this. So, having a pair of pants for climbing that can help pull the moisture away from your skin and evaporate it into the air can help make the climb a lot more comfortable.
For the most part, a pair of quality pants for climbing will either be made from materials that promote good moisture control, or be fashioned in such a way as to promote it, such as having mesh panels or the ability to convert to a shorter length overall.
Of course, another thing to consider when buying a pair of climbing pants is the material used to create them. After all, the fabrics that make up the pants will go a long way to determining the other factors on this list.
For the most part, synthetic fabric and fabric blends rule the day when it comes to pants for climbing. Simply put, natural fabrics, while extremely comfortable don’t often have the strength and flexibility that is needed while climbing.
And finally, how the pants fit can influence not only their overall comfort, but also how they perform. Remember, you’ll want a wide range of movement in the pant legs, including the groin, thigh, and calf area. Therefore, having pants that can easily stretch and are relatively loose fitting is important. The two areas where you don’t want your pants to fit loosely are at the waist and at the cuff. The waist needs to fit comfortably snug so that it doesn’t interfere with your harness or equipment. The cuffs need to fit close against your legs so that when you look down your legs for the next foothold – and you will do that sooner or later – you’ll be able to see what you’re doing.
More to think about when choosing the best climbing pants
What type of climbing do you enjoy?
Truth is there are dozens of different climbing styles that people enjoy. Not surprisingly, the type of climbing that you thrive in can often indicate what type of pants for climbing you might want to consider. For example, if you enjoy crack climbing, a pair of pants that offer superior stretchiness over roomy bagginess might be a better choice based on the need to see clearly where you’re stepping and smearing. If you’d rather spend your time bouldering, something that is a little looser around the knee area might be a good choice based on the need for a wider range of motion around that joint.
What body type do you have?
Over time, climbing is one of those sports that can truly help you change the way your body feels, acts and looks. Anyone can start climbing, provided that they take things slow and have good equipment. The type of pants for climbing you choose is important as well.
The trick is to be comfortable as you climb. If you’re a bigger person, a pair of pants that provide a bit more room in the seat and upper thigh area will help keep you comfortable and able to focus on the task at hand. If you have a thinner build, something that allows for a bit more flexibility may be a better choice. Of course, matching the pants with your body type also depends on personal preference.
When do you go climbing the most often?
Climbing is a sport that you can enjoy all year round. Whether you enjoy going to an indoor wall, or scaling a rock face, there is literally somewhere to climb all year round. However, depending on when you decide to conquer that pitch, your clothing choices, and the choice of pants for climbing may change.
Essentially, the more extreme the temperature, the more coverage you’re going to need. In the fall and winter, pants provide an extra layer of warmth and dryness that can be essential to keep warm. By staying comfortably warm, your body and your muscles can operate the way they should, instead of shivering to create warmth. The right pair of pants for climbing can certainly help with that.
However, when the weather is at its warmest, and the hot sun is beating down at you, a pair of pants made with a lighter material is still a great choice. The reason is that it helps to protect your legs from sunburn and overall sun damage. A good pair of lightweight pants can also help you to regulate your body temperature, keeping things on an even keel.
Q: What makes climbing pants different from regular pants?
There are two main differences between pants for climbing and regular pants. They may seem subtle, but they are certainly important. The first significant difference is climbing pants are usually constructed to withstand much more abuse than regular pants. They are designed to not only move and flex with your body, but also to withstand the constant abrasions, scrapes, tears and punctures that come with scrambling over hard stone and rock. The second major difference is how they fit on the body. While some regular pants will hug in certain places to make them look good overall, pants for climbing are often designed to be loose except in a few areas, such as the waist and the cuff of the pants.
Q: How many pairs of climbing pants do I need?
If you were to ask a climber this question, the answer would probably be something along the lines of “as many as you can get!” The truth is, the number of pants for climbing that you own will depend greatly on a few factors, including how often you go climbing, how extensive your climbing is, and how comfortable you are changing pants in a semi-public setting.
Simply put the harder or longer the climb, the more potential there is for needing to bring more than one pair of pants on a climbing trip. After all, a day of climbing outdoors can often force the climber to encounter a number of different environments, each of which may be better suited for a different type of pants. Beyond that, accidents do happen at times.
Does this mean that you’ll be changing your pants mid-pitch? Of course you wouldn’t. However, there has been many a climber who has been forced to change their pants either at a base camp or at a smaller stop on the way up to the summit.
Q: Is there any real difference between men’s climbing pants and women’s climbing pants?
Generally speaking, the difference between pants for climbing for men and women is basically the same difference you’ll see in regular pants. Both the overall cut of the pants and the sizing are going to be different. As expected, pants for climbing that are designed for men will be cut to have a little more room in the groin area, but to be relatively narrower in the hips and thighs. A women’s pair of climbing pants, however, will often offer a bit more room in the hips and thigh area.
It’s important to remember that no matter what type of pants for climbing that you choose to wear, the first priority should be overall comfort and mobility. So if that means that you need to wear the pants designed for the opposite gender, go for it.
When it comes to pants for climbing, there are quite a few factors to consider before making a purchase of any type. Comfort, durability, and flexibility all play significant roles in choosing the right pants for climbing for your needs. We hope that the list that we have provided here will give you a good start in determining which climbing pants are best suited for your needs!