As a sport, rock climbing is aesthetically pleasing, and climbers nowadays try to look good and perform well. As the second most important item of clothing (after your shoes, of course), climbing pants today combine form and function. Do you need some extra protection when you work on your project? An abrasion-resistant fabric will help. Why do you want to be hampered on such a high ledge? This garment features a diamond-gusseted crotch, along with stretchy fibers for added comfort. Heading into town after a climb for an after-drinks? Because these pants are made to be worn on the climbing wall (or the gym) and at the bar for good measure.
Finding the right rock climbing pants for you means finding the right balance between style, stretch, and strength. In our search for the best looking and most technically proficient climbing pants, we rounded up 16 choices from both outdoor brands you’re likely already familiar with and more fashion-focused brands from abroad.
Let’s dive into the technical aspects of what makes the best pants for rock climbing before we get to our top picks. The material plays a key role. Cotton blends are commonly used in climbing pants, including our favorites shown below. These pants are comfortable, versatile, and durable. Denim and polyester blends also provide more durability than just cotton blends. Climbing jeans are available from specialized brands.
Aside from the quality of the material, you should also consider how the pants are made, as well as how they fit and look on your body. In terms of climbing pants, we recommend looking for these features.
A Climbing Pant Should Have:
- A gusset is a piece of fabric, usually shaped like a triangle or a diamond, that is sewn into garments to reduce stress on the seams. The term gusseted crotch means a gusset runs between the two pant legs, just as it sounds. In this way, the four seams (one from the inside of each leg, one from the front, and one from the back) do not meet at one point. These characteristics help the pants to last longer and feel more comfortable. The pants’ crotch area is strengthened and won’t rip as easily, and they fit more comfortably around your legs and waist.
- An articulated knee is another feature that makes climbing pants more comfortable and easier to move in. An articulated knee is a pant leg that is sewn in a slightly bent shape so you can bend your legs easier while wearing them.
- Closures: A button closure is the most secure way to close your climbing pants. If you pull too hard, zippers or snaps can come undone accidentally. Similarly, with drawstrings the knot can be accidentally unraveled.
- Zippered pockets: Zippered pockets make it easy to carry stuff securely. The last thing you want is for something important to fall out of your pocket while you’re halfway through a boulder or a couple dozen feet in the air while climbing.
- An integrated belt or belt loop can help keep your pants securely around your waist. This is especially important for climbing pants. Even if you have an integrated belt, belt loops allow you to clip small items directly to you, making them easier to access than if they were stored in a bag or pocket.
- The chalk bag loop can be really useful, especially for trad climbers and high level sport climbers. With the bag clipped to your pants or belt, you can access it quickly and easily without getting in the way of your harness.
- As for climbing shoes, you’re right, they’re not part of pants. As for climbing shoes, you’re right, they’re not part of pants.
Here are 16 climbing pants blending style, functionality, and durability
You should rejoice, your favorite brand dead bird has you covered. With this fit, Arc’teryx offers a technical lightweight blend of elastane, cotton, and nylon that’ll keep you cool, crisp, and dry in the warmer months. It has an integrated belt that keeps bulk down, and a whole bunch of pockets for all sorts of climbing gear.
The company, based in Seoul, CAYL (Climb As You Love), focuses on living with climbing’s spirit whenever possible, whether it’s in the mountains or the city. Earthy tones and functional sensibility characterize their minimalist products. The Corduroy Pants ($80) are a Field Mag favorite, made with a 97% cotton, 3% polyester blend with just enough give, pre-washed to prevent shrinking, and with a quick-clip fastener to make changing easy.
Houdini’s clean synthetic Omni pants represent the brand’s aesthetic: sophisticated yet technical. They are ideal for office people who want to send after their 9-5 thanks to key features like the darts at the knees for smooth movement and adjustable leg openings.
The outdoor retailer Backcountry knows what it takes to create a quality pair of climbing pants because it has been selling gear and apparel for years. This fabric blends Cordura, nylon, and spandex, which is 65%. Durable and flexible without sacrificing strength. The pockets are designed to accommodate a harness, and jogger cuffs prevent pants legs from getting in the way.
A slim, clean five pocket pant named for the mystical boulders of Fontainbleau! To give the Font Pant just the right amount of stretch and a diamond gusset at the crotch, Black Diamond added 2% elastic to their cotton. Beyond those two features, these pants are nothing more than your typical pair of pants.
And Wander designs and manufactures products for outdoor lifestyle folk in Japan, one of the most popular imported GORP brands. Its climbing pants are made from 100% nylon, making them water repellent, an unusual feature for a climbing pant, but nonetheless cool. The pants are designed for movement so the product lives up to its name.
Kailas, a relatively new brand in North America and Europe, creates highly technical gear from apparel to ropes to ice tools, with the 9A Classic Pant ($108) as their flagship product. China is famous for its vibrantly colored trousers, which look like fireworks against the crags. Featuring an elastic waistband, an articulated knee, and a gusseted crotch, these pants are designed to be light and quick-dry, stretchy and breathable (95% Nylon, 5% Spandex). You will also find brush holders on the side, and belt loops for your chalk bag on the backside.
Orrum means climbing in Korean, and the crew there has built their brand around bouldering seven days a week. The Monday Denim ($75) pant is made of a cotton, poly, spandex blend with a gusseted crotch designed to allow full freedom of movement for big heel hooks and aggressive drop knees. Pants that are cropped a few inches above the ankle have an on-trend, baggy fit.
The roomier cut of this Patagonia option appeals to dads in the trade. Canvas is constructed from a blend of organic cotton and polyester. The canvas weighs 7.9 oz. The knee area is lined with an extra layer of stretchy canvas for protection from rocks. We could definitely see these double as a comfy work pant!
Gramicci is an essential part of any climbing pants discussion. Mike Graham, the legendary Yosemite Stone Master, began the brand in the 1980s, introducing some of the first pants designed specifically for climbing. With a slimmer cut and stretch cotton twill, the NN pant retains features from the G Pant, such as the integrated belt and gusseted crotch.
It is pretty hard to beat this option from Canadian brand Ostrya if you aren’t into tech fibers. Despite being one of the more expensive options on this list, we love the workwear-inspired pants all the same. This pant is made by Ostrya in one of their factories that pays fair, sustainable wages and provides decent working conditions.
With roots in engineering, Ocun has created several firsts in their 25 years, including the crash pad and rubber heels on climbing shoes (your Achilles thanks them). Designed and built with a “retro work look,” their Honk Pants ($101) are made of a durable canvas that has some stretch (95% Cotton, 5% Elastan). Bartacked seams and reinforced cuffs provide added durability on high-wear areas.
Keep those beat up painter’s pants in the closet, Boulder Denim jeans are the only denim you’ll need for a night on the town or a trip to the crag. Despite being a bit slim for some, the 2.0 Athletic Fit Jeans($109) feature 10.5 oz denim with 360-degree diagonal stretch, so they contour to your body and keep their shape even after wearing them for days at a time–in other words, they won’t bag or fade. They’re also water- and stain-resistant thanks to a nanoshere coating, making them particularly useful for climbing trips where carrying as little as possible is imperative.
This super slim cotton pant has 2% stretch and is made by the fabulous folks at Topo Designs. On top of the mandatory belt and crotch gusset, Topo adds both snap and zipper pockets around back to keep your wallet or phone safe while you’re on the roof.
Dickies will always be special to the Field Mag team, as we are all skateboarders. They are durable, affordable, and look good with everything. Though these pants are not designed for climbing, their loose fit and tough fabric make them perfect for easy bouldering movements (a little baggy for a harness, in our opinion) while protecting your skin from rock scrapes.
These breathable and comfortable Ledge pants from Mammut ($129) feature a lightweight blend of nylon and spandex. During spring weather in Yosemite National Park, these pants were tested on granite walls. As a result, we were able to keep cool, comfortable, and perform at our best while climbing with them.
With a high spandex content, these pants have a four-way stretch and provide maximum mobility. With the supreme breathability of these pants, you get the comfort of shorts combined with the protection of pants. The pants can also be rolled and converted into 34-length pants. If you want to learn more about the best pants for climbing, read on for an analytical breakdown of what you should wear.
Who wears the most climbing gear?
According to their skill level, the type of climbing they are doing, and how frequently they climb, different climbers will wear different gear. There are shorts, leggings, sweatpants, jeans and high-end climbing pants in the wardrobe.
A pair of pants, on the other hand, will be a lot more advantageous when climbing. In spite of their easy mobility and open, breathable nature, shorts do not offer any protection. If you decide to wear shorts, do not wear shorts that are too tight or too short, as they will expose your legs to sharp rock or rough walls when bouldering and will feel uncomfortable in a harness when sport climbing.
Leggings are another option some people choose, especially when climbing indoors. To allow full range of motion, you’ll need them to be super stretchy. Also, wearing high-waisted leggings will help ensure that they stay steady when climbing with a harness. Leggings don’t provide much protection, so a much better option for bouldering and outdoor climbing is robust climbing pants.
Jeans or rugged canvas pants like Carhartts can be a better choice if you are looking for more protection while climbing. Those are good options if you need durable, protective clothing. However, the trousers you choose should offer enough freedom of movement-jeans tend to trade strength for durability.
Here are some of our top picks for rock climbing pants that are comfortable and still strong enough to protect you. In addition to providing protection against rocks, they will also give you ease of movement.
What should the fit of climbing pants be like?
A climbing pants’ fit can be very subjective, but there are a few basic guidelines to help you decide which fit is best for you. The degree of tightness or looseness depends on personal preference; so long as the shoes are not too tight that they restrict movement, or too loose that they become a slipping hazard. Roll up the bottoms of your pants above your ankles if you are wearing loose or baggy pants for a clear view of the footholds. It will also prevent them from sliding over or under your shoes and getting in the way.
Are climbing pants are worth it? Well the answer would be it depends on how serious you are about climbing. Despite the fact that climbing pants are not as necessary as a harness or helmet, they can still benefit your climb. They are designed to be sturdy, durable, and comfortable at the same time. The purpose of climbing pants is to make climbing more comfortable. Athletic wear is made to breathe and be highly mobile, just like athletic pants, but it is also more durable and stronger than regular athletic wear. Gym climbing can be done in athletic pants. Specifically, climbing pants are more suitable for climbing at higher altitudes or in bouldering areas.