There’s no substitute for a quality set of climbing pants when you’re trying to send your project. While the best pair of climbing pants provides the range of motion and durability you need to finally redpoint that route you’ve been working, a so-so pair will only hold you back.
Thankfully, we’re here to help.
We know how important it is for you to get a solid pair of climbing pants for all your adventures. So, we’ve curated this list of the 5 best climbing pants for you to choose from, and we’ve even made a buyer’s guide to help you select the right pair for your needs.
The top 5 climbing pants we recommend for 2021:
A pair of rock climbing pants might seem like a simple piece of gear, but there’s a whole lot of product development and technology that goes into producing pants for the vertical world. While shopping for your next pair of sending pants, here are some key things to keep in mind.
Perhaps the 2 most important factors when it comes to determining whether or not a pair of climbing pants is going to work for you are fit and comfort. While both of these factors are quite subjective, there are some ways that you can determine how a pair of climbing pants will perform without having first tried them on.
In particular, you want to take a look at the shape or style of any pants that you’re considering. Most climbing pants have one of the following styles:
The style you choose will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, but it’s important to keep in mind that some pants styles are better suited for different types of climbing.
Interested in bouldering? A relaxed fit might be the most comfortable choice for more acrobatic moves. On the other hand, skinny fit pants are often preferred for alpine climbing and other mountain pursuits that require a lot of hiking. Finally, standard fit pants offer the best all-around construction for different types of outdoor activity.
Another thing to keep in mind as you shop is the style and design of the waistband on any pair of pants.
These days, many manufacturers are shifting away from the traditional button and zipper closure system in favor of a more elasticated waist. This is because elastic waistbands with integrated belts often provide the same level of comfort and security without bunching up under your harness.
In addition to fit and comfort, you’ll also want to consider how well a pair of climbing pants performs when it comes to stretch and range of motion. Although these characteristics are important for any pair of outdoor pants, they are particularly vital for climbers, who often have to contort themselves into odd positions to send a route.
Stretch in a pair of rock climbing pants comes down to fabric. Thankfully, most manufacturers use some form of stretchy fabric. This is usually a nylon or cotton base fabric with elastane or spandex material, which provide the stretch you need on the rock.
In addition to fabric, the other critical factor when it comes to range of motion in climbing pants is a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. Here’s what you need to know:
Climbing is a rough and tumble pursuit, so you need a pair of pants that can hold their own throughout years of use.
Durability in rock climbing pants is partially a factor of how thick the fabric is. Indeed, thicker fabrics often last longer when used in areas with particularly coarse rock.
However, thicker fabrics also tend to achieve their durability at the expense of breathability. So, if you climb primarily in warm locales, you may decide that a slightly less durable, but much more breathable set of lighter pants are better suited for your needs.
On the other hand, if rugged backcountry adventures are more your style, then you might be willing to sacrifice some breathability in exchange for added durability in a bit heavier pair of pants.
Depending on the type of climbing you do, weatherproofing may or may not be a top concern for your climbing pants.
For folks who spend most of their time in the gym or cragging on sunny days, weatherproofing probably isn’t at the top of your list of must-have features. For alpine climbers and anyone that prefers backcountry adventures, you’ll probably want to take a closer look at climbing pants that offer some semblance of wind and water-resistance.
It’s worth noting, however, that you’re unlikely to find a pair of climbing pants that’s fully waterproof, and for good reason. Unless you’re mountaineering or winter climbing, waterproof pants are going to feel like you’re wearing plastic garbage bags on your legs as you try to climb in hot, muggy conditions.
However, many high-end pairs of climbing pants do come with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating. DWR coatings add some water-resistance to fabrics by encouraging water to bead off the side rather than soak through.
Most rock climbing pants come with an assortment of pockets and features, which are helpful for carrying various bits of gear to and from the crag. Unlike pockets for hiking pants, however, pockets for climbing pants need to be perfectly positioned if you want to be able to access them through a harness.
Indeed, a well-placed thigh pocket is usually your best bet when it comes to carrying gear on your person during a climb.
Do keep in mind, though that zippered pockets are generally preferred over unzippered alternatives as you don’t want to have your car keys, headphones, or whatever you happen to be carrying in your pocket start to rain on your belayer mid-climb.
Versatile as can be, the Prana Stretch Zion pants win our editor’s choice award thanks to their solid all-around performance on the rock.
These pants are made with Prana’s proprietary Stretch Zion fabric, which is a woven mix of nylon and spandex that’s specifically designed for active lifestyles.
As a result, these pants provide UPF 50+ protection on sunny days, as well as water-resistance thanks to their DWR (durable water repellent) coating. They’re also wrinkle and abrasion-resistant, which makes them ideal for traveling, climbing, and general outdoor activity.
The Prana Stretch Zions feature a gusseted crotch and a standard fit to provide good range of motion while climbing. The roll-up leg snaps also make it easier for you to control how much ventilation you get on warm summer days.
Meanwhile, Prana designed these pants to have an angled dual-entry cargo pocket on the thigh, which is perfect for use with a climbing harness. The 2 mesh hand pockets are also large enough for holding car keys and wallets on the approach while the adjustable integrated waistband provides a low-profile, yet secure fit as you climb.
If you’re willing to pay a premium for exceptional quality, the Arc’teryx Gamma LT might be the climbing pants that you’re looking for. These sleek, hard wearing pants are made to last for climb after climb in the mountains, which makes them a solid choice for rock and alpine climbers.
Built using high-end Fortius DW 2.0 fabric, which is a blend of nylon and elastane, the Gamma LT pants provide the durability and comfort you expect in rock climbing pants. This fabric offers 4 way stretch and is treated with a DWR coating to repel moisture in light rain.
Meanwhile, the Gamma LT pants have a straight leg fit and an articulated patterning around the knees to provide ample mobility for high foot placements. The gusseted crotch on these pants also allows great freedom of motion.
When it comes to pockets for plenty of storage, these pants don’t disappoint. They have a harness-compatible thigh pocket with a laminated zipper to keep your valuables safe on the climb. Moreover, the Gamma LT comes with a set of 2 mesh-lined hand pockets with fully laminated zippers for carrying important gear to and from the crag.
Finally, rounding off a great list of features is a fully adjustable webbing belt to help you get a precision fit. For added convenience, the Gamma LT also comes with adjustable cuff drawcords to help you seal out dirt and debris as you hike to the base of your climb.
Affordable, yet functional, the Black Diamond Notion Pants are a go-to option for outdoor cragging and bouldering or for crushing laps at your local climbing gym.
The Notion Pants are made from a blend of organic cotton twill and elastane, which allows for breathable comfort without sacrificing performance while climbing.
Their loose, comfort-centric fit provides a wide range of motion while bouldering, while also maintaining a stylish design that is just as useful for lounging at home as it is for sending hard.
Moreover, these pants come with a drawstring elastic waistband that provides a comfortable, but not restraining fit as you climb. Due to its elastic construction, this waistband also works well under a climbing harness, which makes it useful for cragging, too.
For durability, Black Diamond gave these pants a set of reinforced knees, which are meant to withstand frequent climbs on rough rock. Best of all, the notion Pants come with 2 hand pockets and 2 rear pockets for maximum convenience as you walk to and from the crag.
Purpose built by climbers, for climbers, the Ucraft Xlite are a set of rock climbing pants that are particularly great for bouldering and other high-octane pursuits.
Rugged and comfortable, these pants are made from a polyester/spandex blended fabric that offers breathability and durability, even after years of use. At the same time, their fabric is both stretchy and quick drying, so it’s an excellent choice for more stretchy moves in hot weather.
In addition to having a quality fabric, the Ucraft Xlite comes with a yoga pant-type waistband that's stretchy and comfortable without sacrificing fit. These pants also have a jogger-style design that allows you to use them at the crag and while hanging out at home.
Moreover, the Ucraft Xlite has 4 separate pockets, 2 of which come with zippers for securing your belongings. Since these pants are specifically designed for climbers, they also have brush and chalk bag loops to make it easier for you to carry around essential gear.
Plus, the Ucraft Xlite pants have an adjustable ankle drawstring system that allows them to fit climbers of any inseam. This also helps to improve overall range of movement for steep, overhanging boulder problems and other challenging climbs.
A time-tested classic that’s been a fan-favorite ever since it first hit the market, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are versatile enough for use in backcountry rock climbing situations or on summer alpine adventures.
What sets these pants apart is Outdoor Research’s proprietary Ferrosi fabric is a surprisingly thin, yet über-durable woven fabric made from nylon and spandex that’s purpose-built for sending in the mountains. This fabric is rated to UPF 50+ for sun protection and it even has a DWR treatment to help shed water in light rain for maximum weather resistance.
In addition to being super durable, the Ferrosi pants are lightweight and highly breathable. Their movement-mirror stretch pattern and articulated knees also allows for plentiful range of movement without sacrificing abrasion-resistance.
As far as functionality goes, these pants have a harness-compatible waist. Therefore, they avoid bunching up under your harness for added comfort as you climb.
They also come with lots of pockets, including a zippered thigh pocket that’s harness compatible and 2 hand warmer pockets for convenience.
Plus, their straight-legged and classic construction make them just as suitable for hiking to the base of a remote climb as they are for enjoying post-climb refreshments with your buddies at your local hangout.
If you want to make the most of your time on the rock, you need to have the right gear and clothing to keep you on top of your A game as you climb. The right pair of climbing pants can make a big difference when it comes to ensuring your comfort at the crag.
After reviewing these 5 great pairs of climbing pants, one model stood out above the rest: the Prana Stretch Zion.
We particularly like the Stretch Zions pants for climbing because they have a durable, highly functional construction with plenty of stretch and breathability to help you send hard. They’re also reasonably priced and they’re stylish enough for use in your day to day life. What’s not to love?