Man climbing on rock in the best climbing pants

10 Best Climbing Pants (and Outrageous Leggings!) in 2018

We climbers tend to be a touch on the persnickety side when it comes to gear selection. Ropes, harnesses, cams, helmets, nuts, slings and shoes all warrant our utmost attention and painstaking pickiness before we commit to making a purchase. One item of gear we tend to be more lax in choosing, however, is our pants. Given that these oft-overlooked essentials cover around half of our body, the oversight is a strange one.

The pair of pipes you pull over your pins can make a big difference to how you perform and how comfortable you are while out on the rock. But what makes the difference between my joggers, jeans or pyjama pants and a pair of pricey climbing pants? you might ask.

Read on and all shall be revealed in our guide to choosing climbing pants and review of the best climbing pants out there in 2018!

ProductBest forFeaturesCost
prAna Stretch Zion PantBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingStretchy with DWR finish$
Patagonia Venga Rock PantBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingDurable and stretchy$
So Solid LeggingsBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingStretchy, tight and colourful!$
Arcteryx Gamma Rock PantAlpine and winter climbingWater resistant and durable$$$
Mountain Hardwear Yumalino PantAlpine and winter climbingFleece lined and water resistant$
La Sportiva Talus Rock Climbing PantBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingComfortable with elasticated wasit$$
La Sportiva Arco PantBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingStretchy and comfortable$$
prAna Axiom JeanBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingStretchy and durable$
Ucraft Xlite Climbing PantsBouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbingLightweight and roomy$
Topo Designs Climb PantsIndoor climbing, beginner climbers and long trad climbsLightweight and stylis$

10 best climbing pants for men

prAna Stretch Zion Pant

Prana Stretch Zion Pants

The Prana Zion are a very well-made, functional and stylish pant that have the goodness necessary to become your go-to attire for just about everything rock-related: bouldering, sport climbing, gym climbing, trad, alpine and post-climb pints down the pub! The Zion are true all rounders. They’re made with stretchy, abrasion-resistant, quick-drying materials with an excellent water repellent finish, are not too expensive and boast good warmth and breathability. Features-wise, they have a ventilated inseam gusset, a built-in waist belt, five mesh pockets and roll-up leg snaps for extra ventilation and versatility. A true contender for the best rock climbing pants out there! Compared to their closest competitors, the Zion offer better value for money than the Arcteryx Gamma (below) but not quite the same warmth as the Mountain Hardwear Yumalino.

Pros

  • Best for sport and gym climbing, bouldering (but good for just about everything!)
  • Durable
  • Very good breathability
  • Very stretchy
  • Reasonably priced for such a high-performing pant
  • Built in waist belt
  • DWR finish
  • Quick drying and abrasion resistant
  • Ventilated inseam gusset

Cons

  • Eh, we’re still looking…

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Patagonia Venga Rock Pant

Patagonia Venga Rock Pant

For a classy-looking pair of pants that’s suitable for wearing down the pub but which feature a host of climbing-specific features, you might not have to look any further than the Patagonia Venga. These pants are fairly pricey, but they’re also very comfortable, durable and made with breathable and stretchy materials. Features-wise, they lack an ankle cinch but come with reinforced pockets, a gusseted crotch, a toothbrush holder and articulated knees. A great choice for boulderers and crag climbers but maybe lacking a little in warmth for those tackling alpine routes.

Pros

  • Offer great mobility
  • Articulated knees
  • Reinforced pockets
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Nice breathability
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Durable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • No ankle cinch
  • Quite expensive

Find the latest price on:
Patagonia | Backcountry


So Solid tights

So Solid Leggings

So Solid Leggings are pants made for the climbing extrovert. The gaudy colors featured in almost every design are sure to bring a bit of brightness to the crag and just might win you a few friends and fans (or, perhaps, blind them!). Performance wise, these against-the-skin pants are very comfortable and the stretchiest item in our review owing to their polyamide-elastane fabrics. They’re also made with abrasion-resistant materials, have a nicely gusseted crotch and offer great breathability for something pressed so tight against the skin. They won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for the more ‘colorful’ characters out there the garish style might just be a winner!

Pros

  • Awesome stretch
  • Made with abrasion-resistant materials
  • If the law of attraction is to be believed, these pants will find you a lot of very colorful, quirky new friends!
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Remarkably warm and breathable
  • Good for bouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbing

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not for wallflowers!
  • No pockets

Find the latest price on:
So Solid


Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pant

Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pant

They might be a touch on the heavy side, but the Gamma Rock Pant by Arcteryx have very little else to find fault with. They’re water resistant, very flexible, warm, breathable, durable and boast a handful of tidy features to boot. The best of these features are the built-in chalk bag loop, an integrated belt, four-way stretch, a gusseted inseam, wealth of pockets and articulated knees. All this goodness, however, comes at a price. A big one. For one pair of the Gammas you could buy at least two (sometimes three!) of most other items on our list. Great pants with a not-so-great price…

Pros

  • Great for alpine and trad climbing
  • Flexible
  • Warm
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Integrated belt
  • Water resistant
  • Built-in chalk bag loop

Cons

  • Price – very expensive!
  • Fairly heavy

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Mountain Hardwear Yumalino Pant

Mountain Hardwear Yumalino Pant

For the die-hard who likes to keep climbing all-year round, the Yumalino might just be the pants for you. These cosy winter heavyweights boast a super-soft fleece lining and a water-repellent, durable softshell exterior that make them great for cool-weather climbing. They also have a nicely gusseted crotch area, decent stretch and articulated knees for added durability. The best alpine climbing pants for colder conditions? If money isn’t a big issue, they just might be that!

Pros

  • Great for trad and alpine climbing
  • Very warm
  • Very soft lining
  • Durable softshell exterior
  • Articulated knees

Cons

  • Too heavy and warm for summer crag climbing
  • Expensive (even if reasonably priced for winter pants)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


La Sportiva Talus Rock Climbing Pant

La Sportiva Talus Rock Climbing Pant

The awesomely comfortable and cool-looking Talus are pants made with the climber in mind. They boast a wealth of functional features, including articulated knees, a gusseted crotch, an integrated toothbrush sleeve and handy chalk back loop. They’re durable, stretchy, reasonably breathable and very comfortable owing to the elasticated waist and string-tie waist band, which doesn’t dig in as much as belts below your harness. On the downside, these pants are a touch pricey and not made with as high-performing materials as the Gamma, Venga or Zion (above).

Pros

  • Comfort elastic and adjustable waist
  • Integrated loop on back part for chalk-bag
  • 4 pockets
  • Integrated toothbrush pocket
  • Articulated knees
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Great for bouldering, crag climbing and indoor climbing

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No ankle cinch

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


La Sportiva Arco Pant

La Sportiva Arco Pant

Boasting great breathability, awesome flexibility and greater comfort than many other items in our review, the Arco just might be the best pants for indoor climbing and crag climbing out there. They’re light (12.7oz.), have a foldable waist for improved comfort in a harness, articulated knees, an integrated toothbrush pocket and a gusseted crotch. Their relaxed fit is ideal for those who want the maximum range of movement and the bottom hem cinch lets you adjust the length when need be. They’re not the warmest pants out there and lack the water-resistance of many trad and alpine pants, but for cragging, bouldering and wall-climbing these beauties are hard to beat, particularly in the comfort stakes. Also available in bright yellow!

Pros

  • Foldable waist
  • Articulated knees
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Toothbrush pocket
  • Ankle cinch
  • Very comfortable
  • Good breathability
  • Nice and roomy

Cons

  • Not the warmest pants out there
  • Not water resistant

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


prAna Axiom Jean

Prana Axiom Jean

If you like to squeeze in a climb or two in lunch breaks or without a change of clothes, the Axiom might be the pants you’re looking for. These stylish denim pants look like an ordinary pair of jeans you’d wear out on a Saturday night, but hide a number of handy features and facets that make them equally awesome climbing partners. They’re comfortable, offer a great range of movement and are very durable. You might not want to hit any trad or alpine routes in them, but for quick sessions indoors or at the crag they’re just about the coolest and most practical pants you’ll find!

Pros

  • Stylish!
  • Very flexible
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Durable
  • Good range of movement
  • Very comfortable
  • Reasonably prices
  • Ideal for cragging and bouldering or quick, lunchtime indoor gym sessions

Cons

  • Knees not articulated
  • Lack breathability
  • No means of length adjustment

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Ucraft Xlite Climbing Pants

Ucraft Xlite Climbing Pants

For climbers in warmer climates, the Ucraft Xlite offer a super-light, super-stretchy and reasonably high-performing pant at an affordable price. These aren’t the most durable pants out there, but feature an elasticated waist, articulated knees, a handy side pocket and breathable materials. They also integrate a handy chalk bag loop and toothbrush sleeve for added practicality and have ankle drawstrings that allow you to turn them into three-quarter length pants or even shorts when things get a bit sticky. A solid all-rounder that lacks toughness and durability but performs well on any non-alpine climb.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Integrated chalk bag loop and toothbrush sleeve
  • Very stretchy
  • Good breathability
  • A nice, lower priced alternative to the Arco or Gamma pants

Cons

  • Not warm enough for alpine climbs
  • Not the most durable or rugged materials

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Topo Climb Pants

Topo Designs Climb Pants

Topo Designs Climb Pants are a solid, stylish-looking all rounder that don’t quite hit the same levels as their competitors performance-wise but come in quite a bit cheaper. They have a gusseted crotch, plenty of pockets, an integrated belt with a handy chalk bag loop and boast good breathability and decent range of movement. They don’t quite offer the flexibility you’ll need for testy boulder problems or sport climbs, but for lower level climbers or long trad climbs they’re just about ideal, ticking all the boxes barring water repellency (and, let’s face it, how many of us climb in the rain anyway?)!

Pros

  • Cotton-Lycra blend is nicely stretchy
  • Integrated belt with chalk bag loop
  • Gusseted crotch
  • 4 pockets (one zip closure, one button closure)
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Good for warmer trad climbs

Cons

  • Don’t offer the same flexibility or features as similarly priced competitors

Find the latest price on:
Backcountry


Things to consider when buying your climbing pants

01Match your pants to your project

The type of climbing you do will determine which pants are best for your pins. To keep things simple and help narrow down your search, we’ve identified two main types of pants with different attributes and features – sport, indoor and bouldering pants and alpine and trad pants.

Sport climbing, bouldering and indoor climbing

The type of moves involved in the above types of climbing tend to be more dynamic and athletic, and so the range of motion required is greater than with alpine or trad climbing pants. For each of them, great flexibility and stretch, a gusseted crotch and uninhibited movement are absolute musts.

Alpine and trad climbing

While flexibility and stretch are important facets in alpine and trad climbing pants, they’re not quite the be-all-and-end-all that they are in sportier climbs, indoors or pebble-wrestling. On longer routes, warmth, comfort and practicality come to the fore. These pants are usually a bit heavier than other models, but include features such as a microfleece lining, a durable water repellent finish, a few closable pockets and superior breathability.

02Materials

The material of your pants will determine various facets and flaws, most notably their flexibility, breathability, durability and comfort. Given that each of these items is pretty much top of the pant-shopping ‘yes please!’ list, the material of your pin and posterior holders is pretty darn important.

Flexibility: climbing in non-flexible pants is kinda like swimming in a chain-mail wetsuit. It just isn’t going to happen, even if you’re Alex Honnold, Chris Sharma or prone to involuntary levitation while on the rock. Flexible materials allow you the best range of movement, particularly on super-stretchy moves or when cutting high-level yoga-type shapes on the rock. You might look cool in a pair of hipster jeans, but when you tumble off your route because those tightly stitched, gusset and stretch-free jeans seams robbed you of a precious centimeter or two, all coolness will go out the window. To ensure you get that centimeter when needed, look for Lycra, Stretch Cordura or similarly stretchy materials.

Breathability: summer climbing can bring a fair bit of stickiness and overheating in the, eh, underparts. That’s all very well if you can pop into the shade between climbs but if you’re stuck on a multi-pitch or testy problem for a few hours at a time, you want to have a little bit of ventilation. Breathable materials will aid you in this regard and help keep things cool when the crag starts cooking.

Durability: back in the day, climbing pants ranged from lightweight but easily rippable linen models to heavy-duty jean-like affairs with very little in between. These days, thankfully, the options available are far more numerous, appealing and high-performing. Lightweight models, however, do tend to be a touch more prone to rippage, whereas heavier, tougher pants can deal with a bit of chafing in a chimney or knee-drag here and there, but obviously lack the nude-like feel of the featherweights. Which is best for you will depend largely on the type of climbing you do and your personal preferences. For trad and alpine routes, we’d recommend heavier and more durable pants; for bouldering and sport routes, lighter pants will give you a bit more ‘feel’ and freedom on particularly dynamic, killer moves.

Comfort: your pants’ comfort levels will depend largely on the three factors mentioned above, as well as some design features such as a gusseted crotch and elasticated waist. That said, some materials (denim, for instance) can chafe on the knees, hips and around the pinch points of your harness if worn for greater lengths of time. Far maximum comfort, stretchier materials scoop the prizes every time.

03Warmth

“Man, this hypothermia was well worth those few hundred grams I saved with my ultralight leg-liners,” said no one, ever. Yes, skimping on weight may be massively in vogue these days but if you’re headed onto high ground, there’s a fine line between canny practicality and downright daftness. For trad and alpine climbers in particular, weight savings can be easily made elsewhere, so skimming a measly hundred grams from your attire (and losing warmth in the process), falls into the downright daftness category. For crag climbers and boulderers, a pair of full length pants with ankle cinches will offer you plenty of versatility when fresher mornings turn into toasty afternoons. For alpine climbers, we’d recommend a pair of heavier pants and even fleece lined pants if your climbing destinations tend to be in the Scottish Highlands more than they are on Mediterranean Islands.

04Features

Pants can have features? Indeed, dear reader, they can. Though not absolute deal-breakers or makers, a handful of handy add-ons can make your pants the perfect climbing partners.

  • Gusetted crotch

    Gusseted crotch

    Added material in the crotch area which, for male users, is more anatomically agreeable and accommodating than your standard pant crotch when cutting the more yoga-like moves climbing often entails.

  • Draw cord of climbing pants

    Ankle-cinch

    Very handy for adjusting the length of your pants, giving you the option of converting them into shorts on sweaty days or three-quarter length pants on semi-sweaty days.

  • Toothbrush holder

    Toothbrush pocket

    Ideal for carrying a brush for impromptu dental-hygiene care in high places or, alternatively, polishing a patch of dusty rock.

  • Zippered pocket

    Closable pockets

    Nice to have for alpine or multi-pitch climbers who don’t want to have to whip off their backpack every time they want a piece of gum or to check their route map.

  • Chalk bag loop

    Chalk bag loop

    Mainly for boulders and free climbers, an integrated loop on the rear of the waist belt is ideal for clipping on a chalk bag.


From ultra-stretchy, lithesome leggings for craggers and pebble-wrestlers to high-performing, bomb-proof pants for alpine aficionados, we’ve just about seen it all! Whatever type of climbing you’re getting up to, we’re sure the above list will have something suitable for your rockbound adventures!

Climb on, people!

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