While climbing in leggings, gym shorts, or even street pants is perfectly acceptable and relatively common, specially designed rock climbing pants will help to ensure that no aspect of your gear or clothing will inhibit your climbing abilities. When buying the best climbing pants you’ll want to pay attention to materials, the type of climbing you’ll be doing, the waistband and ankle closure systems, fit, and brand.
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Table of Contents
- Things to Consider When Choosing Climbing Pants
- Best Climbing Pants on the Market Review
- 1. prAna Stretch Zion Pant - Top Pick
- 2. La Sportiva Men's Arco Rock Climbing Pants
- 3. Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Pants - Best for Outdoor Climbing
- 4. Ucraft Xlite Rock Climbing & Yoga Pants - Best Budget
- 5. Arc’Teryx Gamma LT - Trendiest
- 6. Mountain Hardware Yumalina Pant - Best for Alpine
- 7. prAna Axiom Jean 32"" Inseam - Best for City Climbers
- 8. La Sportiva Talus Pant
- 9. prAna Halle Pant - Regular Inseam
- 10. Black Diamond Men's Alpine Pants
Things to Consider When Choosing Climbing Pants
Rock climbing pants come in a variety of materials including spandex, polyester, and elastane — but the two main materials you’ll find in rock climbing pants are nylon and cotton. The different types of fabric perform different jobs for you on the wall so you should be aware of how the different fabrics behave and check the pants label before purchasing to see what the material breakdown is of the pair of pants you’re eyeing. They’ll also fit differently so — just like with climbing shoes — it’s helpful to try climbing pants on in person before purchasing.
Cotton is breathable and generally more comfortable than nylon options. However, it’s not as durable — if you plan to spend a lot of time climbing but mainly indoors where the terrain and environment is a little less harsh on your clothing, cotton might be the right move for you. On the other hand, if you plan to be putting your pants through a lot of knee bars and scrambles you might want to opt for nylon instead. Nylon is just as breathable, arguably more lightweight than cotton, and more durable. However, the less cotton in the makeup of your pants, the less comfortable they’ll be.
Type of Climbing
As mentioned above, certain types of climbing pants are more durable than other pants. Some are more lightweight and breathable than others too. Weight these options in relation to where you do most of your climbing. Do you do a lot of outdoor bouldering? Your pants will need to stand up to some nasty falls onto less than forgiving terrain (because who actually lands on the crash pad?) Are you into rock scrambles and kneebars? You’ll need the same durability. Do you typically climb somewhere like West Virginia in the fall? Maybe opt for a thicker pair of pants for a little extra warmth? On the flip side, if you spend most of your time climbing in the summer maybe look at one of the more lightweight options. The type of climbing and the crag you frequent should factor into which pair of rock climbing pants you ultimately choose to purchase.
Rock climbing pants come with some options for additional features — especially pants designed specifically for rock climbing.
No one knows better than you how you want your clothing to fit. This is especially important to keep in mind when purchasing rock climbing pants. The right fit will determine whether or not you catch that high foot or take a big fall. If your pants don’t allow the stretch you need they could hold you back in inconvenient or even dangerous ways on the wall. On top of safety is, of course, comfort. While climbing pants are designed to fit a little better into climbing harnesses, different materials will still bunch more than others. Bring a harness with you to try on rock climbing pants to get an accurate feel for how they’ll fit on that multi-pitch all-day climb.
Additionally, rock climbing pant sizing is similar to rock climbing shoe sizing in that it doesn’t quite measure up to your street size. Between variations in design and the different fits of different materials, you’ll definitely want to check out the fit of your pants in a store before you purchase them.
Best Climbing Pants on the Market Review
Many of the prominent rock climbing gear brands design and produce their own rock climbing pants — which means there are a lot of options out there. Keep in mind that it all really comes down to how you want your pants to fit, what features you want your pants to have, and how much you want to spend on rock climbing pants. This guide can help determine what combination of materials and features are the best rock climbing pants for your needs.
Note: While this guide will mostly link to the men’s versions of pants, each product has a similar female equivalent.
1. prAna Stretch Zion Pant - Top Pick
prAna has been a front runner in rock climbing gear for years — and their rock climbing pants are no different. The Stretch Zion pant comes in 8 colors — pricing is dependent on which color you want. The original “Zion” stretch material is 97% nylon and 3% spandex so it’s comfortable and durable while also allowing the right amount of stretch for you to move wherever you need to. It’s also coated with a water-resistant material.
Beyond the specifically designed material, the Stretch Zion has every other rock climbing specific feature you could possibly want. An integrated belt system will keep these pants secure without leaving straps or strings out to get in the way. The ankles feature a roll-up leg snap closure system that allows you to tailor the length of the pant to wherever you’d like — and change the fit throughout the day. The thigh of the pants feature a dual-entry cargo pocket large enough to store whatever you might need on your way up the wall — and the dual-entry design means whatever you store will be secure and accessible at the same time.
2. La Sportiva Men's Arco Rock Climbing Pants
The La Sportiva Arco is as flashy as it is functional. It currently comes in two colors — rust and the brightest yellow you’ve ever seen in your life. The material is 97% cotton and 3% lycra — perhaps less stretchy than pants that come equipped with nylon material, but the Arco makes up for it elsewhere. Articulated knees and stretch inserts allow for more give exactly where you need it. The reinforced hems are similarly equipped for climbing — roll your hems up for years and the fabric won’t give.
The Arco also comes with some climbing-specific features like a toothbrush pocket. However, the closure system isn’t quite what the Stretch Zion offers. The drawstring system of the Arco will keep your pants secure, but it does leave strings exposed to get caught, tied-up, or cut on sharp edges. The Arco also lacks any sort of waterproofing feature — if you plan to brave the less pleasant elements maybe look for a pair of pants that includes waterproofing. However, these pants do boast wind resistant material for those chilly hours up above the treeline.
3. Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Pants - Best for Outdoor Climbing
“What the sending man wears above treeline” is all the description on Outdoor Research for these pants has to say. And, don’t worry, there’s a Ferrosi pant for women too. The Ferrosi pant is as comfortable as it is durable. Not only is the material waterproof — it’s also wind resistant, breathable, quick drying, and UPF 50+ rated. Basically, these pants are going to hold up against anything the rock has to throw at you.
While the material of these pants can take on anything, the design does lack some of the features that other climbing pants including. For example, the Ferrosi lacks an integrated belt system or any waist-tightening system at all. You might have to wear an additional belt. The cuff closure also isn’t as effective as some of the other designs. Outdoor Research also recently updated the sizing for this product — if you’ve purchased Ferrosi pants in the past and are planning on purchasing another pair, you might want to try them on in store again to see if your size has changed.
4. Ucraft Xlite Rock Climbing & Yoga Pants - Best Budget
The Ucraft Xlite, available in versions for both men and women, is one of the least expensive products on this list — while still offering plenty bang for your buck. These pants have an integrated drawstring waist closure — the ends of the strings will be hanging out around the middle of your waist, but the string that wraps around your waist is covered and protected from any sharp edges. They also have plenty of pockets in different locations making sure your gear is accessible anywhere and anytime you need it to be.
These pants are known for being particularly comfortable, but they aren’t waterproof. These pants are also known for being one of the most lightweight products on the market. The biggest drawback on these budgets pants is probably their durability. While they are plenty durable, when they go toe to toe with some of the other products on this list, they aren’t quite as durable and won’t last through as many trips to the crag.
5. Arc’Teryx Gamma LT - Trendiest
The Arc’Teryx Gamma LT rock climbing pants will be on every list of recommended rock climbing pants — despite their hefty price tag. Since, of course, these pants are Arc’Teryx, they’re just about as expensive as it gets for rock climbing pants. For the price tag, however, you get plenty of bells and whistles. The Arc’Teryx Gamma LT comes with an integrated belt, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and a built-in chalk bag loop. It also has plenty of pockets of varying designs so you can get the gear you need up the wall with you however you prefer.
These pants are water resistant, tear resistant, and known to be warm for alpine climbs or multi-pitch routes that have you hanging above the treeline for extended periods of time. That also means these are a thicker, heavier pair of pants — if you know you’re the type of person who climbs in warm climates and prefers not to carry any additional weight up the wall, these might not be the best pants for you.
6. Mountain Hardware Yumalina Pant - Best for Alpine
The Mountain Hardware Yumalina Pant is the warmest pair of rock climbing pants on the market. If you’re planning to do a lot of alpine climbing or even just climbing through the fall into the winter seasons, this might be best rock climbing pants for you. However, the fleece-lined warmth doesn’t sacrifice in the way of movement — the stretch fabric and gusseted inseam will give you all the movement you need while also keeping you warm.
The Mountain Hardware Yumalina’s water-repellent exterior means they’re great for all kinds of cold weather climbs. Keep in mind, however, that these pants won’t be able to do double duty — come summer climbing months, you might need to buy a more lightweight pair of pants. These pants do have some of the same bells and whistles you can expect from other pants — for example, a drawstring waist lets you adjust the fit of the pants to a certain degree.
7. prAna Axiom Jean 32"" Inseam - Best for City Climbers
It doesn’t get more fashionable than the prAna Axiom Jean. Available in three different washes, for a relatively reasonable price, these jeans are appropriate for the office or city — and the rock wall. Perfect for mid-workday climbing sessions or heading straight to the gym after work, these pants offer all the flexibility you expect from rock climbing pants with a gusseted crotch and 1% spandex material. As they’re made by the head honcho of rock climbing clothing, these jeans are more durable than your typical pair of denim jeans — however, they aren’t waterproof and might not be the best pair of pants for an outdoor climb.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of these pants is the lack of size adjustment features. As they are, essentially, jeans, there are no ankle snaps, cinches, or cuffs to adjust the length in any way. There’s also no integrated belt or drawstring for adjusting the waist sizing. Keep this in mind when you’re purchasing — however they fit when you buy them is more or less how they’re going to fit on your legs on the wall. Also, while they do stretch and offer a significant range of motion, the knees aren’t articulated.
8. La Sportiva Talus Pant
The La Sportiva Talus has a lot of the same features and benefits as La Sportiva’s other pants products. However, there are several more options for colors here — if the flashy style of La Sportiva’s other products isn’t really your style, check out the Talus in colors like brick, chili, and ocean.
On top of additional color options, the La Sportiva Talus has all the same features as the Arco — with a slightly less alarming price tag. The elastic waistband has an integrated drawstring adjustment system. The pants also include an integrated toothbrush pocket and chalk bag loop. The pants are designed with articulated knees and a gusseted crotch for all the movement you could possibly want. However, these pants don’t have any sort of ankle closure system — no cinch closure, no snap system, no nothing. If that feature is important to you, you might consider paying the extra $20 or so for the La Sportiva Arco.
9. prAna Halle Pant - Regular Inseam
The prAna Halle offers everything you’ve come to expect from prAna products after reading through this list. With the same Stretch “Zion” fabric as the top pick pants, these pants are durable, flexible, stretchy, abrasion resistant, and water resistant — everything you need for a day at the crag. But they’re also stylish enough to wear around town with a relaxed fit and a slight bootleg cut.
Some of the other rock climbing specific features this pant includes are roll-up snap ankles — adjust the length of the pants to any length you’d like securely. However, these pants lack any sort of integrated waist adjustment system — keep this in mind if you’re particularly against belts. A hidden zip pocket will keep your gear secure and accessible as you head up the wall and articulated knees will make sure you get all the reach you need where you need it.
10. Black Diamond Men's Alpine Pants
If you’re looking for a more high-end winter climbing pant, the Black Diamond Alpine will likely be the best rock climbing pants option for you. They’re durable, breathable, designed with a four-way stretch fabric, and lightweight. They also have a water-resistant finish for all the snow, ice, and rain you can throw at them. They also come with some of the rock climbing fit features you’d expect from Black Diamond — a hem-chord adjustment system will let you adjust the length and fit of the bottom hems of your pants while an integrated belt system will let you adjust the waist.
These are, however, also the second most expensive pair of pants on this list — second only to the Arc’Teryx Gamma. If you’re looking for a winter climbing pant with a little less hefty of a price tag check out the Mountain Hardware option. These also lack the fleece lining that the Mountain Hardware pants have to offer. If you’re thinking of taking on some seriously cold environments, consider Mountain Hardware.
When thinking about important gear for rock climbing, make sure you don’t forget about the importance of rock climbing pants. Protecting your lower half while also providing it with the full range of movement necessary to climb can be just as crucial as having the right shoes, the right chalk, and the right ropes. While there are plenty of options on the market, this list compiles all the best climbing pants and certainly includes the right pair for you.