Apparel may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of climbing gear, but the clothing you wear can make a big difference in your climbing experience and performance. Choosing the wrong pants, for example, can quickly turn a fun climbing outing into an uncomfortable one. With so many options to choose from, how do you find the best climbing pants for your needs?
We’ve selected some of the best climbing pants on the market that will keep you comfortable on and off the wall. Before we get into our picks, let’s go over what makes climbing pants different from regular workout clothes.
How are climbing pants different from other pants?
The best climbing pants are durable, comfortable, flexible, breathable, and, in some cases, weather-resistant. While other workout attire may be comfortable and breathable, most of it is not abrasion resistant, meaning it will not stand up to the abuse climbers put their clothing through. Climbing-specific apparel, on the other hand, is designed to be scraped across artificial walls and sharp rock surfaces without falling apart.
Designated climbing pants also have features for superior flexibility, including stretchy materials, a gusseted crotch, and articulated knees. These details allow for more mobility in the hips and knees while also preventing the fabric from bunching up behind the leg. Additionally, climbing pants have a waistband that fits comfortably under a harness, which may not be the case with your average pair of workout pants.
While indoor climbing may not necessitate any kind of wind, rain, or sun protection, climbers are exposed to the elements for long hours when at the crag or on a multi-pitch climb. Many of the best climbing pants include weather-resistant features, like a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating and a high UPF rating.
Best Climbing Pants: Our Picks
prAna Stretch Zion Pant: Best Overall
Pros: Comfortable, durable, lightweight
Cons: Not as stylish for casual wear as some other pants
Materials: 97% nylon, 3% spandex
Best for: Indoor and outdoor climbing, diverse weather conditions
The prAna Stretch Zion is a popular pair of climbing pants for good reason. The versatile pants are incredibly comfortable and provide excellent mobility and value for money.
As the name suggests, the Stretch Zions are very stretchy. Because of the nylon and spandex construction, the pants are lightweight, breathable, fast-drying, and abrasion resistant. They also include a DWR finish and UPF 50+ sun protection rating, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor climbing and other activities, such as hiking and biking.
The pants are easy to roll up in warmer weather thanks to the integrated leg straps and have a ventilated gusset in the crotch for added comfort and breathability. However, in hot and humid conditions, the Stretch Zions don’t vent as well as some lighter weight options like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi.
Since they’re available in multiple inseams and come with an adjustable waist belt, you’ll get a more tailored fit with the Stretch Zions than many other climbing pants on the market.
The pants also come with a great selection of five mesh pockets, including a thigh pocket – an important feature when wearing a harness.
Although these look more like climbing pants than Prana’s Axiom Jean, the Stretch Zion Pant still works great for casual wear around town and will transition well from a climbing session to meeting up with friends.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants: Most Breathable
Pros: Lightweight, breathable, affordable
Cons: Not ideal for cool weather
Materials: 86% nylon, 14% spandex
Best for: Indoor and outdoor climbing, warm weather
With 14% spandex, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are some of the stretchiest climbing pants out there. The quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric will keep you dry on the approach and through the crux of your climb even in warm weather, making these our pick for the most breathable pants.
Outdoor Research included a brushed tricot-lined waistband that is very comfortable and compatible with a harness, as well as drawcord cuff closures. The pants have drop-in front and back pockets and a zippered thigh pocket for added security when storing your belongings.
The Ferrosi pants are available in a 28” to 38” waist and 30”, 32”, and 34” inseams. Unlike some of the other styles on our list, these pants lack an integrated belt, but there are belt loops in case you need to adjust the fit of the waist.
The UPF 50+ sun protection rating makes the Ferrosi pants are an excellent choice for outdoor climbing on warm, sunny days. While the pants include a DWR finish for wind and rain protection, some reviewers noted the coating did not perform well in adverse weather conditions.
Overall, the Ferrosis offer excellent value for money and are a comfortable, highly breathable choice for gym sessions and warm-weather outdoor climbs.
prAna Axiom Jean: Most Stylish
Pros: Versatile, durable, stylish
Cons: Not as breathable or stretchy as other pants
Materials: 99% organic cotton, 1% spandex
Best for: Shorter indoor and outdoor climbing sessions, casual wear, cool weather
Designed with climbing in mind, the Prana Axiom Jean is much more durable and comfortable than your average pair of jeans. This versatile pant works well for climbing and casual wear and makes it easy to go from an after-work gym session to dinner with friends.
The jeans have a gusseted crotch for increased range of motion and are made of cotton and spandex for a nice balance of comfort, stretch, and durability. Available in 30”, 32”, and 34” inseams and waist sizes ranging from 28” to 40”, this pair of jeans will fit a majority of climbers.
The front and back pockets are deep and will hold many of your belongings with ease, but there is no thigh pocket. With only 1% spandex, the Axiom Jean is not as stretchy as some other pants reviewed here, but most reviewers found the stretch and mobility to be just right for their needs.
Ultimately, the Axiom is still a pair of jeans and lacks the breathability and technical features that dedicated climbing pants offer. The jeans do not include any kind of weather-resistance and aren’t the best pants to bring on an alpine or multi-pitch route.
For cooler weather and shorter climbing sessions, this is an excellent option that you can wear in many situations beyond climbing.
Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pant: Best for Multi-pitch or Alpine Climbing
Pros: Weather-resistant, breathable, durable
Cons: Expensive, no back pockets
Materials: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Best for: Outdoor climbing, multi-pitch and alpine climbing, inclement weather
The Gamma LT Pant from Arc’teryx is more weather resistant than other styles on our list, making these better suited to outdoor climbing in cooler weather. Thanks to a DWR finish that offers protection from rain and wind, the Gamma LTs are the best climbing pants for alpine and multi-pitch routes.
Arc’teryx included various features for enhanced comfort and freedom of movement. The four-way stretch softshell material, gusseted crotch, and articulated construction offer fantastic mobility, while the brushed polyester waistband provides a soft, comfortable feel around the waist. Additionally, the drawstring on the cuff and integrated webbing belt allow for adjustability depending on the conditions and desired fit.
The Gamma LTs are made with Arc’teryx’s nylon and elastane Fortius DW 2.0 fabric, which dries quickly and provides excellent abrasion resistance and stretch. They also come with some climbing-specific features, including a built-in chalk bag loop.
The pants are available in short, regular, and tall lengths and sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Some reviewers cautioned that they run large, so size accordingly.
At $189, the Gamma LTs are twice as expensive as many other climbing pants. If you don’t need the additional technical features and weather resistance, you may be better off with a cheaper pair.