A good pair of climbing pants can make all the difference on a day out or a training session. The best climbing pants will give you complete freedom of movement and breeze through gnarly situations.
There are a huge range of pants designed specifically for climbing available right now. We've gone through our favorites for all types of climbing and budgets. Pitting the old classics up against some of the newest styles with innovative tech, these are the best climbing pants available right now!
No time to read? - Here are the best climbing pants at the cheapest price online
- Best Climbing Pants - prAna Stretch Zion
- Best Women's Climbing Pants - Black Diamond Notion SP
- Best Climbing Shorts - prAna Mojo Shorts
- Best Alpine Climbing Pants - Arc'teryx Sigma AR
What To Look For In Climbing Pants?
A good pair of climbing pants needs to be totally flexible. Any pants that restrict your movement - especially around the hips and knees - are going to stop you making the weird moves climbing requires.
A slightly baggier fit is usual to help with movement. Stretchy fabric is also used in many climbing pants to aid those weird scrunched up moves. Personally we prefer a slimmer cut with good stretch that still looks modern enough to wear in every day life.
Durability is really important for all of those overgrown and scrambly approaches combined with constant wear on rock. Breathable fabric and design will stop you overheating on hot, summer days and long indoor sessions.
Many of these fabrics use a cordura material or similar. Some have SPF or UPF sun protection which is essential on long hikes in on sunny days. Many of the featured climbing pants here get that perfect mix of durable and breathable. Some are also water-resistant or quick drying.
Bonuses include a well thought out closure for adjusting the fit throughout a session. A foot-hole (technical word...) that closes, folds up, or works in some way that it doesn't get snagged is great. Being able to see the foothold you're going for is a must.
Functional pockets that don't get in the way of a harness, water resistance, UV protection, and burly clip-on points are all great too. The best Men's climbing pants are slightly different to the best Women's climbing pants really only because of the cut. Both of our picks have different gender options available.
Best Climbing Pants - prAna Stretch Zion
|Material: Stretch Zion 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex||Water Resistant: Yes||Features: SPF 50,|
The Stretch Zion has been around for years and been a favorite of many climbers. We've actually looked around to find anything that beats them but still end up going back to the classics. The Stretch Zion manage to look decent, feel lightweight and stretchy, while still retaining decent wind resistance and water resistance.
As climbing pants they are roomy enough with a good stretch so you don't have to worry about any restriction while going for those high heel hooks. The Zion Stretch material is stretchy, tear resistant, has in-built SPF 50 sun protection, and is water repellent. They dry fast and mud washes off quickly in real world testing.
The design overall is good but the features are what cinches these as the best climbing pants. There are two deep side pockets, two back pockets, and one thigh pocket with a side zip and top opening. The bottom of the legs roll up and can be snapped into place as three-quarter lengths.
There are small sewn holes on the inside leg for extra breathability. The waist has a zip and button closure, with a fabric cinch on a small but rugged clip so you don't have to wear a belt. The range of colors is huge and includes various shades of brown/khaki through to a more refined gray/black and camo. Overall these are the best climbing pants for the money.
As general hiking and trail pants they're great too as the fit is pretty baggy and breathable. If you'd prefer a slimmer fit that's possible to wear as an every day smart-casual pant these come in a straight version with a more modern cut. There is a convertible version that zips off at the knee and shorts too.
Best Women's Climbing Pants - Black Diamond Notion SP
|Material: 98% Cotton / 2% Elastane||Water Resistant: No||Features: Reinforced knees, real pockets, drawcord waistband|
The Black Diamond Notion SP are our pick for the best Women's climbing pants out there. There are a huge range of options for women's climbing pants but these tick all the boxes while looking great.
The material is a light and breathable cotton that holds up well to wear and abrasion. The knees are reinforced for more comfortable mantling and sketchy moves. Two front and back pockets that are actually usable and won't get blocked by a harness.
The bottom cuffs are elastic as is the waist. The waist also has an internal hidden drawcord for a more adjustable fit. Comes in a bunch of different colors with a wider range available directly from Black Diamond. Also available are a Men's Notion with a different cut but the same material.
Other great Women's climbing pants options:
Based on the Men's Stretch Zion the prAna Halle or Halle Straight are an excellent alternative that are just professional enough for the office. They roll up to 3/4 length for breezier days or for seeing footholds better and secure with a zip and two-button fly. The waist is adjustable with an internal cord. There are two front, two back, and one hidden zip 'stash' pocket on the lower thigh.
The Halle come in the Standard baggier cut version or the Straight cut version with a slimmer leg. Both versions also have a standard size, short, and long versions. Really versatile with enough flex from the Stretch Zion fabric and articulated knees for high foot moves. Quick drying, SPF 50, and a good price point. There's also another slimmer cut with a slightly different shaped called the Briann which is worth checking out.
On the higher end the Arc'teryx Gamma LT are the best Women's climbing pants for the money. They come with a tonne of well-designed features and a hard-wearing fabric. Built to last with a water and tear resistant fabric. Another adjustable waist with stretchy fabric and adjustable cuffs, the side and thigh pockets are big and zip up.
Best Climbing Shorts - prAna Mojo Shorts
|Material: 100% recycled Polyester||Water Resistant: Quick-dry||Features: UPF 50+|
The go to bouldering and climbing shorts - these are light and breezy, made of recycled material, flee super comfy, and look great! The Mojo shorts come in a tonne of different colors and patterns so shop around to fit one you like. Two side pockets and one on the back for the hikes in.
They have UPF 50+ sun protection and are moisture wicking for those hot summer days. They dry surprisingly fast so are perfect for deep water soloing or general exercise and running too. The Super Mojo stretch more than the standard Mojo so also do well in Yoga and similar activities.
Best Leggings For Climbing - Arc'teryx Oriel Leggings
|Material: 71% Nylon / 29% Elastane||Water Resistant: No||Features: UPF 50+|
These leggings have it all - hard wearing but breathable, actual pockets, and total flexibility. They've been designed with wearing a harness in mind. This means the waist is mid-high for padding and the thigh pockets are low enough that anything in them won't get trapped under the waist loop.
They come in a sleek design that ends just at the ankle with a few different colors. Perfect for high leg beta and complete flexibility.
Best Alpine Climbing Pants - Arc'teryx Sigma AR
|Material: Mixed composite double-weave||Water Resistant: Yes||Features: Articulated high-stretch|
The Sigma AR are the perfect softshell climbing pants for mountaineering, alpine or ice climbing where you want to stay nimble but protected from weather and rock. Being used in harsher terrain means they're designed to be burly with a mix of fabrics throughout.
The instep is reinforced so cleats are less likely to damage the pants and there is a drawcord at the cuffs for a good fit. There is an expanding zipped section at the lower leg for changing from rock boots to chunkier ice-climbing boots.
They're do-it-all pants (All Round...) and the stretchiness really helps for all types of movement or overnighters. Featuring two big side and one hip zip-up pockets. An internal webbing belt secures well at the front with a metal buckle. Just the best climbing pants for more rough and ready climbing styles.
Can You Wear Jeans Rock Climbing?
Yes you can wear jeans for rock climbing indoors or out. We'd recommend stretch jeans as stiffer ones will limit your hip and leg movement.
It's really common to see stretchy jeans worn for climbing because they offer great protection from scrapes and cuts. They can also be worn straight from a session to a social setting without changing.
The disadvantage comes with the breathability and thickness. Sometimes on a hot day in the sun, or in a packed indoor session they can get too warm. Get the right pair and this will be less of a problem.
Why Do Boulderers Wear Jeans?
There a couple of answers - take your pick. First off bouldering tends to involve a lot more standing around or sitting on the floor. Especially outside this can get cold, so a thicker pair of pants like jeans is helpful.
Secondly, bouldering is a bit more fashionable than climbing. Outdoor climbers tend to need more functional, specific outdoors gear. Bouldering just needs shoes and a chalk bag, so it's normally fine to wear a decent pair of stretchy (and normally skinny) jeans bouldering indoors or out.
Are Climbing Pants Worth It?
While you don't need to buy a pair of pants specifically for climbing, there are some good reasons to. If you spend any time climbing then your pants will take a fair bit of abuse from scraping against textured walls and sharp rock.
Climbing pants tend to take this a bit better and last longer. They're generally also designed for better range of movement around the hips and knees. They may also have a closure where you won't need the extra weight of a belt to hold them up.
Basically they'll save you wearing out a normal pair of pants and last longer - meaning you'll save money in the long run.
How Should Climbing Pants Fit?
Basically the same as normal pants. Generally they stretch more or are designed with a gusseted crotch so that your legs can get up high. You want full and unrestricted range of movement in your legs and knees so test them out when you get them.
Disadvantages Of Climbing Pants
Really it's just the looks and the cost. Fashion often comes second to functionality, and climbing fashion is sometimes a little odd compared to what's currently in. However there are some fashion-conscious brands like Prana and So iLL that makes some good looking climbing pants.
What Is The Best Closure For Climbing Pants?
We prefer simple and adjustable. An internal thread or webbing that fastens allows you to adjust throughout a long day works great. That or a stretchy fit for something lighter or for shorts.
What Is Articulation?
At the crotch, hips, or knees where your body goes through a high range of motion you might have extra material. Having this extra material is called articulation and means you can make big moves without the pants restricting you.
What Materials Are Best For Climbing Pants?
Lots of different materials are used in climbing pants - from cotton to elastane and cordura. Most climbing pants have a blend of materials - one that's burly and one for stretch and breathability.
For general use climbing pants the materials are aiming to have a mix of durability, breathability, and stretch. If they're too breathable they won't hold up in cold weather, and more durable fabric won't breathe as well. Our top picks for the best climbing pants tick all of the boxes.
What Pockets Should Climbing Pants Have?
It's totally up to you. We prefer deeper pockets that won't get trapped by a harness and one on the thigh for a mobile. Generally we use pockets for the hike in but only the thigh one while climbing - and a zipped pocket is preferable so you don't brain your belayer.