Best Climbing Pants of 2024

by Vern Evans

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As rock climbers, we ask a lot of our climbing pants. We want them to protect our legs from the elements on bad weather days, sharp vegetation on bushwhack approaches, and coarse rock when it’s time to butt scoot off a boulder. But when we’re climbing, we mostly don’t want to notice them at all. We want pants that can handle high steps, drop knees, heel hooks, or any other weird leg contortion a climb might demand without limiting our range of motion. No one wants to fall off their project because of a wardrobe choice. And if all that wasn’t enough, we don’t want our pants to look dumb either. Most climbers use their climbing pants for all kinds of regular life activities, and we want our pants to still look like, well, pants. With such a high bar in place for a single piece of clothing, I set out to find some of the best climbing pants on the market that could meet all of the weird demands rock climbers place on them.

How I Tested the Best Climbing Pants

I tested the best climbing pants by climbing in some of my favorite and most frequented places. Rock types ranged from coarse desert granite to soft red sandstone and included the plastic walls of my local rock gym. I tried the pants while climbing in the hot, direct afternoon sun as well as frigid early mornings with snow still on the ground. The main aspects of the pants I focused on were: 

Performance

Climbing pants need to stretch and move with your body. Any decrease in range of motion is limiting your performance on the wall. It is imperative that your pants have some flexibility and aren’t holding you back.

Durability

The very nature of climbing puts clothes through the ringer. Climbers are often scraping across rock faces, scrambling around on huge boulder fields, or thrashing through thick underbrush in their pursuit of vertical thrills. And climbing clothing doesn’t usually come cheap so it’s essential to have pants that can hold up.

Style

This isn’t just for vanity. The reality is that climbing pants need to double as regular pants most of the time. No climber wants to buy two pairs of pants when one will do just fine. And it’s a pain to pack double the sets of pants in your luggage or van whenever you go on a climbing trip. Additionally, climbers are often squeezing their sessions at the gym or crag in between other chores or duties so you want to be able to fit in decently at a restaurant, grocery store, or your kid’s parent teacher conference without feeling like you’re wearing a sign that says, “Ask me about my project.”

Best Climbing Pants: Reviews & Recommendations 

Best Overall: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Key Features

  • Material: Nylon blend soft shell fabric
  • Pockets: Zipper thigh pocket, drop-in hand pockets, back right zip pocket, back left drop-in pocket
  • Closure: Button waist with internal drawstrings
  • Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Cinch cords at pant cuffs

Pros

  • Fabric is very stretchy to accommodate a range of climbing movement
  • Thigh pocket zips and sits below the leg of the harness
  • Look like normal pants when not climbing

Cons

  • Thigh pocket is a bit too big

When I first looked at the Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants I didn’t think I’d be impressed. It seemed like these pants were trying to do too much — I mean why would you need a drawstring waist on pants with a button and zipper? Then I put them on and warmed to them immediately thanks to how well they stretched. These pants will move with you on even the most gymnastic of boulder problems without pulling against you at all. The cinch cord at the pant cuff allows you to roll the pant leg up and keep it out of your way when you need to deploy some precise footwork.

The Ferrosis also work really well with a harness. Turns out that draw string allows you to dial in the fit, so the waist stays snugly under the harness, but the zipper button combo still allows you to wear it less snug and easily answer nature’s call on all day climbing outings. Additionally, the zipper thigh pocket is a must for pants on any multi-pitch outing. The pocket sits out of the way of the harness leg loop to keep your phone secure for taking pictures or checking route beta when you’re going to be up there for a while. My only complaint was that this pocket could be a little smaller as sometimes my phone could rattle around in there while climbing.

The fabric is plenty durable. I scraped these around for multiple days in the desert without any real tears to speak of. The material also makes them look like regular pants. I was able to unroll the pant leg and transition from crag to bar seamlessly at the end of a long day of climbing.

Best for Cold Weather: Arc’teryx Proton Pant

Key Features

  • Material: Grid fleece lined nylon blend
  • Pockets: Two drop-in pockets
  • Closure: Elastic waistband with drawstring
  • Weight: 10.8 ounces

Pros

  • Grid fleece provides insulation with some breathability
  • Fabric stretches well to accommodate most climbing movement
  • Simple design

Cons

  • Too warm on hot days
  • No drawstrings or elastic cuffs on pant legs

A lot of hard climbing happens when it’s nice and chilly out. The friction of the rock is better when it’s cold, allowing you to hold and stand on small edges for much longer. These conditions are also when the Arc’teryx Proton Pant shines. The pants are fantastic active insulation, utilizing a grid fleece lining to keep you warm when you’re standing around belaying, but offering breathability when you’re pulling hard and heating up.

The pants feature a simple design with an elastic waistband and only two front pockets to keep the bulk down. They stretch well with most climbing movements and only slightly pulled the waistband down when I tried to place a foot above my head in overhanging terrain. In my experience, insulated pants are usually terrible for range of motion but these pants blew me away with how well they climbed and the warmth they provided.

The fabric held up well against most rock, but some prickly desert plants put small holes in them in a couple of spots. The Protons can also moonlight just fine as going out pants, but they do give off a bit of a pajama vibe so your post-climb venue should be pretty casual.

Best for Bouldering: LaSportiva Talus Pants

Key Features

  • Material: 94 percent recycled fabric
  • Pockets: Two front pockets and two back pockets
  • Closure: Button waist with drawstring
  • Weight: 12.9 ounces
  • Brush pocket

Pros

  • Fabric is very stretchy to accommodate a range of climbing movement
  • Material is durable

Cons

  • Don’t look like normal pants
  • Would prefer a waist with no button
  • No elastic cuffs on pant legs

The LaSportive Talus pant seems made for boulderers. Since boulderers often use their crash pads as backpacks by sandwiching their items in the middle of the pad, these pants have large open pockets so you can keep track of smaller knick-knacks on your hike to the boulder. They even feature a brush pocket so boulderers can climb up a bit, pull out their brush, and scrub excess chalk from a higher hold before they give the problem a real try.

The Talus fabric stretches very well with dynamic powerful movements required while bouldering. I didn’t feel any kind of pull while climbing a problem with an overhanging traverse that required continuously bumping a heel hook above my head. Along with good stretchiness, the fabric is very durable, holding up well against Pacific NW brush and desert thorns alike. 

These definitely look like climbing pants or at least some kind of sport pant. Going out in these, you might as well wear your harness and helmet to the bar and introduce yourself to everyone with your name followed by, “and I’m a climber.” Since that’s obviously the look LaSportiva was going for, I would have preferred if they went all in with performance features like elastic cuffs on the legs and just an elastic waistband rather than trying unsuccessfully to make them look like semi normal pants.

Read Next: Best Climbing Chalks, Tested and Reviewed

Best for the Gym: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Joggers

Key Features

  • Material: Recycled nylon blend softshell fabric
  • Pockets: Two front pockets and zippered right back pocket
  • Closure: Elastic waist with drawstring
  • Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Elastic cuffs on pant legs

Pros

  • Fabric is very stretchy to accommodate a range of climbing movement
  • Elastic pant cuffs stay put when pulled up
  • Dries fast after sweating in the gym

Cons

  • No zipper thigh pocket
  • Elastic cuffs can look silly

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Joggers are a simplified and streamlined version of the Ferrosi pants. The stretch of the joggers works with any climbing move you might try in the gym while the cuffed legs make hiking them up simple and easy. Since most rock gym sessions include some kind of traditional gym work out, I used these pants in the weight room, on the treadmill, and the stair stepper machine at my rock gym and found no issue with performance or the durability of the material.

While the elastic waistband and cuffed legs lend these pants an ease and smoothness to performance, the tradeoff is you end up looking like Peter Pan when you’re not climbing, so plan your after party accordingly.

Best Lightweight: Arc’teryx Konseal Lightweight Pant

Key Features

  • Material: Nylon blend softshell fabric
  • Pockets: Two front pockets, two back pockets, and zipper thigh pocket
  • Closure: Zippered fly with snap closure
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Integrated belt

Pros

  • Super light and breathable
  • Fabric is very stretchy to accommodate a range of climbing movement
  • Integrated belt works well with harness
  • Thigh pocket keeps things secure below harness leg loop

Cons

  • Less durable than other pants
  • No pant cuff or cinch cords

The Arc’Teryx Konseal Lightweight Pant feels so light and breezy, you might forget you’re wearing pants. The fabric easily moves with you during any climbing sequence and the integrated belt paired with a zipper thigh pocket perform well with a harness on.

But all this lightweight high-quality performance does come with some durability down sides. I ripped a decent sized hole in these pants after just two days of desert climbing on a scrambly descent. Normally, I would never opt for such a lightweight fabric in an area known for shredding clothing, but I figured I’d see if I could find the limit. I did. So choose your venue wisely when donning these pants.

These pants also look super sleek. I tested a black pair and granted, I probably don’t have the best eye for class, but I feel like someone could get away with rocking a suit coat and tie while wearing these things on a hot day and avoid any raised eyebrows.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Climbing Pants

Every brand claims to have the latest, greatest, athlete-tested, 100 percent proven to make you climb harder pants on the market. And why wouldn’t they? I’ve seen how hard some of these designers work to get the details of they’re products just right. And we wouldn’t want to buy from a brand that couldn’t muster that kind of self-confidence anyway. But all that can make shopping choices a little bit overwhelming so here are some tips for future purchases:

Try Before You Buy

This might sound obvious, but sometimes the allure and ease of online shopping can get the better of all of us. Go to a store in person and try on some pairs of climbing pants, or order your top contenders online and return the rejects. We all have different bodies and require different fits. You’re definitely not going to climb your best in a pair of pants that fit poorly so trying them on can negate some guesswork. 

Climbing Style

There are so many different types of rock climbing these days. Are you a gym climber? Ropes or bouldering? Sport or trad? Do you climb finger cracks or wide cracks? Overhanging or slab? Granite or limestone? I could go on, but it would only amuse me. So make sure to pick the pant that works for your style of climbing and the rock type you’re trying to climb. A boulderer in the gym is going to want something totally different from their pants than someone trying to scale a 1,000-foot alpine face.

Don’t Get Attached 

We’ve all met the crusty old timer who’s duct taped seven holes in his climbing clothing because, “these were the best and then they changed them.” It’s OK. Styles change and new models come out. When you need to buy new climbing pants, go try out some new styles instead of committing to one type of pant and then complaining about the changes forever. The people producing these pants are actually trying to improve them, and if there is something not to your liking about a new pair, you can vote with your wallet. You might even find a new favorite pair that you didn’t know existed.

Read Next: Best Climbing Shoes, Tested and Reviewed

Final Thoughts

Through testing out the best climbing pants, I’ve come to realize just how demanding climbers are. It’s hard to produce a pant that can move with you, hold up to abuse, and look good at the same time. Most climbing pants will excel in one or two of these areas, but not likely all three. Hopefully this review will help you sift through the wide array of pants out on the market right now to find a pair that will work for your kind of climbing.

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