Every season, the latest gear promises more breathability or warmth or weather protection. But which pieces work so well you can forget they’re there? And which should just be forgotten? From crystal-clear days on cracks at Lumpy Ridge to hail and heart-stopping thunder in the Black Canyon, we reviewed more than 100 articles of clothing to bring you the best of the bunch.
Climbing Pant Reviews
What makes a pant superior isn’t just about what it does do, but also about what it doesn’t do. It shouldn’t hinder upward progress; be too tight or too baggy; make you sweat or itch; look unstylish; have too many or too few pockets; or interact poorly with your harness and other gear. From the Alps of Switzerland to Boulder Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park of Colorado, the Miage didn’t do any of those things, acting as a perfect all-around pant.
“You will see me in these at least five days a week in the winter,” one female tester said. “Thanks to the merino wool, they’re warm enough to wear outside, but they breathe so you can rock them for hours in a muggy gym without fear of sweat stains.”
Light, thin, and stretchy enough without fitting like yoga pants, these 94 percent nylon/6 percent spandex technical pants were perfect for a month of December bouldering in Hueco Tanks, Texas. “Kneebars, falls, rock and cactus scrapes, leg scumming… Nothing could put a hole in these,” our tester said.
Puffy jackets keep your upper half warm, so why not don some puff in the southern hemisphere? Our tester wore these PrimaLoft-insulated pants winter camping in four western states and raved about the light weight (11 oz. for a medium), packability, and warmth in temps as low as 8°F.
“I’ve worn these bouldering at Horsetooth Reservoir in Colorado, in the gym, flying across the country, and out to dinner,” our tester said. These climbing jeans are at home in any situation. A fully gusseted inseam (from crotch to ankle) provides “the mobility of synthetic pants with a fabric like durable denim.”
When you find clothing that is comfortable, versatile, stretchy, and flattering, it’s a winner. The Urban Gym Capri has a wide waistband for a slimming effect, but, more important, it keeps the pants in place. “These never slipped down—with a harness or without,” one tester said.
After a year on the U.S. market, Adidas has been looking to make a splash in climbing apparel, and the German giant just might do it with the Terrex Swift Flex Pants ($95; adidas.com/us/outdoor). Made with stretchy, lightweight, synthetic fabric, this elegant and simple pant has no unnecessary stitching, pockets, or “features” all too common on other climbing pants.
For rock climbers, finding functional, good-looking threads for your lower half isn’t easy. Ladies have an especially hard time, given the wide range (pun not intended) of our shapes and sizes. The Vertical Girl Signature Knicker ($40; verticalgirl.com) is the answer to our collective prayers. They’re sleek, soft, comfy as hell, and will make your butt look good—nobody will scoff at your butt-shot photos.
Do you ever feel like Goldilocks when trying to find the right pair of climbing pants? These are too scratchy. These are too restrictive. These pants are just plain ugly. We scoured the outdoor apparel market to find nine pairs that will give you a “These are just right” moment.