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Rock climbing is an aesthetically pleasing alpine sport, and the modern climber cares about both performing well and looking good (hello Instagram!). Today’s best climbing pants combine form and function, comfort and durability, for the second most important piece of apparel (after your shoes, of course). Want some added protection as you work on your project? Abrasion-resistant fabric will do the trick. Don’t want to be hemmed in on that mighty high step? A diamond-gusseted crotch and stretchy fibers deliver extra fluidity. Heading into town for a drink post-climb? Go straight from crag (or gym) to bar because these pants pull double duty and look damn fine while doing it, too.
Finding the right balance between style, stretch, and strength is key to finding the right rock climbing pant for you. To aid in this search for the best-looking and most technically adept climbing pants, we rounded up the following 15 options from outdoor brands you’re likely already familiar with and more fashion-focused brands from abroad that might be new to you.
(Check out our comprehensive list of the 47 terms every climber should know, while you're here.)
What to Look for in a Climbing Pant
Before we get to our top picks though, let’s dive into the technical side of what makes the best pants for rock climbing. Material is top of the list. Many climbing pants, including several of our favorites below, feature a cotton blend. Cotton gives breathability, flexibility, and durability. Other blends will feature denim or polyester, both of which provide more durability than just a cotton blend. Some brands of jeans cater specifically to rock climbers.
While the quality of the material of your pants is important, you also need to consider how the pants are made, in addition to how they fit—and look—on your body. The following are some of the key features we suggest looking for in climbing pants for men and women.
Climbing Pant Features
Gusseted crotch: A gusset is a piece of fabric, usually shaped like a triangle or diamond, that is sewn into garments to reduce stress on the seams. A gusseted crotch is just what it sounds like: a gusset is inserted right where the two pant legs meet. This is so that the four seams (one from the inside of each pant leg, the front, and the back) don’t all meet at one point. This makes the pants more durable and more comfortable. The crotch area of the pants is strengthened and won’t rip as easily, and they fit more easily around your legs and waist.
Articulated knees: Another common feature that helps movement and comfort in climbing pants is an articulated knee. An articulated knee is when the pant leg is sewn in a slightly bent shape, making it easier to bend your legs while wearing them.
Secure Closures: Button closures will be the most secure way of closing your climbing pants. Zippers or snaps can be undone accidentally if you pull too hard. The same goes for a drawstring; the knot can get worked out by accident.
Zippered pockets: Pockets with zippers will enable you to carry your stuff securely. Climbing obviously requires you to move around a lot, and the last thing you want is to have something important slip out of your pocket while you're halfway through a boulder or a few dozen feet in the air.
Integrated belt or belt loops: An integrated belt can help keep your pants securely around your waist. Belt loops are important for climbing pants. Even if you have an integrated belt, belt loops allow you to clip small things directly to you, giving you more access to them than if you had to get them out of a bag or a pocket. Drawstrings and elastic waistbands are fine for a normal workout pant, but typically don’t hold up well for climbing.
Chalk bag loop: Having quick access to a chalk bag can be really important, especially for high-level sport and trad climbers. Being able to clip the bag straight to your pants or belt will give you fast and easy access and not get in the way of your harness.
Climbing shoes: OK, you’re right, climbing shoes are not part of pants. BUT, they are the most important piece of climbing gear to consider. Check out our picks, plus other important things to have when bouldering and sport climbing here.
15 Best Climbing Pants for Men and Women That Blend Style, Functional & Durability
One of the most popular imported GORP brands, And Wander designs and manufactures products for outdoor lifestyle folk in their home of Japan. Their climbing pants are cut from 100% nylon which makes them water repellent, a feature not typically needed in a climbing pant but cool nonetheless. Cut for movement to make good on the product name’s promise.
Price: $305 SHOP NOW
Based in Seoul, CAYL (Climb As You Love) is all about living with the soul of climbing, whether in mountains or city. Until recently, their earthy-toned, minimalist-oriented pieces have been hard to come by stateside. Thanks to climbing’s rise in streetwear, pieces like this fatigue-inspired Lip Pocket Climbing Pant ($145) pop up in ultra-curated shops. The stretchy twill blend pant reads casual, but its gusseted crotch panel and webbing belt suit basic needs for climbing use.
Price: $145 SHOP NOW
Originally a Seattle brand, Manastash is now in the hands of a Japanese-based team that’s done well to uphold the quirkiness that made us into fans early on. This stretch-cotton, multicolor climbing pant perfectly exemplifies the brand’s aesthetic that we dig. The branded webbing belt is a nice touch, but we’re sad to see the absence of a gusseted crotch. Still, if you’re looking for a stylish statement piece for the gym or crag, this is it.
Price: $135 SHOP NOW
Outdoor recreation retailer Backcountry has spent enough time selling gear and apparel to know what it takes to make a good pair of climbing pants. The fabric is a dialed-in blend of 65% Cordura, 30% nylon, and 5% spandex, cut into the super-slim silhouette of a jogger pant pattern. Plenty strong without sacrificing the flexibility of movement. The pockets are designed with a harness in mind and jogger cuffs to ensure that pant legs are never in the way, and a single zipper pocket holds small valuables.
GORP heads rejoice, your beloved dead bird brand has you covered. Arc’teryx comes out swinging in this fitted silhouette cut from a techy lightweight cotton-nylon-elastane blend that’s perfect for warm weather sends. The integrated belt keeps bulk down, and a whole mess of open and zipper pockets are useful for all sorts of climbing-related goodies.
A clean, slim five-pocket pant named after the mystical boulders of Fontainbleau! Black Diamond threw in a perfect 2% of elastic to their cotton to give the Font Pant just the right amount of stretch and a diamond gusset in the crotch. Beyond those couple of features, they’re really just a normal pair of pants that look right at home with a sweatshirt, and that’s just fine.
The clean synthetic Omni pant is emblematic of Houdini’s brand aesthetic: sophisticated enough for office wear but designed with a technical mind. Key features like the darts at the knees for smooth movements and adjustable leg openings make them the most suitable option for office people who want to send after their 9-5.
If you ever find yourself in Spain climbing La Dura Dura, you might hear “Venga! Venga!” from observers on the ground, meaning “Go! Go!” It’s certainly a suitable name for Patagonia’s techy climbing pant made from 93% organic cotton for softness and 7% spandex for stretch. Pocket placement on the pants are laid out with a climbing harness in mind, so you’ll still be able to get to that snack while hangdogging on the rope. An elasticized waistband here replaces the need for an integrated belt and saves on bulk around where a harness rests at the hip.
For those not down with tech fibers and the workout vibe that comes with them, this canvas option from Canadian brand Ostrya is pretty solid. (The denim pant from Korean brand Orumm is rad too, but you’ll need a proxy assist, or a plane ticket, to buy them!) Tech fibers can be impressively tough, but the abrasion-resistance of double-layered cotton duck is unmatchable. The workwear-inspired pants are one of the pricier options on this list, but we love them all the same. Ostrya makes this pant and many others within their borders, opting for factories that pay fair, sustainable wages and maintain quality working conditions.
Price: $233 SHOP NOW
We wouldn’t dare talk about climbing pants without mentioning Gramicci. Legendary Yosemite Stone Master Mike Graham started the brand in the '80s, bringing to market some of the first pants designed just for climbing. Building on the flagship G Pant, the NN pant brings a slimmer cut made from a stretch cotton twill and retains tried-and-true features from the G like an integrated belt and gusseted crotch.
Price: $108 SHOP NOW
Only in recent years has Five Ten branched out from their line of shoes for rock climbing and mountain biking. This five-pocket style climbing pant from the brand’s growing apparel line uses a blend of cotton and recycled polyester, loaded with plenty of stretch for movement on natural rock and simulated indoor rock walls alike. Subtle technical details like articulated knees and elastic cuffs top off an already well-thought-through climbing garment.
Rooted in engineering, Czech brand Ocún has established several firsts in their 25 years, including creating the crash pad and the rubber heel on climbing shoes (your Achilles is thanking them). Their 100% nylon Mania Pants make for a highly-breathable option that's fit for putting in high-octane efforts on your latest project while the sun beats down overhead. Since they’re synthetic, you’ll find them resisting wrinkling better than a typical cotton trouser.
Keep your beat up painter’s pants in the closet, Boulder Denim jeans are the only pair of denim you need for the crag and a night out on the town. Though a bit slim for some, the minimalist 2.0 Athletic Fit Jeans ($109) are made with 10.5 oz denim with 360-degree diagonal stretch, allowing them to contour to your body and keep their shape even after wearing them for days at a time—in other words, they won’t bag or blow out. Plus, a nanosphere coating makes them water- and stain-resistant, especially helpful for climbing trips when packing light is a must.
If you ever wish your workwear double-fronts breathed better, Topo’s got just the pant. Using flexible ripstop nylon, they’ve added a layer to the knees of their Mountain Pants to make for a light-yet-bomber pant we’d rock happily. A thin webbing belt keeps ‘em put and a zippered back pocket secures small valuables as you go for the double dyno. Though not designed for climbing specifically, they’re certainly up to the task and a great option as a general trekking/hiking pant.
Price: $89 SHOP NOW
Newer to the US and European markets, Kailas create highly technical gear from apparel to ropes to ice tools, with the 9A Classic Pant ($108) as one of their flagship pieces. The vibrantly colored trousers are popular in China and pop like fireworks against the featured crags. Designed to be light—they weigh just 14 oz—quick-drying, stretchy, and breathable (95% nylon, 5% spandex), they feature an elastic waistband, a gusseted crotch, and articulated knees for a full range of motion. Small, thoughtful details include a brush holder on the side and backside belt loops for your chalk bag.
If you're looking for more background on what pants to wear and why, the following offers a full analytical breakdown of the best options for what to wear while climbing.
What do most climbers wear?
Different climbers will wear different things, depending on the type of climbing they are doing, their skill level, and how often they climb. The wardrobe varies from shorts, leggings, and sweatpants, to jeans or regular pants, to high-end climbing pants. We’re still waiting for a climbing brand to drop a game-changing convertible pant.
Shorts However, when you are climbing, a pair of pants will end up benefiting you a lot more than shorts. While shorts can allow for more range of movement and are more open and breathable, they lack protection. If you opt for shorts, don’t wear shorts that are too tight or too short as they will expose your legs to sharp rock or rough wall when bouldering and will be uncomfortable in the harness when sport and trad climbing. A pair of shorts likely won’t help you out on high alpine missions where the weather can make a sudden change.
Leggings Another option some people choose, especially for indoor climbing, is leggings. Make sure they are super stretchy so that you have a full range of motion. It’s also a good idea to wear high-waisted leggings so that they stay secure when climbing in a harness. Like shorts, leggings don’t provide much in the protection department, so sturdier climbing pants are a much better option for bouldering and outdoor climbing.
Canvas & Denim Those who are looking for more protection when climbing will sometimes consider denim pants or rugged canvas pants like Carhartts. These are good options for durable, protective wear. Though you’ll want to make sure your trousers give you enough flexibility—jeans often trade range of motion for strength and durability. The extra pockets on these types of pants can be handy, but cargo pants tend to add a bit too much bulk where it’s not helpful.
Alpine Pants The needs of an alpine climber are in a completely different category. These very specific hardshell and softshell pants closer resemble a snowboarding pant than a climbing pant that could easily pass as a general pair of hiking pants.
For a rock climbing pant that is comfortable but still strong enough to protect you, check out some of the pants we've reviewed above. These will give you the protection you need against rocks but also allow you to move freely.
How should climbing pants fit?
How your climbing pants fit can be very subjective, but there are a few basic guidelines to help you choose which fit is right for you. Tightness or looseness is a matter of personal preference, so long as they are not so tight they restrict movement, or so loose they get in the way and become a slipping hazard. If you are wearing loose or baggy pants, shorten your inseam by rolling the hem above your ankles to ensure a clear line of sight for footholds. This will also prevent them from slipping over or under your shoes and getting in the way of your footing.
Are climbing pants worth it?
If you are a serious climber, yes. While climbing pants are not necessary like a harness or helmet, they can still benefit your climb. They are designed to be strong and durable while still comfortable. Climbing pants are specifically designed for climbing. They are made to be breathable and have high mobility, just like a pair of athletic jogger pants, but they are also stronger and more durable than normal athletic wear. They can even be worn off the climbing wall for activities like trail running and hiking. Athletic pants can be fine for climbing, especially gym climbing. But for altitude climbing or bouldering, you want something stronger, like climbing pants.