Rock climbing is an aesthetically pleasing sport, and the modern climber cares about both performing well and looking good (hello Instagram!) Today’s climbing pants, led by up-and-coming international brands, are combining form and function for the second most important piece of apparel (after your shoes, of course). Want some added protection as you work your project? Abrasion-resistant fabric will do the trick. Don’t want to be hemmed in on that mighty high step? A gusseted crotch and stretchy fibers deliver extra fluidity. Heading into town for a drink post-climb? Go straight from crag to bar because these pants pull double duty and look damn fine while doing it, too.
With an eye on Europe, Asia and our neighbors to the north, the following features seven brands from the around the world pushing the boundaries of what climbing apparel can be.
Orrum Monday Denim, South Korea
Orrum means “climbing” in Korean and the crew there have built their brand around bouldering seven days a week. The Monday Denim ($75) pant is made of a resilient cotton, poly, spandex blend with a gusseted crotch to provide full freedom of movement for big heel hooks and aggressive drop knees. The pants have an on-trend, baggy fit that’s cropped a few inches above the ankle.
CAYL Corduroy Pants, South Korea
Based in Seoul, CAYL (Climb As You Love) is all about living with the soul of climbing whether in mountains or city. Their products are minimalist oriented with earthy tones and functional sensibility. The Corduroy Pants ($80) are a favorite at Field Mag, made with a 97% cotton, 3% poly blend with just enough give, are pre-washed to prevent shrinking, and have a quick-clip fastener for easy-on-easy-off.
Boulder Denim 2.0 Athletic Fit Jeans, Canada
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 nanoshere coating makes them water- and stain-resistant, especially helpful for climbing trips when packing light is a must.
Looking for Wild Climbing Trousers, France
A jogger-style pant for the city and the crag, these technical Climbing Trousers ($99) will stand out wherever you take them. Designed alongside French climbing pros, these breathable and ultra-stretchy pants fit perfectly under the harness, complete with a zippered thigh pocket that provides access without interference from your leg loop. The elastic waist and ankles make adjustments on the fly a breeze, and the doubled up knees offer extra abrasion-resistance for techy face climbing.
Ocun Honk Pants, Czech Republic
Rooted in engineering, Ocun has established several firsts in their 25 years, including the creation of the crash pad and the rubber heel on climbing shoes (your achilles is thanking them). Their Honk Pants ($101) are designed with a "retro work look” and are built with a similar toughness in mind. Meant for colder weather, they are made of a durable canvas with a bit of stretch (95% Cotton, 5% Elastan). For added protection on high-wear areas, the Honk pant includes bartacked seams and reinforced cuffs.
Kailas 9A Classic Pant, China
Newer to the U.S. 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 full range of motion. Small, thoughtful details include a brush holder on the side, and backside belt loops for your chalk bag.
e9 3Angolo, Italy
Like a fine Italian espresso, the 3Angolo ($116) expresses bold taste and colorful features for a day at the boulder fields. Founded by a former world boulder champion, Mauro Calibani, e9 knows bouldering. And it shows in their designs with a form fitting waist, articulated knees that allow freedom of movement, brush holders built into the pants, and of course, their funky, contrast pockets (that, again, like an espresso, illicits a love or hate reaction).