The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023

Climbing Harness for Women

Finding the best climbing pants can be a pain. Women’s climbing pants need to allow full movement, keep you covered, endure heavy use, and let’s be honest — look good, too!

After spending months researching, testing, analyzing, and geeking out on everything from the seams to the range of motion, we finally narrowed down the best women’s climbing pants of 2023.

Whether you’re planning an epic climbing trip in the backcountry or working on a project at your local climbing gym, we have the pants for you.

For those wondering if climbing-specific pants are warranted, check out our Buyer’s Guide and FAQ for the lowdown on why these pants are specially constructed for the vertical world. Also, take a look at our comparison chart to help steer your decision-making.

The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023

Best Overall Women's Climbing Pants

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant


  • Weight 12 oz.
  • Material 93% cotton, 7% spandex
  • Number of pockets Four
  • Special features Large, comfortable waistband
  • Fit Standard
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Impressive stretch
  • High durability for long-lasting use
  • Snap ankle closures for zero interference
  • Comfortable enough to wear all day


  • Front pockets don’t close
  • Pockets are too shallow
The Patagonia Caliza Rock pants ($109) are the answer to the female climber’s prayers. There are so many reasons why these were deemed our best overall climbing pants. For starters, we were immediately impressed by how well they molded to the body.

Unlike other climbing pants that are either too baggy or too tight in the wrong areas, these seem to have the perfect amount of stretch in all the right places. Plus, these organic cotton-blend pants earn high marks for durability.

We also found the wide elastic waistband to be comfortable and perfectly placed for your harness to fit over. And let’s not forget the snaps on the bottom cuffs that can be adjusted to fit your ankle.

The pockets — both in the front and the back — are so flat and low-key that we didn’t even know they were there until we looked in the mirror. With that said, open shallow pockets like these don’t hold much or keep items from falling out. We wouldn’t use them while climbing to ensure the safety of others below.

Overall, the Patagonia Caliza Rock pants are remarkably versatile for all types of climbing and are comfortable enough for all-day leisurewear. And with five colors to choose from, you might not want to wear anything else. We’re quite confident they’re the best women’s climbing pants available today.

For more, check out our full review of the Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant.
Best Budget Women's Climbing Pants

The North Face Women’s Aphrodite 2.0 Capris


  • Weight Unavailable
  • Material 95% nylon, 5% elastane
  • Number of pockets Three
  • Special features Invisible-zip inside drop-in front pocket
  • Fit Standard; straight leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Invisible inside zip pocket
  • Deep front pockets
  • UPF 40+
  • Flattering design
  • Drawstring cord


  • Restrictive waistband
  • Inadequate water resistance
  • Prone to snagging and pilling
The North Face Women’s Aphrodite 2.0 Capris ($50) are perfect for those who don’t want to wear leggings but also don’t want to wear run-of-the-mill climbing pants. And with a price hovering around $50, we couldn’t help but deem these pants the best budget pick.

In addition to being fashionable, these pants function admirably at a climbing gym because of their remarkable lightness, comfort, and range of motion. And for outdoor climbing, they have added benefits, including FlashDry technology, durable water resistance (DWR), and a UPF 40+ rating.

However, there are a few things we noticed after testing these pants. First, we weren’t impressed by its triple-stitched band that impedes its range of stretch, making it particularly challenging to don over our widest part — our hips and butt. Second, after only a few tests out in the field, these pants became prone to snagging and pilling. And last, despite having a DWR finish, we weren’t impressed with its mild ability to repel even the lightest amount of precipitation.

So while these are definitely our favorite budget choice, we don’t hold them to the highest standard for long-lasting durability, especially in rough terrain. But even with that said, The North Face Women’s Aphrodite 2.0 Capris are still a great addition to an active wardrobe for when you want to make a statement at your indoor climbing gym, running errands, or doing light outdoor activities.
Best Style Women's Climbing Pants

Topo Designs Boulder Pants


  • Weight 12 oz.
  • Material 90% nylon, 10% spandex
  • Number of pockets Four
  • Special features DWR Finish, ankle drawcord
  • Fit Relaxed
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Four-way stretch nylon provides great mobility
  • Good weather resistance
  • Bold colors and cute style
  • Comfortable elastic waistband


  • Only one zip pocket in the back
For the style-conscious climber looking for unique apparel that still climbs well, the Topo Designs Boulder Pants ($109) are a great choice. They’re ideal for bouldering and single-pitch climbing. With five bold colors to choose from and a high-waisted, modern fit, these pants will transition seamlessly from the crag to a casual night out. 

Made with four-way stretch nylon, the Boulder Pants allow for unrestricted movement and provide decent protection from the elements. During some blustery days of climbing in Joshua Tree during the winter, we noticed that these pants offered wind protection similar to a softshell jacket. Though we mainly tested them while climbing in the desert in January, the fabric feels light enough to keep wearing during warmer seasons. 

We love how well the high elastic waistband stays in place, even while wearing a harness weighed down by a double rack of cams. We also appreciate the ankle drawcord feature, which helps dial in precise foot placements. 

For longer or more technical missions, we prefer a slimmer fit and additional zip pockets; the single zip back pocket isn’t very functional for multi-pitch climbing with a full harness. When your climbing keeps you closer to the ground, however, you can’t go wrong with the cute and functional Boulder Pants.
Best Comfort Women's Climbing Pants

Mountain Hardware Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle


  • Weight 8.4 oz.
  • Material 94% nylon, 6% elastane
  • Number of pockets Four
  • Special features Secure zip pocket on the left thigh
  • Fit Standard; tapered leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Pocket that zipped for added security
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Feminine look
  • UPF 50


  • Pockets unable to carry heavy items
The Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle pants ($85) from Mountain Hardwear are arguably the most comfortable climbing pants we’ve tested. These pants are incredibly lightweight, breathable, and provided the kind of outstanding stretch we needed to accomplish our climbing objectives.

The Dynama/2 Ankle pants are not only so comfortable that we found ourselves wearing them multiple days in a row (without odor thanks to their odor-resistant technology), but they also proved plenty durable for bushwacking to the crag. And if comfort and durability weren’t enough, we couldn’t help but delight in the sleek, attractive feel and look of these pants in action — they fit perfectly underneath a harness.

We liked how light these pants were, weighing only 8.4 ounces. However, we didn’t love how the pockets felt almost useless due to the thin material; items like a cellphone were too heavy and caused them to sag. Unless we needed instant access to minor items like chapstick, cards, or a key, we frequently neglected our pockets altogether.

These Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle pants are the perfect option for anyone looking for a pair of pants that are suitable for everything, including grabbing drinks post-climb, traveling, hiking, and most definitely bouldering or topping out at your local climbing gym.

They balance supreme comfort with exceptional performance without sacrificing style, making them one of the best women’s climbing pants around. You’ll want them in every color available.
Best Technical Women's Climbing Pants

Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants


  • Weight 11.4 oz.
  • Material 86% recycled polyester in body, 14% spandex panels
  • Number of pockets Four
  • Special features Reinforced paneling in high-stressed areas for added durability
  • Fit Slim
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Has a built-in belt
  • Great amount of stretch for mobility
  • Cuffs adjust with shock cord and cord lock
  • Secure, functional pockets that lie flat.


  • The inseam may be too long for shorter legs
  • Expensive
Patagonia’s Altvia Alpine Pants ($149) have everything you would ever need for technical climbing and scrambling above the treeline. We labeled these the best technical pant for several reasons.

Their lightweight recycled polyester and spandex blend enables climbers to be ultra mobile. And the reinforced paneling on the knees, butt, and inside the calves gives an added dose of protection in all the right areas.

After taking a closer look, we appreciated all the little details like the adjustable cuffs keeping pants out of the way. And the zippered flat pockets do not interfere with a harness. Plus, a low-profile waistband with an integrated adjustable belt makes these our top choice for big pursuits.

Aside from the hefty price tag, the other issue with these pants is with their inseam — those needing a shorter inseam may need to utilize the pants’s adjustable cord lock on the cuff. This is a slight downside considering all the other bells and whistles these pants offer.

There’s little to complain about because these pants have a lot to offer. When planning your big alpine missions this summer, consider the Altvia Alpine as your go-to climbing pants — they’ll undoubtedly live up to their name.
Best Weather Resistant Women's Climbing Pants

Arc’teryx Gamma Pants


  • Weight 10.4 oz.
  • Material 88% nylon, 12% elastane
  • Number of pockets Three
  • Special features All-zip pockets, gusseted crotch, DWR finish
  • Fit Slim; straight leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Highly durable
  • Great Stretch
  • Three zip-pockets


  • High price tag
Need pants for your next big mission? The Arc’teryx Gamma Pants ($190) will carry you deep into the mountains. The high-performing fabric cuts the wind and sheds moisture while moving with you through high steps, heel hooks, and stems. 

We tested these while climbing on some of the windiest, coldest days of the winter in Joshua Tree. The Gammas kept us as comfortable as we could expect in gusts of up to forty-five miles per hour. During a particularly windy stretch in January, we wore these pants day after day; none of our other climbing pants offer the same amount of protection. 

In our experience, the Gamma pants are unrivaled in durability. The smooth softshell fabric resisted snags from spiky desert plants and the coarse granite of Joshua Tree. After weeks of climbing, boulder scrambling, and desert bushwacking, they showed almost no wear. For warm-weather climbing, we’d probably opt for slightly lighter fabric, but the fabric is breathable enough for a wide range of temperatures. 

The features are exactly where we want them; the side zip pocket is just big enough to secure a phone and the ankle drawcord makes it easy to adjust the length. While we tend to prefer an elastic waistband for climbing pants, the built-in belt is sleek and easy to use. 

At $190 a pair, they’re on the higher end of the climbing pants in our review, but if you expect a lot out of your apparel, you won’t be disappointed. With exceptional durability and perfect features, the Arc’teryx Gamma Pants will soon be your go-to alpine and cool-weather climbing pants.
Best Travel and Hot-Weather Women's Climbing Pants

Patagonia Chambeau Rock Pants


  • Weight 7.9 oz.
  • Material 87% recycled polyester, 13% spandex
  • Number of pockets Five
  • Special features DWR coating to shed light precipitation
  • Fit Slim; tapered leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Contoured waistband that adds comfort and functionality
  • Perfect for staying cool while climbing
  • Adjustable cuffs


  • Pricier than others
  • Drop-in pockets not useful
These Patagonia Chambeau Rock Pants ($129) are perfect for long days on multipitch climbs. Their fast-drying, stretchy material coupled with a comfortable waistband make them one tester’s first pick for all outdoor climbing excursions.

The recycled polyester-spandex blend is light and breathable for hot summer days. And the DWR coating repels light moisture. The cuffs adjust with a pull cord, so you can guarantee proper foot placement without baggy pants getting in the way.

These pants aren’t loaded with features, which failed to tick all of our boxes at this higher price point. We also weren’t impressed with the drop-in front pockets that can’t hold a lot beyond small essentials. Yet, we still appreciate the addition of the zippered leg pockets — all of which lie flat and don’t cause any discomfort under the harness.

If you want something incredibly lightweight and stretchy to get you to the top of your multipitch climb on a blazing day while protecting your legs from unwarranted abrasions, then check out the Chambeau Rock Pant.
Best of the Rest

prAna Halle Straight Pant II


  • Weight Unavailable
  • Material 95% recycled nylon, 5% elastane
  • Number of pockets Five
  • Special features Gusseted crotch for ventilation
  • Fit Standard; straight leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Phone pocket on mid-thigh
  • Cross-functional design for various activities
  • Durable water repellent
  • UPF 50


  • No drawstring ankle ties or snaps
  • Tendency to bunch up in the front
  • Pricey
If you want a pant that can go wherever you go, then look no further than the prAna Halle Straight Pant II ($95). Though not a winner in any specific category, they’re highly versatile thanks to their abrasion resistance, superb stretch, UPF 50 protection, and water-repellent finish.

These pants are highly durable against rugged terrain and unpredictable weather. We also liked the ample pockets, including a thigh-high zipping pocket to secure our phones. Moreover, this pant’s versatility extends beyond just functionality, with its everyday look designed to be worn to the office and then straight to the crag without missing a beat.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed to find that there were no drawstring ankle ties or snaps to roll pant legs up on hot days. And while we found it easy to simply roll them up due to their straight-leg design, they didn’t stay put. Another thing we noticed was that after wearing them all day, they tended to bunch around the crotch, which made them appear unflattering at times.

But despite a couple of minor shortcomings, the prAna Halle Straight Pant II is a phenomenal choice when you need a cross-functional climbing pant for adventures that may entail a mix of various disciplines and conditions.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants


  • Weight 8.9 oz.
  • Material 86% nylon, 14% spandex
  • Number of pockets Five
  • Special features UPF 50+ rating
  • Fit Standard; straight leg
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Bluesign approved fabric
  • Great mobility and stretch
  • Highly breathable
  • UPF 50+


  • Less durable than other softshell pants
For a lightweight pair of softshells with great stretch, look no further than the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants ($89). The fabric is what really makes these pants shine; it’s wind resistant enough to withstand some blustery weather while still shedding heat as temperatures start to rise. 

Anyone who has climbed in the desert knows that the temperatures fluctuate drastically between the sun and shade. We took the Ferrosi Pants on a couple of missions deep into Joshua Tree National Park, which involved hiking under a hot sun to climb classic pitches that were in the shade. We were impressed with the Ferrosi’s breathability in the heat and comfort in cooler temps. The UPF 50+ rating is another plus for long, exposed approaches on sunny days.

We did notice a few snags in the fabric after brushing past scrub oak and other abrasive plants. So for those hiking in burlier environments, the Ferrosis are not the most durable or wind-resistant pants on the market. 

We also struggled a bit with the fit; they seemed baggier around the waist and ankles compared to other pants of similar sizes. However, we do appreciate that the Ferrosis are offered in plus sizes and varying inseam lengths. We trust that most will find a good fit with some trial and error. 

The Ferrosis include the key features we look for in climbing pants; a side zip pocket and ankle drawcord round out the design. With a no-frills cut and great fabric, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are a classic choice for hikers and climbers alike.

Mammut Camie Pants


  • Weight 12 oz.
  • Material 95% cotton, 5% spandex
  • Number of pockets Three
  • Special features Crotch gusset allows for extra mobility
  • Fit Relaxed, athletic
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Drawcord waist and elastic cuffs
  • Relaxed fit for comfort
  • Everyday look


  • Prone to wrinkling
  • Lack moisture-wicking properties
Love the relaxed look and feel of joggers but need a little more durability? The Camie Pants ($109) from Mammut may be the best climbing pants for you. The gusseted crotch and pre-shaped knees, coupled with four-way stretch material, make these pants my go-to when comfort and a wide range of movement are in order for the day.

From yoga to wrestling with the kids to climbing, these pants have seen a lot of constant use these past few months. The elastic waistband with a drawcord and elastic cuffs adds some fun, functional style and looks great with just about any cute tank.

Despite the high percentage of natural fibers, the cotton in these pants makes them prone to wrinkling and doesn’t provide the same water-resistant functionality compared to others. However, they do make up for it by being lightweight and breathable.

For those always on the move keeping up with their kids, running errands, hiking, or sending their next climbing project — the comfort and versatility of the Camie Pants might make them the best climbing pants for you.

Cotopaxi Cerro Travel Tight


  • Weight 7.9 oz.
  • Material 79% recycled polyester, 21% spandex
  • Number of pockets Five
  • Special features Offers Polygiene to prevent odor
  • Fit Form-fitting
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Insanely comfortable
  • Flattering design and pattern
  • Plenty of stash pockets
  • A go-to pant for everyday errands and activities


  • Lower end of durability
  • Not ideal for cold weather
The Cotopaxi Cerro Travel Tight ($90) pants are practically second-skin. These ultra-comfortable leggings weren’t originally designed with climbing in mind. Rather, they were made as a “do-everything tight.”

However, if you’re like most female climbers, your do-everything tight includes climbing, stretching, running, errands, lounging around, and more. Ever since we put on these leggings, it has been hard to justify taking them off.

These tights work great as our climbing gym and warm outdoor cragging leggings. The five stash pockets, flat seams, and wide waistband make them our first pick for exploratory days and warm indoor or outdoor climbing sessions.

However, the spandex and recycled polyester material don’t lend themselves to be great for cold outdoor climbing days. And the lack of abrasion-resistant material won’t withstand chafing against rock, but again, they weren’t designed to do that.

For warm-weather adventures, climbs, and gym workouts — the Cerro Travel Tight will do the job. Those who aren’t fans of feeling encumbered while relaxing (but still want to look cute) will love them.

prAna Kanab Pants


  • Weight Unavailable
  • Material 62% organic cotton, 36% nylon, 2% spandex
  • Number of pockets Five
  • Special features Reinforced fabric at knees adds extra protection and durability
  • Fit Standard; jogger
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Abrasion resistance for durability
  • Cuffed legs that are flattering and won’t get in the way
  • Plenty of pockets


  • Lacks waist drawstring for staying power
The prAna Kanab Pants ($89) have everything we look for in the best climbing pants — they’re durable, comfortable, and stretchy. The organic cotton canvas blend holds up to abrasions, and the double-walled knees give an added dose of protection.

And while built for heavy use, they manage to also be incredibly breathable. Cuffed bottoms and the midrise waistband also make them quite stylish and comfortable.

We also appreciate the deep, usable pockets. We’re easily able to stash a phone or snacks comfortably.

To make these pants ideal, we would have valued a hidden drawstring in the waist for more security and to ensure that they fit different waist sizes — a feature these pants are currently lacking.

Overall, we included the Kanab Pants in our best of the rest because of their practical use for climbing and everything that follows. They’re ideal for camping, hiking, and Sunday morning hangouts.

Black Diamond Notion


  • Weight 11.4 oz.
  • Material 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane
  • Number of pockets Four
  • Special features Go-to pant beyond climbing.
  • Fit Standard; jogger
The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2023


  • Elastic waistband and cuffs
  • All-around comfort
  • Perfect for multiple activities


  • Material isn’t breathable
These Black Diamond Notion pants ($95) warranted our attention due to their comfort while belaying and overall awesomeness for single-pitch sport climbing. Reinforced knees make them withstand tough routes, while the stretchy fabric allows the mobility that’s required to assist you to the top.

The drawstring waistband has an easy fit for ladies who don’t like hugging on the midsection. Two hand pockets and two back pockets also make them useful for carrying extra items to the crag.

“If you’re sensitive to heat and humidity, and have a tendency to sweat a ton, this fabric — which is mostly cotton — isn’t really breathable for super long or sun-bearing days on the wall,” said one tester. But they’re a go-to climbing pant for moderate temps and mild weather conditions.

Super comfortable on the wall, but also while camping, hiking, bouldering at the gym, and traveling, the Notion pant will keep up with all your activities.

Women’s Climbing Pants Comparison Chart

Women’s Climbing Pants Weight Material Pockets Special Features Fit
Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant 12 oz. 93% cotton, 7% spandex Four Large, comfortable waistband Standard
The North Face Women’s
Aphrodite 2.0 Capris
Unavailable 95% nylon, 5% elastane Three Invisible-zip inside drop-in front pocket Standard; straight leg
Topo Designs Boulder Pants 12 oz. 90% nylon, 10% spandex Four DWR Finish, ankle drawcord Relaxed
Mountain Hardware
Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle
8.4 oz. 94% nylon, 6% elastane Four Secure zip pocket on the left thigh Standard; tapered leg
Patagonia Altvia
Alpine Pants
11.4 oz. 86% polyester, 14% spandex Four Reinforced paneling in high-stressed areas for added durability Slim
Arc’teryx Gamma Pants 10.4 oz. 88% nylon, 12% elastane Three All-zip pockets, gusseted crotch, DWR finish Slim; straight leg
Patagonia Chambeau
Rock Pants
7.9 oz. 87% polyester, 13% spandex Five DWR coating to shed light precipitation Slim; tapered leg
prAna Halle Straight Pant II Unavailable 95% nylon, 5% elastane Five Gusseted crotch for ventilation Standard; straight leg
Outdoor Research
Ferrosi Pants
8.9 oz. 86% nylon, 14% spandex Five UPF 50+ rating Standard; straight leg
Mammut Camie Pants 12 oz. 95% cotton, 5% spandex Three Crotch gusset allows for extra mobility Relaxed, athletic
Cotopaxi Cerro
Travel Tight
7.9 oz. 79% polyester, 21% spandex Five Offers Polygiene to prevent odor Form-fitting
prAna Kanab Pants Unavailable 62% cotton, 36% nylon, 2% spandex Five Reinforced fabric at knees adds extra protection and durability Standard; jogger
Black Diamond Notion 11.4 oz. 98% cotton, 2% elastane Four Go to pant beyond climbing. Standard; jogger
The course monzogranite of Joshua Tree National Park makes the perfect testing grounds for climbing pants; (photo/Greg Petliski)

Why You Should Trust Us

The team at GearJunkie are outdoor experts and enthusiasts. Our ranks include alpinists, mountaineers, crag rats, purely indoor climbers, and everything in between. On a rolling basis, we put climbing pants to the test, specifically looking at functionality, durability, and comfort to narrow down the best climbing pants available today.

Contributor Katie Griffith goes through climbing pants like it’s her job, and it is. As a professional rock climbing guide, she is always searching for the best fit, most durable and breathable fabrics, and essential features to make up her daily uniform. From desert cragging to alpine climbing to garage-wall bouldering, Katie pursues all types of climbing, all year round.

When it comes to testing climbing pants, we’ve put in the pitches; (photo/Katie Griffith)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Climbing Pants

First, take a few moments to imagine your climbing habits. Do you plan to mostly use these pants climbing indoors or in the elements? If outside, will it normally be hot and muggy or cool and breezy? Do you prefer body-hugging clothing or a bit more room?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but having a clear idea of how you’ll use these pants will help determine the best option. For more guidance on choosing the best climbing pants for your needs, keep reading to understand the functions that differentiate them from non-climbing pants.

Climbing Pant Materials

Climbing pants are often a blend of synthetics, sometimes cotton, and typically elastane (sometimes called spandex). The higher percentage of elastane, the more stretch the pants will have.

The added stretch will also result in a more skintight feel, much like the Cotopaxi Cerro Tight with its impressive stretch capabilities (21% elastane).

It’s not only the amount of elastane that makes climbing pants outperform regular pants. Other essential factors include breathability, reinforced areas that add durability, and design that allows fluid mobility, like the Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants. A decent amount of stretch allows climbers to high-step, stem, and heel hook without restriction.

Other factors, like moisture-wicking properties, sun protection, and the ability to dry quickly, are not vital for indoor climbing. However, they are necessary for long, strenuous alpine or multi-pitch climbs.

The integrated elastane in the weave of the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants gives them an impressive stretch; (photo/Greg Petliski)


There are a few things to consider when finding the right fit for climbing pants. A loose-fitting pant provides a comfortable, relaxed feel designed for maximum movement. However, the material often tends to be heavier.

If the pants are too loose and flowy, they can obscure your vision for when you need to hone in on technical footwork. On the other hand, tight-fitting pants like leggings and tights allow total freedom without feeling weighed down.

The downside to a tight fit is less durability against abrasions. Tight, thin leggings don’t provide as much buffer between your skin and the rock.

With a high-waisted and modern fit, the Topo Designs Boulder Pants are amenable to everything from climbing to yoga; (photo/Greg Petliski)


Insufficient pockets, or the complete lack thereof, tend to make it on our cons list more than other features on climbing pants. The pockets that tend to work the best are ones that don’t interfere with a harness, are deep enough to be useful, and provide a zipper to ensure that your stuff stays in place while you’re climbing.

A standout in our line of pants is the Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants. These pants offer zipped flat pockets that don’t interfere with a harness. We also love that the Arc’teryx Gamma Pants only feature zip pockets, ideal for getting high off the ground. If you find yourself climbing indoors or at a local single-pitch crag, you’ll be able to get away with climbing pants that offer a more basic pocket design.

Every pocket on the Arc’teryx Gamma pant is protected by a zipper, meaning you won’t lose anything as you pull the move; (photo/Greg Petliski)


Generally speaking, the more technical the pant, the more they will weigh because of features that allow them to withstand various elements and terrain. The Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant, for instance, weighs 12 ounces and has several features that make it a durable pant for everyday climbing.

The known lightest on our list is the Patagonia Chambeau Rock Pants, weighing only 7.9 ounces. This pant is breathable and lightweight — perfect for warm-weather excursions.

Weather Protection

Some climbing pants are treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. This water-resistant coating helps you stay dry by preventing light precipitation from saturating the fabric. While the DWR won’t protect you from a heavy downpour, it will keep light rain beading off the pants and allow them to dry quickly.

Several pants in our lineup have a DWR finish, including the Topo Designs Boulder Pants and the Arc’teryx Gamma Pants. This feature is specifically helpful for those conducting long alpine ascents and who may find themselves in unpredictable weather. 

It’s important to note special instructions to care for your DWR-treated pants to make the coating last longer. Dirt and oils can impede the coating’s moisture-repelling ability, and frequent washing can help maintain its water-repellency.

Awarded for its weather resistance, we found the Arc’teryx Gamma pants to turn a stiff breeze like none other; (photo/Greg Petliski)

Thickness and Durability

Beyond choosing a silhouette that complements one’s ergonomics, an important component of a pair of pants are that they are durable. They’ll need to withstand walks through abrasive brush, scrambles up and down steep spur trails, grinding against granite, and rubbing against rough sandstone.

For long-lasting pants, look for thicker fabric, an anti-abrasive or abrasive-resistant overlay or material, and reinforced high-wear areas like the knees.

Climbing pants that received our high praise for durability are the Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants and the Arc’teryx Gamma Pants. They withstood beatings against rock and off-trail travel. Although pants designed for rugged use tend to be warmer, so keep that in mind if you climb in hot temperatures.

While thin pants can be nicer for hiking, having a pair with reinforced knees and seat can greatly up durability for climbing; (photo/Greg Petliski)

Articulated Knees and Gussets

A climbing pant’s ability to stretch extensively makes them different from slacks and most everyday jeans. Beyond elastane material, climbing pants are designed to extend the range of motion by having articulated knees and gussets. The gusseted crotch and four-way stretch of the Topo Designs Boulder Pants makes high stepping a breeze. 

Pants with articulated knees will provide the same natural range of motion as a knee while walking and bending. These features are helpful, especially on pants with less elastane that need a boost in flexibility. As for gussets, the diamond-shaped piece of extra fabric sewn in the crotch area make pants more breathable and allows more freedom to move.

Testing the Caliza Rock Pant at the local gym; (photo/Jason Cornell)


What Are the Best Climbing Pants?

The best climbing pants are the ones that make you feel comfortable and allow you to move freely. Our best overall pant is the Patagonia Caliza Pant because they are not overly loose or too tight. They also have a wide elastic waist that’s perfect for a harness and adjustable ankles that can go higher or lower based on preference. Comfort, style, and practicality make these pants excellent for climbing.

Do I Need Climbing Pants?

It depends. If you are brand new to climbing and testing the sport out for the first time, consider using what you already own — attire you would typically wear to work out. Once you have established that climbing is something you wish to pursue, investing in climbing pants can provide you with unique benefits.

Pant attributes like wide elastic waistbands designed for harnesses, pockets placed for easy access, cuffs that cinch above climbing shoes, and extra material stretch for movement are great assets when climbing regularly.

Can I Wear Climbing Pants for Hiking?

Most climbing pants offer a range of features that make them multipurpose pants — ideal for walking, hiking, and backpacking. Elements of climbing pants that can apply to hiking are sun protection, DWR, abrasion-resistant material, and functional pockets.

A favorite of ours is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants; their breathable fabric and high UPF rating makes them a great option for hiking. You’ll find us wearing most of the pants on this list beyond rock climbing at the gym and crag.

Is It Better To Climb In Pants or Shorts?

This can depend on the style of climbing and rock type. When climbing on coarse granite, like the rock found in Joshua Tree or Vedavoo, many climbers prefer to wear pants over shorts, even when it’s hot out. If the style of climbing requires sticking your legs in wide cracks or chimney moves, pants will protect you from scraping your knees. 

For sport climbing or bouldering that requires less full-body contact with the rock, shorts can be fine in hot weather. Ultimately this is a personal preference, and you’ll figure out what you like the more you climb in different areas and conditions.

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