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Retro Climbers’ Short-Shorts Are Back For 2016

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[leadin]The ’70s-style rock climbing shorts made famous by Royal Robbins are hip, but not for the modest climber.[/leadin]

Robbins on first ascent of Salathé Wall, El Capitan. Credit: Tom Frost

Royal Robbins, the eponymous outdoor apparel company, is targeting old-school enthusiasts with this re-release. The Billy Goat shorts were worn by Royal Robbins (the man, not the company) on many of his ascents in Yosemite.


A simple design from 1975, the canvas shorts are made to be durable and no-fuss under a harness. They were performance gear of their day and will still function on the rock, though the modern incarnation is marketed mostly for daily wear around town or on a hiking trail.

Classic ‘Short-Shorts’ Design

The short-shorts version were the preferred template for Royal Robbins. The new iteration for 2016 come also in full and knee-length models.

All sport a “peach finish and enzyme stone wash” to mimic the comfortable, aged effect otherwise achieved by years of rugged ascents and gallons of sweat.

Royal Robbins “models” the shorts in Yosemite on a big wall ascent

Robbins made the shorts famous in the ’70s as an outspoken advocate of clean climbing, using neither bolts nor pitons in his ascents of big walls in Yosemite and beyond.

Outdoor companies are finding plenty of market for re-released and retro styles, as classic versions of modern gear are rediscovered by younger generations.

Though these shorts are more form than function, the sleek fit and breathability make them a fine addition to any climber’s wardrobe.

The Classic Billy Goat shorts retail at $52.

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