Climbing Harness for Women
Photo credit: Eric Phillips

The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2020

After months of testing, we found the best women’s climbing pants for every style and budget. Suit up and climb on.

Whether you’re planning an epic climbing trip or working a project at your local climbing gym, these women’s climbing pants will have you ready to get on belay.

Finding the best climbing pants can be a pain. They need to allow full movement, keep you covered, and endure heavy use. And it doesn’t hurt if they look good while doing it.

We’ve spent months researching, testing, analyzing, and geeking out on everything from the feeling of the seams to range of motion to find the best women’s climbing pants. The pants we’ve chosen move with you, are long-lasting, and even bring a bit of style to the local crag.

The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2020

Best Overall: Patagonia Caliza Pant ($89)

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants Spring 2020

New for 2020, The Patagonia Caliza pants are the answer to the female climber’s prayers. The wide elastic waistband is comfortable and perfectly placed for your harness to fit over.

Snaps on the bottom cuffs can be adjusted to fit your ankle. And 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.

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.

For more, check out our full review of the Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant here.

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Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants
Patagonia Caliza: First Look at a Go-To Crag Pant

The Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants for women release in spring 2020. They're comfortable, technical, and could soon become your go-to crag pant. Read more…

Best Leggings for Climbing: Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings ($89)

Arcteryx Oriel Leggings

The Oriel Leggings are the answer for every woman who prefers the body-hugging feeling of tights and loves to send — or jam, scrape, scramble, and hang — in super-streamlined attire. These Arc’teryx pants withstood beatings against granite on rain-tossed multipitch granite face and a variety of cracks in Squamish, British Columbia.

They showed zero pilling, tears, or visible wear following a gutsy seven-pitch (1,000-foot, 7.5-hour) send up 5.9-5.10 routes in the reputable Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The fabric also survived wedged slides on trad climbs up sandstone.

The seams, which are narrow and made with tough thread, show no signs of failure after regular use. The Powernet Stretch Mesh waistband is the perfect height to protect against the harness. And the fabric — a highly abrasion-resistant, stretchy blend of nylon and elastane — dries fast.

The pockets aren’t ideal, and we wouldn’t trust a stretch opening for our phone, camera, or wallet, especially when hundreds of feet off the ground. But anyone looking for a bomber pair of climbing leggings should consider the Oriel.

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Best Leggings for Cool Weather: prAna Rockland Matchstick Leggings ($89)

prAna Rockland Climbing Leggings

For the legging-lovers who are sick of their climbing tights not holding up to the rock, prAna’s Rockland Leggings are your answer. Reinforced in all the right places with a double “chakra” fabric overlay means you can bushwack to the crag and climb all day without worry.

The wide waistband stays in place even on big moves. And the side pocket has a zip enclosure to keep essentials on hand. We wanted to use it for our phone but found it dug in a bit too much. Plan to use it for smaller items like chapstick.

While not the best for hot days, as the fabric is quite thick and durable, these are a No. 1 pick for crisp fall climbing days.

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Technical Pants: ORTOVOX Colodri Pants ($170)

Ortovox Colodri Pants Review

“These are now my go-to climb pant!” our tester exclaimed after climbing and scrambling dynamic granite routes. The routes were in a mix of direct sunlight and shade with cool breezes. And the approaches were scrappy through sagebrush, tall grasses, and thorny bushes.

These lightweight (296g) pants are breathable yet manage to shield a chilly breeze. The cut allows a wide range of movement for heel hooks, stemming, and high steps. With a loose fit, the Colodri is made out of cotton, polyamide, and elastane — for a bit of stretch — plus a smooth, tough interior liner of merino wool, Tencel, and polyester.

There are also four deep pockets, one zipper-enclosed leg pocket, drawstring-adjustable ankles, and a center-back loop to hang a chalk bag.

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Best of the Rest

Backcountry Double Dyno Climbing Pant ($110)

Backcountry double dyno pant

Not too loose, not too tight, and great stretch — these pants really impressed us in initial testing. 

The fit is comfortable (not restrictive), and you will quickly notice how they move and stretch with you. And, they look great. We also liked the cropped ankles and slight cuffs — tailored in a way that make these pants work for not only climbing and bouldering but mountain biking too. The wide, adjustable waist also rivals that of our best overall pick. The wider band work seamlessly when climbing with a harness and has flat elastic cords to adjust fit.

We found the fabric to accurately live up to the brand’s claims: it’s fairly quick drying, offers UV sun protection, and is durable enough for repeat days at the crag.

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Patagonia Chambeau Rock Pants ($99)

Patagonia Chambeau Climbing Pants

Also new for 2020, these pants are perfect for long days on multi-pitch 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.

Drop-in front pockets can hold small essentials, and we appreciate the addition of the zippered leg pocket. Best of all, the pockets all lay flat and don’t cause any discomfort under the harness.

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prAna Kanab Pant ($79)

prana Kanab Pants

These are everything that a climbing pant should be — durable, comfortable, and stretchy. The canvas material holds up to abrasion, and the reinforced knees give an added dose of protection. And while built for heavy use, they manage to also be incredibly breathable and stylish.

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

The organic cotton canvas blend coupled with a wide, comfortable waistband, cuffed bottoms, and double-walled knees make them great for everything from climbing indoors and out to camping, hiking, and Sunday morning hangouts.

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Black Diamond Notion: $79

Black Diamond Notion Pant

These pants are super comfortable on the wall, but also while camping, hiking, bouldering at the gym, and traveling. We found the Notion Pants comfortable while belaying and awesome for single-pitch sport climb laps.

“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 superlong or sun-bearing days on the wall,” said one tester.

But they’re a go-to comfortable pant for moderate temps and mild weather conditions. The drawstring waistband has an easy fit for ladies who don’t like hugging on the midsection.

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Patagonia Escala Rock Pant: $99

Patagonia Escala

Looking for a climbing pant that works hard on rock but looks like an everyday pant? Then you need to meet the Escala. It’s that functional, attractive everyday pant you love, but way more durable.

The organic cotton-polyester-spandex blend is comfortable and stretchy. And the streamlined pant legs taper and properly shield the ankles. In blazing summer sun, the pants absorbed sweat well but weren’t top-notch at fast wicking and drying.

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GoLite ReLite Jogger ($78)

Golite ReLite Jogger

What’s not to love about a pair of pants that are made from 20 recycled plastic bottles? Along with feeling good about your carbon footprint, these pants are some of the lightest, most breathable, UPF-protected, and water-resistant pants we have ever worn.

They are perfect for those hot days at the crag where you want to be covered but don’t want a lot of material on you. The Flex4 fabric has just enough stretch for big moves, and the drop-in pockets keep personal items handy.

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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 out? 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 on how you’ll use these pants will help determine the best option.

Fit, Style, and Features

All body types and climbing styles are unique, so climbing pants are a personal choice that can make each approach-to-anchor experience more comfortable. As you consider your needs, the biggest differences between pairs are the rise, waistband design, pockets, fabric, closures, and overall fit.

Repellencies are applied to some fabrics, which adds barriers against water, stains, and UV radiation. And a handful of products weave in sustainable fibers too.

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants at the climbing gym
The Caliza Rock Pants fit comfortably under a harness; photo credit: Jason Cornell

Durability

Beyond choosing a silhouette that complements one’s ergonomics, the No. 1 most important component of a pair of pants is that they are durable. They’ll need to withstand walks through abrasive brush, scrambles up and down steep spur trails, grinds against granite, and rubs against sandstone. At some point, they may need to shield rain or sleet.


Have a favorite climbing pant we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.


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