man climbing with climbing pants
Photo credit: Mammut

The Best Climbing Pants for Men of 2021

Whether heading to the gym or taking on your next multi-pitch project, we’ve identified the best climbing pants for every budget and adventure.

The best climbing pants are made with careful consideration of everything that climbers need. Whether you’re climbing an indoor boulder problem or a grueling alpine route, you don’t want to deal with apparel-related discomfort or the distraction of constant adjustments. Climbing pants should offer freedom of movement, protection from the elements, comfort, and thoughtful features.

After months of testing, we’ve selected our choices for the best climbing pants across various categories. During testing, we ventured into climbing areas across the US, including the Wasatch mountains of Utah, Yosemite National Park, and even air-conditioned climbing gyms. We sport climbed, bouldered, and wrestled our way up off-widths on our search for the best climbing pants of 2021.

To help you identify the best climbing pants for your specific needs as a climber, we’ve also included a comprehensive buyer’s guide at the end of our list of recommendations. This article focuses specifically on the best climbing pants for men. If you’re looking for something different, check out our article on the Best Climbing Pants for Women.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Climbing Pants of 2021

Best Lightweight Pants: Mammut Ledge Pants

mammut ledge pants

Made from a super lightweight blend of nylon and spandex, the new Ledge pants ($129) from Mammut are comfortable, breathable, and perfect for warm-weather missions. We tested these pants on the granite walls of Yosemite National Park in balmy Spring conditions. They proved to be an effective tool in our fight to keep cool, comfortable, and climbing at our best.

Because of the high spandex content, these pants have a four-way stretch and allow for maximum freedom of movement. The supreme breathability of these pants offers the cooling comfort of shorts combined with the full-length protection of pants. When the need arises, we found these can also easily roll and convert into ¾-length pants.

The Ledge Pants come with a unique Velcro waist adjustment system. Two low-profile straps can be tightened or loosened to customize your fit. Though the Velcro worked well enough during our testing, we worry the thin straps could lose their stickiness over time.

While these would also make excellent trail running or hiking pants, they truly shine in the vertical realm. Even during gymnastic climbing sequences, these pants never limited our movement. Plus, they include a secure zippered phone pocket that is fully out of the way of a climbing harness.

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Best for Ice, Snow, and Cold-Weather Climbing: Arc’teryx Sigma AR Pants

Arc'teryx Sigma AR Pants

For cold-weather climbing conditions, the Sigma AR Pants ($225) from Arc’teryx offer an impressive balance between warmth, comfort, and freedom of movement. We tested these pants in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, during a series of blustery early spring climbing sessions. Our lower body always felt warm and well-protected — even when exposed to severe winds and rain.

These versatile softshell pants will thrive in any cold-weather climbing scenario. For ice climbing or mountaineering, the Sigma AR is equipped with many helpful features.

Each instep is reinforced to hold up to potential contact with sharp crampons. Other winter-ready features include a durable water-repellent coating, gaiter compatibility, and boot-compatible ankle cuffs.

While multi-pitch rock climbing, we appreciated the addition of three zippered pockets, including a roomy thigh pocket that’s easy to access with a harness on. An integrated low-profile, adjustable waist belt is simple to use and eliminates the need for a belt.

The slim, tapered fit of these pants prevents bunching and helps maintain a clear line of sight between you and the rock. Due to the thick material and tighter fit, these pants don’t offer quite as much mobility as other options on this list, but they are still relatively stretchy for cold-weather pants.

Like most Arc’teryx gear, these pants are not cheap. However, their high-quality materials, thoughtful features, and long-term durability offer plenty of value. For those looking for a reliable pair of climbing pants to wear in harsh conditions, we recommend the Sigma AR.

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Most Comfortable: Mountain Hardwear Basin Pull-On Pant

mountain hardware basin pull-on pant

The simple and streamlined Basin Pull-On Pants ($75) from Mountain Hardwear are the most comfortable rock climbing pants we tested. We recommend these pants to any climber looking for a go-to pair of pants for all types of climbing.

Unlike many of the pants on this list, the Basin features a straight-leg fit. The extra roominess in the legs allows for totally unrestricted movement. The stretchy blend of nylon and elastane breathes well, too. We never overheated in these, even though the pair we tested was dyed black.

Dual square-cut, drop-in front pockets help prevent your items from easily sliding out while climbing. A zippered back pocket provides a secure place to keep a phone on multi-pitch routes, though it’s slightly tricky to access while hanging in a harness.

Even after many uses, the elastic waistband held its shape and never dug into our skin. As a backup, a simple drawstring allows the wearer to customize their fit. These pants do not open at the fly, which slightly complicates the process of relieving oneself in certain climbing scenarios.

The Basin Pull-On has quickly become one of our favorites for both climbing and everyday use. With supreme comfort and a relatively affordable price tag, these are definitely worth checking out.

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Best for Bouldering: La Sportiva Pueblo Pant

La Sportiva Pueblo Pant

Though these comfortable and durable pants could be used for any climbing discipline, we especially like them for bouldering. They’re made from a soft, supple, and relatively thick blend of cotton and spandex, which makes them both hardy and exceedingly stretchy.

After many bouldering sessions, the Pueblo Pants ($79) remained free of any obvious wear. Even the fully elastic waistband kept its secure, hip-hugging fit.

Compared to other pants on this list — such as the Mammut Ledge Pants — the Pueblos are thick, warm, and minimally breathable. However, most climbers prefer to go bouldering in cool conditions, which is the perfect application for these pants.

Because bouldering requires a lot of complex body movement — including overhead heel hooks and technical high steps — we’re glad the Pueblo includes a large crotch gusset that enables the hips and legs to move freely. We like the roomy drop-in pockets, though the Pueblo does lack a zippered pocket and is not an ideal choice for multi-pitch climbing.

The Pueblo has quickly become a staple in our indoor and outdoor bouldering kit. Due to their simple design, long-term durability, and comfort that rivals sweatpants, we confidently recommend these pants.

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Most Durable: Patagonia Gritstone Pants

Patagonia Gritstone Pants

Climbing pants don’t get much burlier than this. For climbing on sharp rock and rugged routes, the Patagonia Gritstone Pants ($119) are fully up to the task.

Every element of the Gritstone is geared toward durability. Though these certainly aren’t the most lightweight, they will reliably resist the daily trenches of blue-collar rock climbing.

Made from a stiff fabric blend of cotton and canvas, these pants prioritize abrasion resistance over breathability and stretch. Even though the Gritstone has the look and feel of a pair of hardy work pants, they’re relatively easy to move in. A gusseted crotch helps enhance movement and comfort, especially while wearing a harness.

These pants feature thickly reinforced knees. For certain disciplines such as offwidth and aid climbing, pants with reinforced knees are essential. Though the Gritstone does include low-profile belt loops, it also comes with Patagonia’s signature integrated waist adjustment system.

A thin piece of webbing can be quickly tightened for a customized fit. Though we like the convenience of this adjustment system, we did find it needs to be retightened every so often while climbing.

With two drop-in front pockets, two rear pockets, and a hidden side pocket, these pants offer lots of storage options. All of the pockets are low-profile and well-designed, but we do wish there was a zippered harness-compatible pocket somewhere on the pants.

Overall, the Gritstone is an excellent pair of pants that should last for many years of regular climbing use. While we don’t recommend wearing these in warm conditions, they can handle just about anything else with style.

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Best Climbing Jeans: Coalatree Decaf Denim

Coalatree Decaf Denim

Though many climbers consider jeans too hot and too restrictive for climbing, others believe they’re the ultimate climbing pants. We tested several pairs of climbing jeans, and we found Coalatree’s new Decaf Denim ($109) the most capable and comfortable of them all.

The common complaints about climbing in jeans just don’t apply to these pants, and they still manage to preserve the feel and durability of high-quality denim.

Coalatree is known for its low-impact manufacturing processes and utilization of recycled materials. Uniquely, each pair of their Decaf Denim pants are partly made from recycled coffee grounds and plastic water bottles. This innovative fabric blend feels highly breathable compared to other jeans.

We wore these while sport climbing in warm summer weather, and we remained cool and comfortable throughout the day. Upon their first use, these jeans feel soft and lightweight against the skin. Four-way stretch makes them plenty flexible for dynamic climbing movements.

Though these jeans are not designed specifically for climbing, they have been purpose-built for active use. A hidden zippered rear pocket keeps items secure and would certainly come in handy while multi-pitch climbing.

Like many jeans, the Decaf Denim is cut extra long to allow the wearer to cuff or roll the legs. Unlike many jeans, these pants manage to look great and also function as high-quality climbing apparel.

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Most Fashionable: Vuori Ripstop Climber Pant

Vuori Ripstop Climber Pant

Despite being called the “Climber Pant,” these widely acclaimed pants ($89) from Vuori are enjoyed by all kinds of wearers. Compared with more technical climbing-specific options on this list, the Vuori Climber Pant pays more attention to aesthetics and style.

Still, we found that these pants are great for all disciplines of climbing. The elastic waist includes a drawstring closure, which eliminates the need for a belt and sits comfortably underneath a harness.

A large zippered thigh pocket works well as accessible secure phone storage during multi-pitch climbing. Though the two-way stretch cotton fabric isn’t as elastic as some other options on this list, a large gusseted crotch enables plenty of mobility.

Climbers with long legs should be aware these pants are cut somewhat short. The pair we tested had a cropped appearance and sat just above the ankle. While this look is nice for heading out on the town, climbing pants should ideally provide full ankle coverage.

Vuori reliably crafts apparel that walks the line between fashion and activewear. The Ripstop Climber Pant looks great, and it climbs just as well.

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Best Budget: All Terrain Gear by Wrangler Zip Pocket Trail Pant

atg by wrangler zip pocket trail pant

Designed for use in all four seasons, the Trail Pant ($40) from Wrangler is less than half the price of most climbing-specific pants while still offering impressive tech specs and features.

These pants are “winter weight,” meaning they’re designed to handle cold weather and alpine conditions. The adjustable lower leg cuffs can open to fit around boots, and reinforced wear areas offer additional warmth and durability. Compared to other winter-ready pants suitable for climbing, these Wranglers are uncommonly affordable.

Other integrated features helpful for climbing applications include a large crotch gusset and a zippered pocket. Made from nylon and spandex, the Trail Pants offer the handy stretch and breathability that come with technical synthetic fabric.

For $40, these pants are an excellent value. Though they may not have exactly the same high-quality materials and features of some other pants on this list, they prove climbers on a budget can still find good pants for the job.

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Best of the Rest

Patagonia Altvia Light Alpine Pants

Patagonia Altvia Light Alpine Pants

For staying cool during high-intensity, fast-paced objectives, these lightweight pants from Patagonia are top-notch. New for 2021, the breathable and lightweight Altvia Light Alpine pants ($129) thrive in warm and humid conditions.

Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, these pants are super stretchy and will not restrict movement. Even with a highly tapered fit, they allowed us to high step, stem, and heel hook with ease.

Like all well-designed climbing pants, the Altvia Light fits comfortably under a harness or backpack. All three pockets have zippers, and a phone-sized thigh pocket sits out of the way of harness leg loops. We like the low-profile elastic waist belt but felt that the integrated drawstring belt often loosened up on its own.

Though expected from ultra-lightweight pants, these are not the most durable option on our list. After a handful of pitches of trad climbing on rough granite, small patches of lightly frayed abrasion began to show around the knees. For off-width climbing and other more rugged disciplines, you’ll want something a little hardier.

We recommend these pants for alpine objectives, long approaches, and generally staying cool when the conditions get warm.

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Craghoppers Insect Shield II Pants

Craghoppers Insect Shield II Pants

These lightweight pants from Craghoppers are purpose-built for active use. Packed with unique and practical features, the Insect Shield Pants ($120) are truly at home while adventuring in the outdoors.

The very first time we wore these pants, it was a hot and humid day in Yosemite National Park. On the long and sweaty approach to the crag, our legs stayed cool and ventilated thanks to the super-light and breathable synthetic fabric.

These pants have a semi-slim and tapered fit, which flares out toward the ankle. If you don’t like the flared look, each ankle can be cinched with a built-in elastic drawstring.

As their name suggests, these pants are made from fabric treated to repel insects. Though it’s difficult to test the effectiveness of such a feature, we did encounter lots of Yosemite mosquitos, which provided an opportunity to observe the repellent properties of the Craghoppers.

While standing at the base of the crag, it did appear fewer mosquitoes were gathering around the wearer of these pants compared to another climber who was wearing another brand. We realize these findings are not conclusive, but we did enjoy some peace of mind knowing the pants are intended to defend against bugs.

For climbing, we loved the inclusion of two large zippered pockets for storing valuables on multi-pitch routes. Though the waistband is semi-elasticized, there is no integrated adjustment system and some users will need to wear a belt, which is not ideal while also wearing a harness.

We had plenty of mobility in these and never felt restricted in our movement while hiking or climbing. Though these pants aren’t strictly designed for climbing, we found them highly qualified — especially in warm weather when lightweight materials are a must.

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DUER Live Free Adventure Pant

DUER Live Free Adventure Pant

Though they were not strictly made for climbing, the DUER Live Free Adventure Pants ($142) are high-quality and fully capable of thriving on the rock or at the gym. Made from a blend of cotton, polyester, and elastic Lycra, these pants are seriously stretchy and impressively comfortable.

These pants include many above-and-beyond features, including several that are uniquely handy for climbing. A diagonal zippered thigh pocket allows you to securely bring your phone up on the wall and easily access photos of the guidebook or topo, even while wearing a harness. We also like that these have adjustable cuffs.

All of the seams on the Live Free Adventure Pants are triple stitched, and they showed no meaningful signs of wear during our testing. Though these do have a tighter fit — especially around the thighs — they do not restrict movement, thanks to a large crotch gusset and four-way stretch material.

We recommend these pants for climbing in cooler weather. The material is semi-thick and multilayered in several areas, which make the pants warmer and less breathable. For a climber looking for a versatile pair of pants to wear at the crag and also on an airplane or at a restaurant, these are an outstanding choice.

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Black Diamond Notion Pants

Black Diamond Notion Pants

The Notion Pants ($79) from Black Diamond have one of the most comfortable styles on the climbing pants market. In addition to their supreme comfort, these pants are reinforced in key areas for maximum durability, and they’re easy to move around in.

Though we tested these pants for various climbing disciplines, we liked them most for bouldering. They can accommodate high steps, mantles, and wide stemming with ease — all movements relatively common while bouldering. Because bouldering usually takes place in cooler weather, it’s a perfect activity for the thicker material of the Notion.

Instead of traditional pants sizing, these pants come in sizes XS-XL. We tested a size medium, and it fit pretty well, though the legs did have a shorter cropped fit.

Thanks to the elastic waist and cuffs, the Notion can stretch to accommodate different body types. Overall, the fit is on the looser side. We wouldn’t describe these pants as fitted or slim.

The Notion pants are not packed with features or technical materials. Instead, these are extremely comfortable climbing pants best suited for bouldering in the gym or outside in cool conditions.

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Gramicci NN Pants

Gramicci NN Pants

The origins of Gramicci are firmly rooted in rock climbing. Though their current apparel lineup trends slightly toward an urban setting, we found the NN pants ($108) to perform beautifully on the walls and boulders of Yosemite National Park.

Gramicci is credited with developing many active apparel innovations that have since become industry standards. The NN pants feature Gramicci’s patented gusset crotch and super-durable stretch cotton twill fabric.

This combination of features allows for unrestricted movement when climbing in the gym or at the crag. We climbed many pitches of rough granite cracks in these, and the fabric held strong without any signs of wear.

Though we love the feel and durability of the stretch cotton twill, it’s not quite as breathable as some of the more lightweight options on this list. These pants perform at their best in cooler conditions. Still, the minor lack of breathability is more than made up for in build quality and comfort.

The NN pants include an elastic waist belt that can be adjusted via a low-profile, built-in nylon belt. This adjustment system is simple, sturdy, and easy to access with a harness on. Though these pants do not include a zippered pocket, the rear pockets have a Velcro closure that helps secure a phone or other valuables on a multi-pitch route.

Overall, these are high-quality pants that are ready-made for use in all parts of your life — climbing, hiking, or just plain hanging out.

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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Great Pair of Climbing Pants

Though you don’t need strictly climbing-specific pants to climb, they do have many clear advantages. Climbing pants offer helpful and specific features other activewear pants do not — including harness-compatible pockets and crampon-ready durability.

In this handy how-to-choose guide, we’ll cover all of the major considerations for selecting the perfect pair of climbing pants.

Climbing Pants and Various Climbing Disciplines

Climbing is an umbrella term that covers many different sub-sports and disciplines. For example, alpine scrambling and indoor bouldering are very different activities. Ideally, your apparel and overall kit should always be tailored to match the demands of the specific activity at hand.

A pair of pants that’s great for one discipline of climbing may not be right for another. On this list, we’ve selected our favorite pair of climbing pants in many categories, including Best for Bouldering, Best for Alpine Climbing, and Best for Warm Weather.

Durability vs. Breathability

Climbing pants are guaranteed to make regular contact with rough and abrasive surfaces. For this reason, any pair of climbing pants worth its price tag will be abrasion-resistant and hardy.

In a climbing setting, durability is important. When you’re knee-jamming your way up a wide crack, you’ll want to know your pants won’t be completely shredded by the time you reach the anchor.

While durability is a priority for climbing pants, comfort, stretch, and breathability are important too. It’s not easy to design a pair of pants that is both abrasion-resistant and breathable. As a general rule, the lighter and more breathable pants become, the less durable they’ll be.

On this list, we’ve selected lightweight options like the Patagonia Altvia Light as an ideal choice for warm conditions. While these pants are supremely comfortable on light and fast summertime objectives, they’re also more vulnerable to rips and tears.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Patagonia Gritstone Pants are incredibly durable. However, they do not breathe well and should be reserved for cool weather.

Materials and Stretch

To maximize mobility, climbing pants need to stretch. Most of the pants on this list are constructed from fabric blends that include stretchy material such as elastane or spandex.

Pants with two-way stretch will stretch from side to side but not from top to bottom. Four-way stretch pants will stretch side to side and from top to bottom.

On this list, the Mountain Hardwear Basin Pull-On Pant is among the stretchiest styles. Another great option is the CoalaTree Decaf Denim pants, which are the stretchiest climbing jeans that we tested. With pants like these, you’ll be able to use your body’s full range of motion with ease.

In addition to elastic material, most climbing pants are made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fabric such as polyester or nylon. In most cases, pants that are mostly cotton will be heavier, less breathable, and more durable.

On our list, the DUER Live Free Adventure Pant is a heavy-duty, cotton-based pant that still allows for good mobility. Synthetic-based pants tend to be stretchier, less durable, and ideal for warm weather.

The Mountain Hardwear Basin Pull-On pant, our selection for the most comfortable climbing pant, is 94% nylon.

closeup of climber wearing jeans
(Photo/CoalaTree)

Features

There are a few key features we feel all good climbing pants should have — including secure pockets, an adjustable waistband, and a gusseted crotch. Practical purpose-built features are the difference between climbing-specific pants and all other options. On this list, we’ve included lots of great pants, and each pair offers a unique set of thoughtful features.

Adjustable Waistband

Wearing a belt with a climbing harness is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Instead, look for a pair of climbing pants that includes an integrated system for adjusting the waistband.

On this list, we’ve included pants with various styles of adjustment systems. Of these, the classic drawstring is probably our least favorite, as these tend to loosen easily on their own. We love the adjustment system of the Arc’teryx Sigma AR Pants, which use super-secure piece low-profile webbing to tighten or loosen the waist.

Drawstring Ankle Cuffs

Many climbing pants feature drawstring ankle cuffs — a simple feature that adds some extra utility. Tightening the cuffs of your pants can keep any excess material out of the way while climbing and hiking.

As an extra bonus, this feature also functions as a safeguard against mosquitoes and ticks. On this list, the Craghoppers Insect Shield II Pants are a nice lightweight option with drawstring ankle cuffs.

Harness-Compatible Pockets

While wearing a harness, it can be difficult to access traditional pants pockets. Many climbers bring a phone along on multi-pitch routes, and it can be nice to have an accessible and secure place to keep it.

Many climbing pants include thoughtfully placed zippered pockets where a phone or other essential items can be kept safely while climbing. On this list, we love the zippered pockets of the Mammut Ledge Pants for their easy-to-access zippered thigh pocket. It’s out of the way of harness leg loops and large enough to hold most modern phones.

FAQ

What Are the Best Pants for Climbing?

The best pants for climbing are the ones that meet your needs and are enjoyable to wear. On this list, we’ve included many pairs of our favorite climbing pants of 2021. The best bouldering pants will not be the best for ice climbing. Check out our buyer’s guide to figure out what kind of pants will suit you best.

What’s the Difference Between Climbing Pants and Regular Pants?

Climbing pants are just like any other pants, except they’re designed with climbing in mind. Climbing pants tend to have unique features geared toward climbers such as a small pocket for bouldering brush or a zippered thigh pocket to hold a phone while wearing a harness. Additionally, climbing pants are often extra stretchy to allow for range of motion and dynamic body movements.

How Much Do Climbing Pants Cost?

On this list, we’ve included styles that range from $40 to over $100. Excellent options are available throughout this entire range. Higher-end materials and features tend to come with a higher price tag.

What Pants Should I Use for Ice Climbing?

On this list, we recommend the Arc’teryx Sigma AR pants for ice climbing. These durable softshell pants are stretchy, warm, and well-appointed with lots of ice climbing-specific features.

On the inside of each ankle, these pants have a patch of burly abrasion-resistant fabric to prevent shredding from crampons. Also, these pants easily open up around each ankle to accommodate ice climbing and mountaineering boots.


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