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The Best Rock Climbing Pants

author image Alli Rainey
A professional writer since 1997, Harvard graduate and pro rock climber Alli Rainey's articles have appeared in "Climbing Magazine," "Rock & Ice" and "Men's Fitness," among many others. Rainey is also an ACTION certified personal trainer (CPT) and climbing coach.
The Best Rock Climbing Pants
Wear sturdy, stretchy pants for all-day, multipitch climbs. Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Your clothing choices can make or break your rock-climbing experience, no matter where your adventure takes you. The best climbing pants offer a layer of protection without restricting your range of motion. Rock-climbing pants often feature elasticized fabric blends, allowing you to lift and move your legs in all directions without feeling even the slightest resistance from the fabric or fit. A gusseted crotch and adjustable waistband can also help ensure freedom of movement.

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Climbing Pants for Longer Adventures

Longer, multipitch climbs or any rock climbing with a significant approach require careful clothing planning, as getting out of inclement conditions quickly often proves difficult or impossible. Select sturdy, stretchy, non-cotton pants made of a durable water-resistant fabric, such as a nylon- or polyester-spandex blend. Wet cotton clothing can increase your risk of hypothermia, as explained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. For colder conditions, choose lined climbing pants or layer synthetic long underwear or tights under your unlined climbing pants.

Lighter Days and Indoor Climbing Choices

For outdoor rock-climbing outings with little to no approach and ideal weather conditions, as well as for indoor gym climbing, some climbers wear the same pants as they do during more involved outdoor climbing adventures. However, you might prefer to wear spandex or Lycra tights or looser stretchy pants for less-intense climbing conditions. These tend to feel lighter on the body, cultivating a sense of greater freedom of movement and heat dissipation while climbing but still offering a small layer of protection between skin and rock.

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