What to Look for When Shopping for Bouldering Pants

Find­ing the per­fect pants for your boul­der­ing adven­tures can be tricky. Sure, you can climb in your every­day jeans, but you might not have a lot of stretch or room to move. Plus, den­im can cause some painful chaf­ing if you plan to have any longer climb­ing ses­sions. And while climb­ing in your run­ning or yoga tights is def­i­nite­ly com­fort­able, they don’t give much pro­tec­tion against the rock face and are like­ly to tear.

So here are some things to look for when shop­ping for boul­der­ing pants:

Rock faces are unfor­giv­ing and abra­sive edges will tear light­weight fab­rics. But you don’t want a fab­ric that is so heavy that it’ll add to the bat­tle against grav­i­ty. So you’ll def­i­nite­ly want some­thing like twill cot­ton, wool-cot­ton blend, sol­id but still stretchy den­im or a fab­ric made specif­i­cal­ly to keep your knees pro­tect­ed from the rock edge. But you don’t want a fab­ric that is so heavy that it’ll add to the bat­tle against gravity.

Bag­gy or stretchy:
The last thing you want when high step­ping or tra­vers­ing is pants that are too con­stric­tive to allow the move you need to make. So either look for pants that are a lit­tle bit loos­er or have a lot of stretch. Don’t be too embar­rassed to test them out in the store, either—don’t try to climb the store’s sur­faces, but def­i­nite­ly make sure you can lift your knees pret­ty high with­out the fab­ric con­strain­ing or get­ting uncomfortable.

Mois­ture management:
You can get pret­ty sweaty while climbing—especially if it’s hot outside—so you’ll def­i­nite­ly want some­thing that wicks sweat away to keep you cool and dry on your more dif­fi­cult prob­lems. Climb­ing can be dif­fi­cult, but climb­ing when you’re over­heat­ing quick­ly is miserable.

Tapered legs:
While you want to be able to have loose cloth­ing for max­i­mum move­ment poten­tial, look for some­thing with a skin­nier or tapered leg, or a pair of pants that has ties at the ankle to keep it tight. Why? Pic­ture this: you’re on a rock wall and you look down to see where you can put your feet to get them high­er for the next reach and your pant legs are too bag­gy and are block­ing your view of your feet. So look for a skin­ny leg and enjoy being able to see where you’re stepping.