A big part of the fun in rock climbing is the need for both physical and mental exertion. When you are ‘plastered’ to the surface of a boulder tens of feet above the ground, the last thing you need is discomfort from an ill-fitting pair of pants.
Worse still you don’t want your pants to be slipping off you because they are one size to big when your hands are busy maintaining grip on the rock.
This is why it is so important to get yourself a good pair of climbing pants. Yes, you can get away with a small sized pair of men’s pants but with so many brands now producing pants for men and women, why not get a women’s pair.
We looked through the market and came up with a list of best women’s climbing pants. The La Sportiva Mantra wear the crown. It was no surprise considering La Sportiva have a reputation for producing quality climbing gear.
Here are the Best Women’s Climbing Pants
1. La Sportiva Mantra
Mention La Sportiva and good quality climbing gear comes to mind. Their Mantra climbing pants for women don’t disappoint.
Made of 96% nylon and 4% spandex, this is a predominantly synthetic pair of pants with a 31 inch inseam. At the waist, you have a comfortable elastic waistband with a drawstring to adjust it to the perfect fit.
La Sportiva Mantra pants are made using Bluesign approved fabric.
What is Bluesign?
It is an emerging standard in the international manufacturing textile industry which checks standards for environmental health and safety.
It is our top pick mainly because it is made specifically for rock climbing. It even has a brush sleeve, a small sleeve or pocket intended for you to carry a brush or brush-sized implement to clean out patches of dusty rock.
Brush sleeves are not a common feature in pants so when you see one you know they had you in mind when they made it. That is not to say they can’t be used anywhere else.
Apart from climbing, these work great for the gym, running or any outdoor activities. A diamond gusseted crotch helps to reduce pressure on the seams in that area when you have to stretch your legs far out.
Articulated knees do add some aesthetic value but their primary function is to add reinforcement to the knee area which is usually one of the first areas to show signs of wear in climber’s pants.
You can never go wrong with pockets. These have 2 large pockets which you can fit a phone a couple of other items into with ease. Elastic ankle cuffs make sure you have a tight but comfortable fit around your ankles.
La Sportiva did a great job when it comes to color options.
You can get these pants in a wide variety of colors. If you prefer dull colors, black is available and if something brighter appeals you, orange, aqua and emerald are available.
- Elastic waistband with drawstring
- Chalk brush sleeve
- 2 large pockets
- Elastic ankle cuffs
- Articulated knees
- Fabric is Bluesign approved
- Available in a variety of colors
- Pockets cannot be fastened
2. PrAna Halle Pants
The key selling point for these is their versatility. You can use them for all kinds of outdoor activities including climbing, hiking and biking.
At the waist is a zip fly and buttons with provision for a belt. The fabric is 97% nylon and 3% spandex for that extra stretch. It is cut from Zion fabric which keeps the skin dry even when you sweat.
A water repellent finish keeps you protected from the elements and articulated knees make sure the knee area shows no signs of wear even after a lot of beating through crags.
You will notice a slight boot leg cut which adds to the pants style but could get in the way when climbing. That is probably why they included a roll-up leg feature.
It gives you the option to have the pants all the way to your ankles and beyond or roll them up to your knees.
You have no shortage of pockets with these pants. There are two pockets in the front but with no zip or fastener. Another two button-up at the back which add style to the look.
A fifth zippered pocket on the upper part of the right thigh gives you functionality and security. It is worth noting that this pocket is quite inconspicuous. If there is nothing in a fellow climber’s thigh pocket, you may not even notice it.
Prana Halle pants are available in 3 inseam lengths to cater for women of varying heights. The short inseam is 30 inches, the regular one is 32 inches and the tall is 36 inches.
When it comes to sun protection, these pants give you something similar to what you get from sunscreen. They have a UPF rating of 50.
What does that mean? In a nutshell, it means that this fabric allows only 2% of available UV radiation to pass through it onto your skin.
- Very versatile
- Water repellent finish
- Five pockets
- Zion woven fabric
- Articulated knees
- Roll-up leg feature
- 3 options for inseam measurements
- Sun protective fabric – UPF 50
- No elastic on waist
3. Black Diamond Notion Pants
Notion pants from Black Diamond are a favorite for women climbers. Unlike many synthetic fabric pants these are 98% cotton and 2% elastane.
This makes them comfortable and breathable with a touch of stretch. A gusseted seat protects the area from wear and reinforced knees keep that area free from tears.
An elastic waistband with a draw cord makes the fit comfortable and easily adjustable. Stretch cuffs keep fabric away from your footwork.
2 front and rear pockets give you room for your little essentials as you make your way up the rocks. None of these have zips or buttons.
The inseam is 31.5 inches long. Notion pants are available in a variety of colors. If you prefer earthy colors for climbing you have greys to choose from and if you like to brighten things up with your climbing pants, there are a few shades of blue and a brighter burgundy.
The fact that these pants are made from close to 100% cotton gives them one main disadvantage. These are not the pants you want to be wearing when a rain storm hits.
Unlike water repellent synthetic fabrics, this one holds water so it gets very uncomfortable as soon as it gets wet.
- Relaxed fit
- 98% organic cotton
- Elastic waistband
- Stretch cuffs
- 4 pockets (2 front and 2 rear)
- Not good for rainy weather
- No zip pockets
4. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosis are favorite pants for climbers who like their pants simple, with no frills. Nylon is the predominant fabric here with these featuring 86% nylon and 14% spandex for a good amount of stretch.
This combination gives you a great balance. A light breathable fabric which you can barely feel because it’s so smooth and light on the skin, as well as a surprisingly warm feel when it gets chilly out there.
You have enough stretch for all sorts of leg-stretching positions without the sense that you are putting strain on any part of the pants.
The waistband is styled with a drawstring to let you achieve a perfect fit but it is not elastic. This means the waistband works alright if you have a near perfect fit from the get go.
If the waist is a bit too big, you may have to use a separate belt.
You have 5 pockets to fill up with all your small-sized requirements. 2 hip pockets which are expected to remain flat enough to make sure nothing falls out, 2 rear zipped pockets and one zipped thigh pocket which adds to functionality.
At the cuff you have a draw cord to hold the fabric close to your ankles. This is where we noticed the first weakness. The draw cord is not very effective because you often have the fabric flapping about even after pulling the draw cord.
- Light, breathable fabric
- 2 hip, 2 rear and 1 thing pocket
- Have provision for a belt
- Waist has no elastic
- Cuff draw cord minimally effective
- Very simple – no frills
5. Mountain Hardware Dynama Pants
These are highly versatile pants which are great for climbing as well as other outdoor activities like hiking and cross training.
They can also be put to every-day use. The fabric is extra stretchy thanks to a combination of 96% nylon and 4% spandex which gives you extra comfort and a full range of motion.
At the waist is a low profile elastic waistband which gives you extra comfort and lies perfectly flat under a harness without any spots of pressure on the skin.
4 pockets, 2 at the hip and 2 rear ones come in handy to carry small essentials up the rocks.
A DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish keeps water at bay if it starts drizzling though it wears off over time. This factory-added coating also helps to prevent stains.
Other than the ability to resist water, this fabric provides a good measure of sun protection, with a UPF rating of 50.
One of the most unique features is an adjustable hem. You have a conveniently inconspicuous elastic cord which you can pull to make the pants slightly shorter when you prefer to have them slightly shorter.
Variety of length seems to be a well thought out characteristic in Dynama pants. You can also get Mountain Hardware Dynama ankle pants which are designed for shorter climbers.
The features on these are more or less the same as the pants except for the absence of drawstrings at cuffs and of course for the length. A diagonal hip pocket on the ankle pant adds a stylish touch.
Inseam lengths also vary. The ankle pants inseam is 28 inches and the regular pants inseam is 31 inches.
You can get these pants in a variety of colors. Those who prefer to go with dark, earthy colors have black, blue spruce, zinc and graphite to choose from.
Brighter colors available include Icelandic, purple dusk and light army.
- Lightweight, flexible fabric
- Low profile, elastic waistband
- 4 pockets
- DWR finish
- UPF 50
- Ankle pants available
- DWR finish wears off with time
6. Black Diamond Alpine Light Pants
The first thing we noticed about the Alpine Lights from Black Diamond is in their name… light.
They are incredibly light despite being exceptionally strong; a feature termed as a ‘high strength to weight ratio.
When climbing under scorching sun, they are breathable enough to make sure you don’t feel sweaty and warm enough to keep the cold away when it gets windy. It is Bluesign certified so you are sure it has no negative effects on the health and safety of the environment.
Black Diamond combines 88% nylon and 12% elastane to create a single weave 4- way stretch woven fabric.
The result is enough stretch for climbing and enough comfort for just about any other outdoor activity. The fabric is treated with a DWR finish which gives the pants enough water resistance to keep you dry in the event of some light rain.
The most unique feature in these pants is what many users say is their favorite. The waistband has a built-in webbing belt with a ladder lock used to tighten or loosen the waistband.
To adjust the waist size to your liking, simply move it a notch or two towards the center. This low profile belt works great for quick and easy adjustments and lies flat enough to sit comfortably under the waist belt of a climbing harness.
Belt loops are included in case you need to use a belt.
A gusseted crotch gives you extra flexibility and the cuffs have an elastic draw string to let you hold the cuffs closer to your ankles. You have a total of 5 pockets to carry your essentials up.
There are two hand pockets, 2 rear ones and one zipped thigh or cargo pocket to carry delicate cargo like your phone. The cargo pocket is cut diagonally which adds an aesthetic touch.
The main disadvantage about these pants is that they don’t last very long. The quick- wearing areas, that is the rear and the knee area are usually the first to give in.
These pants will no doubt serve you well for one or two seasons but don’t expect much more than that.
- Extremely light
- Ladder lock belt
- Belt loops
- Single weave 4-way stretch woven fabric
- High strength to weight ration
- Adjustable cuffs
- Bluesign approved
- 5 pockets ( 2 hand, 2 rear and 1 thigh)
- Not durable
7. Mammut Alnasca Climbing Pants
Mammut Alnasca pants have a well thought out feminine cut specific for rock climbing. The fabric is 98% cotton and 2% elastane. This gives you a strong fabric with a good amount of stretch.
The elastic waistband has a wide section on the back to give you a good fit around the waist and a comfortable flat fit under a climbing harness.
A hidden fly and snap button are used to hold the pants in place. The crotch area is gusseted for better movement and to prevent those irritating wedgies.
Preformed knees add to ease of movement while the leg hem has a wide mélange elastic which adds a trendy detail and silhouette. If you prefer to have the hem higher up, you can roll it up to your preferred length.
You can achieve an impressive amount of sun protection by wearing these pants. They have a UPF rating of 50+ which means that they allow less than 2% of available UV radiation to pass onto your skin.
Pockets are behind the first disadvantage we found here. These pants have only one pocket which is a hidden, zipper cargo one. This means you can only carry a few items when climbing.
It does help that the pocket is uniquely cut. It opens vertically. Cargo pockets in many other climbing pants are either horizontal or diagonal.
Another downside is based on the fact that these are close to 100% cotton. This means they absorb lots of water and if you happen to get caught in the rain, they will soak up lots of water making them heavy and uncomfortable the rest of the time.
The manufacturer offers a 2 year warranty on this product. Even if you never need to make use of it, the fact that is there gives you the confidence to buy it knowing that it is a good quality, durable product.
- Strong, durable fabric
- UPF rating: 50+
- Gusseted crotch
- Wide elastic section at back of waist
- Convenient snap button on waist
- Preformed knees
- Trendy hem detail
- 2 year manufacturer warranty
- Only 1 pocket
- Heavy when wet
8. Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants
Arc’teryx Gamma LT pants are made of 88% nylon and 12% elastane. The Fortius DW 2.0 fabric is abrasion resistant for increased durability.
It is DWR treated which makes it water resistant to keep you dry through light drizzles in between climbs. Since it is predominantly nylon, you can be sure of a quick dry after washing.
The waist makes use of a snap closure system which is faster and easier to use compared to buttons. This works in conjunction with a hidden front fly.
In addition to this is an adjustable integrated webbing belt which can be used to tighten the pants further after the snap closure is used.
A web belt uses a buckle which is hooked in place to hold the pants securely. It allows quick and easy adjustments and is preferred because you can make fairly small adjustments.
A gusseted crotch gives you better ease of movement and reduces strain on the crotch area seams during challenging climbs.
There are 2 hand pockets each with breathable mesh lining with laminated zippers. One zippered thigh pocket gives you additional room to carry small essentials.
The lack of a rear pocket is a downside of these pants. Rear pockets are always convenient and not having one just feels strange.
At the hem, cuffs are laminated for additional comfort and can be adjusted using an elastic draw cord to reduce bulk.
- Fortius DW 2.0 fabric
- Adjustable integrated webbing belt
- Gusseted crotch
- DWR finish
- Quick dry
- Snap waist closure
- 1 cargo pocket
- Laminated zippers on front pockets
- No rear pockets
While there is no harm in wearing men’s climbing pants which fit fine, you will find pants made specifically for women to have a better fit and be more comfortable.
Most women’s climbing pants shape you out nicely. There is nothing wrong with looking good as you climb.
Our search for the best women’s climbing pants took us through many brands with varying designs and features. The La Sportiva Mantra took the crown.
While many other climbing pants are made for general outdoor activities, these are designed specifically for rock climbing.
Few other pants have a chalk brush sleeve. They are extremely comfortable, have 2 large pockets are can boast of Bluesign certification.
La Sportiva Mantra’s waistband is not bulky and this allows you to wear a climbing harness over them without creating any uncomfortable pressure points on your skin.
Leggings are a common alternative to climbing pants especially for women. They offer a tight fit which makes wearing a harness over them feel like there is nothing under it.
However, pants usually still carry the day because they are more durable, more airy and have functional pockets.