Looking for Wild are a new French climbing clothing brand whose clothes are ideal for climbing, whilst also being extremely stylish. Their ethos is quite simple: create clothes which are tested and developed by both top-level climbers and fashion professionals.
I really like the Looking for Wild clothes I've reviewed and, in fact, the trousers and shorts have become my go-to clothing for summer cragging. Essentially they are ideal for rock and indoor climbing and they look extremely stylish. I might go so far as to say that they're the most stylish trousers, shorts and t-shirt I own, although perhaps that says more about me than Looking for Wild...
Being made almost entirely of cotton, the clothes are excellent for bouldering, sport climbing and trad but, despite the 'technical' label, you would of course look elsewhere for higher level mountain cragging, multi-day trips or alpine use.
Environmental Stance and Eco-Repair
One particularly good thing about Looking for Wild is their environmental stance. They use organic cotton, have their clothes produced outside Asia (the clothes I reviewed were made in Tunisia) and they have an eco-repair scheme: you can send your clothes back to Looking for Wild and for a small fee they'll repair them and send them back to you. This is one of those things that you get from a high-quality brand that you simply don't from a discount manufacturer, and when I consider how many items of clothes I've thrown away because they're damaged, that's a lot of waste and environmental cost. Whilst some other brands may also offer something similar, having it directly advertised and easily accessible on the Looking for Wild site makes it easy to do and shows their commitment to sustainability. It's also a great plus-point when considering durability: firstly, if your clothing does get damaged you can repair it for a tenner rather than paying for a new pair of trousers and, secondly, when a brand offers repairs on its clothes that suggests that they feel confident in the quality and durability of their products. I've no complaints on that front so far!
Fitz Roy Technical Pants - £98.64 RRP
As a climber it's easy to tell whether a pair of trousers are going to be good for climbing or not. You simply put them on and wave your legs around in every direction. Thankfully, the Fitz Roy Pants pass my leg test with flying colours. In fact, having used them for trad, sport and bouldering, I have never once felt restricted. Plus, they're generally very comfortable to wear whether you're climbing or not.
The Fitz Roy already score highly because they excel at their main function. However, they have a few more features which make them great to climb in.
The elasticated waist band is extremely comfortable and keeps the trousers snug, without any of the discomfort that can sometimes come from a cord or belt when lifting your legs high. The downside to the elasticated band is that these can slacken over time, particularly if you walk round with heavy stuff, such as a wallet, in your pocket - although that's unlikely when you're climbing. In addition, you move your hips a lot whilst climbing (particularly in a pair of trousers that are so flexible), and so that could cause the waistband to stretch too. The Fitz Roy close with a double popper which is secure and durable - it's not going to come off like a sewn-on button and I imagine not having solely an elasticated waist-band, without any fastening system, does mean that the elastic in the waist will last longer.
The Fitz Roy also has elasticated ankle cuffs, and I didn't realise quite how much I would appreciate these. They keep your trousers from ever getting in the way of your climbing shoes, which can sometimes be annoying if they get under your toes or occasionally in the way of a heel hook, and they also keep the lower leg of the trouser snug so that, when you're looking down at a particularly small foothold, the trouser never bags out to obscure your vision. The elasticated cuffs also enable you to pull the legs up if you're walking over some particularly wet/muddy ground or if you're just a bit too hot.
Thirdly, and again this is a feature I didn't know I would appreciate, the Fitz Roy have a small zipped pocket on the right thigh. It's the perfect size for your phone and you might ask: why would you ever want to carry your phone when you're climbing? Firstly, everyone carries their phone everywhere these days so it might as well be secure when you're throwing your legs around wildly (yes I've dropped my work phone off the top off Millstone before, sorry UKC...). Secondly, and this is the real revelation for me: it's incredibly useful to have your phone in your pocket if you're using a guidebook app, or photo, when multi-pitching. Whilst recently climbing at High Tor having a zoomable topo which I could pull out at a belay stance was a godsend, and I'll be doing the same thing in the Lakes this weekend. And all this is possible, or at least much more practical, because of the Fitz Roy's zipped pocket which holds your phone on the side of your leg, a place which doesn't restrict movement or get in the way. And, if you're totally wild, you could even put something in there that's not a phone: keys, money etc.
Whilst less revolutionary there's a few more features worth mentioning: A zipped fly for peeing - yes this sounds basic, and it's only a thing for half the population, but there are plenty of men's climbing trousers out there without a fly and it's annoying when you're wearing a harness. The Fitz Roy also have reinforced stitching over the knees which is nice, although I do find that my climbing trousers usually wear out on the bum rather than the knees [weirdo -Ed.]. Finally the rear pockets have a velcro closure which, like the leg pocket, is nice because it keeps your valuables secure when you're on the move.
I have had no issues at all with the durability of the Fitz Roy trousers, and the build quality seems excellent. I have used them for two months now and there's no wear and tear but, as they are 95% cotton and 5% elastane, I wouldn't expect them to last forever. However, the trousers feel robust and they are reinforced on the knees and at the cuffs, so I do expect them to stand up to sustained use.
I'm a 32 waist / 32 leg in regular trousers and I took the Fitz Roy in a size large. They fit well on the leg and waist, which allow some discrepancy thanks to the elasticated cuffs. If you have a smaller waist I would recommend going for a medium as they could be a big baggy otherwise.
Apart from the fit the other main attraction of the Fitz Roy is their appearance. They look extremely stylish for a pair of climbing trousers. I'm afraid my fashion credentials don't qualify me to describe exactly why but they just look damn good and you could certainly wear these for anything casual, climbing or not. I'll let the photos do the talking. Check out all the colours they're available in too.
Cilaos Technical Shorts - £65.39 RRP
Much of what was said about the Fitz Roy can be applied to the Cilaos shorts: they are a pleasure to climb in and look great.
The cut of the Cilaos is brilliant and allows full freedom of movement. They sit at the perfect height for a pair of climbing shorts - just above the knee - which makes them comfortable, unrestrictive, and conveniently leaves enough room for a knee pad.
Like the Fitz Roy the Cilaos has an elasticated waist belt which is really comfortable and keeps the shorts snug on your waist. Again, I have found with elasticated closures that they can bag out over time which results in your shorts falling down - particularly annoying whilst climbing - and with no belt loops on the Cilaos there would be no way to easily rectify this. That said, the elastic hasn't stretched yet, so it's working excellently at the moment.
The Cilaos has the nice deep front pockets, velcro back pockets, double-popper closure, and zipped fly of the Fitz Roy. It would be hard to cram any more features into a pair of shorts but what features the Cilaos does have are all well thought-out and designed.
The Cilaos are well made and I have had no issues with faults or durability so far. I have used them for two months and they are a robust pair of shorts which should last a while. That said, they are 95% cotton and 5% elastane, so they may not be super durable if you're climbing on rough rock regularly.
I'm a 32 waist in regular shorts and I took the Cilaos in a size large. They fit well on the waist although I would suggest going down a size if your waist is any smaller.
The Cilaos look fantastic - they're extremely stylish and the Blue Lagoon colour I have them in really stands out without being gaudy. Again, my fashion credentials are lacking, so I'll let the photos do the talking.
The Looking for Wild clothes I've reviewed are genuinely top quality in terms of performance, construction and appearance. I really like them and they're currently my go-to summer climbing clothes. They're also really stylish and I wear them all the time whether I'm climbing or not.
The big consideration for many people is going to be the price and - at £100 for a pair of trousers - they're undeniably at the pricey end of the spectrum, although this isn't unusual for top-quality climbing clothing nowadays. As such they won't be for everyone but if you're looking for clothes that are extremely stylish whilst offering ideal climbing performance then the price is justifiable. To help with that consideration is Looking for Wild's eco-repair scheme: by getting your clothes professionally repaired for £5-20, you're saving a lot of money on buying a second pair of trousers, as well as making an environmentally sustainable decision. In addition, Looking for Wild have told us that they are updating their pricing and it looks like the trousers will soon be £80, and the shorts £53, RRP.