UKC

Men's Climbing Trousers Group Test

© Martin McKenna

Climbing trousers, climbing trousers, climbing trousers... Every climber wears them to the crag or the wall (unless you're in shorts or you're Tom Randall on Cobra Crack), but often they're a bit of an afterthought: do you turn up in your dirtiest jeans, or brightest Euro-wad pantaloons? In this test we're comparing 15(!) pairs of climbing trousers from leading brands to give you an idea of what's available and what works best.

On that topic, what does make one pair of climbing trousers better than another? What will we be looking for in this test?

Freedom of Movement

The most important factor for a pair of climbing trousers: do they allow total freedom of movement? Can you get your leg above your head like your yoga instructor showed you? Are you able to rock on to that foothold by your nipple without restriction? We need to be able to use our legs and feet freely whilst climbing and a good pair of climbing trousers will allow us to do this. Different models will fit different folk. The first test for a pair of climbing trousers is always putting them on and waving your legs around like Karate Kid: if there's any restriction, they're not going to be the best choice for you.

This freedom of movement could come from one of two places, or both: cut, or stretchy material. Which one is it?

Sidenote: owning at least one pair of extremely unstretchy climbing trousers can be a good idea. That way when you can't do a climb you can bust out the "oh but my trousers are too tight" excuse.

Fit

Secondly, how do they fit? Are they obstructively tight or annoyingly baggy? Are they big on the hips but slim on the lower legs? Or are they perfectly cut to your preference, allowing you to climb without restriction whilst looking the part? Do they actually measure up to the stated size?

Material

Are your climbing trousers riveted together from offcuts of a bomb-proof military suit which would make the grittiest of gritstone mantels cry in fear, or are they loosely sewn from some kind of tracing paper-tissue hybrid? What's the result of this - are they durable and warm, or breathable? Would you wear them in the mountains as well as down the climbing wall?

Eco-friendly

How environmentally friendly is the material your trousers are made from? Will you be the only beast climbing the wall when you're sporting these trousers? In addition, is there anything notable about the brand or their manufacturing process? Do they have a particular ethical stance?

Fastening and Features

In addition, what's the fastening system? There are a fair few different ones out there. Is it a simple tried-and-tested button which either fits or doesn't? Is it an elastic waistband which fits a range of hips but which could bag-out over time and become too big? Is there an internal belt?

Do the trousers have any extra features? How many pockets do they have? Are they zipped? Do they have a fly? Do they have a brush pocket and, more importantly, has anyone ever used one?

Appearance

Finally, how do they look? Are they your sexiest pair of trousers that you secretly wear to parties without telling anyone you've just come from the climbing wall? Do you look like '90s wrestler from WWE? Or are they so brown that they could only ever be worn by a climber?

These categories should give you an idea of how each pair of trousers stacks up against the other.

A note on gender.  We always strive to provide reviews that are applicable to both men and women where possible. We realise that this review is exclusively for men's trousers. It's a shame but we felt like we couldn't do both in one review as the cuts and models are not directly comparable. We hope to have a women's-specific climbing trouser review in the future. We will mention if each trouser has a women's version.

Overall Summary

Make and model

Ocun

Mania Jeans

Price: £69.95

Super stretchy, lightweight jeans (which aren't really jeans). Great for indoor and summer outdoor climbing, and fairly durable.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Troll

Crookrise

Price:  £75

Strong, dark and gritty. The thickest and most durable pair of trousers in this test, which are both warm and are going to last forever (probably). More suited to climbing in the winter as they're hot and heavy in the summer months.

Edelrid

Kamikaze Pants

Price: £85

A great pair of climbing trousers: total freedom of movement, material that is light but durable, and they're attractive too.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

La Sportiva

Roots Pant

Price: £75.00

A lightweight and breathable option that are a great choice for summer cragging where freedom of movement is paramount.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

E9

Sid 2.1

Price: £75

A slim cotton offering that's comfortable and high-performing with excellent freedom of movement.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Wild Country

Movement Pants

Price: £100.00

A stretch-cotton construction, and a feature-heavy design made for use under a harness, and for wide-ranging movement.

Black Diamond

Notion Pants

Price: £65

A slim-fitting, flexible trouser which is light and durable.

Best in Test Good Value Large

Montane

On-Sight Pants

Price: £75

Casual trousers with a traditional 'chino syle' look, On-Sight Pants offer both toughness and good freedom of movement. 

Marmot

Rubidoux

Price: £70

Stretchy, comfortable, and full of features, the Rubidoux provide a great offering for different types of climbing. With a focus on adjustability, they might fit a range of body types.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Mammut

Ledge

Price: £90

A lightweight and comfortable climbing trouser built for use on warm days where you want a thin material to wick away moisture and allow for a wide range of movement.

Outdoor Research

Ferrosi Pants

Price: £74.99

Lightweight stretchy trousers with a slim fit, ideal for climbing or walking in summer. The material is comfortable and very breathable, but has not withstood wear as much as we'd have liked. 

Mountain Equipment

Beta Pants

Price: £80

Made with a tough stretch organic cotton, they have a roomy cut that allows for full movement.

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Rab

Zawn Pants

Price: £70

A mid-weight cotton-stretch pant, which sit at the more casual (and less technical) end of the spectrum. We have not found them the best for full freedom of movement.

Salewa

Alpine Hemp Light Pant

Price: £115

Light, breathable, stretchy and PFC free. What's not to like? The price perhaps, but alas - that's what they cost!

ALPINE HEMP LIGHT PANT MEN Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Ocun Mania Jeans £69.95

Reviewed by Theo Moore UKC

Highly Recommended

The Mania Jeans are a brilliant pair of summer climbing trousers: lightweight with total freedom of movement - and stylish. Their thin material makes them cool for hot days and great for the climbing wall but it does mean they're not the most hardwearing pair of trousers in this test.

It's easy to get your hips close to the wall in the Mania Jeans. I'm also using the Ocun On-sight rope here.  © UKC Gear
It's easy to get your hips close to the wall in the Mania Jeans. I'm also using the Ocun On-sight rope here.
© UKC Gear

Freedom of Movement

The Mania Jeans get top marks for freedom of movement. The material is very stretchy and very light which means you feel no restriction. They also have the diamond-shape design around the crotch which allows full movement of your hips.

Fit

Our reviewer usually wears a 30 waist and 30 leg and found the Mania Jeans in medium to fit well on the hips whilst being slightly baggy on the legs.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Mania Jeans are made from a cotton:polyester:rayon blend. They're very stretchy and light which is great for climbing in warm weather and indoors but they could be a bit chilly when bouldering in the winter. There haven't been any issues with durability so far, even over six months of being worn regularly, but they wouldn't be our first choice for knee bars. All in all they feel light and breathable and are pleasant to wear.

The Mania Jeans are made in China, unlike a lot of Ocun products which are handmade in the Czech Republic.

Fastening and Features

The Mania Jeans have an elasticated waistband which works well and is comfortable, although over a long period of use this could loosen up - it's hard to say without using them for a longer period.

They have deep pockets in the front and back, a brush pocket and elasticated toggles at the ankles so that you can tighten the trousers: useful if you want to keep them out of the way of your shoes or turn them into a pair of shorts.

The Mania Jeans look just like a regular pair of jeans, although slightly baggier.  © UKC Gear
The Mania Jeans look just like a regular pair of jeans, although slightly baggier.
© UKC Gear

Appearance

Despite feeling both to the touch and in use much more like a pair of trousers, the Mania Jeans look like a pair of jeans. As such they go with whatever else you're wearing and aren't flashy or brightly coloured. After extensive use they do look a bit crumpled, even after they come out of the wash (that said they haven't been ironed... but who irons climbing trousers?).

Note: we decided to feature trousers rather than jeans in this group test. However, despite being called the Mania Jeans, and looking like jeans, they're actually much more like a pair of trousers than jeans. Does anyone remember Jeggings? Fortunately they're not like those either.

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Troll Crookrise  £75

Reviewed by Theo Moore UKC


Troll's Crookrise are just like their namesake: strong, dark and gritty. They're certainly the thickest and most durable pair of trousers in this test which gives them their niche: they're warm and they're going to last forever (probably). As such they're more suited to climbing in the winter as they're hot and heavy in the summer months.

They're stretchy enough for pretty much everything and warm for bouldering in colder temperatures  © UKC Gear
They're stretchy enough for pretty much everything and warm for bouldering in colder temperatures
© UKC Gear

Freedom of Movement

The Crookrise do generally have good freedom of movement but I've found it is restricted slightly when going full stretch. As the material is relatively heavy this does have an impact too. All in all they don't feel quite as 'free' as some of the lighter trousers in this test.

Fit

Our reviewer, who is a 30 waist and 30 leg, wore these in a size small and found them a good length on the legs. Overall on the hips they're fine but the waist band has bagged out a bit during the review. The Crookrise strike a nice balance between not being tight and restrictive and not being baggy.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Crookrise are handmade by Troll in Skipton, North Yorkshire (not far from Crookrise itself). They're made from a super durable nylon fabric sourced from Sweden. 

Fastening and Features

The Crookrise have an elasticated waist band which is comfortable but it has loosened over the course of the review, and this doesn't bode well for those of us with skinny hips. 

The trousers have two front and two rear pockets and a brush slot on the side.

Perfect as part of your woodland camo outfit.  © UKC Gear
Perfect as part of your woodland camo outfit.
© UKC Gear

Appearance

The Crookrise make a statement by being a solid brown in the face of the popular flourescent Euro trousers. They're actually quite understated and attractive and go with any other clothes. That's down to personal preference of course!

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Edelrid Kamikaze Pants £85

Reviewed by Theo Moore UKC

Highly Recommended

The Kamikaze are a great pair of climbing trousers: total freedom of movement, material that is light but durable, and they're attractive too. Nice and thin so best suited to the warmer months although they're roomy enough to fit a pair of leggings underneath when it's cold. Perhaps there should be more to write here but that sums them up nicely!

A really comfortable and attractive pair of climbing trousers  © UKC Gear
A really comfortable and attractive pair of climbing trousers
© UKC Gear

Freedom of Movement

The Kamikaze use stretchy, lightweight material and have the diamond-shaped crotch which allows for total freedom of movement. It also helps that the material is lightweight - you don't feel any restriction whilst climbing in them.

Fit

Our reviewer is a 30 waist, 30 leg and wore the Kamikaze in a medium. They fit well on the waist and were baggy on the legs. Overall the shape of the Kamikaze is unusual: the legs don't taper at all towards the ankle and so they can appear a bit like a pair of flares unless you tighten them with the ankle cord - more on that shortly.

Plenty of freedom of movement...  © UKC Gear
Plenty of freedom of movement...
© UKC Gear

... but you can see the flare effect on the ankles  © UKC Gear
... but you can see the flare effect on the ankles
© UKC Gear

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Kamikaze are made from 52% organic cotton, 45% lyocell, 3% elastane and they're made in Vietnam. The material is stretchy and although it certainly can't be described as thick it's not as thin as something like the Ocun Mania Jean. As such we aren't worried about the durability.

Fastening and Features

The Kamikaze have an elasticated waist which is comfortable and hasn't bagged out yet. They have two drawstring cords around the ankles but our reviewer found the fastenings on these fiddly and unreliable: it was easier to just roll the legs up (although they do drop down).

Appearance

Although red the Kamikaze are not bright and are one of the more attractive pairs of trousers on the test. The cut, fit, colour and materials all combine to give a nice looking pair of trousers.

La Sportiva Roots Pant £75.00

Reviewed by Nick Brown UKC

Highly Recommended

The La Sportiva Roots Pant are a lightweight and breathable option and are a great choice for summer cragging where freedom of movement is paramount. The trousers also work well in winter with thermal leggings underneath - aided by their superb stretchiness, they are particularly suited to types of climbing like bouldering, indoors or out.

Articulated knees and stretchy fabric mean utilising flexibility won't be an issue  © Theo Moore - UKC
Articulated knees and stretchy fabric mean utilising flexibility won't be an issue
© Theo Moore - UKC

Freedom of Movement

The La Sportiva Roots Pant is one of the lightest products in this group test and when combined with the inseam gusset (the diamond in the crotch area) that's common in most climbing trousers these days, the Roots Pant will offer little to no resistance when making (or at least attempting) the most gymnastic of climbing movements.

The trousers have articulated knees meaning that some extra stitching has been put in to help them curve around the knee - this should be an essential part of every climbing trouser but it's particularly effective on the Roots Pant because of the elasticity of the fabric.

Fit

The trousers are a fairly straight cut and feel loose around the leg. The reviewer is a 31 waist and 31 leg and reviewed these in a medium. Occasionally it was necessary to roll the trousers up to stop them from getting in the way of climbing shoes, but that's a fairly minor gripe in the context of the trousers overall.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

Made from 97.8% cotton, the Roots Pant's material conforms with the global standard for organic cotton. What this means is that it grows without pesticides, without chemicals, and it consumes less water due to crop rotation. To wear, the trousers feel soft and comfortable, and wonderfully light when climbing.

A simple, functional design make the Roots Pant a great choice  © Alan James - UKC
A simple, functional design make the Roots Pant a great choice
© Alan James - UKC

Fastening and Features

The Roots Pants have a simple elasticated waistband that's similar to those found on yoga pants and it's maintained its elasticity over the course of four months of regular use so far. The trousers have three large pockets - two at the front and one at the rear - and seem to be aimed at stuffing as much as possible inside when walking between climbs.

Appearance

La Sportiva have designed these trousers to be minimalist and functional. There's a focus on freedom of movement with the gusseted crotch, the lightweight cotton, and articulated knee which means these trousers look simple, yet are hugely effective. There are no unwanted brush holders or guidebook pockets, just a simple, clean design.

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E9 Sid 2.1 £75

Reviewed by Nick Brown UKC

Highly Recommended

Italian company E9's Sid 2.1 Pant is a slim cotton offering that's comfortable and high-performing. E9 have really prioritised freedom of movement in these trousers, and as such, they are suitable for the most demand climbs.

Freedom of Movement

Perhaps the main feature of the Sid 2.1 is the gusseted crotch. They've designed the trouser with a massive diamond shape and it certainly performs as it should. The cotton fabric is light enough to not be a hindrance and there is extra room around the knees to ensure that big step-ups and rockovers are comfortable. 

Fit

Whilst the Sid 2.1 is a slim fit, the extra diamond in the crotch area is perhaps a little large. In practice, this means that the trousers are quite baggy towards the rear and it's not in keeping with the rest of the cut. Down the legs, the are slim fitting without being restrictive, and towards the ankles they're tapered. This tapered ankle is certainly a trend in more recent climbing trousers, perhaps following the fashion of football tracksuits from more mainstream brands, but for climbing trousers, it certainly helps to keep them out of the firing line of your rock shoes.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Sid 2.1 boasts 97% organic cotton and 3% Elastane but perhaps more importantly, the trousers are entirely manufactured in Italy. Whilst some brands outsource cotton products to countries with cheaper labour, E9 have stood firm and have always produced in Italy.

Fastening and Features

E9 have gone down the yoga pant route with Sid 2.1 which features a thick elasticated waistband, alongside an adjustable cord. The cord itself might need a minor rethink as it tends to retreat back into the trousers and can be difficult to retrieve. 

In terms of features, the trousers are fairly simple; two large front pockets that are typical of bouldering trousers and a brush holder. I often find brush holders slightly redundant and the only time I've used one, I fell off and snapped the brush. I haven't used one since. E9 haven't bothered with rear pockets which is a good move from my point of view as they always go unused.

Appearance

The pants have a casual look that wouldn't be out of place outside of the climbing world. E9 have gone down the route of tapered ankles like many contemporary larger brands and the slim fit and choice of colours gives them a neutral feel. 

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Wild Country Movement Pants £100.00

Reviewed by Nick Brown UKC


Wild Country Movement Pants have a stretch cotton construction, and a feature-heavy design that's made for use under a harness, and for wide-ranging movement. They seem particularly durable but perhaps slightly over-engineered and come at a high price.

Freedom of Movement

No complaints here. Wild Country have managed to create a slim-fitting and comfortable pair of trousers that have excellent freedom of movement. A gusseted crotch and articulated knees are essential in climbing trousers and are a tried and tested formula. The Movement Pants also feature a tapered leg which until recently has been rare in a climbing trouser, but they manage to maintain stretch and flexibility.

Fit

A female version is also available. The fit is excellent and as a slimmer man, I tend to look for trousers that aren't overly baggy because they make me look like a '90s boy band member. The slim cut, tapered legs and overall design give these pants an excellent, fashionable fit. 

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The fabric is 98% cotton and 2% elastane - the trousers feel slightly heavier than others in this group test and are better suited toward spring and autumn, rather than a hot weather summer pant. 

Wild Country are members of the Fair Wear Foundation and whilst this doesn't require any eco-credentials, it does require that the company adheres to a strict code of labour practice to achieve fair working conditions in the supply chain.

Fastening and Features

As previously mentioned, the Movement pants are slightly over engineered. The fastening mechanism is a belt with a slightly frustrating fifi hook closure which feels quite fiddly. The front pockets are deep and designed for use underneath a harness. There are also two backwards facing side pockets, presumably to put a guidebook in, but in reality they are a bit too bulky and open. I'm also not a fan of having heavy, weighted objects in my pockets whilst climbing, so for me they are redundant.

Appearance

As described above, the fit is well thought out and they are a great looking trouser. The colours are quite 'Euro' and I'm not a huge fan of the selection available, although that's purely personal preference and I know a lot of brands get annoyed at having to manufacture muted colours specifically for the UK market!

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Black Diamond Notion Pants £65

Reviewed by Nick Brown UKC

Good Value

The Black Diamond Notion Pant is a slim fitting, yet flexible trouser that's noticeably tapered around the ankles. They are light and durable and will certainly appeal to boulderers out there - indoors and out.

Freedom of Movement

The Notion boasts excellent freedom of movement. One small complaint is that they have a habit of riding up quite high when climbing, giving them the appearance of 3/4 lengths. This doesn't impede upon their flexibility, however, due to the stretch cotton fabric and low weight of the material.

Fit

I wore them in a medium and I usually go for a 31-inch waist with a long leg. As previously mentioned, the Notion has a slim fit with a tapered ankle, and feels comfortable and unrestrictive. The tapered ankles help keep the trousers well away from your climbing shoes. A women's version of the Notion Pants is also available.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Notion pant is made from a stretch cotton twill and 2% elastane. This type of stretch cotton is generally used to help withstand higher wear and tear. The cotton is organic and whilst this means that no pesticides are used, it doesn't stop cotton from being a thirsty crop, contributing greatly to water scarcity. Read more about Black Diamond's sustainability policies here.

Fastening and Features

Simplicity is often key with trousers aimed at unrestricted use and freedom of movement, and it's an area where the Notion Pant has certainly succeeded. They have a simple elasticated waistband and two front pockets, two back pockets, and a small horizontal zipped pocket down the leg. I often don't see the point of these small zipped pockets but concede that it could be useful to stash a small house key or similar if needed.

A slim fitting, yet flexible trouser that's noticeably tapered around the ankles  © Alan James - UKC
A slim fitting, yet flexible trouser that's noticeably tapered around the ankles
© Alan James - UKC

Appearance

It's a casual and modern look from Black Diamond with the slim yet baggy and tapered ankle look. The Notion has built upon the direction that Yoga trousers have been heading in but they also wouldn't be out of place down the pub. There are usually around ten different colours to choose from which vary from season to season.

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Montane On-Sight Pants £75

Reviewed by Andy Ovens UKC


Casual trousers with a traditional 'chino syle' look, On-Sight Pants offer both toughness and good freedom of movement. A simple yet effective design, and soft organic cotton, are both points in their favour.

Freedom of Movement

When flexibility is key, you don't want your legwear holding you back. From an active cut and a bit of stretch, to all-day comfort, On-Sight Pants (trousers), from Montane's X BMC clothing line, provide all the features one would expect in a decent pair of climbing legwear. Coming in both men's and women's versions, and featuring soft organic cotton, there's a lot to like here - and the price is a bit more attractive than some of the competition, too.

Fit

Both men's and women's versions are available, the men's being a bit closer-fitting. With a gusseted crotch and articulated knees, the cut allows for decent freedom of movement despite being closer and less baggy than many climbing trousers. Though not as stretchy as the women's, we've never found the men's On-Sight Pants restrictive during bouldering or sport climbing, and they've proved comfy during long mountain walk-ins. For hot weather, On-Sight Shorts are also available, with a short-ish mid-length cut (about as short as we'd want to go for use with a harness!).

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

On-Sight Pants are made of 97% cotton, with 3% elastane for added stretch. The cotton is organic, helping to boost their environmental friendliness, and when brands make an effort in this regard we feel it's worth acknowledging. With a soft, comfy feel, the fabric is thick and tough enough to take some punishment on the rock, while remaining light enough to be cool on warm (if not baking hot) days.

Fastening and Features

The men's and women's versions differ slightly in their design, with the men's On-Sight Pants taking a more traditional chino-like style, with a zip fly, jeans-style pockets, rollable ankle cuffs and a fairly tight fitting non-stretchy waist. Conversely, the women's On-Sight Pants feature a high elasticated waist band with drawcord, which allows for all day comfort, even after a particularly good lunch.

Appearance

They come in three classic colours: redwood, orion blue, and slate (for both men and women). 

Marmot Rubidoux £70

Reviewed by Andy Ovens UKC

Highly Recommended

Stretchy, comfortable, and full of features, the Rubidoux provide a great offering for different types of climbing. With a focus on adjustability, they might fit a range of body types.

Decent stretchability  © UKC Articles
Decent stretchability

Freedom of Movement

Being made of such a thin material, movement generally feels unrestrictive. The Rubidoux pants have a decent amount of stretch to them, causing no problems to big leg movements such as high feet.

Marmot claims the trousers have a gusseted crotch, however the cut lacks the typical triangle/diamond stitching. That being said, it isn't necessarily an issue due to the relatively baggy cut which may just be their approach to the gusseted crotch.

Fit

The elasticated waistband means the range of fit is pretty wide, while not feeling overly tight at the same time. As expected with climbing trousers, they come in long with the ability to roll up the ankle cuff, and I have found them to unroll which can be problematic on a route. There's no female version of these trousers.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

Even during the (rare!) warm spells experienced recently, the thinness of the Rubidoux trousers made long walk ins, in less than ideal conditions, largely bearable. The fabric did well to breathe, and also not stick too much to my skin.
Though, as expected, in windier, cooler conditions, it isn't always the best legwear for keeping your lower half protected, but does mean that the drying time however is very fast.

Primarily composed of nylon (55%), these trousers can't boast the best sustainability credentials. This material would've been chosen for its feel and stretch, but it is worth considering that it is a synthetic fiber, and the implications that come from that.

The build quality seems super strong, with no visible wear even with quite regular use. There is a concern that the tightening thread could become lost in the the waistband if one end gets pulled too much. Though Marmot have tried to mitigate this with a knot on each end, it would still be a pain if it were to be pulled through hard enough.

The Rubidoux keeps you cool even in warm weather  © UKC Articles
The Rubidoux keeps you cool even in warm weather

Fastening and Features

The elastic within the waist can be adjusted with a (hidden) tie cord behind the top button. I found this quite useful for getting the perfect fit, making it comfortable enough for long walk ins. The way the cord is embedded into the waist band means it doesn't dig in too much either. The cord does slowly give over time, requiring re-tightening at times throughout the day, and it can also make it quite fiddly to take the trousers off!

The double right pocket was a nice bonus, with the lower one being surprisingly roomy with enough space for a big brush, or even a phone. Though a small elastic loop for a small brush is missing, but not sorely missed.

The cuff tightener is a little weak which can lead to the aforementioned unrolling, but it is very small and unobtrusive.

Appearance

Though initially the choice of colours was limited, Marmot have extended the range with a blue and dark green, alongside the original line. Two fairly similar rust colours (essentially red and orange) and a more dull blue are offered up also. Personally i had no issue with my colour choice (orange), but it is worth considering none of the five colour choices are vibrant, if that the look you're aiming for!

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Mammut Ledge £90


Mammut Ledge pants are a lightweight and comfortable climbing trouser built for use on warm days where you want a thin material to wick away moisture and allow for a wide range of movement, but thanks to that light feel they may not stand up in durability for continuous days on rough rock.

Tested on a hot day on Reiff sandstone - light, stretchy and relatively tough given their weight.  © UKC Gear
Tested on a hot day on Reiff sandstone - light, stretchy and relatively tough given their weight.

Freedom of Movement

Arguably where the Ledge trousers perform best is their freedom of movement. This is owed mostly to the light and stretchy materials which they are made from, but also aided - to a lesser extent - by the cut around the hips and crotch which has functioned well at the extremes of our flexibility. 

The Ledge offering good freedom of movement at Dumbarton  © Duggie Russell
The Ledge offering good freedom of movement at Dumbarton
© Duggie Russell

Fit

The Ledge pants are cut to Mammut's Regular Fit which offers an athletic cut that is close to the leg but still comfortable and unrestrictive due to the elastic nature of the materials. A women's version is available.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The main textile is an 85% Polyamide nylon, providing a good amount of abrasion resistance for their weight. A large amount of Spandex (15%) gives the trousers their noticeable 4-way stretch, which is perfect for feeling agile on strenuous movements. The light build from the materials, and the finishing miDori treatment, provide a soft and breathable feel against the leg, and the fabric dries quickly.

Ideal for keeping cool on a warm mountain crag approach  © UKC Gear
Ideal for keeping cool on a warm mountain crag approach

The materials are also approved Bluesign products, ensuring responsible use of resources and a lower impact on people and the environment.

Fastening and Features

An elasticated waistband fastens with two velcro straps around the sides. This gives easy adjustability and comfort when working hard, although the velcro could possibly lose its holding strength over time. A zipped leg pocket offers storage where a tad more security is required. Hidden drawstrings on the ankle provide a handy way to keep the leg away from your shoes when climbing or walking in the heat.

Appearance

The fit and materials give the Ledge Pant a firmly outdoorsy look, although the black or khaki colours provide a classic casual appearance that could equally be worn during your day-to-day. They are also available in bright blue, which mmay be best saved for the crag or downtown Chamonix.

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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants £74.99

Reviewed by Martin McKenna UKC


The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are lightweight stretchy trousers with a slim fit, ideal for climbing or walking. The material is comfortable and very breathable, but has not withstood wear and tear as well as we'd have liked. 

The Ferrosi are good for high steps and won't restrict movement  © UKC Gear
The Ferrosi are good for high steps and won't restrict movement

Freedom of Movement

The Ferrosi gives maximum freedom of movement, with a slim, but not restrictive cut. Most impressive is the amount of stretch the fabric gives, allowing for any sort of movement when climbing. 

Fit

We found the Ferrosi to be about right when it came to the stated size. Our reviewer usually takes a 29 waist, and the Ferrosi 30 were good when paired with a small belt. We went for the regular leg length, at 32 inches, which also felt spot on.

Our reviewer has particularly slim legs, and the slim fit cut of these trousers fitted perfectly. A women's Ferrosi is also available.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Ferrosi is made from 86% nylon and 14% spandex giving a light 90D fabric. The fabric is a ripstop weave so will resist tearing when caught on objects. Our main complaint with the Ferrosi is its general low durability around the outer thigh and knee area. Very quickly the fabric has pilled. Given the area, it looks like this has been caused by brushing against rock while climbing and possibly kneebars. Of course many garments will wear faster with this sort of use, but the Ferrosi began to pill after only a few outings. 

Aside from this problem, the material on the Ferrosi is brilliantly breathable and very quick drying. It features UPF 50+, so should last even when exposed to the sun for long periods. They are also DWR treated, although the pilling issue may have diminished the treatment's effectiveness.

Fastening and Features

The Ferrosi is a relatively simple garment, but has a number of features worth mentioning. Firstly, there are two deep front hand pockets, a zipped thigh pocket and two zipped back pockets. Around the ankles are drawcord cuff closures that allow for the legs to be brought in flush. This is a looped drawcord, so can get caught on things unfortunately; dual tether cords would have been better. There is a zip and button fly on the front.

Appearance

The Ferrosi are great if you like simple looking trousers. They don't come in any bright colours, if that is your type of thing, but they are good looking for down the climbing wall or out on a long hillwalk.

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Mountain Equipment Beta Pants £80

Reviewed by Alan James UKC

Highly Recommended

Mountain Equipment Beta Pants are made with a tough stretch organic cotton and have a roomy cut that gives full movement. The trim waist allows for comfortable wearing under a harness. They include some good features like a tidy side zip pocket and good drawcord closure.  Some slightly bizarre massive back pockets are the only minus point to an otherwise excellent pair of climbing trousers.

Freedom of Movement

The fit is relatively roomy and, even allowing for the stretch cotton, leg movement is free without really engaging any stretch. Unless you have absolute thunder thighs, you are unlikely to find these restrictive in any way assuming you sized them correctly.

Fit

The fit is snug around the waist area which works well when a harness is over the top of them. This does make the front pockets a little tight to get your hands into. As mentioned, the upper leg is roomy but they tailor nicely towards a smart cuff arrangement at the ankle. The crotch has a diamond gusset which is essential for greater leg movement.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

They are made from 66% organic cotton, 31% recycled polyester and a small amount of elastane: good marks for sustainability there. Mountain Equipment is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation which verifies member brands regarding their progress in implementing labour standards and improving working conditions.

A roomy fit.  © UKC Gear
A roomy fit.
© UKC Gear

Good movement.  © UKC Gear
Good movement.
© UKC Gear

Fastening and Features

The trousers have a double zip fly closure and button fastening at the top with belt loops on the waist. The front hand pockets are tight and not particularly roomy however you are unlikely to keep much in them when climbing. A small concealed-zip pocket on the right leg is just modern largish phone size - a useful feature for when not climbing. The most striking feature is the massive back pockets. The understanding is that these take a guidebook and, indeed, they do, even a 500+ page Rockfax! Having said that, I can't imagine ever actually wanting to carry my guidebook in my back pocket and you certainly aren't going to want anything in them when climbing in a harness. They also have a tendency to flap open and dangle around which is annoying - definitely a minus point for the back pockets. A final excellent feature is the ankle drawcords which are really useful if you want to cinch up the trouser legs away from your rock shoes.

Curiously huge back pockets that can flap out.  © UKC Gear
Curiously huge back pockets that can flap out.
© UKC Gear

Appearance

They are available in a subtle 'ombre blue' (as in photos), a virtually identical 'anvil grey' and a very bold and brash bright yellow called 'pumpkin spice'. The contrast in appearance of these different colours couldn't be greater. In the subtle blue and grey are fine for everyday use and the cut and feel of the trousers is great for general wear too. The yellow ones are for people who want to get noticed,  or for big photoshoots!

Rab Zawn Pants £70

Reviewed by Rob Greenwood UKC


The Zawn Pants are a mid-weight cotton-stretch pant, which sit at the more casual (and less technical) end of the spectrum. They're one of the heavier pairs of trousers on test and will most likely be of interest to boulderers for both indoor and outdoor use. One benefit to their weight is that the materials used are pretty burly, and able to take a lot of abuse. On the flip side, they are - perhaps unsurprisingly - relatively warm, which makes them better suited to the cooler months. 

The restrictive cut on the Zawn doesn't make them ideal for high steps  © UKC Gear
The restrictive cut on the Zawn doesn't make them ideal for high steps
© UKC Gear

Freedom of Movement

Whilst the two-way stretch has helped to provide freedom of movement, its benefits have been counteracted by the fit at the knee, which is quite restrictive. In use they feel quite tight and grabby, providing unwanted resistance, and that's not what you want whilst climbing. Overall it felt like this overshadowed the Zawn's performance, but it is worth noting that I am afflicted with a relatively large set of legs, although the issue at hand feels more knee than thigh based - hence not necessarily relevant.

Fit

Women also get the option of Zawn Pants. I've found the men's version are accurately sized in terms of their waist. When it comes to the rest they're quite spacious around the bum, thigh and calves, but lack room around the knee (which brings about the issues outlined above). This could potentially be mitigated by going up a size, but I suspect that'd bring other issues, with the rest of the pant feeling disproportionately large. In terms of leg length, they're nice and long, but not too long, and whilst I often found myself rolling them up whilst climbing, I quite like rolling trousers up, but was grateful for the extra length whilst walking in.

photo
Because the Zawn Pants are a little thicker they're ideal for cooler days
© UKC Gear

but on warmer days they can feel a little hot and sweaty  © UKC Gear
but on warmer days they can feel a little hot and sweaty
© UKC Gear

I'm still not entirely sure what I'd use this pocket for though?!  © UKC Gear
I'm still not entirely sure what I'd use this pocket for though?!
© UKC Gear

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

The Zawn are constructed using a 97% cotton and 3% elastane blend. The main benefit of these materials are their durability, hence they should be one of the hardest wearing pants on test. Being harder wearing means you may not have to buy replacements quite so soon, which is another way to minimise your impact. Whist the products themselves don't involve organic cotton or suchlike, it's worth mentioning that Rab are a Climate Neutral Company (click here to find more about what that means). 

Fastening and Features

The elastication around the side of the waistband gives the Zawn a nice, snug and comfortable feel. For me, this was more than enough to keep them in place, but for those who prefer to use a belt there are loops for this. At the front there's a single tack button that offers a quick, secure method of closure.

On the front there are also two pockets, with another on the right side of your hip. Whilst I've used the former a lot for phone and keys I'm yet to find a use for the latter.

Appearance

The Zawn have a fairly casual appearance, with a relaxed fit, and don't scream 'climber' too much in the colour that we've got them. For those that want to scream, brighter, bolder colours are available!

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Salewa Alpine Hemp Light Pant £115

Reviewed by Rob Greenwood UKC

Highly Recommended

The Alpine Hemp Light Pant is probably the most technical pair of lightweight trousers I've ever owned. They're light, breathable and stretchy, with a close-fitting jeggings-style cut, and a fabric that feels absolutely divine. The only possible drawback is price, being - as they are - the most expensive on test. 

The Alpine Hemp Light Pants being tested in a distinctly non-alpine environment!  © UKC Gear
The Alpine Hemp Light Pants being tested in a distinctly non-alpine environment!
© UKC Gear

Freedom of Movement

The freedom of movement in the Alpine Hemp Light Pant is excellent, with what feels like pretty much infinite amounts of stretch (and that's coming from someone with pretty big legs).

Fit

The Alpine Hemp Light Pant is definitely on the slim side, but the stretchiness of the materials mean that this isn't restrictive - even to those with larger legs. Their fit is also fashionably tapered, with a narrower fit to the calf than some on test. The taper is good for giving you a clear view of your feet. A women's version is also available.

Material and Eco-friendly Credentials

There's a lot going on here, with a variety of materials used throughout. The main body features 53% 205 g/sqm ripstop hemp, 44% polyester and 3% elastane - this is what gives it its stretch,its breathability, and its lovely feel. The knees feature a slightly different construction, with 85% polyamide (or DURASTRETCH 3D BICROMATIC ECO 146 BS to be precise) and 15% elastane, as the priority here is very much on freedom of movement.

Whilst the pants feature a blend of materials, they are PFC free. The fact their main ingredient is hemp is another benefit, as hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics available, requiring a lot less water to grow than cotton. That said, SALEWA themselves admit that manufacturing in China is far from ideal - hence invest 10% of their turnover from apparel sales back into the cultivation of hemp in the alpine region. Better yet would be to manufacture in Europe (something we could of course say about almost all brands).

They're definitely at the slimmer fit end of the spectrum, although my legs are massive...  © UKC Gear
They're definitely at the slimmer fit end of the spectrum, although my legs are massive...
© UKC Gear

The composite materials can clearly be seen between the main body and the knee  © UKC Gear
The composite materials can clearly be seen between the main body and the knee
© UKC Gear

Fastening and Features

The Alpine Hemp Light Pant features a single button closure and fly on the front, with an internal elastic hem drawcord (which I've never had to use). They also have belt loops throughout, but much like the drawcord I've never had to use it - mostly because they fit me well without.

Beyond that there are two hand pockets on the front and another two on the back, this time with zips - both of which are impressively deep.

Appearance

If you're wearing the Alpine Hemp Light Pant it feels fairly inevitable that people are going to guess you're a climber, as their slim fitting composite appearance is definitely at the technical end of the spectrum.

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2 Nov, 2021

I'm really excited to try out a bunch of trews from this test. I've always had major issues with getting anything that allowed sufficient hip movement. Many years ago I found a specific E9 pant that allowed freedom of movement for me but after a year or two they started falling apart and E9 had stopped making them. Since then I've tried on dozens of trousers and still not found one that works. In the end I resorted to getting trousers custom-made based on the old pair of E9s but then ran into the issue of having to source appropriately durable material (which I failed to do and hence these pairs only lasted 1 year or regular use before they started disintegrating).

Thanks very much for writing the article!

2 Nov, 2021

Or a pair of Ron Hills 🤣

2 Nov, 2021

3rd rock in the list at the top but not in the article? Which is a shame as they are some of my faves and would have made a good benchmark to compare with others

I actually have a couple of pairs of 3RD ROCK jeans in for review/video at the moment. We're going to publish these in a separate review as they're certainly at the jeans end of the spectrum rather than trousers. These should be out soon. The new 3RD ROCK denim is really good, as a bit of a teaser.

3RD ROCK just published this overview of their latest climbing products: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/clothing/3rd_rock_core_climbing_collection-13958

I'll also remove them from the brands list on this review, thanks for spotting that.

2 Nov, 2021

Looks like a comprehensive review, surprised not to see Moon Cypher pants in the test though, are these no longer on the market?

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