The new Ramblas trousers from 3rd Rock are designed to be a lightweight pair of climbing chinos that can be worn both climbing and casually. Over the last three months I've worn them climbing throughout the UK, and just for everyday use, and I really like them.
For me the primary concern with a pair of climbing trousers is the obvious one: can I climb in them? Whenever I put a new pair of climbing trousers on the first thing I do is wave my legs around in all directions (after making sure there are no other shoppers nearby). If there's any restriction then that's it: the trousers are no good for me. Happily, the Ramblas allow completely unrestricted movement meaning that you can climb without any interference which might prevent you from reaching that high foothold or awkward heel hook. I have to say that most of the so-called climbing trousers I have tried fail this test, so it is particularly impressive that the Ramblas allow freedom of movement whilst being made almost entirely of cotton. With only 2.5% Elastane to 97.5% organic cotton, I think their unrestrictive feel has more to do with nifty tailoring than it does any inherent stretch in the fabric (which I find to be fairly minimal). To help with free movement, you get a diamond crotch and articulated knees. This attention to tailoring is evident in the detail on the seams, and the fact that the trousers look neat and stylish rather than shapeless and baggy.
Another important feature of climbing trousers is their ability to stay attached to your waist. There's nothing more annoying that being halfway through a rock-over when your trousers start slipping down around your hips and getting in the way. There's a few common solutions to this: having a pair of perfectly fitting trousers (which is unlikely when commonly available sizes are S, M, L etc.); wearing a belt; having an elasticated waist band, or having an in-built tightening system such as a drawstring. 3rd Rock have opted for the latter solution with the Ramblas, although rather than having a drawstring the Ramblas feature a small buckle which allows their waist to be tightened. This works well, although after a few hours of use - particularly when climbing and moving your hips around lots - it does start to loosen slightly. It can easily be tightened up again, but it can be a bit annoying if it happens when you're climbing. The buckle and cord doesn't look particularly robust, but I didn't have any issues with it breaking over the 2 months I used the Ramblas. The Ramblas also feature belt loops which is an ideal solution if the buckle doesn't work for you.
The Ramblas I have worn are size medium with a waist of 32 inches and a leg length of 32.6 inches (83cm). Being just over 6 foot tall the length of the trousers works well for me and means that the cuffs of the trousers don't get in the way of my climbing shoes. Overall the fit is fairly regular; the trousers are not loose or baggy, nor are they tight. I like this in a pair of climbing trousers as baggy trousers tend to get in the way a bit, and you obviously don't want tight trousers as they would restrict movement.
The Ramblas come in Cactus (green) or Fire (red). I've tried both pairs and - to someone who's not a big fan of brightly colour climbing clobber - they look good. The colours are muted rather than bright which means that they are acceptable down the pub as well as at the climbing wall. I have, however, occasionally noticed myself wearing all green or all red, although I must take responsibility for my part in this crime against fashion.
The Ramblas are detailed with darker stitching along their seams and the 3rd Rock logo on the lower right leg which gives the trousers a pleasant angular appearance and breaks up the block colours - preventing people from thinking that your legs are actually a cactus or on fire. As a Yorkshireman the finer points of fashion are lost on me and but I can say they look nice and you can go outside without looking like a complete loony (yes, some climbers do look like nutters - you know who you are).
3rd Rock pride themselves on being an ethical, organic climbing clothing company so it feels only right to mention a couple of the ethical plus-points in this review. The trousers are made of 97.5% organic cotton (i.e cotton that is not treated with pesticides), and 3rd Rock use recycled materials for manufacture. The trousers came in recyclable paper bag, with only one plastic bag inside. The paper bag also featured some upcycling messages about turning it in a shopping bag. Whilst these ethical concerns may seem shallow to some, it's nice to see a climbing clothing company taking a responsible environmental stance, and it's good to know that you can have a decent pair of climbing trousers that are ethically made and still sold at a reasonable price.
The Ramblas function extremely well as a pair of climbing trousers whilst being attractive and socially acceptable. If you're looking for a pair of light, unrestrictive climbing trousers that you can equally wear at the wall, at the crag or down the pub, then the Ramblas are a good choice.
'Meet our all new light-weight men's chino trousers – the RAMBLAS. Made from a twill organic fiber that's strong and durable but now lighter and smarter for cool summer climbing days.
The RAMBLAS are Light-Weight Movement Orientated Climbing Chinos, made from 97.5% Organic Cotton: a mix of all our favourite features of a climbing trouser, but with a smart Chino look, a perfect transitional trouser for going from the crag to pub.
For more info see 3rdrockclothing.com
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