You’re at the crux of the route. You stretch your arm out and get a good grip on the crimp. You stretch your leg out to the tiny foothold on your right…but your pants don’t stretch with you and it causes you to lose your balance and take a big fall!
This kind of tricky situation can be easily avoided with a good pair of rock climbing pants. Good pants that move with you are absolute essentials for a climber at the crag and in the gym.
In this guide, I review the best climbing pants for women. I also include tips on how to choose the best climbing pants that don’t hold you back from committing to difficult moves.
My Review Process
A long-time hiker and climber, I am super finicky about choosing climbing pants.
There is already so much to think about when preparing for a climb… I don’t want to worry about my pants being tight, uncomfortable, or worse - tearing - mid-climb too!
After researching most of the options available, I came up with a list of features I like to see in climbing pants for women: stretch, durability, comfort, and fit. The material of the pants is important too.
All of the pants I review score well on one or more of these factors. Let’s take a look at my top picks.
Patagonia is known for its high-quality clothing, and the Altvia Alpine Pants are no different.
This pair of pants is made from polyester and spandex - a lightweight fabric mix that gives you an excellent range of motion. The panels on the bottom, knees, and inner calves are reinforced with tough fabric to protect from tears from the inevitable scratching against sharp rocks.
The Altvia is harness-friendly with a waistband and belt that don’t dig into your skin. The pockets are zippered, flat, and easily accessible even when wearing a harness.
A high-quality, streamlined design comes with a comparable price tag, but the cost is the only drawback. In this case, you get what you pay for. Patagonia’s Altiva Alpine Pants stand out as the best all-around climbing pants for women above and below the treeline.
Super lightweight and breathable - the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 climbing pants are also your every day, everywhere pants. The Dynama/2 are odor-resistant, quick drying, and have a UPF rating of 50+ to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
The fit and feel of these pants are delightful, and there’s no excess fabric bunching around the ankles. The construction and fabric enhance your range of motion and help you try all the difficult moves.
The pockets feel too delicate to hold even small items and could be better reinforced to prevent sagging. But that aside, the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama/2 Ankle pants are hands down the most comfortable rock climbing pants for female climbers.
Although the Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail pants are meant to be hiking pants, they double up as good climbing pants too. They are comfortable, and stretchy and protect you from the rain and the sun. Their Omni-Shield treatment keeps you dry and sweat-free even when climbing outdoors.
The Saturday Trail pants are available in various sizes from size 2 to 24w and come in three inseam options. The sizing and fit can be a little tricky though, so make sure your online order has a free returns/shipping policy.
Everything considered the Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pants are good 3-season climbing pants and the best budget climbing pants for women.
The Outdoor Research Women’s Cirque II pants are warm, weather-resistant yet breathable. They have reinforced scuff guards to protect from crampon punctures or other damage. A bootcut leg style and gusseted ankle zippers fit easily over mountaineering boots.
The Women’s Cirque II pants are specifically tailored for women. The movement-mirroring fabric is stretchy enough for those tricky moves but still fits snugly enough to hug your curves. However, climbers with smaller waists might still find them a little large despite the adjustable waistband tabs.
The pockets are water-resistant and the zippered thigh pocket is accessible when wearing a harness. All these features at this price make the OR Women’s Cirque II pants the best mountaineering or ice climbing pants for women.
From bouldering to multi-pitch to big wall climbing - the Cotopaxi Baja Pants are an excellent choice. You can even wear them outside the crag or when you travel! The soft four-way stretch fabric gives them superb flexibility for all those reachy moves. The twill backing makes them extremely durable.
The concealed security pocket has a zipper and can come in handy to stash your valuables when you’re traveling. These pants are not very warm though, so use them in mild to hot temperatures.
The only downside here is the sizing which runs about one size large. Despite these minor drawbacks, Cotopaxi Baja Pants are the best outdoor climbing pants for women.
The things I love about these 3RD Rock Women’s Leggings are their comfort, their softness, and that they’re made with love. These durable leggings are my favorite pants to wear at indoor climbing gyms. Flat seams, a gusseted crotch, and an elastic-free waistband make 3RD Rock leggings comfortable and flexible while also being soft against the skin.
The high waist supports and enhances your curves as you move smoothly on the wall. The leggings have a neat little pocket near the ankle for your keys or cards but it’s too small for anything else. Some women might find the 3RD Rock Women’s Leggings a bit warm. However, that doesn’t seem to be a problem for most when climbing indoors, no matter the season.
To top it all, these climbing leggings are made from recycled fishing nets and carpets. They are sturdy, even on plastic holds, which makes them the perfect women’s climbing pants for the gym.
The Mammut Crashiano Women’s Tights are made for climbers, and it shows. This pair of pants is breathable and moisture-wicking - which are important features for climbing clothing. It is also durable enough to wear at the crag.
The seamless stitching and wide elastic waistband make them very comfortable even with a harness on. The fit is perfect and the silhouette flatters your figure well.
The Mammut Crashiano does not have any pockets. For someone who needs to tuck away their phone or keys when climbing, the lack of pockets can be a big drawback. Pockets aside, there is nothing to fault in this awesome pair of climbing tights for women.
Black Diamond is one of the best names in the field when it comes to climbing gear and clothing, and for good reason. The BD Women’s Technician Shorts have everything a pair of climbing shorts needs.
The Technician shorts made from a nylon and elastane blend material are comfy, lightweight, and durable. The shorts come just above the knee which gives good freedom of movement. The well-designed pockets are easy to use even when you’re wearing a harness, and are roomy enough to hold a phone and other essentials safely.
I had to look closely to find any drawbacks to these shorts. Other than the sizing running slightly large, I found nothing to complain about. Be it for the gym or for outdoor climbing, these Black Diamond Technician Shorts are fantastic and are absolutely the best women’s climbing shorts.
The Gaia Unisex Super Stretch Eco Jeans are another superstar from 3RD Rock. Made from Eco Morph denim that offers a 4-way stretch and insane durability, these jeans are perfect for climbing. With looser thighs and tapered ankles, the jeans also have an elastic waistband. This lets you commit to the moves without worrying about your clothing restricting your movement.
The Gaia Jeans also score well with their functional pockets which can accommodate a large phone with ease. As always, 3RD Rock puts sustainability first - from sourcing their material to the Eco Green washing system they use to wash the denim.
The quality and comfort of these climbing jeans are excellent, but most women will need to size down for a better fit. For eco-friendly climbing jeans that don’t restrict your movement, the 3RD Rock Gaia Jeans are the best on the market.
Women's Climbing Pants Buying Guide
To avoid buying pants that snag on the rock face or restrict your movement or confidence in any way, I’ve put together this guide for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing women’s climbing pants:
The most important thing climbing pants do is they move with you. Your pants need to have one or more of these mobility aids: a stretchy fabric, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, or cinched ankles.
A gusset (or diamond-shaped crotch) allows you to move more freely and offers breathability. Articulated knees enable climbers to increase their range of movement, especially if the pants are made of less stretchy fabric, and reduce wear and tear at the knees.
It goes without saying that climbing tough rocks needs super durable pants that are abrasion-resistant. These pants need to deal with the hike to the crag, rubbing against rough rocks, a knee jam, and the occasional scramble up a trail.
Choose climbing trousers made from materials like nylon, spandex, and lycra which are highly durable while also being stretchy.
Leggings: Leggings are popular with women climbers all over the globe for the comfort and stretchiness they provide. Also, they make you look great! The only problem is how easily they tear - beware of wearing leggings for outdoor routes. Still, leggings are my go-to choice for rock climbing pants.
Classic Climbing Pants: Classic cargo-type climbing pants are loved by climbers for many reasons. They are a great mix of sturdy, functional, and breathable while also being comfy. The stretch can vary from pant to pant depending on the materials used.
Jeans/Denim: Jeans specially designed for climbing are a fantastic option. Lightweight, stretchy, and super-durable, climbing denim has rightly become a new favorite for many climbers.
Usually, the more feature-rich a pair of pants is, the more it will weigh. Focus on what your needs are and the weather.
If you need to climb light, opt for pants that are streamlined and lightweight. But if you need to stay warm and dry - while ice climbing for instance - opt for heavier climbing pants that can keep you warm and safe.
Breathability, durability, stretchiness, weight, warmth, and other factors are affected greatly by the fabric.
Some fabrics like cotton are warm and comfy but are heavy and slow to dry when they get wet.
Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are sweat-wicking and more durable than cotton.
Elastane, lycra, and spandex add stretchiness to the pants.
Most climbing pants feature a blend of two or more materials to optimize breathability, durability, and stretch.
Most manufacturers include pockets in their designs, but only some include deep, zippered, harness-compatible ones.
Zippered thigh pockets are great for storing essentials that you might need at the belay station. On the other hand, most leggings will feature slim pockets on the side of the thigh or a tiny one inside an elastic waistband.
The Patagonia Altvia Alpine Pants are the best all-around climbing pants for women. I would choose the Columbia Saturday Trail Pants for the best bang for my buck. The Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Ankle Pants are the most comfortable pair of climbing pants. And for those who like to climb in shorts, the Black Diamond Technician Shorts are an excellent choice.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.