Climbing Shorts Review

While launching a shorts review when the snow is starting to fly in many states may seem a little out of sync, we know that it’s also the time when many of us are longing to keep climbing warm stone and often head for the desert or even more southerly climes. And so here we are on the cusp of winter giving you the beta on some women’s shorts that were designed for climbing.

Don’t worry, we’ll re-launch this review with some updates this spring when you die hard winter folks will want to emerge from snowy depths and expose those chalky white legs to some solar rays. Shorts may not always be the style of choice for hot weather climbing. We know many of you prefer the coverage of pants despite the heat. But for those who love the freedom of climbing sans restrictions, we reviewed an array of very different styles to give you a snapshot of what’s available. You’ll see some long, some very short, some heavy and some ultra light, as we know how preferences in this category vary widely.If you have a short you love that’s not reviewed here, please send us an email. We’d love to get your take on it and post it to our site!

Best Overall

Mountain Hardwear

Dynama 2 Bermuda Short

Price: $69
Fit: Trim
Sizes: XS-LG
Fabric: 94% Nylon, 6% Spandex. Stretch woven
Features: Flat stretch waistband, left thigh zip pocket, two deep hand pockets
Overall: Our take: The fit, fabric, length and features on this short are spot on for almost all warm weather climbing. The stretchy fabric is a little warm and sticky on the hottest days but the all-around comfort of this short makes it one of our favorites to climb in. The secure phone pocket, which also doubles for lip balm, is a sweet bonus and was much appreciated. We were not happy with the hand pockets as they seemed to bunch open and look funny. 

Model is wearing a size S.
Model's measurements | Bust: 32 Waist: 27 Hips: 32.5

E9

Wendy Short

Price: $94
Fit: Slim
Sizes: sm/med/large
Fabric: 52% linen, 46% organic cotton, 2% spandex
Features: Front pockets
Overall: Like its longer legged cousin (see our climbing pant review), this shorts fabric has a lusciously cozy, soft feel against the skin. Though a bit warm for climbing in the sun, they breathed well enough to enjoy, especially on shady climbs in hot temps. The stretch waistband complements the overall stretch of the short perfectly and is super comfy under a harness, though we found no real need for the external drawcord. The super small hand pocket openings were a bit of a disappointment.

Model is wearing a size S.
Model's measurements | Bust: 34 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 34.5

Patagonia

Quandry Short in 5" and 7"

Price: $69
Fit: Standard
Sizes: XS-XL
Fabrics: 95% nylon, 5% spandex, double weave stretch woven
Features
: Zip fly with button and belt loops, waistband, drop in hand pockets, zippered back pocket, gusseted crotch, tested in 5” and 7” inseams.
Overall: Due to the slightly stiffer fabric and short 5” inseam length, our tester found that these shorts tended to ‘bunch up’ under a harness. These shorts felt more like a good hiking/approach short than one we would choose to climb in. The longer 7” inseam version however, worked much better under a harness – though our testers felt that a 6” inseam would have been a much more ideal and versatile length.

Rab

Cosine Shorts

Price: $75
Fit: Standard
Sizes: XS-XL
Fabrics: 98% lightweight stretch cotton, 2% spandex
Features: Stretch waistband, hand pockets, open back pocket
Overall: As with many products we review, this short had vastly different reviews from various testers! Some felt the extra wide waistband was sticky and hot and another loved the seamless fit under a harness and extra long length of this short. Our testers did agree on the fabric: it’s light, airy and super comfortable for hot weather.

One of our testers was quite skeptical of cotton pants and shorts as a woman with a curvy body, but was delighted at how thoughtfully constructed these shorts are. “The 10 inch inseam gave me plenty of coverage throughout my day of sport climbing, and it didn't ride up into a wedgie. I was very surprised that the cotton fabric actually fit my body well. Usually I find cotton pants very unflattering and ill-fitting on my curvy figure, but these are very stretchy and flattering. I loved that they were comfortable and breathable, even when it was quite warm outside.”

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

outdoor research

Ferrosi Short 7"

Price: $85
Fit: Slim
Sizes: XS-LG
Fabric: 86% nylon, 14%, spandex, stretch woven ripstop
Features: Internal drawcord, belt loops, button and zip fly, hand pockets, back right zip pocket, back left drop pocket
Overall: The Ferrosi fabric stands up as one of the most comfortable hot weather synthetic fabrics for climbing. We loved it on long approaches to backcountry climbs when a quick dry time and some durability are key. Super stretchy, light and breathable, this short comes with just the right features for climbing: hand pockets and one zip thigh pocket. Simple, light and versatile.

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Black Diamond

Sierra Light Shorts

Price: $70
Fit: Standard
Sizes: XS-LG
Fabric: 72% nylon, 28% spandex, lightweight interlock knit
Features: Two front pockets (no zippers), one back zip pocket, elastic waistband
Overall: The super lightweight fabric in these shorts is silky and almost unnoticeable in the heat. We found it very comfortable under a harness though a little short in the inseam and very wide in the legs. But the fabric keeps them flowy and feeling cool. The fabric’s aesthetic offers a little different appearance that we did not fall in love with, and the back pocket is always a mystery to our women testers as no one would actually put anything in it. Our testers would have greatly preferred a small thigh pocket for lip balm.  This airy, cool short was loved as a crag approach short in hot temps. 

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

black diamond

Sessions Shorts 5"

Price: $75
Fit: Slim
Sizes: XXS-XXL
Fabric: 72% nylon, 28% spandex, stretch knit
Features: Inner waist credit car stash pocket and right side open pocket
Overall: Our testers found this to live up to its namesake, a good short for a short session or a hot gym mission. Its fabric is form fitting, and felt a bit sticky and hot for any outdoor, longer cragging days or bigger missions.

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 34 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 34.5

Ortovox

Piz Selva Shorts

Price: $110
Fit: Regular
Sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: Main short: 94 %nylon, 6% spandex
Features
: Constructed zip fly/snap waist, two hand pockets, one secure zip thigh pocket, 72% polyester/28% wool mesh pocket inserts and lining of the waistband.
Overall: Loved this short more for short runs, hikes and approaches. It’s too short to sit under a harness without creeping up but its fabric is tough yet light and we loved the color combinations and comfy waistband. A longer version of this with a side pocket would be the bomb.

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Norrona

Falketind Flex Shorts

Price: $119
Fit: Regular
Sizes: XS-XL
Fabrics: Stretch nylon/spandex
Features: Constructed waistband with zip fly, button closure and Velcro side adjustments. Three zippered pockets, two hand and one thigh. Back pocket and gusseted crotch.
Overall: When we first picked up this short, it felt heavy and bulky and overly featured for climbing. But we put them to the test and were surprisingly happy with how comfortable they were and how little we felt the bulk and weight. The length is perfect under a harness and they double nicely as hiking shorts with so many pockets and convenient great Velcro adjustable tabs on the waist for those longer backcountry trips! 

Model is wearing a size M.
Model's measurements | Bust: 32 Waist: 27 Hips: 32.5

Header photo courtesy of Alexa Flowers

Disclaimer of Liability: Technical rock and ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Neither Broad Beta, LLC., nor any of its employees, shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein, and Broad Beta, LLC. assumes no responsibility for anyone's use of the information.
Any person using our gear in any manner is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques and good judgment. We strongly recommend that every climber seek instruction by a qualified professional.

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