Steamy mid-summer days bring on cravings for cool dips in a mountain tarn after a big route or high country traverse. Cragging requires the energy for dawn patrol shade and north faces. Though many of us risk a bruise or two baring our knees for the coolness of shorts, most climbers prefer pants.
Cotton may “kill” in cold wet climes but comes alive on hot dry days. Though designed for gym or crag, some of these pants were loved on hot, dry, multi-pitch climbs. We tested these pants at local crags and high backcountry walls with approaches. Though we stayed clear of ugly forecasts, they often endured light rain and breezy, cool climbs. Some brands offer a light water repellent finish for added protection.
Not all cotton is created equal. Most of what we tested is organic though some still use chemically laden conventionally grown cotton. The fabric in this review reflects vastly different thicknesses and blends with spandex and/or nylon. The pants we tested come in a variety of weights, styles, stretch and durability and they offer a plethora of choices for different aesthetic tastes, body types, pursuits and temps.
Most of these pants feature open hand pockets, back pockets for ‘aesthetics’ and lack the crucial side zip phone pocket needed for more committing outdoor climbs. This is understandable, given cotton’s challenge with weather and durability. It’s a great opportunity for brands to broaden their use and functionality for those who love cotton’s cool comfort and want to take it on multi-pitch climbs. We’re bold enough to say that most women would prefer a side thigh phone pocket to useless back pockets any day!